Spotting a Geocache
This may be a bit taboo because I’m going to show some caches. I’m not going to give any information about where they were found, nor any information about how they were discovered or the terrain. But as someone who’s just starting this hobby, I would have appreciated a better understanding of what I might be looking for. So many of the cache descriptions are like this:
This is another one of my yodel caches, hidden Lake Chutney style. If you’ve found one of those, this should be easy. If you’ve ever gone geocaching with good ol’ Smitty you’ll remember his advice and you’ll find this one quickly. Good luck!
So. You know. That’s helpful. When you’re just starting like I am, that’s pretty much no description at all. It leads to some disapointing “Did Not Find” logs. After my first two failures I Googled photos of caches like crazy, trying to figure out what the hell I was looking for. Finding resources that showed the range of possible hides really helped. So I present this to newbies who, like me, may have no idea what’s in store. Or maybe you’ve never considered geocaching and this will show you how fun it is. Photos are after the cut, so if you want to preserve the mystery, don’t click through.
Let’s start with my first microcache success.
Here’s a challenging one I found this week. Have a look. See it?
I didn’t see it either. I visited this one three times and finally asked for an extra hint. Even with the extra hint I spent quite a bit of time searching. Turns out I was making the assumption that all caches are down low. Let’s have another look. See it now?
It’s up there, nestled in the leaves. Look close.
It’s a film canister, wrapped in something like floral tape, with a twisted twig inserted into the cap to hold it into place. I had a total “when you see it you’ll shit bricks” moment when I looked up and my brain caught up with my eyes. The immediate sense of pride in defeating the challenge was awesome.
Here’s another fun one. After that sneaky micro I knew I needed to look up. Thanks to a helpful description on this next one I knew it would be above eye level. J spotted it first and I literally stopped in my tracks, so taken by the absurdity of the cache container.
Yeah, that’s a pencil sharpener attached to the side of a tree. It’s a good thing J was with me, because I would have had to climb the tree to reach the thing. Imagine you’re strolling through the woods, and suddenly you see a pencil sharpener on a tree. That’s a surreal moment.
Here’s another sneaky one. We were walking through a wooded area that had recently been surveyed. There were survey stakes occasionally throughout the area. Like this one.
The GPSr was leading me closer to it, and the hint made it seem like X marked the spot. But X never marks the spot, and how on earth could there be a cache there? One of the stipulations of geocache placements is that they can’t be buried. So where could it —
Oh you sneaky fucker.
Here’s another sneaky one. From a distance this looked like a decaying stump. The description even mentioned a stump. While I was wandering around looking at fallen trees, J nervously nudged what he feared was a termite mound.
Turns out it was an artificial stump, hollowed out underneath and containing a peanut butter jar full of toys and a log. This one put a huge smile on my face. Someone was really creative with expanding foam and paint.
Finally, here’s one that made me feel particularly triumphant. Experienced geocachers will tell you that you eventually stop relying on your GPSr and use your “geosense” to figure out where a good hide would be. This next one is the first time my spidey senses tingled. See it?
How about now?
See, if you’re like me you saw that hollow post end and the small white square inside and your spidey senses went crazy. THAT’S IT! Reach right in there and…. oh…. that’s just the sticker from the lumber yard for the fence rail. But your senses are still tingling. What could it be?
OH YOU SNEAKY FUCKER! It was a false end on the bottom fence rail, with a hole bored in it for a microcache, and velcro stickers to hold it in place. Hot damn that one was awesome.
Convinced yet? Give it a shot. Download the free trial iPhone app, find a 1-star difficulty, 1-star terrain regular sized cache and go for it. Make sure no one is around to see you, because exposing these hidden treasures to people who don’t know the game is how they end up getting removed or destroyed. FYI non-cachers are called Muggles. You don’t want to be a Muggle, do you? Try it!
There’s nothing like the sense of triumph you get when you spot a cache. You get this moment of absolute pride in your ability to crack a puzzle. And let’s face it, this is the closest any of us is going to get to a real life Indiana Jones kind of game of clues. The other thing I love is knowing how busy some of these areas are, knowing that people including myself have walked by these caches dozens of times and had no idea there was a hidden secret. No idea that other people were playing a game of cat and mouse and logging their triumphs on records hidden in plain sight.
Every time I find one I can’t wait to find the next one. I want to chase the feeling of success, of conquering a puzzle. And hey, if it gets me outside and gives me a reason to put in a few miles of walking, so much the better. Try it. It’s so much fun.