Blog Template Musings about Geocaching: 2008-03-09

Musings about Geocaching

Friday, March 14, 2008

Another trip to the amazing Bell Bluff

Auld Pro sent me an email saying he wanted make a good long hike on his day off. "How about Bell Bluff?" he asked. Oh boy, Whoopee . . . another hike to that wonderful rockpile I hiked to solo back in August of '06.

I met him in "downtown" Jamul and he drove the rest of the way, for which I am grateful. On our way to the elusive "Spanish Bit Trailhead" for the California Riding and Hiking Trail, we made a couple of wrong turns, but finally got there and got ready. With all the rain we have had this winter, I figured there would be deep water to cross at the beginning of the trail, so I brought along my Chaco sandals, and sure enough, the water was nearly knee-deep.

We surveyed the area briefly and then took off our boots and made our way across. Where the water flowed freely, it looked clear and clean, but up a little tributary where the water was stagnant, there was stuff floating on the surface about which Auld Pro said, "Don't think about what it might be . . . "

We put our boots back on and after I stashed my sandals in the bushes, we started up the long approach trail.

When I made my first trip to Bell Bluff, it was a 90° day and the trail to the base of Bell Bluff was long, and somewhat tedious because there weren't any caches along the way. Now, there are a few to lure cachers ahead on the trail . . .

The fun really begins when you start ascending the bluff on the "green ribbon" trail. I don't know who put out the green flagging, but they should have been more generous with their markers . . . Sometimes it is hard to determine where the trail is because of the distance between green "ribbons."

On the southwest side of the peak, it looks like the edge of the world . . . with Gaskill and Lawson Peak in the background.

In places the "trail" is easy to find, and in other places, it is tenuous. This is one of those places.

We continued up, up, up, stopping frequently to catch our breath. At one of those places where we paused for a breather, I got an interesting view of Viejas Peak.

Once on top, it is a playground of huge boulders and rocks tumbled in different formations.

We had some lunch up on top where the breeze was cool and refreshing. We signed the peak log and took pictures of the benchmarks. Ultimately, we had to leave that amazing viewpoint and head back down the trail. Finding the starting point at the top was a bit difficult, and we went off the route on a little adventure into an area that was a bit too challenging to attempt, so we retreated and picked up the route we followed on the way up, seaching ahead to see where the elusive trail went next.

On the descent, when we were far enough away from the cache at the top to place another cache, we stopped to add another "lure" to the trail to entice other cachers to the area. These intersting boulders were near the site of the new cache.

The new cache Auld Pro placed is very close to this boulder that cracked in half.

I wonder how loud the sound was when the rock split like that?

We continued walking down the gentle grade on the sometimes highly-eroded trail and then turned around to look at the peak we were on top of a short while earlier.

Off to the left side of the peak is a half moon rising . . .

Finally, just before we made preparations to cross back over the river, Auld Pro placed another cache in this idyllic location.

I had a wonderful time and enjoyed having companionship on the trail I hiked by myself before. The long approach trail went much faster with the easy flow of conversation between us. Since my friend dillweed hasn't made the hike yet, I will get another opportunity hike to Bell Bluff again someday. Maybe we'll place more caches along the trail to lure even more cachers to the area so they can enjoy the challenge of the "green ribbon" trail, and the bonus of the view from the top of the peak.

This is the profile of the hike:

I would like to add more later . . . but I'll have to read a chapter or two in Beryl Markham's book for inspiration to make my prose interesting enough to present to my "audience."

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Checking on a few caches on a beautiful morning

A week ago, on a day when I was in town running errands, I ran into an old friend. It was great to see her again and since she lives near the trailhead for a few of my caches in the Hollenbeck Canyon area, I planned a little hike there so we could see how the area looks six months after the devastating fires.

It was a perfect morning for the hike. Down in the valley, there was some fog, but the sky overhead was clear and blue.

