Florian's 2001 hiking and stargazing blog
Hiked Cahuilla canyon with Wen to middle boulder. Kai wouldn't come. Little bit of sun but still kind of gray. Nice hike though. Watched a couple of ravens give a red tail hawk a hard time.
Had a day off today so took a bit of a longer hike. Had Wen drop me at the Art Smith trailhead at Hwy 74. I'd planned to hike through to either the Araby or Shannon trail and walk home. Just wasn't up for it today. Weather was overcast and i got a bit chilled. Also think i'm not quite fully recovered from a bit of a cold i had a week or two ago. Ended up walking down the Dunn road to Cathedral City. The bighorn closures are getting a bit excessive i think. At the Art Smith trailhead the sign says trail closed 1-Jan through 30-June. However about 45 minutes into the hike there are closure signs for 1-July through 30-Sept. I realize these are only voluntary closures but it only leaves 3 months where the trail is open.
Took the family holiday photo today. Wen and Kai compared heights this morning. Kai is about a half inch taller than Wen. Took 11 years but now Wen is the shortest in the family again.
Hiked up Araby trail with Wen and Kai to Ababy Hope geocache this morning. They hike so much slower than i do. Spent most of my time waiting for them to catch up. Was still a nice hike with them.
Walked up Dunn road from Rimrocks then westward. Came down via Shannon trail then walked home. Nice little morning hike.
December solstice just happened at 11:22am California time. I celebrated by balancing an egg, pointy end down even, and just disproved the you can only balance an egg on the equinox myth! Happy holidays and a happy new solar year to all... ;-)
Discovered a really nice little planetarium program called StarCalc. It's small, simple to configure, lots of options, and it's even FREE! If you're looking for a beginning star mapping program this one might suit you well.
Still playing around with the Nikon 10x42 SE binoculars. Found an old clamp type tripod adapter that i've had for decades. Fits the Nikons just fine. Tried them out on tripod at Saturn. Almost thought i could split the rings but couldn't. Seeing wasn't that good. Perhaps with perfect seeing the ring would split. I did see Saturn's moon Titan however!
Last night's flashing satellite was Iridium 914 (ID 24836). It's a tumbling Iridium. Was just lucky to have flashes aligned with me. Looked like a lighthouse in the sky!
Nice little morning hike up to my Cahuilla cache today. No one has visited since Bad-Bob way back in October. Left my old Swiss Army knife since i now have a new one with a hook! Visited the little palm grove north of the cache too.
Saw a very nice flashing satellite tonight that i can't identify. I've checked on the Heavens Above site but nothing seems to match. Satellite passed from north to south about 30 degrees east of overhead at around 18:15 local Calif time. (Time is not exact.) The flashes were very bright coming at about 5 second intervals. Almost like an airplane stobe. I followed the satellite with binoculars and i'm very sure it was indeed a satellite and not an airplane. When not flashing could not see with naked eye but i could see in binoculars between flashes. The flashes would have been quite noticable to anyone looking at the sky without optical aid. I'd really like to know what this may have been so i can watch for it in the future.
My new Nikon 10x42 Superior E binoculars arrived today! Yay! First out-of-the-box daylight tests are awesome. Widest apparent field of any binocular i own. Field sharp edge-to-edge. Looking at distant mountains with sun facing me are clear and contrasty with no apparent flare. Compared to a pair of plain binoculars that had so much flare i could hardly use them for the same view. Also compared the Nikons with my 10x25 Zeiss and the little Zeiss certainly held its own for their size. (I'll certainly continue to take the Zeiss pair on hikes.) Nikons have almost too much eye relief when used without glasses. Only disappointment is the hinge is not threaded for a tripod adapter. At least i don't think it is since the end cap does not seem to unscrew. A two other observations: 1. They weigh more than i thought they would. They aren't heavy, my postal scale says 26 oz, but i was somehow expecting them to be very light given they have a magnesium frame. (The Canon 10x30 IS with batteries is lighter at 23.5 oz. and the Zeiss 10x25B are only 6.5 oz!) and 2. The focus wheel is backwards. This isn't important of course, and just my preference, but when i focus with my right index finger i like to pull the wheel to focus closer, and push to focus farther. Skies are clear this afternoon so will try under the stars tonight. Comet LINEAR WM1 is still pretty well placed for me in the SW evening sky.
