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Terrain vs. Hiking Distance


Zuckerruebensirup
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What do you think about breaking the current "Terrain" rating into two separate categories for "Distance" (from parking area) and "Terrain"?

 

I love being out in nature, and I don't mind a three mile round-trip walk in a nice area during a cache hunt...but I'm not in the greatest shape, so even a fairly short walk over extremely steep or rough terrain can turn less than pleasant in a hurry.

 

On the other hand, I imagine there are people who may enjoy the physical challenge of difficult terrain, but not want to take all day burning up several 'boring' miles on a single cache hunt.

 

But, the way the rating system is currently set up, each of these factors can translate into the same 'Terrain' rating.

 

(For my own cache hides, I typically describe how long of a walk to expect, and what the general terrain is like, unless it's a typical walk in the park. But many people don't go into much detail, so it's sometimes difficult to know what to expect.)

 

Would separate ratings for 'Terrain' and 'Distance' be useful to you?

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I too normally don't mind a good hike of a mile or two but certain times I would like to be able to chose if i want to walk a great distance before I drive all the way to the nearest parking. I try to use maps before I get there but that is not always reliable. Right now I have three ruptured disks in my lower back and my wife just had knee surgery. So we are going to be looking for short walks in the future and would like to be able to identify them up front.

 

ENJOY THE OUTDOORS

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I voted yes, because I've also had the experience of hiking for an hour or so just to find out that I can't handle the steep scramble for the last 50 ft. I'm not terribly nimble, and what most able bodied adults consider moderately challanging is almost impossible for me (scrambling up through a small cleft in some rocks for instance, or going up a steep incline).

 

However, having said that, coming up with a distance isn't straightforward. I can tell you the approximate hiking distance from where I parked, but often there are multiple entraces to a park, and some are less well known than others. One may involve a 5 mile hike with steep elevation changes, and another only a 1/2 mile hike with almost none. Telling them where to park often ruins half the fun of the research beforehand.

 

It's even more difficult for those that are deep in the forest or desert, since there are LOTS of ways to approach, and each will have it's own challanges.

 

-- Mitch

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I think a better way would be to encourge cache places to indicate in the cache description comments about terrain and distance. The star rating tends to be used subjectively anyway, and if we start adding more and more ratings and sub-ratings it could get too difficult to deal with.

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I voted yes, however I think there is more info that should be addressed.

I just went on a good hiking cache. Newcastle, Washington.

It was only two miles in, but in the last 3/4 mile it had a 400ft assent. I'm no light weight. I must have sounded like an ox trying to be a mountain goat. I couldn't find the trail heads mentioned in the description. However I don't believe it would have been any shorter from a different trail. Still would have to climb the mountain. Anyways I have two detailed map books neither one listed the parking areas or trail heads listed in the description. I drove around for 40 minutes looking, 'till I found the trail that I entered on.

 

I think there is a lot of info that should go into the description of a cache. Maybe a template would help, or a couple of fields to fill in the distance, assent, and most important the parking coordinates.

This cache mentioned Redtown or some base. Neither of which is on a map. Redtown is in Redmond twenty miles north of the cache. It ended up being the name of a trail.

 

It was a great hike. I had a great hit of endorphines plodding up the mountain. However I couldn't make it to any other caches that day.

If a parking area isn't blatantly obvious the coordinates should be compulsory.

 

Preperation, the first law to survival.

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quote:
Originally posted by Alan2:

Here's some ideas. Checkout the Topozone map, read previous logs for clues and email the cachehider for more details.


 

The topo map doesn't always show some small but significant elevation changes. It doesn't show some of the elevation changes the people searching for Perfectly Perplexing Puzzles haven't found yet, and it doesn't show the ravine we scrambled through while finding Clue Two. Either of those would be challenging for someone in less-than-great shape (speaking as someone who's in less-than-great shape and for whom they were challenging) but they're not long inclines, just steep ones.

 

warm.gif

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I do like the idea of separating terrain difficulty vs hike length, though more than that I really appreciate descriptions that voluntarily include some specifics on distance and terrain that the star ratings can't indicate. I was at terrain 2 cache the other day -- we parked a mere hundred feet away, but the cache was on a plateau of nearly vertical six-foot-high climbs on every side. I have achilles tendinitis and barely made it up. A one-star cache with a quarter-mile walk but a steep, slippery, rocky hill at the end is a lot harder for me than a two-star cache with a long, flat walk -- but there are days when I don't have the time or energy to hike two or three miles. I say the more information, the better.

 

The rating system will never be ideal, since it's inherently subjective. I also recently saw a cache with two-star terrain and three-star difficulty; the description said, "we increased the difficulty to three because of the thousand-foot elevation gain." They incremented the wrong measure, but at least they did include the information (which warned me off!).

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I think a quick look at the topo map would answer most questions with regard to terrain. I realize there are more factors involved in the terrain rating than just the elevation changes, but that seems to be the big one. I always check the topo maps, just so I know what I'm in for.

 

"it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks" Acts 26:14

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...nor does every cache have a specific parking spot. How do you calculate the "distance" in an urban cache? From where? What if a cacher uses public transport icon_eek.gif, or parks in a non-standard location?

 

These are things that should go into the cache description. Let's leave the ratings as general as possible, to cover the wide variety of caches that are out there.

