It seems easy enough — go to the geocaching website, sign up, find a cache page, get the coordinates loaded into your GPS receiver and go find a geocache.
Not so fast.
The art of finding a cache can take time — one needs to develop geosenses, so to speak.
Some caches are easy. Some are hard. Some are enough to test your patience to the point where you are ready to quit and then it hits you. Others, well, some you just don’t find.
So what’s the best way to go about it?
Geocaching is a great game and one that can help you develop many skills, one of which is the ability to find something. First, let’s talk about sizes and types of containers.
When a cacher places a geocache, they select the size of the cache — which can be anything from a micro, small, regular, large or a “?” container — which means it’s likely something more along the clever side. In that case, it could be anything. There are caches out there that include all of the following, and then some: fake dog poo, stumps, fake wood, fake plants, light switches, light bulbs, fence toppers, sprinkler heads and more.
So, it’s not always going to be easy.
As you find more and more caches, it becomes easier — sometimes. There are still people who hide a film container in the middle of the woods, which I will never understand. But I’ll save that rant for another day.
So, where are these things hidden? Anywhere and everywhere.
One of the things I love most about geocaching is that you can be passing one at any time. People hide these items anywhere. In the woods or in the wide-open. It doesn’t matter. If there’s a way to hide it, they will do so.
OK, we get it already. Where are the tips?
For those of you who are seasoned vets, this whole article might have been for naught. Alas, there are people who might not be so seasoned with the game — yet.
The first thing that is best to do when you get close to ground zero is put your GPS away — or put it somewhere so that it can really settle in. Remember, not every geocache will be at the exact coordinates. Everyone will get different coordinates based on how they average, what GPS receiver they have, if they are in an urban setting etc. So, you have to give yourself an area of 30-40 feet (or, unfortunately, sometimes more) of a search area.
Start looking around — is there anything that might be slightly out of place? If not, you might want to look around to see if there’s anything that can be loose or something like that. You might even have to put yourself into spots you wouldn’t expect. Read the title of the cache, the description, maybe even the hint. Does it give you something that sticks out?
In the woods, it can be hard.
If there is a lot of tree cover, the coordinates might be way off. So you’re going to have to show some patience. Look around. Check for piles of branches, leaves, or rocks. See if there’s a downed tree or two and maybe an opening on one side or another. Is there a tree or rock with holes in it?
Remember, people will camouflage the containers well.
You just have to find that perfect spot — where you’d hide one!
The basic premise is this — if a cache can be hidden there, it might just be. Even in spots you’ve driven by all the time. Those old bells at firehouses? Yep. How about those old tanks? Guard rails? Lamp post skirts? Sure enough.
Here’s a few more images:
Peter found this one after a while of pawing around!
In the end, you just need to try and put yourself in the mind of the geocacher. Find a spot where one could be hidden close to the coordinates and you might have it.
Remember a few of these tips:
- Geocaches can be many different sizes, from a magnet nano the size of a dime, to 5-gallon buckets and bigger.
- Many micros are often film containers, magnetic key holders or match-stick holders — so look for places that can hide those.
- Look for something out of place — piles of sticks or rocks; something attached to something else that isn’t normal etc.
- Don’t rely fully on the GPS — open your search area.
The best tip I can give, however, is to have fun. If you aren’t enjoying this game then you shouldn’t play it! Once you have many finds, place a cache or two. And then the fun really begins!