Saturday, July 26, 2014

Some really great caches! If Trees Could Talk

Click on picture to get a better view
Found it

Thought this was the perfect opportunity to get this one without a watercraft. The creek bed was dry and just a small stream running compared to the massive body of water that was present when I assisted the CO in placement of this cache. I was accompanied by my young male hound and gave him the GPS’r to find it. We were a bit on guard after seeing several rattlesnakes in the area over the last few weeks but, with his trusty BB gun in hand “he” felt more confident. I on the other hand packed something with a little more of a punch (just in case). We did not encounter any reptiles however it was strange to be walking in the barren creek bed, almost desert like and lacked any vegetation or signs of life. The cache location is awesome and after several minutes of searching many of the cracks, crevices, holes and dark places the cache was found. It is in excellent condition and is now packed with swag after we added a few Matchbox cars, a custom decal racer, punch balloon, die cast John Deer tractor and a Bloodhounded geocoin that I had reserved as a FTF gift for cache I never had time to place (Dan always stocks up my caches so I felt I owed him). This is a well done cache and a great view from the cache site.
Thanks for the cache and the opportunity for some Father and Son time with my boy!

I miss this car! Our Geo Mobile and literally a Geo

My body guard for the day, it was cool!

When the Dodger first placed the cache......

To when we were there. Pretty much a dry bed

Just had to hop over a creek or two and you were there

It was like walking on the Moon with the weird weathering

I loved being able to walk 30 feet under water

All in all, it was a cache that I'll always remember and a great day out with my Body Guard aka my son. That was four years ago, it's hard to believe. You may find high water and might be best to walk the route from 115 or yak in. It's a view of the dam that few see and this massive tree must have been hundreds of years old. Well done.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Hot Times On The Ridgetop Trail

by: smithie23
Once upon a time, before marriage and children, I used to enjoy a good hike.  I spent many warm summer evenings on many of my favorite local trails.  Finding a new trail, or hiking system, was like Christmas, to me.  I enjoyed having the opportunity to explore new mountain ridges, follow unfamiliar river and creek beds, and take in new views of old and familiar sights.

In the summer of 2010 I discovered the Sugar Notch Trail System, in, of all places, Sugar Notch,
Pennsylvania.  Blazed on Earth Conservancy land, the Sugar Notch Trail System is 137 acres of mine reclamation area and is divided into two trails- the Park Access Trail, and Ridgetop Trail.  I was familiar with the area being reclamation area, as I was involved in youth soccer at the time, and our fields are on the same land.  It wasn't long before I was off placing caches here.  The first two caches I placed, I Gotta Feeling & This Old House, remain active, as of the writing of this article.

The aforementioned caches are essentially at the base of either end of the trail.  One summer evening I decided to make the climb to the top of the Ridgetop Trail.  Cache bag in hand, I hiked up to the top and stumbled upon some breathtaking views of the Wyoming Valley.  It wasn't the highest mountain around, but a clear line of sight gave me an excellent vantage point of Wilkes-Barre and the surrounding area.  After soaking in the environment for awhile, I found a good hiding space for my newest cache.  I returned home, later that evening, and submitted the cache for review.  Atop the Ridgetop Trail was born.

It didn't take long for a claim on the FTF.  As a matter of fact, it was that very day.  Forty minutes separated first, and second, to find.  I was happy to read the cache logs, as cachers seemed to be enjoying the cache for all the reasons I'd hoped for.  Great views, fun hike, good exercise!  In my head, I was already planning to place more caches along the trails.  It was going to be a fun summer of caching on the Sugar Notch Trail System.

Or so I thought.

One hot Sunday, I was running a few errands, and making my way up to the VA to visit a good friend. I stopped to grab lunch, and while eating, pulled out my phone to check some e-mail, when I saw our old friend, keoki_eme, had logged a find for Atop the Ridgetop Trail.  Awesome, I thought!  To cachers near headquarters, keoki_eme is somewhat of a living legend.  His cache hides are some of the craziest, most devious hides around.  He takes pride in his hides, and has great respect for geocaching.  The thought of him making a find on one of MY hides, and possibly hinting he even enjoyed it, would make my day.

