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Is Setting a Cacher Up for Failure a Valid Cache Challenge?


indeliblemind
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EDIT: I'm not sure how to change the title, but I realized the terms "failure" and "valid" are misleading. This topic was meant to be about the role of frustration in a cache/mystery/puzzle, how much, under what circumstances and what people enjoy or don't. I intended to kick it off with the idea of a CO forcing multiple trips and what that accomplishes.

Thanks for reading!

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I’ve often come across caches where there is key information intentionally withheld to make a cache harder. Sometimes, those are mysteries where the information is buried in a puzzle or a midpoint cache, but that’s not what I’m getting at. I mean using a lack of information as a barrier to entry, with no way to find out the information until you’re already there and no way to get the needed information or tools without leaving and coming back.

 

I recently completed a cache that requires cachers to go a long way to get started and specifically leaves out (and the community avidly enforces that logs not include) a list of equipment needed to complete it until they are well into the cache. This forces cachers to begin the cache, find out they are ill equipped, leave to get supplies and start again. This happens a couple times, for a couple different items if you don’t make significant effort to spoil the cache for yourself ahead of time.

 

So my question is: Is it a valid effective or fun challenge/obstacle/puzzle in geocaching to make a cache unachievable on a first attempt? And by extension, is it reasonable to ask cachers to repeat portions of a cache and at what point does it hurt the enjoyment and purpose of a cache? Finally, what role does this play when safety and stealth are jeopardized by forcing this repetition?

Edited by indeliblemind
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I've had only one cache I couldn't complete without additional equipment (if you don't count long trousers to enter some bramble bushes).

If they told me what I needed ahead of time, it would've made a very smart hide a lot easier because using a certain piece of equipment can tell a lot about where the cache can NOT be hidden.

 

So I don't have a particular problem with this, but if it jeopardizes the safety of the cache or the cacher, it's a whole other story.

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I'm not sure a CO setting this sort of cache is 'setting a cacher up for failure' because visiting the area and working out the information/equipment required is actually starting you on a journey to success (albeit in two or more stages). I think its a perfectly valid challenge if the repeat journey/achievement in gaining the smiley meets expectations.

However I think the CO may need to be prepared for the occasional negative comment from frustrated cachers who attempted the cache with a limited time slot who may be just passing through the area and find they have had a wasted journey.

 

Anyway, I'm no stranger to having a frustating return journey to a local cache usually because I made a complete hash of the search the first time and had to post a DNF.

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I'd say it's valid. Certainly frustrating, without a doubt, but still valid.

 

... at what point does it hurt the enjoyment and purpose of a cache?

 

I think only the finders can answer that. I might enjoy this cache very much. Some people won't.

Edited by Mitragorz
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In the Help Center article Ratings for Difficulty and Terrain, the description of 4-star difficulty includes: "May require multiple days / trips to complete."

 

It seems to me that a cache like you described could be legitimately listed as a D4 cache.

 

I'm not sure why anyone would need to repeat a portion of the cache that they previously completed. It's perfectly reasonable to repeat a portion of a multi-stage cache that you didn't complete on your previous attempt.

 

As has been said before, safety isn't a concern of the guidelines. If it were, then many 5-star terrain caches would be archived, because they are often extremely dangerous without the necessary equipment/skills. (Safety may affect adequate permission, but that is a separate issue.)

 

And stealth is definitely not a concern of the guidelines. The cache owner is free to place a cache that is likely to be discovered by muggles.

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I'm one of the past finders of the cache indeliblemind is talking about, and I can completely understand his comments - there were times during the hours my team spent on this cache where I felt mentally and physically frustrated. I will say, for the record, it is a 5/5 cache that I enjoyed very much, having done it with a small team of pretty highly experienced cachers who love a good puzzle.

 

I never had the feeling the original CO (another cacher adopted this cache not too long ago) set people up for failure or withheld any information necessary to proceed from stage to stage. Granted, it's not something you do in one visit -- unless you've gotten a lot of advance information from past finders, and without that information it's highly unlikely anybody would have everything they need with them -- but most finders seem to have completed it in two visits. Finding the first stage gives you the materials you need to get started on the rest of the multiple stages (and I seem to remember the materials include a list of suggested equipment). That being said, I haven't re-visited the cache and I don't know if the current owner has made any substantive changes.

 

I do not intend, by any stretch, to criticize indeliblemind's critique of this cache; to each his own. But I felt it deserved some words in its defense. In my mind, it remains one of the best caches I've completed, and I found it extremely rewarding when my group found the final stage and signed the log. It's also become something of a legend -- even a sort of rite of passage -- in the local caching community.

Edited by jsarche
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While some people will be frustrated by the types of caches you describe, others will find these challenges to be rewarding. In any case, they are valid caches, just like LPCs, power trails, puzzles, and other types of caches that don't appeal to everyone.

 

I think caches that require return visits should be rated appropriately. And it usually would be courteous if the owner mentioned it on their cache listing page (assuming it didn't spoil the experience for those who opt to take up the challenge).

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I really appreciate everyone's input! Thanks for helping me think this through!

 

To clarify what I'm getting at, I guess as a new cache hider I want to maximize the fun my cachers have. I really appreciate the notes about the guideline from rehcacoeG and I'm realizing that my term "valid" might be misleading (or downright wrong). I guess I'm not getting at "is it possible/legal/within the TOS" but rather, "Does it work? Enhance enjoyment of the cache? Do others specifically seek this kind of experience?"

 

Along those lines, I should also clarify the repetitiveness that I'm referenceing. I was trying to be cagey and avoid giving anything away should anyone try and figure out the cache through this forum. So, for the sake of preserving that cache's mystery, imagine that for whatever reason you had to do 200 pushups to get to the cache. You get there and to get your first clue, it tells you you have to wear orange. But you're wearing blue. So you have to leave and get an orange shirt and come back, do 200 push ups again, and then it tells you you have to have a fishing rod. So you leave... get one... come back... more pushups... next clue. And so on. That's the kind of "fail" that I meant. That it's impossible to continue without leaving.

 

Clearly, I'm not a huge fan of that. However, I'm just one guy. So what I'm interested in is others' perception of that kind of obstacle. Would you pursue it? When would you give up? How much effort/how many times? what would make it worthwhile? Just the cache and log? Saying you did it? Or would it need something more? And ultimately, what kinds of frustration result in a devilishly fun cache and what kinds spoil the adventure?

