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Geocaching: Hiking for Geeks

By GhostOfTiber in Culture
Sun Dec 10, 2006 at 12:00:00 PM EST
Tags: Geocaching, GPS, Hiking, Outdoors, Sports (all tags)

It seems simple enough: Someone hides something and you have to find it. In fact, the first geocache was little more than a black box hidden near Beaver Creek in Portland with a latitude and longitude posted to a newsgroup.

From its humble beginings, geocaching has grown into a sport enjoyed internationally and spun off a select few games of its own. All you need to play are a pair of good boots, a willingness to go outside and a map. It also might help to check the official geocaching site for something to look for.

From the History of Geocaching:

On May 3, one such enthusiast, Dave Ulmer, a computer consultant, wanted to test the accuracy by hiding a navigational target in the woods. He called the idea the "Great American GPS Stash Hunt" and posted it in an internet GPS users' group. The idea was simple: Hide a container out in the woods and note the coordinates with a GPS unit.

The finder would then have to locate the container with only the use of his or her GPS receiver. The rules for the finder were simple: "Take some stuff, leave some stuff."

On May 3rd he placed his own container, a black bucket, in the woods near Beaver Creek, Oregon, near Portland. Along with a logbook and pencil, he left various prize items including videos, books, software, and a slingshot. He shared the waypoint of his "stash" with the online community on sci.geo.satellite-nav:

N 45 17.460 W 122 24.800

Within three days, two different readers read about his stash on the Internet, used their own GPS receivers to find the container, and shared their experiences online.

There's more to it but as with any geek hobby, you can probably guess it was a core group of enthusiasts on usenet which actually got the whole thing started.

Arguably geocaching really has its roots in hunting and similar off-trail hiking type activities. The other geek outdoors simulator - Oregon Trail (requires IE) - highlighted the problem. "You have shot 768lbs of meat, but you could only carry 100lbs back to the wagon". While the official announcement on Selective Availability (a process by which GPS signals are degraded for civilian applications) implies that the motivation was commercial, most people who could afford a GPS system also had the requisite license to use non-degraded signals. Aircraft, large boats, trains and large commercial transportation fleets were already using the GPS system. But what if you were a hunter? Or perhaps you really enjoyed camping far off trail? In a flat area, topographical maps are hard to use because of a lack of geographical landmarks. In a hilly area, things are better unless the hills are obstructed by deep woods. The solution was GPS, and by the year 2000, over 4 million units had been sold to noncommercial users.

Even before that, GPS was no stranger to people who had to be in virtually unmapped places with poor visibility. The US implemented a system of radio beacons with clock syncronization called LORAN in the early 1940s. It is still in use in its third form called LORAN-C today by the US Coast Guard. Typically the radio operator in a unit of soldiers would carry the LORAN unit which had a run time of 15 minutes total and weighed over 100lbs. Thankfully, things have been evolving since then and a typical GPS unit has a battery life of about 20 hours and weighs under 1 lbs. GPS also has made the jump to Europe. While LORAN is known in Europe thanks to World War 2, European GPS satellites work the same way the American system does. The key difference is the frequency the system operates on. In America, look for a GPS unit with WAAS (Wide Area Augmentation System) and in Europe, the same functionality is called EGNOS (European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service). From a user perspective, they are the same thing and the only important thing to note is that a GPS unit from one corner of the world will not work in the other unless labeled as such.

Types of Caches
You can browse the offical list if you would like but I have my own take on the local flavor here.

Traditional Cache: Almost always an ammo can. You can buy these at any military surplus shop and there are quite a few in the Philadelphia area. It is customary to place stickers over the original ammo designation so it can be recognized as a cache. Generally bad things happen when non-cachers ("muggles") run across caches in places they don't expect to find them. Traditional caches also come in the form of plastic film containers which only hold a log book. These generally stay out of the way and rarely generate trouble although they get cleaned up fairly often by the muggles.

This is usually the most fun and the most challenging. It is a series of Traditional Caches (usually the film canister or "micro" type) which leads to an ammo can. The hardest Multi-Cache in Pennsylvania is called Dr Strangelove and is held in high regard for its unusual tour of the state park and innovative hides. The first and only clue will bring you to a phone pole with a serial number plate on it. Behind the serial number plate (affixed with velcro) is a printed and laminated label with the next set of co-ords. This is considered the easiest of the Strangelove hides.

This is not a geocache. While GeoCaching.com lists letterboxes, this is really an import from LetterBoxing.org and not something GroundSpeak came up with. I have tried a few of the letterboxes on GC.com and they are generally a traditional cache with a rubber stamp added to it. This is a point of contention among the older cachers who came into the sport before the different cache-types. The original spirit of Geocaching.com was to find caches with GPSs. There was nothing wrong with using topographical maps, but letterboxing is much more about clues and general locations instead of finding a specific set of co-ordinates. As such, letterboxers generally hate geocachers and geocachers generally hate letterboxers. If you want to try the sport but would rather not buy a GPS just yet, try letterboxing over at Letterboxing.org and use their community. Letterboxes are a decidedly different flavor and require localized knowledge of an area whereas geocaches are better for finding new areas or large parks.

Event Cache
Usually this is a BBQ. I steer clear of these as the discussion in the local groups tends to be environmentally oriented or how we killed the Native Americans. People sometimes bring along their Earth Based Religion tracts and other wacky stuff. There is a sub-type here called a Mega Event which is the same thing. Quite frankly I don't give a damn.

