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Caching without notes = not useful?


arpegio
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On many occasions I find myself out and about and look at my GPS and find there's a cache nearby, but it seems more often than not, if I don't have notes and comments and hints, the cache is extremely difficult to find. This is starting to get a bit frustrating... but maybe this is part of the game? Do you feel that the coordinates alone should get you 80% of the way there? My thought is, if you have to read the notes to have any chance of finding the cache, it's not what I'd consider as good a cache (it's one thing if it's a puzzle or multi-cache, but a traditional cache to me, should be somewhat self-contained with the coordinates and the notes/hints more helpful than absolutely critical). I like the idea of the coordinates putting you near enough so that hints aren't an absolute requirement, but I'm finding more and more that people are posting coordinates that are not that close, and without the hints, it's very difficult to get close. Anyone else have any thoughts/comments?

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I find that Traditional caches without notes is no problem. However, on several occasions I've accidentally gone to a puzzle or multi cache without notes... thus making it quite impossible, since I'm looking for a cache where there's only say... directions to walk from a tree there in a certain direction or something :laughing:

 

Hence, before I upload to the GPS, I rename the files as something like "T GC#### +++" for traditional, waypoint name, and the cache size (3 +'s means medium size. 1 + is a micro, etc). If it's a puzzle, I'll try to get the instructions in very short-form into the 'note' section of the GPS... which can be quite hard, since there's very little room there :laughing:

 

Generally, I don't have any of the hints with me. I'll look at them if I DNF a cache.

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Actually, I already have a palm pilot... but generally when I'm out hiking, I don't like taking extra electronic equipment along. Also, I think it'd be kinda annoying trying to work with both the GPS and palm pilot at the same time, coordinating stuff.

 

Nah, I'll just get a working printer and print the page out before I head off :laughing:

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When I'm doing a specific cache run, I'll download the notes to my Treo 600. But sometimes I see a cache and I don't have notes on it (I tend to download more waypoints into the GPS than I do notes). It's just frustrating when you go to a location and scour it and then read the notes back home which point you to a specific landmark that is a good 50+ feet away from the coordinates. Now maybe some people mark their spots in bad conditions or with older GPSes that aren't as accurate as the new ones, but it's gotten to the point now where if I see a cache nearby on my GPS, if I don't have notes, I won't even try to look for it -- there's too much of a chance the coordinates are way off.

 

Even worse are the stupid micro caches in wooded areas where you could easily hide a large sized cache. This becomes a real pain when you don't have notes. If you're looking in a densely-wooded area that could easily hold a number of large-sized caches and you don't know that the person as stuck some tiny stupid micro in the middle of the woods, it's annoying. Maybe I should figure out if there's a way to make the micro caches have a different prefix for the waypoint name so I have an idea whether this is going to a needle-in-a-haystack? Can you do that? Can you run a query of just micros and have the waypoint name slightly altered?

 

I understand, some people will say, "Well that's what you get for being unprepared..." but it seems that caching is now becoming some sort of combination of file and recordkeeping with hiking and brush-beating. I find the best way to get caches is to walk around like I'm a cyborg with all sorts of gadgets hanging off me with notes and other stuff... it kind of takes the fun out of the hunt when you're sitting there in the woods going over notes.

Edited by arpegio
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On many occasions I find myself out and about and look at my GPS and find there's a cache nearby, but it seems more often than not, if I don't have notes and comments and hints, the cache is extremely difficult to find. This is starting to get a bit frustrating... but maybe this is part of the game? Do you feel that the coordinates alone should get you 80% of the way there? My thought is, if you have to read the notes to have any chance of finding the cache, it's not what I'd consider as good a cache (it's one thing if it's a puzzle or multi-cache, but a traditional cache to me, should be somewhat self-contained with the coordinates and the notes/hints more helpful than absolutely critical). I like the idea of the coordinates putting you near enough so that hints aren't an absolute requirement, but I'm finding more and more that people are posting coordinates that are not that close, and without the hints, it's very difficult to get close. Anyone else have any thoughts/comments?

 

I see that you're fairly new to geocaching - that's not intended to be negative, I'm almost a complete greenhorn myself. However, it tells me that perhaps you're suffering from the same problem I seem to be, which is that it takes some experience to get good at spotting difficult hides. Or, for that matter, even easy ones.

 

For example, tonight on my way home I decided to stop and make a quick grab of a nearby cache. That was the theory, anyway. I had my 60CSx and my Palm with CacheMate. Which is to say, I had both a very good GPSr, and notes and recent logs for the cache.

