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Questions regarding cache size and time spent at cache


Tarahead
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I am brand new as of 09/23/17 and absolutely enjoying myself. I am doing this on my own and love the solitude of walking through the woods alone. Once I have a better routine, I may bring one of my dogs along for the company.  I generally go out on the weekends so I try to plan a route for the day.  Yesterday my plan didn't go as well as the weather wasn't cooperating, but I was still able to find two of four I set out for. I am up to 9 finds of caches ranging in size. I have a couple of questions relating to size of a cache and how long spent at each cache.

Size- being new I have been trying to stick with ones that are of a small or larger size, but I am finding that many in my area are sized as XS. I have found that although there is a size guideline, there is quite a range. I am wondering if I should possibly pay to be a premium member so that I will have a bit more access to what is available in my area? I am not skilled enough yet to be looking for XS. I was out searching for one yesterday and passed a stealth couple in the woods who were clearly searching as well. I looked at the app and could see they were at a " greyed out " cache for premium members so I didn't know what was there. Premium membership seemed to be $29.99 for the year I believe.

Time spent at cache - I am trying to operate in some sort of stealth mode. I am looking over my shoulder before heading off the trails into the woods. I am finding the cache and peeking around before I actually approach. Then I am hiding while I open the cache, sign the log, and possibly trade items. I definitely look like I am up to no good as I carefully place the cache and head off on the trail. I am reading many logs and posts about bags being changed, cache cleaned up, new log paper added, etc. How much time do some of you spend at a cache? Does it depend on how heavily traveled the area is? A couple of the caches I have found could definitely have used a little clean up. Not enough to indicate " needs maintenance " but I have found torn open sugar packets, flip tops from cans, etc. 

Should I be spending more time " enjoying the moment" instead of feeling I need to get in and out before anyone sees me?

Thank you all for any assistance you can offer. I am really having the time of my life! Just wish I didn't have to limit it to weekends , but definitely not ready for any nighttime searching just yet.

 

 

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I don't usually worry about being stealthy once I've got the cache in hand. I figure it's more the retrieving, searching, and replacing that look suspicious. It depends on the location, though, I suppose, and perhaps also the cache container. People don't seem to be all that interested in what I'm doing when I'm holding a container or writing something on a piece of paper. I live in a large city and mostly cache in the city (so urban caching + caching in larger forested parks). As a cache owner, I try to pick spots where it's possible to search without being in full view of anyone who might be around.

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2 hours ago, Tarahead said:

Thank you so much for your thoughts on this! I just find myself moving so quickly to retrieve and sign the log that I miss some of the experience of sitting and reading through the log and looking through the cache.

Move slowly. Enjoy the moment.

When I cache I spend at least 5 minutes at a cache, more often 15 minutes. I take photos, rummagethrough the stuff in the cache, leaving a signature item maybe exchanging items if something fancies me, maybe writing something in the log if it is a logbook and not a sheet. Typing out a meaningful log using my iPhone.

Micro caches (XS) aren't necessarily more difficult to find. Most are XS because it's cheaper and easier to hide an XS. Many cache owners carry a sackful of pill bottles and plunk them down where there's an empty spot on the map.

I find that more then half the "Small" size containers are actually XS/micro/log-only caches. I hope that's not the case in your area.

 

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On ‎10‎/‎1‎/‎2017 at 7:24 AM, Tarahead said:

Time spent at cache - I am trying to operate in some sort of stealth mode. I am looking over my shoulder before heading off the trails into the woods. I am finding the cache and peeking around before I actually approach. Then I am hiding while I open the cache, sign the log, and possibly trade items. I definitely look like I am up to no good as I carefully place the cache and head off on the trail. I am reading many logs and posts about bags being changed, cache cleaned up, new log paper added, etc. How much time do some of you spend at a cache? Does it depend on how heavily traveled the area is? A couple of the caches I have found could definitely have used a little clean up. Not enough to indicate " needs maintenance " but I have found torn open sugar packets, flip tops from cans, etc. 

 

For a container hidden where people may see me as they pass on the trail, I find it, note the hiding spot, then carry the container to an area nearby. Park bench or something. That way there's time to dry the log, sign the log, remove some trash, and add items. Passers-by don't even seem to notice. Maybe they think I'm having lunch.  :)

I then put it back in place during a lull in hikers.