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If the cache you were carping about was incorrectly rated, I might agree that you have grounds to be disappointed. But a mystery cache that is rated 5/5 and has 50+ favorite points and dozens of watchers is obviously not an ordinary cache. As already pointed out-the definition of a rating that high includes the possibility of return visits.

 

After reading the page and seeing that write up, I wouldn't set out without a ladder, rope, kneepads, waders, flashlight and headlamp with extra batteries, and probably a cache monkey at the very least. If you found yourself ill-prepared for part of the journey you probably didn't plan properly. If at some point of the cache experience it stopped being fun for you then why did you continue? I cache to have fun and to go places and do things I might not otherwise do, and to enjoy these adventures with geopals. Why do you cache?

 

Sorry I cannot agree with your complaints and displeasure with this particular caching experience. I think it's great that there are caches like this out there for people to enjoy.

 

PS I see you have posted again while I was creating this post. If the cache actually does require a specific color shirt, or doing a specific number of pushups, they it might be an ALR and doesn't meet the guidelines. I don't think that's the case here though. I think you went out unprepared for this particular experience.

Edited by wimseyguy
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To follow up on jsarche I want to be clear that the cache I'm referencing is listed as extremely difficult and lists the possible need for multiple trips. It is certainly rated appropriately and does a lot to make it clear how hard it is. It is also extremely popular and that's why I did it. I'm in no way saying the cache is bad and though I left an honest log that it ultimately didn't pan out for me, I came to the forums to find out why.

 

So I really, really appreciate the comments of others who have done the cache and please don't take my questions as a referendum on this cache and I hope you don't feel like you have to defend it. In fact, I'm learning a lot reading through others perspectives. CanadianRockies comparison to LPCs gave me a lot to consider (not every cache is fun for everyone at every stage of their caching lifetime).

 

It would seem that setting expectations for a cache is a big part of it, yet I remain curious: how does someone both set expectations and keep the mystery?

 

To follow up on wimseyguy, I just want to mention again, I'm not trying to complain and I agree, with that kind of popularity, there's clearly something unique about that cache. But I don't want the thread to be about a specific cache. So I'd love to hear from anyone who's done that kind of thing what makes it enticing or enjoyable. And what are the limits to that (if any)?

Edited by indeliblemind
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When would you give up?
I would give up when it stopped being fun. I really don't know how to explain it better than that.

 

With that said, one of my favorite caches was a 6-stage mystery/puzzle cache that took a few hours for a group of us to complete. It requires specific equipment at a couple stages, but the cache description indicates what equipment is needed, and when. It is rated 4/3, and has a 46% Favorites/Premium Logs ratio. But AFAICS, no one has even attempted it for a couple years. This kind of adventure may not appeal to newer geocachers.

 

Based on what I've read here, the cache in question sounds like something I would enjoy, if I could organize a group of like-minded geocachers to go find it.

Edited by niraD
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I regard the unnamed cache that inspired this thread to be a masterpiece- and totally unique in many ways. It is not for everyone- no doubt- but isn't the diversity of the challenge one of the wonderful things about geocaching? True- this was among the hardest of the several 5/5 caches I've encountered. It's when I come across a high D/T cache that's far easier than the guidelines suggest that I start scratching my head...

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One of the nice aspects of geocaching is that there are all sorts of cache types. People can do the types they like and not do types they don't like. I would never do the ET highway, but I have no problem with the people who do. I've done caches that require a multiple mile hike that others would never do. I could go on and on. What is 'valid' is really relative.

 

One of the things that is really well done about the cache in question is that it clearly describes (without giving away specifics) that is involved: puzzle solving, needing special equipment, likely requires multiple trips, etc. It is properly rated (5/5) and has its attributes set appropriately (I've done the cache so I can vouch for it).

 

I agree with niraD to give up when it stops being fun. I've done that several times. Of course I've also stuck it out several times also and when I was done with it I wished I could rate it as a terrible cache. I've done caches that I hated that have multiple favorite points. It just goes to show that everyone has different interests, ability, amount of tolerance, etc.

 

There's no proven formula to making a cache that will maximize the fun because what is fun for one person might be miserable to another. So, I'd say create caches that *you* would enjoy finding and be rewarded by seeing that others liked it too. Sure, there could be people who wouldn't like it; but again, everyone is different.

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I’ve often come across caches where there is key information intentionally withheld to make a cache harder. Sometimes, those are mysteries where the information is buried in a puzzle or a midpoint cache, but that’s not what I’m getting at. I mean using a lack of information as a barrier to entry, with no way to find out the information until you’re already there and no way to get the needed information or tools without leaving and coming back.

 

I recently completed a cache that requires cachers to go a long way to get started and specifically leaves out (and the community avidly enforces that logs not include) a list of equipment needed to complete it until they are well into the cache. This forces cachers to begin the cache, find out they are ill equipped, leave to get supplies and start again. This happens a couple times, for a couple different items if you don’t make significant effort to spoil the cache for yourself ahead of time.

 

So my question is: Is it a valid challenge/obstacle/puzzle in geocaching to make a cache unachievable on a first attempt? And by extension, is it reasonable to ask cachers to repeat portions of a cache and at what point does it hurt the enjoyment and purpose of a cache? Finally, what role does this play when safety and stealth are jeopardized by forcing this repetition?

I agree with you. The cacher should give some kind of warning especially if it is way out of someone's way. The warnings should either be in the description or attributes.

I have a puzzle cache that requires a UV light, Chirp enabled GPS and smartphone that has a way to read barcodes and QR codes. Though it doesn't say it in the description unless your read the Tag on the cache page. Plus some are listed in the Attributes. Though I did have a couple of cachers who didn't bother looking at either and tried to do it and realize their mistake for not following the instructions.

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Well, I agree with wimseyguy's and akabumper's comments. Since indeliblemind commented they don't want us to feel the need to defend it, I won't. Ok, I will. It was an awesome cache, and an incredible experience. Prior to doing it, we put together a team of about 6 of us (most of whom I hadn't met until that morning) and we not only accomplished finding the final, we got to know each other and formed a comraderie.

