The Big Bear Cache Bash

28 08 2008

Earlier this month, a whole bunch of geocachers made the now-annual pilgrimage to Big Bear, in the San Bernardino Mountains just north of San Bernardino, for no less than SEVEN events, 4-wheeling jeep parties, and various hikes and urbans in the area. I scooted up on Friday afternoon and stayed through Sunday evening, bagging all of the events and over 100 finds all together.

On the way up, I had time for 14 caches along the windy road up the hill. Most were guardrails at turnouts with an increasingly broad view of the valley below. My favorite was actually a short hike out on the road between Big Bear and Lake Arrowhead. I walked down a fire road to an overlook of an adjacent valley, and soaked in the solitude and scenery:

Wood Chip View Hill

The first two events were held that evening, one “normal” pizza event, one wacky flash mob at the nearby Motel 6 where many geocachers (not me!) were staying:

Pizza In Da Woods With Da Big Bears
"We’ll Leave The Lights On…Friday Flash Event 2"

The following morning, I hopped into BWidget’s jeep and we heading out to a trailhead for some 4-wheeling fun:

– BUT – there in the lot, he discovered that one of his shocks had become unattached! Alas, there were no seats in the other jeeps, so we had to abandon that plan and go with Plan B. We spent the day finding a couple dozen around the lake instead.

Here I am at the lake:

Somewhere in Fawnskin, we encountered the most tacky fountain I’ve ever seen!

Now I love fountains, and it’s really hard to make one that’s just not pretty. Wow.

That afternoon was the centerpiece of the weekend, the Big Bear Cache Bash.
BIG BEAR CACHE BASH IV

I finally got to hand off the So Cal Geocachers trophy to none other than the Wheeler Dealers!

(photo courtesy Badgerdawg)

The trophy was created by FishPOET a few years ago, is a travel bug, and is passed around to the local geocachers who have been the most inspiring. Here we are with a few previous recipients: shirconn, garagedude, Mighty Dee.

We had a potluck with some, er, unusual treats.

I got to see a bunch of folks I only get to see at these events, such as Mighty Dee, Pacholik, Mandy’s Mom, MissAmerica1, lite rod, Flagman, Rantan, shirconn, garagedude, Westward Ho, FishPOET, HippieG, Dave W6DPS, lovesreward, aerospacecase, ellistruss, among many others! Here are a few more:
Badgerdawg

(photo courtesy Badgerdawg)

BWidget

(photo courtesy Badgerdawg)

Esquimaux

Altigenman

After this event, I headed up the hill for the next event, and got the next photo at this cache:
Boulders galore

The next morning, many of us gathered for TWO flash mobs in a row!
Lucky # 7
MOONridge Flash Mob Event

The second flash mob event was also at the beginning of a nice 3-mile RT hike up a trail at 7500 ft elevation. Following that, I jumped into jeeps with MIB Alienhunter, BWidget, Baad Daata, and Showstop for an afternoon of miles and miles of scenic driving on a some rocky jeep roads. The finds were easy and the company was fun, focussed, and frivolous – the best!

The weekend concluded with a final get together at a local Mexican restaurant:
Big send off to Big Bear


clockwise from me: MIBAlienhunter, Baad Daata, Showstop, Showstop’s future better half, BWidget

Thanks to all who organized all the fun!

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Supplemental: The Green River Odyssey Tour

22 08 2008

My adventure down the Green River with 25 strangers was also an historic look at the original exploration of the area by John Wesley Powell. The tour was led by Clay Jenkinson, a humanities scholar and author, who gave programs each evening on Powell’s life and work, among other things. I heard about this tour, because I’ve been listening to his weekly radio show for several years.

(Note: if you crave intelligent, civil discourse on politics, government, history, and a variety of other topics, I encourage you to check out his radio show in which he portrays Thomas Jefferson, and answers 21st-century questions from the 3rd president’s perspective. For more information, go to The Thomas Jefferson Hour.)

The scenery on the river was spectacular, so although there were no geocaches along our 5-day route floating through the wilderness, I wanted to post some of the photos I took.

Enjoy!

my tent

our first campsite

our second campsite

the big paddle boat

a typical day on the river

Ahh…..
Now, back to our regularly scheduled programming.





Road Trip!

21 08 2008

I recently took an amazing rafting trip down the Green River in Utah. Most of the group of 25 flew in to Salt Lake City, but my philosophy, of course, is “why fly when you can drive and geocache”!

I took two days to get there and one to get back. I couldn’t resist stopping for a Wheeler Dealers cache, especially one placed at this classic 50s diner in the middle of nowhere:

Peggy Sue’s Diner

The food is pretty good there, too. My next stop was a cluster of caches in Primm:
Ivanpah Dry Lake Earthcache
Just over the fence
Out in the corner
Shopping in Nevada!

