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How long do you search?


Zena99
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We've been geocaching now 5 times and made only 1 find. One of those failures was explained by my husband confusing east with west. :laughing: But the other times, we've looked and looked and not found anything, despite being in the right spot (as far as we know). My husband and I actually find this way more frustrating than our five year old, who seems to expect not to find anything now, and so doesn't get frustrated. We wish we could be more like him! But he did get very excited when we made that one find! And we'd like to do that more often. (Not least because we took a travel bug from our one find - which was our second geocaching outing - and need to deposit it in another cache!)

 

So..... how long do you tend to look for a cache? The most difficult one we've looked for is 2 stars, and the others are 1 star, so we're not being over ambitious. Today my husband and son spent about an hour looking in the area the GPS led us to. The day before yesterday, my son and I spent about 45 minutes looking for a different cache. Are we not finding them because we're not spending three hours out there searching? Do most geocachers find it this difficult at first? Or are we peculiarly terrible at this? Any tips you can give us?

 

Thanks,

 

Zena99.

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We've been geocaching now 5 times and made only 1 find. One of those failures was explained by my husband confusing east with west. :laughing: But the other times, we've looked and looked and not found anything, despite being in the right spot (as far as we know). My husband and I actually find this way more frustrating than our five year old, who seems to expect not to find anything now, and so doesn't get frustrated. We wish we could be more like him! But he did get very excited when we made that one find! And we'd like to do that more often. (Not least because we took a travel bug from our one find - which was our second geocaching outing - and need to deposit it in another cache!)

 

So..... how long do you tend to look for a cache? The most difficult one we've looked for is 2 stars, and the others are 1 star, so we're not being over ambitious. Today my husband and son spent about an hour looking in the area the GPS led us to. The day before yesterday, my son and I spent about 45 minutes looking for a different cache. Are we not finding them because we're not spending three hours out there searching? Do most geocachers find it this difficult at first? Or are we peculiarly terrible at this? Any tips you can give us?

 

Thanks,

 

Zena99.

 

I'll tell you, when I first started (okay, so two months ago), I couldn't find the sun at high noon, let alone some of the caches that are around. Yours is not an uncommon problem. I found it helpful to think of three things when looking:

 

1. Are my coordinates ABSOLUTELY correct? Even a single mixed-up digit can be a difference of many feet, yards, or even miles.

2. What am I supposed to be looking for? If the instructions say it's a 1/1 micro near an electrical box in a neighborhood, I'll probably be looking for something small and magnetic that will stick to the box. If it's a tupperware-sized container, I'll be looking in bushes or behind rocks. If it's a large ammo can, I'll be checking only those places which could fit such an object. At the top of the page, it lists the difficulty and the size of the container - make sure you know what it is you're looking for (as much as possible, anyway).

3. Where would I hide something here if I were placing the cache? The best thing you can do is trust your "geosense" - that guiding inner principle which directs you to one place over another. Check unnatural looking piles of rock or brush or sticks, in bushes, under ledges, and on anything metal. Sometimes, though, you just have to take a chance and poke something that looks like it totally doesn't belong there. One cache I found early on took me over an hour to actually find, though I'd looked at it several times. It was a CACTUS out in the desert, and it blended in superbly! Finally, I just kind of kicked at it with my shoe, and to my surprise it tipped over!

 

I still miss finding some caches here and there, but I've gotten much better very quickly, and you will too. The best bet, when all else fails, is to find some other local geocachers and go for a hike with them. They can totally show you the ropes!

 

Good luck!

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Just piggy-backing on TimeTravelers's questions.

 

What GPS are you using? Are you sure it's set to to WG84 map datum? If your GPS is WAAS-enabled, is that turned on?

 

I recommend, as others have, to start with 1/1 rated caches and stick with larger sizes- ammo cans and small lock n' lock sized containers. Nanos and micros can be very tough.

 

Don't be afraid to decrypt any hints and use them, either. Sometimes valuable info can be gleaned from the previous logs, too.

