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Signs of previous cache hunters


gpsgeology
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I noticed that many of the caches that I found had very obvious signs of traffic leading to the cache, even though the "logged" visits were weeks old.

 

Makes me believe that many people do not log their visits, or "damage" to the vegetation is long lasting.

 

The caches in question often require travel through waist high grass, that has been obviously trampled by humans. There would be no reason to be there except for cache hunting.

 

Just an observation by a newb.

 

Enjoying this new sport!

 

steve.

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I noticed that many of the caches that I found had very obvious signs of traffic leading to the cache, even though the "logged" visits were weeks old.

 

Makes me believe that many people do not log their visits, or "damage" to the vegetation is long lasting.

 

The caches in question often require travel through waist high grass, that has been obviously trampled by humans. There would be no reason to be there except for cache hunting.

 

Just an observation by a newb.

 

Enjoying this new sport!

 

steve.

 

Actually a number of those trails are the result of the purple snorkelwacker hunting snipes.

 

Jim

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It's funny... I had the exact same observation this morning... and thought that there obviously must be some people who were not logging their finds... or their DNFs.

 

And then, as I got closer to GZ, the ground got muddier and muddier, and I realized that the trail I was following was not a geotrail... but a game trail.

 

I'm not saying that's what you saw... but that's what I saw.

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I noticed that many of the caches that I found had very obvious signs of traffic leading to the cache, even though the "logged" visits were weeks old.

 

Makes me believe that many people do not log their visits, or "damage" to the vegetation is long lasting.

 

The caches in question often require travel through waist high grass, that has been obviously trampled by humans. There would be no reason to be there except for cache hunting.

 

Just an observation by a newb.

 

Enjoying this new sport!

 

steve.

 

I don't see most of it as "damage", especially in the example you give since grass is resilient, but it is relatively easy to track even one or two people in the field or woods and constant use will form a distinct trail.

Edited by edscott
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I had one cache I would have never found if it wasn't for the pencil being left outside the cache. It was a rock replica cache and being new to the sport I wasn't trained to look for those yet. After searching for about 5 minutes I was walking to my car and noticed a golf pencil on the ground. I looked around and saw some rocks that looked odd. I picked them up one by one until I found the hollow one.

 

OVerall though, I try to make sure I grab as much trash as I can near a cache and leave the cache hidden the same or better then how I found it.

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In many instances the trails predate the cache. Cache hiders generally don't want to fight their way through underbrush or tall grass any more than searchers do, so they follow social paths or game trails to find a hiding place. It may appear to the casual observer that the trail was caused by the cache, when in reality the cache is there because of the trail.

 

With roughly 900 cache hunts under my belt and another 250 caches hidden, the instances where I saw trails that could be directly attributed to the cache could probably be counted using all of my fingers and toes.

And in nearly every one of these instances the cache within 50 feet or so of a parking lot, road or an established walking path. Not what you'd call sensitive areas.

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With roughly 900 cache hunts under my belt and another 250 caches hidden

 

I am assuming that this means that you have extensive knowledge of every situation worldwide.

It only takes one instance to get caching banned, no matter how far in the sand you stick your head

 

<potty language removed>? are you going on about???

There should be an IQ test people have to take before they can post on this forum

Edited by Motorcycle_Mama
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With roughly 900 cache hunts under my belt and another 250 caches hidden

 

I am assuming that this means that you have extensive knowledge of every situation worldwide.

It only takes one instance to get caching banned, no matter how far in the sand you stick your head

 

Well no, I don't recall saying that. I'm sure there might be extremely rare instances where geocachers caused lasting damage in sensitive areas, just like hikers, hunters, bird watchers, mountain bikers, mushroomers, campers, wildlife photographers and other outdoors enthusiasts have probably done as well.

 

But I don't see the point of teeth gnashing over a few bent blades of grass in a meadow or a "geotrail" that runs 20 feet from a parking lot to a cache.

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I am constantly seeing damage by geocachers. Perhaps the underbrush in the area I live (western WA) is more sensitive then other places, but there is a trail and trampled area around almost any cache placed in the woods. I found one cache in some local woods by following a trail through trampled and broken salal to the base of a tree where the moss and underbrush was completely flattened and torn up. I never had to even glance at my GPSr. It looked like a herd of elephants had been through. And that cache had only been up for 12 days. A couple days ago I went for a cache in deep woods that, as it turned out, had coords that were fairly far off. The entire area around the original coordinates was trampled. In the description they put a set of updated coords. The area around those coords was basically flattened. The area around the cache itself turned out to be in good shape. But where people had been searching extensively looked terrible.

