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Geocaching without GPS


SF and JB
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Hey,

 

I went geocaching with some people at work awhile ago and we all used GPS. I don't own my own GPS, but I do have a decent Sunto Compass with a folding mirror that I've been using this weekend along with a topographic map. I've also been using Google Earth to determine the bearing and distance from various landmarks to the caches I've sought out.

 

I'd like to know if anyone else has tried this and what their observations are. So far I'm 3 for 5 just using compass, one thing I've learned is that you don't want to use landmarks that are more than ~400m from your cache as too much error seems to get introduced if you exceed this range. Any other input would be awesome!

 

Thanks!

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Heh... sure! The French Resistance, late 1930's -- early 1940's; The Underground Railroad, middle 1800's; Native Americans were pretty good at it, too! Oh yes, can't forget those blasted Colonial Rebels of the later 1700's. :) You can bet that there are groups (outside of geocachers) that are doing it currently.

 

Technology changes, but caching itself isn't a very new concept.

 

I know, it's a little off-track and it wasn't known as geocaching.

 

In direct response to the OP, yes a small number of people do use only compasses and/or maps for geocaching. The question appears in the forums regularly enough.

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I am currious. IS your use of a compass and map something you are doing by choice or is it simply do to a lack of a reciever at your command? I too have several compasses, maps of all varieties, and I also have a few GPS recievers. I use my compass on those occasions where I need to maintain a bearing and do not wish to engage the reciever when all I need is an arrow to follow. But short of occasional use of my map and compass to keep my nav skills in good shape I use the GPS at every turn. Do you think that in the days of early ocean crossing when the sextant was state of the art that there were those that prefered to use only the sun and moon and a celestrial calender to navigate the seas.

I only sound as I do because in the past year I came across two groups of travelers that almost called me lazy for using a GPS. The interesting thing about their attitude for me was that one of the groups were using an Aviation sectional chart with a 1/1000000 scale to navigate on the surface, the resolution for surface navigation is unusable. Even with my GPS in hand I had 1 1/100000 scale map, 1 1/25000 scale and 1/250000 scale map along with my 2 compasses and caliper. They had no idea that I was better prepared than they were even using, but was ready to take out all the stops.

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Hey,

 

I went geocaching with some people at work awhile ago and we all used GPS. I don't own my own GPS, but I do have a decent Sunto Compass with a folding mirror that I've been using this weekend along with a topographic map. I've also been using Google Earth to determine the bearing and distance from various landmarks to the caches I've sought out.

 

I'd like to know if anyone else has tried this and what their observations are. So far I'm 3 for 5 just using compass, one thing I've learned is that you don't want to use landmarks that are more than ~400m from your cache as too much error seems to get introduced if you exceed this range. Any other input would be awesome!

 

Thanks!

 

We done 160+ without a GPS and would still be doing now if we hadn't been lucky enough to win a GPS

Had no intention of buying one - thought it as cheating lol

 

Used to copy and paste any info we needed ... studied the google maps - and own hints and clues (14 white line from junction - looks like life belt - could be bt box - 3 fence panels along - etc)

 

Not easy with wooded areas but there's plenty of caches more in the open

 

Now being GPS'd - we are hunting the woodland caches and doing 'multi's' (which are a nightmare, when you have to keep going home to check next part on pc lol)

 

Never used a compass nor OS map ... couldn't get the hang of it when in the Girl Guides lol

 

Hit a problem one time ..... doing caches along Bexhill seafront - using breakers as markings .... doing great, till I saw the loo and headed there quick smart - came out, was looking for 'Feeling Drained' saw a drain, but couldn't find cache - then lost it (which was the fourth breaker lol) and had to miss out a few caches till I got to 'Wall to Wall' which I remember from the map .... then plodded on merrily

 

Checking back home, I had walked passed the drain and totally forgot it ... once I saw the map it all come back to me

 

Good luck

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Heh... sure! The French Resistance, late 1930's -- early 1940's; The Underground Railroad, middle 1800's; Native Americans were pretty good at it, too! Oh yes, can't forget those blasted Colonial Rebels of the later 1700's. :) You can bet that there are groups (outside of geocachers) that are doing it currently.

 

Technology changes, but caching itself isn't a very new concept.

 

I know, it's a little off-track and it wasn't known as geocaching.

