The Welk Resort is located on Champagne Boulevard, which, until the I-15 was built, was Highway 395. There are under/overpasses along 395 to get traffic to the other side of the freeway. A few yards past the Welk Resort entrance there is an underpass for a road that climbs up the hillside on the west. Along this road there are a few caches and on another dead end road branching off there is a path along which there are about 8 caches.
The first cache was in a tree/bush immediately through the underpass. We had noticed prior to today that there had been a brush fire on this hill. It must have caused quite a bit of consternation at the resort. There was no vegetation left and the recent rain had cut a swath down the slope.The next cache was just up the hill a bit further and offered a panoramic view of the resort.The cache was very clever. The instructions said you needed to find the key first and then the cache. There was only some scrub brush on the side of the road and then a steep slope down to the frontage road. I noticed a likely pile of rocks under a bush, lifted off the top rock and noticed a camo ‘rock’ lying in the middle. The bottom of the ‘rock’ could be moved to the side. On the inside was a small yellow marrette, or wire nut, that electricians use to ‘tie’ two wires together. The open end of the marrette had a brass disc in it that we guessed was magnetic. This told us the cache container would need to be coaxed from its hiding place with the magnet.The only other thing nearby was a power pole. They will sometimes have fake tags on them and many of them have plugged drill holes. When I looked closely at the power pole I could see that one of these plugs looked akilter. Sure enough when John applied the marrette magnet to the top a long metal screw came out, followed by a small cylinder that contained the log papers we needed to sign. Very, very ingenious!
If you look closely at the panoramic photo you can see our condo units, Mountain Villas, in the upper middle left – but this image shows them more clearly. You can also see all the vendor tents set up for this evenings Farmer’s Market.
We drove up the branch road to the base of the hiking trail. Parked in the cul-de-sac were two Rainbow Fire Department vehicles; a large van and a flat bed used for hauling backhoes or cats. Then we noticed that the vehicles also had Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation painted on the sides. We could hear a distant machine coming down the hill and surmised that some prisoners were working with the fire department in some capacity.There was also a locked gate and No Trespassing signs where we were to go to find the geocaches. We don’t like ignoring that type of thing and even though someone else had found the caches a week or so ago we decided to wait for the firemen to drive their cat back to the truck and ask them if it was okay to go look for the geocaches.
We didn’t have to wait long before a caterpillar pulling a wood chipper rounded the bend and stopped on the other side of the locked gate. Behind the cat, in an orderly single-file line were about a dozen women in dirt blackened orange jumpsuits with CD DC Prisoner printed on the back.
The women stored their chainsaws, gloves and hardhats in compartments on the truck, helped themselves to a large glass of water and climbed aboard. Meanwhile the fire department fellows unlocked the gate, backed up the flatbed and began to load up the cat.
John talked to one of the fellows and he said the property belongs to the state (they were up there fixing some road damage caused by the recent rains) and even though posted with No Trespassing signs people go up there all the time. He would not tell us we couldn’t but warned us the terrain is steep and a rescue in the event of injury would take awhile.
We decided to go take a look and hiked up to the first rise where the first cache was located. Once there the compass pointed in the direction of a very steep washed-out rugged path straight up the hill. We decided to give that a pass and walked toward the next one. It to had a compass heading up along the ridge. By this time it was four o’clock. Once the sun sets on the other side of the hill it gets dark on this side pretty fast so we made the prudent decision to save hillside scrambles for an earlier-in-the-day adventure.The fireman told John that the snow-capped mountains in the distance are the San Jacinto Mountains. And the closer dark grey ones are the Palomar Mountains.
Since we were now higher up the hillside you could easily see the entire resort.We decided to continue up the road though and go for a little drive in the countryside and pick up a cache or two that was hidden along the way.We passed an big organic avocado farm and a couple of farms with dozens and dozens of huge greenhouses for growing veggies and things all year-round. We also drove past some beautiful horses in large well-maintained paddocks.There is a cache series hidden in this area called RIP Charlie. The cache owner made up a story about an old guy that liked to experiment with things and one day blew himself all over the valley. We found his ‘eyes’ and one ‘foot’ today. I don’t know how many other ‘body’ parts are in the series but we have noticed quite a few RIP Charlie cache names around here. We may have to go find how much more of Charlie we can locate. Some people are so ingenious.The sun was setting by the time we traveled the length of Twin Oaks Valley Road and joined the Deer Spring Road which would take us over the freeway again where we could turn onto Champagne Boulevard and get back to the resort to make dinner.We found this nicely camouflaged cache near the Von’s store the other day. I forgot to post the pictures so thought I would tuck them in here. However…..it was five o’clock. The Deer Spring Road is a major feeder to the freeway from the farmlands we had traveled through. We crawled at about 10 mph for almost 3 miles. Good thing we had no where important we needed to be. I can’t imagine having to navigate that everyday like so many people do. They are not surprised at the line-up like we were; they know it will be there, but all the same I am glad I don’t have to do it. One just never knows what one’s day will bring.