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Ultralight Geocaching


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I'm all for Ultra-lite Geocaching, you can count me in on that one. Although, I consider ultra-lite to include my "overnight" bag.

 

I don't go over board on the things I carry, but I bring enough to be comfortable in case I have to stay overnight.

My gear includes the following.....

Ultra-lite bivy sac ...to stash the cache

Ultra-lite stove ...to cook Ultra-lite meal x2

Ultra-lite fuel

Ultra-lite first aid kit..., I'm a nurse, what can I say

Ultra-lite meal x2

Ultra-lite survival kit ...that contains anti-muggle spray

Ultra-lite day pack ...to carry my Ultra-lite gear

Ultra-lite umbrella ...to prevent falling frogs from hitting my GPSr

Ultra-lite jacket

Ultra-lite cell phone ...to call my partner about my first FTF

Ultra-lite camera ...to photograph my first FTF, whenever that will be

Ultra-lite water bottle with Ultra-lite water(?)

Ultra-lite geocaching gear (personal log book, trinkets, maitenance stuff)

Ultra-lite knife ...to cut off my arm in case I get caught between caches

Ultra-lite trekking poles ...to poke around for snakes

Ultra-lite GPSr

Ultra-lite head lamp

 

All of this weighs in under 8 pounds!

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:unsure:

I'm a fairly new cacher, and lhave spent some time reading through the numerous posts on "the perfect pack" for geocaching. There are some pretty sweet packs described here (briansnat, for example). I would venture to say that 95% of the caches in my area of NE Iowa, caches are within a miles walk from parking. Do I really need waterproof matches, first aid kit (other than maybe a bandage), flashlight, space blanket, rain jacket (even on a beautiful day, with no rain in the forcast?), etc. Perhaps we could start an "Ultralight Geocaching" sect, where one would take their GPSr, Palm Pilot (or whatever), a peice of swag in your pocket, and perhaps a water bottle. I'm in. I am ultralight cacher man! So, why do you take all of your gear? Are your hikes really that intense? Do you like comfort? Do you like heavy backpacks?

Most of the time you don't need anything. But if you do need it, will you have it with you? The longer you can stay out without needing something, the better off you'll be. There is always the risk you'll trip and roll your ankle (or worse) sliding down the creek bank and have to hours hobbling that last half mile to the car...

Having said that it generally has to be more than 3/4 mile for me to take my back pack. But often it will be in the car just because I store stuff in it, its a lot easier keeping it all in one container than trying to round up a dozen different things every weekend...

I was thinking about it, I think I wear my pack more at events then on individual caches. That way I can leave the tent and everywhere without need to go back and get water, batteries, bandaids, a pen because their wasn't one in the cache, etc. When doing caches I end up back at the car between each one anyways. I also think around here :unsure:, cachers tend to where fishing vests or fanny packs more. What works for them I guess.

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Partly I think this comes down to how comfortable one is out in the bush. I'm an avid hiker and spent much of my childhood tromping through the woods on my own. I therby tend to get rid of anything that I think is needless weight. Most geocaches I've gone for have been within a mile or two, so nothing more is needed than my GPSr and a writing utensil. ..... snip... Less is more in my book.

 

Agree here. In my opinion lots of geocachers go way over prepared. I do have a large fanny pack in the car but 99% of the stuff stays there unless I am out for the whole afternoon. I carry a pen, a trinket or two for trade, a map, a compass, and a print out of the page. I may add a mini mag light once in awhile if I suspect I will be searching for a micro slipped into a dark spot. In the summer a pint of water is good, in the winter a pair of gloves. Guess my backpacking days in the 70s taught me to go light and move fast. Now I am old enough that the fast part is long gone but carrying a bunch of extra stuff just doesn't appeal to me.

 

Just a few weeks ago my wife and I were out for a decent hike (about 6 miles) to place a cache. The day started beautiful. Sunny and 50's so we took our time and enjoyed the great weather. Then about halfway through the hike the wind really picked up. Soon the temps dropped drastically and it started to rain, then sleet. We had been wearing nothing but lightweight fleece tops and thin hiking pants throughout the hike so my wife started to shiver. At that point we simply reached into our packs and each of us grabbed a thick fleece pullover and our packable rain parkas and my wife also added a vest she had along. We finished our hike just as sun set, comfortable and reasonably warm.

 

I remarked to my wife at the time that I could see how easily someone who wasn't as prepared as we were could have had a much different result.

 

I guess I should mention that I almost always wear a gortex parka, a hat, and a sweat shirt, all of which I can shed if I get too warm, but oh how they are good to have if things turn too cold. As others have pointed out, my two main concerns on any hike are:

 

1. Do I have water, or is water available?

2. Will I be warm enough if I have to spend the night?

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For most caches less is fine with me.

I have seen folks pack for a week to grab a cache at the local soccer field.

I have a pack in my van with assorted "stuff" for caching, but usually I only carry it when I am placing a cache.

I have found that if I take the rest out I can squeeze a 50 cal. can inside it. Some one carrying a back pack, or some one carrying a 50 cal. ammo can, who do you think is going to attract the most attention. Other than that most caches require my GPSr and a pencil. Yes, there are exceptions, but those are rare.

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I think the point is to have all that stuff available to you in the cachemobile.

 

When I pack for an extended trip, I attempt to parcel everything. I put one small package (things I would want for a break) into a larger package (things I would want for a stroll) into another package (things I would want for a day hike) in to another (things for an overnighter), etc.