Cache In Trash Out Event
This usually does not require a GPS to find and is a form of environmental activism. As the name implies, the event is clean-up oriented and popular in more urban areas where people are more prone to litter. When used effectively, it strengthens relationships between the local park authority and raises awareness of the sport. Many geocaches have been placed after CITO events which cast the group in a positive light with the local park service. When used improperly, this event has proven a burden to the regular users of the park who may be trying to get away from people in general and are wary of large groups of strangers walking along the trails. Your mileage may vary, but the same fruitcakes handing out the tracts on the Kyoto Treaty at the Event Caches may also leave a bad taste in people's mouths at the CITO events.

Mystery or Puzzle Cache
Really this is another nod towards letterboxing. The letterbox-style mystery caches involve history. A local mystery cache in PA involved finding a house built during the colonial era of America which was recently moved for the construction of a highway and had me at the local library reading microfiche for hours on end. The geocaching flavor of a mystery cache involves either being at a location during a certain time ("Where does the beam of sunshine shown through the Holy Crystal of Jesus land to find the Ark of the Covenant hidden in the abandoned rail stations") which requires a fairly robust GPS or involves math games with latitude and longitude. If you enjoy cryptography, you will probably enjoy this type of geocache.

Virtual Cache (obsolete)
This type of cache required users to take a photo of something at a specific place. Virtual Caches original intent was to get people to interesting places which would not accommodate a geocache. Back when I was living in Philadelphia, I had a virtual cache at an underground Asian market. Obviously the GPS doesn't work underground so it provided an ideal virtual. To claim it, you had to take a picture of the market. These type of caches have been moved to WayMarking.com which is also owned by Ground Speak. A good example of a waymark is Artillery Battery 223 which I placed as a waymark since the structure is too unsound to support a geocache.

Webcam (obsolete)
There is nothing to find minus the webcam. It is a waymark for people too lazy to bring along their own camera.

Locationless (Reverse) Cache (obsolete)
Yet another sore spot among the older geocachers, Reverse Caches evolved out of benchmark hunting. More innovative uses involve tracking species at a wildlife park or finding certain makes and models of rare cars. The first locationless cache which I can recall was finding abandoned telegraph stations.

Earth Cache (obsolete)
Waymarking with a eco-theme. Make Captain Planet proud.

Buying a GPS
The first and most important suggestion I have is to actually go to the store and pick up a GPS. If you cannot figure out the interface quickly and easily, or the unit feels strange in your hands or heavy to your grasp, look at a different unit. The last thing you need is a unit you would really rather leave in the car or you would have to sit in the park and read a manual to use. Garmin makes a nice interface which people can pick up on quickly. Magellan's units are generally more feature-rich and the software is more robust, but have a higher learning curve. If you want to spend once, buy a Magellan. If you want to buy an "intro unit" or have separate GPS units for your car and hiking, I suggest the Garmin brand.

The second thing to look at is the licensing of the maps. Neither Garmin nor Magellan units are particularly useful in their base state. Garmin sells addons via "map keys" which you plug into their software or the unit. Magellan simply sells map CDs (and there are a few third-party vendors you can purchase maps from). If you think you want more detail, grab the Magellan. If you think you just want no-frills quick-and-dirty, grab the Garmin. The Magellan units have the added bonus that their firmware can be flashed to different functions. The air-nav firmware can be used in place of the land or water nav firmware to convert the GPS to a totally different function. The Magellan units also offer "straight line" navigation for hiking or "turn by turn" for driving without reflashing the unit or changing the map.

Finally, look at the expandable media port. Geocaching generally requires lots of memory to keep all those waypoints in memory and you are going to want to have upgradeable memory. Find a unit which accepts memory you already own such as SD or CF.

There are two types of GPS antennas. At this point the firmware is good enough in the units that the antenna is really no concern. It used to be that helix antennas were better at keeping the signal through the trees and patch antennas were better at locking on quickly and not as quirky about how you held the unit, but at this point the units are designed so well that it makes little difference. If you want to have the best of both, buy a GPS with an internal patch antenna and buy an external helix antenna to plug in or visa versa. With WAAS or EGNOS, you probably will not notice the difference.

Do not buy a PDA or car-GPS unit for geocaching, these units do not have any method of entering a waypoint.

Other Considerations for Deep Woods Caching
You can skip these if you plan on staying fairly close to home. For people planning long caches, here is what I carry.

Pack extra batteries. Some GPS units also offer solar chargers you can sling over your back but do keep in mind most hiking and caching is done under the cover of trees. Pack enough batteries to be lost for a week.

Pack a first aid kit. This should include a way to build a fire, a way to purify water, a snake-bite kit and a topical rub for thorns and poison plants. You also want to tuck a gun in here if your jurisdiction allows it and you are comfortable with it. In Pennsylvania, we have coyotes, wild dogs, hogs, bears and big cats. You are delicious to all of these and you are in their back yard when you are out hiking the deep woods. It is also much easier to shoot snakes compared to beating them to death and possibly wondering if you have the right anti-venom. In a real emergency miles into the woods, you can also hunt with it.

Wear blaze-orange. This makes you visible to hunters and makes it easy for rescue workers to find you should you need them. Resist wearing military surplus or pack a spraypaint can of blaze orange paint to mark the ground near you. The paint is much smaller than a tarp and it also is flammable.

