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EarthCaches in Yellowstone

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We were at Yellowstone National Park this week. While physical caches are not permitted in the park, a number of EarthCaches are listed. Unfortunately most of them are not on the routes and stops made by tour buses. Not having a car of your own can be a big handicap to stopping at the exact place listed. Another problem you may encounter is the lack of cell phone coverage in the park. We were depending on iPhones and iPads for GPS and cache requirements and found that Verizon at least did not provide enough signal to locate the caches and requirements for each cache. Tower Falls asks for an altimeter reading and while we were there, didn't bring (or own) one. Best advice is to print out cache descriptions before you go and use a regular GPS device.

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We were at Yellowstone National Park this week. While physical caches are not permitted in the park, a number of EarthCaches are listed. Unfortunately most of them are not on the routes and stops made by tour buses. Not having a car of your own can be a big handicap to stopping at the exact place listed. Another problem you may encounter is the lack of cell phone coverage in the park. We were depending on iPhones and iPads for GPS and cache requirements and found that Verizon at least did not provide enough signal to locate the caches and requirements for each cache. Tower Falls asks for an altimeter reading and while we were there, didn't bring (or own) one. Best advice is to print out cache descriptions before you go and use a regular GPS device.

 

-Step one buy a GPSr. Reason; No need for cell phone signal. No need to use your data. They can hold thousands of caches, along with the descriptions, hints, logs....

-Step Two, Check the area before you go caching. If you're going on a bus, see what caches are near the bus stops...

-Step Three if you think there should be an earthcache along the routes, well then....make one.

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Step 4: plan accordingly.

 

Many, many locations do not have cell phone coverage. If that is all you plan on, you may well be disappointed. You need to remember, cell phone companies cater to humans, not critters or tourists. If you are going into an area of low population density, you should never plan having on cell phone reception.

One caveat -- they do cover freeways pretty well, but then that is one of their target markets.

 

But yes, many Earthcaches are where there is minimal human "contamination" -- as it should be.

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-Step one buy a GPSr. Reason; No need for cell phone signal. No need to use your data. They can hold thousands of caches, along with the descriptions, hints, logs....

Unfortunately solely relying on a GPS doesn't always work for EarthCaches. Quite a lot of descriptions are too long to fit on the GPS, meaning either the questions are cut-off or you are missing a part of the description. This is even worse for EarthCaches in other countries where often the local language version is listed first and then an English (or other) translation. Furthermore images (which quite often are informative drawings/maps/etc) are not displayed (unless you manually add those to the GPS, which is possible for some models).

 

So my advice for EarthCaches: ALWAYS take a printed copy along (either on paper or on an tablet/ebook reader/...)

 

Cheers,

 

Mr. Terratin

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Quite a lot of descriptions are too long to fit on the GPS, meaning either the questions are cut-off or you are missing a part of the description.

-<snip>-

So my advice for EarthCaches: ALWAYS take a printed copy along (either on paper or on an tablet/ebook reader/...)

 

Cheers,

 

Mr. Terratin

Really? What GPSr units (brands)?

Really... 'cuz I'd like to know what brand, should I ever need/want to upgrade. Our Delorme has always held ALL of the info -- and it makes for a lot of scrolling down, sometimes :( -- but it has always been there in totality.

 

If there are units that have a cut-off point, I wanna know because I certainly wouldn't buy one.

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Quite a lot of descriptions are too long to fit on the GPS, meaning either the questions are cut-off or you are missing a part of the description.

-<snip>-

So my advice for EarthCaches: ALWAYS take a printed copy along (either on paper or on an tablet/ebook reader/...)

 

Cheers,

 

Mr. Terratin

Really? What GPSr units (brands)?

Really... 'cuz I'd like to know what brand, should I ever need/want to upgrade. Our Delorme has always held ALL of the info -- and it makes for a lot of scrolling down, sometimes :( -- but it has always been there in totality.

 

If there are units that have a cut-off point, I wanna know because I certainly wouldn't buy one.

 

I've had that issue a few rare times when my Oregon 450 cut off the questions on an especially long Earthcache description. Luckily, I remembered the questions enough from a previous reading of the cache on my computer that I was able to pull it off. Because of that, I always download the full cache writeup to my cell phone using c:geo or GDAK as backup.

 

Back to the original poster, not being able to get all the caches in the park because you are on a tour bus is the nature of the beast, and not a problem with the caches themselves. I was just in Yellowstone two weeks ago with my own car, and even after four days of driving around, I was only able to get about 3/4 of the caches. It's also not a secret that most of the park does not have cell service and it's mentioned in the official planning brochure.

 

Look on the bright side: it gives you a reason to go back and visit again!

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We were depending on iPhones and iPads for GPS and cache requirements and found that Verizon at least did not provide enough signal to locate the caches and requirements for each cache. Tower Falls asks for an altimeter reading and while we were there, didn't bring (or own) one. Best advice is to print out cache descriptions before you go and use a regular GPS device.

 

I agree about the importance of planning ahead. Many earthcaches are located in areas where cell phone coverage may not exist, but my iphone still can be a great tool. When we visited Yellowstone, I loaded pocket queries before I went using Geosphere (which I particularly like for earthcaches because it displays the full description with embedded graphics), had an altimeter app and offline maps. Although I also have a paperless handheld gpsr, I rarely use it for earthcaches and do not like to carry printouts.

