Sunday, October 12, 2008

Forgotten Trail?

Yesterday, Chaosmanor and I hiked a loop trail in the Ronald W. Caspers Wilderness Park just north of San Juan Capistrano. It's a very large park and we were there primarily to get a dashpoint that had been positioned by the GPS Games computers near the north end of a couple of trails. There were several caches in the park, so we were planning on making it a nice hike with some caching. The weather was perfect; we couldn't have asked for a more perfect day.

The trail we'd chosen to get to the dashpoint was called the Eastridge trail. It was a short hike up from what was called the Quail Run trail up to the Eastridge trail. We have views to the east of the Ortega Hwy and the valley that made up most of the park to the west of the ridge. Interestingly, there was only one geocache that we noticed along this trail. As we made our way over to this cache, we spotted a benchmark, or actually Chaosmanor spotted a reference post noting a benchmark, which was very close. The trail actually had a paint mark on the ground pointing to the benchmark.

This was one of those spontaneous finds. We hadn't really looked at the possibilities of there being benchmarks along this trail and we just happened to find this one. When I got home I was pleasantly surprised to see it in the Geocaching system. We took our requistite pictures of the dashpoint and then made our 60 foot walk down to where the geocache was supposed to be.

After about 10 minutes of searching, we consulted our PDAs and found the cache to have been DNFed back in November of 2007 and not found since before March 2007. Ground zero yielded a rather large packrat's nest, but nothing that looked like a decon container. We eventually expanded our range out thirty and forty feet, but couldn't come up with the cache. I posted a DNF last night and within minutes, the cache was archived. I think had we know the cache had some possible issues, we might have taken another route, but then we wouldn't have found that benchmark, nor the one further on down the trail. It's one of those "Roads Not Taken" type of situations.

We started making our way north along the Eastridge trail commenting about the lack of caches along the trail. Chaosmanor brought a small container that we used down the trail to hide one cache, but there could have been quite a few nice caches hidden along this trail without even getting close to the cache saturation level. It's almost as if this trail had been forgotten by the locals here. Either that, or they're still working on it. I prefer the latter approach because you could say the same thing about the Claremont Wilderness Park near my house. There are still some great areas for caches, but I haven't gotten around to it yet. Eventually, as I'm sure the locals down there will do the same over time. It was just surprising to see this long trail with only one cache on it.

After Chaosmanor hid his cache and we checked (beta-tested) his coordinates, we continued along the ridge toward its northern terminus. At the junction of two trails at the north end we found another benchmark and a nice reference post pointing to the benchmark. We took our pictures of this benchmark, marveled at the nice view and noticed a game trail leading beyond the two trails, where it looked like another decent cache could be hidden.

We then made our way down to the dashpoint. We needed to be 100 meters (328 feet) or closer to the point to score. At the top of the ridge, we'd gotten to about 500 feet away, so we figured we'd get closer heading down along the second trail. Well, we got a little bit closer, but only to 400 feet along the trail, so we had to do some bushwacking to get within scoring distance. Once we got to 296 feet or so, we figured we were good. To zero out on this one, would have meant hiking down into a draw then back up the next ridge and over it, bushwacking all the way. Nah. We scored and that was good enough for this particular game.

The hike back down to the car netted us 5 well done larger caches, one very well cammoed that the Tadpole got to first. He was pretty proud of himself with that find because it was well hidden in plain site. Back at the car, the GPSr's internal odometer showed us we'd hiked 5.46 miles. It gave us a good workout as my calves will attest to this morning. Five caches found, two benchmarks logged, one dashpoint scored and a good hike with friends and family made it a very good day, one of those geocaching days that will stay with me for a long time.

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