 

It took me longer than I would have expected to find it, but when I got home and uploaded my track, I discovered just how embarrassed I should be. From the moment I parked my car until I returned to it, 49 minutes elapsed and I covered 0.7 of a mile. Fully thirty three minutes of that time was spent within 20 feet of the 1.0 difficulty cache, cursing at the guy who hid it, my crummy GPSr, the impenetrable tree cover, the mosquitoes, the descending darkness, this stupid hobby, and my whole benighted life. Very cathartic, though it wouldn't surpise me if my antics while hunting didn't lead to legends of that bit of woods being haunted.

 

Since I ultimately did find the cache all is well with the world again.

 

The point being that with more experience, you will likely find it not so frustrating. In fact, I would guess that as you get more finds under your belt, you'll look forward to the tricky ones more than the very simple ones.

 

Also, bear in mind that GPSr's have only limited accuracy, which is compounded by the fact that both the hiders GPS and yours may be off. Sometimes you'll find yourself standing directly on the cache you're hunting, and sometimes you'll be a half dozen yards off.

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Actually, I already have a palm pilot... but generally when I'm out hiking, I don't like taking extra electronic equipment along.

 

Wait a minute. You actually go places... without a pile of electronics?!?! :laughing:

Give me a minute here. I'm trying to grasp that concept.

 

Whew. You know, I think if I left the house without at least one gadget, my legs would probably cease to work. I know for certain my brain would freeze up! If I'm in the car, I've probably got my Palm, GPSr, iPod, and Digital Rebel camera and two lenses. If I'm hiking, well, I leave the iPod in the car. Usually.

 

Also, I think it'd be kinda annoying trying to work with both the GPS and palm pilot at the same time, coordinating stuff.

 

Not so much as you might think. It's extremely handy to have all the local caches loaded in the Palm, so you can check a potential hunt pretty much anywhere, anytime. Once I've looked at the Palm and gotten the basic info for the cache, I let my GPSr get me close. Then I pull the Palm again, check the exact coordinates and any pertinent notes and description. Rarely do you need both devices active at once.

 

Then typically I hunt for 15 minutes without finding a blasted thing, and pull the Palm yet again to read the logs and hint. But that last bit is only because I'm really not very good at this :laughing:

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You don't say what GPS you are using, but I use a Garmin 76cs (Neos1 uses a 60cs). We use GSAK and Cachemate to set up our caching info.

 

In five minutes I can pick an area to get waypoints, run a PQ for the nearest 500 caches of the kind I want to find (filter out multis or puzzles if I want, for instance), load them into the GPS and into the PDA and be on my way out the door. I keep the nearest 500 caches to my home loaded up and ready to go and update them weekly.

 

My GPS holds 1000 waypoints. I've also got city maps and totop maps for half of Kentucky and Indiana in there too. Using the GSAK program, my GPS shows the cache by gc number along with the size on the ID line. When I hit "goto" I also have it set to show me the difficulty and terrain, and who hid it. N1's is set to show the hint.

 

If that isn't enough info, I pull out my trusty PDA and read the entire cache page, the hint, and the last nine logs. The PDA is an old Palm iiixe, so it's small enough to go in a pocket of the fanny pack I use as a caching bag or a jacket. I couldn't stand to go caching without my PDA any more. I even use it to write notes about the things I leave in the cache, or anything else I might want to remember to put in my online log (That I replaced a mouldy log, for example).

 

I use to hassle around with a stack of pages printed off from the site, but invariably I left them on the computer desk, or didn't print off the one I really wanted, or the computer ran out of ink, etc. If I didn't go find those caches that day, the whole page was out of date by the time I wanted to go to that area again. It was wasteful, expensive, and booring, and I looked like a ninny reading pages of paper out in the woods.

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Not to be controversial here, BUT....I truly believe that paperless caching is exactly the solution to the problem the OP was describing...

You find yourself somewhere, anywhere, and your GPS says theres a cache just 0.13 miles away..WOW.. I gotta find that cache you think, BUT I have no idea what the ratings are, or if its a ammo box or a micro, if its on a cliff face or under a park bench...If you haven't printed off that particular cache page, or if you just don't have it with you, its just a dot on the screen and that just stinks, probably not gonna go looking for it.......

Since you are a premium member, you can run Pocket Queries (up to 500 caches each) about any area that you want to go caching in. Download them and you can have literally thousands and thousands of caches downloaded into your cheap little PDA, complete with descriptions, hints, and the last 5 logs...So when your GPS points you to a tempting cache that you don't know, you can bust out your little PDA and find out all the details about the cache... thats MUCH, MUCH easier than trying to organize dozens of printouts...

BUT thats just the story of my experience.....

The software that I use (GSAK and Cachemate) were cheaper than one round of printer cartridges and paper...

