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Geosense and sensibility


moozehead2020
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I'm new to geocaching, and I've found about 9 local geocaches. I've found several different types of cache containers and hiding places, and most of them were fairly obvious.

 

Most of the time it is an enjoyable experience, but sometimes frustrating when a geocache is hidden a bit

too well or in a nasty location. I've seen caches that were behind a wall of thorns (briars?) or in a places that are littered with dead rotting trees, with lots of bugs. Not really the kind of places you want to take the kids. Many of these caches are listed as difficulty/terrain 1 or 2.

 

After a DNF (Do Not Find), I read the logs where veteran geocachers mention that they used some basic geosense to find the cache quickly.

 

I know enough to look for things that look out of place, like a pile of cut logs or rocks.

I also look for tree stumps, raised roots, knotholes as hiding places. Also things are positioned away from the main trails. By moving around and looking at things from different angle, you may be able to spot things.

 

But in an area covered with leaves, plants, dead wood, garbage, etc, it is very difficult to guess where and

what you are looking for. I tend to mess up the area a bit by moving logs and rocks and leaves.

I feel guilty when bushwhacking through an area of nice plants.

Also it is not to wise to put your hands into holes and rotting trees since something is likely to be living in there.

 

Is there any good FAQ on geosense and what exactly to look for?

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Can't claim to be a seasoned pro, but I always ask myself "What's the most logical place to put a cache in this location?" In the woods, most prominent tree in a clearing (or obvious stump or log), in a park, the large boulder over there in the corner, and so on. More often than not, the cache will be located in that 'logical place'.

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I think, the hider has to come back to service the cache so.. one can hope they picked something to remember. Some don't but most do after a while at least. The kids were rummaging through bushes and I told them now come on.. you gotta come back later so where would be easiest yet still a hide? Yep.. over here, in this tree.

 

Sometimes nothing works but often you do start to figure it out.

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Try not to disturb the area. You can look but you shouldn't have to disturb the area.

 

I can only think of one case where we had to do this and it was because the cache was buried and we knew it. We just didn't know where to dig. :anibad:

 

Over time it will get easier.

 

I see no problem with the examples you mentioned. On the other hand i do not like hides by dumpsters or port-o-pots. :P

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The biggest problem I have is when GZ has many pieces of rotting logs and covered with leaves.

Then there is no obvious spot, it could be under any one of those rotting logs, so I go around and move them with my foot. Found termites and bees on one occasion.

 

Today I had 2 DNFs, both locations had a large fallen tree with the ground covered with bark and ferns.

Looked all around the trees in a 50' radius, looking for stumps, knotholes, anything hanging from the trees.

At one of the locations, I saw a large fallen branch teetering off a small tree, but I could not find anything near it. Anything else would require crawling through the foliage and bug infested areas.

 

If I were to hide a cache, I would place it far from the beaten path in a clearing, away from hazardous plants, bugs, garbage, etc.

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I know enough to look for things that look out of place, like a pile of cut logs or rocks.

I also look for tree stumps, raised roots, knotholes as hiding places. Also things are positioned away from the main trails. By moving around and looking at things from different angle, you may be able to spot things.

 

I think you have the basic idea of what "geosense" is. It's usually a matter of, "Where would I hide a cache around here?" or looking for something that doesn't quite it belong. Perhaps an unnatural looking pile of rocks, bark or sticks. As you find more caches that sense tends to sharpen. Also you come to learn the hide style of some more prolific local hiders and can find them quickly.

 

But in an area covered with leaves, plants, dead wood, garbage, etc, it is very difficult to guess where and what you are looking for. I tend to mess up the area a bit by moving logs and rocks and leaves.

I feel guilty when bushwhacking through an area of nice plants.

Also it is not to wise to put your hands into holes and rotting trees since something is likely to be living in there.

