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Just me or a learning curve?


Brian Miville
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So here I am just starting out with geocaching. But I have not been having much success. My first time out I went looking for three (2 easy rated) and only found one. Granted it appeared one was possibly tampered with and missing. But then today I logged 9 caches in my GPS to find out in Francestown, NH, and wound up finding only 1! And mind you some of these (I think MOST!) were supposedly rated on the easier side. I usually read the logs, note the hints, and yet I still walked away with nothing. It is a bit frustrating and discouraging, and I can't help but wonder if this is just the pangs of getting started or if I am just plain horrible at this. My score so far is 2 found and 11 searched for but no found. If this was baseball I would be a laughing stock right now! :( Did everyone else have por success getting started? What is even MORE frustrating is that the 9 I went looking for today I read the logs and discovered someone else was out there searching for the same ones, but apparently later in the day. They managed to find most of them where I did not. :) So I know the darn things were there. So disheartened I wonder "well then what am I doing wrong!?" I am using what is generall considered a pretty good GPS (a Garmin 60Cx....I have been using this for bushwhacking in the White Mountains and trust it with my life...well as long as I have charged batteries I do B) ), so I don't think that is it. I spend what I consider a good deal of time searching (I think I was averaging about 10-15 minutes today, but that was because I had only so much time to work with so I forced myself to look only so long.....but on one of the first 3 I ever went looking for I spent a good 20 minutes looking to no avail.)

 

So is it really a "learning thing" or am I really THAT bad at this?

 

Brian

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My first few times were a disaster ... see if you can't contact someone in your area to hang with for a bit.

 

Continue with low difficulty ratings and larger sized caches.

 

Next, Ask this question:

 

If I were a cache where would I hide?

 

FWIW:

Worked one this morning and if it had been a snake I'd have been bitten. I was guilty of over thinking.

 

WELCOME TO THE INSANITY.

Edited by humboldt flier
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Welcome to the obsession. Kudos to you for going out in the cold weather to begin this hobby too. That is impressive

As I am still a newbie compared to many I still have those first days fresh in my nightmar.....I mean memories. There is most certainly a learning curve. Learning your own equipment, learning how to see things out of place, learning how certain cacher's hide their caches, and learning all the little tips that the seasoned cacher give you even when they don't know it. The more you find the easier it will get, but there will still be the evil hides that will haunt you. I just DNFed 3 micros myself, cause I suck at them, but I was happy to have any logs in my "last 30 days" on my profile, even if they were blue faces.

Regular size ones are easier, most of the time. Pile of sticks, or here in CT, the rock wall is where a high percentage are hidden. Note the cacher's name, because you may find the hide the same way. Like the guy who hangs things in pine trees here, or the hollow tree hides. Each state is a bit different too. I learned this in Florida and they were all hidden under palm frons, but in the east coast it is more POS. Sometimes you just have to step back and think, if I were the hider, where would I put it? and waahlah, there it is.

Don't be discouraged, we have all been there, even if it is not always admitted.

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Not really sure what to tell you, our family of 5 has just decided to start geocaching. We looked for 5 yesterday, and didn't find any of them. Hubs and I are going to try again tomorrow while the kids are at school and see if we have better luck without a bunch of "MOM, DAD...I'm hungry, I'm thirsty, I have to go to the bathroom's" LOL Better luck next time!

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So here I am just starting out with geocaching. But I have not been having much success. My first time out I went looking for three (2 easy rated) and only found one. Granted it appeared one was possibly tampered with and missing. But then today I logged 9 caches in my GPS to find out in Francestown, NH, and wound up finding only 1! And mind you some of these (I think MOST!) were supposedly rated on the easier side. I usually read the logs, note the hints, and yet I still walked away with nothing. It is a bit frustrating and discouraging, and I can't help but wonder if this is just the pangs of getting started or if I am just plain horrible at this. My score so far is 2 found and 11 searched for but no found. If this was baseball I would be a laughing stock right now! :( Did everyone else have por success getting started? What is even MORE frustrating is that the 9 I went looking for today I read the logs and discovered someone else was out there searching for the same ones, but apparently later in the day. They managed to find most of them where I did not. :) So I know the darn things were there. So disheartened I wonder "well then what am I doing wrong!?" I am using what is generall considered a pretty good GPS (a Garmin 60Cx....I have been using this for bushwhacking in the White Mountains and trust it with my life...well as long as I have charged batteries I do B) ), so I don't think that is it. I spend what I consider a good deal of time searching (I think I was averaging about 10-15 minutes today, but that was because I had only so much time to work with so I forced myself to look only so long.....but on one of the first 3 I ever went looking for I spent a good 20 minutes looking to no avail.)