The first cache we checked on was my "Canyon View" cache that had a recent DNF. My friend spotted the out-of-place rock that hid the small Altoids tin and she signed the log. From that rocky outcrop, there are great views in all directions, and looking back the way we came, you can see an interesting rock wall dam.

These are pictures taken from above "lostguy"'s "It Got Me Off The Couch #3" cache.

Not far from his cache location, we saw this Nolina plant struggling to recover after the devastating fire.

Not far from here, as I hit the rocks ahead of me with my trekking poles and warned my friend that we might see some snakes on a warm morning like this, we heard the unmistakable rattle of a snake.

We both jumped away, and I yelled something not fit for a "Family-friendly" Geocaching blog. ;-) I tried to inch forward to see if I could see the snake, but it soon stopped its warning rattle, after it retreated into its rocky lair.

On our way back, I stopped to get a picture of these incredible daisy flowers.

Here is the Profile of our short hike. I'm not sure why it is so jagged looking, except we walked slowly along the trail, and I had my GPSr hooked to the belt of my lumbar pack. Maybe it didn't get clear satellite reception in that position.

It was sure a beautiful day. I wish there was some way to lure more cachers to the area now that the weather is perfect for hiking. It seems that most of the cachers who like to hike have already found the caches and newer cachers either don't like to hike, or don't want to make the drive out this way with fuel prices as high as they are now.

Last fall when I visited the area after the fire, I put a Geocoin in one of my caches to lure cachers to the area. Almost six months later, the poor coin was still in the cache . . . so I retrieved it so it can travel again.

Guess that didn't work.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Another reason why I enjoy the Geocaching Forums

They offer great entertainment, like that offered by this cache owner who got a message about an ammo can that had apparently been muggled by "Willie Wonka."

The cache owner is a great storyteller in the way he described the container, its contents, and his washing of the ammo can in the dishwasher . . .

I'm waiting for the "rest of the story." It will be interesting to know what his wife said after learning about the washing of the ammo can, and its chocolate-covered contents, in the dishwasher, along with the family's dishes . . .

Monday, March 10, 2008

Oh boy, what a great day for another MTRP hike

Because of its proximity to the ocean, the San Diego area frequently has an "onshore flow" of air. All the water vapor in the air gets in the way of distant views, so even on a bright sunny day, the views are obscured. It is rare to have an awesome crystal clear day like we did today.

I met up with dillweed, rnblver, and a young friend of dillweed's in the Mast Blvd. staging area for Mission Trails Regional Park. This is the same place I have hiked a few times in the past month and is an incredible area for hiking and caching. I don't think many cities the size of San Diego have an area of Open Space quite like MTRP within the city limits that is so easily accessed by nearly everyone.

After I put on my nearly-new boots, we started off on the trail that heads north towards the overpass that carries the traffic on Highway 52. As we hiked, we marveled at all the different flowers that were blooming along the trails and on the south-facing hillsides.

For some reason, the subject of politics came up as rnblver and I walked along the trail. I have strong opinions, but try to keep those to myself, unless they are challenged. Politics as a subject doesn't come up very often when I am Geocaching because I think most cachers, unless they already know the others in the group are likely to agree with them, realize a "discussion" would be as productive as trying to convert a Mormon to Catholicism or an born-again, Evangelical Christian to atheism. In other words, it ain't gonna happen.

People who depend on the "Fair and Balanced" source of FOXNews for the facts on which they base their hardened opinions do not want to listen to people who have formed their opinions from other sources, including Bill Moyer's "NOW" on PBS . . . And, having your chosen news source denegrated by another is not the way to continue casual Geocaching friendships . . .

So, after dillweed scolded us for getting off onto the subject of the war in Iraq, I went back to the business of documenting our day by stopping to take a few more pictures in the side canyon we were hiking up.

Much later in the day, after rnblver left our little group to find some caches we had found previously, we had an interesting adventure trying to get to a cache. When we ultimately couldn't figure out the access to that one, we took a non-approved route to get to a new cache by T.R. Violin where I dropped off a cute TB I picked up a while ago. I took a picture of it with the cache container.

