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psychpineapple

Winter Caching

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Hello fellow geocachers!

I have been caching for about 9 months now and I am really enjoying it! I love to spend weekends going out and finding a bunch of caches and exploring. It gives me a purpose for my walks. Anyways, I live in Southern Ontario and winter has begun! I have tried to look for tips and have been having difficulty finding info. I will probably go for easier ones (lpc's, virtuals) because I don't want to go looking in the woods with lots of snow around. Is there any tips that you can give a newbie cacher out on her first geocaching adventure in the winter? 

Thank you :)

Edited by psychpineapple

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Greetings from the sunny south. Maybe. Depends where you are in Ontario.

 

Dress warmly. You know that already. If you might be out for a long stretch, chemical toe warmers are a great invention.

 

Take water.

 

Keep your camera/GPS/phone warmer by carrying in a pocket, preferably an inside pocket, until needed. Electronics can get sluggish in cold temperatures.

 

If you use AA batteries, rechargeables are better in the cold than alkaline, and lithium is best in severe cold.

 

For a better chance of success, see whether a cache has been found recently, or ever been found in winter. Sometimes you can even follow the tracks in the snow. Some cachers do like to put down false tracks so as not to call attention to the cache location.

 

Winter is a great time to go after those island caches!

 

Look for a winter-friendly attribute.

 

Use “breadcrumbs” on your phone or GPS.

 

I personally think I am doing well if I find 50% of the caches I look for in winter. Snow cover makes things more difficult. Even if the hide was intended to be possible to find in winter, it may have fallen.

 

Have fun!

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One nice thing about winter caching - no mosquitoes or ticks!

 

In many ways I like winter caching better than summer caching. And depending on the amount of snow, there's no good reason to avoid woods caches. In fact, some of those are easier to access than LPCs that have the snow piled all around 'em from the snow plow. :) Plus, you get to enjoy the winter wonderland!

 

mrsrubble's advice is good. Also, check attributes. Some specifically say whether they're available in winter. This is especially good for those country caches.

 

Depending on the temperature, please don't try to force open frozen caches. You can break them.

Edited by TriciaG

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3 hours ago, TriciaG said:

One nice thing about winter caching - no mosquitoes or ticks!

 

We see a lot of people who believe that.     :) 

As one who spends many days each year hunting/hiking in the woods, if the sun is warm enough to melt ice/snow, ticks are out.

My first experience with Lyme disease was from hiking a state over in the winter, thinking the same.

Every deer I've taken have had active ticks on it.  They crawl towards you when dressing your game. 

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4 hours ago, psychpineapple said:

I have been caching for about 9 months now and I am really enjoying it! I love to spend weekends going out and finding a bunch of caches and exploring. It gives me a purpose for my walks. Anyways, I live in Southern Ontario and winter has begun! I have tried to look for tips and haven't difficulty finding info. I will probably go for easier ones (lpc's, virtuals) because I don't want to go looking in the woods with lots of snow around. Is there any tips that you can give a newbie cacher out on her first geocaching adventure in the winter? 

 

Finding caches in the woods isn't that difficult.  You just go by D/T, attributes and logs, and you factor snow in.  :) 

We try to go only for ammo cans, or caches that are up...poking around with carbide not too good for plastics. 

There is a not available attribute.  Shame so few use it...

 A handheld metal detector helps (we have a garrett) , and it's pretty good until snow's packed n real deep.

 

If you're going to simple park n grabs , things shouldn't be too different than when clear. 

You may find snow plowed, blocking that lpc though. 

Dress warm, carry a couple extra batteries and you're good.

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27 minutes ago, cerberus1 said:

 

We see a lot of people who believe that.     :) 

As one who spends many days each year hunting/hiking in the woods, if the sun is warm enough to melt ice/snow, ticks are out.

My first experience with Lyme disease was from hiking a state over in the winter, thinking the same.

Every deer I've taken have had active ticks on it.  They crawl towards you when dressing your game. 

I wish I hadn't read this. 😁

I honestly didn't know!

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Regarding the “stuck” container, if it has a screw-top lid, you can try holding it under your armpit to thaw ice or snow.

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On 11/18/2019 at 6:58 PM, psychpineapple said:

I live in Southern Ontario and winter has begun!