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On ‎10‎/‎1‎/‎2017 at 7:24 AM, Tarahead said:

Size- being new I have been trying to stick with ones that are of a small or larger size, but I am finding that many in my area are sized as XS. I have found that although there is a size guideline, there is quite a range. I am wondering if I should possibly pay to be a premium member so that I will have a bit more access to what is available in my area? I am not skilled enough yet to be looking for XS. I was out searching for one yesterday and passed a stealth couple in the woods who were clearly searching as well. I looked at the app and could see they were at a " greyed out " cache for premium members so I didn't know what was there. Premium membership seemed to be $29.99 for the year I believe.

Time spent at cache - I am trying to operate in some sort of stealth mode. I am looking over my shoulder before heading off the trails into the woods. I am finding the cache and peeking around before I actually approach. Then I am hiding while I open the cache, sign the log, and possibly trade items. I definitely look like I am up to no good as I carefully place the cache and head off on the trail.

Should I be spending more time " enjoying the moment" instead of feeling I need to get in and out before anyone sees me?

If using this site's app as a basic member , you're unfortunately restricted to 1.5 or less caches, and the majority in many places is "xs"..  In our area, some claim a larger pill bottle as a small, when it's actually a micro ("xs" in the app) too.  Not sure why the site hasn't straightened out the size differences between the app and site...  If you are using the "official" app, premium membership does give you the "advanced" caches (all difficulty/terrain ratings) plus the premium member only caches you saw others after (though you can log a pmo cache as a basic member).

If you are "in the woods" you may be surprised how many already know of this hobby.  I don't use stealth if on a trail.  Sometimes someone passing may even say where it's located if you look like you're stumped.   I go outside to "enjoy the moment", and if I couldn't, I'd have found another hobby by now.  :)

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9 minutes ago, cerberus1 said:

If using this site's app as a basic member , you're unfortunately restricted to 1.5 or less caches, and the majority in many places is "xs"..  In our area, some claim a larger pill bottle as a small, when it's actually a micro ("xs" in the app) too.  Not sure why the site hasn't straightened out the size differences between the app and site...  If you are using the "official" app, premium membership does give you the "advanced" caches (all difficulty/terrain ratings) plus the premium member only caches you saw others after (though you can log a pmo cache as a basic member).

If you are "in the woods" you may be surprised how many already know of this hobby.  I don't use stealth if on a trail.  Sometimes someone passing may even say where it's located if you look like you're stumped.   I go outside to "enjoy the moment", and if I couldn't, I'd have found another hobby by now.  :)

That's a good point, that most of the 1.5/1.5 caches are XS. So maybe a PM account will be worth it.

Am I wrong? Didn't the original basic app filter out micros (XS) when it first started? I wish they'd go back to that. Giving new cachers larger caches to search for might be a better experience. But then again, it might add to the confusion since most smalls are micros. And there wouldn't be many caches to search for in some areas, where XS is the dominant cache size. 

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6 hours ago, Tarahead said:

I just find myself moving so quickly to retrieve and sign the log that I miss some of the experience of sitting and reading through the log and looking through the cache.

If reading through logs and going through swag is what you enjoy, I wouldn't bother with anything smaller than a REGULAR; for the most part, there's just no room on log sheets vs. actual log books, and generally not enough room for the kind of swag worth exploring.  No-one is likely to pay much attention, especially if you're nibbling on a snack/piece of fruit; they'll assume the cache is a lunchbox.

The key to being stealthy is looking like you belong there--not like you're trying to avoid... (what's a good word for scrutiny:P)  Bringing a dog can provide a multitude of cover--and cover stories.

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16 minutes ago, DrJeckyloftheDunes said:

I've had quite a few time where I popped out of some thick brush off a bike trail when someone was going by. I'm not sure what I would actually reply if someone asked what I was doing. Most just give me an odd look. 

What would you ask if the roles were reversed?  Anything?  Would you care?  I'm not one to ask challenge someone exhibiting odd behavior in the woods, though I might let slip an odd look. 

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3 minutes ago, RufusClupea said:

What would you ask if the roles were reversed?  Anything?  Would you care?  I'm not one to ask challenge someone exhibiting odd behavior in the woods, though I might let slip an odd look. 

I'm likely to think that they really had to pee. :) I wouldn't ask, unless they had a GPS in their hand and I knew a cache was nearby. 

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I keep waiting to be challenged by someone who wants to get hostile about it, because I've been tempted to reply, "I'm looking for a person who's minding their own business; have you seen any?"  Haven't had the need in years, mostly because I no longer concern myself with being stealthy.  Stealth for me is pretty much impossible, as I am just not that small or quiet.  So I carry myself with confidence instead, since furtive behavior only draws more attention.

