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something I'd like to see in the hiding guidelines

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I think it would be nice if there was a bit of a description about what level of terrain=what difficulty (beyond 1 being wheelchair accessible and 5 needing special equipment). I've found that there are large discrepancies between what's counted as say a 1.5 or a 2 depending on the person hiding the cache (and the city the cache is located in). While it probably doesn't matter to some people, I think it does matter to people with physical limitations. I'm currently recovering from ankle surgery and so cannot do certain types of terrain (slippery or steep slopes). I try to only attempt caches that I know I can do. It is slightly frustrating for me to research a cache and plan a route which involves it only to discover that the CO's idea of a 2 isn't the same as other caches which were ranked as 2. A little clarity in the hiding guidelines might even out this discrepancy.


Another related thought, prior to actually spending time in a wheelchair and on crutches I don't think I had a good idea of what wheelchair accessible means. It might be nice for the hiding guidelines to include some basic info on that (a cache 6 feet off the ground isn't wheelchair accessible, similarly a cache that's tucked half a foot in between rocks half a foot off the ground isn't really wheelchair accessible either, if you don't believe me, try sitting in a wheelchair and reaching for something near the ground but not right by the chair). I don't think anyone intentionally rates their terrain as a 1 even thought it's not wheelchair accessible but I do think that people generally don't realize what is accessible by wheelchair.


Anyways, I was just wanting other people's thoughts on these two ideas.

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The difficulty and terrain ratings are currently explained most completely on another website, which is linked directly from the cache submit form.


I agree that there ought to be a more complete explanation of them somewhere on THIS site and more readily available to seekers of caches.


Currently, if you follow Getting Started link, you'll see another linked page, Finding Your First Cache and on it you'll see difficulty and terrain linked back to the glossary page with this extremely brief explanation.



Geocaches are rated in two categories, each designated on a 5-point scale. Difficulty relates to the mental challenge of finding a cache and terrain describes the physical environment. A 1/1 difficulty/terrain rating would the easiest cache to find, while a 5/5 difficulty/terrain rating would be the most difficult.


There is a Knowledgebase article Ratings for Difficulty and Terrain, which provides the same link as the cache submit form to the Clayjar Page.

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Most reviewers will leave a note, like my own version below, on any cache rated one star for terrain, but which does not display the "handicapped accessible" cache attribute:

Your new cache submission will be published momentarily. First, however, I'm writing to ask you to make sure the terrain is rated properly. If you used the cache rating system link ( http://www.clayjar.com/gcrs/ ) when you submitted the cache, you will note that a 1 star terrain cache should be wheelchair accessible. If that's the case, great! (Please consider using the handicapped accessible "cache attribute" to let people know this.) If it's not wheelchair accessible, then the terrain should be at least 1.5 stars. For more information, please see this article: http://www.todayscacher.com/2004/sep/outdoors.asp#disable




Geocaching.com Volunteer Cache Reviewer

We don't delay publication over this issue, and reviewers don't "validate" any terrain or difficulty rating. But, we do try to increase awareness of the issue, one cache at a time. This is one of my top three most-used form letters.

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As I understand it, a terrain rating of one is 'handicapped' accessible, not 'wheelchair' accessible. I think that there may be a difference between the two terms.


That being said, I'm not overly concerned with ratings that are slightly skewed. I figure that if I filter for all caches with a rating of 2 or less and occasionally get a 2.5, I'll decide whether I want to (or can) make the extra effort. It basically comes down to the fact that I will remain in control of every step of each cache hunt. I am free to abandon any cache hunt at any time for any reason.

Edited by sbell111
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I have only seen a handful or two of caches over the years that were off by more than apporx 1 star +/- on the scale. I note those in my log entry and move on. Reading past logs will often reveal those few that are badly mis-rated. Irritating when it happens but I don't believe it to be terribly widespread.

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Thanks for the replies everyone!

I didn't know about the attributes feature (I'm still pretty new).

I guess I've just been a bit unlucky in the ones that I've picked to go for have often been inconsistent with each other in terms of ratings. I've seen two 1-star terrains which I couldn't do (scrambling over logs or steep inclines) and anything above that it's been about 50-50 whether I could do it or not (I've only looked up to 2 star ones).

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As I understand it, a terrain rating of one is 'handicapped' accessible, not 'wheelchair' accessible. I think that there may be a difference between the two terms


There are all levels of handicaps. Someone with severely arthritic knees may have a handicap sticker on their vehicle, but could possibly do 2 star terrain with the help of painkillers.


Similarly a guy with severe empysema could probably do caches that are not necessarily wheelchair accessible.


That said, I think the basic requirement for something to be considered handicap accessible is that it is wheelchair accessible. The handicap accessible parking spots, bathrooms and other facilities that I've seen don't have a depiction of a person on crutches, or carrying an oxygen tank. They have a drawing of a wheelchair.

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