 

It's good that you care enough to be concerned about this. As long as you replace everything the way it was (e.g. move a rock, then re-seat it the way it was) you can limit your impact on the area. Messing up dead leaves is really no big deal. Within a few days there will be no evidence you were ever there. Besides, you probably do less damage than a deer or bear might foraging for food (you should see what an area looks like where a bear has been turning over boulders looking for grubs, or a few deer have been pawing at the ground looking for acorns).

 

You can limit any bushwacking impact by carefully picking your way, rather than forging straight ahead regardless of what is in your path.

 

I've been on over 600 cache hunts and have seen very little if any visible impact around the overwhelming majority of the cache sites. Some bent blades of grass and disturbed dead leaves are not damage by any reasonable measure. Nature has an amazing ability to bounce back. I recall one cache site where I was annoyed because an inconsiderate searcher turned over every boulder within 50 feet. It looked like hell. 2 years later you'd never know there was a cache there.

 

I'm sure as you find more caches you will be as surprised as I am frequently by the lack of visible evidence that there is a cache there.

 

As far a poking into dark holes, a hiking stick or trekking pole comes in handy for that. It also helps to keep a small flashlight in your pack.

 

Welcome to the sport and seeing as you live in my area, maybe we'll run into each other at an event.

Edited by briansnat
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With some experience the best "Geosense" really has no explanation. You just look around and think to yourself - where would I hide an ammo box (or whatever). Sometimes there are obvious piles off something, sometimes there is a faded footprint in the mud, sometimes just a gut feeling. And don't forget about blind luck.

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And don't forget about blind luck.

 

I love blind luck. Nothing feels better than finding a cache in a minute when the previous searchers DNF'd after 45. It also works in the inverse. I've DNF's several caches recently that others, before and after me, say they made "quick grabs".

 

I guess I should stop reading the logs...

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it wouldn't be as fun if you found EVERYTHING all the time ;)

 

if you DNF it once, come back and try again

If you DNF it twice, bring a friend (they think different then you!)

If you DNF it three times, contact the owner and ask for some guidance

If you DNF it again, stick it on your ignore list (unless of course you are HARDCORE [B)])

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Thanks for all the good advice, now I have a better understanding of what I should be doing.

 

In general, are difficulty 1 or 2 caches well concealed, like in holes covered with leaves or deep inside/under fallen trees?

 

Or is it more of a hide in plain sight if you are looking from the right direction?

 

What I find amazing from reading the logs is that people can find caches at night with a penlight.

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...I've seen caches ... in ...places that are littered with dead rotting trees, with lots of bugs. Not really the kind of places you want to take the kids....

 

Between trees and bugs that about sums up all natural areas.

 

Things to keep in mind.

The cache hider didn't want to slice themselves up to place the cache. They aslo need to be able to find it again. Normally that can help you find the cache since there are often subtle clues on location, or less harmfull access points to get to the cache.

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A good pokin stick is an invaluable tool in geocaching. You can use it to probe into hollow logs, under rocks, and underneath overhanging roots. You can use it to knock on logs to determine if they're hollow (or placed loosely...a reasonable indication that there might be something under it). They help you navigate steep slopes and judge the depth of streams you're trying to cross.

 

Otherwise, you probably don't have to worry too much about periodically trampled vegetation, either. Most caches don't get visited terribly often, and forest herbaceous plants change as the season progresses. So, if you trample some plants, it's entirely possible that they will be replaced by something else in a month or two. Moving leaves around is no biggie, either. The first time they get wet, they will settle down and you can't tell that they'd ever been moved.

 

As for hiding places and ratings, sometimes you have to trust the cacher who hid it. If other cachers find it and feel that the ratings are not correct, they'll mention it in their log. But, the mere presence of thorny plants usually isn't going to impact a cache rating unless you've REALLY got to fight through a thicket. I've only encountered one cache of that nature, and the terrain rating reflected that well. Most others can be dealt with by using a pokin stick to push the offending briars out of the way temporarily. If you're careful, you can even use your bare hands to move them. The same goes for bugs. Unless you're dealing with something dangerous like bees or fire ants or something. Even still, insects like that can occasionally move into an area AFTER the cache was hidden.

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