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Yet Another Newbie First Post: Calling All GeoCaching Veterans


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Hello all,


This is my first post and although I am sure you've heard this story a thousand times, I will proceed anyways. About 2 months ago I came across a link for Geocaching.com. When I opened it up I saw something that said 'where you are the search engine' and for some reason this sparked enough interest to bookmark the site. This just happens to be on my wife's computer. A few months went by with her paying no attention to the link passing it off as another geek related site of mine. On Sunday of this week, just 4 day's ago my computer went down. My wife had already called it an evening and her computer was free for my using. In doing so I clicked on the favorite’s button of her browser oddly enough just out of habit. Being that I was on a pc other then my own and would not have any of my listed favorites I don't know why I was looking. For those of you a few steps ahead in thought, you know I come to find the link to Geocaching.com


Sunday evening I spent nearly and hour and a half on the site getting the gist of this hobby. It took only minutes to get the excitement knowing this whole concept had my name all over it. I could not wait to get started yet I had so much to learn. Upon calling it a night myself I mentioned something to my wife who was still very much asleep about the whole idea and that I wanted to get started. The next day being Monday my wife remembers our brief conversation and without my knowing spends her fair share of surfing around the geocaching site at work. She called me mid-day and tells me tonight we buy a GPS unit. I placed my order that Monday after work on Amazon less then 24hrs since I became aware of the sport. I decided to go with the eTrex Legend not wanting to invest more then I should until I confirm my liking for the hobby. With 2nd day air, I received the unit last night, Wednesday evening.


On Tuesday my wife and I decided to go out and stock up on trading items. As I am sure you've seen before we ARE the stereotypical newbies full of excitement and over boarding expectations. But at the same time we've come to know that not every cache will be that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. I've roamed these forums everyday since Sunday and know all to well that for some it's the hunt and for others it's the treasure. My wife and I both see it as something to do, something to get out of the house, something to be present with nature, all being of a value in itself. We've also made promise to being a positive productive geocaching team. To always leave the cache no matter how sad it may be better then when we found it. We feel this includes leaving something good when there may not be something good to take. We spent a little over $35 on trading items, nothing impressive, yet hopefully effective. All items ranging from the very small to the larger over $3 range. We took a few pics of our items laid out on the dining room table. We choose to put all items in zip lock bags being that where we live the weather changes so incredible fast that we saw no other option then to protect from the elements. Here are two pics of the same items but from different positions.






Now my reasoning for calling the veterans is that I have a few questions:


1.) Is it cheating to read the clues and location vicinity of the cache?


2.) Am I supposed to navigate blindly only using the GPS from my home? Or am I supposed to find out where about the cache is and only use the GPS after I drive there?


3.) Is it suggested that my wife need a GPS unit as well?


4.) Should I have a paper map as well? If so what kind? I would think the answer would be topo, but where I live it is all flatlands, the entire state for the most part. Would a topo be as effective or would there be something else suggested?


I appreciate any and all feedback and comments. I realize this is an incredibly long post, however I am not usually this long winded. I look forward to hearing from other geocachers!




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Here are my answers to your specific questions. Keep in mind these are specific to the way my family does things. There are many, many ways to skin the geocaching cat [icon_smile.gif].


1. An emphatic NO! It is not cheating to read the clues and location vicinity of the cache. That's what they are there for. Since I use Geocaching to take me to new places, I almost always read the clues beforehand. You may want to try it both ways and see which is most fun for you.


2. I've done both. I've started out with nothing but the coordinates and used the GPSr to search for the right roads, etc. I've also plugged the coordinates into a mapping program to get a general idea of which roads to take. Had fun both ways, but the former seems to be most satisfying afterwards.


3. We ALWAYS go caching as a family (4 of us + 1 dog). I always work the GPSr; my daugter (11) reads the compass; my wife reads out the description, clues, and logs from the cache page printout; and my son (15) usually ends up finding the cache. We've never even thought about needed a 2nd GPSr.


4. I don't use a paper map for the cache hunt. Whether or not I have one with me depends on where we're going. In a local park, or in some other civilized place there's usually no need for a map. If we're going to be hiking a trail though (we do a lot of non-geocaching hiking) I try to always have some type of map (usually a TOPO) with me purely as a safety precaution. It's one of the 10 essentials for hiking.


Hope this helps!



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I'm psyched to be the first post in reply! Drat! Mark42 beat me to it!


Wow! I was excited when I first started but you've got me beat! Here's my 2cents:


I admire your commitment to leaving cool cache stuff but you'll find that not every one shares our thoughts on this. I try to maintain a good level of quality despite the junk I often find. You may want to start cultivating the notion that the game is about the mastering geography and orienteering, the actual hunt and the finding of the box being outside and being led to interesting places. If you focus on finding "buried treasure" you might end up being disappointed.