 

Keep hunting and don't give up. Yours is a very typical experience.

 

Good luck!

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Also, when you look up the cache page, check recent posts. You might find that recent visitors have had similar problems. You might also find that the cache hasn't been visited in an extra special long time. If experienced cachers are having trouble or are avoiding, you will struggle mightily. (Though newbies occasionally make a find that was long thought to be lost-and-gone).

 

Do see if there are any cache-in trash-out (CITO) events occurring in your area this weekend. Sometimes it helps to tag along with experienced cachers. Besides, you will be helping clean our public parks and spaces, and get to meet other cachers (so far, they have all been pretty darn friendly).

 

Oh yeah, if you still can't find the cache after turning over every stone and log near ground zero...look UP!

 

Happy hunting!

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How long do we look?

 

Our first ever cache we searched around on a scree slope of potentially ankle-breaking rocks for a bout 45 minutes. Just as we were about to head off home muttering "This is such a stupid idea, it obviously doesn't work..." we found the ammo can. ;) Now we can find most 'normal' caches within 10 minutes.

 

It takes you a good few finds to train up your geocaching middle eye, so the first hunts are often a bit frustrating. The folks who've posted are all giving useful advice. Perhaps you could give the GC numbers of two or three of those caches that you couldn't find? Then we can have a look at all the details and maybe comment on specific issues that you may not have noticed.

 

By the way, I notice that you haven't actually logged your first find on-line, as yet. Not that you have to. (Some cachers don't log any finds on-line)

 

Good luck anyway - I'm sure that within a few weeks you'll be notching up your finds much quicker. :laughing:

 

MrsB

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Oh Geez! I will have my Garmin Vista HCx on Friday and have planned my first search in a nearby state park for Saturday. I really was worried about this being maybe too easy; now I am worried that it will be too hard to do. Being the the newest of noobies (not even started yet) there are so many things to do and think about!

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Nah...I am very new to all this too and so far I have found it to be pretty easy. But so far most of my hides have been 1/1 or 2/2. I did make the grab on a 3 difficulty but that was luck. You will find that it is not as hard as it sounds and most of the time when you finally find it you want to kick yourself because it was literally right in front of you the entire time. I have a habit of looking too hard and I look right past the obvious hiding spots. You'll get the hang of it soon and then it is all over after that, your hooked.

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I'm also pretty new but I had a heck of a time finding anything until I realized I was on the wrong datum setting.

 

Now that I've got the hang of it, the most important thing for me is not relying too heavily on my GPS. If you're within 10-20 feet of the cache, put the GPS away and start using your instincts. Don't wait for your GPS to tell you you're 2 feet away because in most cases, it just isn't going to happen.

 

Also, Google's satellite maps are very helpful... :laughing:

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Remember that even under ideal conditions, the actual cache may be 30 feet away from what your GPSr is showing as ground zero. When you are 50 feet away start paying less attention to your GPSr and more attention to your surroundings. You will probably see good hiding spots to check. Try not to get exactly to ground zero or else you will be doing the Drunken Bee Dance (the unofficial dance of geocaching). Look up, down, under, over, and between. Some containers have fantastic camo. Once, I found a cache behind a round red reflector on a post. Keep an open mind. Good luck!

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... how long do you tend to look for a cache? ...

It really depends on all kinds of things. Some locaitons are more fun to look in than others. Some caches for reasons I can't say why, I'll spend more time with than others. Some I'll drive up look out the window and say "I'm not feeling it at all" and if everone else agrees we move on without even looking.

 

The only common thing is "when it's stops being fun" I move on.

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We are also new and there are a few we couldn't find. We logged as did not find and then watched the cache. On one of them, several other people couldn't find it either, but then the other two were found right after we left. We went back to one and found it right away. Sometimes it helps to have someone else say, "yes it really is here." I have also found that if I take my family of six, we can't find anything (you would think more eyes would help) but if it is just two or three of us, we find things really quickly.

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...

The only common thing is "when it's stops being fun" I move on.

Me too.

