The Trails of Urban Orange

If you’re a parent and you live in Lake Forest or Mission Viejo, I think I have found where your teenagers have been disappearing on Friday and Saturday nights. They have to get through a swarm of bees coming out of a pipe and up a hill, but they are young and, well, teenagers.

A geocache which eluded me revealed the secret hideaway. I knew it was the place because the ground all around it was littered with beer bottles, beer cans, candy wrappers, potato chip bags, shag rugs, and even a cushion. Everything that a teenager thinks of taking along to a hot date in the scrub except prophylactics. Which means they are members of Promisekeepers or they actually pick up that litter or they don’t practice safe sex or they read Rebecca Schoenkopf columns to each other (a powerful anaphrodesiac*!).

Where is this place? On the ridge overlooking Lake Forest’s Vintage Park. I even saw a threesome hoofing it for the lemonade berry bush as I left the area. (Don’t look at me. I’m not their parent!)

The Serrano Creek Trail is a fine walk if you don’t mind looking into the back lots of local businesses and stomping through the toxics that leak out of their compounds. I picked up this route along Dimension Drive in Lake Forest. There’s a cute bridge over the creek about a quarter of a mile down. All it needs is a resident troll.

Mission Viejo, I have discovered, is interlaced with trails running along its ridgelines. After failing to find the geocache at Vintage Park, I went over to an unnamed trail running along the ridgeline paralleling Los Alisos to the east. I met two other walkers with their dogs — a hungry chow and a collie who was blind in one eye. The collie decided I could be a friend and the chow thought I’d make a fine dinner. Their owners walked the trail frequently, but didn’t know the name.

About a quarter mile from the trailhead on Vista del Lago, I found a place to cut over to a dirt path that danced along the ridgeline.

The bathtub that is Lake Mission Viejo dimmed in all its glory as a dark front of clouds approached the Orange. This cache I found where it was supposed to be and without anthrophagic cacti guarding it. I muddied my butt and scratched my hand removing it from the protective canopy of a plant I call Nyarlathotepia. Like many geocaches which have been around for a while, disorganized junk filled the container. The view of the average visitor to the cache seems to be “Wow! Here someone left a great Walkman! Let me leave this little green dinosaur as a trade!”

You get the picture.

When I finished plundering the hidey hole (I traded a bottle/can opener for three marbles, such a deal!),I spanked the dirt off my butt and took a few paces to take this photo:


Look at that! The clouds cleared just for me! And there’s not a single toxic waste dump in sight! (Other than diehard Bush supporters in the condos.)

* Check the spelling. an-aphrodesiac. Meaning the opposite of an aphrodesiac.

If you happen to be a hiker for real, you may want to join New Walkers of the Orange Chaparral. Yes, I am not above a shameless plug: I’m so far below that standard of decency that I sometimes I imagine that I am a fish swimming in Upper Newport Bay.

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