Thursday, December 06, 2018

Why are you hiding geocaches?

If you hide it, make sure people can actually find it, right?

Let’s face it; the urge to hide a geocache is as strong as the Force, but knowing how to control and direct it can be just as touchy. On the surface the only real task is getting good coordinates, a container that will stand up to setting in the woods for a couple of years and still be good, and a really good hide… that no one can find, right?

Well, the first two points are good, but let’s take a look at the “real hard to find” part. There is a reason for the difficulty/terrain grid and it is often very misleading. The most common occurrence is when a newbie hides a cache under a light skirt and publishes it as a 4.5 difficulty. We’ve all seen evidence of this, but what about the veteran cacher who does the opposite, making their cache as misleading as the newbie?

I can deal with the newbie’s submission, as quite often their inexperience causes unorthodoxy and confusion – never mind the cords being off 78 feet. Where I find the most frustration is when I look for a geocache placed by a veteran and the D/T grid is very low, the container is a micro or smaller, no hint is posted, and the container placement could disguise 500 caches.

In the words of my mentor friend Kirbydox (36,000+ finds), “Do you want people to find your caches or not, Bert?”

She told me this a few years ago when a group of us were discussing this very real phenomenon. My answer was “I do indeed,” and all of us nodded in agreement. She then went on to say that this is the reason she posts a hint on her hides (100+). “It’s their business whether they look at the hint or not.” I adopted this philosophy immediately and over time have been revising my older caches as I do maintenance on them to facilitate seekers.

Now let’s look at who we are targeting when we place a cache. Seeing there is a large deviation between people in wheelchairs, or health problems that restrict their physical movements and the tri-athletes who play this game, it is only realistic that we decide who we are trying to target. The answer should be obvious in that we tune the hide and description, along with the hint to target each demographic. This area is in deep need of attention by those of us who fancy ourselves as hiders.

If it is indeed a truly evil hide, then of course no hint is in order, but if it is a 2.0 difficulty and is the size of a DNA tube in a stand of bamboo and no hint, what you have just placed is nothing more than a mean hide – nothing evil here at all. You are going to stall a geocacher looking for a needle in a haystack and frankly, there are too many of these crummy hides as it is, IMO.
A few years back I placed a series of about 10 caches alongside the feeder road on Interstate 10 (I-10) with the intention of luring travelers to get out of their car and take a break. It was called the “Keep on Trucking series”. It did not attract any that I could see, so after much thought, I archived them and set out new containers - BB's (1) I-10 Take a break series! GC7ZM4V and there are ten of them. Each container is one of my Berty Tubes painted black with a candy apple red top. The intention here is for travelers to make a quick find on ten caches. The D/T rating on all ten is 1.5/1.5 and I give directions as to how to ingress and egress all caches from either direction. It’s new, so let’s see if it works. I see it as a public service and a safety issue.

All of us have swerved off the main road to grab an easy cache only to spend 10 minutes looking and finally give up. Sure we got out of our car/truck and yes, it was a good thing, but without a smiley, it wasn’t worth stopping. In fact, it can make a cacher angry. YMMV.

I have another series I placed about 8 years ago that I archived recently and placed 29 new caches, leaving #1 with 64 favorite points: BB's (1) "Curse of the Goatman" Series GC2HQV6. Initially I placed it as a fun series for families with kids. Each one was clueless and difficult to find and all were black. It had a very good run, but guess what? 8 years ago there weren’t a bazillion caches for people to find like there are now and people these days appear to be obsessed with power trails they can almost grab from their car window. No one these days wants to spend 30 minutes looking for a low D/T rated cache and I don’t either.

With the advent of the Smartphone and non-premium members attempting this game, folks are making more caches premium to avoid muggles, added maintenance, and some admit not wanting non-premium members access to the game. Really, it’s true. I on the other hand see it in a different light. I want the newbies with phones and Apps to look for my caches and maybe, just maybe, they will get the bug and be the next Kirbydox, Team Troglodyte, HoustonControl, or ParkerPlus. This is just one reason I teach classes and write Geocaching 101 primers.

With the proliferation of almost inflationary geocaches popping up everywhere, it might just be time for us veterans to look at our hides and make some adjustments.


Anonymous said...

Jerry Jones: Well said Bert. When I read the Kirbydox quote, in my mind I heard her voice saying it. That is so Kirbydox!

Larry Houston said...

I agree. On most puzzle caches, I'll put a hint for the cache itself, but not necessarily the puzzle. As some have gotten older with much less activity (there are only so many puzzle hounds out there) I've gone back and added hints for the puzzle -- trying to get newer cachers to broaden their horizons, so to speak.

There is a challenge cache in San Antonio that is pretty difficult to qualify for; find caches with at least 25,000 favorite points. But the hide itself is some sort of evil thing with no hint (I couldn't find it). It has more DNF's than anything else but the CO apparently enjoys seeing people NOT find their cache. SMH.

Anonymous said...

Gary Black: Sorry Bert, but I'm going to recuse myself from participating.

Larry Houston: Take the high road, Gary! 😃

Anonymous said...

Cliff Lee: I think an evil cache hide says more about the cache owner than it does about the ability of someone to find it

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