Blog Template Musings about Geocaching: 2008-03-23

Musings about Geocaching

Friday, March 28, 2008

Two FTFs, one on a Terracache, another on a Geocache

Today was another great day with Auld Pro. This time we drove up towards Bear Valley from the Buckman Springs side and stopped at the locked gate that was open when I first cached in this area with Princess Toadstool in the spring of 2005. That was when we actually drove a good portion of the entire route in her P.T. Cruiser.

From that location, Auld Pro and I walked up the road to the parking coords Akop&Fam gave for the cache. From there, we walked up the obstacle-laden firebreak, or through the area of burned vegetation scorched in the Pine Valley fire that occurred in the summer of 2007.

This is what the Profile of our hike looked like:

As we climbed up the peak, I took several pictures of the amazing Long Valley Peak.

Near the top of the peak, I took this picture of Auld Pro looking out toward Lake Morena.

At the top of the peak I took several more pictures in different directions.

On the top of the peak, the first thing I noticed was the Benchmark and I stopped to take a picture of it while Auld Pro looked for the Terracache.

Once I got back to the business of looking for the cache, I wandered a bit futher north and spotted the container, an unusual occurrence because Auld Pro usually finds the caches first . . .

The container had some great swag, including a small bottle of Jack Daniels Auld Pro and I shared. It also contained a nice pocket knife, and some other useful items. After we took more pictures of the other two Benchmarks, we headed down the hill towards the Geocache. The Jack Daniels already hit me, because I sort of forgot there was another cache up there to find . . . Consequently, as I stumbled along in a daze, Auld Pro was the first to spot the hiding place and was the official FTF.

Lunch seemed like a good idea, but the breeze was cool there, so we moved back to the lee side of the peak to sit down and have some lunch before heading back down to the Jeep.

Because the elevation is quite a bit higher in the Bear Valley area, the temperatures haven't been warm enough to urge the wildflowers out yet, however we did see these flowers on the way back. The wind really picked up just as I was trying to take the picture, so I was surprised the picture came out as sharp as it did.

After stopping at the Buckman Springs cache to drop off a couple of Travel Bugs, we drove up the hill towards Sheephead Split Rock. This was the first time in four visits I took time to really enjoy the view from there and take some pictures.

That big mountain in the background is the one Auld Pro and I hiked up in the morning.

From there we drove further up the rough and rocky road to CTYankee9's "Freeway Free Flight." Cuyamaca Mountain is in the far distance.

I got a picture of the two of us near the "edge" where that cache is hidden.

This would have been a good time to have had my walking stick with me, the one that doubles as a monopod for a camera, since it was hard to frame the picture from that low an angle. From "eye level," you can see Buckman Mountain in the picture. At "ankle level," I am blocking the view of the peak . . .

After Auld Pro signed the log and I rehid the container, we found the path back to where the Jeep was waiting and we continued up, up, up some more. I was glad the Jeep was taking us up that steep road. The ammo can cache at the top is an easy find. There were a couple more caches further up the Jeep road, but it was time to call it a day and head back to civilization.

Once again I am very grateful to Auld Pro for providing the transportation, and the wonderful company, for another fun day of caching.

Flowers from my friend

I have not been feeling well . . . have been feeling dreadful, in fact. Yesterday, when I took off for my hike, I told my friend, and neighbor, where I was going. I frequently forget to do that when I take off on my solo adventures.

When I got back, there was a beautiful bouquet of flowers on my porch, with a kind note. What a wonderful, generous thing for him to do.

The flowers are absolutely beautiful, including several of these.

There were also a bunch of these daisy flowers.

I am very, very grateful for his kindness and friendship.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

A "little" hike to check on some of my caches

Although I still did not feel well today, I decided a physical challenge would be good for me, so I set off to the Horsethief Canyon area where I have a few caches I could check on, including the challenging "Elevation 3000. These are the interesting tracks of my little trek.

I walked down my shortcut, which is a well-used, illegal alien trail. At the bottom, I took a picture of the location of Latitude 32's "Treasure Trove."

Prior to the fire of August 2006, there was a huge oak tree there that provided the hiding place for this cache I found two years ago.

Once back on the trail, I backtracked a little to find my "Mossy Boulders" cache which needed a bit of cache maintenance. It is a cookie tin, but moisture had made its way into the container due to all the rain we got this winter. After completing that little task, I walked the shady trail, avoiding the poison oak that is recovering nicely after the fire . . .

At "BBB's Hundred Hides in Horsethief" I stopped for a little lunch so I could enjoy the relaxing sound of the water flowing over the tumbled boulders.

