PlanetWalk LbNA # 12385
|Placed Date||Jan 1 2006|
|Last Found||Apr 21 2011|
Location: Sugarloaf Ridge State Park
Entrance fee required
It is a good idea to pick up a trail map as well, but not necessary.
NOTE: as of May 1st, 2006 this series is down for maitainence.
Once you have entered the park drive to the end of the road, following the signs for group camping, horsetrailers and Ferguson Observatory. Typically you will have to park at the Horse corral and barn, as the gate to the Observatory is locked. The entire PlanetWalk is 4.5 miles round trip, and can be made into a longer (7.7) mile loop when you contine past Pluto and join up to, and return by, the Gray Pines Trail.
Check out www.rfo.org which is the Observatory's website. Click on the link for PlanetWalk for an excellent discussion of the astronomical implications of this walk as well as a nice encapsulated trailmap.
Take heart, if a long hike uphill is not your cup of tea. The first 6 boxes are within a mile rountrip hike of the parking lot. This walk is designed to be kid friendly so the clues are straightfoward. FOr the boxes Ground Zero thru 3A you might want t o gather all the boxes first then stamp in at the picnic benches and rehide all at the same time. IMO, these stamps look best in black, except for ground zero.
I should also add that this series was, in part, inspired by a visit to the Bonny Doon Winery in Santa Cruz......a very irreverent bunch of folk who revel in silliness. Do not expect to learn anything astronomical from my carvings, it is all about UFO's, alien abductions, mythology and such stuff.
NEWSFLASH: IT seems planetary body 2003 VB 12 aka Sedna, does not know how to wait its turn! It has skipped ahead in its orbital order to cut in line in order to be closer to the sun (Being 3x farther away from the sun as Pluto can be pretty cold). Anyway it has wreaked havoc on the other planetary orbits.....they have shifted from their normal positions some slightly, others more so, in any event they need to be "weighed down" by rocks to keep from drifting further. Please see to it they are properly covered on your departure.
Ground Zero Heliocentric
Stand facing the sun. Notice a beautiful specimen manzanita just to the left beyond the coyote brush. Walk to the right of the small bush down the small faint trail towards the manzanita. Look along the beautiful red-brown branch (Bending over to do so) and feel back along the branch, beneath some bay leaves. You are looking for a black, waterproof container that is bungee-corded to the tree branch. HINT: it is probably easiest to slide the container out of the bungee, leaving the bungee wrapped around the branch and then slip it back when you are done.
Box #1 Winged Messenger
GO next to Mercury. After reading about the sesame seed walk back towards the small painted tan building that looks like an old outhouse (but isn't). Circle around behind the huge pile of boulders and trees that backs up the picnic area. Look for an old oak on the edge of this impressive pile that has an hollow cavity. You will find a black round altoids tin.
Box #2 Venus
Ok go to the Venus post and look back behind you again at that magnificent pile of rock. Head towards the large clump of slender bay trees all growing together (at least 20). Walk the stairstep rocks that bisect this clump until you emerge from the clump and end up on a small terrace walled with large rocks. Stoop down and explore the small cave that is made at the intersection of these rocks. Put that rock back when you are done!
Box #3 A Grand Day Out
Make your way to Earth (the observatory). Then head on the trail west from there and pause at the "No Dogs on Trail" sign, proceed ten paces and then look to your right. About 30 paces off the trail you will see a small dead tree growing from a large boulder. That is the place to look for this extraterrestial.
Box #3A E.T.'s ride shows up FINALLY!
Didn't you just hate those years before you could drive and had to call your parents for a ride? E.T. had to wait 20+ years for his ride to show up, so I guess I should not complain. Anyway, his home rock, known as Sedna, literally came in person to take him home. Go to the rock BBQ behind the observatory. Stand warming your backside and look straight ahead at a large bay tree about 30 yards off. Check out the hollow base. Ok, here is a place to learn more about this curious object.
Box #4 Red Rover, Red Rover
Keep on the PlanetWalk and make your way to Mars. Not alot good hiding places eh? So keep on going, I told you the orbits have been affected, until you reach the next creek (will be dry in summer). Pass the first little path immediately after the culvert and turn right onto the second little goat path that leads back to the creek. Send yourself right over to the big oak reaching east and look in its crotch! Dogs are always doing that aren't they?