 

For difficulty:

On a 1 star - I'll look for up to 15-20 minutes or so.

On a 2 star - I'll go 30 - 40 minutes.

On a 3 star - as long as an hour.

On 2 + stars - multiple trips if I like the area and really want to find it.

 

But I'm gone a lot sooner if It just isn't any fun to be poking around the spot.

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We've been geocaching now 5 times and made only 1 find. One of those failures was explained by my husband confusing east with west. :D But the other times, we've looked and looked and not found anything, despite being in the right spot (as far as we know). My husband and I actually find this way more frustrating than our five year old, who seems to expect not to find anything now, and so doesn't get frustrated. We wish we could be more like him! But he did get very excited when we made that one find! And we'd like to do that more often. (Not least because we took a travel bug from our one find - which was our second geocaching outing - and need to deposit it in another cache!)

 

So..... how long do you tend to look for a cache? The most difficult one we've looked for is 2 stars, and the others are 1 star, so we're not being over ambitious. Today my husband and son spent about an hour looking in the area the GPS led us to. The day before yesterday, my son and I spent about 45 minutes looking for a different cache. Are we not finding them because we're not spending three hours out there searching? Do most geocachers find it this difficult at first? Or are we peculiarly terrible at this? Any tips you can give us?

 

Thanks,

 

Zena99.

 

I would not be too bummed out about missing these caches. I seem to find caches with a 2 difficulty or a 3 easier then a 1 in difficulty. You have received some good information already. Just remember that not only are you trusting your own GPS accuracy but trusting that the hider has good coordinates.. Sometimes you will just have to expand your search area.

 

I have a geocache hidden on school grounds where I teach at, I allow my students to hunt it. I suggest to them that when they are 210 feet away to look where the "Arrow " is pointing and take a mental note of what is there.. A tree? Rocks? a pile of logs? A fence? A nasty Pine tree.-- or in the case at school the school sign. get to your area you made a note of and look all over it..or under--

 

One thing I have noticed is if a cache is in a tree more times then not the cache is hidden on the side away from most of the muggles..

 

You may also look into the events as someone suggested and see if you can accompany a more experienced cacher to see how they attack a cache. How long to look? As long as you want or as little!

 

The key is to have fun and enjoy it with your son and husband.

Edited by TeddyR
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Zena99

 

I look no more than 15 minutes at each place. I tend to get frustrated, and sometimes it is just easier to come back and try again. Since you are still new to the game I recommend reading the logs online to make sure there has been a recent find. The last thing you want to do is look for a cache that is not there! I also recommend looking for regular or large sized caches to start off... then graduate to small, micro and eventually nano! also read the hints and check out any pictures if there have been some posted. That will atleast tell you what you are looking for.

 

That is how I started... now I challenge myself and don't look at the pics ;-)

 

Check out my

 

-ErikaJean

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I've been caching for more than a year now and what you described is exactly how I felt the first few times I went out.

 

The first night I went caching by myself, I went all over the city looking for caches and after something like 2-4 hours, I only came up with one find. For awhile, I was convinced that either my GPS was way off, or I was doing something wrong. I almost gave up on the sport entirely. But, I persisted and it got easier.

 

Under normal circumstances, I would say that I never spent more than 20 minutes looking for a cache. It depends on the cache itself, and the situation. If I'm in an urban setting, I might look and look and give up in 5 minutes simply because I want to hit more. But if I'm in the middle of the woods doing a long series of caches, I look harder because I don't necessarily want to have a DNF in the middle of a series.

 

All of the suggestions on this thread are good. What I found REALLY helpful was to pick say 2 or 3 caches that I want to try and go for, read the descriptions thoroughly, grab the hint, and read the logs, and make sure that it seems like it's a cache I can get. Then I would go out and get them.

 

Once I did 10-20 caches, I started to get the hang of what to look for.