 

Then, as Keystone illustrated, I have everything I need for most situations I will encounter. But the problem still lies in the discipline needed to choose the appropriate package.

That is exactly my strategy, unfortunately my packing ideas usually get skrewed up by my parents who cant think more than 2 steps infront of them. As for choosing the right pack to grab (I too leave all my bags fully packed) If the hike is under 2 hours I am usually way underprepared, despite being an Eagle Scout. Anything between 2-8hours I am way overprepared (enough food for the whole group for a whole day just in my pack) and for anything longer than that I am usually just prefectly prepared (ie. I have enough supplies left over to get me through an additional 3-6hours when Im done). First aid wise, I dont take much with me. Being a lifeguard with quite a bit of first aid training, above what is necessary for the job, my theory is that If the wound can be covered by a band-aide, it dont need covered. For more remote hikes I take some rolled guaze and comression bandages along with a small container of H202 (hydrogen peroxide) for sterilizing.

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I have a lanyard that I never leave my car without...it has a compass, pen, and car door key (I added that after spending 2 hours waiting for help after locking my keys and cellphone into my car). Throw in a second lanyard with a flashlight if it is anywhere near dusk and that, with my GPS, cellphone and PDA, is my basic gear. But when I step off the pavement I have at least my waist pack with me...snacks, first aid, flashlight, swag, and waterbottles. And for anything that constitutes a "hike" of any length and I am ready to deal with unexpected delays...more water, waterproof layer, map, etc. Doing search and rescue I have seen very experienced people get caught unprepared...a mile may not seem like much until you are injured or get turned around in the wrong direction because you have dead batteries in your GPS!

Edited by HkrChris
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Grandma Gatewood started hiking in her 70's. She used a shower curtain as a tent, wore Keds sneakers, and had everything in a small bag she carried over her shoulder.

 

Gain knowledge

Remain aware

Stay strong

Invent

 

Those four things will get you through most situations.

 

"Beyond Backbacking" by Ray Jardine is a fantastic book for any outdoorsman

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All movement is relative.

When I walk the earth rotates under my feet.

When I stop walking the earth stops moving.

Relative to me everything else is moving.

You may have a different point of view.

YES!

 

Hey, maybe I really am the center of the universe... Excellent!

 

(tee-hee)

 

As far as ultralight caching, I tend to be among the overprepared when engaging in any significant hike. We have LOTS of super-easy caches around us that require little more than a GPS and a pen. Even the GPS is occasionally optional! But I greatly prefer getting out into the hills and trees and don't mind carrying a few extra pounds of equipment for safety sake. Besides, I kinda need the extra exercise!

 

:ph34r:

Edited by Team Snorkasaurus
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I meant a comment was made about people not making it 72 hours in the woods, but it shouldn't take that long to get out if you know to walk East or West. You've got a few chances to tell which way to go in 72 hours, especially if it only took you a few hours to get there. Get lost in the afternoon, walk away from the sun till dark, sleep, wake up, walk towards it till it's overhead, stop for lunch, walk away from it. Or you could go West.

 

Was that too much?

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I meant a comment was made about people not making it 72 hours in the woods, but it shouldn't take that long to get out if you know to walk East or West. You've got a few chances to tell which way to go in 72 hours, especially if it only took you a few hours to get there. Get lost in the afternoon, walk away from the sun till dark, sleep, wake up, walk towards it till it's overhead, stop for lunch, walk away from it. Or you could go West.

 

Was that too much?

Sorry, just teasing. We all know that anyone who geocaches knows what you meant! :huh: And although, as I mentioned in my first post in this topic, I typically travel over prepared with redundant systems for everything (especially a compass to back up my GPSr), it is funny that so many people just don't use common sense.

 

I suppose being lost or disabled in an unfamiliar environment does encourage panic to varying degrees (no pun intended) and thus confusion leading to bad decisions. When I'm partaking of serious exploration in serious terrain, I always have a survival kit, and the most important thing in it is a good attitude. Without a level head and common sense, a person could die in his back yard. :D:D

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I meant a comment was made about people not making it 72 hours in the woods, but it shouldn't take that long to get out if you know to walk East or West. You've got a few chances to tell which way to go in 72 hours, especially if it only took you a few hours to get there. Get lost in the afternoon, walk away from the sun till dark, sleep, wake up, walk towards it till it's overhead, stop for lunch, walk away from it. Or you could go West.

 

Was that too much?

 

That's not as easy as you might think. Long story short; Last July, we had an experienced hiker get turned around and hiked north instead of south as intended to find his way out, and stayed lost on the trails for 4 days until he found a road. He only went out for a day hike with just a little water and some beef jerky, shorts and a windbreaker and was on well marked trails on the way in. He was "found" very dehydrated and hungry and had no clue where he was even on the paved road.

 

The point is he underestimated how easy it is to get turned around even with his level of experience and oh yah, by my reckoning, he over estimated his experience even though he was able to fall back on survival skills. He didn't take a map or a compass. And in the PNW, you can't always depend on seeing the sun.

Edited by TotemLake
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I meant a comment was made about people not making it 72 hours in the woods, but it shouldn't take that long to get out if you know to walk East or West. You've got a few chances to tell which way to go in 72 hours, especially if it only took you a few hours to get there. Get lost in the afternoon, walk away from the sun till dark, sleep, wake up, walk towards it till it's overhead, stop for lunch, walk away from it. Or you could go West.

