Blog Template Musings about Geocaching: 2007-04-08

Musings about Geocaching

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Yet another hike to Horsethief Canyon . . .

3cd's made a trip to Horsethief Canyon the other day to find the caches there . . . and hide a Terracache. So, off I went again to get the FTF on that cache, I hoped, and find SEPTICTANKHANK's new cache.

I got to the parking area and saw a guy getting his horses ready for a ride. I went over to say hello, and two hours later we were still talking horses . . . It is amazing how many memories come to the surface from those years I owned my horses when I get around another "horse person."

I took the direct route down into the canyon and stopped to take pictures of the wildflowers that are still blooming. I also got a picture of a wild turkey I saw on the trail.

I wish I had gotten my camera out more quickly. The turkey was quite a distance away by the time I got that picture.

Along the way, I took this picture of a lonely oak tree beginning its recovery from the fire.

Eventually, I made my way to the pools and quickly found the Terracache. Since I had seen T.R.Violin's signature in a couple of the caches I checked along the trail, I figured he was in the canyon today to get the Terracache FTF, so I was surprised to see a blank log sheet.

I took a few pictures in the area and then headed towards the other cache.

I wandered around through the burned area walking in a somewhat-straight line towards the other cache. I forgot I was going to have to cross the creek, but I found some nicely-spaced boulders that allowed me to get across without getting wet.

As I walked, I stopped to take more pictures of the flowers.

I got to GZ for SEPTICTANKHANK's cache, which I heard had some good cammo, and found it right away. This cache was close to the trail, for which I was appreciative.

After signing the log and dropping off a TB, I headed back up the trail. I took the shortcut up to the road instead of taking the "official" trail. It is steep and narrow, but cuts off quite a bit of distance, and time, which was a good thing because the man with the horses was in the parking lot, so I got to talk horses with him for a little while before heading home.

When I got home, a new cache popped up in my email InBox. It is a new cache by T.R. Violin . . . in the canyon.

So, I know where I am going tomorrow . . .

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Whooo Hoo!! I got the FTF on the DNF from yesterday

Another day where I wasn't feeling very well, but I got in the car and drove out to the meadow parking area which is 15 miles north of my house. It was an absolutely beautiful, sunny day with a cool breeze blowing.

I found four caches in the meadow area, three hidden by CTYankee9 and one hidden by SEPTICTANKHANK.

I took lots of pictures again, of the amazing oak trees, the views, the flowers, and even a ground squirrel.

The last cache I looked for was a distance away from the others, in a hidden valley, overrun by poison oak. I was the second to find. Chuy! found it the other day, fisnjack gave up on the search today because of the poison oak.

After finding that cache, I tried to find a trail out. The route I took was a dead end, but I found several peonie bushes in bloom back there.

I covered more than five miles during my wanderings.

After making my way back to the car, I was set to head home. I would get back in time for my afternoon coffee, which I felt like I needed. However, when I drove by the staging area for Horsethief Canyon, I saw fisnjack's truck, and CTYankee's little car, so I stopped. I took the short cut down and then made the climb back up the cache location and only looked for a minute or two before spotting two little rocks that looked like they might be hiding a cache . . . and they were.

After that, I made it back to the parking lot where CTYankee and I talked for a long time. He gave me the coods for a new cache he placed that he hasn't submitted yet. It was .6 away. He said he would hike over there with me, but wouldn't give me any hints, which he didn't. It was in a great rock pile that has a great view, including a view of Lawson Peak and Gaskill Peak.

Here is the profile of today's adventure in the Horsethief area showing part of my track from the day before and my highlighted track down the "shortcut."

I was tired when I finally got home. I hiked more than eight miles today on the two separate hikes, and now see that new caches have popped up down in Horsethief Canyon, and over near my Carveacre Wind Cave caches . . .

Looks like I know what I'll be doing tomorrow.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Back to Horsethief canyon for a DNF and a FTF!!!

I didn't feel well this morning, but I got myself out of the house and on the road to the Horsethief Canyon trailhead. CTYankee placed a new cache in the canyon, as did SEPTICTANKHANK, so I thought there were two FTFs to get.

At the staging area, a couple was getting ready for their hike, and a guy in a jeep was just leaving, and then another man drove in to get ready for his regular run, so it was pretty busy there for a Tuesday morning.

On the trail, I passed the couple just before "The Levitating Rock" cache. They were walking slowly, so I was quite a distance in front of them by the time I arrived at the first cache location. It was a large rockpile, and I was looking for a Micro . . . without a hint.

I looked up and down and all around the rock pile, occasionally looking up the trail to see if the couple was coming. I don't know where they were because they never appeared during the long time I was searching . . . and not finding the cache.

On the trail, I took lots of pictures of the flowers that are blooming now.