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I also just have to say that I have noticed a few people lately complaining about others having inferior coords because of their old gps units. I just haven't noticed any problem with cords. While it's true that a gps from five years ago isn't going to be as accurate as some of the newest ones, very few people are still using five year old cords, at least in my area. I almost never get to a cache and see cords that are more than 10-15 off what is listed, and most are closer than that. And that includes the trips I've made lately with cachers who have the new "x" series gps units and trips to the caches they've put out that I am reading with my gps.

 

Perhaps you have some folks in your area that like to use "soft cords" to increase the difficulty? I've run across one fellow around here that does that. At least he used to do that. I have no idea if he still does it, because all of his caches are on my ignore list.

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I see that you're fairly new to geocaching - that's not intended to be negative, I'm almost a complete greenhorn myself. However, it tells me that perhaps you're suffering from the same problem I seem to be, which is that it takes some experience to get good at spotting difficult hides. Or, for that matter, even easy ones.

 

I don't think this is case of needing more experience, unless you figure that with more experience comes more tolerance and patience for misleading cache coordinates. If that's the case, then I'd agree with you.

 

The other day I came upon a cache where the coordinates pointed to an area of woods next to a gate to a tourist attraction. Since the coordinates were not pointed to the stone wall, which I presumed was private property, I didn't spend as much time looking there -- I looked where the coordinates pointed, which was some woods on public property nearby. Later when I checked the description, it was obvious the cache was stuck in a brick wall. Unfortunately, the GPS was a good 40 feet off from the cache location -- I assumed that between private property and public property where the coordinates pointed, I'd choose public property. I didn't find the cache.

 

As far as I'm concerned, if you're going to plant a micro in an area of woods where you could put a large cache, the least you can do is be accurate with the coordinates. This stone wall was a good ten feet high... even if the coordinates were right on it, it would have probably taken a lot of time to find the cache - as it stood, we did look over the wall and the cracks therein, but since the wall was quite a ways from where the GPS pointed, we didn't scour it like we should have. I blame the cache placer for having his coordinates off, or myself for assuming that I could do this without looking at the notes...

 

I think if I get more finds under my belt, it will simply make me more un-impressed with hides like what I experienced.

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I also just have to say that I have noticed a few people lately complaining about others having inferior coords because of their old gps units. I just haven't noticed any problem with cords. While it's true that a gps from five years ago isn't going to be as accurate as some of the newest ones, very few people are still using five year old cords, at least in my area. I almost never get to a cache and see cords that are more than 10-15 off what is listed, and most are closer than that. And that includes the trips I've made lately with cachers who have the new "x" series gps units and trips to the caches they've put out that I am reading with my gps.

 

Perhaps you have some folks in your area that like to use "soft cords" to increase the difficulty? I've run across one fellow around here that does that. At least he used to do that. I have no idea if he still does it, because all of his caches are on my ignore list.

 

The location of where this particular cache I'm complaining about may be an example of your "soft coords" because the GPS pointed right to a section of woods on a street corner.... I don't have a problem with this if it's a regular or larger sized cache, but I do have a problem with a micro that's not in the woods, with coordinates that points smack into the woods. That just seems like an exercise in frustration... but again, if I had the notes, they indicated that where the coordinates pointed was not where the cache was, so this particular hide screws over people who don't have the notes.

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Actually, I already have a palm pilot... but generally when I'm out hiking, I don't like taking extra electronic equipment along.

 

Wait a minute. You actually go places... without a pile of electronics?!?! :laughing:

Give me a minute here. I'm trying to grasp that concept.

 

No.. that's the problem... I am a one-man electronics shop... typically with multiple cell phones, digital camera(s) (I just got a Nikon D200 so I've been lugging that bad boy around with a f2.8ED lens in a fanny pack!) PDA, and my Garmin 60CSX.

 

Quite often I find myself out somewhere and I check my GPS and there is a cache nearby, so we decide to check it out... but if I don't have notes, more often than not, I don't find it. I once had a problem where we ran around for an hour only to realize later that the so-called cache was an event happening in the future... so I've since filtered those out of the queries that I upload to my GPS.

 

Anyway, the point I'm making is that it seems it's getting to be more and more that if you want to cache, you can't do it spontaneously unless you've already pre-prepared with the proper background info.. You can't just have coordinates and hope for the best. Sometimes I think it's fun to go after a cache without reading the notes, but when the notes are so critical to finding it, that's not good... and when it's just a basic cache or a micro and you MUST have the notes to even get a clue, that IMO takes away some of the fun... I just think there should be a little more respect for the integrity of the coordinates and I'm finding more and more caches where people think that the easiest way to increase the difficulty is by listing the coordinates off by a bit.... instead of coming up with a clever way to hide or disguise a cache, they just bump the coordinates off. I think it's lame. I will probably still think it's lame after my 1000th find.

