CacheCrazy.Com: Turned Around in the Woods

Friday, October 5, 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?


3 comments:

George said...

Great story, we've all been there at one time. One thing I think you should have pointed out was that folks should waypoint their car ;) (Seriously, though, this is incredibly useful and preventative for unnecessary wandering around in the woods!)

Big_Dog1970 said...

I think what your trying to tell me is that I should waypoint my car? :)

Heather Cook (Lady-Magpie) said...

Went out caching today and walked for miles grabbing 6 caches on route. I unfortunately didn't way point the car which I know I should. The reason for today's lapse was I was on a very large open golf course and my new car is brilliant white which I could see from every directions. Mind you I did have a plan B, I'd park it outside the club house door and if lost would have asked the nearest golfer to take me to hole 19, the bar.

Joking apart, yes you must take care, work out where your going beforehand.

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