The wildflowers were blooming in profusion along the trail that goes up and up and up towards "Elevation 3000."

To get up to the peak, you have to leave the trail and ascend through burned vegetation. It can be a struggle finding a way, but once on the top, the view is worth the work.

After checking on the cache, I looked down the steep, steep south side of the peak and decided it looked doable, which it was, but I had to take great care to stay upright in several places where the morning glory vines grabbed at my ankles and threatened to trip me. From that side of my "Elevation 3000" peak, there was a great view of Corte Madera.

I got down to a creek and started making my way back towards the west where I wandered onto the top of an enormous boulder. "Hmmmm . . . doesn't seem like I can continue from here."

Once I got around it, these room-sized boulders made an interesting foreground for the view towards the east.

A bit further along in my struggle against the tangled undergrowth, I saw this interesting balanced rock, framing Lawson and Gaskill Peaks.

And then, I found myself surrounded by huge, fuzzy-stemed lupines.

I finally made it down to an illegal alien trail that, during a rain, must be quite a waterfall. Navigating this trail was treacherous and once again, I was thankful I had trekking poles to aid my descent. As I worked my way down, I wondered how I was going to get across the creek when I got to the bottom of the valley, but there were some logs and rocks that enabled the crossing, although I could not have made it without using my trekking poles for balance.

Once back on the trail, I pondered which direction was the shortest back to my car . . . hmmmm, decisions, decisions. So, I marked a Waypoint in the GPSr, and took off in the direction of "Hopeful Tree" so I could check on the container I replaced a couple of months ago.

When I got there, I was disappointed to see that the container was missing . . . which was really bad since a Geocoin was in it . . . That makes four Geocoins that have gone missing after I have returned them to the wild . . . I think I'll just "Discover" Geocoins if I ever find one again . . .

I didn't have a replacement container with me, but I had a small ziplock bag and a new log. I put that where the previous container had been hidden and hope it stays until I get back down there with an actual container. That task accomplished, I was back on the trail. I was tired, and my hiking boots and pants were very dirty.

I had also finished the last of my water, so I just wanted to get back to my car, but these tiny blue flowers caught my attention, so I stopped to take one more picture.

When I got home, I put the hiking pants in the washing machine, in the "soak" cycle. Later, when I took them out to see how they looked . . . they were still dirty and stained from all the tangled, green vegetation I walked through.

So, now I have a pair of favorite Columbia hiking pants that can be designated as my "hiking through burned vegetation or off the trail" pants.

It was a great hike, I'm glad I got out of the house, but surprisingly, all that exercise still didn't clear my head. It did allow me to continue living one more day . . .

This episode with my illness has been a tough one . . .

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Well, that was a short-lived cache

Because of the new policy in Anza Borrego Desert State Park, which disallows physical caches in the Park, I thought my "Virtual Tour Cache" would be a good idea.

Seems it was too controversial . . .

It generated discussion in the Forums, and when I tried to clarify things, it got worse. Then I got a couple of emails from people, then a "Note" was posted on the cache page. The way I worded the part of the description about logging the cache, either with a "Found it" or a "Note" was mis-interpreted.

I Archived it.

Now I have an ammo can sitting on a hill, overlooking the desert, that will be very, very lonely until I figure out whether to turn it into a Traditional, or go retrieve it someday . . .

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

UPDATE: March 29, 2008

I started feeling better this morning, finally . . . So, even though a local cacher said there would be "bad blood" in our local caching community if I Activated this cache allowing multiple "Found it" logs, I did it anyway.

My thanks to Marko Ramius, our local Reviewer, for Un-Archiving the cache so I could edit it, and edit it, and edit it, at least a dozen times, before finally hitting the "Enable listing" link.

Fun thread in the Forums

A little while ago a "newbie" posted a list of ""Ten Things" they have learned in their short two-month caching history:

1. Only trust your GPS to get you to the ball park, then concentrate on the ball.
2. One mistake on the coordinates will put you off by one street, park, county, or state, depending on where the error is.
3. Much of the landscape that I thought was deserted is visited every day by somebody.
4. A lot of times people see what they EXPECT to see instead of what’s there.
5. Many containers that I thought were waterproof will get wet inside.
6. Even with frozen stiff fingers, I can now roll up a tiny strip of paper in a wind storm.
7. Geocachers know more about lampposts than 95 percent of the population.
8. If my area is any indication, for every park the locals know about there are three more that they didn’t know were there.
9. Sometimes you can see the micro before you park, and sometimes you can trip over the ammo can and still not see it.
10. If you aren’t having fun geocaching it’s your own fault.

