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geocaching in the winter


gschoen
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Hello friends,

 

I am brand new to geocaching, and I am trying to learn everything I can before I start. I do not even have my GPS unit yet, but was wondering; do people do geocaching during the winter? I assume they do, but I am from Northern Illinois and wondered how difficult it might be to locate a cache under snow cover and ice? This will be a family activity for us, so our two daughters, five and ten years old will be trekking out there in the winter elements with us. Is it better we try out this new sport in the Spring? I am excited and want to start now, but don't want it to be too hard for the girls right off the bat, causing negative experiences for them. Anyone out there who can advise us on this? Thank you so much.

 

Julie

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We cache whenever the weather is nice enough. Some days we have to dig through a bit of snow and some days we don't. One advantage we have over you is that most of the time the snow in town doesn't stick around very long and also our temps will get into the low 40s most winter days. :)

 

You have to do what you feel is best for your group. If it means sitting and working puzzle caches to find later, so be it. :)

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We actually geocache more in the winter than the summer. No bugs, no sweltering heat, etc. Just make sure you dress for it, pick the right days (not storming or too windy) and choose the right caches to look for, and you can have some great winter outings! To us there is nothing more invigorating that a nice winter walk in some woodland, or park.

I don't know how much snow you get, and that can be a concern for some caches. Around here, the best hiders rarely hide on the ground for just that reason.

Of course, be prepared, especially for the little one who might get cold easier, to cut your day short, and retire for hot chocolate somewhere. But even that can be fun as a family.

Maybe scout out some caches beforehand, for the first two or three. That way you will know if they are buried under too much snow or not.

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We cache whenever the weather is nice enough. Some days we have to dig through a bit of snow and some days we don't. One advantage we have over you is that most of the time the snow in town doesn't stick around very long and also our temps will get into the low 40s most winter days. :)

 

You have to do what you feel is best for your group. If it means sitting and working puzzle caches to find later, so be it. :)

 

I thank you for your response here, it gave us more insight on the whole winter geocaching thing.

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We actually geocache more in the winter than the summer. No bugs, no sweltering heat, etc. Just make sure you dress for it, pick the right days (not storming or too windy) and choose the right caches to look for, and you can have some great winter outings! To us there is nothing more invigorating that a nice winter walk in some woodland, or park.

I don't know how much snow you get, and that can be a concern for some caches. Around here, the best hiders rarely hide on the ground for just that reason.

Of course, be prepared, especially for the little one who might get cold easier, to cut your day short, and retire for hot chocolate somewhere. But even that can be fun as a family.

Maybe scout out some caches beforehand, for the first two or three. That way you will know if they are buried under too much snow or not.

 

Your response was very helpful, thank you for taking the time to reply. I think we will do as you suggest and start small and research a bit before we jump right in. Happy geocaching to you!!

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we learned to cache in january. it was a bitter cold winter.

 

it takes longer, but you can do it just fine.

 

in winter we always carry poles for poking (a container usually has a distinctive sound), ans sometimes a broom, pick, or small shovel.

 

it's a different kind of adventure in winter. you don't go through caches so quick, hikes take longer, and you have to carry more gear.

 

some kids like hardcore adventure; some don't. your kids won't like it if the cold is too much; keep their hands and feet warm.

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If you're winter caching in sub-freezing temps (sub-zero especially), be sure to be careful opening plastic cache containers. Some of them can get very brittle in extremely cold temperatures. If you don't warm them up somehow, you're bound to break a lid.

 

great tip, thanks for sharing!!

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we learned to cache in january. it was a bitter cold winter.

 

it takes longer, but you can do it just fine.

 

in winter we always carry poles for poking (a container usually has a distinctive sound), ans sometimes a broom, pick, or small shovel.

 

it's a different kind of adventure in winter. you don't go through caches so quick, hikes take longer, and you have to carry more gear.

 

some kids like hardcore adventure; some don't. your kids won't like it if the cold is too much; keep their hands and feet warm.

 

Thank you for the tip on what supplies to bring along. Great to know. We are hoping our girls are going to be into the hardcore adventure and really enjoy it. I can't wait to get out there and try it!!

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Our primary caching area is in Maritime Canada so we get lots of snow. One thing you could do is advertise a challenge to other cachers in your local area to put out winter friendly caches (usually 3-4 ft off the ground or higher depending on the amount of snow you get). Thats what one of our local cachers started. So now we are all trying to place 3 - 4 winter friendly caches in the area with a chance to win some donated prizes at a breakfast event in Apr. Prizes are going to awarded for best cache, best series, etc etc (you get the idea).

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Another newbie interjecting with a winter geocaching question if that's alright...

 

Just got into this hobby a few days ago, and in my 4th cache ever (found earlier today) was a Travel Bug wanting to go Idaho. Well what a coincidence, I'm going skiing in Sun Valley at the end of the month! So I took it but looking at the area's listings none of the non-micro caches were found in wintertime, I'm assuming because the snow is so deep (right, snow gods?!).

