CacheCrazy.Com: Brute Force Strength (Or Lack Thereof)

Friday, January 25, 2013

Brute Force Strength (Or Lack Thereof)

I try to cache by the rules.  When I say rules, I mean those unwritten, unofficial bylaws of the game such as a find not being an official smiley unless you sign the log.  Don't post spoiler pics on the cache description page.  Don't remove the container from it's location.  You get the idea.  I not one for ruffling feathers in other aspects of my life, and it carries over into geocaching.  I don't like to tick people off.

I went looking for a cache last week in New Jersey.  The cache description page said I was looking for a ten stage multi-cache.  WHAT?  Ten stages??  Does the cache owner think I have all day?  Well, in all fairness, he did request any cache seekers to budget a good deal of time on this cache.  All things considered, the cache piqued my interested, so off to Newton I headed.  The entire multi-cache happened to be contained within a single park.  Stage one brought me to an ice hockey rink, where I needed to solve a field puzzle to get the stage two coordinates.  I counted the necessary bleachers, speakers and light posts, then plugged in the numbers.  Said numbers pointed me to the foul pole of a baseball field.  Odd.  Unless the stage is at the TOP of the pole (unlikely),  I needed to recheck my numbers.  Back to the hockey rink I went.  I took a second glance at my math, which was correct.  However, I failed to tally up the correct amount of speakers, which threw off the coordinates.  I recalculated the equation in the puzzle, and plugged the new numbers in the GPSr.  No longer was I staring at a pole in an open field.  I was now at a storm basin, all of thirty feet from a pole in an open field.  This was going nowhere, fast!  I broadened my search, yet came up with a big handful of nothing for stage two.  I put my tail between my legs and headed to work.

Only 21 more stages to go!

Sometime, later that morning, I brought the cache page up on my computer.  I scrutinized it for clues, as well as to make sure I understood the stage one puzzle.  Everything on the page was rather cut and dry.  I then thought back to the ten stages, and how I had nine of them yet to find.  I had a brief flashback to A Walk Into Darkness, where we spent most of the day thinking we were looking for 21 stages.  You know how time seems to move slowly when you stare at a clock?  That is the same feeling I get when looking for mulit-caches with a large amount of stages.  I thought about a sentence on the cache page about the stages being multiple types of hides.  "A little bit of everything", says the page.

Then I had the following thought race through my head- What if I could just find another interim stage, using a calculated guess?

The hint said "Under a rock."

I've never really tried to "brute-force" a cache before.  On previous multi-cache, or unknown cache finds, I've always done the cache in it's proper order.  I did the first stage first, last stage last, and interim stages as they come.  I never thought of guessing where a stage would be.  That being said, I thought I would have a good chance at lucking out and finding an interim stage.  The park was large, but it contained many of the normal "typical" hiding spots-bleachers, fences, heck-even guardrails.  I thought perhaps one of those "el-cheapo" hides fell under the umbrella of  "a little bit of everything."  So, back I went to the park, ultimately hoping to find, if I was lucky, stage nine.  (I figured the final was in the woods somewhere.)  I went back to the original spot where I believed stage two to be, and poked around the baseball field.  Nothing.  I checked all the normal hiding spots at the adjacent softball field.  Nothing.  Making my way down field, I came across a picnic area.  Plenty of tables.  Not a single cache container.  I made my way to the other end of the park, where there was a playground, pavilion, and several monuments, honoring war veterans.  I struck out there as well.  When it was all said and done, I spent two hours searching for a stage- any stage- and all I had to show for it was a set of coordinates for stage two, which may or may not have been correct.

Has anyone attempted to find a cache using this method?  Is it "wrong?"  Let's hear your thoughts!  Should I have stopped lazy, and looked for cache the "right" way?


Adrienne Rose said...

My husband and I tried to find a multi-stage cache on one of our first runs... It was really hard for us, beings as we're here in Germany and MUCH was lost in Translation. Haha. Needless to say, we didn't find the cache at all! We may go back and try again. But we think we know where the last one is! ... We might just go and try to find it... haha. Maybe.

Dave DeBaeremaeker said...

As an FYI, signing the cache log *is* a rule, at least an official guideline. Quoth the Groundspeak:
"Physical caches can be logged online as "Found" once the physical log has been signed."

As far as circumventing stages in a multi, I don't really think there is anything wrong with it. You may be short changing yourself from an experience but thats a crime against yourself, not others. As long as you sign that final, its a legitimate find.

I have done something similar. There is a puzzle cache next town over that requires finding several other caches in the area to obtain clues to solve the puzzle. I managed to find enough to solve the latitude, but I DNFd on the cache for longitude. Based on the information in hand, (hints, parking instructions etc), I was able to make an educated guess about the location of the cache by plotting the one line I had coords for and projecting lines to see where it crossed what seemed to match to likely hiding places (using Google Maps Satellite View). I had a small woodland area, maybe 200ft square, picked out that seemed likely enough that I planned to hit it up that evening.

Before I did head out, I ended up brute forcing the encryption (it was an easy cypher once I knew what sort of keys were being used), and came up with exact coords (which were in the middle of my planned search area). So I found the puzzle, but not all the other caches I should have had to find. I consider this legitimate.

Finally, I love a good multi - especially ones that take a good amount of time. To immerse oneself in a single hide, and literally go on an adventure, without having to mental swap out context for different caches, for hours, is awesome good times. And when you get that final you know you've earned a smiley - especially since it matches the one on your face.

DctrSpott said...

Ah, the sneaky "skip a stage"... I've tried more often than I care to admit, and it seems to only work with dumb luck. Still, there's something satisfying about it, like finding a shortcut on a trip that shaves ten minutes off your time ( like driving the wrong way through a one way). Ethical? Who knows, but it's surely fun to find a cache stage completely without a GPSr!

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