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Looking For Advice On A Problem Cache


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There is a cache very close to where I live that needs attention. I can’t decide what I should do so I’m looking for some guidance from more experienced cachers.


The cache is Gulf Shores SP . It has a long history with 176 log entries so far. The owner, however, hasn’t logged onto geocaching.com since December of last year nor has the owner responded to multiple emails in the past couple of months.


There are several problems with the cache. First there are two containers. The cache was first placed 6/6/02. By 8/8/02 it was reported missing so the owner replaced it. I don’t believe it was actually missing but rather just misplaced because by January some were reporting that the coordinates were off while others thought they were correct. Later there are pictures of 2 different containers in different logs. To make a long story short, there are actually two containers about 60 feet apart. The log books in these containers indicate that about half the people find one and half find the other. I will call the large original container O and the new container N.


Next problem was that N was recently ransacked, found, and rehidden in a slightly different location. Both O and N are within a reasonable margin of error on the coordinates with N maybe being slightly closer. Both match the clue. When I originally found N it was probably where the owner had placed it but its new location is much better being harder to find unintentionally and somewhat harder intentionally. The O location is more likely to be flooded but it matches the clue slightly better and seems to be more fun to find (people report “I stepped on it.”).


N was evidently not sealed properly on a recent visit and had water in the bottom when I checked yesterday. (I drained it and resealed it.) O is in a very wet location but seems fine though humid inside. Both are in need of a good scrubbing.


There is at least one travel bug listed that is missing. The TB owner was contacted with no response. Due to being ransacked the swag in N is minimal but O is full with some pretty good stuff.


So, if you are still with me, the question – How much can/should I do to help this cache. It has been suggested that I retrieve both containers, clean up the best one and restock it with the best from both and rehide just the one. I don’t think this is right since I’m not the owner. I can clean a container a little in the field, resupply small items like a log book and baggies, and add more natural cover. IMHO, however, the owner is responsible for removing containers, removing good though not great swag, etc.


I see these options:

  • 1. Do nothing – it’s doing fine by itself – why get involved when there are caches with far worse problems (such as the owner’s only other active cache which has nothing this year except 4 DNF’s).

  • 2. Do some minimal cleaning in the field and keep an eye on the logs trying to help when I can but feeling no responsibility to answer every question or problem.

  • 3. Remove both containers and replace with a single with just the best swag from both and then keep an eye on it. Answer any questions in the logs about location, etc. And if the owner ever shows up, hand him a damp bag of junk.

  • 4. Initiate adoption proceedings.

  • 5. Post a “Needs Archived” note and, if successful (which I doubt), place my own cache in the same location because it is a good spot for a cache as evidenced by the longevity and quality of the logs.

On a scale of 1-5 I’m leaning toward about 1.5-1.6 with an occasional burst toward 2.2. If the problems were more serious I would escalate but the cache seems to be doing very well considering it is an orphan. I would like to have other’s thoughts and/or some different options.


P.S. I hope your answers are shorter than my question. <_<

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I am willing to maintain anothers cache - within reason.


This one wouldn't be within reason.


Contact the local approver with this information and let them review the cache. If they decided it's not going well, they will post a "fix it or it'll be archived' note and give the owner a reasonable amount of time to respond. (of course they may just archive it right away).


If and when it is archived, go remove the geotrash and place your own.

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I agree with what the Elf said.


Helping someone is one thing, doing it all for them because they are gone is another thing. Number three if very nice of you, but you won't be able to edit the cache page, or receive messages sent to the caches listed owner.

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To clarify my 'within reason'


We have a cache that has been clearly abandoned. Everybody helps take care of it, replacing log books, checking it after floods etc.


It's a problem cache when

A. the cache page needs to be updated/adjusted

B. People are asking questions about the cache and only the owner answer them.

C. The costs of supplies and time spent maintaining it just get too much for charity work.

D It's abandoned AND lame.


Edit: I didn't see Welch's post. He knows exactly what cache I'm talking about. <_<

Edited by Elf Danach
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And be sure to check that it's not listed on another site. Odds are it's not, but its worth checking.

Where could I get a list of other site URLs? Never can tell. Maybe the owner just abandoned Groundspeak. That could explain him being unaware of the problems and unresponsive to mail forwarded from geocaching.