What follows is the context of that log:
as i continued my way up the trail, i could smell smoke, big time.

remembered hearing on the news this morning that there was
a big brush fire somewhere yesterday. yup, it was here.

as i approach gz, i could almost predict what i was going to find.
the cache was on the WRONG side of the fire line. took
a picture of where it WAS, with the only things remaining were
ash and the wire coil for the log.

fire was roaring in a nearby tree and i attempted to put it out. called
911 and they said forestry people were out on the mountain putting out
hot spots. met up with them on my way to the next cache on the trail
and told them where the 'chimney' fire was.

if the co doesn't feel like accepting this as find, feel free to let
me know and i will change it to a note.


What a bummer!  In an area (Northeastern Pennsylvania) prone to dry summers, and subsequent brush fires, what are the odds that ground zero at my cache would fall victim to a brush fire?!  Driving home later that afternoon, I could see smoke coming from that area.  It was, indeed, quite a considerable amount of timber burning in those woods.  I temporarily disabled the cache, and soon after, archived it altogether.  Here I sit, almost three years later, and have not yet returned to the top of the Ridgetop Trail.  Recently, I've given thought to placing some new caches.  I still think it's a lovely spot, and hope to return there, with cache bag in tow.

PHOTOS By KEOKI_EME from his log date 08/08/2010 on 

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Geocaching; What is this all about? A Beginners Special Feature

By Big Al

Note to readers: This article is intended for anyone to read, but it's especially for folks who are new to the sport. If you're not sure what it's all about then read on.

Grab a cup of coffee or tea, sit back and take it all in.

Geocaching (geo-cashing); what is this new sport that is becoming one of the best outdoor sports around. Geo, which means “earth” and cache, which means “a place where items are stored or hidden”, when combined together means “to hide something in the earth.”

In the old days items such as money or treasures were hidden in the earth to keep them from being found by unwanted people. Today, treasures, or “caches” as they are known, are hidden with the intent of being found by other people. The only catch is that you have to have the coordinates to get you to where the cache is located. And, not only do you need the coordinates it is to your advantage to have a GPS (Global Positioning System) receiver to help you get to those coordinates.

Once the coordinates are entered into the GPS you follow them to what is called “Ground Zero” (GZ). This is where the fun begins.

Let’s look at how the cache ended up being hidden in the first place. A Geocacher, one who plays this scavenger hunt, has to hide the cache. This is not an easy task. They first have to find a suitable place for the cache to be hidden. This could be on public or private land, and needs to be done with the land owner’s permission. The cache location could be in a log, under some rocks, in a tree, in a stone wall, or just about anywhere. Once the spot is found the Geocacher takes several coordinates with his GPS and records them. These are averaged out to get a more accurate reading. Once this is done the coordinates are then marked for later entry on the web site, which is the most widely used Geocaching site. We’ll talk more about them later in the article.

So the Geocacher has a place to hide the cache. Now he must determine what size of cache container to use. There are several sizes of containers that are used. They are Micro, Small, Medium, Large, and Extra Large.

Bottle Cap Micro Cache

                                                                 Medium Cache

Large Cache

A Micro cache could be as small as a bottle cap, bolt or film canister, and usually only contains a log sheet to be signed by the person who finds it. A Small cache could be the size of a magnetic key holder or a small Rubbermaid container that could hold a log sheet and about a cup or two of contents. The Medium, Large, and Extra Large containers are usually Army Ammo cans of varying sizes, or Lock-n-Lock containers that can hold not only a log book, but they will contain different trade items (SWAG-Stuff We All Get) left by other Geocachers. The idea behind SWAG is that if you take something out of a cache you need to put something back in.


 The main requirement for a cache container is that it must be waterproof. If it is not then the logbook and SWAG could get wet, and no Geocacher wants to find wet or soggy stuff.

Next he needs to figure out how to disguise the cache so that it’s not as easy to find. If it is too easy then it is not as much fun. For our example we’ll use a small 2 cup Lock-n-Lock container that has an air tight seal. In it we will put a logbook and some SWAG, which might be a matchbox car, a rubber ball, a pair of dice, a keychain, a watch you’ve been waiting to get rid of that works but is the wrong color, and a Travel Bug (more on these later). Then he takes the cache out to the planned hiding spot, which for our purpose will be in some rocks. Now he puts the cache container in among the rocks, and then he covers it with more rocks. He wants it to look as natural as can be. Now off to the computer to get it published.