 

Was that too much?

 

Actually that is quite easy, IF its summer and IF the temps don't drop into the 50's at night, and IF it doesn't start to rain or snow and IF you don't get injured. It only takes a few hours for hypothermia to set in and one of the first symptoms is confusion, which results in bad decisions.

 

And of course we've all heard the story of Aron Ralston who was out for a day hike and got his hand lodged under a shifting boulder. After several days he cut off his hand to free himself and save his life. Though an experienced outdoorsman, he was only wearing a t-shirt and shorts, only had a liter of water and no extra clothing. Had he been prepared he could have lasted a much longer time and may have saved his hand.

 

I also recall the story of a an experienced tri-athlete who died of dehydration while out on a run. She set out with a companion carrying only a liter of water each. Her companion left her behind to go for help, but she didn't make it.

 

In both cases they were experienced people who might have been a bit cavalier because they were only out for a day. Because of that they paid a price.

Edited by briansnat
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I meant a comment was made about people not making it 72 hours in the woods, but it shouldn't take that long to get out if you know to walk East or West. You've got a few chances to tell which way to go in 72 hours, especially if it only took you a few hours to get there. Get lost in the afternoon, walk away from the sun till dark, sleep, wake up, walk towards it till it's overhead, stop for lunch, walk away from it. Or you could go West.

 

Was that too much?

 

That's not as easy as you might think. Long story short; Last July, we had an experienced hiker get turned around and hiked north instead of south as intended to find his way out, and stayed lost on the trails for 4 days until he found a road. He only went out for a day hike with just a little water and some beef jerky, shorts and a windbreaker and was on well marked trails on the way in. He was "found" very dehydrated and hungry and had no clue where he was even on the paved road.

 

The point is he underestimated how easy it is to get turned around even with his level of experience and oh yah, by my reckoning, he over estimated his experience even though he was able to fall back on survival skills. He didn't take a map or a compass. And in the PNW, you can't always depend on seeing the sun.

 

It sounds to me that he was very inexperienced. While I am in favor of travelling light, I don't advocate being unprepared, and preparedness is different for everyone. If I am by myself (and there are a lot of people tha say that in and of itself is asking for trouble) I will go with much less, because I know my own limits, but if ANYONE is going with me, I will take far more, because I don't know what their limits are and pack for them as well as me.

 

A few years ago, I took my wife on a four day trek on Mt. Hood. As we descended on the fourth day, to a trail that was near a road, we came up on several groups of people, hiking in from the road. One woman looked at us, in 50 pound packs, and said, "You brought your house!" I guess she thought we brought all that for the same mile and a half hike she had just made :laughing:

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I meant a comment was made about people not making it 72 hours in the woods, but it shouldn't take that long to get out if you know to walk East or West. You've got a few chances to tell which way to go in 72 hours, especially if it only took you a few hours to get there. Get lost in the afternoon, walk away from the sun till dark, sleep, wake up, walk towards it till it's overhead, stop for lunch, walk away from it. Or you could go West.

 

Was that too much?

 

That's not as easy as you might think. Long story short; Last July, we had an experienced hiker get turned around and hiked north instead of south as intended to find his way out, and stayed lost on the trails for 4 days until he found a road. He only went out for a day hike with just a little water and some beef jerky, shorts and a windbreaker and was on well marked trails on the way in. He was "found" very dehydrated and hungry and had no clue where he was even on the paved road.

 

The point is he underestimated how easy it is to get turned around even with his level of experience and oh yah, by my reckoning, he over estimated his experience even though he was able to fall back on survival skills. He didn't take a map or a compass. And in the PNW, you can't always depend on seeing the sun.

 

It sounds to me that he was very inexperienced. While I am in favor of travelling light, I don't advocate being unprepared, and preparedness is different for everyone. If I am by myself (and there are a lot of people tha say that in and of itself is asking for trouble) I will go with much less, because I know my own limits, but if ANYONE is going with me, I will take far more, because I don't know what their limits are and pack for them as well as me.

 

A few years ago, I took my wife on a four day trek on Mt. Hood. As we descended on the fourth day, to a trail that was near a road, we came up on several groups of people, hiking in from the road. One woman looked at us, in 50 pound packs, and said, "You brought your house!" I guess she thought we brought all that for the same mile and a half hike she had just made :laughing:

 

Be careful of making assumptions when you don't know the whole story. He was an ex-marine with survival training. He had a better chance of finding his way out than the average person and a better chance of surviving than most folks in similar conditions.

 

My point, though, was even people with the best of training can get turned around, become confused and get lost. Again, this was in the middle of a great summer with the sun out and he still became confused with compass direction. Some of the drainages will look like you're going down when you're really going up.

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We may have a regional issue here.

In our area I have yet to do a cache that can't be done in an hour or so.

I have spent way more time on a cache, but by choice.

In other areas it may be allot farther between places.

Add to that the fact that we all have different levels of ability, and supposedly know this,

and we come up with many different points of view.

Just out of curiosity, how many people here always make sure some one knows

where they are going and how long they intend to be gone?

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We may have a regional issue here.

In our area I have yet to do a cache that can't be done in an hour or so.

I have spent way more time on a cache, but by choice.

In other areas it may be allot farther between places.

Add to that the fact that we all have different levels of ability, and supposedly know this,

and we come up with many different points of view.

Just out of curiosity, how many people here always make sure some one knows

where they are going and how long they intend to be gone?