 

Also consider GPS accuracy and when the cache was hidden. If the cache is old (say 4 years), then it was likely hidden with a GPS that is not as accurate as the ones we have today. Your GPS may be accurate to 2 yards, but the one used to hide the cache may have been accurate to 5 yards. It makes a huge difference when you're trying to find a cache.

 

I usually try to zero in as close as I can and if I don't find it right away, I start spiraling outward to see if I can find it. I've found caches that were 25 yards away from GZ.

 

Oh ya, something else. When I first started, I kept expecting that the GPS would lead me to the EXACT location and I wouldn't have to look too hard. What you find is that the GPS gets you pretty close, but then you basically put the unit away, and start looking. It definitely helps you too if you think "where would I hide it? where would be a good place to hide a cache?". Once I realized that I needed to search a bit without the GPS, it helped vastly.

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Like it was said before, try and hook up with some one. You would be very surprised who caches. My boys friends cache as a family and we never knew it. You also don't say where you are from, city or woods caching. I cache in the city and can say that it's easier for me to find a nano in a bunch of metal then to find a ammo can in the woods at times. If you send out a few emails to the people that hid the ones you could not find, more then likly you will find that they live close by. Some one will be willing to come out and help you (play the hot and cold game). Also a good way to meet some new people and find a caching team to go out with once or twice. I have one hiden in my front yard that my boys put together just so we could meet the locals (or is that loco's).

Edited by twins&dad
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Do most geocachers find it this difficult at first? Or are we peculiarly terrible at this? Any tips you can give us?

 

 

You sound pretty normal to me.

 

When you've found 20 caches or less, you'll overlook a lot of them, because you just haven't seen all the hiding methods yet.

 

When you've found 50 or 60, lights will start to come on for you when you arrive at the cache location,

 

After about 100, you'll have a good handle on what's going on.

 

As someone else suggested, go caching with a more experienced cacher. You can learn more in two hours with an old hand than you can in a month on your own.

 

To find someone to cache with, attend a geocaching event, and shake some hands.

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The first thing I looked for was a nano that hadn't been found in almost two months. Duh! I have found a total of 4, and searched for a total of 6. Like the others, I go for larger caches, and since I have very young children (7 months, 20 months, 4, and 7) I go to places that require little bushwacking. Well-groomed cemeteries and parks are favorites so far.

 

Its also good with the kids around because if its a busy area, we don't look too conspicuous poking around in bushes. You know how little kids are always running away and getting into places they don't belong. <_<

 

The only one that made feel stupid was one in a cemetery that was hidden in a very obvious place. I mean, WAY obvious. And it took us about 45 minutes to find it, even though we were literally standing right next to it.

 

Anyway, the logs at the bottom of the page are VERY helpful. I have a little notebook where I write the number and title of the cache, as well as any clues I can glean from the log. For instance, if someone writes "It fell down on the ground," well then I know its supposed to be up high. I'm sure once we get better at this, I won't need so many notes.

 

We like the ones that are just a little bit harder because its not all that fun to just spy something right off the bat.

 

Good luck, it will get more fun once you start finding!

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The quick answer is you look until the fun factor has ended. This may or may not be on the third time you have said to yourself "screw it". Look till you no longer want to.

 

The longer answer is as you gain experience you will find different ways people hide geocaches. There is a list of most common ways people hide geocaches and you will know those ways by about the first 100 finds or so. As you gain experience and you increase the difficulty level of hides will also be a factor. Give it time because there is always new ways to hide geocaches.

 

-HHH <_<

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Zena99,

I don’t see much info in your profile. How is the caching where you live? Are they few and far between or are there 50 within 5 miles? (105 within 5 miles of me)

If there are only a few I would spend more time (up to half an hour for me is long) If there are many then give it a good once over and go to the next one. Eventually you will start to get a feel for the spot as you approach ground zero.

The most important thing to remember is

It is a game. It should be fun!

Edited by Pat in Louisiana
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I stop when I stop having fun AND my geosense fails me. That can take anywhere from five minutes to an hour and a half. (My first find was a 2.5/3.5. Probably took me a half hour. I was hooked!) My geopartner has less perserverance than I, and will sit down on a rock after fifteen minutes, and say "Go for it, Dolphin."

