July 2009
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On Target – Geocaching and Mirrors

This past Friday afternoon I picked up Jacob for a Boy Scout overnight campout. We traveled to Blue Jay Campground in the Cleveland National Forest. It is at a mere 3400’ and it was hot. We were going to be cooking foil diners once there were coals to cook on. That required a fire to start the coals. It was amazing how many different thought there are on how to get a fire started and keep it going. Once there were coals, dinner was on. Dinner tasted great.

It probably was no cooler than 70 degrees Friday night. It provided a little difficult for sleeping. The night also went quickly as we were up at 5:30 so we could get on the road at 6. We needed to travel 18 miles on a bumpy dirt road and the travel speed was not expected to be very fast. We were on the way to Santiago Peak, a peak of 4,387 feet for On Target, an activity where the Boy Scouts go to mountain peaks and signal each other with mirrors. It is the tallest peak in the Santa Ana Mountains and Orange County.

Our first stop on the trip to stretch our legs gave a couple of us a chance to grab a Geocache. We made the 100+ yard dash from the main road to the cache. We were close and had to do a little looking for Temecula Valley View #2. We found the ammo can buried under some rocks. We grabbed a travel bug from the cache to move to a different location. We started to make the trek back to the truck and a horn honked. That meant it was time to run so we could get back on the road.

We stopped the trucks close to the top of Santiago Peak and I went to find signal for my BlackBerry so that I could get cache information. The closest cache was Saddleback’s April Fool’s Day Cache. We headed towards the cache. We went right back to the trucks and 5 feet away was the cache. Jacob saw it first and made the grab. We decided to do the other close cache, Talking Mountain. We headed west and down a slope in small rocks. One of the boys said, I heard a rattlesnake. I did not hear any such noise so I just kept looking. Albeit, extremely carefully. We got close to Ground Zero (GZ) and again, Jacob made the find. We signed the log and climbed back up to the road never hearing or seeing anything snake like.

As for the operation On Target we saw the mirror flashes from Mt. Baden Powell, Keller Peak and Mt. San Gorgonio and we were seen at Keller Peak and Mt. San Gorgonio as confirmed by our HAM radio. The boys interest faded after about 45 minutes.

Operating the mirror in the sitting position

Operating the mirror in the sitting position

They found other thing to do, like protect a large group of ladybugs. At least that was better than throwing rocks.

Boys saving the lady bugs

Boys saving the lady bugs

On the way down from Santiago Peak where we stopped the truck and the boys jumped out and followed as I got closer to GZ. Not much where my GPS lead me, but about 10 feet away was a possible hiding location. I reached up through a large hole in the side of a metal pipe that was used for a gate post and found a metal box attached by magnets. I made the grab and pulled the box out into the open. The boys looked in amazement as I pulled a hornets’ nest out with the cache container. Along with the nest came the hornets. One of the boys quickly flattened the nest as it fell to the ground. We all stepped back and safely signed the log. I braved the hornets and placed the cache back.

We made the trip back to the campground to pick up the car without any more stops. Two hours of slow moving on a dirt road listening to boys chatter is oft times trying. On the other hand, Scouting and Geocaching is exciting and always an adventure.

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