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Thank you everyone for all the information! Regarding the cache size, my free basic membership does seem to show many more small, XS in my area. I was trying to avoid those just due to being new to this. With that said, three of the ones I have found so far were rather small. There was a pill container, a magnetic flat box , and a small rock hide-a-key type. Each one of those was obviously too small for anything except the log. The rest that I have found were the lock and lock containers which still seem smallish, but I believe were considered medium. Then one very large black twist off container, which was definitely a large.

Also being rather directionally challenged, I am learning quite a bit. The only confusing thing so far is that the maps located in either the Geocaching or the Cachly app, seem to be upside down to me. My location is always at the top and wherever the cache location is, it is below me on the map. I walk forward, the map shows me moving down . This always caused the cache location to be on the opposite side of where I think it should be . Hoping the makes sense. Possibly there is a way to rotate the map so my location is at the bottom, and moving in the same direction as I am? I apologize as I am quite sure that is a silly question. 

I am going to take the suggestions and purchase the premium so that I will have access to the many more I can see in my area. I do have two apps in my iPhone.... Geocaching and Cachly. They seem to be linked together, but only the Geocaching app seems to have the option to upgrade to a premium membership.

Would I be correct that I merely press the upgrade button, then confirm the $29.99 purchase through iTunes? I just want to be sure I am actually purchasing the premium correctly?

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43 minutes ago, Tarahead said:

....Then one very large black twist off container, which was definitely a large.

Was it larger than 5 gallons/20 liters?  If not, then it was still a REGULAR (there's no "medium").  Bonafide LARGE cache containers are quite unusual/infrequent.  I think you'll find--regrettably--that Difficulty, Terrain, and Size are often misrepresented.  Lots of discussion, but little in the way of solutions to those problems (but something to keep in mind if/when you feel the urge to hide something... Be as accurate as you can, and those who seek/find your caches will appreciate it. ;)

There should be settings in your apps to rectify the flipped orientation.  I use a GPSr, so I can't help much there; others who use the phone apps should be able to.

Edited by RufusClupea
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Thank you so much for the information regarding size and map orientation! The black one was indicated as the biggest "dot" on the scale. Was pretty big but not sure 5 gallon size. The ones I thought were medium( ish) were probably 4-5" in size. Tried to attach pics but they were too big.

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4 hours ago, Tarahead said:

Thank you everyone for all the information! Regarding the cache size, my free basic membership does seem to show many more small, XS in my area. I was trying to avoid those just due to being new to this. With that said, three of the ones I have found so far were rather small. There was a pill container, a magnetic flat box , and a small rock hide-a-key type. Each one of those was obviously too small for anything except the log. The rest that I have found were the lock and lock containers which still seem smallish, but I believe were considered medium. Then one very large black twist off container, which was definitely a large.

Also being rather directionally challenged, I am learning quite a bit. The only confusing thing so far is that the maps located in either the Geocaching or the Cachly app, seem to be upside down to me. My location is always at the top and wherever the cache location is, it is below me on the map. I walk forward, the map shows me moving down . This always caused the cache location to be on the opposite side of where I think it should be . Hoping the makes sense. Possibly there is a way to rotate the map so my location is at the bottom, and moving in the same direction as I am? I apologize as I am quite sure that is a silly question. 

I am going to take the suggestions and purchase the premium so that I will have access to the many more I can see in my area. I do have two apps in my iPhone.... Geocaching and Cachly. They seem to be linked together, but only the Geocaching app seems to have the option to upgrade to a premium membership.

Would I be correct that I merely press the upgrade button, then confirm the $29.99 purchase through iTunes? I just want to be sure I am actually purchasing the premium correctly?

I do not want to discourage anyone who wants to help support this game but you can request a free one month premium membership from any reviewer or GS lackey to see if you like it before buying a year long membership. Welcome to geocaching and I hope it provides you as much fun and adventure as it has to me!

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Cash size is a tough thing to define and you'll encounter all different interpretations.

If you enjoy the game than becoming a premium member isn't a bad thing.

Stealth isn't one of my strong points so I tend to get in and out as fast as I can.   To be honest I tend to shy away from stealth caches and prefer instead to get myself lost in the woods somewhere.    

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2 hours ago, Michaelcycle said:

I do not want to discourage anyone who wants to help support this game but you can request a free one month premium membership from any reviewer or GS lackey to see if you like it before buying a year long membership. Welcome to geocaching and I hope it provides you as much fun and adventure as it has to me!

Thank you so much for that suggestion! Are you one of those that can offer the free month as I would love to try it !

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5 hours ago, Tarahead said:

Thank you so much for that suggestion! Are you one of those that can offer the free month as I would love to try it !