 

Since it was given the highest difficulty and terrain rating possible, I think that the fact that you didn't like it is probably your own fault. Personally, I don't do very many multi's, simply because unless I know how many stages there are and approximately how long it will take, I just don't want to do them. I know other people who just love multis. To each his own.

 

I think initially your log on the cache and in this forum seemed to be "attacking" that particular cache, but it seems now that you just want a discussion. So let me add (or maybe repeat) to what others have said...

 

You are a pretty new cacher. I remember the first time I found an LPC (Light Post Cache). I was in the middle of a parking lot, by myself, parked literally 3 feet away from it. I looked in the trees on the edge of the parking lot. I circled around, thinking. Finally it dawned on me, and there it was! What a totally awesome and unique cache! Having now found probably a hundred just like it, I realize it wasn't really that awesome and unique. But for me at that stage in my caching career, it was the coolest thing. The first time I showed my non-geocaching girlfriend one of those, she was equally impressed. She has since showed some of her friends.

 

There are caches in the mountains. Very high terrain ratings, some with high difficulty ratings. Someday I'll go for these (planning some for next year), but I'm not going complain if a 5 terrain rating requires me to climb some rocks.

 

There are tons of puzzles out there. Some are very easy. Some are hard. Some are darn-near impossible. I have a couple that I've looked at half a dozen times and haven't solved. Some of them I don't even know where to start. I have never once complained to the cache owner that the puzzle was too hard. I'll get it eventually. Or maybe I won't.

 

I have a number of caches hidden out there. Some are LPCs. Some are even easier. Some are much harder. I have one that people have commented that they've been there two or three times looking for it before they find it. When they do, they seem to really think it's pretty clever. Some people have DNF'd it and haven't found it. For them, it wasn't worth the effort, which is fine.

 

I know people who are all about the numbers...They want fast, easy caches. I know other people who just do puzzles. I know people who focus on multi's.

 

Play the game (yes, it is a game) however you want. Hopefully you won't cheat (yes, there are people who do that, like logging caches they have never found), but there aren't any prizes in the end, so it doesn't really matter. Cache for the enjoyment it brings you. If you don't enjoy it, don't do it. If you start for a cache and you don't like where it is taking you, don't continue.

 

Most importantly, HAVE FUN!!!

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I saw jellis's comment posted while I was writing mine above.

 

<<< The cacher should give some kind of warning especially if it is way out of someone's way. The warnings should either be in the description or attributes. >>>

 

Let me just also point out that the cache page is very specific and says:

 

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About the Cache

 

The 5/5 rating is not a joke. You will certainly need “special equipment” to complete the quest. And the terrain? Well, let's just say a lot of people will find it difficult and some will be unable to bring themselves to do what is necessary to reach the intermediate locations. Attacking the cache with one or two friends is highly recommended.

 

Although having an analytical mind in your group will be an asset, the adventure is designed to allow you to decide to do less thinking and more traveling if that should be your preference. Whether you can complete the quest depends on your individual skills and phobias.

 

This is not a cache-and-dash. Accessing the final container will take a minimum of several hours of challenging navigation and occasional head-scratching. Most searchers will need more than one visit to complete this adventure.

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So I'd have to say that the cache creator did a pretty good job of explaining what you would be getting into in going for this cache in advance.

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I saw jellis's comment posted while I was writing mine above.

 

<<< The cacher should give some kind of warning especially if it is way out of someone's way. The warnings should either be in the description or attributes. >>>

 

Let me just also point out that the cache page is very specific and says:

 

--------

About the Cache

 

The 5/5 rating is not a joke. You will certainly need “special equipment” to complete the quest. And the terrain? Well, let's just say a lot of people will find it difficult and some will be unable to bring themselves to do what is necessary to reach the intermediate locations. Attacking the cache with one or two friends is highly recommended.

 

Although having an analytical mind in your group will be an asset, the adventure is designed to allow you to decide to do less thinking and more traveling if that should be your preference. Whether you can complete the quest depends on your individual skills and phobias.

 

This is not a cache-and-dash. Accessing the final container will take a minimum of several hours of challenging navigation and occasional head-scratching. Most searchers will need more than one visit to complete this adventure.

--------

 

So I'd have to say that the cache creator did a pretty good job of explaining what you would be getting into in going for this cache in advance.

 

Again, I respect the cache, regardless of how much fun I did or did not have. I placed a link to this forum in my log because I know people watch the log, they are the geocaching elite in some respects and I think everyone's opinion is important. I'm not claiming that this cache did a bad job or was more or less than it promised to be. I'm not trying to hate on it, on the creator, on the CO or anyone who likes the cache, which is why I've done my best not to mention or allude to it more than absolutely necessary.

 

That said, inherent to geocaching and any type of puzzle is an element of frustration. I wanted to discuss when that works or doesn't, starting off with people's opinions on caches that require multiple trips. I apologize if I haven't been clear about that.

Edited by indeliblemind
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I saw jellis's comment posted while I was writing mine above.

 

<<< The cacher should give some kind of warning especially if it is way out of someone's way. The warnings should either be in the description or attributes. >>>

 

Let me just also point out that the cache page is very specific and says:

 

--------

About the Cache

 

The 5/5 rating is not a joke. You will certainly need “special equipment” to complete the quest. And the terrain? Well, let's just say a lot of people will find it difficult and some will be unable to bring themselves to do what is necessary to reach the intermediate locations. Attacking the cache with one or two friends is highly recommended.

 

Although having an analytical mind in your group will be an asset, the adventure is designed to allow you to decide to do less thinking and more traveling if that should be your preference. Whether you can complete the quest depends on your individual skills and phobias.

 

This is not a cache-and-dash. Accessing the final container will take a minimum of several hours of challenging navigation and occasional head-scratching. Most searchers will need more than one visit to complete this adventure.

--------

 

So I'd have to say that the cache creator did a pretty good job of explaining what you would be getting into in going for this cache in advance.

 

Again, I respect the cache, regardless of how much fun I did or did not have. I placed a link to this forum in my log because I know people watch the log, they are the geocaching elite in some respects and I think everyone's opinion is important. I'm not claiming that this cache did a bad job or was more or less than it promised to be. I'm not trying to hate on it, on the creator, on the CO or anyone who likes the cache, which is why I've done my best not to mention or allude to it more than absolutely necessary.

