CacheCrazy.Com: In Defense Of The Urban Hide

Friday, March 9, 2012

In Defense Of The Urban Hide

We've probably all found one at one point or another.  It goes by different names:  LPC, Cache-n-Dash and Park-n-Grab, just to name a few.  It's that cache located under the lamppost skirt at the hardware superstore.  Perhaps it's on the guardrail on the side of the local fast food joint.  It might even be tucked inside a phone booth (remember those?) at the gas station.  No matter what we call it, or where it's hidden, we all know what I'm talking about.  It's the urban hide, and it's place in geocaching has debated ever since the first geocacher went to a hardware store and said "hey, that Hide-A-Key would make a nifty cache container, but wherever would I put such a thing?"

If I were to poll one hundred cachers, and ask their opinion on this topic, I'd probably get one hundred unique responses.  I've seen such polarizing thoughts about these urban hides.  There are some out there who feel it taints the game.  They feel geocaching is all about connecting with nature, not connecting with a parking lot.  It's cheating.  It's watering down the game.  Are people that lazy that they can't go to the park and find a tree to hide a cache in, and insist on littering every shopping center with Hide-A-Keys and orange pill bottles?  Others, however feel it adds something to the game.  It's easier to build up numbers when you don't have to hike two miles to log one smiley.  Caches closer to the road are easier to maintain.  I can't venture too far from the car to look for a cache.

Ground zero.


These are all valid points.  One of the great things about geocaching is the subjective nature of the game.  Other than a few basic ground rules, laid out by Groundspeak, the ins and outs of the game are pretty much open for interpretation.  No two geocachers are the same.  We all have our personal opinions on how the game should be played, and how a cache should, and shouldn't, be hidden.  One of the most common mantras I hear, in regards to geocaching is that geocaching should take me on a nice walk or hike, to somewhere of interest, that I've never been before.  Speaking as a geocacher who enjoys a nice hike, and seeing new things, let me be the first to say- that's a bunch of garbage.

For starters, there is no rule as to where a geocache should be hidden.  Groundspeak's rules (requirements and guidelines, if we want to get technical about it) tend to tell us where we should NOT hide a geocache.    In addition, I believe there would be a mass exodus of the geocaching community if they started telling us how and where we should cache.

Your basic 35mm film canister.


Then, there is the issue of the numbers.  It may not be about the numbers for you, but for Joe Schmoe, it may be ALL about the numbers.  How many caches can he find in one day?  One hour?  He likes the power trails and LPC's, and as long as their hidden by the rules, and he's playing by them, then by all means, game on.  I hope he finds 200 caches today.  Personally, I'd get bored after a while, and tired from getting in and out of my car all day.

Nothing gets the old ticker going like a good hike.  One of my favorite days caching was spent on a 15 mile hike.  I can do it.  You might be able to do it.  Personally, I know of many who can't.  It has nothing to do with being lazy.  There are many cachers out there who may not be able to spend more than a few minutes, or walk more than a few yards, in hunt of a cache.  Should they be robbed of that sense of accomplishment when they find that tricky hide, hidden in plain sight, or that cache container made from a rubber snake, which gives you a good chuckle, after you've regained your composure?  Absolutely not!

If only that bridge had a guardrail...


Lastly, there's the notion that urban hides are uninspiring and half-assed.  It's all about perspective, my friend.  I've seen some really good parking hides.  GCN5RK-Right On Target is a prime example.  It's a hide in a parking lot, and from the cache name, you can probably guess where.  However, the cache owner thought outside the box, and in the process, created a cache which regularly gets rave reviews.  Conversely, I've seen some pretty awful hides out in the wilderness.  Some cache owners, who shall remain nameless to protect the guilty, fail to use common sense when choosing cache containers, swag, and location.  As a result, a physically challenging hike to a cache produces a disappointing outcome, when you find the cache, only to see it's been gnawed by the local habitat, leaving a rugged box with a wet log and contents.

The best of both worlds?


I'll sum up my experience with this:  cache however, and wherever you want.  In my opinion, it begins and ends with the cache owner.  Whether it's near a waterfall, or near a water park, it's up to the cache owner to use his/her creativity, and awareness of surroundings, to provide the "WOW" factor.  And while they're not my favorite type of cache, I'll hunt the urban hide from time to time, just because. 

I'll leave you with this thought:  Why do supermarkets put candy bars near the checkout aisles?  We like candy bars, and if they're within an arm's reach, we're more likely to grab one.  Why?  Because we like candy bars, and they made it easy to get our fix.

9 comments:

Dave DeBaeremaeker said...

My issue with 'urban hides' is the lack of creativity. A lot of caches you know exactly where it is hidden by the description, or a satellite view. The only surprise is whether its a film can under that lamp skirt, or a bison tube, or god forbid an altoids can. The wow factor is simply missing.

I have seen a lot of amazing urban hides that were unique and creative. I have seen a lot of film cans under lamp skirts too. I would just encourage hiders to find somewhere else besides the lamp skirt or guard rail to hide that cache in the parking lots, and if you can't make the location more creative, at least make the container more creative.

You would be amazed at how much less I would care about this if hiders took 5 minutes to paint a happy face on their film canisters they hid under a lamp skirt, just to make it different. Give me something to remember your cache by. All I ask.

Kim@Snug Harbor said...

I'm not real crazy about the lamp skirt hides either, but they do serve a purpose. Like days when I don't have time to hike to a cache, so a lamp skirt will satisfy my need to get out of the house and just grab a few, just to be out. And power trails are good for days when I have an hour to kill, so we'll say "lets see how many we can grab here in an hour."

Dave is right, its always more fun to find a different sort of container tucked underneath that lamp skirt!

Ron / Kathie Groll said...

Amen to everything you said. One of the cutest lampskirt finds was a mustache shaped tin placed in honor of a local cacher. Finders had lots of fun taking their picture with it and posting. Yes, it was only a lampskirt but a fun one that made people want to find it.

My days of long hikes in the woods are over so once in a while an easy lampskirt is perfect

Heather Cook (Lady-Magpie) said...

A good example for me was yesterday when I arrived at a hospital to visit my Sister after quite a reasonable drive, only to find out I had the wrong visiting time. So what could I do but go geocaching in a very big town for an hour, no GPS or paperwork just good old memory of the map and clues. Thank you Cheltenham geocachers for putting some urban nanos out for me. Still hate the little bugs though!!!

BLOODHOUNDED said...

I have been known to lift a skirt or two here and there so I am not exempt from the urban caches however, I'm with Dave, most lack creativity. I would just rather be in the woods but that's me.
Great article though in defense of the much debated subject.

Dodger said...

Getting your fix? That makes hiders of these caches "pushers" and supporters of these caches "enablers". Anybody that obsessed with find counts to make a habit of these needs re-hab.

BigAl said...

I don't mind an occasional LPC, but what gets my goat is the bison tube in the middle of the woods where a perfectly good large cache could be. But then, that's just me. Great post.

smithie23 said...

Dan, can you imagine someone hanging out in a cold, dark alley. You walk down said dark alley when the person grabs your attention. "Pssst. You. Yes, you! Hey, where can I find a cache around here?"

BLOODHOUNDED said...

"There's this awesome micro under that lamp skirt dude", says the enabler ( aka you). "Oh man, not a lamp skirt, don't ya have anything stronger" asks the dark alley lurker. "Well I do know of this ammo can, but its three miles that way". "Forget it, where's the micro man" Is more like it.

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