 

So is it really a "learning thing" or am I really THAT bad at this?

 

Brian

 

No you are not bad at it. If cachers are honest, and some are not, they would tell of their multiple DNF's when they first started looking. After you find a few regulars under a pile of sticks or rocks you will develop an eye for seeing hiding spots. Don't forget to expand your search. That means the cords are not always accurate. The cache can be 30 feet from where the GPS is telling you. Go to any Meet 'n' Greets in your area and talk to the cachers that attend. Most will be very helpful. If they have done a cache you can not find they can tell you where to look. By the way if you log an attended for those meetings it counts as a find.

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There is a definite learning curve. I got luck on our first few, the Nick half of our team is a natural born finder. He's the kind that really CAN find a needle in a haystack :)

Some advice. Trust your life with your GPSr if you want but don't count on it to take you directly to a geocache. By the time you figure in the accuracy of your unit and add that to accuracy of the unit that was used to place the cache you could be looking at a 50' or even larger radius where the cache could be hidden. We usually start looking more at the area and less at the GPS when we are 20 or so feet from the coords and sometimes have to expand the search.

Look for things that don't quite look right. Sometimes you can't even say why, just "that place looks wrong". A lot of times that will lead you to the cache.

Look for regular sized caches until you get a little experience. This is second hand advice, our first few were micros and one was a nano that was about the size of a pencil eraser (the kind you buy and add to the pencil).

If you know someone else that caches you see if you could tag along with them a time or two. The best kind of experience to learn from is other people's, you can pick up a lot of tricks in a short period that way. (again, second hand advice, I've always been a non-conformist that does things the hard way.

When you start to figure it out I think you will love it. Good luck!

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There is a definite learning curve. I got luck on our first few, the Nick half of our team is a natural born finder. He's the kind that really CAN find a needle in a haystack :)

Some advice. Trust your life with your GPSr if you want but don't count on it to take you directly to a geocache. By the time you figure in the accuracy of your unit and add that to accuracy of the unit that was used to place the cache you could be looking at a 50' or even larger radius where the cache could be hidden. We usually start looking more at the area and less at the GPS when we are 20 or so feet from the coords and sometimes have to expand the search.

Look for things that don't quite look right. Sometimes you can't even say why, just "that place looks wrong". A lot of times that will lead you to the cache.Look for regular sized caches until you get a little experience. This is second hand advice, our first few were micros and one was a nano that was about the size of a pencil eraser (the kind you buy and add to the pencil).

If you know someone else that caches you see if you could tag along with them a time or two. The best kind of experience to learn from is other people's, you can pick up a lot of tricks in a short period that way. (again, second hand advice, I've always been a non-conformist that does things the hard way.

When you start to figure it out I think you will love it. Good luck!

The bolded item is outstanding advice! The rest of the post is darned good as well.

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Thanks for the advice folks!

 

I do realize that the general variance on a GPS means I could be looking at a decent sized circle, so that is why between the logs and clue's I try to go right where my GPS says the coordinates are and then pocket it and start looking around the broader area. I guess I just need to get my "eye" trained. B) I am almost embarassed to admit this but..... one of the ones I went looking for today it appears someone (the owner I assume) did some "maintinance" to the area. I say this because I went to where my GPS said it should be, and when I got to the spot I noticed a lot of footprints had turned the snow all flat in the area and there was sawdust all over the place where a bunch of sticks had been cut. Now, this was in a spot where it would have to have been the most extreme of coincidences for a person who is not the owner, or someone who knows where the cash is, to have been, let alone the sticks that were cut. So here I had a perfect giant "X" to mark the spot...or at least area. And I got ZILCH! Yup, I need to train my eye a bit better indeed! :):(

 

Brian

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I do realize that the general variance on a GPS means I could be looking at a decent sized circle, so that is why between the logs and clue's I try to go right where my GPS says the coordinates are and then pocket it and start looking around the broader area. I guess I just need to get my "eye" trained.

 

That is a good start, but realize that broader area can be as many as 50 feet in each direction from where your GPS says it is.

 

Training your eyes to look for something out of place is a good idea. Those rocks that just don't look quite right, those sticks that seem to be stacked too nicely to be natural. Also check out the usual spots, rock crevices, under boulders, inside hollow stumps and trees, alongside down trees (particularly is places where branches split or in the hole left by the root ball).