I had my worst day of caching ever, on Sunday. One find, Five DNFs. Very tough area. Hell's Kitchen (West 40's in New York City.) Some very tough urban hides. Terrible satellite reception. Geosense failed me, entirely! Spent three minutes on one. The guard was giving us the evil eye. That one qualified as 'Not having fun'. Forty five minutes on another. Clues were helpful (with the terrible satellite reception). Geosense failed me. I have no idea where that one is hidden! But I will be back!! (As opposed to the previous one, where I will not go back!)

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I cache with my grown(out of the house) kids, ghost_inthe_fog and hotpippy4. When we go on a caching run, we limit our search time to 15 minutes(we can always come back). This allows us to cover more ground, gain more experience and reduce the frustration. With time you will get better. Hotpippy4 actually did quite a few urban caches without a GPSr, just online research, read the cache page and logs and check the maps. She also has a good eye. One other thing we do, who ever finds the cache steps to a neutral location and makes the announcement, "Found It!". The other two continue the search, until each one has made the find. You can have a lot of fun with this, practicing you skills of deception and the ability to mislead each other. HAPPY CACHING

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I a newbie too, and my husband just commented the last time we went out that we really suck at this game. I go with my kids too, various combinations (they're 17, 13, 8, 5 and 2) and we've found 6 out of 9 attempted. We usually look until the kids get bored. <_<

 

I'm closing in on 1700 finds and I'm happy if I find 6 out of 9 attempted. We all can't find some caches - a lot of people just don't admit it. I usually look until I get bored too.

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Wow - thanks everyone! Some great tips and I feel reassured that we're not unusually terrible. I felt sad after our latest non-find when my husband was really demoralised. (It's amazing how a *game* can be so frustrating.)

 

I look forward to reading all your messages again, more carefully, and to getting back out there and trying again!

 

Thanks again!

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Look for larger caches.

 

Also look for caches that have very descriptive clues. Here are some ACTUAL clues from caches I found recently:

 

This is "grate" cache...it was under a grate!

 

Near three trunked tree. Near rock group with tombstone shape...That's where it was.

 

Bird's Eye View... It was in a birdhouse!

 

Decon attached near middle of tree, five feet from base...Found the DECON CONTAINER in the tree.

 

Base of fallen tree...OK, there were several fallen trees, but at least I knew it was at the BASE.

 

Also, remember that the name of the cache is sometimes the clue. There was one cache with a latin, scientific name. I Googled it, and it was the name of a wasp. Yup, the cache was disguised as a wasp nest!!!

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> Wow - thanks everyone! Some great tips and I feel reassured that we're not unusually terrible. I felt sad > after our latest non-find when my husband was really demoralised. (It's amazing how a *game* can be so > frustrating.)

 

> I look forward to reading all your messages again, more carefully, and to getting back out there and trying again!

 

I remember back in August, when I first started geocaching, making my first find relatively quickly. It was a large ammo box under a tree. My second cache was in a cemetery and I still didn't have the cache size thing down yet - and it was a micro! I went back twice, looking for a large ammo box ...:) It really helps to read the cache description carefully. Even now I shamelessly decrypt all hints.

 

Often there's a hint in the description of the cache. In this one that I hid, I give a really big hint in the blurb written about it, which essentially leads you right to the cache:

http://www.geocaching.com/seek/cache_detai...66-af400175fcad

 

The more you find, the more you will become acquainted with the various types of hides. I have found 132 as of today, and usually learn something with each one I find. One strategy might be to ask yourself: just where would I put it? - and possibilities jump out at you. The other day I was looking around for an initially elusive cache and spotted a tree with a fabulous hole in its side. Over I went - what cacher could waste such a great hiding place? - and sure enough, there it was.

 

Piles of branches, piles of rocks, holes in trees, all parts of guardrails... in fact anything metal to which anything magnetic could be affixed... there are lots of variations. There are even different ways of hiding lamp post caches!