Box #5 Flying Saucer
Keep on to Mighty Jupiter, not alot of good places here either. So move along to the next patch of forest cover. You will see a large Buckeye (Aesculus....the tree that drops the large brown balls and all its leaves in August), some small bays and oaks on the left of the trail. Keep going until you find a giganti-normous, magnificent old Bay tree with many trunks. About 25 paces off the trail on the left. Look in a vertical cleft, the wee ones will need Buzz Lightyear antigravity boots to access.
Box #6 Escape from Saturn
We interupt this program to bring you a bulletin from NASA: astronomers report the observation of a strange eminence from the third ring of Saturn......most closely resembling a trajectory of some sort of powered craft escaping the strong gravity of Saturn, rather than a celestial body........
Hmmmmmmm......Follow the planet walk from Ferguson Observatory until you meet up with Saturn. Turn and look behind you to observe a large oak halfway up the small hill that looks as if it has been hit by lightening and shattered. Or could it have been hit by a small UFO? In any event this venerable giant has fallen and its heart wood is charred. Walk uphill following one of the deer paths to the right of the fallen limbs to meet up with the trunk at its base. Just to your left look under the shelter of a fallen limb and covered with bark you should find your craft.
Box #7 Le Cigare Volant
Continue along the meadow trail/PlanetWalk...please note the next trail marker sign is somewhat confusing..it points out the Gray Pine Trail and points backwards for the Meadow Trail and does not mention PlanetWalk. Never Fear...keep on the meadow trail following around the curve and you will see just ahead another trail marker pointing uphill to the left for Brushy Peaks trail and PlanetWalk. Continue along until you meet Uranus.
With apologies we must interupt this program with news... a large cylindrical object has been observed in the vicinty of Uranus. Just 150 yards beyond its position a red conical beam was seen shining down onto a large multitrunked (12-13) mossy bay tree about 25 feet off to the left of the trail. A large plop was then heard, and then the craft disappeared. (Large plops, hope it wasn't horse poop!)
Box #8 Pegasus
Start your climb uphill. You have most definitely left the oak savannah behind and are now climbing thru mixed Evergreen forest. I suppose now I should warn you about poison oak, ticks, rattlesnakes, mountain lions, yadda yadda. I always carry a whistle with me hiking; and NEVER run from a mountain lion (he may view you as prey he needs to chase). The park ranger says there are credible sightings of a mother and her cubs, so try not to get in between them. But on the whole, there are lots of deer and the lions are well fed..so not to worry........
Pegasus, was the son of Neptune and Medusa, sprang from the blood of Medusa when it dropped into the sea after her head had been severed by Perseus. Pegasus became the thundering horse of Zeus which is why he appears among the stars, but he likes to visit his dad Neptune whenever possible. Neigh.
Once you meet up with Neptune follow the trail about 300 yards further. You will see a trail marker pointing to the left which is the main PlanetWalk trail and a small spur that goes off to the right. Follow the spur a short distance to a lovely picinc spot with an amazing view towards Napa. Once at the picnic table look back at the trail marker and you will see two oak trees between you and it. Pegasus is stabled in the second tree. Be careful, the barn door is guarded by a serpent! (not literally).
Box #9 Lonely Pluto
SO, if you are an avid letterboxer you have probably already found Demeter and Persephone across the valley and already know of Pluto's coercive attempt of getting some good kitchen help down in the underworld. This stamp shows our lonely guy during the 6 months of the year Persephone is with her mom and he is forced to make do. Did you notice I was mixing Greek and Roman names, hey they didn't name that last planet Hades.
Yep, you gotta go up and down those roller coaster hills. But admire the surroundings...this is some of the prettiest serpentine chapparel I have ever seen. Lots of mimulus, mountain mahagony, manzanita, chamise, toyon, madrone. Hope you got lots of water and it is a nice cool crisp winter's day and not 105" in the summer. So stand at Pluto's sign, admire the view and notice just to your right a beautiful manzanita shrub. If you had x-ray vision you could see thru it to a clump of chamise on the other side and there nestled under some rocks is that Pluto Dude.
If you are so inclined you can continue on the Brushy Peaks trail and pick up the Gray Pine Trail to make a loop back and get those boxes as well. Approximately 6.6 miles roundtrip.
Pomo Hummingbird and Wine Country boxes are in this park as well.