I'm just as happy with the Nikons now after star testing. Stars focus nicely and after adjusting for right-eye diopter difference i came up exactly at zero. ;-) The Pleadies were very nice and Saturn shows a definite elongation. Don't think i can actually resolve the rings though. Can easily see 3 of Jupiter's moons. (Ganymede is presently in front of the planet and not visible.) I did notice something odd... Although edge-to-edge focus is very good on stars (but not perfect) i noticed the left-to-right focus is better than the top-to-bottom focus. I'd rather the side-to-side focus be better of course but i'm wondering why the difference? I'd think with circular optics that edge-to-edge focus would be the same all around. Why would top-to-bottom not be as good as left-to-right?
Comet LINEAR WM1 is still quite easy low in the south although the moon will spoil the view soon. Easy through the Nikon 10x42. Tried for NGC 55 in Sculptor with the 20x80. It's right on the limit. Could just barely pickup a trace of the galaxy through the big glasses.
Made a nice through hike in the mountains south of Palm Springs this morning. Went up via Andreas Hills and then down via Araby. Visited the Flag Over Palm Springs cache on my way toward home. No one has visited the new tin of patriotic goodies yet. Lots of good stuff still there. Someone has also put up a nice new American flag on the peak. Something i find funny is the original flag was made in China and the new one was made in Canada.
Bought the yule tree today... a Noble fir. Kai did a nice job decorating. Strung the little red chili pepper lights outside. Bah humbug.
Comet LINEAR WM1 still easy in the 20x80 now in Sculptor low in the south-west. Certainly a different part of the sky than when i first saw the comet in Perseus high in the north-east.
Hiked to Pushwalla Palms this morning from the 1000 Palms visitor center. Hiked in along the ridge above Horseshoe Palms and back out via the wash north of the ridge. Another lovely clear day. A bit chilly at first but warmed up once i got hiking. Stopped for lunch and a Tecate cerveza at San Miguel's on my way home!
Also received a letter from the Department of Interior today informing me that the National Park Service had removed my two geocaches from Joshua Tree National Park. I was sorta bummed out although i do understand their stance on caches in the parks. It was nice of them to let me know the caches were gone and that i could come to headquarters and collect them if i wanted. Sigh...
Hadn't looked for comet LINEAR WM1 for a few days. Went out tonight with 20x80 binoculars. Finally found this very dim smudge south of Diphda (Deneb Kaitos). I was really surprised how dim the comet got in just a couple of days. Was glad to have one last look as i was sure it would be too dim to find in another day. Well, i eventually realized what i was looking at was galaxy NGC 253 (the Sculptor Galaxy) and not the comet at all. Found the comet a bit west and south and still quite bright and easy. Was a very nice surprise to find a galaxy by accident!
Went out again a bit later with better dark adapted eyes. NGC 253 is quite easy now showing a nice elongated shape. Also could just barely see globular cluster NGC 288 nearby. Tried for galaxy NGC 247 a bit north but this one is out of range of the 20x80.
Hiked to the top of Murray Hill this morning from Andreas Hills trailhead. Great hike! Perfect crystal clear day with sharp views all around.
Hike south Lykken northward towards Tahquitz ridge. Were a bunch of cars parked near the dike but oddly didn't see anyone along the trail. Took the shortcut trail down.
School field trip with Kai's class to Julian. Toured the Eagle Mountain gold mine. Was pretty neat. I like tunnels!
Probably about my best view of comet LINEAR WM1 tonight. Comet just north of Diphda in Cetus. Could just see a hint of tail though the 20x80 in the moderately light polluted skies of Palm Springs.
Made a nice loop hike this morning by going up the Araby trail and then coming down the Shannon. My original plan was to climb Murray Hill but the overcast and cool breeze changed my mind once i got to the top of Araby. I wasn't dressed for cool weather at all. Will save that climb for another day.
Comet LINEAR WM1 in Cetus. Pretty good through 20x80 but much dimmer through 10x30. Moon was just coming up as well. Checked Jupiter and saw all 4 moons. 2 below and other 2 very close above. Had a peek at the tramway Christmas tree too.
Hiked with Wen and Kai up the middle Lykken trail from Ramon to the English Tom geocache. Upgraded the cache a bit by replacing the plastic bag with a real cookie tin. Also added a new notebook. Kai donated a couple of little Beanie Babies to the cache.
