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Ichabod

Hunting without your GPSr

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In the past few months, I have started hunting and finding caches without my GPSr. The first time I did it just because I knew there was a cache in the area and I didn't have my GPSr with me, but now I find that I enjoy this GPS free hunting.

 

Google Earth is great for getting an idea of where to hunt, but sometimes all I need is the basic cache description and/or the clue.

 

I know there are many cachers that racked up big numbers even before they had a GPS, using nothing more than a map (like Mapquest), but how many of you, that have a GPSr, sometimes leave it in the car?

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The day I was introduced to geocaching, I tried to get an old Magellan GPSr to work. After a while, I gave up and used GPSrs belonging to others in the group, and we found four caches.

 

Since then, I've used Google satellite photos. I tried a couple more times to get the old Magellan GPSr to work, but I eventually declared it to be dead. That's okay--it had only two decimal places of precision for minutes (i.e., nn° nn.nn rather than nn° nn.nnn). Eventually, I'll probably get a GPSr, but I'm having fun finding (and hiding) caches without one.

 

I posted more details a while ago, for those interested.

Edited by niraD

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there is a guy on my department that i got into caching, all he uses is a topo and a compass, i swear.

here he is, Ashff

look him up. i got to get him to show me how to do that.

Tim

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I did a couple recently where I didn't need the GPS. On one I did last week, I found it completely by accident! I was going to cache with a friend but arrived earlier than he did, and decided to take a walk and scout out the area. I played the "if this was my geocache, where would I hide it?" game and found a promising spot. It was an urban setting with lots of muggles, so I acted casual and sat down on a stone retaining wall, pretending like I was waiting for someone (which I actually was). When nobody was looking, I checked my potential spot -- nope! Not there! But then I turned my head to my right, and.... aha!

 

I also did one where, according to Google Maps, the cache is hidden on a traffic island on a wide residential street. That narrowed down the search radius considerably, and I found it without the GPS. (Of course, it was a very cleverly disguised micro, but when you KNOW it's there, it's a lot easier...)

 

Sometimes you can tell what it is and how it's mounted by the cache description, and then with the general area known (often the urban caches where you KNOW it's on this block or traffic island or storefront), and it's easy to do without the GPS.

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One time we had a big flood in an area and I went to look for a cache to see if it survived. I had been to it several times, so I didn't bother to bring a gps.

 

From the flood damage I couldn't figure out where it used to be. I'm talking even the trail was gone.

 

I found it and it turned out it was only about 20 feet away from the original location.(So I couldn't claim it as another find ;-) )

 

I was amazed considering everything else was originally from upstream.

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In the past few months, I have started hunting and finding caches without my GPSr. The first time I did it just because I knew there was a cache in the area and I didn't have my GPSr with me, but now I find that I enjoy this GPS free hunting.

 

Google Earth is great for getting an idea of where to hunt, but sometimes all I need is the basic cache description and/or the clue.

 

I know there are many cachers that racked up big numbers even before they had a GPS, using nothing more than a map (like Mapquest), but how many of you, that have a GPSr, sometimes leave it in the car?

 

I know of three people that are over 1000 caches with all or most of them gps-less. There may well be more. Waldenrun is well over 2000 (don't know if he uses a GPS at all or not)... maybe 3000 by now, Web-ling has over 1200 but apparently does use a GPS from time to time, and myself at 1000+ without any GPS usage. I know of four other Orienteers that are in the 100-500 range that don't use a GPS at all, and through these threads have just learned of a couple more GPS-Less geocachers, so it looks like we may be a minority of well under 50 in the geocaching world. Any additional data would be welcomed.

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I searched for my first cache without a GPSr because I didn't have one yet. I found out about geocaching on the internet at work and found that there was a cache on the way home. I looked for 10 minutes and came within 10 feet of the cache. I had to quit because I had just worked the night shift for 13 hours and needed my sleep. The next night at work I bought a Magellan 2000xl and found it after 5 minutes.

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Funny, I was afraid to say it, for fear of being told I wasn't a real cacher or something...