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didn't read your message closely, but have you tried contacting the owner?

yes the second paragraph says:

"The cache is Gulf Shores SP . It has a long history with 176 log entries so far. The owner, however, hasn’t logged onto geocaching.com since December of last year nor has the owner responded to multiple emails in the past couple of months. "


The suggestion to check the other sites is good <_< , however IMO not going to help because A, The cache still needs fixed and B, if the email all goes to the same place they're still going to ignore it, and it if goes to different places they need to update their email to something they actaully check once in a while.

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I'd post a Should Be Archived note and in the note state the above mentioned reasons and note whether or note you would be willing to adopt the site. It sounds like you would.


There was a local cache where the owners left town. But they did respond to emails and were willing to let me adopt. Turned out to be easier for them to archive it and I just collected the units (two different sites), refurbished them and put them back out.


Since the owner isn't responding to email it is time to up the ante. Especially since they need more work than can be done in the field.

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I vote for #3 as well. Nothing says you can't maintain a cache that isn't yours. I think most of us do that to some small degree. Log sheet full? Add another one. Contents damaged by water? Restock it.


There are one or two very old caches I and a couple friends periodically check on and maintain as necessary. Same story--the owner has abandoned GC.com, but the caches are well worth keeping alive, so we just do what we can to keep it going.

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[*]Use the 2nd container for a new cache

Can he get a new cache approved that close to another? He said it was only something like 50-60 feet away.

Not at 60ft no, but if they used it for a another cache somewhere else it would be ok....

Of course one of them is supposed to be already leaking, so It may not make a very good cache, but nice idea.

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Sounds like it's a worthy cache and you've already been keeping tabs on it. One of his caches has this note posted:

February 23 by KimsFriend (57 found)

I visited the site yesterday to confirm the bad news. Here is what the sign said:

Geocaching is Prohibited On This Refuge

This Letter will serve as notice that Geocaching is prohibited on federal lands, specifically lands owned or leased by the US Fish and Wildlife Service. This office has recieved information that individuals associated with this act of Geocaching have been placing and searching for caches on National Wildlife Refuges throughout the United States, and specifically on Bon Secour Wildlife Refuge.

The Placement of any object on Wildlife Refuge is a violation of several federal regulations including the following:

16USC668dd, 50CFR 27.93 Abandonment of property

16USC668dd, 50CFR 26,21A Trepass

16USC668dd, 50CFR 27.63 Search for and removal of other valued objects.

16USC668dd, 50CFR 27.97 Private operations

Other violations of Federal Law may apply.


The maximum fine for each specific violation per personis up to $5,000.00 and or 6 months in jail. The maximum penalty for a corporation involved is up to $10,000.00 and 1 year in jail per offense.


Federal Officers have begun prosecuting individuals involved in Geocaching on National Wildlife Refuge which result in a permanent Criminal record following conviction in a federal court. To report this activity contact the Refuge office at 12295 Hwy 180 or 251/540-7720



Maybe he's doing the 6 months? :blink:


His other two traditionals are archived and his Multi has 4 DNF logs, last found last December.


Either this cache and his multi should be archived or you can offer to adopt them. But they should be removed if they are still there so they don't become geolitter.

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[*]Use the 2nd container for a new cache

Can he get a new cache approved that close to another? He said it was only something like 50-60 feet away.

He didn't make a new cache page, he just replaced the container because someone moved the original, so when he checked the original spot he thought it was missing, and placed a new container in the old spot, so now there are two caches at one location about 50-60 apart.


Just to Clarify.

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Maybe he's doing the 6 months?  B)


Hadn't thought of that possibility. B) No, 6 months - he should be out by now. Wait! 6 months PER OFFENSE! What if the container is an offense and the logbook is an offense and... Knowing the attitude of the USFWS manager down there I certainly wouldn't put it past him. Real "expletive deleted". :)


The gist of your clarification is correct. There is currently one cache with 2 containers about 60' apart. With the dense tree cover the coordinates are good enough for either and the hint matches both. Which you find depends on the direction you come from and your search technique. Study all of the logs and you will find 5 sets of coordinates and pictures of 2 different containers. With that information it is fairly easy to find both. Most only find one and stop looking because caches are supposed to only have one container. Even though I personally like the idea (because I like mystery caches) it is a violation of the rules (or is it just a guideline?) and so something really should be done to eliminate one of the containers. I didn't feel I had the authority to just go take someone else’s cache container and remove a log book and some good contents (O is full so N contents, though minimal, won't all fit) when the cache was actually doing fairly well as is. On the other hand, if the owner is in jail, what's he going to do? Misspell my license plate? :blink:


I am still monitoring this thread and considering the opinions expressed. Thanks to all who have taken the time to comment.

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I’m not sure this is helpful, but here’s another idea.