 

That said, inherent to geocaching and any type of puzzle is an element of frustration. I wanted to discuss when that works or doesn't, starting off with people's opinions on caches that require multiple trips. I apologize if I haven't been clear about that.

 

It sounds like that there is a general consensus that if a cache has a very high rating 4-5 difficulty, it would not be uncommon nor unexpected that it might require multiple visits find complete the find. From the description that was posted earlier it's pretty clear that it's not going to be something that could be completed in an hour or so. There *are* a lot of caches out there with a D4 or higher rating that some are able to find in a short amount of time, but IMHO, they're probably over rated.

 

Since you specifically mention puzzles, there's a puzzle cache that I solved a few years ago that has a D5 rating that took me over a month to solve and from what I've read some spent far longer working on it before obtaining the actual coordinates. What made that puzzle cache "work" for me was that a brief glance at the cache listing provided several possible avenues of attack that once solved, exposed yet another layer that had to be solved. Some of the layers were quite difficult and there were a lot of red herrings but everything all fit together for an overall theme. On the other hand, I've seen puzzles that I could stare at for weeks and never guess what the CO was thinking, while someone else might guess right away.

 

It sounds like that cache under discussion is more like the first puzzle than the "guess what I'm thinking" puzzle. There are also quite a few caches that enjoy the challenge of a difficult but well conceived hide but will quickly put a D4 cache that appears to be a needle in a haystack on their ignore list.

 

I've really more interested in the "repetitive" aspect you described earlier. If I'm reading that hypothetical "do 200 pushups" correctly you're saying that it's a multi-level cache where one has to start at the beginning multiple times. Personally, I probably wouldn't like a cache that required me to revisit stages but wouldn't mind one where I had to go home, work out a puzzle or obtain a special tool then pick up where I left off.

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Here is a quote from the guidleines for a four star difficulty cacne

 

Difficult

A real challenge for the experienced cache hunter - may require special skills or knowledge, or in-depth preparation to find. May require multiple days / trips to complete.

 

Seems to me that cache you mentioiined fits well within the guidelines. Multiple visits are perfectly acceptable for high difficulty caches. We have couple around here. One where I got to the final and realized I need tree climing equipment or an extension ladder. Came back later and got it.

 

I dont' see a problem.

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First of all, congratulations for completing such a difficult cache, and on your own, too, it sounds like. Quite an accomplishment, which brings me to my first point: it looks like this cache -- why are we being so secret about it when we all know how to find it? -- is quite hard for a group of well equipped and experienced cachers. I think you'll find yourself much more appreciative of it once you get better equipped and more experienced, and you'll be proud to realize how truly impressed other cachers are that you found it while still so "young".

 

I only complain about this kind of thing if I'm not forewarned, but a lot of factors go into my reaction. To use your blue shirt example, if I drive up, get out of my car, and discover I need a blue shirt out of the blue, eh, not really cool, but I'll just wear a blue shirt next time I'm in the area. If I realize that I should have known I needed a blue shirt from the description and I just missed the clues, I have much less of a problem. On the other hand, if I had to hike 2 miles in to discover I need a blue shirt and there's no way in the world I could have known that, I'd probably expect more of the same later on and not bother to come back.

 

And to use your 200 pushup example, if a cache is sufficiently complex and requires resources I wouldn't normally carry so it requires multiple trips, I'm OK with that if the trips are easy or sufficiently interesting, but I find it annoying if the trip is just a boring and exhausting exertion, like 200 pushups. One cache I enjoyed a lot was not quite this hard, but still complex, and although the CO supplied the information up front I needed, it still required multiple trips to sort out the details. But that was fine in this case because the stages were in completely different places, so we had to make multiple trips, but different trips. If I had been visiting from somewhere else, that might have been a problem, but since they were all nearby, that just made it more fun.

 

Lastly, one thing that drives me crazy is when I realize a cache is heckahard like this, but everyone's getting tips behind the scenes to make it straightforward to people plugged into the tip network. I don't mind being frustrated nearly as much as long as others that complete the cache are being similarly frustrated. (Don't tell anyone I told you, but the other side of this coin is a suggestion to get plugged into the tip network so if there is commonly known secret knowledge about what's required at stage 3, at least you get it. Although it doesn't sound like that would have happened for this particular cache...)

 

By the way, where I cache, a high difficulty does not, in itself, imply multiple trips, no matter what the guidelines say. This cache is very explicit about the need for a lot of time and multiple trips, and I consider that clear declaration a requirement.

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Heck, I can have a bad experience at a cache at any time. More often then not, unfortunately, but that's just me. ;)

 

My most recent bad experience was probably the worse one over all (although I'm fine with it now (unlike other bad experiences that stick with me), it was really bad at the time). It was a long hike in the hot sun, to an area that I had wanted to cache in for a long time, and I was trying to get in enough caches for a milestone. The trails were different than I had anticipated, and I could only get to one of the caches. And I couldn't find it. Long story short, I ended up crying while looking for the cache and saying lots of upset and angry things to myself for a while. I think along the lines of, "I'm never caching again, caching is stupid, and next time I see Jeremy I'm going to tell him so. And I'm going to tell him that he should never have started this site.". :laughing: Funny now, but not at the time. I had a complete meltdown like a toddler, and knew it in the back of my mind, but I still did it anyway. :rolleyes:

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dprovan and NYPaddleCache, thanks for the thoughtful input. I wish there was a way to "like" your posts because they get to the heart of what I'm looking for: insightful opinions from others on what makes a cache great (or not-so0great) for each of you.

 

why are we being so secret about it when we all know how to find it?

 

The idea here was to do my absolute best as to not malign a great cache. I don't want to be a forum troll and I'm not interested in bagging on a cache that doesn't deserve it. And this one doesn't, even if it didn't stack up at the top of my list. The difficulty was well outlined (though I have thoughts on that, it's a different subject) and I'm more than willing to take responsibility for tackling it in one go, which it implies is not likely.

 

a lot of factors go into my reaction

 

Wow, I wish I had your way with words when I started this thread. That's EXACTLY what I wanted to know. Going back to the aforementioned anonymous cache, it has an incredible reputation. Someday, I want to create caches that people adore that much. But since I found myself frustrated, I wanted to know what others thought and if I was just a complete outlier, or others had found cache hiding techniques frustrating (and why).

