el diablo robotico (platypus) wrote,
el diablo robotico
platypus

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On Saturday, we went to Penasquitos Canyon to start The Hunt for Red October, a fifteen-leg multicache. We knew it would be a long walk (6-7 miles) and involve a fair bit of terrain. It was good to do this cache before we found too many others in the area, since we'd probably end up walking right past several of them in the course of doing this one.

So where was the first waypoint? The waterfall? Del Mar Mesa? Nope... straight up that hill ahead. It was about 200 feet, I think, and the trail was about as vertical as you can get while still defining what you're doing as walking rather than climbing. Someone had actually put paving stones in for footing in some places, but a lot of them had been washed down by the rain over the course of however many months or years they've been out there. Near the top, though, some were wedged in (at a 90-degree angle to the ground, mind you) well enough that they actually helped.

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Eventually we made it to the top. I'd brought a lot of water for the long hike we were anticipating, and it was heavy and my shoulder already hurt. It was sunnier and hotter than we'd been expecting, too. I know it's hard to get a proper sense of perspective from pictures like this, but you see that little tiny car parked on the left side of the curved road way down there? That's our car.



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Whee! Power lines swooping over to the next hilltop. Power line roads are your friends, because vehicles have to be able to drive on them, and thus they are not usually insanely steep.

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At each location there was a small tube tied to a branch, and inside the tube was a little slice of PVC pipe like this. On the pipe were stickers with the coordinates for where we needed to go next. Putting the information on something durable like this, instead of a piece of paper, was really smart; all these waypoints have been out there for five years now, and they're still in great shape. This cache was modeled on a predecessor called "The Walkabout," which was placed in 2001; for that cache, each waypoint was a ziploc bag with pieces of paper in it. It didn't last six months before bits were falling apart or getting wet or disappearing. So the fact that, five years later, this fifteen-part cache is intact is amazing. It's needed occasional maintenance, and right now a few of the containers have fallen on the ground instead of remaining tied to a branch, but for the most part it's fine.

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I just liked all the geometric stuff going on here. The first few waypoints were on the hilltop, so we didn't have to do any more climbing to get to them. One was near this tower.

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Deer tracks! Also, the dirt is very red in some areas of the canyon. It's like being on Mars.

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Martian rock!

As we went from location to location for Red October, we also kept an eye on the GPSr for other nearby caches. Ken saw that a puzzle cache he'd solved, called My Sage Words, had coordinates nearby, so we went to find it. (We also found a roundabout but much shallower path down the hill, so we didn't have to go back down that steep slope we initially climbed. Which was good, because I'd have had to skid down most of that one on my butt.)

At the coordinates for My Sage Words, we pushed through some bushes, thinking we were going to find a cache there, but all we saw was this strange post:

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Eventually, from reading other people's logs, we realized that My Sage Words is also a multi-parter, even though there's nothing in its description to suggest that. And apparently this post has something to do with it. So I guess we need to figure out what the hell these symbols are trying to communicate.

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We are open to suggestions, since we have no ideas so far.

It was pretty annoying to have this other cache unexpectedly get more complicated. I mean, it's one thing when the description says you're going to find some mysterious post in the woods and you have some idea what you're supposed to do about it. It's another when you think you've solved the puzzle (it was just a Word document with some quotations, the solution involved measuring how many inches long each quote was) and then you get... this. How are you supposed to figure out what to do with this in the field? You can't. So we took these pictures, and I guess we'll be back some other time when we've figured it out.

Meanwhile, back to Hunt for Red October. We'd found four waypoints by then, but the trail doubled back on itself and took us right past our car. We were hot and tired and somewhat irritated with My Sage Words, and we knew there would probably be five miles or so of hiking left to find Red October. And so, reluctantly, we called it quits for the day. We'd covered a whopping 2.5 miles in about three hours -- when we're caching, we often end up averaging about one mile an hour, because it's not just walking, it's searching and signing in and plotting where we're going. Plus, the hills don't count as much horizontal distance, but it sure takes time to get to the top.

So that was Saturday's caching -- but we still had Sunday and Monday to go.
Tags: geocaching
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