 

And stay away from micros at first. Even veteran cachers can find them frustrating.

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Welcome aboard. Keep at it. It takes afew to see how different people hide them. Don't expect the GPS to put you right at the cache. When it says your there, put the GPS away and start looking. Look for anything out of place or man made. If you were the hider where would you hide it. Expand the search out incircles. Sometimes it can be 50-60 feet off. Start off with larger size caches, much easier to find. If i'm having a tough time I'll back off and use the GPS to come into the cache area again. Some micros I've found took a few trips. Funny some times you walk rightup and find it, other times it takes a while.

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Just hang in there - it takes a few times out, but you will get the hang of it. If you can get in touch with some others in your area you might try to go out as a group. I still am learning, but have learned a lot in the short time I have been caching.

 

Read the forums, check out the information on the geocaching.com website and keep hunting - before you know it you will find a zone :)

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A common recommendation for beginners is to stick with small small.gif size, regular regular.gif size, and large large.gif size caches. Until you're more experienced, avoid micro micro.gif size caches, some of which are smaller than most beginners can imagine (sometimes called "nanos"). Save those for later, after you have some experience.

 

Also, stick with caches that have a difficulty rating of no more than 2 stars stars2.gif. Save the more difficult ones for later. You may also want to choose caches with easy terrain ratings. (The difficulty rating tells you how hard it is to find the cache once you get there. The terrain rating tells you how hard it is to get there.)

 

Under ideal conditions, a consumer GPSr will be accurate to about 3m (10'). That applies both to your GPSr, and to the GPSr of the cache owner, so you may find the container 15-20' from ground zero under ideal conditions. Under less than ideal conditions, both GPSr readings can be much less accurate.

 

It might help to look at some of the cache containers available online. For example, check out the cache containers sold by Groundspeak.

 

Also, take a look at the Pictures - Cool Cache Containers (CCC's) thread in the forums.

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It took me three tries to find my first cache, which was a relatively simple one in a large container. First time I put the coordinates in wrong and it had me pointed toward the middle of a golf course, which didn't seem right. Second time I didn't realize how far off the GPS and coordinates might put me, so I looked all around in the area where it pointed, when it was actually a little way across the trail from where I was scouring. Third time I brought my hubby along and we finally found it. I've now been caching, albeit at a much slower pace than many, since 2002. I still get quite a few DNF (did not finds), sometimes several in a row. Sometimes you are in the right mindset for for finding a particular cache and sometimes you aren't. Sometimes your GPS or their coordinates just aren't close enough for you to look in the right area. Sometimes the cache is missing or has been moved or has been buried by nature. Sometimes the hider has been extra sneaky and has it hidden in a tricky manner. I just always go out there trying to be ready to give it a good go and not be upset with myself if I can't find it. Sometimes I return another time to look for the cache, and sometimes even that doesn't help. I'm not a fan of having other cachers (particularly ones who have already found the cache) "help" me find it or of the whole "phone a friend" type of caching. For me the fun is in figuring it out myself. If someone else shows me where it is, then it just doesn't count for me and I will not ever get to claim a find on a cache. I had this happen once when some other cachers came upon my hubby and me when we were having troubles finding a cache. The other folks found it and showed us where it was, which just ruined the whole thing for me :) Ah well...that's way off topic B) Welcome to caching and don't let yourself get discouraged. As time goes by you will become more familiar with the ways in which caches are most often hidden and will develop what is known as "geosense" that will help cut down on those DNFs.

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...

...

 

So here I am just starting out with geocaching. But I have not been having much success.

...

...

Did everyone else have por success getting started?

...

...

So I know the darn things were there. So disheartened I wonder "well then what am I doing wrong!?"

...

...

So is it really a "learning thing" or am I really THAT bad at this?

 

Brian

 

The best advice I've seen experienced cachers give noobs like you and me in other posts is...relax and have fun. Caching is supposed to be FUN. If it ever stops being fun, then stop and take a break. :) Nobody will think any less of you for doing so. In fact, nobody in the forums would notice unless you made it a point to tell them.

 

The most important thing is to enjoy the activity. Many cachers say that finally finding the cache is incidental. It is the journey that is the most fun. Spending time with friends and family. Enjoying nature and traveling to locations you might not otherwise have a reason to go to. If you are relaxed you will probably have an easier time finding the caches. I don't think as well when I am stressed.