 

everyone's getting tips behind the scenes to make it straightforward to people plugged into the tip network

 

I think that's a fascinating point, and one worth exploring. In fact, it goes right along with the multiple trips question. I've never been part of a tips network, and I'm curious if people think that's helpful or another form of "spoiler", especially since withholding information can be what makes a cache challenging.

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I assume the OP has picked-up on the message here that there is no right and wrong. We all cache for different reasons. Caching to me is much less cerebrial than for some (read: I get enough of that at work). A good 3/3 is right there in my wheelhouse. Shark, on the other hand, has the skill to grab 5 terrain tree climbs. However, when she climbs 60', she wants to sign a log. A nano up there that she cannot see would frustrate her. I return to my nemesis caches time and time again. Shark will return maybe twice. We're all different. If you find what you like and hide what you like, you will enjoy this game for the long haul.

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I don't enjoy caches like that much. Nor do I enjoy the tip networks that develop around them. But that's just me. I've done a few caches that required special equipment to find or get to that I needed to go back and get. I think what bothered me most about those was that the rating was low balled on those ones. Other caches have just be hard and I've returned a few times. And at least one of those (at least the one coming to mind immediately) required working through all the steps each time. Until the last time when I used google earth, found the cross trail we had ended up at (short cut into it) and proceeded to work with that bad coordinates for the random object that was thrown in the brush which was one of the steps. I refused to go through all those steps again.

 

I stop looking for a cache the second it ceases to be fun. This means a lot of puzzles in my range go unsolved. I've found a bunch of puzzles to be more like inside jokes between friendly cachers and if one is not in on the joke it becomes exponentially more difficult. As for physical searching I stop when I'm not having fun there either and sometimes I never go back. If the area I'm in is not that engaging or special it decreases the chances of me going back.

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As I read through others' replies to this thread this evening, I found myself thinking "hear, hear!" on a lot of them. Including those of the OP. I think he brings up a lot of legitimate points of debate, and I think this discussion has been great. I also think the bottom line, as mentioned above, is this: It is a game. Everybody plays it it as he or she wants to.

 

Outside of that, regarding the specific cache in question (apparently the worst-kept secret around right now), in my opinion the description on the cache page, especially combined with the first-stage materials I mentioned before, provide all the information needed to (1) gather all the equipment needed, and (2) provide sufficient warnings and admonitions to dissuade cachers who - for whatever reason - don't want this kind of challenge.

 

I wanted to address the "200 push-ups analogy." I totally agree that most finders, if not all, had to visit at least twice before finishing. But, consider the number of finds on a cache where the overall consensus is that a 5/5 rating was completely appropriate. The finders range in experience from relatively little to way, way more than me. That, combined with the numbers of favorite points and glowing logs, tells the whole story. I feel positive, but don't know for sure, that some people bowed out when they realized what this cache was all about. Then, I'm sure, they went on to find many other caches they enjoyed very much. That's the nature of this quirky hobby/sport/pastime we all like enough to spend this much time talking about it on the Internet.

 

Reasonable minds can reasonably disagree, and it's a tribute to all posters that reason still prevails in this discussion. I'm glad we're having it.

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I can't tell you why you didn't find the cache in question to be fun but maybe if I share why it was fun for me it will give you some insight.

 

I found the cache about a month after it was published and long before word had gotten around even in general terms what it was all about. At the time I had just over 1000 finds. The person that I did it with had fewer finds than you and the day we started this cache was the first time we had ever met. The cache page made it clear that it was not wise to attempt it alone so when she suggested a partnership I was all for it. In the 3 years since then we have been great friends and had more caching adventures than I can count so the company certainly played a role.

 

The cache took us 3 trips for various reasons but it was mostly just the amount of time required to work through it vs. the time we had available on a given day. Did we always have everything we needed with us? No, but we either found a way around it or came back. I found that the lack of advance knowledge actually contributed to the excitement the cache gave me. In a day and age when the answer to most questions about the world are only as far away as your favorite internet search engine, how often do any of us get to walk into the unknown? The rush I got from this cache was all about the sense of exploration and discovery. I enjoy pitting my strength and wits against an adventurous task where success is not guaranteed.

 

We all have caches we love and caches we hate. Fortunately geocaching is diverse enough to have something for just about anyone. Just because lots of people love this cache doesn't mean you're wrong if you feel otherwise. It's fair and thoughtful to ask why and try to figure out what works for you. All I ask is that you don't try to ban what you don't find fun. I have run into this lately with restrictions on really hard challenge caches. I love them but some people found them "unreasonable" and got the guidelines to outlaw them. It all comes down to finding what you enjoy and letting others do the same. I wish you well in that pursuit.

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I don't enjoy caches like that much. Nor do I enjoy the tip networks that develop around them. But that's just me. I've done a few caches that required special equipment to find or get to that I needed to go back and get. I think what bothered me most about those was that the rating was low balled on those ones. Other caches have just be hard and I've returned a few times. And at least one of those (at least the one coming to mind immediately) required working through all the steps each time. Until the last time when I used google earth, found the cross trail we had ended up at (short cut into it) and proceeded to work with that bad coordinates for the random object that was thrown in the brush which was one of the steps. I refused to go through all those steps again.

 

I stop looking for a cache the second it ceases to be fun. This means a lot of puzzles in my range go unsolved. I've found a bunch of puzzles to be more like inside jokes between friendly cachers and if one is not in on the joke it becomes exponentially more difficult. As for physical searching I stop when I'm not having fun there either and sometimes I never go back. If the area I'm in is not that engaging or special it decreases the chances of me going back.

+1

 

To the OP: Challenging, yes. Fun, no.

 

In designing a puzzle cache, the question foremost in my mind is "Would I enjoy this cache?" That limit my hides quite a bit, and I think that's a good thing. If I were to hide something I really dislike, I suspect the overall effect wouldn't be nearly as good as when I'm hiding something I'm enthusiastic about.

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Ambrosia I love your candor and I certainly know where you've been. Thanks for being a grounding voice and reminding us all in the thread that having a bad time of it is no one in particular's fault.

 

B)

 

Well, obviously, I derive more pleasure from caching than pain, otherwise I would have stopped caching a long time ago.