 

Plan is right now that I have ten days there and I'll just take the TB and see if I can find a solution while actually there, but was wondering if anyone had suggestions beyond that? Would be very disappointing to take the Travel Bug all the way to Idaho only to bring it BACK...

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I too am in Northern Illinois, but only moved here from Houston a little over a year ago so dealing with the winter weather was new to me last winter.

 

I actually enjoy caching in the winter here because some caches are actually easier to find because any dense foliage or tall grasses will be dead. I try to avoid days with too much snow on the ground as it can make some caches virtually impossible to find (though the tips about a pole and broom are ones I had not thought of).

 

I found that it helped to properly dress for winter caching. I always wear a good pair of waterproof hiking boots with good thermal wool socks and then layers of outerwear. I find that if I am hiking through the woods I warm up after a while so layers is helpful as you can shed the outer layers. Gloves without finger tips are useful so you can effectively work the GPSr and sign logs without having to take gloves on and off.

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I actually prefer caching in winter becuase you don't have to deal with bugs, muggles, poison ivy, or humidity! As long as there isn't a huge amount of snow or sub zero temps, I bundle up and go. I save summer for fishing and golfing.

 

I would load some into your GPS, and see if you can find a few. I would be shocked if you couldn't find a couple!

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hand warmers, especially with kids.

 

and i'm partial to glove liners. that way when i take off my gloves, my fingers don't freeze.

 

oh! and for caching i like full-sized gloves with really tough rubber palms (don't get worn through when you dig), full cuff with drawstring (goes halfway up my arm and keeps snow out) and idiot loops (so when i take 'em off i don't lose 'em).

 

i wear gaiters over my boots, which adds another layer of warmth and protection and keeps the snow out of my boots.

 

let's face it: if you're winter caching you are going to be spending some time on your hands and knees, digging through nasty crusty snow and you'll want tough equipment that will stand up to the abuse.

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I haven't cached in the snow or ice yet but so far I have a cache in all the other extremes so it's a matter of time.

I have cached in temps over 100 degrees, last night I was caching at 25 degrees. I have cached in the wind and in the rain.

I think the only reason I won't quickly cache in the snow or ice is merely the ability to get near a cache location (trailhead or otherwise) when there is snow or ice on the ground.

 

I just remembered that I have crossed snow to get to a cache location. The cache was missing though so it doesn't count.

I also don't count the icy knee-high grass I hiked through to get a FTF. It was just barely below zero and it wasn't solid ice but more frozen frost.

 

I do plan to get at least one snow cache this winter if I actually get to the ski lifts.

 

I am actually liking this time of year. NO spiders and last summer we had some big ones.

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Do people winter cache?

 

Geocaching StatisticsThere are 954,882 active caches worldwide. In the last 7 days, there have been 460,564 new logs written by 65,175 account holders. Check out the recent logs or photos.

 

This is from today, december 10th.

 

65,175 people cached this week. Or at least logged. There could have been more caching with them.

 

We've been getting an unusually cold spell.

 

I went to an appointment recently out of my area, and as usual I took cache info and got there early to cache in this area I have never cached in.

 

It was 9 degrees out.

 

I did not go geocaching.

 

Sorry, wimped out.

I'll go again soon though!!

 

 

(edit: those statistics however, are worldwide. It is not winter all over the planet it is true. But the high number of people caching I'm sure does not just reflect the areas of the planet it is summer right now)

Edited by Sol seaker
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It's funny, because I recently posted a note in the Canada forums about winter caching.

 

As it has been said a few times, winter caching can be quite exciting, and a very different experience.

 

Depending on how much snow you get down there, it can take a difficulty 1-star cache to 3-star.

 

I have two suggestions for winter caching:

 

1) Check the weather before you go out. I mean, right before you go out. Living in Michigan, there is a saying that goes "If you don't like the weather, wait 10 minutes." Knowing what the weather will be will help you prepare for going out.

 

2) Prepare for anything. I mean anything. Personally, I never thought I'd have a deer run into my truck after walking 30 feet away from it. But, winter caching can bring around some interesting experiences for caching. Bring extra clothing (especially socks and boots), bring snacks, bring pencils since pens don't work below freezing, and bring LOTS of extra or fully charged batteries.

 

On of my favourite caches was a puzzle cache that I ended up finishing after hiking 4 miles through 38 inches of snow, while it was -12°F with 30mph winds. I guess I'm just a glutton for punishment. But, once I found it, I think it felt more rewarding since I found it in the snow.

Edited by The Zachalope
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But, once I found it, I think it felt more rewarding since I found it in the snow.

 

if you want to feel truly rewarded, go in bitter cold at night. on iced-over trails. up a mountain. after foot surgery. while dragging a 20-pound TB.