So the cache is hidden, and the coordinates marked. Now it just needs to be logged on Once their permission is given, and it has been reviewed, it can be published to the World Wide Web for all Geocachers to search for. Each and every cache has its own page associated to it. It lists the coordinates, historical information, and clues or hints to find it. There is also a log of all past Geocachers and whether they have found it or not. This is also where we will log it if we find it. is just one of the sites where caches can be listed, but they are by far the largest web site around for Geocaching, and the Basic Membership is free unless you want to purchase a Premium Membership. On this site you can learn just about everything you want to know about the sport. They cover where the caches are located, how to hunt for them, how to log them, how to hide them, and they even have articles on buying and using a GPS. If you’re looking for any information about Geocaching then this is the place to start.

Note: only members of can hide caches that they then publish to their web site.

Now lets look for a cache. First we log onto and type in our zip code. From there we look at caches that are hidden near our location. Once we have chosen a cache we download the coordinates into our GPS and off we go.

After a short drive we arrive at the parking area. Here we get out and begin our journey. Our walk or hike to Ground Zero (GZ) could be just a few yards, or it could be several hundred yards. Only time will tell. We follow our GPS headings to GZ and let the fun begin. We start by looking around right at GZ. We look high, we look low, and we look under and inside. We also take into account any clues or hints we picked up from the cache page. Let’s say our hint was “Don’t be stumped.” This would mean we need to look inside, or around, any stumps near GZ. Ah, there is a stump right in front of us. Upon further investigation inside of the stump we find the cache. We open it up and take out the logbook and sign it. Then we look through the SWAG. We decide to take the Travel Bug (TB). We then place the cache right back in the stump and leave it just as we found it so that the next Geocacher can have just as much fun finding it as we did.

When we are done caching for the day we go back home to the computer and back to the cache page.

There we log the cache as “Found”. Always be sure to put your adventures in the log and tell the owner how much fun you had. If you did not find a cache then be sure to log it as “Did Not Find” (DNF).

Then we search out the Travel Bug. A TB or Geocoin (GC) is an item that has been placed in a cache by another Geocacher. It is trackable on through the unique trackable number on its tag or in the case of a GC the number is engraved right on it.

                                                                  Nocturnal Hunter Geocoin              
                                                                          Scamper Travel Bug

TBs and GCs also have their own pages. They tell you all about the item such as what goal it has, how far it has traveled since it was released, and who the owner is. The TB or GC can also be logged into your account. This is one nice feature of using All of your “finds” are automatically numbered, and kept up to date, once they are logged in. Just be sure to take your TB or GC with you the next time you go out and drop it off in another cache so that it will continue to travel along on its mission.

Well we found the cache, took a TB and logged our finds. Now it’s time to move onto another cache. That’s the beauty of Geocaching, there’s always another cache to be found or a new place to hide one.

Happy Caching!


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Why Not Wednesday ~ The Trouble with Trackables

DctrSpott and Boltzmann the geodog 
I've got a beef.

Anyone who has been caching for more than a week has surely run across some sort of trackable, usually a geocoin or a travel bug. I remember my first geocoin run in: I was thrilled by the shiny, round object, originating from France, and having made it all the way to Bloodhounded's Grace Chapel Cache. Since then, trackables might be my FAVORITE part of geocaching: I bought several, have tried to retrieve them from wherever possible, and even brought some caching around the world. I giddily brought half a dozen to California with me in March, and had brought 3 others to Jamaica with me almost a year ago. I still check them from time to time, my favorite made it's way to Germany and is now traveling back to the states.

So, I bought several trackables, and even was gifted some, and thought I'd enjoy monitoring their progress around the world. Out of 6 trackables, 4 have since completely disappear, and one is sitting in a disabled cache, each having traveled less than 100 km before doing so! Imagine my frustration. One lucky coin made it's way to Cachepalooza 5, and is now floating around Germany, having traveled over 10000 km. So, I suppose there is that.