Here I am at the Earthcache. I put the camera on the roof of my car to get the shot:

One of the big highlights was halfway there, in St. George. There is an outstanding museum featuring local preserved dinosaur tracks, and I found the Earthcache there:

Dinosaur Tracks in St. George Earthcache
This is one of the most amazing exhibits I’ve ever seen, and I highly recommend a visit!

One the second day of the trip there, I grabbed a nice string of caches near the I-15/I-70 junction:

Sulpherdale TB Terminal stopped and swapped
Guarding Tess another ammo can
Decon in the Corner Pocket as advertised
The Cove Fort-Sulphurdale Geothermal Field unusual power source here
Cattle Guarding the Cache guess what this cache is one?
Baltimore 2200 the west end of the interstate that goes all the way to Baltimore
old cove fort I found this one easily this time after DNFing it in the snow last winter

This next cache afforded me a spectacular view of the town of Green River, UT, my destination, and what lay ahead:

Spotted Wolf Canyon

The first day of the group tour, we went to Arches National Park. I was the only geocacher there, but I still managed to bag 5 caches, all virtuals and earthcaches, as we cruised around in the bus. It’s one spectacular scenery overload:

Arches National Park- The Arches
The Windows Section: Arches National Park
Balanced Rock: Arches National Park
Arches National Park- Balanced Rock
Delicate Arch

Landscape Arch:

Delicate Arch:

Video Panorama:

That afternoon, I found a handful of caches in Moab:

Mill Creek Bridge
Parkway Cache (kinda) nanotized
Scout House Cashew
Cross Creeks Trail

a classic motel in Moab:

some local artwork:

a charming and mysterious creekside path:

The following day, we flew from Moab to a dirt air strip up the Green River where we put in for 5 days of rafting and kayaking, following part of the journey that John Wesley Powell took when he first explored the area. My next post will feature information and photos from the rafting part of my week, but now – back to the geocaches!

There is a cache at the landing strip!

Desolation Canyon Airport

It’s at the trail head down from the airstrip on the mesa.

After our incredible week on the river, we returned to Salt Lake City for a farewell dinner, and I made a mad dash home in one day to get back for some work.

Brown River the cache by our hotel in Green River – it has a nice cache guardian

I introduced a tour member to geocaching in SLC. He’s now babj615 in Seattle. Heh. The infection spreads:
Say Your Name, Dear Jane
SLC Degrees of Confluence #45 8S8W
Classic Cars

I grabbed these easy ones on the drive home:
Dillen’s Pit Stop
Magnum’s Manderfield Multi Microcache (#7)
20 to 89
South Rim of the Great Basin
Hog Heaven
Pit Stop
STOP… it’s a Dead End
Run Down Station
Ready For Action Figures
TIP TOE CACHE 1Drive Thru Meds

It took FIFTEEN hours to drive from SLC to LA, rather than the 12 I was expecting… there was a ton of weekend traffic… but the geocaching along the way kept me sane and awake!

Since I’ve been back, I’ve had time for one geocache in Hollywood, at a small group of cottages built by Charlie Chaplin with a rich history of famous residents:
The Tramp Camp

Next: the Big Bear Cache Bash weekend





Supplemental: more Mt. Shasta photos

19 08 2008

Theses photos are courtesy Michael Zippel, one of my compatriots on the climb.
Enjoy!





Two Excursions with f0t0m0m

14 08 2008

I have the pleasure of caching with a number of different locals who enjoy the sport/hobby/obsession as much or… dare I say… even MORE than I do!

f0t0m0m is one such person, and our mutually flexible schedules allow us to sojourn out every week at least. We recently headed out to Palm Springs for an event, and found about 50 caches that day. This day turned out to be not so much about the hides as about finding a bunch in a series that was entertaining:

Creation #3: Light
Creation #19: Woman
Creation #14: Creatures of the Sea
Creation #9: Sun
Creation #18: Man

Camo – Element 27
Recreation – Element 86
Friends – Element 26
Hidden – Element 2
Nano – Element 11

The caches pages for the Element series are all very humorous, and it’s worth taking the time to go check them all out. Kudos to tntc for that!

The event was the usual treat hosted by Wheeler Dealers, with a container packing contest, welcoming stories, and great local food:

Oldtimers meet the New Guys in town

We even got the FTF on their new cache in the parking lot!
Geo Gas Cache

A couple of days later, we headed back out easterly to Lake Elsinore to complete the 58 California Counties Challenge cache! We had each visited all the counties on various and separate excursions, and were eager to log the final cache.