Here's an extra 2cents on your specific questions:


1) I don't think it's cheating to read the clues. They're there to help you if you're stumped. If the placers didn't want you to have them they would not have given them.


I usually print the clues and the encrypted clue but don't look at them much but take them with me. If I get stumped I'll then look at them more closely or decrypt the clue (It's a very simple cipher, you can do it in your head if you have to.)


2) Many times the location will be in the cache description anyway ie: "This cache is in Powder Mills Park . . ." but I don't see any offense to the spirit of the game in figuring out the general vicinity with a map.


3) Your wife only needs GPSr if your going to compete (race) to the cache. My wife and whole family and I have only one and we do fine.


4) The paper map can help but isn't neccessary. I don't use one, maybe other people do.


One other imenly helpful gadget is a magnetic compass. You will consdider this a blessing when your GPSr gives you crazy readings under heavy tree cover. We use an old boy scout compass it doesn't need to be fancy. When the GPSr starts to wig out I'll back up to a location giving an acurate reading and then use the compass to head into the woods using the bearing I got from the GPSr.


Good luck and happy cacheing. Be safe and post your first find or e-mail your success through my profile!


"Now may every living thing, young or old, weak or strong, living near or far, known or unknown, living or departed or yet unborn, may every living thing know happiness!"

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Welcome! It looks like you're off to a very good start!


Here's my angle on your questions:


1.) No, it is not cheating to read the hints, especially on your first few hunts. After a few finds under your belt you might not need them, but for now, you should at least take them along just in case.


2.) I almost never navigate blindly. I usually at least check out the map to find out the general area. I enjoy the hiking-type caches and prefer not going on a wild search just to find the trailhead parking.


3.) One unit should be enough, unless like cool said, you want to "race".


4.) I print out TOPO maps if I'm going to hike anywhere other than town parks. They come in very handy around here. I like to know if I'm going to have to cross a river and it's nice to know what kind of elevation gain I'm getting myself into.


Here's another piece of advise...Always waypoint where you parked your car! You can imagine the results of not doing this!


I hope you have fun out there! (I'm sure you will.) Looking forward to seeing your first adventures here on the forums!


Good luck icon_biggrin.gif




Prophetically Challenged (or is that Pathetically?)

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Nothning to add in response to your questions. The previous two posters gave good answers.


Just a little unasked for advice. Download the EasyGPS program (link can be found on this website). It's a great way to manage your waypoints and transfer them to your GPS without having to type everything in manually. Don't make the mistake I did and wait until you've been geocaching a year before you discover the benefits of EasyGPS!!!!!


I have the waypoints of nearly every cache in my state on my GPS. Sometimes, I'm not planning a hunt, but I flick on my GPS, see there is a cache or two nearby and go for 'em.


"Give a man a fish, he'll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, he'll sit in a boat and drink beer all day" - Dave Barry

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Originally posted by BrianSnat:

Download the EasyGPS program


Thank you for the insight. I will check this out for sure.


Thank you to those who have replied. I do feel as if my questions were answered in a manner that will better suit me for starting this hobby. Today is Thursday and my wife and I are ready to give it a shot this weekend. I've spent more time lurking on the forums then my wife has and I keep reminding her that as I've read here to be prepared for dissapointment when it comes to what's in the cache. I am pretty sure I will enjoy it no matter what contents sit within mainly because I am just not that kind of person. I am in no way trying to come across as someone better then the next, but simply I know already I will find so much enjoyment in simply enjoying the outdoors. This gives us a low cost hobby to indulge in on the weekends. For sure this will be the answer when we are sitting around the house bored questioning each other on what we want to do, lol.


Thanks again,

Geocaching Guy

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Something not mentioned so far is this:


When you go looking for a cache the person holding the GPS has a disadvantage in finding the cache. While they are busy trying to find ground zero the other person is busy looking and they often find the cache while the GPSer is doing the hula or drunken bee dance still working on that Zero.

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Welcome To The Most addictive hobby that you will ever persue. Dittio to all of the answers already given.

You Ask The First Question.

Don't Forget To Asks The Other Questions as They Arise. Because They Will.

You will find that Geocachers are a very helpful bunch. They helped me quite a few times when I first started. Even today I still get help from the old hand to the newbie.

Be Safe. Good Caching. Hope To meet You on The Trail SomeDay.





If you have the nose of a basset there is no cache that you can not find and you are never lost.


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My husband and I always take the print out and as stated about only read the encrypted clues if we have a lot of trouble. We also recently bought some inexpensive walkie talkies so that when in heavily wooded areas we want to split and check different areas we can keep in touch. My husband and I were engaged when we discovered geocaching a year ago....now its really the only hobby we have. Very addictive!