 

:ph34r:

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if a cache is correctly rated, I am fine with a need to go there several times..

like a D4-5 or T4-5

 

if a cache is NOT correctly D/T rated,

I am NOT fine with a surprice that kind of forces me to go there several times

and bring alot of special equipment for a 1.5/1.5

I will tell about this in my log, and I will most likely add cordinates and other spoiler info and hints

in my log so the cache gets into its wanted D/T, specially if it got alot of DNF and fustrated logs,

and no fix or updates by the CO.

 

I prefer I know a little bit about what to expect,

but I also go and do a bit recon in the area, before real attempt,

if what I read on the cache page kind of tell me to do this.

this way I bring the right cache friends and right equipment with me,

most of our equipment is ready and packed into backpacks so we can cary it quite long,

it is also permanently stored in the car trunk :-)

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I can't tell you why you didn't find the cache in question to be fun but maybe if I share why it was fun for me it will give you some insight.

 

And I can share why I would not find this cache. I live about 1500 miles away. Even if I happened to be in Colorado for a couple of days I wouldn't be able to go back home to obtain a special piece of equipment that I discovered I would need after spending an hour or so into the cache. I wouldn't have my local friends with me to give me a boost up into a tree (or call 911 if I fell from one). When someone places a cache that *requires* multiple visits to complete they're effectively creating a cache that will only be found by local geocachers.

 

We see requests for recommendations for great caches in an area from people that are going to be traveling to some new city, state, or country. Here's a cache that has a favorite rating that many would normally recommend, but probably shouldn't be recommended to the traveling geocacher simply because it requires multiple visits to bring along the right equipment.

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ok here is what I find fustrating :

 

bad hints

no hints, if clearly needed (if no GPS signal or bad)

hints made to make it harder or impossible

hints written in code

hints writen in NON english in turist areas

 

bad cordinates

clearly wrong cordinate

too creative cache container / size

 

wrong D/T

wrong/missing Attributes

 

cache page missleading information

cache page lack of important information

 

things made intentionally to waste my time

no help from CO

no response from CO

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things made intentionally to waste my time

 

Some would think that a cache that requries you to go back and forth several times between home and the cache site to do research, grab an object or tool, etc. would be a waste of time.

 

And costly, considering the price of gas.

 

The problem with caches like that is that other cachers will ask the ones that did it already and know ahead of time what to bring. As a result, many will find it easily or without any issues, and other cachers that are new or don't know anyone will be less likely to complete it. It then essentially becomes a "locals only" cache. If listing all of the equipment needed on the page makes it too easy, then it really isn't much of a challenge.

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everyone's getting tips behind the scenes to make it straightforward to people plugged into the tip network

I think that's a fascinating point, and one worth exploring. In fact, it goes right along with the multiple trips question. I've never been part of a tips network, and I'm curious if people think that's helpful or another form of "spoiler", especially since withholding information can be what makes a cache challenging.

Don't read this wrong. Having a group of friends to share hints with is a great addition to the caching experience. Sometimes it's hard to avoid "tips" that spoil the puzzle, but I just figured out who to ask to get the level of help I want. I also encourage the kind of help I'm looking for by giving non-spoiler hints -- a.k.a., obnoxious hints :) -- when I'm asked for help. The tip network is also a good source of people to work on puzzles together with, another fun things to do. And big deal if I get a spoiler once in a while. In fact, I've been known to ask for one when I've decided to give up for one reason or another.

 

What I was complaining about, though, are puzzles that are literally impossible without additional help. The guidelines prohibit that, but it still happens. I consider such puzzles poorly constructed, but I'm not above gathering the insider information after I think I've discovered the true nature of the problem.

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I saw jellis's comment posted while I was writing mine above.

 

<<< The cacher should give some kind of warning especially if it is way out of someone's way. The warnings should either be in the description or attributes. >>>

 

Let me just also point out that the cache page is very specific and says:

 

--------

About the Cache

 

The 5/5 rating is not a joke. You will certainly need “special equipment” to complete the quest. And the terrain? Well, let's just say a lot of people will find it difficult and some will be unable to bring themselves to do what is necessary to reach the intermediate locations. Attacking the cache with one or two friends is highly recommended.

 

Although having an analytical mind in your group will be an asset, the adventure is designed to allow you to decide to do less thinking and more traveling if that should be your preference. Whether you can complete the quest depends on your individual skills and phobias.

 

This is not a cache-and-dash. Accessing the final container will take a minimum of several hours of challenging navigation and occasional head-scratching. Most searchers will need more than one visit to complete this adventure.

--------

 

So I'd have to say that the cache creator did a pretty good job of explaining what you would be getting into in going for this cache in advance.

 

Again, I respect the cache, regardless of how much fun I did or did not have. I placed a link to this forum in my log because I know people watch the log, they are the geocaching elite in some respects and I think everyone's opinion is important. I'm not claiming that this cache did a bad job or was more or less than it promised to be. I'm not trying to hate on it, on the creator, on the CO or anyone who likes the cache, which is why I've done my best not to mention or allude to it more than absolutely necessary.

 

That said, inherent to geocaching and any type of puzzle is an element of frustration. I wanted to discuss when that works or doesn't, starting off with people's opinions on caches that require multiple trips. I apologize if I haven't been clear about that.

I'm not speaking of that specific cache since I don't know which cache they are talking about. I am basically speaking overall of caches that will require equipment and may take multiple trips or Team effort. The cost of gas lately is my problem. If I can't do it in one trip then I put it aside and wait til I have someone who hasn't done it join me or I just ignore it.

Edited by jellis
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And I can share why I would not find this cache. I live about 1500 miles away. Even if I happened to be in Colorado for a couple of days I wouldn't be able to go back home to obtain a special piece of equipment that I discovered I would need after spending an hour or so into the cache. I wouldn't have my local friends with me to give me a boost up into a tree (or call 911 if I fell from one). When someone places a cache that *requires* multiple visits to complete they're effectively creating a cache that will only be found by local geocachers.

This is a serious problem, I agree. And it doesn't have to be 1500 miles, either. I do most of my caching during lunch, so driving a half hour only to discover I can't possibly complete that cache during my lunch time is a similar problem. I do find such caches interesting when well constructed, so I don't want to discourage them. I think proper labeling is a sufficient solution.

 

And this can happen without complexity or special needs. I've run into a couple multicaches where the final is several miles away in a completely different area than the start. And typically those aren't labeled. But that just reminds me that I don't have to find every cache I start looking for, and it gives me a chance to practice giving up. And if it's somewhere I can go at a later date, I can eventually get a dose of delayed gratification!