 

In direct response to the OP, yes a small number of people do use only compasses and/or maps for geocaching. The question appears in the forums regularly enough.

 

Those are cool examples, I'll look them up on wiki when I get a chance! I'll look for similar topics on the forum as well. I've got nothing against GPS users, for me though, limiting myself this way adds a neat dimension to the hobby.

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I did my first dozen caches when I was GPSr-less - I did geocaches in a part of a nearby national forest I wanted to spend some more time exploring, anyway. Gave me a nice excuse to spend a couple days hiking.

 

I also tried (and failed) to do a few traditional caches when I was GPSr-less. I found it quite difficult, but not impossible.

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Hey,

 

I went geocaching with some people at work awhile ago and we all used GPS. I don't own my own GPS, but I do have a decent Sunto Compass with a folding mirror that I've been using this weekend along with a topographic map. I've also been using Google Earth to determine the bearing and distance from various landmarks to the caches I've sought out.

 

I'd like to know if anyone else has tried this and what their observations are. So far I'm 3 for 5 just using compass, one thing I've learned is that you don't want to use landmarks that are more than ~400m from your cache as too much error seems to get introduced if you exceed this range. Any other input would be awesome!

 

Thanks!

 

Agree that 400 M is a long shot on a bearing especially if you are in thick woods. With practice it can be done, but you will suffer through a lot of DNFs, especially in the beginning. I have over 300 and they'll keep on coming :) But, with experience some of the more subtile data on the satellite images will begin to make sense and your attack points will become closer. Was 5 for 5 yesterday in the woods with a couple feet of snow. So yes if you want to cache GPS-less it can be done and any cache out there is fair game.

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Tahosa uses map and compass to set caches. Quite a few are multi stage caches which will test your compass and map skills in the back county.

~ Truly a Friend ~ is one example.

 

Yes caches can be set accurately with a good satellite image and the ability to read it, but it is against the guidelines. Finding them with out a GPS however is fine, and in the process a skill way beyond pushing buttons and following a line can be learned. :blink:

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Tahosa uses map and compass to set caches. Quite a few are multi stage caches which will test your compass and map skills in the back county.

~ Truly a Friend ~ is one example.

 

Yes caches can be set accurately with a good satellite image and the ability to read it, but it is against the guidelines. Finding them with out a GPS however is fine, and in the process a skill way beyond pushing buttons and following a line can be learned. :blink:

Oh he takes the GPS to confim his waypoints.

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Tahosa uses map and compass to set caches. Quite a few are multi stage caches which will test your compass and map skills in the back county.

~ Truly a Friend ~ is one example.

 

Yes caches can be set accurately with a good satellite image and the ability to read it, but it is against the guidelines. Finding them with out a GPS however is fine, and in the process a skill way beyond pushing buttons and following a line can be learned. :D

Oh he takes the GPS to confim his waypoints.

 

Yep I've always done that too.. :blink:

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I can't remember the name, but there was a cacher who pretty much did all his caching without the use of gps. Paul Repak wrote a pretty interesting article on Precision Backcountry Navigation.

You mean the cacher MapOnly or Edscott I believe.

Paul Repak? Aaaagh!!! :blink:

Edscott is who I was thinking of. Thanks!

An easy mistake to make, for sure. :D

 

Am I missing something? Wasn't Paul Repak the guy arrested for trinket stealing?!?

 

Matt

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I found my first three caches without a GPS. Didn't have one and wanted to see what it was all about before springing for one. Loved it, bought one. It was the beginning of the end . . . :D

 

Around here, royswkr is well known for caching w/out a GPS. He'll have it along for backup, but I've seen him in action without it.

Am I missing something? Wasn't Paul Repak the guy arrested for trinket stealing?!?