Discovering & Logging California’s 58 Counties

As it turned out, the effort to get to this one left us with only enough time for a handful more in the area, but here are some photos from our successful find!

f0t0m0m approached the cache through the dry creek bed:

Not really a spoiler:

Here I am near GZ, celebrating our mutual victory:

Many thanks to Team GeoRangers for inspiring me to visit ALL of the counties in this incredibly diverse and scenic state!





Mt. Shasta Summit!

9 08 2008

I chose the “slow and steady” version with the Shasta Mountain Guides, and as it was, I realized that I was just barely in training enough to make it! One never knows what is required of one, until one attempts things, though. When I climbed the mountain, there were NO caches at the top OR even on the way! At least, there are will soon be TWO Earthcaches at and near the summit, graciously posted by bthomas and f0t0m0m using information I collected! (Yes, I’ll be able to log finds as a beta tester!)

The epic trek began with an equipment check at The 5th Season sporting goods store in Mt. Shasta City. After we had all of our gear together, we drove up to the trail head. This was an adventure in itself! There were some slightly sandy spots and one larger, sandy hill to get up to the parking lot, but my Prius barely made it. As it turned out, it did presage things to come….

The Trailhead:

The first day’s hike (of FOUR) was about four or so miles with 2000 feet of elevation gain to our first camp, near a spring:

My tent is on the left there, and here’s the view of the spring from within said tent:

This is looking up at the summit from our first base camp:

Yep, that moonscape is the mountain terrain, and from there it was pretty much all snowless, rocky, sandy, slidy, scree to the top! The second day was only about 2 miles of hiking, but up another 2000 feet, where we camped at about 10,500 feet and did a little crampon/ice axe training on a nearby snowfield.

Here’s the view from my tent from there:

It was very smoky from the many forest fires in the state, so the view never got any clearer for this trip. It still looked like a loooong way to the top, too:

The third day was Summit Day, and it took me 9 hours to get there from the second base camp, over 5 miles of struggling up scree and talus with almost 4000 feet of vertical gain. Words like “strenuous” and “exhausting” just don’t cover the extreme effort and stamina it took to get there, and I was BARELY in shape enough to do it!

After all the scree scrambling, a couple of snow fields, and some boulder climbing, here I am at the summit!

This is how I really felt:

I didn’t have any vista or scenery to “distract” me from the task at hand, since it was so smoky:

That also shows where the summit sulphur hot springs are, but we couldn’t see or smell much of them today, as it was pretty windy up there. This is Whitney glacier, up near the summit:

This is the summit log, the “Holy Grail” for the day:

After hanging out for about a half an hour, it was time to head back down…. which was sort of easier, but it still took me 5 hours to get back to my tent, where I collapsed. The descent involved plenty of sliding down what I’d just slid up, and it was just as fatiguing. The next day, we packed it all up and hiked the 6 miles or so back to the cars!

Here are the other folks on the slow and steady tour: Angelika and Michael (from Heidelberg, Germany) and our marvelous guide, Nick, without who’s encouragement and shepherding, I would NOT have made it!

I survived the adventure with just a couple of swollen toes… whew! This was a true peak experience… all puns and senses of the word intended! What’s next? Hm… Stay tuned for more geocaching adventures!





The Road to Mt. Shasta Ascends Through the Eastern Sierras

2 08 2008

The week before the scheduled summit trip, I spent 4 nights at Rock Creek Lake to acclimate to high altitude. I actually camped for 4 nights in a row in a tent! The altitude at the campground is 9700 feet, and to that I did a moderate hike each day. There were a few caches along the way to the lake and around Bishop, but no caches on any of the hikes!

Before I go further, I do want to thank two of the people who helped me with my preparation for summiting Mt. Shasta: Ranboze (a geocacher) and Jody (a hiking/singing buddy). Jody came up with me for these training hikes and camping, and Ranboze provided a wealth of knowledge and encouragement as I worked to accomplish this goal over the last year!

This is the path to Dorothy Lake, up around 10,000 feet:

This butterfly was showing off:

It started raining during this hike, and you can see the drops in this little lake:

Near the end of the hike, I shot my first bit of video with my new Canon SureShot!

The next day, we hiked up to Ruby Lake. There are a string of 9 lakes along the creek below it:

I couldn’t resist a good nap with Ruby Lake as my back yard for the afternoon:

On the third day, I headed over to the Ancient Bristlecone Pine forest, for a 4.5 trek through the remarkable trees. Here you can see a young one and an old one right next to each other:

This is a view from the trail, looking more or less east:

These are a few of the many ancient trees in the Methuselah grove:

A few of these trees are over 4500 years old!

I did get a couple of photos at the more noteworthy geocaches.
These hills have ears

Dazee’s Field of Dreams
They were using the adjacent area to stage helicopters to fight the huge number of forest fires in the area:

Yep, next stop = Mt. Shasta!!