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2010 I completed a Multi (that I started in 2007) that required you to visit other caches to collect clues to find the final. Each cache was in a different location in the Bay area. Not all 10 stages were traditionals, some were puzzles, multis and a letterbox. Though some of the stages were 3.5 the final was only 3 terrain. It took me 3 years complete. It wasn't because it was difficult (well maybe) but when I saw all the locations spread out I figured NO WAY. So I just did two of the stages as stand alone caches. In 2010 I saw the CO was going to archive the final and it gave me the incentive to complete it. I had another cacher join me on the quest and we finished the last 7 stages and final in 5 months. Couple of them I believe the terrain levels were under rated.

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I've had experiences on both sides of the fence. I don't know the cache in question, but I've had several difficult caches over the years that required multiple trips to solve. (For one night cache, I think it took me at least three trips, one of which involved hiking through hilly woods off trail with a ten foot ladder.) That said, sometimes I have the drive to finish them, and sometimes I don't.

 

I stop looking for a cache the second it ceases to be fun. This means a lot of puzzles in my range go unsolved.

 

I second that. Sometimes I'm up to the challenge, but sometimes I just want to find the cache and be done with it. This can be true of 2/2 traditionals as well as difficult puzzles. I don't like asking for help, so sometimes I end up just throwing up my hands and saying, the heck with this. (Well, not exactly, but let's just say words to that effect and leave it at that.) Steganography, for example -- I don't know where to start and I'm past the point of caring.

 

I think my perspective would be different if I was staying in one place and had some tough puzzles that just sat there on my local map, taunting me. Thankfully, I move around enough and travel enough that I don't run out of caches to find. There were a number of challenging puzzle caches I never got around to solving before I left Germany, and there are a number of puzzles I may never get around to solving before I leave Alabama next summer. I'm OK with that, because I won't be here forever.

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Some would think that a cache that requries you to go back and forth several times between home and the cache site to do research, grab an object or tool, etc. would be a waste of time.
Different strokes...

 

My wife and I have enjoyed gimmick car rallyes for more than 10 years. A close friend thinks they're as much fun as driving around lost, trying to follow deliberately confusing directions.

 

I think the cache in question sounds like a lot of fun, and if I were going to be in the area with time to find the cache, then I'd contact the local geocaching group to see if anyone local was interested in working on it with me. Others clearly disagree.

 

Geocachers whom I know and respect enjoyed completing the ET Highway and Route 66 numbers run trails. To me, that kind of numbers run sounds mind-numbing, and the "optimizations" used violate the basic concepts of geocaching.

 

Anyway...

 

Earlier, indeliblemind commented about wanting to create caches that others love as much as this one. While there is a certain satisfaction when others enjoy the results of your work, I don't think that makes a very good goal. AFAICS, the best caches I've found were not hidden with the goal of creating a popular cache. The best caches I've found were hidden because the cache owner wanted to share something that they enjoyed (whether that was a location, a camouflage technique, a puzzle, a bit of local history, a piece of public art, an adventure of some kind, or anything else).

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reading this thread could be very usefull to many CO.

maybe a few of them could stop designing the close to impossible kind of stuff,

but instead create caches that are cool and fun and solveable by most people..

a cache must be designed to be found, not designed to waste time or drive people mad,

make them entertain or educate, shock, or scare, fine..

but not waste of time or waste of gasoline.

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maybe a few of them could stop designing the close to impossible kind of stuff,

but instead create caches that are cool and fun and solveable by most people..

What about those of us who enjoy solving difficult puzzles, finding caches with brilliant camouflage, hiking to remote locations, etc.? Should these kinds of caches not exist just because most people can't (or won't) find them?

 

Sure, caches should be designed to be found, but that does not mean that they should always be designed to be found by everyone.

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Thanks again to everyone for their input! I think we're having an important conversation about what Geocaching means to different people, which is a big consideration both when hiding and when deciding what caches to go after.

 

I'm getting the feeling that the "different strokes for different folks" argument is really important, which means no cache can be for everyone. Along those lines, I really liked Wolfpack01 point that when you find an LPC for the first time, it's really awesome. So maybe experience plays into whether a cache is "good" for someone.

 

It seems there is plenty of room for all kinds of caches in the world, but if I'm reading all the comments right, the single most important part of hiding a challenging cache is setting the appropriate expectations. I can see how this is really difficult, because balancing that with mystery to make a cache harder precludes giving away too much.

 

It would also appear that "starting over" is relatively unpopular. If a cache has multiple stages, I'm getting the impression people would prefer the option to pick up where they left off, or enough resources to complete something on site without having to restart (if, say, it was at the end of a 10 mile hike). I'm in that camp, so I may be placing too much weight on it, but I think that's a good thing to note.

 

Then there's the issue of being a cache that requires (or is largely accomplished) through a "tips network". I can understand why and how people do this, but for me a cache designed with this in mind is flawed. Sure, the most extreme version is banned (where it's impossible without a tip), but I think a cache that is significantly easier because of a tip is flawed too. I feel like a cache's secrets should either be so essential to it that no one would share (just like we don't all post pictures of where every cache is) because it would ruin the fun, or they should be provided in the hints or description for everyone. I'm for a level playing field. I think necessary equipment falls into this category, though how "necessary" a tool is probably subjective based on the cache.

 

A couple other thoughts:

 

All I ask is that you don't try to ban what you don't find fun.

No worries there. I'm not interested in banning anything and I hope no one else is either. As it stands, I find the restrictions in place to be more than enough and I'd rather a slew of hard caches I'm not into than to have people stop experimenting. We need more creative caches, not fewer.

 

In the 3 years since then we have been great friends and had more caching adventures than I can count

This really struck me as incredible (I got all sentimental when I read it). I'd never considered that prolonging a cache would create a friendship, and frankly I think that's beautiful. In many ways, that's what caching is about too. Now I just wonder if there was a way to make a cache where you could more directly encourage that... Like you have to meet someone new to complete it... Though I have no idea how that would work.

 

When someone places a cache that *requires* multiple visits to complete they're effectively creating a cache that will only be found by local geocachers.