Carry a Radio. Resist the urge to buy a radio which gets TV stations and NOAA weather alerts and such nonsense, buy a radio which will help you establish contact if you get hurt in the woods. Cell phones generally do not work where most of the real tough caches hide. There are two features to have in a radio: FRS (which does not require a license) frequencies and GRMS (longer range, requires a license) frequencies. GRMS has an emergency channel which allows you to communicate to the local wildlife service and FRS is a short range, unlicensed series of frequencies which allow you to talk to your caching buddies or just other people in the woods. Avoid CB radios as these require licenses and portable HAM radios which usually have too long of a range to be useful for a local emergency. The radio should have at least an 8 mile range for GRMS and should take the same batteries as your GPS. Motorola TalkAbouts can be had on the cheap from eBay.

Geocaching Stories
Halloween: A Crum in My Cache
Neat little adventure when geocaching. Normally I don't have a problem being out in the woods or on the trail after dark. We've had a few good laughs from playful foxes stalking us but beyond that, nothing weird.

That all changed when we went to "crumbhenge" on geocaching.com. It's a short walk across some train tracks onto questionably legal territory. I'm not entirely sure about the legality or the safety of running across a train bridge in the dead of night.

On the drive up there, we encountered patches of strong ground fog and the cars thermometer was giving me readings all over the place. It's rare due to the trans-cooler being right next to the temp sensor and normally it deadens the entire thing, especially after the engine/trans gets warm. As my partner (LawnGnomeHitman on geocaching.com) watched the GPS, I saw what I thought was someone crossing the road and had to haul on the brakes. I had thought some drunken college kid was crossing the road (if we're any indication, that's not a reach) and was about to plaster themselves all over my hood. Turned out to be fog; The image disappeared as we crossed by it, swerving and cursing.

On the trail, the GPS was just acting strangely the closer we got. It was working, then it wasn't. You get near the river and it entirely bugs out. I can understand the compass having problems near the bridge as it's probably slightly magnetic from the earth itself, but the GPS would have 6 birds in view and still be pointing straight away from the cache.

At the cache site, it looked interesting enough. I had initially mistook it for a colonial graveyard due to the tall, thin worn stones and their seemingly unkempt arrangement. You can just imagine the horror of walking out of the woods, into a clearing, and seeing what appears to be an unkempt graveyard. To top it off, there's a long stone bench in the middle which looks like it's the perfect size for an adult to lay in. (It's clearly a bench if you bother to push the brush away). I checked all the stones and there is no obvious writing on them. However, me and Gnomey separated to try and find the cache (the GPS was too bugged out to be useful at this point despite clear view of the sky and we quit trying). Immediately a thick ground fog moved in and the temp dropped quickly enough I was seeing my breath. It was cold enough to shiver if you quit moving. My light -- a 10 LED tac style lamp -- refused to push through it. We lost the river, which we knew split in several places around there, despite knowing it should just be over the hill. In short, we're lost, trapped in thick fog, separated, and we've both confirmed the place feels uneasy. That's a first for our many night caches. I've played a lot of paintball games at night in the woods and other stupid after-hours hiking on hunting trips, and it was different from the normal paranoia. It was just a feeling of 'wrong'.

Gnomey actually went back up the hill to go bang the GPS against some rocks (read: "talk some sense into it") and try to get a signal from the top of the hill or something. As it was impromptu, we didn't have our radios along, and I didn't know he was headed back up the hill. I distinctly saw someone run in front of me and, assuming Gnomey had lost his lamp and was trying to find me by mine, I yelled "Trav!" No response. "TRAV". No response. "TRAVIS. WHERE'S YOUR FUCKING LIGHT". I figured I would try to tip him off before he located that creek the hard way. Gnome continued running full tilt into the fog and I waited to hear the inevitable splash "GOD DAMNIT".

Except, from my left I hear, "Josh, I'm over here." Sure enough, he's halfway up the hill with his light on wondering why the heck I'm yelling at him to turn on his lamp. Incidentally, he got a signal and the fog cleared and we figured out he was standing almost on top of the cache. We felt OK around the cache, and all our gear worked and the fog cleared, but stepping back into the circle got the feeling back...

For members only: Wildman Creek

Pulpit Rock Cache
We made plans to go camping and hike to both peaks Friday night into Sunday afternoon. It would be cold as heck but the AT lets you camp so long as you're not visible about the trail and keep your fires small. That idea got killed with Friday's rain, so we rescheduled for Sat. The plan was to lug the tent from Blue Rocks up the blue trail, pitch it up there wherever we could find some ground, and use that as our camp for doing these caches.

We hit a problem when the Blue Rocks site said they would charge us for hiking passes. The Camp Guy was quite helpful in saying we could park at the reservoir up the road and leave the car to hike in. He gave us directions, he's a pretty nice guy. We get to the reservoir and there's a sign that says no overnight parking without a passes, so we book it back to Blue Rocks. He says they're trying to scare people, but I don't feel like dealing with it and we plunk down for hiking passes and we're told that if we're camping somewhere inappropriate, they'll ask us to move.

We get to the bottom of the blue trail and my SO is saying she's already tired. After some deliberation, we decide to get a camp site. We throw down the tent, and I toss my not-trail-items in the tent which leave me with essentials. LawnGnome does the same, and keeps his light and batteries in his camelback.

Sprite says she's ready, and we cross the rock-field. It was actually pretty cool and I enjoyed the walk across and over it. I took some pictures we'll post later when I get them developed. We made our way up the blue trail to the AT. Sprite finally says she needs a rest and feels ill about 2/3rds of the way up the mountain. After some back-and-forth about that, I finally figure out its because she didn't drop off the canned food at camp and I took the food out of her pack and transferred it into mine. I assign Gnome to carrying the rest of it (sorry man, but thanks again), and we proceed up the rock.