Everytime. I leave a map of my intended parking area, trailhead, and end destination. Unfortunately, the trails on a map don't necessarily reflect the real trail, so time estimation is always off even when I pad by 25%. I pack for two days on a single day hike. It may not be the best of conditions that I'll be in, but it will get me through an overnight stay. If I have cell phone coverage, I'll call when I get back to the trailhead, otherwise I'll call as soon as possible.

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I meant a comment was made about people not making it 72 hours in the woods, but it shouldn't take that long to get out if you know to walk East or West. You've got a few chances to tell which way to go in 72 hours, especially if it only took you a few hours to get there. Get lost in the afternoon, walk away from the sun till dark, sleep, wake up, walk towards it till it's overhead, stop for lunch, walk away from it. Or you could go West.

 

Was that too much?

 

That's not as easy as you might think. Long story short; Last July, we had an experienced hiker get turned around and hiked north instead of south as intended to find his way out, and stayed lost on the trails for 4 days until he found a road. He only went out for a day hike with just a little water and some beef jerky, shorts and a windbreaker and was on well marked trails on the way in. He was "found" very dehydrated and hungry and had no clue where he was even on the paved road.

 

The point is he underestimated how easy it is to get turned around even with his level of experience and oh yah, by my reckoning, he over estimated his experience even though he was able to fall back on survival skills. He didn't take a map or a compass. And in the PNW, you can't always depend on seeing the sun.

 

It sounds to me that he was very inexperienced. While I am in favor of travelling light, I don't advocate being unprepared, and preparedness is different for everyone. If I am by myself (and there are a lot of people tha say that in and of itself is asking for trouble) I will go with much less, because I know my own limits, but if ANYONE is going with me, I will take far more, because I don't know what their limits are and pack for them as well as me.

 

A few years ago, I took my wife on a four day trek on Mt. Hood. As we descended on the fourth day, to a trail that was near a road, we came up on several groups of people, hiking in from the road. One woman looked at us, in 50 pound packs, and said, "You brought your house!" I guess she thought we brought all that for the same mile and a half hike she had just made :anicute:

 

Be careful of making assumptions when you don't know the whole story. He was an ex-marine with survival training. He had a better chance of finding his way out than the average person and a better chance of surviving than most folks in similar conditions.

 

My point, though, was even people with the best of training can get turned around, become confused and get lost. Again, this was in the middle of a great summer with the sun out and he still became confused with compass direction. Some of the drainages will look like you're going down when you're really going up.

 

My assumption comes from here "He didn't take a map or a compass." Going into any area I am unfamiliar with, or any area I am familiar with but will be hiking more than a mile, I consider these essential items.

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And of course we've all heard the story of Aron Ralston who was out for a day hike and got his hand lodged under a shifting boulder. After several days he cut off his hand to free himself and save his life. Though an experienced outdoorsman, he was only wearing a t-shirt and shorts, only had a liter of water and no extra clothing. Had he been prepared he could have lasted a much longer time and may have saved his hand.

 

Well, at least he had a KNIFE!

 

1. We may have a regional issue here.

<snip>

2. Just out of curiosity, how many people here always make sure some one knows

where they are going and how long they intend to be gone?

 

1. Not necessarily a regional issue, but an issue of how large the "wilderness" area is and how frequently others come along.

 

This can vary widely with the season and the location. In a state park, staying on the trail, in the summer, there will probably be someone along in an hour or so- max. In the winter and or in a national forest, the trail might not be used for days, weeks...

 

IMO it is not "foolish" to go on a SP trail in the summer with t shirt, shorts, and little else- unless close to park closing time. But it would be very risky to go on same trail in winter without at least a minimal "survival kit".

 

2. Mea Culpa. I go out all the time without anyone knowing I'm even caching. It is common for me, having a little "spare" time, to see a map pin on my computer and go get it. However these usually are P&G.

 

I know better, but I often walk alone with noone even knowing I parked the car- much less where. The best they could assume is "Indiana". Most times I figure the cellphone or police radio will get me help, but there are possibilities that both will be out of service.

 

I cache alone most often for the same reason Floyd Collins caved alone- I can't find anyone willing to go with me where I want to go.

 

I hope I don't share his fate because of it.

Edited by Confucius' Cat
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"I know better, but I often walk alone with noone even knowing I parked the car- much less where. The best they could assume is "Indiana". Most times I figure the cellphone or police radio will get me help, but there are possibilities that both will be out of service."

 

This can really make it difficult to find you! Do consider letting someone, even your own answering machine, know what REGION you are in. A member of the Washington climbing community went missing recently and hundreds of hours were invested in finding his CAR, without finding it.

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"I know better, but I often walk alone with noone even knowing I parked the car- much less where. The best they could assume is "Indiana". Most times I figure the cellphone or police radio will get me help, but there are possibilities that both will be out of service."

 

This can really make it difficult to find you! Do consider letting someone, even your own answering machine, know what REGION you are in. A member of the Washington climbing community went missing recently and hundreds of hours were invested in finding his CAR, without finding it.

 

An often overlooked way your cellphone can "get you help" doesn't even involve your being able to use it:

 

Most modern cellphones can be tracked with a fair degree of accuracy as long as the phone is turned on. If TPTB are interested enough, and they get your cellphone number, and it has not been turned off, they can tell within a half mile or better either where you are or where you were when it was turned off or went out of range.