This is a brilliant point and again, something I hadn't consciously acknowledged. I like the labeling solution. Yet, I have a nagging feeling that it would require a pretty good reason to do that, otherwise it's just a tactic to thwart many cachers, much like a cache that requires a tip network.

 

Earlier, indeliblemind commented about wanting to create caches that others love as much as this one. While there is a certain satisfaction when others enjoy the results of your work, I don't think that makes a very good goal. AFAICS, the best caches I've found were not hidden with the goal of creating a popular cache. The best caches I've found were hidden because the cache owner wanted to share something that they enjoyed (whether that was a location, a camouflage technique, a puzzle, a bit of local history, a piece of public art, an adventure of some kind, or anything else).

Great point, and well taken. I can't imagine creating or maintaining a cache I didn't like. It's just too much work. But does that eliminate the goal of making other cachers happy? Is there something inherently wrong with striving to make something that lots of people really like? Isn't that something ever CO is doing by hiding and sharing something in the first place? I guess I'm curious if there's a spectrum where on one end a cache is designed to be populist and strives to be good for most, on the other end it's elites and with that the challenge gives the cacher the feeling of being in that select group. Somewhere on that spectrum is the level of frustration, but I'm learning a lot from all the comments and I think I got the idea wrong. It's not the level, it's the type. And I'm beginning to get the feeling the type is something a cacher should be made aware of ahead of time to make an educated decision whether to make the attempt.

 

Which leads me to...

 

maybe a few of them could stop designing the close to impossible kind of stuff,

but instead create caches that are cool and fun and solveable by most people..

What about those of us who enjoy solving difficult puzzles, finding caches with brilliant camouflage, hiking to remote locations, etc.? Should these kinds of caches not exist just because most people can't (or won't) find them?

 

Sure, caches should be designed to be found, but that does not mean that they should always be designed to be found by everyone.

As I mentioned at the beginning, I think this might be the crux of the discussion. While it's clear not every cache can be great for everyone, should that be a goal? Beyond the built in icons and a good description, how does a CO most effectively reveal enough, but not too much, to allow people to self-select what caches are right for them?

 

Or maybe it's on the cache designer to find a way to hand any cacher everything they need, yet still thwart an easy log. Maybe that's the art of the hide.

 

One last question: What role do hints play in all of this?

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It would also appear that "starting over" is relatively unpopular. If a cache has multiple stages, I'm getting the impression people would prefer the option to pick up where they left off, or enough resources to complete something on site without having to restart (if, say, it was at the end of a 10 mile hike). I'm in that camp, so I may be placing too much weight on it, but I think that's a good thing to note.
Is this what you mean by "starting over", repeating a 10 mile hike because you couldn't complete the cache in the first attempt? I wouldn't consider going home and returning to the first incomplete stage to be "starting over".
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In terms of "starting over" I meant more along the lines of if you did a 5 mile hike for stage one and finished it and did another 5 miles for stage 2, but couldn't finish that, you would expect that you could go back to stage 2 without having to repeat the first 5 mile hike to stage one. It was more about being able to pick up where you left off.

 

That said, I suppose I was also encompassing the idea that a cache at the end of a 10 mile hike should tell you if you need something to complete it rather than wait for you to get there and make you repeat the hike. I get the impression that's not popular either.

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...if I'm reading all the comments right, the single most important part of hiding a challenging cache is setting the appropriate expectations. I can see how this is really difficult, because balancing that with mystery to make a cache harder precludes giving away too much.

While it's nice for hiders to set appropriate expectations, it's also important for searchers to hold appropriate expectations. For example: you aren't going to find every cache you seek. If you're going to hike 10 miles and be frustrated if the find is too difficult (or maybe even missing), then either ignore that particular cache or accept that geocaching is going to involve some frustration. It's not the hiders' responsibility to make their hides completely free of every possible frustration.

 

Then there's the issue of being a cache that requires (or is largely accomplished) through a "tips network". I can understand why and how people do this, but for me a cache designed with this in mind is flawed. Sure, the most extreme version is banned (where it's impossible without a tip), but I think a cache that is significantly easier because of a tip is flawed too. I feel like a cache's secrets should either be so essential to it that no one would share (just like we don't all post pictures of where every cache is) because it would ruin the fun, or they should be provided in the hints or description for everyone. I'm for a level playing field.

If people include spoilers in their logs, then you can delete them. But if people want to privately share tips (and they will), then there really isn't much you can do to prevent this. For some, the fun is more about getting the smiley and less about getting the Eureka! moment from finding a well hidden cache (or solving a clever puzzle). Like it or not, the playing field isn't level.

 

I can't imagine creating or maintaining a cache I didn't like. It's just too much work. But does that eliminate the goal of making other cachers happy?

No, but sometimes it will eliminate the goal of making MOST other cachers happy. Any time I hide an especially tricky puzzle, I know I'm not going to make most cachers happy. Any time I place a cache 5 miles up a mountain trail, I know I'm not going to make most cachers happy. Any time I create a difficult challenge cache, I know I'm not going to make most cachers happy. And that's okay.

 

Is there something inherently wrong with striving to make something that lots of people really like?

Nope. If that's what you want to do, then go for it. Just don't expect everyone else to share that same goal.

 

Isn't that something ever[y] CO is doing by hiding and sharing something in the first place?

No. Not all of us want to place caches that lots of people really like. Lots of people don't like to hike up mountains or solve tricky puzzles or do 10-stage multi-caches or climb 30 feet up trees or take up difficult challenges. But those geocachers who do enjoy these types of activities appreciate that there are these types of caches for them to find. And that appreciation is enough for some hiders.

 

I guess I'm curious if there's a spectrum where on one end a cache is designed to be populist and strives to be good for most, on the other end it's elites and with that the challenge gives the cacher the feeling of being in that select group.

I think that's a fairly accurate statement, although the terms "populist" and "elites" might be a bit loaded. It's not really a 99% versus 1% thing. It's more a "different strokes for different folks" kind of thing. All geocachers already are in the 0.02% to begin with.

Edited by CanadianRockies
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If they only want locals doing their cache then that is fine. But if they want to draw visitors from all over then they need to give some hints at what you need or a full on list. I've done some extreme caches that were a few hours drive away. If the owner had not mentioned we needed something (climbing gear) we would have not gotten to enjoy that cache. In the end it is their decision but if I have a cache that requires something out of the ordinary you can bet it's listed on the page somehow.

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