The other side of the mountain proved a lot less windy and a lot easier to travel, so we stopped a bunch. We got to the first rocky outcropping where Sprite decided to take a breather between two of the rocks while me and lawngnome looked for the cache. I went off to snap some photos which I will be posting at some point, and LawnGnome tore up the mountain looking for the cache. Sprite eventually caught up.

LawnGnome found it, and we signed the logs real quick and did an exchange. I didn't get a chance to drop off the travelbug, but I'm saving that for the other mountain. We went back down and by this time, it was getting dark. By the time we hit the rock-field, the sun had set. We tried crossing the rock field twice at night to shortcut our way back to camp but it didn't turn out right. Here's a hint: If you can't cross the rock-field, look for the blue blazes which run next to it. Walk straight away from the rock field. You'll hit the dirt road and you can walk that back to camp.

We got back and started a fire. Tossed some cans of soup in the fire and added cheez-its to the broth. We settled back down into the tent, and I'm thanking Maiden, Mother, and Crone that I got my combat boots back after those rocks, and tried to sleep. No sooner did I finish setting in then Gnome has his sleeping back zippered over his head and he's having worm-wars with me and Sprite.

We settled down, and they complained they couldn't sleep in the 20F, I seemed to sleep OK except I kept finding rocks with my back and rolled over every hour or so. Morning came. We compared notes on sleeping and energy levels and they both told me they weren't ever going camping with me again in the winter and they were in no condition to do the other cache. They used words like "insane" and "trying to get us killed", so I'm going to assume they were having fun.


Voxel dot net
o Managed Hosting
o VoxCAST Content Delivery
o Raw Infrastructure


Related Links
o the official geocaching site
o History of Geocaching
o Oregon Trail
o official announcement
o offical list
o can be recognized as a cache
o Dr Strangelove
o LetterBoxi ng.org
o clues and general locations
o Letterboxi ng.org
o WayMarking .com
o Artillery Battery 223
o benchmark hunting
o Motorola TalkAbouts
o A Crum in My Cache
o Wildman Creek
o Pulpit Rock Cache
o Also by GhostOfTiber

Display: Sort:
Geocaching: Hiking for Geeks | 90 comments (63 topical, 27 editorial, 1 hidden)
YES!!!! THANK YOU AND (2.25 / 4) (#1)
by mybostinks on Sun Dec 10, 2006 at 02:32:34 PM EST

Merry Christmas!

Woo Hoo!

Also +1 FP ... and I am getting myself a GPS device for Xmas.

omg..now you will never get lost..LoL (none / 1) (#4)
by dakini on Sun Dec 10, 2006 at 02:53:17 PM EST

" May your vision be clear, your heart strong, and may you always follow your dreams."
[ Parent ]
This sounds (1.50 / 2) (#6)
by Wen Jian on Sun Dec 10, 2006 at 03:46:08 PM EST

Really interesting! I like it. Do people do it in the UK or are vast tracts of unspoiled wilderness a prerequisite?
It was an experiment in lulz. - Rusty
you can cache in urbania (none / 0) (#13)
by GhostOfTiber on Sun Dec 10, 2006 at 07:14:59 PM EST

In fact, it presents it's own set of challenges.  Most urban caches are micros.  While it's not you versus nature nearly as much and you don't need to be nearly as fit, it is doable in the urban wasteland.  The popular cache in most urban environments is a magnetic hide-a-key painted the color of whatever it's bolted to.

[Nimey's] wife's ass is my cocksheath. - undermyne
[ Parent ]

Huh. (2.50 / 6) (#15)
by aural junkie on Sun Dec 10, 2006 at 07:44:05 PM EST

I do quite a bit of tramping and I'd never even heard of this. From that geocaching website, it looks like there's a huge community doing this in Nouvelle Zealande. There's even three cache hunts in Uzbekistan for gods sake, although nothing currently planned in Somalia surprisingly enough.

Good article t1ber. +1FP from me.

Who the fuck do you think you are? K5 Weather? - Mr Strange

does GPS work in New Zealand? (none / 0) (#17)
by GhostOfTiber on Sun Dec 10, 2006 at 07:52:33 PM EST

I did a bit of googling out of curiosity and it doesn't seem like NZ has a GPS system, or it isn't very popular.  What is the GPS system down there?

Geocaches can be done with topographical maps, but I've found that kids up here don't have to do orienteering in highschool anymore and can't read a map to save their lives.

[Nimey's] wife's ass is my cocksheath. - undermyne
[ Parent ]

GPS has worldwide coverage (3.00 / 3) (#19)
by Delirium on Sun Dec 10, 2006 at 09:29:59 PM EST

The name "GPS" refers specifically to the U.S. military's satellite positioning system, which has global coverage. It's what basically everyone uses; the only other operational system is Russia's GLONASS, which doesn't have nearly the same coverage. The EU and China have plans to build their own, but haven't done so yet.

[ Parent ]
yes they have (none / 1) (#21)
by GhostOfTiber on Sun Dec 10, 2006 at 09:33:22 PM EST

and it's mentioned in the article.

Did you read it?

There are no nations to the best of my knowledge in the southern hemisphere with a GPS system.  Since the satellites are in geosynchronous orbit, it would be hard if not impossible for NZ to see US or EU satellites.

That is why I am curious as to which system they use.