 

Routinely letting someone know where you are is a good idea, but it can potentially cause undue alarm:

 

Consider that you routinely leave msgs on your own answering machine. Wife comes home and listens to all msgs and the last one was 3 hrs ago and you were on the way home 1/2 hr away. So she is alarmed and calls the police who do nothing because you haven't been missing long enough yet, there is no evidence of fowl play and besides you are an adult and if you want to split, that is your right.

 

After many more hours worrying, you come home OK. Seems you were called out to another call and forot to call home. Or your phone died. Or praps you were detained by homeland security or whatever. Or whatever else she chooses to suspect that you really don't want her to suspect- see below:

A married man and his secretary were having a torrid affair. One afternoon they couldn't contain their passion, so they rushed over to her place where they spent the afternoon making passionate love. When they were finished they fell asleep and didn't wake up till 8 o'clock. They got dressed quickly. Then the man told his secretary to take his shoes outside and rub them on the lawn. Bewildered, she does as he asks.

 

The man finally gets home and his wife meets him at the door. Upset, she asks where he's been. The man replies, "I cannot tell a lie. My secretary and I are having an affair. Today we left work early, went to her place, spent the afternoon making love then fell asleep. That's why I'm late."

 

The wife looks at him, takes notice of his shoes and says, "I see those grass stains on your shoes. You've been playing golf again, haven't you!?"

 

:(:unsure:

 

It's really hard to tell when there is a real risk and when reporting in would just cause undue concern or be just useless routine traffic that no one cares to keep track of.

 

Furthermore most people fear "being tracked" more than "getting lost". For this reason, many police officers and truckers have tampered with radio location systems designed to enhance their safety.

 

 

I have already experienced an incident with my coworkers which clearly illustrates the need for someone to know where you are:

 

A few years ago, someone called out "help me" and a different voice (garbled) yelling what sounded like "officer needs asssistance" on our radio talkgroup and then we heard a car door opening and a Ford door beeper. No one answered on numerous calls. Since our talkgroup is not recorded or monitored on a console, we did not have a positive ID on the signal.

 

We suspected either a car-jacking or perhaps a fall or electrocution (citizen assumes "officer" due to type of radio and calls for help on his behalf?). He was the only one unaccounted for and was scheduled to work on weather sirens in a "bad" section of town.

 

The search went on for a couple hours and involved ISP, Marion County, and IPD. He later called in from the Lafayette ISP post. He had switched assignments and had actually told the coordinator but she did not remember it.

 

We found out that a tech at an oil change place had been playing with the radio.

 

I've always advocated that we should "call out our location" periodically, but since I am not a police officer, no one cares and no one would log it.

 

Someone probably knows what region i am supposed to be in, but having to drive from one side of the state to another more or less randomly, sometimes more than once a day, and letting the computer choose the route, even when I am not caching, makes my location pretty much unknown MOST of the time. Hey, sometimes I don't even know where I'm going. :laughing:

 

In my case, they can very easily tell what region I am in by just looking at the records where my radios are registered- accuracy +- 20 miles or so.

 

Despite the rambling post, I whole-heartedly agree with you. Letting someone know where you are and when to expect you to return is VERY GOOD procedure.

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I've been watching this thread with some interest. Two years ago I took a Geocacing vacation in Nevada and did caches that ranged from park and grabs to caches requiring 5 hours round trip. I carried water and snacks, but did not think of a survival kit until I talked to a member of a search and rescue team while he waited for the helicopter to pick him up. They had to picked up a hiker with a broken ankle in a well trafficed area, but to far to walk out.. This was one of a dozen rescues that they make in an average week.

 

I read through several books that were more focused on long term survival: how to snare and skin a rabbit or make a shelter out of tree limbs. I eventually found this book. Which emphasises maintianing a positive attitude, the most common ways you can make the situation worse, and a basic survival kit, that is low cost and everything can be found in your local pharmacy and sporting goods store that fits into a fanny pack. A kit that will give you all the materials to build a fire, make a shelter, signal for help, have food and water, and basic first aid.

 

IMO it is not "foolish" to go on a SP trail in the summer with t shirt, shorts, and little else- unless close to park closing time. But it would be very risky to go on same trail in winter without at least a minimal "survival kit".
It is this type of thinking that gets people into trouble. All to often we assume that nice weather won't turn bad, we won't get lost, or break an an ankle and not be able to walk back to the car. I'd rather be over prepared for caches that are a mile or more roundtrip, than become a search and rescue statistic.

 

Most modern cellphones can be tracked with a fair degree of accuracy as long as the phone is turned on. If TPTB are interested enough, and they get your cellphone number, and it has not been turned off, they can tell within a half mile or better either where you are or where you were when it was turned off or went out of range.
Relying on technology in this situation is not a good idea, your assuming that everyone is going to start looking for you the second someone realise your missing. In reality it may be night time before anyone realises you haven't come home and search and rescue is going to wait till daybreak. Your still going to need a way to stay dry, warm, signal for help. Althoug they may have be able to tell within a half a mile where you are, your talking about a radius of a 1/2 mile, which makes the search area much larger. We are all familiar with how large an area a cache can be hidden, give the margin of error on a GPS, multiply that by a 1/2 mile radius and you could be in for a long wait if your in a state park. Edited by magellan315
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An often overlooked way your cellphone can "get you help" doesn't even involve your being able to use it:

 

Most modern cellphones can be tracked with a fair degree of accuracy as long as the phone is turned on. If TPTB are interested enough, and they get your cellphone number, and it has not been turned off, they can tell within a half mile or better either where you are or where you were when it was turned off or went out of range.

