Geocaching has been a sort of tolerated unsanctioned activity in the Santa Clara County Parks for years. The County Parks have some of the best geocaching in the Bay Area. However, there was a fear that it might be restricted or banned. The good news is that it is now officially allowed, thanks to the efforts of geocachers working with park officials. However, as you might expect, there are rules to follow. The purpose of this cache is to celebrate the official recognition of geocaching as a legitimate park activity, to educate geocachers on the rules, and to demonstrate how to follow them. It doesn't mean that all caches have to be like this. It's just one example. I'm not trying to argue for or against the rules, just presenting them as they are. Here are the rules and comments about how this cache relates to them:
Santa Clara County Park Policy Checklist (SCCP pdf file courtesy of thegba.net)
|A permit is not required for the placing or searching for geocaches within Santa Clara County Parks.
|That's a relief. Hopefully, it will stay that way.
|Placing and searching for geocaches may only take place during normal park hours in park areas open to the public.
|No problem--placed 3:35 pm on Sunday in a public area. Considering park HQ is here, you'd be crazy to come after hours.
|Caches must be registered on the Internet with Geocaching.com.
|If you can read this, it is.
|Caches must comply with all guidelines established with Geocaching.com.
|It does, or it wouldn't be listed.
|All caches must be clearly labeled either on the exterior or within as a “Geocache” and include a note describing the activity to an unintentional finder.
|Marked as a geocache outside, with a geocaching info sheet inside.
|Contact information for the owner must be included in the cache.
|There is a description on how to contact me through Geocaching.com.
|Caches must not be placed so as to encourage the development of new “volunteer” trails.
|It's surrounded by asphalt, unlikely to create a trail, so don't create one.
|Caches must not be placed in locations that will encourage erosion or trail damage, or further than 20 feet from a trail edge.
|No trail here. It's next to a parking lot.
|Caches may not be buried, or located within a water body.
|It's aboveground and way above the lake
|Cutting or modification of vegetation is prohibited.
|I didn't cut anything, just pushed it around a little.
|Modification of geographical features is prohibited.
|It would be a real stretch to call this a geographical feature, and it's not modified.
|Altering park signs, fences, posts, trails, trail markers or any park building is prohibited.
|Nowhere near any of that.
|Caches may not be placed on or near potentially hazardous locations.
|This isn't hazardous, but watch for cars.
|Caches must not interfere with wildlife or other park visitors.
|Not a problem, unless bugs count.
|Caches may not contain inappropriate, hazardous or illegal materials such as flammables, explosives or food.
|Not by me, so don't stick these in there, especially illegal food.
|Caches may not be located on or in park buildings or structures or within designated historic or cultural resource areas.
|Nothing historical or cultural about this location. Maybe in a 100 years...
|Caches must be maintained by the owner. Caches that have been abandoned and not maintained will be considered as litter and removed.
|I'll keep that in mind. I come here all the time. No problem.
|The Department reserves the right to remove any cache that has been determined to be inappropriate either in location or content, hazardous or has an impact to other park visitors, park neighbors or natural or cultural resources.
|I would expect nothing less.
One more unwritten rule: if you disturb the landscaping to locate a cache, be sure to restore it to the way you found it.
I was going to put a more creatively-camouflaged cache here, but it would have been a sign-only micro. Instead, I decided to put a bigger container here to allow for trading. This is a small round plastic container, about the same height, but wider than a film can. It can hold small items. I didn't put a pen in it, so bring your own. This can be a very busy area at times, so watch out for muggles. When I hid the cache on a Sunday, it was pretty much deserted. Make sure you re-hide the cache so it can't be seen.
Near the cache is the Youth Science Institute. It has nature and science exhibits and classes for kids. It's open from 9-4:30 M-F. Also nearby are administrative offices for the County Parks. If you want information about the parks or want to talk to someone about the park's geocaching policy, this is the place. If you want to volunteer to help out in the parks, the volunteer office is here. If you want to reserve a picnic site for a geocaching convention, the reservation office is here. The offices are open from 8-5 M-F. There are also picnic areas, big lawns, and a nature trail nearby. This is in Vasona Lake County Park, which has fishing, boating, and a playground. The Los Gatos Creek Trail runs through the park. The Billy Jones Wildcat Railroad also runs through the park, starting at adjacent Oak Meadow Park. Vasona is open from 8 am to sunset year-round. Parking fees are charged to park inside the park. You can enter the park for free from the Los Gatos Creek Trail or from the side streets. If you have business with the parks department, you can park in the visitor's lot at the offices on 298 Garden Hill Drive or park on Garden Hill Drive outside the park and walk/bike in.
Geocaching info card
Santa Clara County Parks 50th anniversary keychain
Matchbox-size racing car
6/23/07 update: the original cache was damaged beyond repair, probably by groundskeeping, so I replaced it with a much stronger cache in the same location. Bring your own pen. Initial contents: globe keychain, compass, frog pin, railroad pin.
7/24/07 Update: there was an incident causing changes in this area. The cache survived, but had to be moved closer to the ivy.
8/26/07 Update: I hate ivy. I moved it back to its original location, in a sense. Hopefully it will survive.
4/26/08 Update: I came back to double-check the coordinates. Because of what's overhead, it took a long time for the GPS to settle down. The original coordinates were N 37° 14.584 W 121° 57.928. I averaged for more than 5 minutes and got the new coordinates. If you have trouble, go to N 37° 14.580 W 121° 57.936, where it's clear and head straight for the freeway about 30 feet.
7/5/08 update: I double-checked on the coordinates. Today was quite different from the last time. Since it's so hard to get a consistent fix, I made the hint more helpful.
11/2/08: I sat down for 4 minutes at the cache and got these coordinates: N 37° 14.570 W 121° 57.950. Let me know what you get.
1/12/12. The cache was apparently destroyed. I don't know if it was the work of muggles or a casualty of park maintenance. In any case, I replaced the cache with a simpler and cheaper one nearby, but smaller. Bring a pen.
6/10/12. The cache may have been buried by park maintenance. I replaced the cache with the same type in a similar manner. The old one may still be there. Again, it's not an ivy cache, yet, but ivy grows.
12/06/14: The cache seems to have been a victim of park upgrades. It's a smaller cache now. No goodies, but it has a pencil.
3/29/16: The cache seems to have been a victim of park maintenance again. It's an un-camo'd pill container. I moved it to a hopefully safer location. There's no more ivy (for now), so it's not an ivy cache.
11/29/16: Cache disappeared or got moved. Maybe it got picked up as litter. I replaced it with a camo'd pill container with a pencil.