 

But the last four or five urban caches I've sought were sans-unit. And I was planning to go pick up another one tonight. I can see from the picture that it's at a familiar street corner 3 blocks from my home.

 

After I tried it, it turns out to be quite easy for urban caches. I just look at the map, then at google earth at home. Then when I get a chance during lunch time at work I run out and find the spot from memory. I think it's almost as accurate as a gps would be. ie: I can usually narrow it down to a single tree or a sight-line from an intersection. Funny that sometimes I just look at the big white arrows painted on the road and they point right at the cache. Then I go there and... There it is!

 

It doesn't work for caches in the woods though, because thre are too dang many trees. And often rural areas aren't high-res enough on google earth.

 

There, I admitted it. I'm an out of the closet sans-unit urban micro-nabber!

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I found my first 40ish without a GPSr. I've got a borrowed one at the moment, since the hubby wants one out of our price range for now. I only use it for caches that are too far off the road to get an accurate idea where to look or multi/puzzle caches. I use google maps to get close and go from there. Most urban caches are pretty easy without one if you are familar with the area.

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It doesn't work for caches in the woods though, because thre are too dang many trees.
I've found a few caches "in the woods" (wooded suburban park areas) without a GPSr. Sometimes I can find landmarks in the satellite photos that can still be seen through the trees. Other times, I pace off the distance between a visible landmark and the location. (Pacing off the distance can work for offset multis too.)

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It doesn't work for caches in the woods though, because thre are too dang many trees. And often rural areas aren't high-res enough on google earth.

 

Hummm... Actually I think the trees may affect the GPS more than they do the map, but that's just a guess.. I know nothing about a GPS. Most of my caches are woods caches. My average terrain difficulty is around 2 and with 20% over three.. so it isn't a method just for urban caches. I agree that google earth craps out as soon as you get out of town. I use Topozone which has much better coverage..100% for me so far.. and better accuracy as well.

 

....and an addendum to my other post above, there is another cacher over 1000 that does not always use a GPS.. no idea of what % are with and without, but "chamois-shimi & special K" have 1200+ and mention GPS-Less in their profile. So, I know of a total of 11 people that do mostly GPS less ones, and of those, 5 that are for sure 100% GPS-Less.

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It doesn't work for caches in the woods though, because thre are too dang many trees.
I've found a few caches "in the woods" (wooded suburban park areas) without a GPSr. Sometimes I can find landmarks in the satellite photos that can still be seen through the trees. Other times, I pace off the distance between a visible landmark and the location. (Pacing off the distance can work for offset multis too.)

 

Yes GPS-Less Multicaching can be a real trip!!! Offset multis are usually a piece of cake but the regular multis are not. I've done a few in a single trip by plotting the spot on my photo using .001 x .001 as a 5x6, square... at my latitude... but if the legs are too long they go off the edge of the map then I'm out of options except to go home and download another map for that stage. Woods caches don't need to be suburban parks. I've done caches 5 miles from parking and found caches at the end of a mile bushwhack in foot deep snow... so don't feel there are limits to what can be done. If you can read the photo you can find it.

Edited by edscott

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Yes GPS-Less Multicaching can be a real trip!!! Offset multis are usually a piece of cake but the regular multis are not. I've done a few in a single trip by plotting the spot on my photo using .001 x .001 as a 5x6, square... at my lattitude... but if the legs are too long they go off the edge of the map then I'm out of options except to go home and download another map for that stage.
I recently completed a multi where one of the stages was too far to pace from the previous stage. But it happened to be within pacing distance of a nearby traditional cache that I was prepared to find, so I ended up completing the multi in one trip after all. :laughing:

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This has become my predominant way of finding them, but not completely without GPS in most cases. I have the caches plotted on Delorme on my computer (which has a dash-mount GPS attached). I drive to the nearest safe parking spot and plot a course from the car. I use my compass and feet (to guess distance) after that.

 

I have found several in the woods this way, but it is a lot more difficult than the traditional P&Gs.