Trackable woes have been a problem for cachers since before I even entered the game. The main three causes are muggled caches disappearing, taking their contents with them, new cachers not understanding how trackables work, and older cachers retiring from the game, taking their trackable inventory with them. People have griped and tried for a while to combat these three problems, with little success. The forums even have a trackable ambassador, who threatens trackable hoarders with the banhammer. The problem here is that the trackables are disappearing because the player leaves the game... threats of being banned from the game don't really have much effect on those who no longer want to play.

I have a couple techniques to try to prevent trackables from going missingTry to place trackables in premium caches. It seems unfair, to bias the paying players. But, at the same time, it makes sense: cachers who pay to play know how the game works. Those who pay their annual dues aren't likely to drop out, and they've probably been around the block a bit. All in all, premium caches are a safe bet. This being said, most of us won't wait to find a premium cache to drop a TB, and it's going to be difficult to find a premium that matches the trackables desired destination. Still, premiums are a safe bet.

Similarly, I try to make sure my trackables always end up in higher-difficultly caches. There is a tradeoff here: higher difficultly caches have lower visit rates. This being said, the visitors to these caches tend to be more seasoned; it's rarely the n00bs that venture out to grab that 10-mile hike cache. I find this preferable: I'd rather see my trackable hit infrequently, but stay in the game for a long time, then to get a couple hits and then disappear in the span of a few weeks. I imagine many cachers share this sentiment. Remember, geocaching is a long game, played on the scale of months and years, not that of days and weeks.

On that note, I also like to bring the value back in trackables. Just like the topic of "quality caches" that often comes up on cachecrazy, I like trackables to be something you earn, something worth the difficulty of venturing out and grabbing that challenging cache. By making trackables not a commonplace toy that shows up in every cache, but travelers that only grace the highest quality of cache, they'll remain an interesting, high quality, and (hopefully best of all) a permanent and non-disappearing part of the game.

But, off my soapbox. What is your opinion on trackables? Have any cool experiences? Let me know in the comments!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Save Your Pennies TB

This is one of the craziest stories I have ever heard! Kim bring you the whole story from her post on February 11th, 2012 on the one and only Snug Harbor Bay! You're going to love this....... 

My "Save Your Pennies" TB is charging across Europe and it's really fun to watch it move from country to country.

This TB has an interesting history so far.  We initially released this TB on Jan. 14, 2010 in cache GC22W1P. A week later, on Jan. 22, 2010, we were caching and found GC15CW9.  Imagine our surprise when we opened the cache and found our own TB?  We snatched it up, travelled around with it and then dropped it into another cache on Feb. 17, 2010.   From there, it got passed from cacher to cache until August 11, 2010 when it got dropped into GC1FAQE in Wisconsin. 

Then it disappeared.  We didn't hear another thing about this TB for over 5 months.  On Jan. 15, 2011 we were at a Geocaching breakfast event  GC2FJGY which was back in Illinois.  I was picking through the TB's on the TB table and I almost fell off my chair when I saw my "Save Your Pennies" TB.  How the heck did it get there?  We took a picture with it and then placed it back on the TB table for it to continue on its journey.

It got picked up by another cacher and traveled around Illinois again until June 6, 2011, when it was placed into another event cache, GC2QDDM.  There it was picked up by cacher Dutchlandian, who was headed to the Netherlands.  On June 15, 2011, my TB landed at GC2NQH0 in The Netherlands.

Since then, it's traveled with various geocachers to Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg, France, back to Belgium, and Hungary.  For over a month now a caching team by the name of Paleoteam has been caching in Belgium, Germany, France, and now Hungary.  They have been kindly dipping it into many caches along the way.  The latest was GC3C873 and Paleoteam was the FTF (first to find) on the cache.  I bet they loved that!

So far my TB has traveled over 7700 miles and is getting a wild tour of Europe.  I love going to some of the cache pages that it's visited and reading about places I'll probably never get to see in person.  It's kind of fun to think about all these great geocachers who are taking the time to move my little TB all over the place. 

Here's a couple of the pictures that have been posted for my TB...

I hope this little TB keeps travelling around and visiting all kinds of neat places.  What a fun journey.


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