Gustov's Geocaching Tips

The following are various geocaching tips that Gustov would like to share with you.


Hints
Hints are an important part of a cache. Geocaches are meant to be found and the purpose of the hint is to help the cacher find the cache if they are having problems finding it. A cacher normally should not resort to reading the hint unless they are stuck. Reading the hint beforehand may result in spoiling the fun of the hunt. With an accurate hint, the cacher should be able to walk away with a smilie or get a good sense if the cache is missing.


Group Caching
Group caching is a great way to meet other people who share the same interest as you and that of course is geocaching. By going geocaching with others it is a great way to learn more about the hobby and also make new friends. Also as a group it may allow you to find caches that you may not have had the means of finding before, because odds are someone in the group will have the skills or tools necessary to find that cache that may have been elusive to you. Also in some cases, more pairs of eyes means that you are more likely to find a cache. Groups can range in size from just a handful of people to several dozen. You can always count on a fun time.


Containers
There are an endless amount of different types of containers that can be used for a geocache. Containers such as ammo cans, sandwich containers and film containers are probably the 3 types that are used most often. Over time we often see these containers having water inside with the contents wet or ruined. Yes even ammo cans can leak. When choosing a container, try to pick something that is watertight. Consider using some more unlikely choices for cache containers. In my experience I have found that glass pickle jars and 300ml juice bottles work great and even better than the types of containers mentioned above. Considering that pickle jars and juice bottles held liquid we know that they are water tight which leads to the longevity of a geocache. As an added bonus they don't cost you anything extra as it would have been something you would have thrown in the recycling bin after you emptied it. Why not experiment with various containers on your own and see what works and what doesn't.


Events
Geocaching events are a fun way of getting people together. Hosting an event can be something very simple to do, or you can make it very involved. The most common types of events are picnic type events like GHAGAFAP and meet and greet events at restaurants. The first thing for these types of events is to pick a location and then call them up to see if they are willing to have your group there. After that, you can build on it and involve various activities to be part of the event. Sometimes keeping things simple is the best. When there is too much to do, attendees often can feel overwhelmed. Or you can use your imagination and do something different, like a hike, car rally, adventure to some out of the way location or perhaps even get people together at a location to play a game. I have been to events where I was the only attendee in 2011 on top of the highest mountain in Newfoundland and also attended the largest ever event in Canada in 2008 in Quebec which saw about 850 people from around the world attend. When an event gets to be over 500 people, it is considered a Mega Event and there is a special event icon for that. Events are also a great way of meeting other geocachers and making new friends.


Attributes
Geocache Attributes did not exist in the early days of geocaching. It was however something that was created several years ago to help the cacher get a better idea of what they can possibly expect when attempting a cache. Many of these attributes are misunderstood and interpreted incorrectly by not only the cache hider but also the cache seeker. One of them would be the attribute with the snowflake icon. Many geocachers take this attribute to mean "winter friendly", but in reality if you hover your mouse over the icon it says "Available during winter". Unless the cache is physically removed during the winter months or the area where the cache is located in not open during the winter months, there is not really many situations where this attribute would be needed. For example, in the winter the cache may be under several feet of snow, however it is still available for geocachers to find. It just may be more difficult to find during the winter but it is still "Available during winter" so it would be appropriate to select this as an attribute on the cache page. If you want to indicate to the cache finder if the cache is "winter friendly" then it would probably be best to just state something indicating that on the cache page.


Room For Trade Items
When placing a cache where the intent is to leave trade items, make sure you leave enough room in the cache so that people can leave their trade item in the cache and that it will still close properly. I suggest that you choose a container and fill it only 1/2 way with trade items so that there is always enough room. Sometimes people will want to leave a travel bug, so it's nice when there is enough room in the container for it.


Special Tool Required
There are more and more caches these days being created where a special tool is required to retrieve or access the cache. Some of these may include a magnetic wand or a screw driver. Other items might be a wrench, bottle of water to fill a tube which allows the cache to float to the top or perhaps even a key to unlock the cache. There is even an attribute for this called "Special Tool Required". However just indicated that a special tool is required isn't enough. A good geocache will owner should specify in the cache description what the special tool is so that you can come prepared and get a find on the cache without having to return at a later date. It can be very frustrating and disappointing to get to a cache only to realize that you aren't able to access it because the cache owner had left out some important information such as what tool to bring.


Wet Caches And Logs
Many times people think that caches get wet inside because of a poor choice of container, however this is not the case in most instances. Popular containers are ammo cans and lock and lock or similar food storage containers. These containers were designed to be air tight. However we often see water in them or damp contents and log. One possible problem why these contents get wet is because these containers are over filled and don't close properly and also if the log book is put into a ziplock bag, then many times when people close up the container, part of the bag is sticking out and hence the container does not make a good seal which allows water to get in. What no one has examined yet and is probably the major reason for contents getting wet is that people cache in all types of weather including rain. When it is raining out and the container is opened and signed, most times the rain drops will get onto the log and into the contents of the cache. This moisture is then trapped inside the container and causes the contents to become damp where soon everything inside will be musty and ruined. If you do plan on caching in the rain take precautions when signing the log so that no water, not even a drop gets onto the log or into the container.


