Climbing In The Virginia Range, More Geocaching, And GO GPS!

4 11 2010

Last week I invited Ayo to join me on a hike in the Virginia Range, a few miles northeast of the RV. Delightfully, she accepted and we headed out to Hidden Valley Regional Park, a recreation area where we could park the RV and set out from.

What’s wonderful about (a) having an awesome GPS unit, and (b) the area that we were, is that there were lots of narrow intersecting trails winding their way across the mountains. I had planned on meandering through a valley and deciding where to go from there, but Ayo picked a peak and decided on it as our goal.

The climbing was steep – at times over 45% grade! – and we took some breaks, but reaching the peak gave us a wonderful feeling of accomplishment. After relaxing for a bit, building a small fire and cooking some lunch, we started on down, combining on- and off- trail hiking on our way back to the RV where…. Ayo realized that her phone was missing.

Ayo Making Her Way Up

Ayo Making Her Way Up

It's Hard To Show Grade In A Photo, But Here's A Shot

It's Hard To Show Grade In A Photo, But Here's A Shot

Enjoying A Fire At The Peak

Enjoying A Fire At The Peak

She had received a call from a close friend on the hike down, so we knew that the phone had been dropped somewhere on the mountainside, but that information wasn’t too helpful. Enter… the new GPS!

We went back the next day and with some quick button-pushing on the GPS reversed our route down from the day before. (Actually, it was me. I work solo on phone rescue missions.) Based on the time of the call, I used the GPS track log to determine the last time that Ayo definitely had the phone. The hike up the mountain was surprisingly fun and easy. I took my time, making sure that I was precisely on route and scouring the rocky hillside for a black rectangle that would look suspiciously like a rock. No dice. Once I reached the “Ayo had the phone above this elevation” point I decided to continue on up to the peak, both for fun and… to check on the geocache we had planted there the day before! All was well and the cache was still there. [Update: I’ve since returned to replace the cache’s container with something more durable.]

The hike down included more scrambling, still keeping some fidelity to the search route. I called Ayo’s phone 22 times during the hunt, and on the twenty-second call I heard a faint ringing. The impossible had happened. One of the black rocks about 20 feet in front of me was Ayo’s phone! (Here.) Two points for the GPS, which has already started paying for itself! (An review of the eTrex Vista HCx will come sometime soon, along with information on how to get free GPS maps.)

I was surprised to have found the phone, and Ayo was even more surprised.

Ah, a happy ending.

[Another update: I’ve since used the GPS for five hikes. It still rocks, particularly for off-trail fun. Separately, I’ve been doing some rock scrambling in the Virginia Range and am getting comfortable with class 3+ climbs. Me = happy.]

posted by jay

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