[Nimey's] wife's ass is my cocksheath. - undermyne
[ Parent ]

GPS works perfectly well worldwide (3.00 / 3) (#28)
by Delirium on Sun Dec 10, 2006 at 10:03:47 PM EST

The U.S. satellite network has global coverage. It's not like the satellites are physically located over the U.S. or anything, and they don't use geosynchronous orbits (even if they did, that wouldn't preclude stationing them across the globe). The whole point of constructing the system was to allow the U.S. military to use it for positioning in their worldwide operations, so of course it works in the southern hemisphere.

Some details from Wikipedia:

As of August 2006 the GPS system has 29 active satellites in a satellite constellation in intermediate circular orbits. 24 satellites are normally required, and several spares are available. Each satellite circles the Earth twice each day at an altitude of about 20,200 kilometers (12,600 miles). The orbits are aligned so at least four satellites are always within line of sight from almost any place on Earth. There are four active satellites in each of six orbital planes. Each orbit is inclined 55 degrees from the equatorial plane, and the right ascension of the ascending nodes is separated by sixty degrees.

I suppose I hadn't noticed that EGNOS was actually (at least partially) launched, but GPS works perfectly fine in Europe too, and I've personally used it in Japan.

[ Parent ]

argh, I had to look it up (none / 0) (#33)
by GhostOfTiber on Sun Dec 10, 2006 at 10:53:09 PM EST

You're right, the damn things do NOT stay in geosynchronous orbit.

You would think they would make it easy by keeping them in one known place but no......

[Nimey's] wife's ass is my cocksheath. - undermyne
[ Parent ]

okay - about these orbits (none / 0) (#70)
by ZeroesAndOnes on Tue Dec 12, 2006 at 11:08:27 AM EST

Someone please correct me if I'm wrong, as most of this is derived from schoolboy physics classes, but:

Geostationary orbits have to be above the equator.

Other geosynchronous orbits have to spend as long in the northern hemisphere as they do in the southern, right?  Otherwise, they would not be orbiting around the Earth's centre of gravity, which all satellites are, right?

[ Parent ]

Correct, but GoT got it out of editing before (none / 0) (#74)
by MotorMachineMercenary on Tue Dec 12, 2006 at 08:53:54 PM EST

he could be set straight. Also, the satellite has to be at a certain altitude.

And as for GoT's grandparent comment: geostationary orbit would be ideal but GPS would be only PS due to curvature of the earth.

Keep banging those rocks together, MMM!
- Kasreyn

[ Parent ]
oh, you're talking about the augmentation stuff (none / 0) (#29)
by Delirium on Sun Dec 10, 2006 at 10:07:59 PM EST

Yeah, there are methods by which you can use an additional signal to augment the accuracy of GPS, and those are only available in some areas (WAAS isn't even available in the entire United States). But those aren't necessary to use GPS, if you can live with the default accuracy (anywhere from 5 to 10 meters).

[ Parent ]
yeah (3.00 / 2) (#24)
by aural junkie on Sun Dec 10, 2006 at 09:44:45 PM EST

Galileo is on its way and will be awesome by the time its actually up and running. I wonder if it'll be free to use like the American GPS system is?

Who the fuck do you think you are? K5 Weather? - Mr Strange

[ Parent ]
Oh we have it alright. (3.00 / 2) (#20)
by aural junkie on Sun Dec 10, 2006 at 09:32:10 PM EST

I use it to mark all those holes / reefs I find when I go fishing. Gives me more time to fish when i can just boogie straight to a good spot ;)

This is probably our largest native manufacturer of GPS systems. Small company that started in Auckland and is now fairly well known. Although of course not in the same realm as Garmin and Magellan yet. Good product though.

Who the fuck do you think you are? K5 Weather? - Mr Strange

[ Parent ]

which system does it use? (none / 0) (#22)
by GhostOfTiber on Sun Dec 10, 2006 at 09:34:54 PM EST

The US system?  EU?  

[Nimey's] wife's ass is my cocksheath. - undermyne
[ Parent ]

US i think dude. [nt] (none / 0) (#25)
by aural junkie on Sun Dec 10, 2006 at 09:46:14 PM EST

Who the fuck do you think you are? K5 Weather? - Mr Strange

[ Parent ]
Perhaps... (3.00 / 2) (#32)
by BJH on Sun Dec 10, 2006 at 10:49:49 PM EST

...you would like to contemplate the meaning of the Global part of Global Positioning System.
Roses are red, violets are blue.
I'm schizophrenic, and so am I.
-- Oscar Levant

[ Parent ]
The Red Kryptonite messes it up (3.00 / 5) (#61)
by livus on Mon Dec 11, 2006 at 09:03:14 PM EST

two of our mountain ranges are riddled with Kryptonite meteors.

This is also why you can't see New Zealand using Google Earth.

HIREZ substitute.
be concrete asshole, or shut up. - CTS
I guess I skipped school or something to drink on the internet? - lonelyhobo
I'd like to hope that any impression you got about us from internet forums was incorrect. - debillitatus
I consider myself trolled more or less just by visiting the site. HollyHopDrive

[ Parent ]

+1 - dok starts taking prescription medicine [nt] (3.00 / 2) (#63)
by aural junkie on Mon Dec 11, 2006 at 09:12:26 PM EST

Who the fuck do you think you are? K5 Weather? - Mr Strange

[ Parent ]
fyi -1 because today i feel like being mean (1.09 / 11) (#39)
by actmodern on Mon Dec 11, 2006 at 10:54:48 AM EST

and i ask all my fans to do the same. in fact let it sit in the editing queue forever. let him correct his crappy little article. when it comes out... be ready...

