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Accessible In Winter

Hard Oiler
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I just started editing my cache listings to add the new cache attributes. It's easy and I'd encourage all cachers with hides to add them. But I ran into some difficulty deciding when to use the winter accessible attribute.


We are, of course, used to winter. So "winter accessible" probably means something different to us than to cachers further south.


So far my thinking is that winter accessible means that you can get there (e.g. the park is open) and there is a reasonable chance you can get to and find the cache with the normal snow cover experienced in the area.


Any thoughts on good definitions for Canadian winter accessible caches?

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I started adding the attributes too to some of my caches and I think your reasoning makes sense. I however only used the winter accessible icon on caches that were "winter friendly" meaning it would be just as easy to find in the winter as in the summer...ie, in a tree or anywhere that I don't have to dig in the snow.

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While recognizing that it is against the site's guidelines to bury caches, in the winter many caches do get covered by the snow and then they sit unfound until the spring.


We were thinking that you could use this attribute to signify that a cache has a piece of rebar or steel plate in it that would be sufficient to allow someone with a good metal detector or a magnetic locator to locate it, even when covered by snow. :(


This would still be in keeping with the guidelines but it would mean that a lot of caches up in the great white north could be found year round.

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I started adding the attributes too to some of my caches and I think your reasoning makes sense. I however only used the winter accessible icon on caches that were "winter friendly" meaning it would be just as easy to find in the winter as in the summer...ie, in a tree or anywhere that I don't have to dig in the snow.

Perhaps we need a "Hidden High" icon too? I've edited my caches much like Hard Oiler reflecting that they can be reached without special equipment (skis or skidoos)

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Out of five caches I have placed up here, I put that winter-friendly icon on four of them. My reasoning was that they are all located in lower alititude, wooded areas that are certainly accessible on foot. They involve some extra effort -- tougher walking, harder search, dress better, optionally skis or snowshoes -- but wouldn't require any special equipment or serious winter skills.


The one I didn't list is on top of a peak. There you're looking at a lot of snow, not to mention a lot more possibility of danger for the unprepared, especially since it has a 15-20 km trip involved. To find it requires some serious winter travel skills and the right equipment. A person with these skills would know to do enough research to determine if they could get in there or not, and would make sure they are able to survive if something happens. Hopefully the rest of the folks will just wait until June when the snow is gone.


It's hard to think of any cache that would be totally unaccessible in winter to people who have expert skills and equipment, unless it was frozen at the bottom of a lake or located on an island with unsafe ice to cross.


So basically, I figure the criteria is: Would someone with the minimum level of outdoor skills required to find this in the summer be able to find this in the winter?


It's certainly a grey area... One thing I noticed with those icons, if I wasn't sure about something or it's not really that important, I think it is better not to list that icon at all. Better to have people figure it out themselves.




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To me winter accesible means a few things :


1. I can get to the cache site with a reasonable degree of safety and ease. This means the area is not on winter lockdown as some parks are. The cache is not located in an area that can be treaherous with ice and snow. (Side of a steep hill)


2. I usually assume average case scenario for snow (1-2ft) and winter accesible to me, means its above this snow line or in an area that is not affected by large snow falls. Large rock faces or caves are generally snow free in the winter and would qualify as winter friendly.


I guess everyone has there own definition of "winter friendly" this is the criteria I use.


Your mileage may vary

Batteries not included

Close cover before striking


Happy Caching!

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Some good comments so far. In thinking about it, maybe it would be helpful to check the NO button for caches that are clearly not accessible in winter because, for example, the park is closed. Of course there are always those cachers that would see this as an added challenge to go find it. :laughing:


One cache I attempted this winter was a micro under a six foot snow drift. One look at a flat expanse of white stuff and I didn't even bother to get out the snow shovel. Went on to the next which was a regular size hidden under rocks. You could just about tell where the rocks were under a couple of feet of snow. Got out the snow shovel, dug around a bit, and found the cache safely tucked in a hole under the rocks. The coordinates were dead on. That one I'd call winter accessible even though in winter it's more than a 1/1.

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Closed parks haven't stopped me yet... :laughing: On my pages I have suggested that a couple of mine are not winter friendly because one is totally inaccessible in the winter (but one person DID get there!

Not Accessible in Winter


My other one is low enough on the ground that I think that it would be tough to find (although it HAS been found in the winter). I like these new icons - I can now have a fair chance of either finding it or not!

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As of today, we have over a meter of snow in town, probably close to double that where the wind drifted it in the woods. At this point, I wouldn't consider any caches hidden in amongst tree roots as "accessible"...unless you are a ski-patroller and can find things in an avalanche. If you are going to list a cache as a winter-possible find, keep in mind how much snow you'll eventually have on top of your cache. Since people will naturally seek out a hide billed as "winter friendly" this time of year, give them a fighting chance to find it without digging to China. We have a few dry-bag caches in the area that are suspended a few feet so they're not frozen to the ground, and some in caves or shore banks.

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A winter friendly cache should be a cache that is above ground (eg. in branches or hanging in a branch). With the weather that we have recieved in the last months (rain, snow, rain and snow) most caches have been frozen into the ground. A local geocacher did indicate on his cache's site that it was frozen into the ground and that if it was pried out of the ground the container might be damaged. So I believe a Winter friendly cache should be above ground.


PS: I'm new to geocaching and would like to do more in winter since the kids got snowshoes for christmas !!

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I think we should all think hard about the long winter..but I had sucess yesterday with a metal detector..sticking it in the snow. Mind you it was a amocan.. lots of metal. I haven't tested yet, but will, how it works with metal in tupperware. Watch this string. If the co-ords are good and it is not too far to walk or snowshoe.. it can be done. Things tend to freeze.. I had to kick this amocan to free it, then bang it on a tree to open it.





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Winter-friendly. Hmm. COMMON SENSE is needed. We have a meter of snow and perhaps more where there has been drifting in Manitoba. Temperature definitely plays a factor so on -45 including windchill it is nice to know that all multi cache points are less than 500 feet from parking. I think distances from nearest parking could be listed in winter descriptions and deleted in summer if that adds to the challenge.

When in doubt about a cache, especially when taking the kids, simply e-mail the cache-owner.

Winter-friendly may mean it is a large cache that the owner believes would still be sticking slightly out of the snow. Winter-friendly may mean it is in a tree. An urban micro (where the owner has indicated it is low elevation) may or may not be. Your risk. We tried to make some of ours winter friendly after the first dump of snow by raising them or in one case we put a large hollow stump on top so that they could kick the stump and find it. As a cache owner, I am quick to e-mail hints if asked, especially by novice cachers or those with young children.

We've thought of putting flagging tape in a nearby tree late next fall on the challenging ones so that people (if they might have to dig) would at least know they were in the right area. Groomed trails are almost impossible to guarantee with the snowfall and low temps we've had so I'd never blame a cache owner if on arrival it just looked impossible. Sticking to urban ones is what we've done so far and doing the ones placed in winter is good common sense too. Reading the cache descriptions carefully and e-mailing the finders who log is a good caution too if the owner won't respond.

I think winter caching is great but it does take a lot more willpower and caution. We didn't plan most of ours with winter in mind, since last winter hardly anyone hid or did any according to the logs but they aren't too bad despite that. We are planning on getting some snowshoes for next year though. And then we'll probably have little or no snow to our disappointment. We do take a toboggan along on longer trails just in case one of the little ones gets tired or hurt.

At least, unlike last spring when we began this adventure, there are no mosquitoes now!

Edited by 1queenand4jokers
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