Sunday, March 28, 2010

Old School

Yesterday, Chaosmanor and I found an "Old School" cache.  We found a rather longish trail that started in Topanga Canyon near Malibu.  In the link, our caching trip started with the cache right near Topanga Canyon Blvd., went east, then south paralleling Topanga Canyon Blvd.  We'd met in the area, so we had two cars to use as a shuttle for this hike, since it was 6+ miles one way.

We found a variety of different sized caches from hidden bison tube micros to full scale ammo cans.  The variety of the caches is what makes any kind of trail like this very interesting, although this one didn't need many caches to keep it interesting.  Hiking along the ridge above Topanga Canyon afforded us with views of Los Angeles, as well as Santa Monica and the Pacific Ocean.  It was a good hike.

Now, get out your flux capacitor, get it up to 88 miles per hour and go back in time to December 2001.  At that time, there was one cache along that entire trail.  But that's the way it was back then.  You hiked in, usually several miles in the process, you found one cache, and then you hiked back out.

My very first cache find was a large 5 gallon bucket painted black.  Most of the cache containers were like that.  They usually contained log books, real log books with large pages where one could write down what they had experienced during the hike.  Usually, the view was decent to good and you sat, perhaps ate your sack lunch and contemplated the day.  Geocaching was like that.

As Chaosmanor and I walked along, we realized that we had an older cache situated along the trail.  In fact, he'd tried to get it four years ago, but had missed an important side trail and wasn't able to find it at that time.  Coming at it from the north, we had a do or die decision to make.  There was a trail leading up to the ridge where we knew the cache to be.  Should we take it, or continue on and try to find a back door to this cache?

We chose the back door route and as we walked along the fire road, we realized we might have made a mistake as we kept getting closer and closer.  My GPSr, at one point, read only 235 feet away.  However, there was probably 75 to 100 feet of vertical elevation to deal with as well.  As we started to go away from the cache, we looked ahead and realized the fire road went around a bend up ahead and it was there that we found the access trail that led up to The Pit Stop.

The trail walked along a ridge with plenty of vertical drop off on both sides.  It definitely wasn't for the faint of heart, but the views were worth any thrill we might be getting due to acrophobia.  Once near ground zero, we found a magnificent benchmark which we both admired.  I took a couple of pictures and then we started our search for the cache.

I went one way and Chaosmanor went the other and he ended up finding the cache first.  Being in that remote of an area, it didn't really need any camouflage and as you can see from the pictures, it didn't.  The log book didn't disappoint either.  Full pages, complete with full descriptions of experiences in the beginning, diminishing down to single line entries in the later years, or perhaps just signatures.

We spotted some old time cachers from the Southern California area, names that everyone knew because there were so few of us back then that we would literally follow each other to new caches every weekend.  I recognized names, such as gpsdave, sr.hikers, erik, and PezCachers.  Of those four, only PezCachers do I predate as far as geocaching longevity.  Erik has been geocaching since October 2000, sr.hikers since February 2001.  Gpsdave signed up two days before me in March 2001.  All appear to be still active in geocaching, based upon activity on their profiles.

Chaosmanor and I spent much more time here than we did at some of the other caches we found on Saturday.  We read through many of the log entries, getting a feel for what others thought of this cache.  We were reliving some geocaching history at this site.  The enjoyment of the hike was more than enough at the time.  It wasn't all about the numbers, it was about the experience.

There was no doubt that this cache would make my top 5% list.  I also decided to use this one as my qualifying cache for the LA County Quadrangle Challenge cache.  I only need 10 more quadrangles to qualify for that cache.  I suspect that I will be doing some more hiking, particularly in the fall when it cools down, to get some of the rest of those quadrangles.  Most of the ones I have left are fairly remote and will require some hiking to get.

At the end of the day, both of us were extremely tired.  Looking at a trail map, it looks like we walked about 6 miles.  I would suspect that it was over 7, because many of the caches were not placed directly on the trail.  Many you had to hike off the trail quite a ways to get to the cache.  The Pit Stop was an extra .15 mile each way off of the main trail.  That doesn't seem like much, but add a quarter mile to half a dozen caches and you have an extra mile and a half.   That's OK.  We were doing some Old School caching yesterday.

Pictures were taken at or near the following geocache:
The Pit Stop - by DahMooser and MsPea

Profile for Webfoot


Erika Jean said...

What an awesome find. The old school caches are such a treat to find. I've only been geocaching a year, but def. notices the difference ;-) I recently found Arizona's oldest cache. It was So neat. I blogged about it here.

I enjoyed your photos!

Ryan said...

Thanks so much for your kind words!

I was truly disappointed in for removing my virtual cache from Taipei (dragon's crossing), as it was the FIRST in asia. seems I didn't "check in" often enough... So, I kinda quit out of the whole thing. There is another old school cache within 2 miles or so of this one (you can see my home from Pitstop) called Pirate's booty, or something like that. Want an adventure? try that one.

Loved your blog post, made me feel like it was worth it, and reminded my of when caches led you on an adventure...the way I remember and intended it!!