Had a spectacular day out on the desert east. Visited two geodashing points (GD6-01272 and GD6-01294) and then drove up Red Cloud Mine road. Can't believe i've never been up this road before. Was beautiful! The cholla cactus are amazing. Have some pictures here. Found the Red Cloud Mine geocache too. On the way out drove up Chuckwalla mtn to the very top. I was surprised the road was unlocked. Kind of spooky at the top with all the radio/microwave towers. Incredible views all around. And an incredibly steep road to the top too.
Watched the full moon and Saturn rise this evening. Saturn was just off the edge of moon. Very close.
Uranus easy to find tonight making a nice little right-angle pattern with Mars and the stars Nashira and Deneb Albiedi. (Moonlight too bright to find comet LINEAR.)
Saw comet LINEAR WM1 in Aries early this morning after work. Getting fairly obvious in binoculars.
Started this blog on xanga.com but think i want to do it all myself so here we are. Hm...
Climbed Skyline trail to Wrong Way Rock at the 3900 foot level. What a great trail. Haven't been there for 10+ years. Trail still in good shape. Took about 2 hours 15 mins from start to WWR. About 2 hours down. Saw 3 bighorn sheep on way down. Blustery day and somewhat overcast. Cool weather made for good hiking. Two guys were on trail ahead of me. Looked like they were planning to go all they way through. Hope they were prepared. Clouds were coming over the upper ridge.
About 4pm it started to RAIN! Yay!! (Really hope those guys up the Skyline are okay.)
Hiked up to the peak south of my house this morning and place a replacement for the Flag Over Palm Springs cache.
Saw Uranus tonight. Near the moon and Mars. Was pretty dim. Use binoculars. Mars and Uranus will be very near each other on Sunday night.
Saw Harry Potter movie today with Kai. He loved it. I liked it okay. I guess i'm just not into fantasy as much as he is.
Hike Cahuilla canyon to waterfall. Bang my knee on a boulder but didn't hurt anything permanently. I really don't like hiking up canyon bottoms very much.
Leonid meteor shower this morning. Watched from the back yard. Was seeing 10+ per minute for a while. Never seen so many meteors before!
Anza-Borrego day trip. Find 4 new geocaches! Details on my geocaching page.
Hike north Lykken from Alejo to Chino ridge then shortcut back through Las Palmas.
Hike Garstin trail to flag then down via Andreas Hills with Wen. Kai was in school but Wen had holiday.
Hike middle Lykken to English Tom cache.
Hike up Fargo and Rockhouse canyons to geodashing waypoint GD5-01257 and tunnel. Hide new cache in tunnel.
Wednesday, 10/31/2001 (Halloween)
Hike south Lykken to vista point.
Hike Lykken to Tahquitz overlook and hide new cache.
Hike up to Araby Hope cache. Corrected coordinates on Geocaching.com.
Hike to La Quinta Ocotillo cache. This cache has been on my to do list for ages. Good to finally visit.
Hike railroad tracks to Dos Hombres cache in Anza-Borrego. Should have carried a bit more water. Spectacular hike! Had to drive home and then work nightshift afterwards. Wish i'd had the whole day off.
Spend the day in Anza-Borrego. Found 4 new geocaches. Details on my geocaching page. Camp at Indian Gorge. Tomorrow will hike!
Hike Cahuilla canyon to lower boulder.
Hike Shannon trail to flag with Wen and Kai. Kai complained a bit about the hike but i think he liked seeing the flag.
Hike Shannon trail to flag on Smoketree mtn. Got hot hiking up.
Hike Cahuilla canyon to cache with Wen and Kai.
Ella Wash camping trip with OWL group. Lovely warm/clear/still evening.
Hike Cahuilla canyon to upper boulder.
Hike Cahuilla canyon to cache.
Camp at Truckhaven by myself. First desert camp of the season. A bit warm but nice still quiet evening.
Leave camp about 10:30am. Stop in Julian then drive home via desert. Lunch at Burger King on way home.
Hike to Phil's Memorial geocache in morning. See Venus/Moon pairing in daylight. Move to site #27 to get out of the wind. Drive to Mt. Laguna store for ice.
