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What are your procedures for a Geocache run?


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Many of us have found about all caches placed in our area....Now we need to make “Geocache Runs” to other “hot spots” to enjoy our Sport/Game. My preparations are listed:

My preparations for a Geocache Run...

I start with Groundspeak-Seek & Geocache-Home Seek

 

1. Review Geocache listings and select a Cache in an area of choice to search.

2. Review selected cache on geocaching-goggle maps

3. Review number of caches in area

4. Make “Bookmark-list” of all caches (select type caches to hunt)

5. Run “Pocket Query” (PQ) of caches from Bookmark list... *.gpx files only

6. Download and unzipped PQ...then import to GSAK .

7. Convert caches in GSAK and after review export to: GPSr, PDA, Delorme Map Program, and Mapsource.

8. Print “Bookmark list” to use as info and “check off sheet” for “Finds & DNFs.

9. Print “map overview”, with cache ICONs, of area to search for “on the road” reference to other caches.

This all done without a laptop in my cache mobile...A laptop/with stand and a 3-400 watts inverter will be in my next “caching dream”. Dream on...

Programs I use:

• Premium Membership

• Geocaching.com

• GSAK (Geo Swiss Army Knife) GPSr

• Cachemate (PDA)

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caches are loaded into GPS months in advance, I get in the truck and go.

 

I don't use any mapping software or any stinkin maps, and half the time no notes either. If I get lost along the way, that just adds to the experience.

 

It's funny, this past weekend I was out with some other cachers and they started discussing something along these very same lines and they had complicated procedures as well, me I'm too lazy for that crap. Just gimmie the coords and I'll find my way there eventually.

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You pretty much have it covered. One thing we have found is if you can contact the loacl geocaching group via their website, they can point you in the right direction for the caches you are wanting to find. Some may even get a group together and intorduce you to the local cachers to put names with faces and such. We are like that here in NEFGA land. If you are heading our way, drop by our forums and post up, someone will gladly set you in the right direction or even give you a caching tour.

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Sounds like a job rather than fun :blink: . Load the waypoint(s) into the GPS and it's off to never-never land for me.

 

Seriously - sounds like you've got things together pretty good

 

 

Yep sounds too much like work to me. We pick an area we want to go see and I look up the caches in that area, pick out several that might interest us, print them out and we are off to the races. The wife drives out to the area while I imput coords. We go find one or 2 and then I drive home.

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I only have a little time to GeoCache in conjunction with other activities so I appreciate the GeoCache.com filters to find caches local to the time and place available. I read through the descriptions, select a handful of interesting ones. I print the description page and download the waypoint into the GPS (ETrex - not too fancy so the printed page is nice for the text description, place to put notes, etc).

 

As a GeoNewbie, I appreciate the bonus clues to help be respectful to the environment (and the property managers that will see the evidence of trampling around trying to spot the exact location) and minimize eyebrow-raising snooping about.

 

My recent trip to San Juan island-caches was great with four places to check out. I'm overwhelmed where to start with the abundant number of caches around Anacortes, WA. How do you sort through a hundred closely spaced caches in an area you are just visiting for a few days?

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All I do at home to get ready for a road trip is the following:

 

1. Select a destination (either a special cache, an event cache, or a place I'm visiting for reasons other than geocaching).

2. Order a pocket query centered around that destination. I filter out puzzles and high terrain/high difficulty caches when traveling, unless I've researched them in advance.

3. Order a caches along a route query for the route from just outside my home area to just outside the area covered by the destination pocket query.

4. Download the pocket query GPX files onto my laptop computer.

 

I then use the laptop computer for both a cache reference database and for mapping/directions. I use Garmin NRoute to display the caches on the screen, and to provide turn-by-turn voice directions to each cache. The "sea of caches" problem solves itself by zooming the map way in. I just look for the next cache in the direction I'm going.

 

Before I get out of the car, I may read the cache description if the cache is more than 200 feet away. That is usually the extent of my research. This saves carrying a PDA and keeping it synched. If it's a true park and grab, I look to where the GPS arrow is pointing, and don't even take the GPS out of the car. It stays hooked up to the laptop except when needed.

