CacheCrazy.Com: Turned Around in the Woods

Friday, January 13, 2012

Turned Around in the Woods

You're hot on the trail of the cache.  The GPSr reading says 100 feet "that way".  It looks like it's going to be downhill a bit, perhaps under that oak tree.  You head down the hill, near the tree, only to be skunked by your GPSr.  Now it's saying 150 feet "over there".  Not quite back up the hill, but nowhere near where you anticipated.  There is no obvious hiding spot.  No suspicious pile o' rocks.  No hollowed-out tree.  You're going to have to do the GPSr dance.  Around and 'round we go.  After doing your little dance, much to the amusement of the local wildlife, you find the cache.  After signing in, and checking out the cool swag, you place the cache back in its hidey hole, click the cache off on your GPSr as found, and begin to head back to your car.  It's right around then when it hits you:  which way did I come from?  Where do I need to go?  This can't be.  How do I manage to get lost with a GPS unit in my hands??

You just got turned around in the woods, my friend.


Your car?  It's THAT way!



I can remember one specific instance when this happened to me.  I was new to caching, and went out on a Sunday afternoon in the summer to Frances Slocum State Park.  Frances Slocum isn't the biggest park out there, but it covers a substantial amount of land in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania.  Somewhere after finding my fourth or fifth cache of the day, a cache listing led me to an area with a very long stone wall.  The good news?   The name of the cache was "The Wall", so I knew I was in the right area, even with a mediocre GPSr.  The bad news?  The wall made several turns up and down a hill.  I was able to find the cache, then realized I had no idea where in the heck I was.  I could faintly hear children laughing and playing, so I knew I was relatively close to the pool/playground area. That was nice and all, but it wasn't close to where I entered the woods.  I could also hear passing traffic.  This was good, as I parked at a trail access point away from the main entrance to the park.  But which direction was it coming from?  Nothing in my surroundings was looking familiar to me, save for the wall, but there was a lot of wall, and it was coming from different directions.  I ultimately decided to follow the sound of the traffic.  This tactic did, indeed, lead me back to the road, but my car was parked about a mile up said road, all uphill.


A little knowledge of your GPSr can go a long way in the woods.


This incident fueled my desire to invest in a new GPS receiver.  I knew, however, having a better device was only solving part of the problem.  I ignored several key items when I made my hike into the woods.  Over time, I've learned quite a few tricks in this subject.  To name a few:

The trail is there for a reason.


  • Carry a compass.  If you don't know where you are, at least with a compass you can figure out where you're going.
  • Waypoint your car.
  • Take note of your surroundings.  There is bound to be some landmark which stands out.  Take mental image of your path, relative to the item.
  • Many GPSr's nowadays have some sort of bread crumbs feature, which allows you to track your route right on the GPSr.
  • Waypoint your car!
  • Avoid straying from trails as much as possible.
  • If need be, physically mark your way.  Notches on a tree, rockpiles, anything to remind yourself you've been there.
  • Did I mention to waypoint your car?



12 comments:

Heather Cook said...

Other than waypointing your car,

1).Have you thought of carrying a homing pigeon with you. Tie a piece of string to it and follow it home. or

2). Still lost and getting hungry - eat pigeon.

BLOODHOUNDED said...

Welcome to CacheCrazy.Com Heather! I can see right away, you're going to fit in here nicely, lol!

How about breadcrumbs?

On my Droid, which I am still trying to work into my geocaching arsenal,I have this neat little app called "Map My Workout". It taps into the GPS chip and tells me where I am, what to do, and how to get back home. Kinda like my wife.

Heather Cook said...

Great idea about breadcrumbs Bloodhounded - pigeons like them very much, also making them that most fatter when your ready to eat it.

smithie23 said...

Kev, have any pigeon recipes?

Heather Cook (Lady-Magpie) said...

Hi smithie23 -- Can I suggest "Pigeon cuit dans de la chapelure", translated that would be "Pigeon cooked in breadcrumbs". simple cooking with the ingredients that bloodhounded would have with him when lost geocaching. eg. PIGEON + BREADCUMBS :-)

Dodger said...

It's amazing how easy it is to get lost AND how easy it is to get dependent on GPS. Waypoint car - absolutely. Don't forget extra batteries. And without a doubt - carry a compass because you just never know. Great article, great stories, great tips!

(And now for my next magical dinner recipe - delicious squab. Yummo!)

Dodger said...

And one more thing...

Judging by the picture, I see we're going to have a little in-house battle this weekend! Since my Steelers have been Tebow'd, I'll just sit back and enjoy the fight between Dave's Giants and Kevin's Packers!

Love it.

smithie23 said...

Heather, do you recommend red or white wine with that dish?

Dan, I have a good feeling about Sunday's game. This recent run is similar to the one we had in '07 when we won it all against the Pats.

Speaking of which, I wouldn't want to be the Patriots this weekend.

BLOODHOUNDED said...

Actually, my good friend Miles Collins offers and excellent recipe here (and his blog is pretty cool too) - http://www.milescollins.com/wordpress/how-to-cook-a-pigeon
I have a recipe for EVERYTHING!LOL

Dave DeBaeremaeker said...

My number one rule when hiking is marking the car. I always remember to do this... about 500ft down the trail.

Daniel Campbell said...

Getting a map of the park you're in is always a good idea. I have maps in a binder of all the parks I hike in, organized in alphabetical order so I can quickly find the map I need. While I am walking, I take note of landmarks and I keep my map handy so I can add these lands marks to the map. Plus I always carry a good old fashioned compass!

BigAl said...

Great story. I did that at night once with my kids when out for a night cache. I forgot to mark the car. It really almost got bad for us, but thankfully we made it back to the trail and to the car. From now on I'll mark my car and especially at night. As for recipes My wife makes a delicious dish called Stuffed Rock Cornish Game Hen, but you could use pigeon if you want to. A truly informative article Dave. Nice job.

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