Sunday, June 27, 2010

Geocaching thread

I intend for this to be a thread for reporting my use of lights and knives while in the pursuit of geocaches. So far, that mostly means these will be Pacific Salt anecdotes, since it's been my official caching knife so far, used for cutting through weeds and poking around in potentially treacherous spots. Another tool worth mentioning, though its role is not so noteworthy on a case by case basis, is the ZebraLight H30. It's become my official geocaching area light; a job for which it is ideally suited. I clip it to a chest pocket, angled downwards, and activate it when it comes time to open a cache and sign the log. It gives me a smooth field of hands free light wherever I'm facing, without having to bother with a more cumbersome and suspicious headlamp.

6/27: My first day of caching. Used the Pacific to poke around through pine cones and pieces of bark to find two caches on the ranch. Returned out of the depths of the forest around dusk, so I used the Apex and warm Clicky to find my way home.

6/28: Found a couple more caches on the ranch, used Pacific to poke around in rocks and bushes. Used Apex for light.

6/29: Did some caching on Moonstone, used Pacific to drag caches out from under the boardwalk rather than reaching down into there.

6/30: Went out for a day of caching with Ian, Katie, Brian, and Justin. We went to the end of Harmony Headlands for a cache out there, which we didn't find. I poked around some bushes and branches with Pacific for a while with no sign of it.

7/15: Used Pacific to dig around in storm drain debris looking for a difficulty 3.5 cache that had been sitting inactive for three months waiting for a new log. Found it and added a log to get it back online. Used UK Rescue to cut a strip of paper for the log. Also used the SF L1 to give me some strong and focused illumination for peering down into the drain. I'm starting to think it would be nice to get one of the new FRN UK Rescues just for caching. It's cheap enough to beat up like I do to the Pacific, can be easily disassembled for easy cleaning, but the sheepsfoot tip would make it much better suited for digging through stuff. It'd be the next best thing to an Atlantic. As it is, I have to be very careful not to damage the cache I'm trying to pry out.

8/10: Went after Bill Kerr Trail on my bike. Sped down the forest path around sunset with Apex hanging off my backpack, pointing more or less forward. Think I had a Clicky wedged under my hand too. Used Pacific to clear some spider webs away from the cache before reaching for it, after retrieving it from the creek bed, as I'd just had to do with my camera as well. Clumsy day. The highlight of this cache was meeting Jimmy, the little orange cat who lives nearby.

8/25: My log for Pine Line:
"Whew! This one ended up being quite an adventure, and it was probably the most frustrating of the caches I did end up finding, mostly because I made it harder than it should have been at every opportunity. I headed out in the early evening on my bike, not really intending to go caching. Since I was on that side of the ranch, I decided to go after this one, but rather than heading straight up the hill I thought it would be easier to take the indirect route by going out through Seaclift Estates, up the first road, and then out the path at the top of the hill, which I (correctly) figured would take me right by the cache area. Well, that nearly killed me. In my attempt to show what a manly cyclist I am, I pushed way too hard on a serious hill and ended up almost passing out in a nice fellow's yard (he gave me water and refrained from calling me a pansy) near the top. After recovering, I made it the rest of the way up and out to the cache area, but when I got to just about GZ I found it to be a perfect potential mountain lion den, and something biggish was rustling in the bushes just on the other side of the downed tree. By that point, I'd come too far to let anything stop me, but I didn't want to get an unpleasant surprise either (better to be paranoid than dinner), so I headed around the bush to try to get a view of what seemed to be watching me before it got the drop on me. So there I was, looking like a crazy idiot, calling out to the bush to let it know that I didn't want any trouble, with a knife in each hand [Pacific and Endura] ready to meet a charge... when I look over my shoulder and see someone walking down the trail behind me. Quickly stash knives and pull out camera, try to look like a sane and nonthreatening nature lover, just in time to greet a nice older lady who wanted me to bring my red bike back up the trail for a photo op in front of the mossy tree along the main trail. I obliged, rode back up to the tree, made some small talk as the fog rolled in and the light ebbed out, then said goodbye to the nice photo muggle and headed back to GZ.

I actually looked right at where the cache was hidden and gave the area a cursory glance because I thought it looked like a good hiding place, but I didn't take it seriously because the gps was leading me deeper into this miniature section of woods. I never did figure out what was rustling, but it had quieted down by now so I decided to just carefully go for it. I couldn't find a convenient way in, so I ended up crouching down and nearly crawling my way into the middle of it, where I searched for about half an hour without any luck. On the plus side, I was able to practice some CITO action and collect a number of beer cans (which I took a closer look at after reading the hint) and a water bottle that appeared to have been made into a bong. Guess it's not a lion that hangs out here.... Finally I checked the gps again and found that it was now leading me back out of the wooded area... straight back to the obvious spot I'd already looked over. Clambered back out, took a closer look, immediately spotted something out of place, and there it was. Oy. Signed the log, replaced the cache, looked up just in time to see an owl fly over my head. By this time, it was almost 9pm, fully dark, and the thick fog had coated my waiting bike in a layer of dew. Affixed my bundle of CITO treasure to the handlebars, prepared my light, sealed up the softshell, and bombed back over the hill by the direct route this time. I was never so glad to make it back to the terrace trail; my quick ride across the ranch and back turned into a 4.5 mile, 2 hour adventure that I at one point thought I might not make it back from under my own power. Quite an evening. Good hide, TFTC!"

9/21: Got the FTF on Barking Up the Wrong Tree. Searched a long while and at one point got frustrated enough that I used the Pacific to saw through a small dead branch that was getting in my way. It did it well.

10/01: Went up to the top of Happy Hill and took a walk through the forest to find "End of the Road - Cambria Pines," which we'd had to give up on at the end of June. This was the first cache with my new caching knife, a plain edge Cara Cara Rescue. I mostly just chopped some weeds with it, but its rounded tip was nice for poking around in pine cones and bark when I got to the GZ.

10/10: No tools needed for Rusty Bridge to Nowhere, but I did take advantage of the interesting rusty surface to take some photos of the Pacific.

1/4: Joe discovered that my "Stairing at the Sea" cache had gone missing, so I replaced it with a new one, this time screwed into place. It was a tough job in a small space at an awkward angle, but I got it installed with light from the H30.

2/01: Found "MB Back Bay Surprise" out in the Morro Bay marina area. The wet log on this one finally convinced me of the value of my space pen, so I decided to finally get some refills for it.

2/24: Finally finished "Adobe Abode" and had quite an adventure doing it. Along the way I got to quickly explore the old adobe with the warm Clicky.

2/06: Haven't been doing much caching lately, so today Michelle and I headed out to Pine Mountain in Atascadero to look for a couple. We got there just before sunset, so we ended up doing a bit of trail walking by flashlight. I had the 100Chc and she borrowed the ZL SC51w. Unfortunately, no finds. My records getting really bad.