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It's always nice to be refreshed by a newbie's enthusiasm. Your post reminded me of the day I discovered the site, more than a year ago. Thanks, and welcome to the fun!


When you are first starting out, it is perfectly acceptable to cheat like crazy. Decrypt the hints, print out maps, whatever it takes! As you get the hang of finding the caches, you'll hopefully find that you don't need to sweat these details quite so much.


Nowadays, I still prepare thoroughly for wilderness hunts or trips to other areas, but for local suburban park caches and urban caches, it's fun to make them into a challenge. I'll find 'em with just the waypoint on the GPS, or at night, or in the snow, or using just a map, compass and aerial photo.


My goal is to keep it challenging and interesting, while still being somewhat safe and sane.



Next time, instead of getting married, I think I'll just find a woman I don't like and buy her a house.

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Here's a couple things to consider. Get a DeLorme Atlas and Gazetteer of your state. The topo maps aren't the best, but it shows towns, features, rivers, roads, etc in great detail and helps plan how to get from your house to the cache location.

My wife and I find no benefit to having 2 GPS units, but we did buy a set of FRS radios. Often one of us will be using the GPS to get close to the coordinates and the other will be off on their own looking in tree trunks, under rocks, etc. and we find ourselves out of range of shouting at each other. And sometimes she just doesn't want to bushwack with me and will stay on the trail while I go charging into the bush. It's just easier to stay in touch without yelling like an idiot and scaring everything around. Also as said previously by someone, a must-have is a compass with a rotating degree ring. When the GPS starts going whacky, back off and use the bearing feature on the GPS to get a bearing TOWARDS the cache, then use the compass to point you to it. Do this from at least 3 angles and triangulate your way to the cache. This is pretty basic, but if you have any questions how to do this I'm sure if you post another question someone (maybe even me) will be happy to elaborate. Looks like you got a good selection of trade goods. Now get out there and get some caches logged!

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Welcome to the sickness!!! I'm fairly new to geocaching myself and I believe all your questions have been answered and then some. I'm just gonna tell you what I do when it comes to hints and maps. I never look at the hints. I'll spend twelve hours out in the woods if I have to but will never take a decrypt the hints. Why you may ask?? It's just the way I play the game. It's more fune for me to treat a cache like a missing "treasure" for lack of a better word than a game with some hints to get you to the "prize". I always print ot the cache page so I get the coordinates and the detals and theme of the cache. One thing I've learned is if your getting stumpped on a cache's location read the cache page over and over again because you probly missed something the first few times you read it. If you do that you propbly wont need the cheats. I also like to take along my digital camera to take pics of each stage of a cache and the contents of the cache itself along with anything else I see that's interresting along the way. hoep this helps ya.

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1.) Is it cheating to read the clues and location vicinity of the cache?


Absolutely not! If it were cheating, the clues wouldn't be there.


2.) Am I supposed to navigate blindly only using the GPS from my home? Or am I supposed to find out where about the cache is and only use the GPS after I drive there?


Either/or. I typically don't use a GPS at all. I hunt about 2/3 of my caches using only aerial photos and topo maps. You can hunt them any way you like.


3.) Is it suggested that my wife need a GPS unit as well?


I found that my wife, who isn't really all that thrilled with geocaching, enjoys it a lot more when she has the GPS.


4.) Should I have a paper map as well? If so what kind? I would think the answer would be topo, but where I live it is all flatlands, the entire state for the most part. Would a topo be as effective or would there be something else suggested?


Check out LostOutdoors.com. Key in the coordinates, and you can get aerial photos and topo maps of pretty much anyplace in the USA. I use Mapquest maps to navigate to the area, and LostOutdoors maps and aerials to navigate from the parking to the cache. I like LostOutdoors, because the site puts a little dot on the map or aerial at the correct coordinates. I've found it to be just as accurate as a GPS, and more accurate in dense tree cover.


Bottom line: Geocaching is a game where you can hunt in a wide variety of ways. Hunt them any way you like! Use whatever resources you wish to use. The main thing is to have fun.


web-lingbutton.gif ntga_button.gif

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Here's my input:


1) Certainly not. We try to find the cache without using the clue or any find logs but that's our personal choice. We always take a print out of the cache with us for the times (and there are many of them) when the hint is necessary.


2) We almost always know the general area where a cache is before we head out there. Looking at the GPS while driving can become a dangerous proposition, especially if you are by yourself. Since you have the Legend, I recommend Roads and Recreation software that you can download maps into your GPS. This greatly enhances the fun for us. We have used the maps in our Vista to navigate everywhere we've gone since getting the software.