LilDebbie challenge: produce the water sports scene from bable or stfu. It does not exist.
you flatter yourself (3.00 / 4) (#41)
by GhostOfTiber on Mon Dec 11, 2006 at 11:07:52 AM EST

You have fans like people enjoy watching car wrecks.

People enjoy seeing the results of a grossly mismanaged life.

[Nimey's] wife's ass is my cocksheath. - undermyne
[ Parent ]

still i can sink my teeth into the work (none / 0) (#55)
by actmodern on Mon Dec 11, 2006 at 12:47:00 PM EST

that ate up many hours of your life and will never actually be recognized as anything but a -1 in the halls of k5.

LilDebbie challenge: produce the water sports scene from bable or stfu. It does not exist.
[ Parent ]
STFU (none / 0) (#65)
by jangledjitters on Tue Dec 12, 2006 at 02:24:10 AM EST

[ Parent ]
oops I voted +1 FP, I forgot today was -1 day (3.00 / 2) (#44)
by 1419 on Mon Dec 11, 2006 at 11:26:47 AM EST

next time...

[ Parent ]
-1 Against the environment (2.57 / 7) (#51)
by A Bore on Mon Dec 11, 2006 at 12:30:47 PM EST

Geocaching in a nutshell is seeking out unspoilt areas of the countryside, difficult to reach or seemingly unpassable places and then encouraging others to defoul them.

A local woods to me was geocached by some middle class prick with a backpack. I went walking a week later and just looked out over the trail of candy wrappers, muddied and trampled nature and wanted to shoot somebody.

Most fucking useless hobby ever. Hiking for nerds with technology dependence issues. Fuck you.

What I find most bewildering is that (2.83 / 6) (#53)
by MotorMachineMercenary on Mon Dec 11, 2006 at 12:41:14 PM EST

geocaching and geocachers seem to rely entirely on GPSs for "navigation." Anyone who puts their lives in the hands of a GPS is a moron. One should always carry a good recent map and compass, and be on that map at all times, even if they carry a GPS.

It takes just one battery shortage - batteries die fast in cold, for example -, equipment breakage or a US military excursion - mentioned in my other post - to yield a GPS useless. And if a geocache is in the real wilderness you will be in big trouble. I have a feeling that many geocachers don't even carry a map as the whole hobby appears to be what you describe: a bunch of dilettantes playing with their lives without even realizing it.

And before GoT replies with what he claims in his article: you can rely on a map and a compass even in the Sahara. Well, you don't even need a compass as sun is usually visible there. Your incompetence in reading maps is not an excuse to teach people how to kill themselves when they get off the trail in Oregon to find an ammo box full of Juggs magazines.

Keep banging those rocks together, MMM!
- Kasreyn

[ Parent ]
A good counter-argument /nt (none / 0) (#58)
by 1419 on Mon Dec 11, 2006 at 03:41:40 PM EST

[ Parent ]
ROR...Juggs magazine /nt (none / 1) (#64)
by jangledjitters on Mon Dec 11, 2006 at 11:54:05 PM EST

[ Parent ]
that's why I said PACK EXTRA (none / 0) (#77)
by GhostOfTiber on Tue Dec 12, 2006 at 08:57:48 PM EST

and if you read the "selective availability" bit, you would know the maximum margin of error that can be introduced is a 25m circle.

If you can't figure out where you are given a 25m approximation, maps aren't going to save you.

[Nimey's] wife's ass is my cocksheath. - undermyne
[ Parent ]

Could have been anyone, right? (none / 1) (#54)
by 1419 on Mon Dec 11, 2006 at 12:41:49 PM EST

If you were there, how unspoilt was it?

What was lacking was good hiking/camping/outdoor etiquette if anything.

[ Parent ]

It's amazing that you are utterly clueless (2.14 / 7) (#52)
by MotorMachineMercenary on Mon Dec 11, 2006 at 12:32:45 PM EST

of GPS and Galileo although you obviously rely on them for navigating - which is just as incomprehensible. I wish I would've caught you so you could fix that portion of the article as it's total FUD now.

I would like to point out that GPS is, in fact, "global" as its name implies. Here in the EU we have fixed terrestrial stations which result in GPS accuracies of 1-5m which is enough for civilian navigation software for cars.

The main problem is that GPS is controlled by the US military and they can - and have - introduced deliberate error in the satellite feeds. Everyone who worked with a GPS during the first days of the on-going Iraq conflict remembers how non-military GPSs were pretty much useless at that time, not only in Middle-East but even in the EU.

This is one of the main reasons why the EU is building their own Galileo system. And that is not up and running and won't be for quite a while unlike you claim. We are stuck with GPS in the present.

An interesting factoid about GPS satellites: since the clocks in them have to be synchronized extremely accurately - I think it's to the millionth of a second - to yield the military accuracy of 1m or so, the software has to take bending of time into account. The satellites travel much faster than we do on earth so time doesn't advance at the same pace.

Keep banging those rocks together, MMM!
- Kasreyn

spend more time reading the edit queue (none / 0) (#75)
by GhostOfTiber on Tue Dec 12, 2006 at 08:55:34 PM EST

Thanks for the correction however.

[Nimey's] wife's ass is my cocksheath. - undermyne
[ Parent ]

You might also (none / 0) (#81)
by The Diary Section on Wed Dec 13, 2006 at 09:31:03 AM EST

want to consider removing the obvious schoolboy error here.
What you've said is so wrong its hard to think of an analogy, but it might be the equivalent to saying you can't use Telnet with a cable modem because its sends the letters too fast or something.