 

be certain that while you're carrying unnecessary items that you include a small stereo system so you can play "we are the champions" when you find the cache. equally inutile but also fun would be a bottle of champagne and a set of glasses.

 

you know, as long as you're carrying the big pack and all.

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Thanks, but I do not do well in the cold. Temp today was 24, with a wind chill of 9º. About 4" of snow on the ground. The 472' walk to the first cache was a bit much. Searched for 20 minutes. Gave up because I was too cold. The second one had a beautiful view across the Delaware, and 98' of walk. Found it fairly easily. The log was both soaking wet, and frozen. Interesting combination. Fot the third one, the parking area was too icy and muddy and hilly for me to want to attempt. Hey! I found one cache today!!!!

I decided against hiding the 22d cache in the Grumpy Dolphin series today, because of the wind chill, the half mile walk over ice to the hiding spot, and the newspaper warning that the US Army Corps of Engineers would be in the neighborhood detonating armaments spewed around by the 1926 explosion. Oh, well. Tomorrow's a new day! But, No. I don't deal well with the bitter cold.

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I suspect a lot of cachers get started the way we did: get a GPSr for Christmas and that sparks an interest in trying out geocaching, which means winter caching. Our first cache was in the woods in the snow, and a few our our first efforts were DNF because of snow covering the hide. I suppose it really comes down to where you live - Illinois is presumably a much more challenging environment to hide snow-friendly caches then here in western Washington State. I would definitely check the nearby cache logs and looks for caches that others have found recently and go after those. Good luck!

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I suspect a lot of cachers get started the way we did: get a GPSr for Christmas and that sparks an interest in trying out geocaching, which means winter caching. Our first cache was in the woods in the snow, and a few our our first efforts were DNF because of snow covering the hide. I suppose it really comes down to where you live - Illinois is presumably a much more challenging environment to hide snow-friendly caches then here in western Washington State. I would definitely check the nearby cache logs and looks for caches that others have found recently and go after those. Good luck!

Yep. First finds were on 12/26/2003. The first ever was a tupperware in a black garbage bag. We sure are glad the garbage bag part has gone away in this area.

 

Found 8 caches last Sunday. It was a great afternoon and about 36 degrees. Dressed warm and had a great time.

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The log was both soaking wet, and frozen. Interesting combination.

 

Lol. I found one like that here in Illinois, but on this one the cache container had filled with water which had turned to ice. The log and everything else in the cache was frozen in a block of ice. The ice fell from the container fairly easily, but there I was with an entire cache preserved in ice. Unfortunately I did not bring an ice pick :laughing: so I logged a needs maintenance and returned after a thaw.

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We live a stones throw off of the lake in Michigan and love caching in the winter. Some of out funniest incidents have happened in the winter. The kids love laughing at dad while he is barried up to his waist in the snow. One sunny afternoon we were out caching and I decided to try for a cache near the road. Which was not a problem, except that I was laying down trying to reach the cache container when the snow plow came by. My son hid behind a large rock and I was covered in road snow. Now we have also found logs that were frozen in place that we had to come back for when the weather changed. Also caching in the winter knocks down all the under brush and kills the bugs. You just have to pick the right caches to go after and dress correctly. Besides it keeps the cabin fever at bay till spring.

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I live north of you in Milwaukee. I am going to spend some time going through the lists of caches in nearby suburbs that I frequent for ones that I might be able to get in the winter. I hate to go all winter without finding any.

 

I will probably go for ones in parking lots and park and rides.

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Hello from Rushford Minnesota.

 

I've been known to cache at all times of the day or night in any weather...even winter.

 

It is alot tougher I admit. It is a little easier though when one uses the attributes accordingly. Also, caches that seem too easy to have a hint in the summer are much different in the winter. IMHO, every cache should have a hint.

 

Geocaching, to me, is the perfect activity. It has introduced me to so any nice people and has brought me to so many amazing places that I'd hate to see it suffer just because the ground happens to be white. Therefore, every cache I've placed after Nov. 1 has been winter friendly (at least 50cm off the ground), and I've even started a bookmark off winter friendly caches:

http://www.geocaching.com/bookmarks/view.a...b6-a8eb910bef49

 

Maybe this will help other cachers know which caches to visit during the winter months.

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Check the attributes on the Cache page, and it will tell you if it can be found in the winter.

 

If the cache has been around long enough (at least a year or more) I actually prefer checking old logs rather than attributes. I find the attributes to generally be subjective, based on owners opinion. The logs, on the other hand, give a pretty clear picture of winter activity for that cache.

 

The major problem I run into with winter caching is finding places to park. Whether or not the cache is doable, if I can park I have a shot at it. I do get more dnf's in the winter, but its all part of the fun.

 

Winter caching may need a different approach, different mindset, different equipment, but in the end its the same fun.

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