Finally: The Southern California DeLorme Challenge Final

5 04 2012

Death Valley is a destination unto itself, but the primary impetus for my initial journey was to complete the massive “California DeLorme Challenge (Southern & Central),” a 109-cache epic requiring a find on each page of the lower half of California.

California DeLorme Challenge (Southern & Central)

f0t0m0m had found all of the caches, but he was gracious enough to revisit these last pages so we could assail the Final cache as a team. This turned out to be a very good idea, as it’s up a 4×4 road out in the wilds of the Nevada/California desert.

It was windy and cold, yet the 360º view was worth it.

We spent most of the rest of the day working on a series of caches on states and state capitals. The terrain was more rugged that we’d anticipated, so we ended up leaving a fair amount to come back for.

As tiring as it was to negotiate the hills, rocks, and spiny plants, we did find the three unique caches that most appealed to me: those dedicated to the “State of Jefferson,” which is where I grew up!
State of Jefferson
Yreka, JE
Redding, JE

There have been a number of states that didn’t make it for one reason or another, but the State of Jefferson has a long history of trying to become one! See the cache pages for more on this.

Bonus photo! We saw a pair of healthy coyotes near the road in Death Valley, and I got a great shot of one of them:

The Lowest Point in My Geocaching Career

29 03 2012

That would be 282 feet below sea level at Badwater in Death Valley.

It’s the lowest point in the Western Hemisphere, but this map shows some of the lower ones.

You may need to zoom in on this photo to see it clearly, but there’s a sign up on that cliff that shows where sea level is.

Don’t Drink the Water

That’s not snow, of course. It’s salty sand, and it was an odd texture upon which to walk.

The place really did have an otherworldly feel to it.

This quick tour of Death Valley whetted my appetite for more, and I’m looking forward to taking a couple of days to explore it!

Sand and Salt

22 03 2012

In finding the caches I needed to complete the Delorme Challenge cache, our trip through Death Valley took f0t0m0m and I to some significant and fascinating geological areas.

The Mesquite Valley Sand Dunes spread out over a large part of the valley floor. The wave shape of the dunes make it look like an ocean of sand.

No, they NOT film “Star Wars” here, as I confirmed when I got home and looked it up.
Sand Dunes of Tatooine
Mesquite Flats Dune Field

One of the requirements for one of the earthcaches was to collect some magnetite from the sand. This was surprisingly easy, as the mineral particles are very abundant.

Salt Creek is exactly that. It’s high salinity hosts plants and animals that have adapted to living in it, including the pupfish.
More on Salt Creek here

The boardwalk winds along the creek, allowing clear views of the hills, plants, and little pupfish.

More photos from below sea level next week, meanwhile here’s a bonus link! I and several other local cachers were interviewed for an article by the L.A. Times. This is a GOOD piece on our hobby – “Geocaching is Fun Hidden in Plain Sight”

Speaking of geocaching in the media, check out the new book “Maphead” by Ken Jennings, the monster Jeopardy champion. Chapter 10 is all about geocaching, and I even have a special mention at the bottom of page 197!

Yea, Though I Walk Through the Valley of…

15 03 2012

I’ve long anticipated a trip through Death Valley. It’s one of the few areas of California to which I have never been! Finally, in the quest for completing the Southern California Delorme Challenge, f0t0m0m and I did a loop up through the Antelope Valley to the western entrance of Death Valley and back down to Primm, NV.

The first part of our journey was to collect the last few caches for me on the pages that I had not gotten to yet. The first stop was in Monument, CA, a few miles west of Mojave.
Sand Canyon Cache Creek

This red farmhouse up the road made a striking contrast to the surrounding brown hills.

One of the target caches took us up a narrow canyon with unique geology.
Maintenance Desired!

The layers of rock were almost wafer thin….

… and the strata have been pushed up completely vertically.

The view on the way out was spectacular.

An earthcache brought us to a dramatic overlook of the Panamint Valley, one over from Death Valley. f0t0m0m helped out some other tourists as I answered the cache questions.
Death Valley Earthcache

Panamint Valley

Furnace Creek is in the middle of Death Valley.

It’s thata way! More next week!