Edited by arpegio
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I don't think this is case of needing more experience, unless you figure that with more experience comes more tolerance and patience for misleading cache coordinates. If that's the case, then I'd agree with you.

 

Nah, seriously, you've only got, what, 26 finds? I've got only 40-something, and I've seen a lot of variety in the way things are hidden. I'm certain I haven't scratched the surface of the tricks yet.

 

The other day I came upon a cache where [...] the GPS was a good 40 feet off from the cache location

 

That will happen. GPSr units are not perfect, and as I noted before - if yours is off by 20 feet, and the hiders is off by 20 feet in the other direction, well, the math is obvious. The problem is exacerbated by satellite positions of the moment, weather conditions and foliage cover.

 

As far as I'm concerned, if you're going to plant a micro in an area of woods where you could put a large cache, the least you can do is be accurate with the coordinates.

 

Micros in the woods can be frustrating. Especially with that foliage problem. Honestly, sounds to me like you ought to not even load any woodland micros in your GPSr. After all, if you don't enjoy them, what's the point? Why frustrate yourself?

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I am a one-man electronics shop [... with a] PDA, and my Garmin 60CSX. [...]

Quite often I find myself out somewhere and I check my GPS and there is a cache nearby, so we decide to check it out... but if I don't have notes, more often than not, I don't find it

 

Then the solution is easy. Cachemate. Eight bucks.

 

the point I'm making is that it seems it's getting to be more and more that if you want to cache, you can't do it spontaneously

 

Forgive me if this sounds rude, but after only three months, I doubt you have the experience to identify such a trend.

 

I'm finding more and more caches where people think that the easiest way to increase the difficulty is by listing the coordinates off by a bit.... instead of coming up with a clever way to hide or disguise a cache, they just bump the coordinates off. I think it's lame. I will probably still think it's lame after my 1000th find.

 

There is a saying that goes Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity. Modified to fit this situation, it would be something like Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by the inherent inaccuracy of the equipment involved.

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On many occasions I find myself out and about and look at my GPS and find there's a cache nearby, but it seems more often than not, if I don't have notes and comments and hints,

 

 

This describes the way I hunt most of the time.

 

I went out the other day to try to be FTF on a new cache near by, I only planed to hunt the one as I had a few other things I wanted to do. So I printed out the cache page for the one went out and found it. (Yes FTF) I then decided to run over and drop in on a buddy who was not home. So I looked at the GPS and proceeded to find 6 more caches, no notes, hints or descriptions, I found all of them.

 

I will admit that I download a PQ of only traditional caches and that is what is in my GPS most of the time. (I have done just multi from time to time). This way I know that the cache is a traditional cache with a small container or larger. (Or a multi as the case maybe) I do need to give in, get a PDA and go paperless.

 

I bet that 70% of my finds were done this way.

 

Jim

Kc8bdr

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Whew. You know, I think if I left the house without at least one gadget, my legs would probably cease to work. I know for certain my brain would freeze up! If I'm in the car, I've probably got my Palm, GPSr, iPod, and Digital Rebel camera and two lenses. If I'm hiking, well, I leave the iPod in the car. Usually.

 

 

I have a 20d, and I have a policy about taking that out with me: If there is a chance that I could fall into a swamp, I don't take the 1500 dollar camera with $300 in accessories with me. Instead I take my little nikon 5 mp. I live in Florida, and we have lots of little swamps all over. So taking my 20d geocaching is unlikely.

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There is also the "notes/comments" solution (at least on my 60C).

 

I use gsak and tell it that when I export it should include terrain, difficulty, size, type,, last 4 found/not found, tb availability using the following code in the cache description format of the export (to gps / mapsource) window. It may not give me the hint but at least it gives me the basic info as long as my PQ's are up to date.

 

%dif %ter %bug %last4 %typ=3 %con=3

 

Bwmick

Edited by bwmick
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Do you feel that the coordinates alone should get you 80% of the way there?

 

For a Traditional cache, yes.

 

I, too, use a short hand in our GPSs to briefly describe the cache. The short hand includes waypoint, type, size, difficulty, and terrain. The last four probably helps the most in the hunt. If you know it's a 1/1 regular-sized traditional you know generally what to expect. It's the same with a 5/5 micro mystery. (You'll probably need to do a bit of homework before doing any field work, so you skip it for now.)

