Life as a Geocacher

Caching and Reviewing

This is made up of stories from my caching and my reviewing.  It is a collection of those along with comments and thoughts.  Photos, and maps of some adventures and lists of some of the oldest caches.

Filtering by Tag: Cache placement

Springtime = Earthcache time.

Yep it is that time again.   Spring is here, and it is time to get going. I was thinking it was time for me to give advice on getting an Earthcache published.  I am surprised as I see there appears to be a number of people that just seem to struggle.  Some sail through the process and others get bogged down in minutia  They fall in a few categories.  

GC5H550 Fin Erosion, Photo by geogriefer from geocaching website

GC5H550 Fin Erosion, Photo by geogriefer from geocaching website

The Historically Interesting

Remember Earthcaching is about the geologic world around you. It is not about the building, dam, fort, city hall, or the history of the ancient people that lived there.  We are trying to teach about Geology Yes I know it is a little wider that just the science of geology, I will cover that in a minute.  Unless I loose track and start rambling, which happens often. 

As much as the building of the dam, the people it displaced, and the history may be interesting it cannot be the primary focus of the cache.  If part of your Earthcache is on topic we may ask you to remove it.  Some fight tooth and nail to keep it in, but it can't be the primary focus. 

I can go here so no permission is needed

Wow this has been a huge fallacy for some time. This is primarily for the US Earthcaches.  Differences in laws and land manager policies give other locations different opinions.  Recently I asked the other US reviewers.  Everyone was pretty much on the same page.  You need permission, there can be some leeway for a road pullout, but if you place off road you will be asked for permission. 

I have good relations as a reviewer for Earthcaches with many National Park Service, BLM, state parks and other agencies.  I regularly get emails from a few of them. I have taken the time when traveling to greet them if they were in their offices.  They are good people doing their job.  If you want to make them mad, publish and lie about permission.  That works for me as well.  I have had a few people that apparently lied to me.  I have contacted the email given and was told they never asked.  On the flip side, a manager from Zion National park contacted me, upset they had not given permission, and was thinking about having a number archived.  We pulled records with names and he left happy, after a good discourse.  So mistakes do happen. 

In another instance a cacher said there was no need for permission and pointed me to the BLM webpage.  At the bottom is stated "please contact the BLM office to make sure the location is appropriate.  I have had, and seen,  a number turned down.  For a number of reasons

  1. Area is closed.  Though no signage exists, it is a closed area. 
  2. People were gathering the material to be seen (archaeological, fossils, obsidian, etc) and they did not want to advertise. 
  3. A permit was needed, and contact with the managing agency.  They wanted to make sure the site was not advertised.  
  4. Dangerous location. 
  5. Plants/animals were considered endangered. 

In the end take the time.  They can be a help to you as well. 

Take a photo

Yep, not allowed.  Since about 2011 a photo requirement is optional.  It was not grandfathered.  I hear that a lot.  I have let a few cache owners know.  Log disputes are up to someone else, HQ and the Geological Society, however if the requirements do not meet the guidelines I will go back and address it with the cache owner. 

The terrible logging task

I will point to this in the Help Center

An EarthCache teaches an earth science lesson. The cache page must include logging tasks that help teach the same lesson. Remember that the EarthCache is based on the world around us, not on an informational sign at the EarthCache site. Geocachers must complete the tasks before they log the EarthCache as found.

What are good tasks?  Tasks that ask people to interpret what they see.  How did this form this way? I have one where people try to burn a piece of oil shale, I ask them what they see and learn.  Others ask people to describe the formation, and why it formed like that. 

What are bad tasks? Eleveation, measure the width of the river, or depth. Find a word on a sign, give me a diameter of the boulder.  Remember we are here to teach. 

Clastic Pebbele Dikes, photo by oxsling

Clastic Pebbele Dikes, photo by oxsling

The wrong earth science

Earth science is pretty broad.  For the sake of the Geological Society of America, it means the hard earth, the physical part of our planet.  Geology and its related fields. 

I know it is sad.  I have proposed a few times to people at Groundspeak to create a BioCache or something similar, however until then, we are stuck with using the GSA options. 

What is not ok?  Biology, ecology, geodesy, archaeology, oceonography, zoology.....  I think you get the point. 

Wayyyy to many

Once and a while something spreads.  Bob places an Earthcache, and everyone copies it.   You see a mirror of it all over.  So many are limited.   We can also see a time when things just are too problematic, they are not bad ideas, but really they are not doable. So what are these?

  • Springs, 
  • Building and decorative stones. 
  • river confluences
  • waterfalls 
  • artesian wells
  • glacial erratics
  • river gaging stations

Now an area may be saturated.  Yellowstone is buried with caches on geysers.  If there is nothing new to be taught, you may not be allowed to list a cache.  Every reviewer will have his limits on how close you can have a cache to a similar one. 