 

Before leaving I identified the earthcaches and virtuals that I wanted to do and briefly looked at their descriptions. The good thing about these type of caches is that they can take you places that may not otherwise have been on your list. But tour buses may not take you there either.

Edited by geodarts

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Quite a lot of descriptions are too long to fit on the GPS, meaning either the questions are cut-off or you are missing a part of the description.

-<snip>-

So my advice for EarthCaches: ALWAYS take a printed copy along (either on paper or on an tablet/ebook reader/...)

 

Cheers,

 

Mr. Terratin

Really? What GPSr units (brands)?

 

Happened to me a number of times with the Garmin Oregon 400t.

 

I don't think I've seen it yet on our Montana.

 

Regardless, this is why I always repeat the logging requirements for our ECs in the hint section (and put it in brackets so it's decrypted). Even if the GPSr doesn't cut off the description, it's very convenient to be able to locate the hints easily in the hint without having to scan the entire description.

 

Wish more EC owners would do this. Might even be worth adding to the knowledge book on ECs and including it in the form when creating ECs...they already have a unique coding requirement due to the extra box check for EC guidelines.

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We were also in Yellowstone last week and did many Earth and Virtual caches throughout the park as well as physical caches outside the park. I had read that cell phone service was pretty spotty at best before our trip. I took quite a bit of time creating an "offline" list. You can do this with a pocket query, but I also used GSAK to make it a little better. I used the offline list on both my Android Geocaching app as well as C:Geo. I also had a print out with a Garmin GPSr just in case, but didn't need it. My GPS on my HTC One worked great even without cell phone service. The offline list in C:Geo was a lifesaver and worked flawlessly. I have definitely learned to make lists if I'm going on a trip. It makes things work so much better and cuts down on a lot of frustration. You lose cell phone service even in the counties of NC where I live, so I'll definitely be using lists more often.

 

Just thought some would like to hear how we tackled it. My list contained 73 earth/virtual/traditional caches and we found 59 throughout Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho, Montana, and the "Welcome to Nebraska" just to get another state. :)

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When my son, yoyo ken, and I go, he prepares a binder and meticulously maps out each earthcache in advance. I don't believe in relying on technology too much because I can't number the times when the GPS was out of batteries, or the cell phone had no service. We have done over 25 earthcaches in three days at Yellowstone with this type of preparation. Also, with binder pages, you can write all your notes in there and then use them to log in after you get home. My son and I have done almost 100 earthcaches a year. (Unfortunately, his school and extra-curricular activities have prevented him from participating much this year)Happy earthcaching everyone. We love it. We wanted to go to St George but as explained above my son's first priority is getting into a selective college.

vulcanmom

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-Step one buy a GPSr. Reason; No need for cell phone signal. No need to use your data. They can hold thousands of caches, along with the descriptions, hints, logs....

Unfortunately solely relying on a GPS doesn't always work for EarthCaches. Quite a lot of descriptions are too long to fit on the GPS, meaning either the questions are cut-off or you are missing a part of the description. This is even worse for EarthCaches in other countries where often the local language version is listed first and then an English (or other) translation. Furthermore images (which quite often are informative drawings/maps/etc) are not displayed (unless you manually add those to the GPS, which is possible for some models).

 

So my advice for EarthCaches: ALWAYS take a printed copy along (either on paper or on an tablet/ebook reader/...)

 

Cheers,

 

Mr. Terratin

 

+1 , BIG TIME.

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Not sure I agree about the need for paper. I have used two methods.

 

Do a download of the caches in the park and then open them in iGeoKnife on the iPad. Then it is there for detailed reading when I need to.

 

Make a document on Google Drive so I can access it from multiple devices that has pasted descriptions of the Earthcaches and then before leaving a 4G area clicking on Make Available Offline and it is now on the phone even if i get in a remote area. You could also do this on an android tablet.

 

I do this even though I seem to have the entire description on my Montana but it isn't any fun reading a long dissertation on geology on that screen.

Edited by Walts Hunting

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Not sure I agree about the need for paper. I have used two methods.

 

Do a download of the caches in the park and then open them in iGeoKnife on the iPad. Then it is there for detailed reading when I need to.

 

Make a document on Google Drive so I can access it from multiple devices that has pasted descriptions of the Earthcaches and then before leaving a 4G area clicking on Make Available Offline and it is now on the phone even if i get in a remote area. You could also do this on an android tablet.

 

I do this even though I seem to have the entire description on my Montana but it isn't any fun reading a long dissertation on geology on that screen.

 

Hmm.. no Verizon reception at Yellowstone and don't own the iPad. Now what? :rolleyes:

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You can use iGoeKnife on any iOS device On and android to the same with Locus. There are other apps on each system that will allow you to load a PQ to so you can read the description on it.

 

Then as I mentioned you can make a document on iCloud, DropBox, Google Drive etc. Then before you leave the cell area tell it do download or offline (whatever they system uses) to the device and now it is available, Of course with this you have to search the document for the current cache you are looking at.

 

There are many ways to handle this situation without doing a binder. it would help if we knew what devices you have.

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The smartphone geocaching apps have an option to save caches for offline use. This is what we did when we were in Yellowstone recently (as well as gsak with a laptop, as a back up). We did have a couple problems with it, however. It was a bit buggy and didn't show some caches that I'm certain that I saved. Also, the battery was constantly draining and it was a pain to keep the phone charged. We tried to use the gps as much as possible, to keep the phone battery going.

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