 

GSAK is an excellent tool for massaging cache data to your requirements. It is simple on the surface, but very powerful under the hood. It starts off with a very gentle learning curve and will do nearly every chore you can throw at it.

 

An old laptop loaded with GSAK and all of your caches, or export the cache data to an old 8mb Palm like a m105 that can be had for around $15, update either when you update the waypoints in your GPS and keep it in the car. When you see a cache that is close your data is available. Heck, you can put the Palm in your pocket and take it with you in case you get stuck--you don't even have to return to the car.

 

I've found going paperless is a whole lot easier than using printouts.

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I have a question for you, then. Since you are already carrying a PDA (You say you are a one-man electronics shop and you carry the PDA), why haven't you put the cache information into the PDA?

 

The coords alone should get you within 30-40 feet of the starting point for the cache 90% of the time (puzzles and so forth being the exception). If you're honest, you'll admit that the cords alone do just that. After that, dumb luck may help, but the average spot has a lot of potential hiding places. Some rare people enjoy going out to cache knowing nothing more than the cords; I'm not one of those people.

 

I happen to be one of those folks that think it's a bit reckless to try to cache without at least glancing through the cache page. Many caches have special circumstances that you ought to know before you go to find them, such as:

hours the cache is available

legal ways to approach

warnings about avoiding private property or risky areas, etc

invitations to look at interesting or historic things that you might regret missing

places to park legally

suggested tools to bring along

 

You can download a tiny program that will let you put an entire PQ of up to 500 caches into your PDA. Depending on the program you choose, the information can look almost exactly like what you see on the cache page. Name of cache, cords, additional cords for parking etc, description of the cache, hints (already decoded or easy to automatically decode), the last few logs.

 

I used to use Plucker/Spinner and EasyGPS to get all my info into my gps and my PDA. Now I use GSAK and Cachemate. Both are good programs; there are others out there as well. I chose to switch to GSAK because it can alter the way the info is shown on my GPS mostly. It will also filter out some things that the PQ can't. It also allows me to sort the caches various helpful ways while I am previewing them at home.

 

You are already using the equipment, now you just need to add some power to it. Throw out the paper, and start taking advantage of the technology you are carrying.

As far as coords being off, forty feet is not unthinkable. Which cache were you trying to find, anyway?

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On many occasions I find myself out and about and look at my GPS and find there's a cache nearby, but it seems more often than not, if I don't have notes and comments and hints, the cache is extremely difficult to find. This is starting to get a bit frustrating... but maybe this is part of the game? Do you feel that the coordinates alone should get you 80% of the way there? My thought is, if you have to read the notes to have any chance of finding the cache, it's not what I'd consider as good a cache (it's one thing if it's a puzzle or multi-cache, but a traditional cache to me, should be somewhat self-contained with the coordinates and the notes/hints more helpful than absolutely critical). I like the idea of the coordinates putting you near enough so that hints aren't an absolute requirement, but I'm finding more and more that people are posting coordinates that are not that close, and without the hints, it's very difficult to get close. Anyone else have any thoughts/comments?

 

I appreciate the spontinaity involved of saying "Hey there's a cache here!" But More often than not, when I go out hiking, or to someplace where I might have time to kill, I'll automatically look up any caches in the area. If I'm in a pinch and find myself with nothing to do, and i'm not near a computer, I just whip out the old reliable treo and use the web browser to visit GC.com and find caches form there. Kinda cheating, but hey...it works.

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I do three things:

 

1) Take into consideration the name of the cache. This usually always

gives you some information about the general whereabouts.

2) I always try coming at the zero point from different angles and approaches.

You never know when high power wires or tall trees will disrupt your reception.

3) Think like the hider and try to imagine what they were thinking when they hid it.

" Now, where should I hide this thing?"

 

Thanks,

cjspontiac

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You can always add a comment to the waypoints before you upload them to your gps'r. Then when you check the waypoint out in the field you can see if it's a multi/regular/micro.

 

If I go caching I use my pocket pc and it usually has 500 waypoints loaded into it. But currently im using MobilPocket to read the file.

 

Maybe next payday I will get cachemate. But then I will have to learn how to use it.

Edited by KA7CJH
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I'll be blunt. With a total of 26 finds, for you to say things like, "It seems like more and more..." and "Caching is becoming..." is laughable. You've had a few (or maybe one) tough experiences. So learn what you can from them and move on. As someone else pointed out, the LARGE majority of caches are within 12-15 feet of where your gps will take you whether they were placed 3 months or 3 years ago.

My first 200 plus caches were found by hand entering coords into an eXplorist 200 and no pda and rarely printed pages. I suggest you just give up the game now. It's not supposed to be a source of such bitterness and frustration.

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