I'm sorry, no I am not (if I were you would have one already) I suggest asking your local reviewer. To find your reviewer, find a local cache and go to the "Publish Listing" log (probably the first one at the bottom.) That should be be the person you need. Click on their profile and send them an email asking them to gift you a one month trial premium membership. Good luck!

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On 10/2/2017 at 3:58 PM, hzoi said:

Stealth for me is pretty much impossible, as I am just not that small or quiet.  So I carry myself with confidence instead, since furtive behavior only draws more attention.

This.  As I said in another thread, I believe trying to act like someone else (i.e. wearing reflective vests or carrying a clipboard to look "official") just works against you and actually draws attention to you.  In the "real world," people really just mind their own business.  In the rare occasion when I might be on a busy trail and have to head off the trail to get a cache, I just make sure it is clear that I'm following the direction of my phone.  I hold it out in such a way that it looks like exactly what it is at that time...a directional instrument.  I've done this numerous times and at most I get a glance when I walk off the trail into the trees and then they just keep on walking by.  Nobody ever stares and nobody ever asks what I'm doing...because they can SEE that I'm using a tool to find my way somewhere.  People get it, even if they don't necessarily know what geocaching is.  Smartphones and mobile navigational tools are so ubiquitous these days that I'm pretty sure folks just don't question it anymore.  

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1 hour ago, J Grouchy said:

 I just make sure it is clear that I'm following the direction of my phone.  I hold it out in such a way that it looks like exactly what it is at that time...a directional instrument.  I've done this numerous times and at most I get a glance when I walk off the trail into the trees and then they just keep on walking by.  Nobody ever stares and nobody ever asks what I'm doing...because they can SEE that I'm using a tool to find my way somewhere.  People get it, even if they don't necessarily know what geocaching is.  Smartphones and mobile navigational tools are so ubiquitous these days that I'm pretty sure folks just don't question it anymore.  

Similar, most times we're never questioned when "in the woods", but we do notice that others are watching.  Just a sign of the times I think. 

The rare times someone might say something is when they're noticing a prominent hand-held GPSr on, on a well-mapped trail.

Possible it's a location thing, but we've still had some  (the few outdoors folks who don't know what geocaching is), who'll ask at  if we're "orienteering" .  :)

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On 10/2/2017 at 11:53 AM, kunarion said:

 

For a container hidden where people may see me as they pass on the trail, I find it, note the hiding spot, then carry the container to an area nearby. Park bench or something. That way there's time to dry the log, sign the log, remove some trash, and add items. Passers-by don't even seem to notice. Maybe they think I'm having lunch.  :)

I then put it back in place during a lull in hikers.

That's how I do it as well.  As I see it, there are four parts:  Locating the container, retrieving the container, signing the log (and optionally reading past logs, trading swag), and replacing the container.

Locating the container may attract the most attention, especially if you're searching down low or behind objects.  Once I've located the container I try to figure out the best way to grab it and whether or not I can just sign the log and replace it without someone noticing.  Some times that means walking away, then swooping in to grab it and move to a spot where I can sit and go through the cache. Once I've done that I'll look for an opportunity when I can go back to GZ and replace the container in the same place I found it. However, I have found that typically, the act of signing the log and going through the cache doesn't appear very suspicious *unless* someone saw you retrieve the container or replace it. 

Of course, that's all only really necessary for a cache hidden in an area with a lot of muggles around.  

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1 hour ago, NYPaddleCacher said:

That's how I do it as well.  As I see it, there are four parts:  Locating the container, retrieving the container, signing the log (and optionally reading past logs, trading swag), and replacing the container.

Locating the container may attract the most attention, especially if you're searching down low or behind objects.  Once I've located the container I try to figure out the best way to grab it and whether or not I can just sign the log and replace it without someone noticing.  Some times that means walking away, then swooping in to grab it and move to a spot where I can sit and go through the cache. Once I've done that I'll look for an opportunity when I can go back to GZ and replace the container in the same place I found it. However, I have found that typically, the act of signing the log and going through the cache doesn't appear very suspicious *unless* someone saw you retrieve the container or replace it. 

Of course, that's all only really necessary for a cache hidden in an area with a lot of muggles around.  

Sometimes, while finding bench caches or nanos on signs, I try to look like I am resting my hand on the sign/bench, but really I am grabbing the cache. It seems to work most of the time, especially since I visit family in my former hometown of Houston Texas, it is always crawling with people, so it is harder to find caches.

If that doesn't work, looking like you've lost something can work, but try to draw little attention to yourself. If someone asks, say that you are looking for something (after all you ARE looking for a Geocache. :))

Edited by TwistedCube
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