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Nature Guide

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Hello folks, I have not been geocaching for very long, although slightly longer than my account would suggest ( I had to create a new account with my family instead of keeping my own as they started caching with me (woot)). Anyways, I am starting to see that I am a total city boy with little to no knowledge of the nature surrounding me. As my caches are going to start leading me further and further from town I was wondering if anyone could suggest a nature guide to me that might help me steer clear of the more itchy side of nature. A great bonus in this nature guide would be if it was an eBook but I don't mind paperBooks either.



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Welcome to the Forums! B)


To start with, "Leaves of three, leave them be." That plant could be Poison Oak or Poison Ivy. Do a Google Search for images and I'm sure you'll find pictures you can use as a guide.


Stinging Nettles have serrated-edged, elongated, arrow-shaped leaves. They can be quite tall plants. If you look closely, you'll see the little tiny "spines" on the stems. Another Google Search should bring up pictures of those nasty plants.


Watch out for red ants. I got bit yesterday and still have a big welt on my leg where it got me. I didn't even remember walking through any ants . . . ;)


Get a walking stick. They help you while you are walking, but are invaluable for poking into hollow logs, or in rock crevices where snakes, or other critters, might reside. :D


I'm sure others will have even more suggestions

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If you are going out caching with The Great Mother Nature, be prepared for: poison ivy, ticks, spiders, mosquitos and a host of insects you've probably never seen before, being ripped by briars and/or blackberry, bruises, sweating, welts and falls. It's SOO MUCH FUN!! :D Really. I love it. A cleverly camo'ed urban micro can be fun but, for ME, nothing beats crashing around in the woods looking for a cache. I can't tell you how many beautiful sights I've seen and photographed. My dog has a blast. I'm sorely missing it now as my GPSr is broken. B)


I hope you get out in "the wilds" soon and have as great a time I do. Recently I got bloodier than heck picking blackberries but, man, I made a killer blackberry cobbler topped with vanilla ice cream when I got home. ;) You never know what nature might give you when you're out caching. Go for it!

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Might I suggest one of the best nature guides might be the company of another cacher or two? Try posting in your local event forum and see if you can get any takers for a planned outing, not necessarily and event, just an impromptu get together. Or just take a peek and see if any others have posted their plans for an upcoming weekend and would like company. I have found leeching off the experience of others is the best way to learn.

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I have a can of Off! (insect repellent) in each vehicle.


There are a couple of good threads here about essentials to throw into your backpack. Such as the aforementioned bug repellent and pocket knife; duct tape; tweezers; medical supplies (band aids, alcohol wipes etc...); compass; toilet paper; water purification tablets; batteries; water; etc... It mostly depends how far you'll be hiking.


The most essential is a walking stick as Miragee points out. I've had to use it to move rattlers out of harm's way; to get better balance when boulder hopping; to cut through spider webs; etc... Walmart has some cheapo $15 that are collapsible and has a workable compass. However, my favorite is a camo-taped broom handle :D:D .

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You can't beat experience. Or reading the logs of the caches you are going to be seeking. Go forth, have fun.


That's your best bet when first beginning to hike after caches. You could start with going after caches on established trails that will not require any bushwhacking. That will allow you to test how comfortable you are with any given distance.

My family and I were hiking before we ever started to go geocaching. It is too much fun to go off in the woods.My four year old twins can hike two miles without a complaint, and that's without any trail.

Peterson publishes some really good guides on a variety of topics. They are also very user friendly.

Be sure to read the posts about what you need to carry along with you. Two things you will have to have are plenty of water and a trusty hiking stick.(not one of those poles).

You'll find that once you have found some caches hidden in the woods that those urban micros can be a little dull. Enjoy! :D

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i have a whole shelf full of peterson field guides, which i adore. you have to go to other publishers for more arcane guides, such as one that deals exclusively with the grasses of north america. they're a good size to stuff in your pack, and i often carry one or two. for birds, i like the stokes guides, too.

Edited by flask
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Get a walking stick. They help you while you are walking, but are invaluable for poking into hollow logs, or in rock crevices where snakes, or other critters, might reside.


have you ever stuck a stick in to where a rattler was residing? what happened?

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- Buy a Peterson guide to wild plants in your area. They are good guides.


- Audobon also makes plant guides too. Get a guide with color pictures. B&W drawings are not enough, you need to be able to see subtle color variations.


- My son is in Boy Scouts. For one of the activities, one of the leaders went out in the woods and collected poison ivy along with other plants that look like PI. I discovered PI comes in many forms and there are several plants which look like it. Anyway, I mis identified 2 out of 8 samples. Some of the plants which look like PI are box elder (maple family) and young virginia creeper.


- Take a weed wacker to a large patch of poison ivy at a trail head and get it all over your legs and arms. You'll never forget what it looks like after that. (Happened to me.)


- Find someone who REALLY knows poison ivy and have them show it to you and the identifying marks. ID marks are: woody stem, vine is hairy, leaves of 3 with shallow and few serrations/teeth on each leaf, underside is white or silvery. A boy scout leader should know, as should a park ranger. Offer to buy them a pop or lunch at the camp store if they help you.

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We have this Audubon guide and is mostly useful, not only for identifying the bad things (poison ivy and oak, Jimson weed) but the good things (frogs, flowers, etc). Since it is a overall guide, we have found that it is not all inclusive. We have had to revert to the more detailed (specific) Audubon guides for some flowers, trees and plants.


The have other region specific guides if you aren't in New England.

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The profile shows OP is in Pullman, Washington. Mountain lions, yes; bears, yes; tigers, no. Other hazards include poison oak (but no poison ivy), biting insects, the occasional rattlesnake, and heat exhaustion.


I passed more than a few decades on this planet blithely unaware of stinging nettles. Then I started caching.

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