I've been geocaching for a long time - since November 2002 - but I can still remember some of my first geocache finds AND some of the mistakes I made early on. Here are 5 things I wish I knew when I first started geocaching!
Don’t go in a straight line to get to the cache
When I first started, I would look on my GPS, see the cache, see where I was, see the straight line between the 2 points and make a bee-line directly to get to the cache. Don’t do this!
Don’t try to get to the cache “as the crow flies”. You see, crows actually FLY. They don’t have to deal with bushes and rocks and trees and hills and cacti and poison oak and … you get the point. Here’s what you should do instead:
- Stop. Think.
- Plan ahead
- Use satellite images
- LOOK for established trails
When I was new to Geocaching I was a little hesitant to attend an event. I thought “I’m a newbie, what do I know?” Don’t worry about it and don’t let this stop you.
Geocachers are some of the friendliest people around.
Find a Geocaching event near you and show up. It might be at a pizza joint or a picnic at a park. Show up and you’ll probably be greeted warmly and handed a name tag to stick on. Even if you’ve only been caching for a short time, you’ll probably notice caching names from logs you’ve read. You’ll find it’s easy to start up conversations about shared cache experiences or get answers to questions about things you’d like to learn.
- Make friends. You’ll be surprised to find how many geocachers are in your local community.
- Get contact info (text messaging). Find a prolific finder and ask if you can use them as a lifeline.
- Get to know prolific hiders. They’ve been around a while and are a good conduit to the community.
- Go out caching with them. Caching solo can be fun, but so can caching in a group. Ask to tag along. You’ll learn a lot!
Always have a pen / pencil on you
I learned this the hard way. Most veteran geocachers will have a similar story. You can learn from our mistakes. Carry a pen … always.
I was out on a run (exercise) and decided to check my smartphone to see if there were any caches nearby. There were. Several. When I got to the first cache I realized that I didn’t bring anything to write with. ARG!
Here are a couple of my favorite pens. Small and easy to carry around. I always have a pen on me now.
If you DO happen to visit a geocache without pen in hand, be sure to listen to Show 470 for some interesting alternative log-signing methods!
Check previous logs before you hunt
One of the main tips I give to a newbie is to look at logs that were written by others who have visited the cache. The main reason: to check for DNFs (Did Not Find). If you see a bunch of these logs, you can almost bet that the cache is not there and not worth hunting for.
Read the cache page. Interesting stuff there. The hider took the time to write it. You might miss out on the significance of the cache.
Join an Online Geocaching Community and participate
Geocaching is a worldwide hobby and there is a LOT to learn and experience out there. Don’t limit yourself to your local community (as great as that might be!). With the Internet, it’s easy to reach out and learn from a worldwide community of people who are just as passionate as you about Geocaching!
- Visit forums
- Join a facebook group
- Listen to podcasts. The world famous PodCacher podcast is the best, oldest running, highest quality,variety-show style, family friendly podcast that you should be listening to!
Bonus Tip: When you get to GZ (ground zero), look with your eyes and think:
“If I were to hide a cache here, where would I put it?”
It sounds SO simple, but seriously: Stop and actively think this thought and you’ll be surprised at how often it’ll lead you to the hiding spot.
Most newbies get to GZ and just start looking everywhere. Lifting things up, looking under, behind, above. Eventually through multiple attempts, they eventually get to the cache … eventually. This has happened often, especially with newbies: I’m out caching with a small group, we get to within 10 feet of GZ. They start looking EVERYWHERE. I stand back, maybe 10 seconds, and just look … and think “Where would I hide it?” I go to the spot and nail the find within seconds.
What tips would you share with a Geocaching Newbie?
Share them in the comments below and you might hear your tip on a future PodCacher podcast show!