 

evilrooster

-the email of the species is deadlier than the mail-

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...nor does every cache have a specific parking spot. How do you calculate the "distance" in an urban cache? From where? What if a cacher uses public transport icon_eek.gif, or parks in a non-standard location?

 

These are things that should go into the cache description. Let's leave the ratings as general as possible, to cover the wide variety of caches that are out there.

 

evilrooster

-the email of the species is deadlier than the mail-

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If terrain and hiking distance are separated, what do you do in situations where taking the left fork is a 2 mile hik, tkaing the right fork is a 3 mile hike, and going direct cross-country is just a few thousand feet?

 

I think it's better to keep distance as a factor in the terrain rating and let those who are concerned click the topographical map link and see for themselves if they think they can handle it.

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much as I can see how the separation *could* be useful, I think in the end it might be more confusing than if people just include better information in the cache description. When I place or hunt a cahce, I try and consider alternate yet viable routes to get to the cache, and each of those routes may end up with vastly different distance/elevation change ratings that would both correspond to roughly the same difficulty of terrain rating that we are using now. Case in point is my one physical cache. Going the direct overland route it is about .6 miles round-trip, but with some pretty severe climbs up ravines (just ask some of the people that have gone that way to my cache), while the preferred (and mentioned in the description) route is about 1.8 miles round trip, but with only gently rolling (well, one deep ravine but it has switchbacks and is a bridle trail) terrain. I'd consider both of the above to be a 2.5 Terrain (which is how I have it rates), but they wouldn't be under the proposed situation. And several of the ones I've found have had similar different alternates. So unless there were one way, or different yet very nearly similar ways to the cache, it wouldn't be more useful.

 

Ah, I love intelligent discussions like this... gets tiring listening to people complain about this and that...

 

Well, that's my 2p

 

"You will kneel before her in her altar in the trees" - Tara MacLean, Let Her Feel The Rain

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But after reading the other posts I'd have to vote to keep them they way they are, and encourage people to put enough info in the descriptions. I think it would be unworkable otherwise, given the number of potential variables.

 

A consideration for me is that I like to go geocaching with my two kids (3 and 5), so thus far I've only gone to caches in local parks where I can judge based on MapQuest, the cache description, and my famiiarity with the area that it's a short walk and relatively easy terrain. Maybe I'll change my mind once I start geocaching farther afield!

 

No matter how cynical you become, it's never enough to keep up. - Lily Tomlin

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It's a tough call. Terrain/distance interact in interesting ways, topo maps get out of date, or aren't all that precise to begin with, and ratings are subjective.

 

and, of course, a mistake by a cacher, like starting from the wrong parking lot, can turn an easy cache in to a 5.

 

I'd say leave the subjective ratings alone and we who hide caches should try doing a better job of warning about severe problems.

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where the cache owner actually goes and gets the cache for you and tells you how it was. Plus, he could bring back McToys for you based on the way you fill out the initial trading preference survey?

 

Seriously, I think the point of this sport is to use your wits to figure out which caches you prefer and go find those, and deal with the solution to the best way for you to get them. I have been on caches that fit all of the above descriptions, and sometimes when I was not ready for them. Mostly they have turned out harder than expected. So, now I just expect that and plan accordingly. The best way for me to find out what type of hike will be involved would be reading the logs. The stars are too general to give me an accurate description, but any system more complicated would not be used uniformly by cache hiders, so would be worthless.

 

I say, keep the star system currently used, simple. As a cache hider, maybe a note of description of the hike would be optional (certainly not required) and as a cache finder who really needs to know, it is your responsibility to find out however you can about the hike. If a surprise is pleasant, then just go for it, making sure you are well prepared with adequate water etc. If a surprise is not acceptable, use your map software, use your online research, use your email, telephone, and anything else you need to make sure that this is the cache for you. But, if there are too many restrictions on the caches for you that would disqualify most of them, maybe this isn't your sport.

 

stealyourcache.jpg "Don't be so open-minded that your brains fall out." -Dru Morgan www.theheavenlyhost.com/dru

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quote:
Originally posted by Zuckerruebensirup:

What do you think about breaking the current "Terrain" rating into two separate categories for "Distance" (from parking area) and "Terrain"?


Many people don't follow the existing guidelines for ratings, so I have little faith that more categories will help. Also, I have to laugh at the 1/1 caches that involve driving on unimproved roads, followed by off-trail scrambling and looking under every rock in sight. I think the entry form default should be 0/0 so the software can tell when the owner neglected to rate the cache and refuse to accept it.

 

Reading the logs may be helpful but is time-consuming and not possible when the cache is new which so many are. What I want is for owners to spend more effort giving useful information. They don't need to remove all the mystery from the hunt but they should indicate things that can mess up the trip like:

- parking is unavailable,

- there are many roads/trails not shown on the maps,

- the area is closed at certain times or seasons,

- the distance traveled in multi-stage caches is long,

- a trail is closed to bicycles, or

- off-trail scrambling or steep climbs are featured.

 

These are things that can easily foil a person unfamilar with the area, wasting their time and making the experience unpleasant. Cache owners should pay more attention to being good hosts.

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Distance is hard to note as you never really know where people will come in from unless you've given coordinates to a parking spot.

 

Even then, the path they take from there is entirely up to them.

 

I think the GPSr itself gives a /decent/ (albeit as the crow flies) indication of distance to the cache.

 

It'd be hard to note and the GPS already gives us some facility for determining it... so I'd rather not break up distance and difficulty.

 

--------

trippy1976

 

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