Start vacation week. Drive to Mt. Laguna via Anza-Borrego. Avindra comes with us. Stop at Truckhaven geocache on the way and are overrun with flies. Camp at site #6. Breezy afternoon and evening.
Leave camp at noon. Rain on drive home.
Drive to Barton Flats with family. Avindra comes with us. Camp at same site as last year. #38. Nice afternoon and evening.
Walk up to fire lookout. Hide Black Mountain geocache. Home about 2:30pm.
Drive to Boulder Basin campground with family. Arrive about noon. Regular site #33. Very nice. Not many flies this year.
Hike up Araby trail and place Araby Hope geocache. Really too hot for hiking anymore.
Hike up Lykken trail again and find cache this time.
Hike middle Lykken trail looking for English Tom geocache. Didn't find it.
Find Sandstone Nipple cache then drive home.
I go to Anza-Borrego and camp at Truckhaven. Found the other Truckhaven virtual caches. Nice afternoon but breezy after sunset.
Return to Grotto with Wen and Kai. Meet Steve and Eve. Lunch at Maggie's in Indio.
Drive Meccacopia Trail and hike through the Grotto to Hidden Spring and back. Great day!
Hike Painted Canyon to ladder cache.
Hike up to Cahuilla cache.
Break camp and drive to Zabriskie Point. Drive out via Death Valley Junction then Shoshone and Baker. Mexican lunch in Baker. (Wasn't very good.) Drive home same route we came. Place dinocache near Amboy. Also stop at Pinto Mtn cache. Get home a bit after 4:00pm.
Nicer morning than last night. Drive toward Rhyolite. Find Chloride Cache on the way. First cache for everyone except me. Explore around Rhyolite a bit then market in Beatty. Drive back to valley and out to sand dunes. The boys play in sand a bit. Drive up to Emigrant station and then back to camp at 3:15pm. Nice afternoon and evening. No wind. Sit and look at stars after dinner.
Leave camp about 8:30am and drive north to Ubehebe Crater. Cool and windy. Drive dirt road to Teakettle Junction and the Racetrack. Place geocache at Teakettle Junction. Walk out on Racetrack and have lunch at parking area. Realize right-rear tire is flat. Change tire and give a young guy also with flat tire a ride out. Make it back to camp about 4:15pm. Tired and dusty. Get supplies at store. Have a VERY windy evening. Wen and the boys go to evening ranger talk. Wen sleeps in truck with me since her tent looks like it's going to blow over.
Start Death Valley vacation. Kai brings Matthew Miller. Leave home about 8:30am. Drive up via 29 Palms, Amboy, Kelso, Baker, Shoshone, south park entrance. Stop at Kelso Dunes on way. Fresh snow on a lot of the desert peaks. Visit Kelso station. Lunch at Burger King in Baker. Drive up thru valley and stop at Badwater. Arrive Furnace Creek campground about 4:00pm. Buy calendar and some maps at visitor center. Camp at site #101. Bit breezy evening but not uncomfortably so. Wen and the boys go to evening ranger talk. I sleep in truck because my back is sore.
Leave house about 9:00am eastbound on I10. Cottonwood exit to Maniobra Valley. Drive over Red Canyon Trail to Salt Creek. Really nice drive. Road in good shape. Drive up Red Canyon then hike to Red Canyon ME geocache. Nice canyon. Lots of wildflowers and thousands of little fuzzy caterpillars running about. Drive on eastward on Bradshaw to Graham Pass geocache. Getting cold and windy now. Even a few sprinkles. Drive home via I10. Home about 4:00pm. Great day out.
Drive up Berdoo Canyon after taking Kai to school. Road in pretty good shape. Couple of rough spots. Once at crest have nice views north across geology tour road to bright field of sand verbena. Drive out 29 Palms entrance of park. Pay $10. On eastward on Hwy 62. Find Pinto Mtn geocache then on to Dale mining district. Find Virgina Dale geocache and 1883 silver dollar! Continue thru Dale. Place gilacache and drive out Cottonwood entrance. Nice wildflowers. Home about 4:30pm. Great day!
Hike to SHARP benchmark SE of Ella Wash. Another register. Drive around via Arroyo Salado to 17 Palm area. SUGAR benchmark is on top of a mud hill. Hike to TEEN benchmark but decide to forgo COACH as it's getting warm and i'm tired and ready to go home. Stop by my Truckhaven geocache on the way out. Left radiometer and took magnifying glass and illusion card deck. Home a bit after noon. Was a really good trip.