 

Cell phones ha! - I'm glad yours work better than mine. Most of the areas I cache in have little or no Cell phone coverage just a few miles from town. Go behind a hill or around a curve - its gone. Certainly not anything I would ever depend on to help me.

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A lot of this thread seems to be focused on the "Well you might get lost" aspect of why its important to carry a survival kit. That strikes me as a little odd. I mean here we are carrying around this fancy little toy that tells us exactly where we are on the surface of the planet to within at worst 30m, and we're concerned about getting lost???

 

My caching 'pack' holds only a couple of things

 

1) Lots of water. (normally a least 4L for me and the dog). If I come close to running out of water, then I know I didn't bring enough with me.

2) Lots of spare batteries (normally 4-8).

3) Big Lunch.

 

My GPS is typically loaded with a detailed map of the area, and my track log is constantly being recorded. This negates most of the 'you might get lost' arguments.

 

Sure, I might drop the GPS down a gorge, but then again I might drop my survival kit too. Does that mean I should pack an extra survival kit? Ooops what if I drop that too?

 

Then again, I don't cache alone in areas where I'm unlikely to see someone for days at a time (can only think of one day I've done where this *might* have been an issue). Obviously in those kinds of areas, you have to be more careful.

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A lot of this thread seems to be focused on the "Well you might get lost" aspect of why its important to carry a survival kit. That strikes me as a little odd. I mean here we are carrying around this fancy little toy that tells us exactly where we are on the surface of the planet to within at worst 30m, and we're concerned about getting lost???

 

My caching 'pack' holds only a couple of things

 

1) Lots of water. (normally a least 4L for me and the dog). If I come close to running out of water, then I know I didn't bring enough with me.

2) Lots of spare batteries (normally 4-8).

3) Big Lunch.

 

My GPS is typically loaded with a detailed map of the area, and my track log is constantly being recorded. This negates most of the 'you might get lost' arguments.

 

Sure, I might drop the GPS down a gorge, but then again I might drop my survival kit too. Does that mean I should pack an extra survival kit? Ooops what if I drop that too?

 

Then again, I don't cache alone in areas where I'm unlikely to see someone for days at a time (can only think of one day I've done where this *might* have been an issue). Obviously in those kinds of areas, you have to be more careful.

 

It's no trouble to carry a few survival essentials, and if something unexpected were to happen (injury, GPS failure/loss, bad weather) you'd be prepared to ride it out in relative comfort. Having some critical supplies at hand and the knowledge to use them would make the difference between a grim 'survival experience' and just an unexpected adventure.

 

If you don't believe in backups, why the extra batteries? By now you know the approximate battery mileage of your GPS unit, so why not carry just the batteries needed to complete the hike? As for losing the GPS and the survival kit, well that could happen. These forums are full of stories of lost or broken GPS units precisely because the GPS is vulnerable. It's a complex piece of electronics that you carry in your hand (at least at times). Presumably, your emergency kit spends most of its time safe inside your pack. So the lack of infinite redundancy doesn't invalidate the value of carrying some survival goodies.

 

Chances are good that someone who routinely carries emergency gear would have the mindset to fare better without it than someone who scoffs at it anyway.

 

Nobody's trying to change the way you pack for a hike. Some of us just like to be prepared and don't mind a few extra ounces or pounds in the pack. Next sudden rainstorm flag us down--we'll lend you the spare space blanket :D

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Nobody's trying to change the way you pack for a hike. Some of us just like to be prepared and don't mind a few extra ounces or pounds in the pack. Next sudden rainstorm flag us down--we'll lend you the spare space blanket :D

 

If I'm not already using it. :D

Edited by TotemLake
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A lot of this thread seems to be focused on the "Well you might get lost" aspect of why its important to carry a survival kit. That strikes me as a little odd. I mean here we are carrying around this fancy little toy that tells us exactly where we are on the surface of the planet to within at worst 30m, and we're concerned about getting lost???

 

There are also concerns other than getting lost. Like getting injured, or wet. If you're an hour from your car and hypothermia is setting in, it really doesn't matter that you know where your car is does it? Same if you break a leg, or blow out a knee.

 

Also, last time I looked my GPS was an electronic device that depended on batteries. If I dropped it and it broke, if it just plain crapped out (electronic equipment does fail), or if the batteries died and I didn't have replacements,then what?

 

Sure, I might drop the GPS down a gorge, but then again I might drop my survival kit too. Does that mean I should pack an extra survival kit? Ooops what if I drop that too?

 

A survival kit is not a single item. If you're properly packed it consists of many things including food, water, extra clothing, rain gear, a whistle and/or signal mirror, matches, perhaps a shelter and other items. Hopefully if you drop your matches, you'll still have extra warm clothing, or if your extra clothing gets wet you'll still have matches. Sure you can lose everything. It's happened and people have died because of it, but to justify leaving it all behind because there is a remote chance you might lose it is just plain silly.

Edited by briansnat
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I read through several books that were more focused on long term survival: how to snare and skin a rabbit or make a shelter out of tree limbs. I eventually found this book. Which emphasises maintianing a positive attitude, the most common ways you can make the situation worse, and a basic survival kit, that is low cost and everything can be found in your local pharmacy and sporting goods store that fits into a fanny pack. A kit that will give you all the materials to build a fire, make a shelter, signal for help, have food and water, and basic first aid.