 

The first cache I tried to find I think I spent 30 minutes, turning-over rocks and looking in bushes. Frustrated, I went back home and studied the cache log for a while...trying to find clues to help me. Finally we realized it was a skirt find. We had never thought to lift-up the metal skirt for the light pole. When we did, there it was.

 

I would reserve judgment until you've tried at least 100 caches. Part of finding them is just getting more experience looking in different areas and finding different kinds of caches and making a mental note of what was hidden and how it was hidden and what you could have done differently to find it faster. I learn as much from my failures as I do from my successes. Both can teach.

 

I had one cache that I could not find.

 

Then a few weeks later, I came at the cache from a completely different direction. Except I did not realize I had already not found this one. But because of the direction I came from, it was like 5 times harder to get to it....only to realize that it was the same cache. My son even tried to tell me it was the same cache, but I ignored him. :/ I never did find the darn thing. I got lots of exercise. It was a real challenge getting back to our van. My legs were like jello and I wasn't wearing proper shoes and I had thorns and little rocks that had crept in which made walking all the more miserable.

 

But I count this "failure" as one of the most fun and interesting cache adventures I've ever gone on!! So I guess my point is [finding cache] does not necessarily equal [the most fun you'll have]

 

Welcome!

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I've only been geocaching for about a month now but have been able to make most of the finds I attempt (I attribute it to too much time playing video games where a common feature is looking for hidden treasures). Though, there's definitely a learning curve when it comes to the variety of containers and hiding styles. My first DNF was a magnetic number decal on a power box with the log stuck on the back, that I didn't know would qualify as a cache since it wasn't really a container of any kind. Later I had searched out another one where the magnetic decal was the green "official geocache" one shown in the Groundspeak shop so when I saw that, I knew to look for such things in the future and sure enough I found the one I had missed in less than a minute when I came back to it.

 

So yeah, most of the ones I've missed so far seem to involve a micro cache located at a site with bushes and trees along with rock covered ground. Sometimes it's in a clever spot or maybe it's just under rock #178 and I only turn over 120 rocks before moving on. :huh:

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Once you are about 50-100 feet away, start looking for where YOU would hide a cache if you had one with you right now.

 

Hopefully, the person who hid the cache did not just wander aimlessly into the woods and drop the cache at random. Most likely (plenty of exceptions though) there will be a large, unique or interesting object at or near the cache.

 

Walk away, and come back from another direction. DON'T ASSUME that you can see the cache when you look at it. It is amazing how well (and simply) a cache can be hidden in plain sight. My wife found a 2 quart container immediately, but I searched for it in vain for 10 minutes. She even told me it was within 10 feet and I couldn't find it! There was a tree branch on the ground by her foot, and the container was under a bend in the branch, covered by leaves. I was looking right at it and didn't see it FROM MY ANGLE. But when I stood on the other side of the branch, it was easy to see.

 

Believe it or not, the time will come when you spot a likely place from 100 feet away ... and your guess is correct ... and you are actually disappointed that you find the cache so soon! SERIOUSLY!

 

Here is an idea. Keep a personal strategy log. Every time you are surprised by where you found something, write it down. Then, when you are stumped in the future, look through that list and see if you really looked everywhere!

 

TWICE in the same day, I found a small cache stuck in a tree about 15 feet above my head. These were the first and last caches of a 6 cache day. What is hard to believe is what I went through to find that last cache. I looked in a lot of great hiding places. In a couple hollow logs. Under the logs and branches. I walked away and returned only to come up empty. I was really frustrated. It was getting late and the sun was setting. As I walked away in frustration, I glanced toward the sunset AND SAW THE CACHE UP THE TREE! Yup; I didn't think to look above, even though my first cache that day was in a tree!!!

 

And remember. While some caches are barely hidden at all, others are diabolically hidden!

 

Imaging finding a container covered by a pile of sticks. The container contains a taunting note "not the cache". Guess where the cache was? Yup. One of those sticks was hollowed out and a small container (bison tube) was shoved up inside!!!

 

Good luck, and happy geocaching!

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The more you cache, the better you get at spotting or figuring out cache locations.

 

If I get really annoyed with a hide, sometimes it helps to just let it be for a little while and then come back to it. I'll usually do that with hiking trails where I know that I'll be back tracking to get back to my car. You spend fifteen or twenty minutes growling and stomping around the woods in frustration, and then when you come back to it after awhile you'll find it in a couple of minutes.