From there, I could see the trail we hiked a few weeks ago and, on the map screen of my GPSr, saw one of the caches we found that day as a Custom POI. Dillweed needed that cache, so off we went towards it. Before we took that little detour, I had forgotten that cache was near the end of a southbound trail. Once there, it was too late to turn back, so we continued down the ridge getting some great pictures from unique vantage points.

Here is the interesting-looking Profile of our more than eight-mile hike:

It was another incredible day and I am thankful to dillweed for suggesting we get together for the hike. Although that is a bit of a drive for me, I was able to get all my errands done afterwards to justify the couple of gallons of gas it took to drive there. Since gas keeps going up and up and up every day, I topped off the tank, putting in $16.00 worth of gas . . . an amount that would have filled the tank when I got the car back in 2003 when gas was only $1.59/gallon.

Now that it takes nearly $7.00 in gas every time I make a trip into town, I have to stock up on a lot of groceries to justify that extra cost . . . I do envy people for whom the enormous increase in the price of gas over these past few years has not affected their lifestyle . . .

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Just finished reading an incredible book

Since I started Geocaching, I have not done as much reading as I used to. The Geocaching obsession has been fairly all-encompassing over these past three years. Another factor that has affected my reading has been my health. Now that I have been feeling better over the past few months, it is easier to concentrate and enjoy reading again.

Recently I have been reading a few different books and in the past couple of weeks have had three books open, West With the Night by Beryl Markham, The Age of American Unreason by Susan Jacoby, and Our Lady of the Forest by David Guterson. The one I just finished reading was West With the Night. The author is a woman I had never heard about before, and for that I guess I blame the poor education system in this country that emphasizes, or at least used to only emphasize, the accomplishments of men, primarily white men.

It sure seems like I should have learned about the first woman to fly a plane, solo, from east to west across the Atlantic, since that was quite a feat.

Anyway, I got the book at a local Thrift Store on the recommendation of a man I met there. He pointed out the comments on the back cover written by Ernest Hemmingway, where he states:
. . . she has written so well, and marvelously well, that I was completely ashamed of myself as a writer. I felt that I was simply a carpenter with words, picking up whatever was furnished on the job and nailing them together and sometimes making an okay pig pen, But she can write rings around all of us tho consider ourselves writers . . .

And, he is correct. From the second page of the book, her writing caught my attention with sentences like these.
Even in 1935 it wasn't easy to get a plane in East Africa and it was almost impossible to get very far across country without one. There were roads, of course, leading in a dozen directions out of Nairobi. They started out boldly enough, but grew narrow and rough after a few miles and dwindled into the rock-studded hills, or lost themselves in a morass of red muram mud or black cotton soil, in the flat country and the valleys. On a map they look sturdy and incapable of deceit, but to have ventured from Nairobi south toward Machakos or Magadi in anything less formidable than a moderately powered John Deere tractor was optimistic to the point of sheer whimsey . . .

Another wonderful passage is the one where she describes a lake where she is using the shore to train a racehorse with sensitive legs.
The shores of its lake are rich in silence, lonely with it, but the monotonous flats of sand and mud that circle the shallow water are relieved of dullness, not by only an occasional bird or a flock of birds or by a hundred birds; as long as the day lasts Nakuru is no lake at all, but a crucible of pink and crimson fire—each of its flames, its million flames, struck from the wings of a flamingo. Ten thousand birds of such exorbitant hue, caught in the scope of an eye, is a signt that loses credence in one's own mind years afterward. But ten thousand flamingos on Lake Nakuru would be a number startling in its insignificance, and a hundred thousand would barely begin the count.

Her writing is not so intimidating that I want to stop writing all together, which is the effect some brilliant writers such as Jim Harrison have on me. In fact, her writing is inspiring. Now, if I could just take the time, and care, to emulate her style as I post the pictures of my latest caching adventure, and write little descriptions about the hike.


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