 

Just a second recommendation for that book; "98.6 Degrees: The Art of Keeping Your *** Alive". This book relates more to most geocachers then any other survival type book I've ever read. It really should be a must read.

 

A lot of this thread seems to be focused on the "Well you might get lost" aspect of why its important to carry a survival kit. That strikes me as a little odd. I mean here we are carrying around this fancy little toy that tells us exactly where we are on the surface of the planet to within at worst 30m, and we're concerned about getting lost???

 

My caching 'pack' holds only a couple of things

 

1) Lots of water. (normally a least 4L for me and the dog). If I come close to running out of water, then I know I didn't bring enough with me.

2) Lots of spare batteries (normally 4-8).

3) Big Lunch.

 

My GPS is typically loaded with a detailed map of the area, and my track log is constantly being recorded. This negates most of the 'you might get lost' arguments.

 

Sure, I might drop the GPS down a gorge, but then again I might drop my survival kit too. Does that mean I should pack an extra survival kit? Ooops what if I drop that too?

 

Then again, I don't cache alone in areas where I'm unlikely to see someone for days at a time (can only think of one day I've done where this *might* have been an issue). Obviously in those kinds of areas, you have to be more careful.

You're kidding, right?

You're much more likely to break something as relatively fragile as a gps in your hand then you are to break warm clothes, matches, and first aid kit in your backpack, don't ya think?

You're already carrying almost 10lbs of water with you (good, but btw really not even close to a 24hr supply for you and a dog), what's another pound or less to be safe?

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A survival kit is not a single item.

 

Precisely. And I would contend that the basic "don't leave home without it" pocket items are sufficient for most urbans and small park trails.

 

Hey, I remember actually going on park trails b4 GPS was invented. No phone either. How did we survive? :D

 

Most SP trails I have been on are designed so a deaf, dumb, and blind 4 yr old would have a hard time getting lost. Nowadays they even pave them and put fences beside them in many places. I remember about 30 years ago being allowed to stand within 2 feet of the edge of Cumberland Falls, with the water flowing over my feet. But now everything in these places are pretty much "sterile" or perhaps a better phrase would be "litigation hardened". This trend definitely reduces the risk of short SP hikes.

 

A person must make a judgement call. Is this trip likely to turn into a "Gilligan's Island"? If not, then why NOT pack light? Do you carry a full scale survival kit to go sleep in your backyard hammock? You should! You could break your leg and be down for hours in the pouring rain and die of hypothermia before the next-door neighbor hears you scream (or cares enough to call for help). :D

 

When I was instructing the Water Rescue Team many years ago about emergency procedures, we went through a few "no win" scenarios. Planning for "no wins" is pertineer useless. "No wins" can be made up for any risk.

 

Pocket survival kit: (All of these have multiple uses and all of them can be dropped or malfunction. That's life.)

 

Knife (never ever ever go anywhere without this. If you fly, buy one as you leave the airport.)

money (more for urban than park trails)

cellphone

lighter (not needed in summer- unless you smoke)

handkerchief

 

If you want to carry more, go for it. But for a short, sterile hike this is sufficient.

Edited by Confucius' Cat
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It is quite possible to "get lost" even when you are intimately familiar with an area. Case in point:

 

I was out in a nature preserve that I have been tramping around in for the last 4 years. I know the area inside out. I was with my bloodhound, Miss Molly Maguire, who has participated in several search and rescue missions. She has been training in this park since she was a 3 month old puppy. It was approaching dusk, and I was hunting for a cache in an area that was in heavy brush and undergrowth. I got slapped in the face with a mesquite branch that had 4 inch thorns. It ripped my glasses off my face and tore a hole in several places on my body. I heard my glasses hit the ground behind me. I immediately stopped, dropped to the ground, and did a spiral hands and knees search after flagging the area with my flagging tape (I had my small search pack with me that day.) I never found my glasses.

 

I got a phone call out to my husband, who is our search team incident commander. He got out to the scene when it was full dark. He is not as familiar with the area as I am, so he was having difficulty finding me. I dug my whistle out of my pack and started signalling, so he was able to finally reach me. We got to the area I had flagged, and we both did a search on the ground. We still didn't find them. I am almost blind without them, so I was having difficulty in even seeing my GPS, let alone seeing the breadcrumb trail, and we were having to bust brush just to manuever in the area. I was hot, tired, bleeding, and thoroughly unhappy. Miss Molly was hungry and ready to go home, but we were now in the position of not being able to find our way back to a trail that would lead us back to the truck. The GPS could give us the general direction, but trying to find a trail in the dark was next to impossible.

 

One good thing about having a search bloodhound-- I gave her the command to "take us back to the truck." She cast around for a couple of minutes, then set off. Within 5 minutes, she had us back to a dirt trail, and within 15 minutes we were back to the vehicle. When I compared the backtrack on the GPS later, she had taken us out almost exactly on the route that we had taken into the brushy area. Thank God for bloodhound noses.

 

Moral of the story-- I now pack a spare pair of glasses, and even on short jaunts, I go nowhere without at least the small urban pack that I carry on searches. If the distance is longer, I go with my full pack. I'm also teaching the other 2 hounds how to "take us back" from whatever place we start from, so they will be able to find the truck and return us in the event of emergency.