Difficulty And Terrain Ratings
Difficulty and Terrain ratings are how cache owners rate their caches as to how difficult or how easy their cache is. This can be very subjective with everyone having different opinions. There is even a link that helps you rate your cache by answering a few simple questions, but still it's dependant on how you answer the questions. A cache that involves an easy flat walk to end with a tree climb could easily be rated a 1/5 or equally so a 5/1. Although most people would probably put the weight on terrain for the tree climb, the founder once explained it just the opposite of that, in that the terrain is what the majority of the terrain is like and once you get to ground zero, then the rest, which in this case being the tree climb, would be the difficulty. You need skills and possibly special equipment to be able to climb or retrieve that cache that is up the tree. In this case, as mentioned, it is all subjective and either rating would be just as valid to use. In reality when rating a cache you should ask yourself, how difficult do you think it would be for yourself to find and retrieve the cache and how difficult or involved is the walk/mode of transportation to the cache? The best thing you can do for potential finders is to tell them what to expect and what they may encounter while they are on the hunt for your cache.


Clear Redirects
When creating a multi stage cache, make it clear what the next stage is. Don't send people on a wild goose chase only to have them find nothing at the coordinates or be told that it is a decoy and they need to return to the previous stage. A common thing people do is write coordinates on a card, and when the cacher finds this, they obviously think it is the next stage. However in some cases there may also be hidden coordinates written on the same card, but in UV ink or some other hidden method. Even if the cacher discovers the hidden coordinates, they have no way of knowing which coordinates are right and have a 50/50 chance only of picking the right one. There are even some caches where the owner had made the hidden coordinates the incorrect ones and the displayed coordinates the correct ones knowing that people will look for the hidden coordinates based on attributes such as UV on the cache listing. Nothing wrong with getting cachers to think about the next location that they have to go to, but there should be something to indicate which set of coordinates that are given are correct. In the end you want your cache to be straight forward and have the cacher leave with a smile on their face and not leave in frustration because they were sent on a wild goose chase.


Logging Premium Member Caches
Although a non-premium member can not view a premium member cache, they are still able to log them. For those of you who are not a premium member here is how you can log premium member caches. I will use my GC3ME3G Professor Gustov - Super Duper Ultimate Codebook as an example:
Option 1 - Have a premium member select "Log your visit" on the cache page. They can then copy the URL (http://www.geocaching.com/seek/log.aspx?ID=2968826&lcn=1) and send it to the non-premium member. The non-premium member can paste it into their browser, press enter so it loads the page and then go ahead and type their log like they normally would.
Option 2 - The following does not require knowing anyone who is a premium member. Go to the next (or previous or x amount of caches back/forth) sequential cache listing...in the case of GC3ME3G it would be GC3ME3H. So on cache GC3ME3H, select "Log your visit". The url that comes up will be http://www.geocaching.com/seek/log.aspx?ID=2968827&lcn=1 and all you have to do is decrease the ID= number by 1 to 2968826 and press enter to refresh the page and you will be ready to log the premium member cache. Make sure that the name of the cache above the log is the correct one which you intend to log.
Option 3 - Have a premium member bring up the map of caches in the area. Open a 2nd window in your browser, log out as the premium member and then log in as the non-premium member (from within that 2nd browser window). Go back to the map and click on the cache you want to log and then click on "Log Visit" when the box with the cache info pops up.
Option 4 - Enter the following URL and change the GC code of the URL to the GC code of the cache you want to log. https://www.geocaching.com/play/geocache/gc3me3g/log


Caches Are Placed To Be Found
There is no point in hiding a cache that won't be found. Just like you enjoy finding other people's caches, you should want people to find your cache too. There should be enough information on your cache page so that the finder will walk away with a find. If your cache is in place and in excellent condition, yet people are DNFing it on a regular basis, then there is something wrong. Perhaps you are trying to be clever by hiding a devious cache. If you enjoy seeing people not finding your cache, then perhaps geocaching is not for you. Consider this, wouldn't it be more enjoyable for everyone including yourself to read the great Found It logs from others?