 

I very much enjoy the freedom I feel when using this method. I can set off in any direction on short notice with essentially no planning, and still find lots of geocaches. I like being surprised by the cool locations I stumble upon.

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I've tried different things, but in the end I find this method that I use simple and easy and gives me everything I need.

  1. Load PQ into Map Source
  2. Visually look on MapSource which caches I want to do and pick an approximate order.
  3. Copy and Paste (from MapSource) each of the caches, one at a time usally, into MS Excel.
  4. Once all caches that I want/may want to do are in Excel, I delete the 1st column and the last 2 columns.
  5. I print off the Excel list and this now gives me a nice list of caches in the order I plan on doing them in. This list contains the GC code, Cache Name/Hider/Cache Type/Difficulty/Terrain, Coords.

In addition I also do the following:

  1. Transfer the contents of the PQ from MapSource to my GPS.
  2. Use Spinner/Plucker to load the PQ onto my PDA.

That's it. Very straight forward and simple and gives me everything that I need for a fun day of geocaching. And I usually can have everything loaded and set in 5 to 10 minutes.

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I've only done a couple of these cache runs, but I treat them the same way as I do the semi-local caches with one exception -- I'll use google maps to determine the best order and most efficient driving route as possible. With gas prices what they are and limited time, I don't need the waste of driving around needlessly. My cache runs were done before I had the autorouting software, so I would take the time to order the caches and determine the best driving directions between each. Now that I can autoroute I'll still determine my order before the trip, but I'll let the GPSr do work.

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What Lep said, most of the time.

 

I'm not sure where the line is between going caching and a cache run, but wherever that line is determines how much planning I put into it.

 

I keep a current PQ of 500 caches in my area loaded into my GPS, Palm T5 and laptop because I never know when or where I will be caching.

 

I may decide to go hunt one or two during idle time, or a friend may call, say "I'm going to be in town, let's go!". So I stay ready for local caching on a moments notice.

 

Basic preparation for spur of the moment caching is to download a PQ (I get 500 of everything, because while I may have found it those with me may not have), open it with GSAK, do any data management (filtering... whoever I am with may not like micros, that's cool, with the click of a filter option they're gone!), upload to the GPS, export to Palm, HTML and a mapping program (I use 6, all basically the same, though I use Steet Atlas 2006 by default).

 

Seeing as how 500 caches only covers 21 miles from home, I may need more than one if we're going further.

 

A road trip (I attend quite a number of out-of-state caching events) usually calls for planning as The Leprechauns outlined, with caches-along-a-route and one or more PQ(s) of the destination area.

 

Sometimes we'll do detailed planning as outlined by the OP.

 

A numbers run, where we'll pile in one or more cars and set out to get a bunch in a period of time, calls for loading multiple PQs into Street Atlas, studying cache dense areas, going there and caching by Next Closest, and skipping those that look time-consuming. This is where having the cache pages in HTML on the laptop or Palm is invaluable.

 

Then sometimes we'll get serious, as we did preparing for our World Record attempt, where three of our team of eight spent countless hours in the preceding months selecting target caches, contacting owners and asking them to be sure the caches were in place, and creating a route that would get us from cache to cache most efficiently.

 

Few of us stick to any one kind of caching, therefore the requisite amount and tools of planning vary with each trip.

 

It's all fun, but requires a different mindset for each type of caching, as well as different levels of planning.

 

Ed

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Yes, TAR brings up a good method for "home area" caching, which I didn't cover in my roadtrip post. Whether found or unfound, I keep 1,000 nearby caches up to date on my laptop, divided up by terrain rating into two pocket queries called "Home Area - Easy" and "Home Area - Hard." If someone comes to visit but only has a few hours in the evening for a nightcaching run of micros, the "Easy" PQ is already loaded. Or, when mtn-man unexpectedly visited Pittsburgh for the weekend last month, I pulled up "Home Area - Hard" and we hit some nice caches in a nearby state park, plus one of my own.

 

If I'm caching on my own, I simply merge these two queries, filter out my finds, and I still have hundreds of caches left to find. Anything beyond that is really a roadtrip.

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Pqs downloaded to Gsak based on several locations and vacation spots.

 

GSAK sorts, loads to Mapsend. I pick caches based on location to roads and other access.