Put the log and the swag in the container that seals better. Put this container in the location closer to the official coordinates. Put a note (either laminated or in a well sealed ziplock) in the other container at the other location. In the note give good coordinates to the real cache, and a vivid hint explaining exactly where the real cache is. Sort of a quasi-unofficial multi-cache.

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If you feel the cache is worthwhile, I'd initiate adoption proceedings. Then you can do what you want to the two containers, the page, etc. It would be a shame to archive the cache and start a new one because then all the log history would be 'lost'.


There's a cache not that far from me that was adopted last fall. A series of DNFs occurred (1st one initiated by me :lol: ) that caused the Approver to try and contact the owner. The owner failed to respond and approver was going to archive. A previous finder of the cache checked up on it and found that it was really still in its spot and volunteered to adopt it. Cache is still going strong.

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i'm much more concerned with the criminal penalties.


what can we do about that?

Evidently nothing according to TPTB:




TPTB have pretty much rolled over and wagged their tail when it comes to being intimidated by power-mad local/federal potentates. I took 6 photographs for a locationless cache on land controlled by USFWS and I publicly admit it. According to the USFWS that means I'm technically liable for $36K in fines and/or 3 years in federal prison. USFWS makes no distinction according to the type of cache. USFWS says geocaching is punishable if practiced on their property - period. I challenge them to come get me. I'll demand a jury trial. GC is an big evil corporation that can't take such risks. So you're on your own. :lol:


Luckily the cache in question does not suffer from this fate. It is in a state park. The comments above were for one of the other 3 caches that the same owner placed. These comments on the possibility of him serving time were in jest - at least I hope they were in jest but knowing some of the really stupid stunts this USFWS manager has pulled in the past, maybe my hope is misplaced. Bottom line - The world is full of little people with big egos. Some of them have a lot of power at their fingertips. Do your best to avoid them but when you can't, remember they are just little people with big egos. :(


BTW, if you want something to worry about I just went to the USFWS web site and found in the FAQ "It is illegal for individuals to possess feathers and/or parts of migratory birds without a permit or license." No specific species - just "migratory birds". So that Bluejay feather your kid just brought in could get you a jail term? Now do you begin to see why some people think the "environmentalists" have gone WAY too far? This isn't about the environment and protecting endangered species or fragile environments - this is about power.


Now where's the ladder. I've climbed to far up on this soapbox for me to just jump down. HEY!!! SOMEBODY GET ME A LADDER!!! SOMEBODY???...


This is the Doctor speaking. Everything is all right. FtMgAl has been medicated. He'll be soon be his old self. We now return you to our regularly scheduled on-topic discussion...

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  • Take both containers
  • Clean one of them and put all the swag in it
  • Place the the cleaned container at N or O (doesn't matter)
  • Put the cache on your watchlist
  • Use the 2nd container for a new cache

... no big deal

Amen! I've got a few rescues to my name and have had others help my caches out with a fresh container. Have some fun with your new baby:

- - Invite past visitors to re-visit and log in on a new book.

- - Make up some new "baby pictures" and place them in the cache as sig items.

- - E-mail past visitors with "Re-birth notices"

- - Stock it with a camera for pictures.

- - Make up a cheapie "signature iem" for the re-born cache by placing pieces of the old cache in little Zip-lok bags wih a card.

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Currently I count 3 people saying archive, 1 says archive or adopt, 4 say adopt, and 4 say just fix it properly however I see fit without the owner's permission. There have been no votes for do no more than you would for any wet cache nor for ignore it.


Any other votes before I close the polls and start adoption proceedings?

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didn't read your message closely, but have you tried contacting the owner?
Didn't read it closely? It's the the second paragraph (and it's not like the first 2 are long ones). Perhaps more like "read your subject and first line".
The owner, however, hasn’t logged onto geocaching.com since December of last year nor has the owner responded to multiple emails in the past couple of months.


To the OP, I agree with Elf Danach's advice. Go for the adoption.




Edit: Ummmmm becaues I have pattern recognition problems er something......DOH! sorry ED.

Edited by thorin
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Now that the adoption is complete, another voice says that archiving can add to the sport called geocaching. For example: I had two caches in a park that had a grass fire in the spring. I archived them. They had been in existence for over a year. The locals had found them. Figured I would wait and plant a new one after the new growth occurred.


Well, a new geocacher placed one before I got back in there. Not a problem. Now I get to find another cache. I just opened up a park to a new cacher. He had no idea there had been caches in that park. He did a good job and we both benefited.

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