 

Matt

Nope, you didn't miss a thing. :blink: Edited by Too Tall John
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...thought it as cheating lol
There's some confusion here that needs to be cleared up. First of all, this all has to do with how Geocaching first started. Geocaching was imagined shortly after the removal of Selective Availability from GPS on May 1, 2000, because the improved accuracy of the system allowed for a small container to be specifically placed and located. Dave Ulmer of Beavercreek, Oregon hid the first Geocache and posted it to Usenet newsgroup sci.geo.satellite-nav and challenged people to find it with their GPS devices. So Geocaching was born with the intention of using GPS technolgy to find these containers. I discourage people from finding Geocaches without using a GPS device since using a GPS is the whole point. If enough people stopped using GPS devices to find caches then Geocaching would become known as a Find Boxes Hidden In Random Places Game instead of a High Tech Treasure Hunting Game. I have no idea how someone would manage to think using a GPS to find a Geocache is cheating.
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<snip> I discourage people from finding Geocaches without using a GPS device since using a GPS is the whole point. If enough people stopped using GPS devices to find caches then Geocaching would become known as a Find Boxes Hidden In Random Places Game instead of a High Tech Treasure Hunting Game. I have no idea how someone would manage to think using a GPS to find a Geocache is cheating.

We also use a GPSr to find and hide geocaches. But we also must disagree with the highlighted and underscored portion of this posting.

 

We believe the requirement for hiding a geocache, to have it published with proper and usable coordinates, is to use a GPSr to determine the location of the hide. There is no requirement to use a GPSr to find the hide.

Certainly, only a few people are capable of finding geocache without using a GPSr, but rather just a compass and a map (typically a map that shows lat/long). Why would one want to discourage somebody from using proven age-old methods? It could come in handy should a catastrophic event render technology useless. Using the "old way" to keep in practice certainly isn't going to hurt anything, nor is it going to "downgrade" the game recreational aspect of geocaching.

 

There is a growing number of people that use Google maps for such, but that is a technological advent showing on the map just where the cache is (close enough). Not quite the same thing, but we see no reason to discourage that practice either.

 

The use of a GPSr to find a geocache is a way for the masses to also enjoy the recreation, as most are not capable of shooting an azimuth, plotting a course, calculating (correct) distances, etc. Shunning or discouraging those that can do such is well... sort of "off base".

 

We applaud those who are determined enough to make the extra effort to geocache using "obsolescent methods/technology" to accomplish what anyone can do using new technology.

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On at least two caches, I have purposefully left the GPS and maps and compasses in the car.

2c942930-9ab2-47f6-a57f-bbbb2d78993a.jpg

 

The one on the right was a gorgeous walk in a preserve I knew quite well. I figured I didn't want to mar the experience because I was focusing on a GPS. The zoom in shows that the cache was hidden in a tree that was the only tree on the prairie.

 

7051130e-14d4-4acf-a9ae-7ba65398a1a1.jpg

 

The one on the left was my most recent find. I've got a pretty good idea of the area, so I just decided to hoof it and find it. Walked right up to the cache.

 

Can finding be done without a GPS? Sure - with enough preparation.

 

Can hiding be done without a GPS? Not according to the listing guidelines.

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"The zoom in shows that the cache was hidden in a tree that was the only tree on the prairie."

 

Caches like this one are especially easy because you know where they are before you get out of the car.. or in your case before you leave the house. My only other comment is that the coords must be off just a little. The image says it's in the shadow of the tree not the tree itself. :)

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...thought it as cheating lol
There's some confusion here that needs to be cleared up. First of all, this all has to do with how Geocaching first started. Geocaching was imagined shortly after the removal of Selective Availability from GPS on May 1, 2000, because the improved accuracy of the system allowed for a small container to be specifically placed and located. Dave Ulmer of Beavercreek, Oregon hid the first Geocache and posted it to Usenet newsgroup sci.geo.satellite-nav and challenged people to find it with their GPS devices. So Geocaching was born with the intention of using GPS technolgy to find these containers. I discourage people from finding Geocaches without using a GPS device since using a GPS is the whole point. If enough people stopped using GPS devices to find caches then Geocaching would become known as a Find Boxes Hidden In Random Places Game instead of a High Tech Treasure Hunting Game. I have no idea how someone would manage to think using a GPS to find a Geocache is cheating.