 

Well hello fellow southern Ontarian!  I might suggest as well as what others have said, find local events, meet other cachers, and go out on some group caching days. That will help you get a feel for what it's like while still having a decent chance at success :) Until you're comfortable caching casually on your own in the winter. There are benefits and drawbacks to every season! You can come to enjoy what winter has to offer the hobby.  That or just come to hate the season, hehe

Maybe we'll cross paths in the future!

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On 11/18/2019 at 7:22 PM, msrubble said:

rechargeables are better in the cold than alkaline, and lithium is best in severe cold

 

I didn't know that different battery types performed differently in the cold.  Thanks for that!

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You can find caches under the snow.  I've found many, some under as many as 3 feet of snow.  See that tree at ground zero? Dig around the base or poke around (gently) with your hiking stick.  See evidence of a down tree under the snow? Check that out, especially around the root ball.  Just think of the places you normally find caches without snow and check those with snow and you might surprise yourself. 

Also, if it's been a while since the last snowfall, you might find tracks going right to the cache, making it a piece of cake. 

There is a "winter" attribute.  Search for those, as they are caches that can easily be found with snow on the ground.  Usually they are up in trees. 

No need to spend your winter caching in mall parking lots.

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In our area (Ontario) we still treat the "Available in Winter" attribute as "Winter Friendly" which makes so much more sense.  Available in winter sounds like it's otherwise not available (as in should be disabled; inaccessible) at all.  We know what it means, but 'winter friendly' is just shorter, easier to say, and much more clear. That attribute itself tends to be a clue to the cache as well, year round. Winter friendly typically means it's not on the ground, and likely at least a few feet high. And on the flipside, NWF usually means keep your eyes to the ground and get ready to get your hands dirty :)

 

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Looking for the "available in winter" attribute might help, but it´s not a garantie that one will find the cache. I encountered many available in winter caches while skitouring without any chance to find them. Meters of snow were covering GZ. A hint "under bench" is just funny when riding 3 meters of snow. Some owners just judge wrong or underestimate under what conditions some people go for caches. 

I´ve also found available in winter caches without a chance to log, like this solid colourfull log block of ice :D

3ca5bcc0-4d3c-4b1e-8c57-f14bd0cd87fd_l.j

So, a heat gun could come in handy when youre out caching in winter time ;)

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Thanks for the advice. 

Unfortunately winter caching did not work for me today. I went to what I assume was a LPC, snow covered all around it, had to climb a bit. That part was okay, the problem was that I couldn't lift the skirt. Is that common? I tried for over 5 minutes to just lift the thing and it wasn't even budging. I tried wearing my gloves and not wearing them and it wouldn't budge. Any advice?

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3 hours ago, psychpineapple said:

Unfortunately winter caching did not work for me today. I went to what I assume was a LPC, snow covered all around it, had to climb a bit.

That part was okay, the problem was that I couldn't lift the skirt. Is that common?

I tried for over 5 minutes to just lift the thing and it wasn't even budging.

I tried wearing my gloves and not wearing them and it wouldn't budge. Any advice?

 

Sure.    Without being there, we can't tell what you're looking at.  .  :D

 

Might just be frozen.  Do you really want to be the one questioned by security ?  Getting the cache archived ?     :)

Move on until it's warmer.  It's just a cache...

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29 minutes ago, cerberus1 said:

 

Sure.    Without being there, we can't tell what you're looking at.  .  :D

 

Might just be frozen.  Do you really want to be the one questioned by security ?  Getting the cache archived ?     :)

Move on until it's warmer.  It's just a cache...

Can't tell if you are kidding or not... I meant that I climbed over some snow; no one was around. I was just wondering if there was any tips to warm up lpc's if they get ice around them. Is there an way that people have melted the snow/ice?

 

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9 hours ago, psychpineapple said:

Can't tell if you are kidding or not... I meant that I climbed over some snow; no one was around. I was just wondering if there was any tips to warm up lpc's if they get ice around them. Is there an way that people have melted the snow/ice?

 

Search for "lock de-icer".  (Lots quieter - and cheaper - than a heat gun.  ;) )  It's often used for thawing ski racks, garage/mailbox doors ... and locks.

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12 hours ago, psychpineapple said:

I meant that I climbed over some snow; no one was around. I was just wondering if there was any tips to warm up lpc's if they get ice around them. Is there an way that people have melted the snow/ice?

