I had heard of a little hyped state forest east of Santa Cruz, by the name of The Forest of Nisene Mark's, but had never paid a visit. It took some time getting in, as I, of course, had to miss the correct road, and so I explored a bit in the process. Aptos is a nice litle village, and there is a canyon or gorge, Trout Creek, that paralells the forest road and is a very nice drive. A fern canyon with a one lane at times, snaky, switched back road. A couple of places the road lost a lane or so to the past storms. I was using the caches as a map on the gps, and made it to the end of the road before concluding that even though I was in the forest, I was not able to step foot into it. Story of my travels though. Don't worry at times if you are on the right road (besides, who is to determine that?) and just see where it takes you : ). It proved to be a another spur of the moment mini adventure.
Back down to Aptos, I decided to detour out to Freedom to see what that was about. Nice back country style drive. And then, might as well take a peek at Pinto Lake...
Back to the state park. Very Nice, second growth (100 yr +) forest. N Marks was the women who had owned the land, and the family donated with the condition it be named in her honor. The drive ends quickly, and you can hike a service road or a number of trails from there. I managed one cache (Buggy Trail- gcnoza) before diverting onto the creek trail (pic). Great little creek at the bottom of a canyon with forest filtered light (pics) held my attention for way too long. As I finally started making my back to the van, I had a weird encounter with a squirrel. I swear this thing was sobbing! The first noise captured my attention, and I seeked the source. About 25 feet up a tree on a broken limb sat a squirrel (pic), and it was making the most woeful cries I had ever heard from a wild animal. It almost appeared as if it had become stuck up the tree and was crying about its predictament. I decided to keep my distance, lest it jump with the hopes I would break its fall :). poor guy.
After a late lunch back at the van, I decided against a longer hike for more caches, and used the remaining daylight to look around Aptos a bit longer and make my way to Lighthouse point. 50sumptin had placed a couple of pirate themed caches here, and of course, I was game for those. I mananged to find Dead Man's Chest: Message in a bottle- gcyjmc, but no luck with the second one. Vowed ot get back and find it later and moved out to a parking area with a good view of the sunset for dinner.
Walked downtown SC afterwards. Definitely a different culture (;'), Santa Cruz is... Very vibrant downtown and "happenin" around the clock.
Well, another night at New Brighton, I guess. Used to be that I could just park overnight at Lighthouse, but it is all posted and gated now.