 

Ticking those desired caches in GSAK, I then load them to GPSr the Palm's Cachemate.

 

I have to sort carefully - we have expensive gas, small children and limited time, so I only load 50 or so at a time - and I try to coordinate caching with other road trips...

I **WISH** I had a laptop, wireless even to be able to get up-to-the minute info on the caches too...maybe Santa will be nice this year!

Edited by Zzyzx Road
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  1. Dump PQ into GPSr and pda.
  2. Head out. When you get to the area in which you want to cache, GOTO the nearest.
  3. Look for that cache. Hopefully, find it.
  4. Document the cache hunt in Cache Log Book on my pda.
  5. Delete that cache from the GPSr.
  6. GOTO the nearest.
  7. Repeat from step 3.

It is rare that I actually plot a course ahead of time anymore. Usually, I'll only do it if I'm out of town. Then, I'll dump the caches into S&T or MapPoint, identify the area I want to cache in, and let it plot a course for me. I'll print that out and let it guide me from cache to cache instead of simply going to the next nearest.

Edited by sbell111
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I use 2 systems when traveling to unfamiliar territory. When I know we're heading out anywhere (camping, golfing, sight-seeing, etc.) I go online, print out several caches, load them into my eTrex and my Magellen SportTrack. The cheapy eTrex is pinpoint accurate with lat/long. The Magellan isn't as accurate in that regard but has excellent maps! I get where I need to go, log the find, and move on. I love the hunt, as well, and sometimes don't even use the map...just head out!

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I use 2 systems when traveling to unfamiliar territory. When I know we're heading out anywhere (camping, golfing, sight-seeing, etc.) I go online, print out several caches, load them into my eTrex and my Magellen SportTrack. The cheapy eTrex is pinpoint accurate with lat/long. The Magellan isn't as accurate in that regard but has excellent maps! I get where I need to go, log the find, and move on. I love the hunt, as well, and sometimes don't even use the map...just head out!
An actual map is cheaper.
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caches are loaded into GPS months in advance, I get in the truck and go.

 

I don't use any mapping software or any stinkin maps, and half the time no notes either. If I get lost along the way, that just adds to the experience.

 

It's funny, this past weekend I was out with some other cachers and they started discussing something along these very same lines and they had complicated procedures as well, me I'm too lazy for that crap. Just gimmie the coords and I'll find my way there eventually.

 

I bet your way doesn't work very well for disabled, archived and puzzle caches :lol:

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  • pick a spot with a good cluster of caches.
  • use a mapping program to find the best order to seek the caches.
  • take minimal notes on some old note card recycled from my school years, and verify that the cache is still active.
  • drive to the general area and tell my wife to use the GPSr to lead us to the first one.
  • wife says, "I can't find it on here."
  • realize I forgot to load the coordinates from that area onto the GPSr.
  • curse loudly :lol: (not really).
  • go home and try again.

Unfortunately, I'm not just kidding.

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Aside from the techno-weenie stuff already mentioned (and yes, I do all that stuff too) if I'm planning a caching trip, I'll usually email a couple cache owners or get on a local-to-the-area forum or chat group so I can ask the folks who live there what their favorite caches are. I find it's a great way of not only getting information, but often times meeting new people as well. Once I find out what the favorite caches in the area are, I read over them, decide which ones I specifically want to target, then map them out on Street Altas USA. I also run pocket queries to see what else is in the area and work out a route that lets me focus on the main few caches I want to do, while hitting as many others as I can along the way.

 

I've even gone so far as to make a schedule if I'm doing a long road trip, so I can tell throughout the day whether I'll have time to get all the "target" caches in that I want to hit. If I'm behind schedule, I skip lesser caches in order to get to the ones I really want to do.

 

Ask anyone who's gone on caching trips with me, and they'll tell you that I'm not focused on the numbers. My last cache trip was a 2 day excursion with 3 friends, and I think we found 30 caches the whole trip. If I was strictly running for numbers the process would be completely different, and wouldn't need to involve the locals.

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The few times I have gone along on a caching trip involved the following.

 

Frozen bottles of water.

Pq of coordinates loaded into 2 gps'rs

Pq of cache info loaded into pocket computer.

GPX sheet printed out for easy check off finds/dnf's.