 

Most caches can be found with just a clue and experience if you get in the general area. Many don't even need a clue (or the clue aint worth a hoot anyway).

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My first 9 finds were done using Google Earth. It was OK, but the paper printouts I carried were a pain.

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I started out as TeamNOGPS several years ago. I learned of the sport, had no GPS, but wanted to rise to the challenge using Photomap USA, Topozone, and a compass. Each rural find was real accomplishment.

 

I hid a cache in the same manner, painstakingly plotting the coordinates, as well as providing good hints. Guess what? Because I noted that the coordinates were scaled and welcomed any corrections by the finders, the reviewer archived the cache. I was so flamed I couldn't enjoy it again for a long time. Just recently back at it but with GPS now. I'm just getting into benchmarks and find the irony of locating scaled BM's amusing.

 

PS: That cache probably still sits at the edge of lovely little boulder field south of Lebanon.

Edited by RageWizards

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I started out as TeamNOGPS several years ago. I learned of the sport, had no GPS, but wanted to rise to the challenge using Photomap USA, Topozone, and a compass. Each rural find was real accomplishment.

 

I hid a cache in the same manner, painstakingly plotting the coordinates, as well as providing good hints. Guess what? Because I noted that the coordinates were scaled and welcomed any corrections by the finders, the reviewer archived the cache. I was so flamed I couldn't enjoy it again for a long time. Just recently back at it but with GPS now. I'm just getting into benchmarks and find the irony of locating scaled BM's amusing.

 

PS: That cache probably still sits at the edge of lovely little boulder field south of Lebanon.

 

Above somewhere in this thread I said "if you can read the photo you can find it" Also.. if you can read the photo you can hide it, and provide accurate coordinates, possibly more accurate than a GPS can provide. The trick is to select a hiding spot that you are confident the photo shows or provides a couple nearby spots that you can use to determine your precise location. If these conditions do not exist then either use another spot or find a friend with a GPS to check your work before submitting it. Welcoming corrections is fine, but announcing it on the page implies you are not confident of them, in which case I probably would pass on the cache until a few successful finders had made comments. For your cache I suspect your lovely boulderfield shows up quite nicely from the air and your coordinates are potentially very good. Unfortunately many reviewers do not really know how this is done, nor how much mapping experience an individual has and must error on the side of caution. PS.. my first hide was put on hold until I could get the coordinates verified by a GPS wielding geocacher.

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To do some of my multis, without a GPSr, you would need a map, magnetic compass, drafting compass, parallels, calculator. To convert UTM you would need maps in Lat and Long as well as UTM, or a PDA with a program to convert Lat/Long to UTM and back. Or you can do it the easy way and just bring a GPSr.

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Hey, Ichabod! (He who was the FTF on my very first cache--sans GPS!)

 

I'm new at this game, but as the perennial Gadget Girl, I've gotta whine--you Googlecachers are undermining my excuse to buy more geek gear!

 

Heck, I'd use a GPSr to find my way from the couch to the can if it worked indoors. Just because. :P

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To do some of my multis, without a GPSr, you would need a map, magnetic compass, drafting compass, parallels, calculator. To convert UTM you would need maps in Lat and Long as well as UTM, or a PDA with a program to convert Lat/Long to UTM and back. Or you can do it the easy way and just bring a GPSr.

 

Nah.. I can just make a separate trip for each stage :P

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Found one yesterday without one. Granted, it was in a cemetary where I knew, and the coords only gave the cemetary location, not the cache location. The clues were enough to help us (by us, meaning my nephew) find the cache in under a minute. Normally, I rely HEAVILY on my GPS though.

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We are new to this, doing it about a month now...

 

Yesterday we hit 9 of 9 in 1.5 hours without a GPSr or SAT photos. They were urban caches - we used the map from the cache's page, a little instinct, and a lot of luck. We skipped ones that we thought did not have enough info to find without a GSPr (like ones that had a placement in the middle of a field or somewhere down a long trail).

 

This brings our total to 12, all without GPSr. Not big numbers, I know, but we are happy.

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