GC5FM6F, photo by utahsnowflake

GC5FM6F, photo by utahsnowflake

What can I do?

Well first, remember it can be a long haul.  I have had a few I have worked on for years.  I need a bit more info.  Many people take a few weeks to a few months to get it listed.  I am always impressed with the people that do it on the first try.  So do not be discouraged.  Don't try and overwhelm the visitor either. This is not a doctorate thesis on geology.  Pretend you are teaching a Jr High student. 

Remember to take it a step at a time. 

  1. Do I meet the focus of the Earthcache program
  2. Do I have the science to teach?
  3. Do I have logging tasks that use what I teach?
  4. Do I have permission?

Done.  See how easy?  Ok it is not that easy, but you know what I mean.  Take it in steps.

Geocaching Reflections

I decided to take a moment thinking about my caching experiences.  I was thinking of the times I have spent, the places that I had seen.


When I first go my gps I sat down and looked at my GPS and tried to figure out what to do.  I loaded a few things in and began my quest across the street. I remember wandering around the baseball diamonds lost.  I could not figure it out. I did not have any idea what I was doing.  I wandered over to another and found it on a guardrail near the river, Generic Cache

I was not hooked yet.  Though I wanted to find another. I went out to find  a Country Road caches placed by peanuts parents.   I was hooked at that point. It was amazing and fun.  I looked at the map and wanted to find another one.  There was this thing called a letterbox and a few weeks later I went to grab it. Stargate cache.  It was on someones porch and I drove past it a few days before I saw that no one was there and I went up to look.  It was my first ammo can.

Of my first twenty only six or seven are still active. And they were all good and enjoyable. 

Placing caches

I had only found those three at that point. It went outside my work and hid my first cache.   It was DrJays note that cheered me up, and made me want to place more.

FTF this morning at 8:20. Fell sleep early last night so I didn't see the listing until I got up this morning. I thought for sure someone would have found it by the time I got there, but I was happy to find an empty log. When I pulled up I thought, "Great, there are dozens of places a micro could be here." But if you use the hint and name literally you can narrow it down. Finally came up with it after several minutes of searching. Neat little container. TFTFTF

I had expected some time before it was found.  The concept of within a day was not in my mind.  The other I placed the same day had these reponses

By Baldin Eagle

Ouch. Stopped by while dropping my daughter off at school. Searched, got poked, but couldn't find anything. I guess I'll bring some gloves next time.

Then DrJay

FTF this afternoon at 2:50. If you pay attention to the hint, this is a pretty straightforward hide. It's a good hide, but fortunately, I've found a few like this one before. Coords are pretty good too. TFTFTF

Then followed by Baldin Eagle Again.  I did not

Aaarrgghh. I had my hand on it this morning, but didn't think anyone would have a hide like that. Now I know differently. I just took the hint wrong. Good hide. TFTC

It made me chuckle I have rosebushes in front of my house by the road and had hidden it in a fake sprinkler.  The hit was to stay away from the thorns.

The first few months

The first few months were a rush of scrambling for caches.  I dragged my friend out with me a few times. He was helping me in our scout troop.  I did not realize that Cold1 would go overboard as well.  As much as I thought that about him, he showed his dad, Superhooper55.  So now I stand at over 2300, cold one is at 3300, and superhooper is over 6000.   I have hidden 200 though, and cold1 is still a looser that has not hidden any. 

I visited Maple Canyon for the first time, and many other smaller parks and canyons that I had never seen.  I found quiet places in the middle of a city, that lets me find little corners to relax. I spent many lunch times going out in to the fields, on dirt roads, and driving around the city.  I relish those places.


I headed to Whiting campground that fall for my first event. I wandered in and still remember some of the people that were there.  I met Jac0b and Dorkteam6 for the first time, I remember Fire Elemental as well, but not anyone else from my time there.

I ran across the idea of a flash mob, and decided to read up on it.  Though I did not listen at that point, but I found Podcachers site and decided to host a World Wide flash mob.  They picked the date, and I picked the park.  I hoped for 15-20 people to show up.  Little did I realize it was a BYU game that day and many people would show up.  About fifty.

But it was a great experience and I had a lot of fun. 

I havce enjoyed events since then, even though I have not taken a lot of time to put them on. I have many ideas for contests, dutch oven events, or other events, I never get around to them.  There are so many that I just do not get there. 

That was what made up most of my first year. It was all fun.  As winter rolled around I did less and less. There was not much desire for me to crawl through the snow.