3) Certainly not necessary, but both of us have a GPSr. We like the friendly competition of being the first to find it. If you both really enjoy it, you may want to get another. On more note on this, it does provide an additional (albeit luxurious) level of safety in case one of the units malfunctions.


4) Paper maps? In the city, probably not. Although navigating some of the newer burbs looking for those elusive microcaches can certainly be a challenge. You can always print a map of the area from Mapquest, Maptech, or similar if you wish. If you are seeking caches in a remote location, a topo map of the area should be taken with you. Will you need it to find the cache? Probably not, but it can help you select a more appropriate (and safer) route to the cache and a paper map never runs out of batteries.


Welcome to geocaching!


PS - Crayons are not good trade items in Phoenix! icon_wink.gificon_cool.gif



If I want to see a sunrise, I'll STAY up for it!

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I know the feeling, we just started this june and we're taking to it like a house on fire.


Okay so I haven't been in for years, but being new I have my lessons freshly learn't:


1.) That depends on your level of confidence, and whether or not the wife would whack you over the head frequently while you try to decifer the clue on a particuarly twisty cache.


2.) If that's fun for you, sure. Me I got a copy of Streets & trips 2003, 19.00$ after rebate, and I can hook the GPS to the laptop, get a moving indicator of location, have all the caches together on one map for route planning, and be the navigator and say "What a strange Wessel that is." and make the wife make that weird noise she gets when her blood pressure spikes.


3.) Yes. That way she's staring at it and you can look around for barkoflage.


4.) I bought a inverter for the cigarette lighter, laptop stays at full charge. If hiking though, DEFINITELY.


I also suggest for your part of the country you take what safety equipment an experienced outdoors type would suggest. We pack a loud whistle, mirrors, cell phones, 3 sets of GPS batteries minimum, pens & pencils, a trowel, and 2 rolls of TP (one shrink wrapped).


Also take twice as much water as you think you'll need. Granted, we only haul ALL that stuff in deep woods, in town/parks it drops down to pens & pencils, batts, phones, water & small mirror for looking for micros.


Did I mention that we get bug repellent in the 2 gallon size? Oh, ok.


See ya out there!


They say this universe is bound to blow,

I say we crank up the Calypso Control!

~Jimmy Buffett


~Someday I Will~

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1. Absolutely not. It would be worse to go home empty handed and have had to spend money on gas and what not getting to the cache than it would be to read the hints and actually find the cache if you are stumped.


2. Drive (or whatever you use for transportation) as close as you can get to the cache and then walk the rest of the way. Some people even hide caches right next to the road, which is kinda lame...


3. Sharing a GPS with other people is not very fun IMO. Besides, you can purchase a GPS for pretty cheap nowadays. Therefore, get a second one for your wife so she can do what she wants and you can do what you want.


4. Having a paper map is always recommended if the cache is far enough away for you to become lost. I would never completely rely upon a GPS unit to get you out of trouble.


N38 49.027 W120 01.064

Garmin GPS III+

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One Item I stronly suggest you get is "ExpertGPS", downloadable from Groundspeak as a 30 day full function demo. It costs under $60 if you keep it. It will give you various scale topo maps and aerial photo maps with the cash pin-pointed on it with the names. I wouldn't go with out knowing exactly where I am going. I cache alone sometimes and being a "seasoned citizen" I don't want to go to far in the woods alone. Try it you will love it! (once you figure how to work it)

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We're brand stinking new, too and so far we've (and by we I mean my husband cause I married a geek for a very good reason) have loaded many of the caches within 50 miles of our home into our GPSr that we've owned less than a week. We're starting off relatively easy by searching for caches in suburban areas where we are somewhat familiar with the area and terrain. I'm sure we'll up the ante as we get more familiar with the sport, the GPSr, and our confidence level increases.


Like you, we feel that this is a terrific way for us to spend time together. A concious decision to fill my life with very little that can be described as mundane fuels my excitement for the sport.


Happy Caching!

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I think that most of the replies sum up your questions... I will only add that I feel that a paper topo map and compass along with the knowledge to use them together is a must anytime you are in an area other than a "city park". Plus it is always nice to find out that the cache is on the other side of the river before you hike 3miles to find out yourself.


Good luck, you sure are off to the right start with the right mindset.

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Thanks to everyone that has given their time to post on this thread. I truly do appriciate all the help and suggestions. The EasyGPS suggestion is great, I can see where this far exceeded manually entering of locations. My wife and I were to get our official start this weekend. Shoot, we even called it an evening earlier then usual Friday night in order to get an early start and make a day out of it. Come morning time it was raining like crazy, cold, ugly, and not welcoming to our first Geocaching expedition. We choose to wait and will give it a shot on Sunday should the weather be more willing to work with us.


Thanks again,


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