Parent ]

I need to do some lovin'; can't patrol K5 24/7 (none / 0) (#82)
by MotorMachineMercenary on Wed Dec 13, 2006 at 06:16:34 PM EST

Keep banging those rocks together, MMM!
- Kasreyn

[ Parent ]
A proposal (3.00 / 6) (#59)
by partialpeople on Mon Dec 11, 2006 at 07:20:31 PM EST


The act of leaving ones feces in a geocache, in an effort to darken the day of the unwary hiking geek.

IT HAS BEEN DONE BEFORE (none / 1) (#73)
by GhostOfTiber on Tue Dec 12, 2006 at 08:52:45 PM EST

Search the forums.

And if you want truly evil, some cachers with a sense of humor depart from the normal hide-a-key and use those hollow fake poop things.

[Nimey's] wife's ass is my cocksheath. - undermyne
[ Parent ]

Genius (3.00 / 3) (#78)
by partialpeople on Tue Dec 12, 2006 at 10:41:30 PM EST

I can see it now: hiding real poop inside fake poop.

[ Parent ]
Excellent article (3.00 / 3) (#60)
by mybostinks on Mon Dec 11, 2006 at 07:36:27 PM EST

and as always, I enjoyed it. It took you awhile to get this one posted but it was worth the wait.

Thanks again

You call actual people muggles? (none / 1) (#62)
by phayd on Mon Dec 11, 2006 at 09:11:26 PM EST

sorry this just blows my mind lol

Sounds like fun (none / 0) (#67)
by nebbish on Tue Dec 12, 2006 at 07:12:30 AM EST

I'll stick to walking in the Lake District with an OS map though :-)

Kicking someone in the head is like punching them in the foot - Bruce Lee

Geocaching with a PDA (none / 0) (#69)
by ZeroesAndOnes on Tue Dec 12, 2006 at 10:53:49 AM EST

"Do not buy a PDA or car-GPS unit for geocaching, these units do not have any method of entering a waypoint."

I'm pretty sure this is not true.  I'm not sure exactly what you mean by "entering a waypoint", but I have downloaded .loc files from geocaching.com to my PDA and used them to find geocaches.  Easy.

Did I miss the point?

I was speaking from experience (none / 0) (#72)
by GhostOfTiber on Tue Dec 12, 2006 at 08:50:58 PM EST

I've never run across a PDA GPS that does "off road" type stuff.  I know tom-tom simply doesn't do it.

What PDA do you have which does off-road type stuff?

[Nimey's] wife's ass is my cocksheath. - undermyne
[ Parent ]

PDA + GPS (none / 1) (#80)
by ZeroesAndOnes on Wed Dec 13, 2006 at 05:07:44 AM EST

I use a Palm TX, with pathaway software, which can use any old picture as a map and doesn't know or care about roads.  For the GPS, I use a cheapo Bluetooth GPS receiver which seems to be accurate enough (1~2m).

Of course, I had to obtain map images on my own, but for the country I live in, they are free from the government.  I've also downloaded map images from google maps and used those.

Another thing which is indispensible with this setup is GPSBabel, for converting between all the different file formats.

Honestly I know nothing about Garmin and other mainstream GPS brands, but this setup does everything I want, from geocaching to showing me where I just rode my bike on google earth, and all other kinds of geeky nonsense.

[ Parent ]

I have a friend who has a similar setup on his (none / 0) (#83)
by MotorMachineMercenary on Wed Dec 13, 2006 at 06:21:44 PM EST

cellphone. He downloaded the free gif maps from the gov't, uploaded them to his phone which gets the location data from his GPS and uses that to overlay the location on the maps. Low-tech - as similar solutions are available out-of-the-box in Europe - and DIY but by the sounds of it that's high-tech in the US.

And he didn't do it to find a stupid ammo box. There's some really fucking scared moose in Finland.

Keep banging those rocks together, MMM!
- Kasreyn

[ Parent ]
No, just yet another GPS-related error from GoT (none / 0) (#76)
by MotorMachineMercenary on Tue Dec 12, 2006 at 08:56:12 PM EST

Keep banging those rocks together, MMM!
- Kasreyn

[ Parent ]
Wildman Creek cache (none / 0) (#71)
by Monkey on Tue Dec 12, 2006 at 04:43:37 PM EST

After reading GoT's accounting of his venture to Wildman Creek and then clicking on the geocaching.com link to the Wildman Creek cache he provided, I found the following unsettling entries posted to the cache's log:

February 19, 2003 by Parkermen (460 found)

Man-O-Man, we thought you were kidding about something being out here. We'll never comeback to this place again! Should have never tried this at night. My daughter keeps saying that she wants to go home that she doesn't like it here; something is giving her the creeps. Found cache fairly easy but what we didn't realize was that something was watching us. Just when we were packing up the car, I was taking a picture of Baron at the back of the car and something catches my attention. I said Tim what is that? Baron turns around and sees a pair of eyes staring back at him. Tried to get some more pictures but we were shaking so bad and in a panic to get out of there. My daughter is just screaming and crying and cannot get her to settle down. And then after a long drive home, after changing into a pair of clean jeans, we discover in some of the other photos that this thing was watching us all along. Sorry Baron I talked you into going, I know you weren't feeling well and really didn't want to go. Now I know why."