I remember all the people that I met and the things I had seen from that first year.  As spring came that first year, I was enjoying what was going on.  I was starting to search for caches again.  I think I had about 1000 after that first year.  I never went with others, that was a side note, and I did not go to many events because I did not know many people.  However I was having fun.  My Lord of the Ring series had been put out and I had received many great logs and great notes from them.


I love logs.  I love logs that show the adventure that others take.  Here are a few that I have loved from that first year.

Baldin Eagle

They have been very fun and exciting to search for. I have explored more of Utah Valley because of you. This cache was an adventure. I called Art when I saw Lord Stirling posting caches and gave him a heads up. He called me shortly after this one was posted and we quickly figured out the coordinates. He came over and we loaded up in my truck (for once) and headed up the canyon. We parked pretty close (within .15 miles) and looked around. All we could see was uphill, so up we went. Within the first 50 yards my shirt was covered in stickers. I don't know if I'll ever get them all off. Now they are stuck on my seat covers. Well, up and up and through scrub oak, then down some, then up some and finally there was the cache. I quickly opened the box, well, maybe not quickly and it was hard to open, but got it open and was happy to see that we were the first ones there. But then I realized that in the rush to find the cache first, I had forgotten to bring the log paper. So back down to the truck, taking the easy way this time and then back up to the cache, signed the log, left a travel bug and then Art and I had to fight for the geocoin. I have a bloody nose, fat lip and black eye now. Not really. Art flipped the coin and I guessed tails. And it was tails, so he graciously let me keep the coin. I told him that he could have the FTF coin. Great adventures and fun. I think my wife will be happy that I am not staying up all night waiting for caches to be posted now.

from the Magpies

At 3 in the morning my wife noticed this cache had been published (don't ask why she was up). There was no way I was going to go out in the middle of the night for it -- hats off to Art and Baldin' Eagle for their committment!
Still, we wanted to try to find it next - so I took a long lunch (a REALLY long lunch - hope my boss doesn't find out ) and off we went.
We tried to learn from the previous logs, but we didn't do a very good job because we went up and then down. LOL. Then we found the easier path too. I can't imagine doing this in the dark!
Carrying 2 kids up to the cache made it feel like a terrain of 5! We were pretty well out of breath when we found it - but it was worth it to be the second ones to find the cache!


One Ring to Rule Them All. One Ring to Find Them. One Ring to Bring Them All and In The Darkness Bind Them."

Like Frodo and Sam, we climbed our own Mount Doom - except we did it with three little kids - only to see on the way out that we could have just gone around the mountain and found it a lot easier. But where's the fun in that!?! The view from the top of the mountain was beautiful and made the hike up the steep hill totally worth it. Even the kids enjoyed it too. After I got them to stop whinning.

A weekend of geocaching, my family, and LOTR - throw in an Oreo and I have found heaven. ..... Each one was placed so well and I loved reading the extra info that was put on the log page. Such a genius - or maybe just a big nerd like me! Thank you so much for a great series and for adding a bit more intrigue to geocaching. It has been so much fun for all of us!

(logs edited)

It is the logs like this that make it all worth it.  Many times a drive by may not have an interesting log, and I do not expect it.   I never expect a great log, but I love to get them, and I love to see these pop up.  These logs made me want to keep finding and keep placing.   I have to clean them up this spring, so that is my new project.  I am going throught hem now.  It has been a few years. 

Thanks again for all those who encouraged me in the first year.


A night off

Well I decided to take a night off tonight. I was on the way home from work and made the decision to go up into the mountains and take a break with my family.

I got home and grabbed my kids and headed for the hills.  It was nice up Hobble Creek Canyon tonight.  It was a little cool to be without any protection so the girls had coats while I had something a little lighter. 

Hiking with the girls is a slow endeavor.  They take tiny steps and have a habit of tripping over flowers that are growing (or grass). 

We slowly made our way up the mountain.  One tiny little ways at a Time.  The moutain is starting to come to life in the spring.  Tiny blades of grass are along the way. The moss is also a bright green, there has been plenty of moisture this year.

We went for a half mile (or less) and we found a place for a cache that I was dragging up the mountain with us.  I had left my gps, so all I had was my phone, so I made sure to take a picture of the location to help anyone that is actually looking for it.  We looked for something very distinct in case the view was a ways off. The Hills have Eyes

We will be heading up again soon.  Mom scolded us for leaving without her.  I was not sure she would want to come, but I better  remember to throw that option in next time.

I sit here now letting my computer run an anti virus program.  One of the logins is jammed with a Scamware bot.  So I am trying to find it and get it removed.

Wish me luck. Maybe I will work on finshing one of my 5 earthcaches I just have never taken the time to finish.

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