Other people have chimed in with some wise knowledge and what they have learned. Some of these statements need to be put on sticky notes on my GPSr so I don't forget them . . .

11. You`ll NEVER come home as clean as you have gone before.
12. The hiding place is never ever marked with an X
13. Sometimes a 4/4 is easier to find than a 1/1
14. 5 plastic bags takes a Cache not cleaner than one good Box.
15. Never tell your wife you will be back "in under 20 minutes" - when the cache is .2 miles away. Double or triple the estimate.
16. My employer tolerates semi-muddy shoes after lunch better than I would have thought.
17. There are more roads out there than I used to see.
18. You may think you know the area inside and out, but you don't
19. Micros will prove to you that your eyes are not as good as you think
20. That stranger you are passing in the park, may have more in common with you then you realize.
21. Some caches can be found without a gps, some caches can't be found even with a gps
22. When you think it's time to bushwhack go down the trail a little ways first. You might find a better way in.
23. Some days you get the cache, some days the cache gets you.
24. always carry a pen
25. nothing is waterproof in Florida
26. don't let the search obscure the view
27. Thorn bearing shrubbery has a longer reach than I do.
28. As the crow flies only works for crows.
29. The creek is ALWAYS one inch deeper than your boots are tall.
30. Insects have the "Strength in numbers" thing down pat.
31. Check for ticks, regardless of the time of year.
32. Group caching is a blast.
33. Search primarily with your eyes to minimize impact on landscape around GZ.
34. There is a waterfall in my town!
35. I'm always on the wrong side of the canal.
36. My wife is now used to long stories about minute events.
37. Not all who wander are lost.
38. Most cache owners are very nice people. But some are evil, some are nasty and some are just imcompetent. So, it's up to you to make your own fun.
39. The easy path up the hill is only visible from the top.
40. persistance pays
41. use the "go-to"
42. record travel bug i.d.'s before passing along
43. carry a small trash bag in urban settings
44. if going solo to remote area, let some one else know
45. trust the description over the coords if there's much disagreement
46. In the winter, use a pencil.
47. If you forgot your tweezers, you will NOT be able to get the log out of the container. If you forgot gloves, you will have needed them. Ouch.
48. Machinists often make the best caches
49. Tie a spare car key to your GPS (yes, you have figured out the rest of the story!)
50. There is a hidden waterfall about 50 metres from State Highway 1.
51. There are more monuments to both important and obscure events in our area that I realised.
52. There are no walking tracks in our town without a cache or three on them.
53. My math is useless.
54. Reviewers have the patience of saints
55. Your average person is less observant that I thought
56. NEVER stick your hand in a strange, dark hole in the ground while searching for a cache in the woods!
57. Any cache can be made into a 5/5.
58. That stream may look shallow, but......
59. If there is mud, I will find it.
60. the way back from a cache, is usually easier than the way to it
61. Not all terrain ratings are created equal, read the logs if you have difficulty with rougher terrain.
62. Muggles just don't understand why you would drive to a neighboring state to move a TB (well and shop for fireworks )
63. The fun of the search is worth the pain.
64. Geocaching is a great way to spend a day with the ones you love.
65. I've learned that 300 feet is a very long ways when you are on the wrong side of the river!
66. The quality of the online logs is proportional to the difficulty of the cache.
67. There are not enough daylight hours in a day.
68. Even if you publish parking coordinates next to a flat trail to the cache, people will still park as close as possible to the cache and bushwack up a hill.
69. 9 times out of 10 there will always be an easy way to and from the cache.
70. stay on the trail!
71. You not only get to smell the roses, you get to dig around in the roots, too.
72. check and double check the coords you entered.

What things have you learned in your caching history?

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

A new cache in Anza Borrego Desert State Park

Last December, right in the middle of the Holiday Season, the Superintendent of Anza Borrego Desert State Park (ABDSP) suddenly changed the policy about having Geocaches in the 600,000-acre Park. They started stealing the caches without allowing the cache owners any time to retrieve the containers themselves. And then, what was even worse, they didn't post Notes on the cache pages to let people know the caches had been removed. This led to inevitable, fruitless searches of the locations by cachers who were unaware of what was going on in the Park, and the possibility the containers they were looking for were no longer there . . .

Since I really enjoyed finding caches in the Park, I know others would like to visit those locations as well, like this one near the "Powder Can Cache."

For my first "Virtual Tour," I limited it to 11 caches locations in the SW portion of the Park.

Yesterday I was not feeling well, a very disappointing development in my long-running battle with ill health, but it was a beautiful day, so I threw some things in an ammo can and made a long drive up to Mt. Laguna to find a hiding place for it.