 

This is a touchy subject with me because I've really been noticing a lot of damage recently. A local park has a cache hanging in a bush. The bush has leaves that are turning brown because the branches are broken and freshly broken off branches were obvious.

 

When you are walking around in the woods it is impossible not to leave some sign of your passage. But if you show a little bit of care it is easy to minimize your damage. For instance, if I'm in the woods I try to return via a different route so I don't pound in a geotrail. If I find smashed down brush I like to fluff it back up so it isn't so obvious to the next person.

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I'll give the trampled grass and broken brush some leeway. True, you put out a cache to entice people into a nice area and you will get some damage because the human foot is not conducive to coming and going in a gentle manner. As far as broken limbs (many), torn up bushes and etc., shame on those people.

 

What I notice quite a bit is dead batteries laying about. Mostly AAs, occasional Ds (night cachers), and that is absurd! Of anything that a supposed geo-conscious person would want to do is dump these things.

 

I know it is only a few that do that, but as this recreation activity grows, so does that type of stupidity!

 

Enuf......... if I go longer on it, it would get worse. I'll quit whilst I'm ahead. Thank you.

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I'm sure that geocaching brings a few people into the woods that otherwise would not be there. Personally I have been wandering around and exploring the woods regularly since I was a child. If the only reason you go in the woods is to hunt a geocache, I can understand why you might think that any human sign you find indicates other cachers but there are many other reasons for people to be in the woods. Bent grass and a few broken twigs are not damage to my way of thinking. I have only hunted about a dozen caches so far and with the exception of a couple of micro's, I could spot them from quite a distance because something just looked out of place. Mother nature will never neatly stack bark and limbs on top of her Tupperware, and camouflaged ammunition cans do not occur naturally near the root ball of fallen trees. :D

 

I will admit that I have seen a bit more trash on the trails since I started looking for caches so it could be true that the increased traffic contributes more to that problem, especially on the easier trails. Less so once you get onto the game trails where it takes a bit more effort to progress and not bleed all over the thorn bushes and such.

 

I do not need to be reminded that I have limited experience geocaching, these are my observations based on the experience I do have.

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Hi,

 

As the OP, I have been reading this thread everyday.

 

Found a dozen caches now in the area that I posted about first.

 

The area I search now is fairly thick. Thorny dewberry bushes, vines, and brush interspersed by small to medium pine trees, must be navigated through.

 

Over the years, I have seen countless snakes, some deer, and since I have been caching, giant yellow spiders overhanging trails. The main trail is asphalt running 3.1 miles one way. Trail is very busy.

 

As to cache hunting effects, I believe that:

 

1. Compared to game only trails, cacher travelled trails are easily distinguishable. I believe cacher trails are 4 ft or wider. Game trails appear to be less than a ft wide and cut through brush that people would not travel.

2. Vegetation and soil disruption is obvious, as compared to game trails that I have noted crossing the cache trial.

3. The area around the GZ is very disturbed, as compared to areas away from GZ. No dropped batteries or other trash noted, yet.

4. As to how long the vegetation and trail disruption lasts, is unknown. From the cache log, visits were typically 1-2 months old, so damage may take that long to recover. How many DNF visits are unlogged would change that estimate.

 

As the area I hunt in is the Addicks Resevoir of Harris County, Tx, and is often covered by water, I think cache hunter signs are masked by the effect of ft deep water. Now, there has been a drought here, so the damage I see may have accumulated for a year or so.

 

I have been walking the trail for many years for exercise. Now that I have discovered geocaching, it has added to the enjoyment.

 

I've never seen another person with a gps on the trail, but I know they are there. I wonder how scary (is that the right word?) to be 150ft off the trail in thick vegetation, and encounter someone else!

 

I think the first cache I carefully hide will be designed to prove or disprove my observations.

 

Hopefully, the damage cachers inevitably do is minimal.

 

Steve.

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Hi,

 

As the OP, I have been reading this thread everyday.

 

Found a dozen caches now in the area that I posted about first.

 

The area I search now is fairly thick. Thorny dewberry bushes, vines, and brush interspersed by small to medium pine trees, must be navigated through.