 

BTW- this nature preserve is only 9 miles from my house, and is probably only 300 acres in size. It is in the middle of an urban area, bounded by major roads and is fenced on 3 sides. I still managed to get lost in one of the more remote interior areas which would probably be only a half-mile hike to one of the boundaries, as the crow flies. It's tough to do when it's dark, you're blind and bleeding, and the terrain is as uneven as it is out there.

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Moral of the story-- I now pack a spare pair of glasses, and even on short jaunts, I go nowhere without at least the small urban pack that I carry on searches. If the distance is longer, I go with my full pack.

 

 

I think this statement makes the point of the thread; different packs for different risk levels. No need to pack for every possible scenario (you'd need a semi).

 

I would add to my list above a flashlight (even if it aint dark out) (I forgot to list it but I carry 2 at all times) and of course any "special needs" items such as spare glasses for those with really bad uncorrected vision or vital meds for heart patients or diabetics, etc.

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Moral of the story-- I now pack a spare pair of glasses, and even on short jaunts, I go nowhere without at least the small urban pack that I carry on searches. If the distance is longer, I go with my full pack.

 

 

I think this statement makes the point of the thread; different packs for different risk levels. No need to pack for every possible scenario (you'd need a semi).

 

I would add to my list above a flashlight (even if it aint dark out) (I forgot to list it but I carry 2 at all times) and of course any "special needs" items such as spare glasses for those with really bad uncorrected vision or vital meds for heart patients or diabetics, etc.

 

Most of my hikes are on maintained paths, but I know I can't always depend on the happenstance of a stranger to come along and help me get past my clumsiness. The extra weight is worth the comfortable knowledge I can get through a situation if the need surreptitiously arises.

 

Along with my flashlight and LED headlamp, I also carry two chem light sticks and a charcoal hand warmer with spare sticks. On long hikes, I carry spare contacts. I did start with 164 oz of water when my hiking buddy Snickers! was still alive, but I now carry a backpack stove and pot in one of the pockets instead of the 32 oz nalgene bottle, along with a hot drink mix and freeze dried food. There's nothing like a hot meal to sit down and ponder on. My easy to reach water purifier quick-connects to the camelbak hose so I don't have to take the backpack off to refill it if I happen to come across a stream with no easy place to set the pack down.

 

The value of the whistle came into play last year when my hiking partner used his whistle during a sketchy GPS signal spot for us to hook back up after we separated during a bushwhack down a very wide, steep, and heavy growth ravine.

Edited by TotemLake
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A lot of this thread seems to be focused on the "Well you might get lost" aspect of why its important to carry a survival kit. That strikes me as a little odd. I mean here we are carrying around this fancy little toy that tells us exactly where we are on the surface of the planet to within at worst 30m, and we're concerned about getting lost???

 

My caching 'pack' holds only a couple of things

 

1) Lots of water. (normally a least 4L for me and the dog). If I come close to running out of water, then I know I didn't bring enough with me.

2) Lots of spare batteries (normally 4-8).

3) Big Lunch.

 

My GPS is typically loaded with a detailed map of the area, and my track log is constantly being recorded. This negates most of the 'you might get lost' arguments.

 

Sure, I might drop the GPS down a gorge, but then again I might drop my survival kit too. Does that mean I should pack an extra survival kit? Ooops what if I drop that too?

 

Then again, I don't cache alone in areas where I'm unlikely to see someone for days at a time (can only think of one day I've done where this *might* have been an issue). Obviously in those kinds of areas, you have to be more careful.

 

 

In short, its attidudes like this that keep the SAR teams busy.

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A lot of this thread seems to be focused on the "Well you might get lost" aspect of why its important to carry a survival kit. That strikes me as a little odd. I mean here we are carrying around this fancy little toy that tells us exactly where we are on the surface of the planet to within at worst 30m, and we're concerned about getting lost???

 

My caching 'pack' holds only a couple of things

 

1) Lots of water. (normally a least 4L for me and the dog). If I come close to running out of water, then I know I didn't bring enough with me.

2) Lots of spare batteries (normally 4-8).

3) Big Lunch.

 

My GPS is typically loaded with a detailed map of the area, and my track log is constantly being recorded. This negates most of the 'you might get lost' arguments.

 

Sure, I might drop the GPS down a gorge, but then again I might drop my survival kit too. Does that mean I should pack an extra survival kit? Ooops what if I drop that too?

 

Then again, I don't cache alone in areas where I'm unlikely to see someone for days at a time (can only think of one day I've done where this *might* have been an issue). Obviously in those kinds of areas, you have to be more careful.

 

Sweet!

 

ibycus, a healthy portion of the folks I've met who required rescue (or whose body we recovered) had a GPS unit.

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It's crazy to think how many people dont realize which way the sun moves.

Which way does it move? :lol::laughing:

 

Easy ... it moves upward in the morning, sideways in the middle of the day, and downward in the afternoon. :o

 

But getting back to the original issue ... I have a pack with everything but the kitchen sink, and also a little waist pack with just the geocaching essentials. Often when I go light, I end up wishing I had something that I left in the big pack.

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There is one other thing I would add to the list, a whistle. The human voice only carries for a 1/4 of a mile and you will loose your voice very quickly. You can blow a whistle for a very long time and if you get the type that does not have a "pea" in it they can be heard from a mile away.

 

I can't believe I forgot that! We have a whistle connected to the lanyard of the GPS so I don't even think about it anymore. It's the simple things that get you through I guess :anicute:

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