I continued down the trail towards the other cache, feeling discouraged, even though it was a beautiful day and there was lots to see along the trail including this completely-scorched tree . . . with some regrowth.

At the next cache location, I was disappointed the cache was not right next to the trail. The habitat in the canyon is delicate as it recovers from the fire. My GPSr was telling me to walk more than 60 feet across soft soil and delicate new growth. At GZ I started my search, poking in holes with my walking stick, and having no luck finding anything except for a bottle of salsa . . .

During my search, I stopped to take a few pictures of more flowers blooming nearby.

Near the cache, in the shade of the recovering oak trees, I saw these unusual flowers and a large, dark-colored lizard who was too shy for me to get any closer for a better picture.

I looked for a long time and greatly expanded my search before giving up and heading down the trail.

As I walked, I was very discouraged. The hike was fun, I got lots of pictures, but I had not found either of the two caches I set out to find. A few hundred yards down the trail, I decided to turn around and take another look. This time, somehow, when I poked my walking stick into a hole between two rocks, it hit the cache and made that wonderful little clunk. Whooo Hoo! A find! I signed the log and traded for one of the unusual coins SEPTICTANKHANK had put into the cache. In the caches description, he states that they came from a wreck off the coast of Santa Barbara.

I replaced the cache and then found a couple of rocks to put nearby to serve as a marker for future finders so they don't trample the area during their search.

After that, I started back up the trail, taking a few more pictures as I walked. A few weeks ago, I noticed this "flame-shaped" bush beginning the process of recovering from the devastating fire.

It was a beautiful day for the hike, and by the time I got home, I felt better. Maybe tomorrow I'll give that DNF another try on my way to the other cluster of new caches hidden by CTYankee and SEPTICTANKHANK in the "meadow" area near I-8 at the Descanso exit.

Another trip to the Domelands with 3cd's

I don't think I have mentioned how grateful I am to 3cd's for driving to all these cool locations. My little car would have a bit of trouble making it to the trailhead for the Domelands, and although it is a fantastic hike, it is much safer, and way more fun to go with someone. This time I made the 8.1-mile hike with 3cd's, his youngest son, and his 12-year-old nephew.

For preparation prior to this hike, in addition to making sure I had enough water (more than 80 ounces) and snacks, I uploaded the track from our previous trip to the Domelands. It was really good to have that on my GPSr map to follow. There are some tricky trail turns and trail accesses that are difficult to find without having the GPSr track.

There were four caches for 3cd's to find, and one for me to find—the one we placed on the last trip, "A Huge Desert Mushroom". That would be a FTF for 3cd's since no cachers have made it to over there since its placement.

At the trailhead, we saw three hikers emerging after spending the night. They had lots of gear, but I bet their packs were considerably lighter coming out than they were going in because of the amount of water you need to carry.

We started out on the trail that goes up, up, up a well-traveled track. I stopped and took some pictures as the views emerged.

At the wash where the track on my GPSr turned to the east, there was an arrow, made from stones, to mark the turn to the right. Since I wasn't looking at the GPSr, and since the wash we entered looks well-traveled, it would be easy to miss that turn, as our group did on the last trip here . . .

Here is the Profile and Tracks of this hike, including new waypoints I took along the way, and the waypoint for a new cache 3cd's placed on the other end of the slot canyon.

We walked up the wash for a ways and then started up a trail that went to the crest where the Domelands emerge into our view. The wind was blowing, but the temperature was perfect for hiking.

Near the trail I saw this ocotillo in bloom in front of interesting rocks.

The two boys had a great time investigating all the "rooms" in Fred and Wilma's house.

The view out to the northeast went forever.

After finding the three caches in the Domelands area, we found the elusive trail that headed towards the FTF and eventually to the slot canyon we hiked through.

After the hike through the slot canyon, we made it back to the fossilized oyster beds. This time I took some pictures, but they don't do justice to the experience of looking down and seeing nothing but shells, including one huge shell fragment that might have been from an enormous clam.

From that part of the "trail," high above the wash itself, we made a careful descent to the sandy wash where around every turn I saw things I wanted to take pictures of.

Because it has been so dry this winter, the desert wildflowers are not blooming as they can, but we did see these blossoms on a bush that put out very few leaves in addition to the flowers.

Finally, the track we had been following joined up with the trail we started on in the beginning and we were headed back down that long slope to the truck.

It was a great hike, with great weather, and great company. The last half mile the wind was really picking up, something that made the drive back up the steep grade from Ocotillo to Jacumba challenging as we passed high-profile vehicles and trailers trying to stay in their lanes on the highway while being buffeted by 40-mph gusts.

We soon came into clouds and low fog and on my 15-mile drive home from the Park 'n Ride, I had to turn on the windshield wipers because of the mist. What a change! The contrast made the experience out in the Domelands feel like a dream. I'm sure glad I took all those pictures.

I can review them to remind myself I was really there.


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