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First find! ...but need help sorting caches.


IndianaDan
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I snagged my first cache this weekend, an ammo box at the top of Mt. Whitney. We hiked up the North Fork to Iceberg Lake, swam for a while, and then did the summit via the mountaineers' route and the hike out the next day. Finding the cache was a nice side note to an awesome trip. The cache was well stocked with wilderness emergency supplies, which seem like really appropriate things to put in a cache. I was pleasantly surprised after all the talk of little plastic toys and such. I feel bad that I left a rubber lizard and a USB flash drive now... I only brought the lizard because reading these forums made me think that this is the sort of thing that's expected. From now on, it's first aid stuff, batteries, and on-the-trail gear repair supplies.

 

After some miserable failures trying to find caches closer to home (where the game seems to be more about obscure hiding places than hiking to a location), I'm wondering how to weed out all the thousands and thousands of caches to find more of the sort I like.

 

I notice that there is both a terrain difficulty and a cache difficulty, and Whitney was a 4.5/1, whereas some of the ones that frustrated me were more along the 2.5/2 lines. Apparently, I'm confounded by the most basic of hiding-- but have no problem with the most severe of terrain. I'd much prefer an excellent, challenging hike, climb, swim, or ride with an easy find at the end, but I can't seem to figure out how to narrow my search criteria to achieve this. Additionally, terrain difficulty alone doesn't seem specific enough-- I'm not super-excited about caches that are a half-mile from a parking lot, either. I'd like to search for long hikes or runs with tough terrain that have easy-peasy caches at the end. If I could do that, I think I could really get into this.

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Maps are your friend. Search for caches from a set of coordintes that you know to be in such an area. Use the Geocaching KML file with Google Earth to find caches in such areas.

 

Also - in general, look for caches that are regular sized, with high terrain ratings and that have been out for more than 1 or 2 years (if it is long lived, it is more likely to be in a muggle free area).

 

or...

 

You could move to Colorado and seek out all of Tahosa's caches.

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Spend $3 for a one month premium membership and try pocket queries. You can tailor your search with one of the available options being Terrain and Difficulty. Set the Terrain as greater than or equal to 4 or something like that and you will filter out the parking lot caches, most urban caches, etc.

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My first suggestion would be to eliminate any caches with a terrain rating below 3 or 3.5 in your pocket queries.

 

Next, you should probably post this in a regional forum. You don't have a location on your profile, so I don't know where you are, but your one find is in CA. I'd start with the West and Southwest regional forum. People local to your area can make better recommendations, such as specific caches, bookmark lists containing the caches you'd like, and cache hiders to seek out or to avoid.

 

I recommend joining a local geocaching club. Here is a good place to find one. They usually have local web forums (separate from the Groundspeak forums) with more info. If you attend local events you can meet people who can provide recommendations. Again, nothing beats the recommendation of someone who's already been there or is planning a trip where you can join up.

 

Finally, you could always just plan a hike that you want to go on (like to the summit of Mt. Whitney) then check and see if there are any caches along the way. If not, then get permission and put one there. :D A good tool for this is the Geocaching.com Google Map link on any cache page to the left of the large "Yahoo" map graphic (link above is to the Mt. Whitney map).

 

As for swag, I've noticed a distinct correlation between the quality of swag and the difficulty of the cache. The swag in your typical easy-access urban park cache will degenerate quickly into McToys and broken gear, but the swag in difficult caches tends to remain good over time. I guess it's because the type of people that seek out terrain level 3+ caches are usually more interested in the experience than the numbers, and they tend to be the type to tread lightly on the environment and to leave the area in as good or better condition than when they got there. Since "the area" includes the inside of the cache, they usually "trade up, trade even, or don't trade".

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Maps are your friend. Search for caches from a set of coordintes that you know to be in such an area. Use the Geocaching KML file with Google Earth to find caches in such areas.

 

Also - in general, look for caches that are regular sized, with high terrain ratings and that have been out for more than 1 or 2 years (if it is long lived, it is more likely to be in a muggle free area).

 

or...

 

You could move to Colorado and seek out all of Tahosa's caches.

 

That helps to some degree, but it assumes I already know all the good areas to hike in. I was hoping the search for caches would lead me to some cool hikes, but I think I'll end up just finding hikes the old-fashioned way and checking to see if there's an easy cache after the fact.

 

I may give the pocket query thing a spin, but I'm a little put off by paying to do basic search filtering. $3 is worth it to give it a try, though, and if it turns out to really provide lots of good hikes, it's worth it.

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This interlinks with another topic : Caches in remote places... I was keen to place a caches as part of a long hike - more as a cache for hikers than a hike for cachers. The problem with such caches is that they cannot be easily maintained due to their remoteness, and this is frowned upon by the geocaching community.

 

Tricky one. I agree with the OP - it would be nice to have a cache as a bonus to a nice hike.

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This interlinks with another topic : Caches in remote places... I was keen to place a caches as part of a long hike - more as a cache for hikers than a hike for cachers. The problem with such caches is that they cannot be easily maintained due to their remoteness, and this is frowned upon by the geocaching community.

 

Tricky one. I agree with the OP - it would be nice to have a cache as a bonus to a nice hike.

Caches that are in remote areas get infrequent visits. If you put out an ammo can, or other suitable, long-lived container, you shouldn't have to do any cache maintenance. I probably won't visit many of my caches until until a finder reports a problem.

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This interlinks with another topic : Caches in remote places... I was keen to place a caches as part of a long hike - more as a cache for hikers than a hike for cachers. The problem with such caches is that they cannot be easily maintained due to their remoteness, and this is frowned upon by the geocaching community.

 

Tricky one. I agree with the OP - it would be nice to have a cache as a bonus to a nice hike.

 

I think you'd find that those of us who are willing to walk to a way-out cache would be perfectly willing to do the maintenance for the owner if the cache's entry was updated to list what it might need.

 

For example, the Whitney cache was full of useful emergency supplies, but all the logs indicated that it was mostly toys and TBs going in and out. Since I was a newbie, I tried to bring things that "fit in," but it turns out that I was mistaken. If the owner had updated the description to mention that it needed band-aids or stick-on nylon repair patches or a pair of gloves... I would have been happy to restock the cache.

 

As long as people are logging their swaps (or, in the case of a cache like this, "emergency withdrawals on credit"), the owner should be able to update the list of what the cache needs to be restocked with in the cache's description. As long as I know what I'm supposed to bring, it's not any different than any other cache, except that I have a shopping list instead of wondering what sort of random doodad I'm going to put in. That almost seems like a more interesting and useful pursuit than geocaching-- it's like "emergency supply geocaching."

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You will find certain hiders tend to stick with certain kinds of hides. If you find the kind of caches you like, look at that owner's other caches.

 

Using Google Earth with the geocaching KML can also be helpful. You can see the large undeveloped areas on Google Earth. Look for the caches in those areas.

Edited by briansnat
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