 

Now I see possible hiding places everywhere!

 

Above all, have fun!!! Even if you don't find the cache, if you've been introduced to an interesting and/or beautiful place you didn't previously know about you *have* made a wonderful find.

 

Ms Muffet

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We don't find every cache, either...but I am happy if we have fun! Quite often the easy ones elude us, and then I feel really dumb! We have contacted other cachers for additional hints and the owners also. More often than not, those repeat visits take us back to a beautiful/interesting spot.

Looked high and low for a cache 1 1/2 hours from home with no luck. It was at a spot we love so we were back within the week. Just about to call it quits when I looked up to the caching gods for guidance and there was this green bison tube. Keep an eye out for the "cachers' trail" becoming a type of "manhunter" and piled sticks and stones. Good Luck and don't give up!

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i wouldnt be too concerned about not making too man finds right away. stick with it, as many other cachers have said, try targeting a bigger cache with a lower difficulty rating to get the hang of it. there is one in particular in my area that i've been to 3 times now and still cant find it! i've read all the logs, scanned the area from top to bottom but still cant track it down! now its become like a personal goal to nail this thing. a lotof people havent been able to findit but others have said they found it easily and quickly so what am i missing!!!

GC16XJE

 

this is a really fun and health way to stay active so just keep at it and you're bound to get better!

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Start with the easy stuff. Micros can be hard, avoid them for a while. Try some caches in parks, along walking trails. Those tend to be easy.

 

Go to some event caches and meet other caches. They will talk endlessly about hides they've found, which give clues on what to look for. Plus, see if you can form up an expedition to go caching with an experienced player. You'll make a friend, and get their sense of "how its done".

 

Several of my first finds were DNFs. It happens.

 

There are a lot of other good tips, on using/trusting the GPS, and reading the logs. Bring a print-out of the cache, with log comments (or an electronic copy). There's a lot of clues and information in those. Look for caches that have been found recently, because they are more likely to be still there.

 

The last DNF I had hadn't been found for a few months, which had been right before Hurricane Ike. Gee, I wonder why I couldn't find it....

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Wow - thanks everyone! Some great tips and I feel reassured that we're not unusually terrible. I felt sad after our latest non-find when my husband was really demoralised. (It's amazing how a *game* can be so frustrating.)

 

I look forward to reading all your messages again, more carefully, and to getting back out there and trying again!

 

Thanks again!

 

First off, my wife and I are totally new at this with a whopping total of four finds. However our mindset has been to get out and get a bit of exercise, enjoy a nice day, see some areas in the neighborhood we might not have seen before, take some photos, and maybe find a cache. This makes the game much less frustrating, if the cache is not the end in itself.

 

I'd echo what some others have said: make sure you've input the coordinates correctly (I made that mistake) and make sure once you're on the hunt that you have your unit's map drilled in properly in terms of distance. Our unit was showing us right on top of the find, until I realized the map was zoomed out to something like 400 ft. Once we zoomed in properly, we found the cache in no time.

Edited by jammun
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Zena99

 

I look no more than 15 minutes at each place. I tend to get frustrated, and sometimes it is just easier to come back and try again. Since you are still new to the game I recommend reading the logs online to make sure there has been a recent find. The last thing you want to do is look for a cache that is not there! I also recommend looking for regular or large sized caches to start off... then graduate to small, micro and eventually nano! also read the hints and check out any pictures if there have been some posted. That will atleast tell you what you are looking for.

 

That is how I started... now I challenge myself and don't look at the pics ;-)

 

Check out my

 

-ErikaJean

 

Cool interactive video! How did you do that?

 

I'm a neo geocacher and had two finds (one micro) our first day! My 3 yr old was very excited for a "Dora the Explorer" treasure hunt. I did have trouble with our first cache (a 1/1). We didn't find it but after finding a pic on the logs I realized it was right in front of me! Your video is a good intro into what to do when you are close to a cache (lesson- put the GPS away and search). Thanks. :laughing:

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