Breezy night. Much cooler. Left camp a bit after 7am. Climbed up to Pelvis benchmark. Didn't find a benchmark but did find a tiny little logbook in a film canister. Drove up to Blair Valley and sought out the Yaqui geocache. Decided not to climb up to the Peek-a-boo cache. I'd had enough climbing and someone was camped near. Drove on over to Fish Creek. Stopped to fill out a survey on park usage at the entrance to Split Mtn. Sought out the Oyster Shell Wash cache. Really nice cache. Was running low on gas and almost drove into Borrego Springs. Noticed sign at old Ocotillo station that Blue-In had gas 5 miles to the east. Sure enought, they do. Drove back to and up Palo Verde wash to Ella Wash site. Perfect evening in camp. Still, clear, calm, perfect. Can see Canopus to the south and watched a nice crescent Venus set.There are a lot of little bugs walking around the screen as i type this. Better shut down i guess.
Got up early. Was getting quite bright by 5:30am. Nice quiet morning in camp. Left a bit after 7:00am. Drove down to the Well of Eight Echos. From there hiked toward the NE to place my own geocache. Had planned to place at the VALLE benchmark but discovered this was down from the ridge a bit. Place it instead a bit west of the benchmark on a higher ridge. Cache is Overland in a large cinnamon Altoids tin. Left a new Smith & Wesson double-bladed pocket knife. Interesting side note: There were two sets of footprints, maybe 8 people in each group, headed NW between where i parked truck and the cache. At first i thought were from people out hiking but then figured out these were probably from people coming up from Mexico. One set of tracks was very fresh. Once back to truck drove down Vallecito wash and stopped near the VALLE benchmark. Hiked up to mark from the wash. Was surprised to find a register in nested red tin cans. Seems was placed by the Borrego Benchmark Club. Very intersting. Must learn more of this. Back to truck then over to the next geocache at the mud cave. Walked up the main mud cave and found the belly-crawl. No way am i going to crawl thru that! Climbed up the steep way. This isn't good for erosion. Found the cache and wrote in logbook. Had meant to leave a Palm Springs keychain but didn't realize i'd forgotten till i got back down in the mudcave. Wasn't about to climb back up. After cave drove back out same way and up to the Aqua Caliente store. Bought beer and ice. Drove down to Bow Willow to get water and throw out trash. Campground was almost full. Back to Indian Gorge site about 3:00pm. Was quite tired. Tried to nap a bit but didn't sleep. Windy afternoon but not really a problem. Cooler in the evening than last night. And no low flying helicopters. Darn.
After taking Kai to school in the morning drive down to Anza-Borrego for a little mini spring vacation. Stop at Vons in Coachella for ice and beer. Drive down via Hwy 86, Westmoreland and Plaster City. Stop for gas in Ocotillo. Had planned to find geocache near Indian Hill. Stopped at old railroad trestle near the water tank thinking this was the correct wash. Not sure why i thought this was the place. It's not. Hiked for close to an hour before i knew i was in the wrong canyon. Things just didn't look right from the start but i was somehow trusting the GPS and hadn't really thought it out. Got back to where truck was parked to find i had locked keys inside. Bugger. Used a rock to smash right-rear side window. The window exploded into thousands of parts. Cut myself a bit too. But was still kinda fun to break open a window! Once back in truck drove up to the right trailhead. Followed trail up past Indian Hill to where the Powder Can Cache cache is. Really neat area. Found the cache, took pictures, wrote in log book, left a Palm Springs keychain. Was glad to get back to truck. Hiked a lot more today than i'd planned and is warm. Drove out via Mortero wash and then to regular Indian Gorge site. Windy afternoon but settled down in evening. Really nice night. Warmish. Just right really. Had a cool pass of a military helicopter just west of me very low after dark. That would be fun to do!
Hike Cahuilla Canyon to cache.
Place geocache in Cahuilla Canyon.
Anza-Borrego day trip. Place my first geocache near Truckhaven trail. Drive Palo Verde and Ella washes.
Hike Shannon Trail to Smoke Tree mtn with Wen and Kai. Rattlesnake at top!