 

I understand that here it is said that geocaching was first imagined after SA was removed in around may 1 2000. Although it was not a large scale item at the time, long before 2000, more like 1996 I was already using my reciever in the foot hills of California to locate certain stashes that were more or less passed around between a rather diverse group of people. When I packed up my house, sold it and moved here to Australia on April 10th 2001 I had by that time located several dozen stashes that by now are lost and gone unless they were absorbed into the new geocaching as it had been called by thw time I signed on with this site in early 2002. After I signed on in 2002, I doid not engage in any geocaching until this year as I had little time to do the work I had to do here in Australia until it was done late in 2009 allowing me to retire at 40 years. But, I could have fit in some geocaching in all this time if it were not for the way geocaching had been steering itself. When I first dabbled in geocaching in 96 it had an almost clever clandistine community feel to it that has not survived beyond the year 2000 or so. I see geocaching today in 2010 as a good thing of course, but unlike what I first knew it to be it is now pretty much another technology that could very easily one day become a commercial growth like the mobile phone has done for the radio reciever.

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Geocaching was born with the intention of using GPS technolgy to find these containers. I discourage people from finding Geocaches without using a GPS device since using a GPS is the whole point. If enough people stopped using GPS devices to find caches then Geocaching would become known as a Find Boxes Hidden In Random Places Game instead of a High Tech Treasure Hunting Game. I have no idea how someone would manage to think using a GPS to find a Geocache is cheating.

We couldn't disagree more! We challenge you to find ANY online satellite maps that DOESN'T use GPS (Global Positioning System) technology (not necessarily a GPSr).

 

We found about 500 without the benefit of a GPSr and we actually encourage new cachers to start without one, mostly so they will have greater appreciation of having one (but also, while rare, it would be a shame to shell out that much only to find one doesn't enjoy [GASP], have the time for, etc. geocaching).

 

The biggest problems with using online sattelite maps is they are much less helpful in many non-urban areas (less distinguishable landmarks) and in some cases the resolution is too poor to be of any use.

 

The two greatest advantages we have found using a GPSr are overcoming the previously mentioned problems and identifying the relative location to other caches. While we didn't find it too hard to determine the location of a cache and then go find it, a GPSr helps you better identify the other caches inroute and/or nearby. Furthermore, there are still some caches that we couldn't have found without the aid of online sattelite maps.

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In the first few weeks I was caching me and my buddy went on outings without a GPS.

 

The wooded areas we searched were REALLY difficult to find caches in without a GPS. We found one because we knew the structure it was in (a water-house in our local preserve).

 

It CAN be done, but in my opinion it isn't recommended.

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Paul Repak wrote a pretty interesting article on Precision Backcountry Navigation.

 

 

Paul Repak, a Professional Guide, Canoe Paddler, 90 miler contestant, and leader for the National Camp School (Adirondack Voyageurs) was arrested back in February for stealing geocaches.

 

See original story:

 

http://romesentinel.com/news?newsid=20100217-141107.

 

Don't let this article fool you. It was more than trinkets Paul had stolen. Paul stole geocaches from the Utica/Rome area all the way to the Central Adirondacks. Most of the geocaches were Ammo Cans. He stole the Geocache at the Adirondack Museum (Private Property) a total of 9 times. At one point the geocache (Ammo Can) was welded to a chain. Paul returned the next day to cut the chain with bolt cutters. All of this while he was visiting the museum with his Voyageur kids. He raised havoc on the geocaching community for 4 years. Stealing a estimate of over 500 geocaches.

 

When Paul was caught in Rome, NY. The geocache owner was on their way to check the maintance of a small (Magnetic key holder) geocache....too be sure it was still there. As they arrived they noticed a man run from the geocache. There was only one vehivle in the parking lot. They staked him out. When he refused to come back, the Geocache owners called the police.

Paul then returned to his car. The cops questioned him if he knew anything about geocaching. He denied he did. They asked him if he was just at the geocache site where the magnetic key holder was, he denied it. They held him and got a search warrant and found the Key Holder in his pack pack. A listing a geocaches in his car, and a 2 year old log book from a geocache in his glove compartment.

 

Last week, Paul Repak received an ACD (Adjournment in Contemplation of Dismissal). If he does not commit (or alleged to commit) these types of crimes for six months the case is dismissed.

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So far I do not own a gps :anicute: but I'm not just gonna stand around and wait for it, my buddy and I go geocaching with some necessities:

 

-googlemap picture or two PER cache

-copy/paste/summarize geocache info

-water bottles

-snacks

-backpack for carrying everything

 

We look at the pictures and make/determine little land marks that lead usually straight to the cache.

So far every geocache I've found 28 and counting (not much I kno) has been with only those listed above. I'm getting my dakota 20 soon though ;)

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