 February 19, 2003 by Baron Von TnT (341 found)

WARNING: DO NOT CACHE WITH PARKERMEN. "Let's go get the new cache tonight", says Parkermen, "O.K." says I. Pmen is/was the king of night caches, so sure, sounded great, I have not been able to night cache for a while, due to a bad chest cold that would not give up. I was just glad to be well enough to accept the invitation, what a fool I am.

I read the page and just laughed. I am not laughing now.

We got to the site, it STANK, BAD, like dead rotting skunk (I have washed my jeans and they still stink), and the place was creepy with a capital CREEPY. Thankfully the cache was easy to find, but Pmen wanted to take pics, WHATEVER! I am coughing like crazy and Pmen's daughter is freaking out, I was ready to do what ever it took for Pmen to let us go home.

Finally pics are done and we are packing up and Pmen is taking my pic (again) so I take his pic. At this point events get upgraded from creepy, to full rock and roll scary. Pmen is checking the pics and he gets this weird look on his face, "There's something behind you!" Yea right, monkeys always look. Finally, I look, my eyes were tearing from coughing so hard, but what ever it was that was there was HUGE. I think I scared it too, as I was getting in the car I heard splashing down in the creek.

The ride home was looooong, Pman's daughter was sobbing and I am no longer on speaking terms with Pman. "

The log entries above really don't do the pictures these guys took justice. On the cache's page they've included links to the pictures. In the pictures you can see these glowing eyes apparently lit up from the flash of the camera in the darkness behind them. The eyes look to be oriented about human height above the ground. I admit, it probably could just be an owl or some other animal in a tree, but the effect is pretty spooky.

Fucking awesome. $ (none / 0) (#88)
by nate s on Wed Dec 20, 2006 at 01:21:43 AM EST

[ Parent ]
What? (none / 0) (#79)
by trhurler on Tue Dec 12, 2006 at 11:33:38 PM EST

You went camping/hiking with a couple of noobs who weren't properly prepared and they complained? The problem is you.

'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

Stop calling geocaching.com "official". (none / 0) (#84)
by tohole on Wed Dec 13, 2006 at 09:55:48 PM EST

Gah, stop referring to geocaching.com as the "official" geocaching site. There is absolutely no body that could give them that title. It's entirely self proclaimed and the virtual monopoly they have over cache listings may very well come back and hurt the community. Remember, you're giving them your content for free and they'll do what they want with it.

I don't really trust a company that claims the game will always be "free" then makes some caches for paying members only, hides cache details for people who aren't logged in and generally tries to silence its critics. Obviously their idea of "free" only relates to the price.

I'm not against geocaching.com (all but one of the caches I've placed are listed there) but their claims to be the "official" site and their for profit nature make me wary.

For more fun go read about the people Groundspeak has threatened with legal action.

Great story, got my interest in geocaching revived (none / 0) (#85)
by eMb on Fri Dec 15, 2006 at 10:49:27 PM EST

On May 3.... (none / 0) (#86)
by Chewbacca Uncircumsized on Sun Dec 17, 2006 at 08:36:54 PM EST

Of what year? It had to be a year when we had internets, but which one. Also too much hating on the hippies, what's wrong with wackjobs who think they are elves?

Geocaching is for pussies (none / 0) (#87)
by kurtmweber on Mon Dec 18, 2006 at 12:20:18 PM EST

Letterboxing is where it's at.

It requires REAL skills--orienteering, map-reading, thinking, puzzle-solving.

Of course pure orienteering or backcountry adventure racing are a lot more enjoyable.

Kurt Weber
Any field of study can be considered 'complex' when it starts using Hebrew letters for symbols.--me

Some radio clue... (none / 0) (#89)
by Myself248 on Thu Dec 28, 2006 at 02:22:51 PM EST

Since when does CB require a license? Because of the long wavelength, portable CB units invariably have terrible antenna performance, making them unsuitable for hiking, but that's a separate issue.

FRS radios are fairly short range, and if you're really out in the middle of nowhere, might not help. Also keep in mind that unless someone's listening, simply being in range won't do much good. Tell someone where you're going, and/or make contact with some locals on channel 1 as you hike in.

GMRS radios require an expensive license, $75 for 5 years, which dwarfs the cost of most GMRS radios themselves. Even worse, most FRS/GMRS radios can't be told to operate at low FRS power on the shared channels -- they default to GMRS power and run you afoul of the rules even if you're trying to be nice. As with FRS, if nobody's listening, you're SOL.

Ham radios also require a license, though the $14 cost is a lot nicer, and they never expire. (You can study for the test in about 20 minutes. They removed the morse code requirement years ago.) The radios themselves are more expensive, but vastly more capable than GMRS, and the ubiquitous club repeaters mean you have much better chances of actually reaching someone. A 5-watt HT and a copy of the ARRL repeater directory are your best choice.

There's no harm in having a cellular phone with you, particularly if it has AMPS fallback. Even with plans underway to turn down most of the AMPS network in 2008, large parts of the rural US are still covered by this and only this signal. If you're lost, get to a high point and try the phone.

For ham radio, if you can't raise someone immediately on the repeater with a distress call, wait until the top of the hour and try again. There are established emergency protocols on FRS and GMRS bands too.

Hiking for Geeks (none / 0) (#90)
by SheekGeek on Tue Nov 13, 2007 at 10:51:21 AM EST

They should be wearing the CellKeeper during this geocaching.  It would really help.

Geocaching: Hiking for Geeks | 90 comments (63 topical, 27 editorial, 1 hidden)
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