 

Over the years, I have seen countless snakes, some deer, and since I have been caching, giant yellow spiders overhanging trails. The main trail is asphalt running 3.1 miles one way. Trail is very busy.

 

As to cache hunting effects, I believe that:

 

1. Compared to game only trails, cacher travelled trails are easily distinguishable. I believe cacher trails are 4 ft or wider. Game trails appear to be less than a ft wide and cut through brush that people would not travel.

2. Vegetation and soil disruption is obvious, as compared to game trails that I have noted crossing the cache trial.

3. The area around the GZ is very disturbed, as compared to areas away from GZ. No dropped batteries or other trash noted, yet.

4. As to how long the vegetation and trail disruption lasts, is unknown. From the cache log, visits were typically 1-2 months old, so damage may take that long to recover. How many DNF visits are unlogged would change that estimate.

 

As the area I hunt in is the Addicks Resevoir of Harris County, Tx, and is often covered by water, I think cache hunter signs are masked by the effect of ft deep water. Now, there has been a drought here, so the damage I see may have accumulated for a year or so.

 

I have been walking the trail for many years for exercise. Now that I have discovered geocaching, it has added to the enjoyment.

 

I've never seen another person with a gps on the trail, but I know they are there. I wonder how scary (is that the right word?) to be 150ft off the trail in thick vegetation, and encounter someone else!

 

I think the first cache I carefully hide will be designed to prove or disprove my observations.

 

Hopefully, the damage cachers inevitably do is minimal.

 

Steve.

 

Four foot wide "trails".. are they riding four wheelers to the cache? I suspect what you are seeing has little to do with caching.

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But I don't see the point of teeth gnashing over a few bent blades of grass in a meadow or a "geotrail" that runs 20 feet from a parking lot to a cache.

 

However, I am quite certain that you will when Geocaching becomes banned/prohibited in an area because of those exact few bent blades, as has happened in other places

Edited by tttedzeins
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But I don't see the point of teeth gnashing over a few bent blades of grass in a meadow or a "geotrail" that runs 20 feet from a parking lot to a cache.

 

However, I am quite certain that you will when Geocaching becomes banned/prohibited in an area because of those exact few bent blades, as has happened in other places

Ever watch Survivorman? Bear Grylls?? If you learn nothing else from those shows - you can take this away as fact: Signs of human activity are found in virtually every corner of the globe. Don't be too quick to assume it was Geocachers.

 

Also - I noticed a geopath to one of my caches a few years back during late fall - so I planned on moving the cache a bit on my next visit. Come the next spring when I showed up, not only could I not see a trail of any kind, it took me an extra 20 minutes to find the cache in all the new growth. I learned not to mistake seasonal changes with permanent scars.

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I think the first cache I carefully hide will be designed to prove or disprove my observations.

 

Hopefully, the damage cachers inevitably do is minimal.

 

It has been my experience that the farther a cache is from a trail or road, the lower the chance of damage.

First you cut down drastically on the number of finders. Second, when the cache is far off the beaten path, cache hunters will take a variety of routes there, so no one route will become over used and the area has time to recover.

 

I've placed over 250 caches and the majority are well off trail. In nearly every instance there is no indication to the casual observer that a cache is in the area. And some of these have dozens of finds over the years. Perhaps a Tom Brown type tracking expert can tell there has been activity there, but it's something a knowledgable person would have to look for.

 

In the few instances where I've seen trails created they were in locations that were a short walk from a trail or road (under about 50 to 75 or so feet), because geocachers will tend to turn off in the same spot and follow the same route.

 

I still doubt cachers would create a 4 ft wide trail, unless it is an incredibly popular cache and still, I don't see a 4 ft wide trail being created. Heck I'm a volunteer trail maintainer and I can't even keep some popular hiking trails clear to a 4 ft width. I suspect it could be an existing social trail that the cache owner used to hide the cache.

 

Of course conditions in arid areas might not mirror what I've seen in the mid Atlantic and New England states, but to create a 4 ft wide trail with a compacted treadway nearly anywere, you're going to need

veritable parade of geocachers.

Edited by briansnat
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@Briansnat,

 

Very interesting about what you just shared. You have enviable experience.

 

I am not so sure that I would class geocachers as casual observers. For me, geocaching has heightened my awareness of the the areas leading to the cache, and the area around it. Now, maybe some of it is imagined, but not much I feel.

