CacheCrazy.Com: Geocaching; What is this all about? A Beginners Special Feature

Thursday, January 22, 2015

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.




WELCOME TO THIRSTY THURSDAY!!
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 Geocaching.com, 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.

BEANIE BABIES SWAG

 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 Geocaching.com. 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.

Geocaching.com 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 Geocaching.com can hide caches that they then publish to their web site.

Now lets look for a cache. First we log onto Geocaching.com 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 Geocaching.com 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 Geocaching.com. 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!

___________________________________________________________

3 comments:

BLOODHOUNDED said...

This is great!
Spring IS coming eventually, I can feel it today despite the snow showers, and this totally awesome article with my first cup of coffee! No better start to my day.
I can feel the “caching bug” setting in. Thanks for the inspiration; this is very well done BigAl, thanks!

CrazyCris said...

Great introductory post! Makes me want to head out and look for a few more myself! But I'm off to a birthday bbq instead... Another time! ;o)

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