 

hehe, yeah that can happen around here quite often. I've passed on a few simple LPCs because of snow before. And came across a few where the pile had completely engulfed the target zone :)  Sometimes it's ok to move on to the next and return later. But if the lamp skirt itself is frozen in place... depending on the material, a few light but well paced tapes can usually loosen it. If it's plastic, be extra careful or just skip it.  And yep it can be awful if it makes a huge echoing gong around the parking lot! haha. Or as VAVAPAM said, a deicer in some form could also be helpful.

 

It's all part of the fun. Just remember you don't have to find every geocache.

(also, I'd not log a DNF on an LPC if I couldn't check under the skirt due to ice or snow; if anything, I'd post a note describing the condition - I prefer that if I'm searching and see someone describe the situation; I interpret it as the cache is most likely still there and findable, just not in current natural conditions ;) )

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25 minutes ago, thebruce0 said:

hehe, yeah that can happen around here quite often. I've passed on a few simple LPCs because of snow before. And came across a few where the pile had completely engulfed the target zone :) 

 

Happened to me 2 weeks ago. Ground zero is under the highest point of this pile of snow:

 

1509334708_2019-12-0411_02_43-.png.5cc5b8b18713ca5eee0d8058c7f6e476.png

 

 

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14 hours ago, psychpineapple said:

Can't tell if you are kidding or not... I meant that I climbed over some snow; no one was around. I was just wondering if there was any tips to warm up lpc's if they get ice around them. Is there an way that people have melted the snow/ice?

 

 

I was working on a year long streak and had saved a couple close to home.  An ice storm hit the night before so the next morning I woke up and headed to the closest cache.  I brought a hammer with me.  Amazingly, the local big box store on the other side of the parking lot was still opening but no one else was around as I went to work.  It sounded like I was playing amplified, out of tune chimes in the percussion section.  I freed up the cover but didn't initially realize I had to free up the pole above the cover as well to be able to lift it up (duh...).  That was even louder and I probably would have laughed if I had seen someone else doing what I was doing in order to get a cache.  If I had any de-icer (or had thought to buy some in advance) I would have used it.  As for piles of snow like pictured, good luck.  Bring a shovel and some gloves?  LOL.

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Maybe it's just me, but I feel if I had to hammer on someone's private property , to access  a hidden spot you think might house a geocache, I'd move on and attempt another day.

 - The OP did say "I went to what I assume was a LPC" ...

The other 2/3rds found one once , where the cache was right next to an lpc, but it was in a parking block.

 

After seeing how some have nonchalantly accessed caches on private property, leaving damage behind (but they got that smiley...) is one of the many reasons I rarely cache in those areas anymore.

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4 minutes ago, cerberus1 said:

After seeing how some have nonchalantly accessed caches on private property, leaving damage behind (but they got that smiley...) is one of the many reasons I rarely cache in those areas anymore

 

Yep, and that's something both cache owners and finders have judge, before there's any actual issue that might arise.

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8 minutes ago, cerberus1 said:

 - The OP did say "I went to what I assume was a LPC" ...

The other 2/3rds found one once , where the cache was right next to an lpc, but it was in a parking block.

Yeah, some of the caches that have taken me the longest to find have been near common hiding places (the ones with three-letter acronyms), but have been hidden some other way. It can take a long time to let go of the "obvious" hiding spot and spot the cache hidden some other way nearby.

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1 minute ago, cerberus1 said:

Maybe it's just me, but I feel if I had to hammer on someone's private property , to access  a hidden spot you think might house a geocache, I'd move on and attempt another day.

 - The OP did say "I went to what I assume was a LPC" ...

The other 2/3rds found one once , where the cache was right next to an lpc, but it was in a parking block.

 

After seeing how some have nonchalantly accessed caches on private property, leaving damage behind (but they got that smiley...) is one of the many reasons I rarely cache in those areas anymore.

 

Should I have clarified that I hammered enough to break the ice but not dent the cover or the pole?  I knew even then, as a newer cacher, not to cause any damage and the hint stated LCP (sic).  Regardless, the reverberations were plenty loud as the pole was much harder to free from the ice than the cover was.  I was working on a streak and while I could have skipped the cache and come back to it another day, my options for caches in the area were all the same.  9 1/2 years later and I would have skipped the cache and come back another day, probably not even gone after the cache, seeing as how I rarely look for them now.  Less than a year into my caching (and my year long streak) and things were somewhat different.

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