 

This 4ft thing is obviously confusing.

 

Examples of my 4ft "trails":

1. On softer soil (mostly very damp where I am now), soil is beat up to some extent up to 4ft wide.

2. On high grass, (a lot of it in meadows where there is no shade) I am seeing bent grass, and some flattened grass appx 4ft wide.

 

What I am not saying:

1. That the grass is uniformly flattened or affected for the entire 4ft, like it has been mowed, hoe'd or driven over by wheeled vehicles, or Abrams Tanks.

2. That the soil is ground up, turned over, or flattened uniformly for the entire 4ft.

 

I know I am new at geocaching, but on the other hand, I am familiar with the trails animals make, vs humans, especially deer.

 

I was just making an observation, not intentionally making a critical comment about this sport. In fact, I fully support most uses of the outdoors, and think "inside" people are really at a loss.

 

Really not much else I can say, except when can I get back out??

 

Hope this helps.

steve.

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@Briansnat,

 

Very interesting about what you just shared. You have enviable experience.

 

I am not so sure that I would class geocachers as casual observers. For me, geocaching has heightened my awareness of the the areas leading to the cache, and the area around it. Now, maybe some of it is imagined, but not much I feel.

 

This 4ft thing is obviously confusing.

 

Examples of my 4ft "trails":

1. On softer soil (mostly very damp where I am now), soil is beat up to some extent up to 4ft wide.

2. On high grass, (a lot of it in meadows where there is no shade) I am seeing bent grass, and some flattened grass appx 4ft wide.

 

What I am not saying:

1. That the grass is uniformly flattened or affected for the entire 4ft, like it has been mowed, hoe'd or driven over by wheeled vehicles, or Abrams Tanks.

2. That the soil is ground up, turned over, or flattened uniformly for the entire 4ft.

 

I know I am new at geocaching, but on the other hand, I am familiar with the trails animals make, vs humans, especially deer.

 

I was just making an observation, not intentionally making a critical comment about this sport. In fact, I fully support most uses of the outdoors, and think "inside" people are really at a loss.

 

Really not much else I can say, except when can I get back out??

 

Hope this helps.

steve.

A 4 ft wide swath of flattened grass is a distinct possibility for caches placed in grassy areas. It's hard not to step on grass.

 

One of the first caches I placed was in a meadow and within a few weeks there was a distinct path through the grass to the cache. I moved it because the path made it way too easy, not because flattened grass is

any sort of permanent damage. Indeed within weeks there was no evidence the cache was ever there.

 

When I refer to trails, I'm talking about a compacted treadway. A path of flattened grass can hardly be considered to be damage unless the treadway becomes compacted. If that happens it can be considered to be somewhat serious damage because it's difficult for the area to recover and can become a foothold for invasive plants or erosion.

 

The only instances where I've seen this occur is where caches were very close to a road, parking or a trail - areas that can hardly be considered sensitive. The sheer numbers of finders and the fact that they are likely to take the same route are the cause.

 

I've also encountered areas where rocks were overturned and rotting stumps were torn apart. It looks bad but it is basically the same thing you see left behind by a bear foraging for grubs. We're not talking serious damage when this happens. When the cache is remove the area will recover quickly.

 

Again, most of the time I've seen this was in places close to a beaten path or pavement.

 

I've found hundreds of backcountry caches. These are the kinds of areas that we need to be concerned about and I've yet to see any sort of real damage around these caches beyond a few bent blades of grass or broken sticks. Heck, sometimes I wish there was more evidence of the cache's location because I wouldn't have so many DNFs.

 

And again I have to mention the possibility of existing social or game trails being used to hide the cache. I have done this myself and I recall in one instance a finder complaining about a trail to the cache. He assumed that the cache caused the trail, but in reality the trail caused the cache to be there.

Edited by briansnat
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Briansnat and Starbrand, while what you say may be true, I have also seen cases where people have made a path to a cache that has never recovered and to this day, two years later, is still visible. No it was not animals or seasonal variations it was cachers. The rangers have since removed the cache due to the damage done to the rocks and fragile flora. Not every one lives in areas that get rain.

I live in an area that gets an average of 286mm rain per year, a few years ago we had none for the whole year.

No amount of denial on your part is going to help the vegetation recover when there is no rain. Incidently we also had 4 farmers a month on average commit suicide because they could see no way out of the drought.

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