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Thanks for all the advice folks. Without realizing it I was mostly searching for micro sized caches. I was going for what was near me or near where I would be without regard to size or difficulty. So for now I will try for small sized caches or larger and try to stick on the easy side until I get my game on. :blink:

 

Brian

 

Micros aren't always "impossible" to find for the newbie. Some of them are pretty straightforward (although some are tricky!) They can be challenging but even a noob like me will find most of them eventually. Most of my 40 or so finds so far have been micros, simply because they seem to be the predominant size around my area. If I'd decided not to go after micros at first I would hardly have any finds at all!

 

Your initial post mentioned a "learning curve" and that's right on. I've been stumped by some hides that others logged as "easy park 'n' grab" and it's frustrating at first. Then a couple of weeks and a few finds later I've returned and found them in seconds, just because I'm learning now what to look for.

 

Two days ago my son and I found a really neat one in a very cool location (not a micro, but a small) that took less than 5 minutes for us to locate it. I thought it was fairly easy, the prize was the location more than the hide. But then reading the recent logs, we realized that the last 2 or 3 logs were DNF's from some very experienced cachers, who all had find totals in the thousands. So it stumped the veterans but we found it! We were really pumped about that, plus the location was so neat that it's probably my favorite find so far.

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It *is* difficult at first to find even easy caches. Don't get discouraged! It isn't just you.

You may want to try going with another cacher at first ... after a while one does rather get a "feel" for caches.

Another tip that may help you is to look at the area and ask yourself where *you* would hide a cache there. Often that's where it will be!

Good luck!

 

Jeannette

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Some pretty good advice here...

 

I seem to be getting a tad better as time goes on... After you have found a few you start to develop a sense for it and what to look for..

 

The way I do it, is by finding what I call Ground Zero, (Smallest distance I can get the GPSr to read, usually between 2-12') I circle then criss cross the area, Mark my G.Z. and envision about a 30-50, usually 30' circle around that point and search...

 

Search under any Rocks, leaves, logs, sticks, debris, Holes, Hollows, etc..

 

Read the caches description close and many times... Unless they have done a really really good job with Camouflaging it, I try to look for the smallest detail that doesn't belong...

 

Also, you may need a few tools... A stick for poking in holes and areas that you are not comfortable sticking your hand and tweezers for pulling out really small logs... Of course there are many other useful things, but those will get you started.

 

Just stick with it...

 

I love the days when I find 5 out of 5 ( I don't normally have the time to log like 20+ a day like some of these pros) and I get a bit discourage when I find 0/1 out of 5, but I go back and keep trying...

 

There is a local park by me thats pretty big, has two or three lakes and tons of woods... It had like caches and a few others really close, took me 3 trips to log all of them as "Found", but after wards it felt good... I see someone added a new one this month, I'll be going back for it ASAP...

 

Good Luck too ya and keep hanging out in the forums and you'll soon be a regular and giving advice to other new folks...

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Well today I decided to go after another cache. This one is only 1/2 a mile from my house and I actually walked the powerlines behind out house right down to the cache area. It was listed as an easy in both terrain and difficulty, and the cache size was listed as "regular" and described as a camoed LNL. So I figure this one should fit the bill exactly. I got to the coordinates and shut off the gps. From there I started using all the advice given here. I figured "where would I hide this?" The obvious spot, which coincided EXACTLY with my GPS coordinates, was a kiosk. So I started circling around it, but also kept an open mind as I looked in a general 30 foot diameter area. But everything about this kept telling me "kiosk". Sure enough, when I looked at the kiosk from a different angle I caught a glimpse of something hidden actually very ingeniously!

 

So again I have to thank everyone for the advice. It seems it might just be working! Time to start trolling my area for some more easy stuff. One of my cousin's husband is also a fairly new cacher, and we talked last night about getting together to do some caching. So looks like maybe things will get beter from here!

 

Brian

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Congrats on the find!!!

 

You'll have some days like that and some where you can't find the on button on your own GPSr....

 

Sounds like you are off and running though...

 

Also, its cool that you may have found a Caching partner... While you can have a lot of fun doing it on your own, I find it more enjoyable with someone...

 

Merry Christmas...

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I hate to ask, but what is this "Kiosk", you speak off???

 

It is what we basically call these official looking brown sign boards that the State or Federal Gov. puts up in State or Federal (respectively) parks.

 

Ahh OK, I know exactly what you mean... Just never heard them called that... Or anything for that matter... :)

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