Night Caches
The most common and most popular type of night cache is following a trail of reflective tacks that will lead you to the cache. When you shine your flashlight along a path you will see the reflectors shining back at you. Normally when you are standing at a reflector you should be able to see the next reflector so that it will be easy to follow. There are various types of reflectors such as flat, cube, pyramid, reflective tape, etc. Some night caches go beyond the reflective element and involve UV ink, phosphorous paint, shine your light through a blank card, fiber optics and even electronic devices. In almost all cases night caches can be done during the day. I have only come across one cache in Ontario that truly can only be done at night as it involved a timer that only activated at a certain time. It may be a bit harder to find a night cache during the day, but that just adds to the challenge of finding the cache and gives another unique experience. In most cases with UV ink, one is able to read it without a UV light if you look really closely, even during the day. Be aware that some night caches unfortunately try to trick the person into going to a set of fake coords. Other night caching elements which have not been done in Ontario are Optic Prisms, Absence of Light and Bio Batteries.


Spoilers In Logs
As a cache owner, sometimes you see people include spoilers in their found it logs. Usually this is unintentional and they are just trying to give you, the cache owner, a detailed account of their experience in finding your cache or perhaps they think they are being helpful to future cachers that may attempt your cache. Some cache owners may be a bit too quick to want to delete someone's log because perhaps it gave away too much information. Wouldn't you rather read a detailed log than simply a TFTC log? Be thankful that they put the effort into their log for your reading pleasure. Besides, how many people will actually see or read the log containing the spoiler? And when you are out finding caches and are having trouble finding a cache, don't you sometimes resort to reading the previous logs in hopes that someone has included some useful information that will help you find it so you can walk away with a smilie? Also, if someone posts a spoiler picture with their log you do have the ability as the cache owner to remove their picture from their log without actually deleting the log itself. You can even encrypt their log too. If in the end it still bothers you that someone posted a spoiler, why not just email the person and ask them to edit their log. Being courteous to your fellow geocachers goes a long way within the community. The only time you really should delete a log is if someone posts something offensive and goes against the terms of use.


What Counts As A Find?
Everyone plays the game of geocaching a little different. We all have our own self imposed rules on what we consider a find and that most likely changes over time too. In many situations you are able to find the cache or perhaps the remains of the cache but are unable to sign the logbook. The log may be too wet, missing, or perhaps you just don't have a pen to sign it. Or maybe you found the cache and don't want to damage it for whatever reason such as it being encased in ice. Or maybe you could care less about opening and signing a logbook or even seeing what's inside and are just in it for the adventure and hunt. Sometimes when one of these situations come up, some people may take a picture of what they found as proof. After all, the log type on the geocaching web site says "Found It" and not "Signed Logbook". Sometimes when the cache is missing or even if a cacher put in a good effort to try and find it, the cache owner may contact the cacher and let them know they can log it as a find. Sometimes it more about getting out and visiting the location than actually putting the pen to the paper. Realistically if you found any part of the cache or anything related that the cache owner has put in place (a hook that a missing cache container may have been hanging on), then that should be good enough to claim your smilie online. When in doubt, it's easy enough to email the cache owner and describe what you found or include that information with your online log. If however you are a real stickler on what you consider a find, consider this, do you cache alone and you find and sign each log yourself? What if a log is unsignable? If you are caching with someone else and they find it, do you not claim it then, since you were not the one who found it. Do you solve each puzzle completely on your own without any help? There are just too many different scenarios that are possible and in the end, you need to decide if you found it and what you are comfortable logging as a find.


Geocaching At Night
Some people or groups around the world often go geocaching at night. In some cases, that may be the only time people are available to go geocaching or maybe they want to go find a cache that was designed to be done at night, although almost all night caches can be done during the day too. When choosing to cache in the dark, one needs to be aware that there are many dangers that lie out there or the dangers are increased at night. One of the biggest issues, and don't laugh, is dog poop along the trails and in parks. Even with poop and scoop bylaws, one often encounters minefields of this stuff and you don't really notice it, since it is dark. It's hard enough to avoid that stuff in the day, let alone at night. You are almost guaranteed that you or someone you are with will step "in it" if you are out caching at night, so that right there is a good reason to try to cache during the daylight hours. Caching during the day is definitely more desirable. Just think of all the neat scenery, views and other cool stuff you are missing if you choose to cache when it's dark out. Sometimes however if you have a very long day of caching planned, you may start early in the morning and by the time you are done with your list of caches it may be late at night, so it's unavoidable. If going out caching at night, be safe, be aware of your surrounding and travel with others.


Newest Geocaches Link
The following link is very useful as it is a list of all the caches in Ontario with the newest first. www.geocaching.com/seek/nearest.aspx?state_id=69
I recommend you bookmark this link and use it as a launching point to go to the geocaching web site. The events are always listed at the top and is a great way to see what is coming up. You can also click on a column and sort by that. Click again and it sorts it in reverse. If you want to see what the most favourited caches in Ontario are, just click on the blue ribbon which represents favourite points. If you want a Province or State other than Ontario, use the old search tool. You will then see the "state_id" in the url for future reference. Ontario's id is 69.