We’ve vacationed in California at least 6 or 8 times over the past 10 or 12 years, always flying into L.A. This spring, we decided to try flying into Palm Springs instead. We were there just long enough to pick up our rental car and a case of bottled water when we flew in on March 25, as we had reservations in Carlsbad so that we could spend a couple of days at Legoland.
We drove back to Palm Springs on March 28, arriving around 2 pm. We went out for lunch, bought some groceries and settled into our rental villa, getting all set up for 4 days of hiking and geocaching.
We took it easy our first day, heading a bit north of Palm Springs on Hwy 111 towards the wind farms. After a quick stop at the visitors’ center, we started our day with a cache called WINDY POINT. It was so windy we left the GeoKids in the car; Mr. GeoK took several photos of the wind turbines while I tried to find the cache. Although I spotted a lot of interesting wave patterns in the sand, I didn’t spot the cache and had to ask Mr. GeoK for some help. Of course he spotted it about 30 seconds later! After heading further north up the highway to find a safe turn-around point, we worked our way back towards town, stopping to hunt another 10 caches heading into downtown Palm Springs for lunch. We found 9 out of 10, but taking a DNF on We DARE Them! It’s already been found 4 times since we missed it, so we’ll have to try again our next visit to Palm Springs. Our favourite hides this morning were Lock Nest Monster and If the Shoe Fits…both hidden by Wheeler Dealers.
On Sunday we headed to the north end of Joshua Tree National Park, where our goal was to make the required observations and gather the necessary information to log 4 earthcaches, all set up by TerryDad2 who has set up more than 150 earthcaches. We did quite a bit of walking in the desert, saw lots of Joshua trees, a couple of desert hares and lots of wild flowers while earning our earthcache smileys.
We left the park around 1 o’clock and cached all the way back to Palm Springs, for a total of 29 finds. Of course we had to get one more – for an even 30 – with a quick stop just a km or so from our villa. We really chuckled when we read the description for Walk of Thighs. But our favourite cache was Lost and Found, hidden by Joshua Tree Bonnie&Clyde. In fact we received an e-mail from them today, confirming that we had fulfilled the requirements to log "Lost and Found" so we converted our Note into a Found It log.
Monday we headed out to the Mecca area, to the southeast of Palm Springs, to tackle the Painted Canyon – Ladder Trail hike. This was one of the most notable experiences of our spring vacation. Wheeler Dealers have hidden several geocaches just off the dirt road which takes you the last 8 or 10 km to the trailhead, as well as several more geocaches along the trails in the area.
Ladder Canyon was geologically fascinating. It’s located along the San Andreas fault and if you head up Painted Canyon about a little less than a km, you’ll see a big arrow made of rocks on the canyon floor, pointing to the start of Ladder Trail. After a short scramble up a couple of rocky sections you’re in a narrow canyon – maybe a meter and a half wide and with walls as high as 75 meters. A short distance along the canyon you’ll come to the first ladder, which you have to climb down. A bit further along the canyon there are two ladders you climb up, the first about 6 or 7 rungs and the second about 15 rungs. Then the canyon floor gradually rises as you work your way along the twists and turns. There are all kinds of interesting rock features in the canyon walls.
Eventually the canyon starts to widen out, and you’re then in for about 150 meters of scramble (distance, not elevation). There’s a great viewpoint at the top and you can see the Salton Sea plus 360 degrees around. There’s also a really nice ammo can cache called, logically enough, Painted Canyon – Ladder Trail. I searched it out and left a TB and pathtag while Mr. GeoK took some photos. Of course we geocached all the way back to Palm Springs, for a total of 30 smileys again today.
When we got up on April 1, our last full day in Palm Springs, Mr. GeoK suggested we try for 40 finds, to reach our 1400 finds milestone. Well, it seemed like the April Fools spirit was with us all day, as we had troubles finding parking, ended up hunting for geocaches in illegal dumping areas, trying to find caches that were muggled, etc. By the time we stopped for lunch we’d only found 16 caches and were feeling pretty discouraged. But things improved a bit in the afternoon and we finally found #40 at about 4:30. By then we were so tired, hot and dirty we headed back to our rental villa to spend a couple hours in the pool & hot tub before packing up for our flight home the next morning. It worked out that #1400 was a Wheeler Dealer hide, which seemed appropriate since we really liked their camo techiques and hide locations and ended up finding 53 of their hides this trip!
Even though we found over 100 caches in the Palm Springs area this trip, there are hundreds (if not thousands) more waiting to be found. Family concensus is that we’ll definitely be back. And flying in and out of Palm Springs is MUCH more pleasant that flying in and out of L.A. The airport is smaller, the traffic is practically non-existent in comparison and the secruity lines are MUCH shorter. This is definitely the way to go next time!
Thanks to all the Palm Springs area cachers for all the great hides. We had an excellent time geocaching here and came away with lots of new ideas for hiding techniques we hope to use in the Calgary area.