Then, after I got back, I finished up the cache page, editing the HTML to include the links for the eleven caches, and then adding the coordinates of each as "Additional Waypoints." After more than an hour of work, and hopefully careful proofreading, I submitted it for Review.

When I got up this morning, I found out that Marko Ramius has approved it. Whooo Hoo!

I made it a "Premium Members Only" cache so I can see who is looking at the cache page and so far half a dozen people have glanced at it. Map4Navigation emailed me that he is anxious to complete my "new Multi." That was cool . . .

So, we'll see who is FTF. I wish I had been able to put some really nice stuff in the ammo can for the FTF, but anyone who has found my caches before knows there are not any things of value in the containers, nor any true FTF prize . . .

I hope lots of people try to do this cache. The ammo can should survive for several years, so the cache can live on and on and on . . .

Monday, March 24, 2008

A long drive to place the final container for the "Virtual"

While on my little drive to place the final container for the "Virtual Tour," I took some pictures from a great viewpoint off of Sunrise Highway. I have been in that location when the blue of the Salton Sea is as blue as the sky. Today, smoke, and haze made the sea indistiguishable from surrounding desert landscape.

The smoke messing with my pictures was from a "prescribed burn" the Forest Service was conducting near the Laguna Campground.

On my way back down the hill, I stopped to check on a cache that has this view of the desert.

To return home, I took the Old Burma Road, a wonderful, single-lane, paved road that descends sharply and directly from Sunrise Highway to the north side of the little town of Pine Valley. My GPSr was turned off during the drive, so I don't have a track to show from that portion of my afternoon, but it would make an interesting profile because of the steepness of some of the grades. I only saw three other vehicles along the 10-mile stretch of road.

In the middle, I stopped at the parking for my "Historic Cache Adventure -- Version 1.0" and walked the half mile down to the container. Even as I walked, I didn't feel any better. Sometimes when I am not doing well, getting out in fresh air, and getting some exercise helps. Today, it didn't . . .

At the cache location, I smelled death and after looking around for a while, saw the copper-hued coat of a dead fox on top of a huge packrat nest. Poor little guy . . .

I opened up the ammo can and just for fun took pictures of the logbook pages where GeckoDad, FlagMan, and LLOT had signed the pages.

I also took pictures of the U-Design it card that has been sitting there for months. I wonder who will be the next person to find the container and pick up the card? The Yrium Cards were all the rage in 2005 when Nancy and I were caching together. The craze really dies down when no new cards are created . . .

Near the bottom of the Old Burma Road, I stopped to take a few pictures.

Near there I saw these amazing Nolina plants.

When I turned on the GPSr and saw there was a cache less than two miles away, I forced myself to shake off the oppression of my illness long enough to find the container and sign the log. It was an easy find, although, as is typical of that hider's coordinates, they were off by about 20 feet. Knowing that helps when looking for his other caches where there are many more hiding places than where this one was hidden in a hollow beneath the concrete bridge abutment.

Further down the road, I made myself stop again to walk to two other caches located off the Forest Service Road that goes above Secret Canyon. One had been in my "Nearest Cache List" for more than a year. The other one is one Princess Toadstool hid when I was with her in the fall of 2005. I was her "Beta Tester" but forgot to sign the cache log before she hid it . . .

From that location, I could hear the sound of the creek far below where it falls over a man-made obstruction in the creek.

The mid-afternoon light did not make the tall Pine Valley Bridge photogenic, although that particular location offers a great view of the bridge, the tallest one in San Diego County, if I remember correctly.

Finally, as if in a daze, I walked back down the road and back to my car. I drove back home, not seeing the scenery on this beautiful day, although I did glance over at the peak where my "Elevation 3000" cache resides. As I looked at it, I thought that could be my goal for another day when I felt this bad . . . a challenging hike to hopefully clear my head . . . I have two caches along the trail that need maintenance. One is a bison tube in a pine cone that is no longer waterproof. The other is a hockey-puck-sized container that Ikes DNF'd the other day. I'm sure the cache is still there, but that cache now has two DNF's in a row . . .

When I got home, I got right to work on the cache page, a project that took more than an hour because of all the HTML links that were included, and the eleven sets of coordinates I had to enter as "Additional Waypoints." I also had to figure out the "formula" for the location of the final container. Since I am terrible at math, that little project alone seemed like it took a long, long time . . . Finally, I submitted it for Review.

It is interesting how much I actually got done on a day when I really didn't feel like getting out of bed . . .

And, it is a good thing I took pictures along the way . . . otherwise I would have no memory of where I went, or what I did, today . . .


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