 

And of course a log book and lots of batteries.

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I tend to down load a pq for Traditional Caches small regular and large, is active, & that I have not found. I will run this twice a week so I can weed out archived caches and grab new ones. The GPS stays in the truck other than to dump waypoints into it, or to head out on foot.

 

I don’t plan to cache very often, but will grab a cache or two if I feel like doing so.

 

I do not very often take any printouts with me, and don’t take my laptop along unless I plan to be away from home for over night. That is why I stick to Traditional caches 95% of the time then I know I am not looking for a puzzle, micro, or multi.

 

I have from time to time done a multi PQ and hunt one or two.

 

Jim

Kc8bdr

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I'll chose an area with a number of caches that I have not done, then upload a PQ for the area to GSAK, filter out those that I don't want to do, then use the CacheRaid macro to determine the order of searching for them.

What is this "cache raid" macro?

 

Essentially it's a program that runs within GSAK that will generate a route from cache to cache and helps you to plan a cache run.

 

Here is a LINK that will explain it better than I can. Hope this helps.

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very similar to sbell - and easy to replicate

 

nearest cache, mark as found, repeat.

 

I enjoy the journey more than the cache and this allows for more spontaneous caching. Of course now I have a 35+ mile "dead zone" around my house, so if I want to cache, I have to do a little planning ahead of time. Now I look for a close "cluster" and drive in that general direction, then:

 

nearest cache, mark as found, repeat.

 

palm (GSAK+Cachemate) makes it all possible. :)

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I keep up to date PQs in GSAK on my laptop, for all the areas I'm likely to be in.

 

Load up the GPS and NatGeo Topo with the caches I'm interested in, throw it and the Mrs in the Jeep, and away we go!

 

The laptop provides the occasional hint, and topo map for those Hard to Find caches, other than that, I just delete each cache from the gps as it's found, and head out to the next nearest. Seen some beautiful country that way.

 

It's not unusual for us to spend 12 hours or so caching, and we never know where we'll end up in advance.

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I'll chose an area with a number of caches that I have not done, then upload a PQ for the area to GSAK, filter out those that I don't want to do, then use the CacheRaid macro to determine the order of searching for them.

What is this "cache raid" macro?

 

Essentially it's a program that runs within GSAK that will generate a route from cache to cache and helps you to plan a cache run.

 

Here is a LINK that will explain it better than I can. Hope this helps.

Thanks Mr. TSP for the info on Cache Raid. Guy
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I'll chose an area with a number of caches that I have not done, then upload a PQ for the area to GSAK, filter out those that I don't want to do, then use the CacheRaid macro to determine the order of searching for them.

What is this "cache raid" macro?

 

Essentially it's a program that runs within GSAK that will generate a route from cache to cache and helps you to plan a cache run.

 

Here is a LINK that will explain it better than I can. Hope this helps.

Thanks Mr. TSP for the info on Cache Raid. Guy

 

Keep in mind that this does not take into account physical attributes. In other words, it may route you to a cach that is accross a water feature or interstate that to get to, you go past other caches. When i have used it I found it teneded to cross me back and forth these types of areas, so I only use it where this type of thing will have the least impact.

 

Not a bug, just a reality of the limited information it has available to it.

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Keep in mind that this does not take into account physical attributes. In other words, it may route you to a cach that is accross a water feature or interstate that to get to, you go past other caches. When i have used it I found it teneded to cross me back and forth these types of areas, so I only use it where this type of thing will have the least impact.

 

Not a bug, just a reality of the limited information it has available to it.

For that reason, I prefer S&T or MapPoint.

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Since the folks with whom I usually cache don't like to make decisions (ha!) I figure out where I'm going and then let everyone know which PQ to run if they choose to make it. Usually the caching locale will weed out some folks (urbans v off-roading).

 

Once I get back the list of suspects then we (I) decide who's going to have to drive.

 

Figure out a meeting place and time.

 

Run PQ and download into gadgets.

 

Meet and head to the nearest Starbucks (for supreme caffeination). Stop at nearest gas station for gas and ice for the ice chest.

 

Outta town we go!

 

Cache and laugh all day.

 

Home at night to log all finds.

 

Beautiful!

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