Sometimes, expectations don’t match reality. Sometimes, geocachers are absolutely fine with that.
The team of intrepid Geocaching HQ’ers who left Seattle on Friday, June 27th were expecting their weekend culminate in a hike halfway up Mount Rainier. At 10,080 feet in elevation, the Camp Muir hike wasn’t one to scoff at. For five hours, the team would slog straight up rock, ice, and snow. Virtual caches GCA69 and GC1192 would be waiting for them at the top (hopefully holding a sign, flowers, and hand warmers). Logging these, one very old T5 and another very old T4.5, would be the ultimate payoff.
Alas, despite fervent pleas and several bouts of sun-dancing, the team of geocachers was not able to ward off the mantle of clouds that hung over the mountain. When the big day came, Mt. Rainier was to reveal itself for only a few seconds before vanishing shyly again.
A triple DNF hung across their shoulders—two for the caches, one for the mountain itself. They had no back-up plan, for the hike up to Camp Muir had consumer their very beings. It was the only ascent they’d considered, the only slope they’d trained for. The team was inconsolable.
Inspiration hit them like a bison charging down a mountain. What do geocachers do when they DNF? They break into song of course.
Explorers, sleuths, adventurers,
finders, keepers, hey!
We the brave, the geocachers,
three dozen finds per day!
The song, which was sung to the tune of “Ronda Alla Turca”, rallied the team immensely. They realized what they had to do to cancel out their DNF: find some more geocaches! Unsurprisingly, the surrounding cliffs, valleys, trails, rivers, and lakes were dotted with geocaches of every type. In little time, the team was hiking merrily along a thin, winding trail rimmed with wildflowers. The prospect of two more caches at the end of the trail lifted their spirits immensely.
The team thought about all the reasons they loved geocaching, and added one more to the pile: A DNF isn’t synonymous with failure. Lots of things can get in the way of a find. Weather turns south. Batteries die. The dog eats all the snacks. Does that mean the adventure is over? Nope!
1) Bring a friend. Someone with Pollyanna-style enthusiasm will do nicely.
2) Look around. Are there other caches nearby? Go find ‘em.
3) Plan for a return trip. A DNF isn’t a permanent status.
4) Try singing the song mentioned above. Try singing anything to the tune of Ronda Alla Turca. It will cheer you up, we promise.
Editor’s note: Geocaching HQ staff are attending dozens of Mega-Events around the world, shaking hands, sharing stories of adventure, and of course, geocaching. Each person at Geocaching HQ brings their own unique talent to advancing the adventure. Some write code for the website, others design images for the apps, and some shoot videos explaining it all. Amy Faulkner is the Geocaching HQ staff member behind the Geocaching Block Party and other awesome events. She recently traveled to her home state of New York to join nearly a thousand people in celebrating geocaching and the geocaching community at the ASPGB IX. Here’s her story.
Here at Geocaching HQ, we often hear glorious stories of geocaching taking people to places they never knew existed. And we’ve even experienced this phenomenon ourselves – stumbling upon EarthCaches that reveal large geological events that we never knew happened, or finding the Little Library around the corner that just so happens to contain a geocache.
As excited as I was to attend the ASPGB Mega-Event again this year, returning to the place where I grew up to attend an event I had previously attended seemed a bit anticlimactic. But I was wrong. Not kind of wrong, I was so wrong – out of the ballpark wrong- that I’m actually embarrassed that I had that thought in the first place.
To begin, the ASPGB was spectacular this year. It was great to see familiar faces from last year and meet all of the new attendees this year. The event was packed full of fun activities, from Lab Caches to a creative cache contest to a raffle dripping with anticipation. I met so many great people including these lovely ladies (below) that were celebrating their 100th find. They presented me with the awesome smiley which now permanently resides at my desk.
In addition to attending the event, I had the opportunity to spend a day geocaching with my mom in the town where I grew up. We found an amazing EarthCache at one of my favorite childhood spots, Rock City Park. My mother has become quite the geocacher over the last year.
The biggest element of surprise happened on my drive back to the airport. About 30 minutes into my drive, I stopped at a rest area in a place called Friendship, New York. While there, I decided to peek at the Geocaching app to see if there were any nearby geocaches. To my surprise, there was one right at that rest area. I left the car and wandered to GZ and quickly made the find. As I was re-hiding the container, a car drove up behind me. From the window I hear, “Can we sign the log before you put that back?”
As I turned around, I saw a car full of geocachers. They pulled over and we shared stories, trackables and even had an impromptu photo shoot.
All in all, I realized that geocaching is so much more than finding new places. It’s about the randomness of the things that happen along the way, the people you meet, the experiences you have and the community that you belong to as a geocacher.
The official Geocaching Intro apps for Android, iPhone and Windows Phone serve up beginner geocaches. The app is loaded with helpful advice, tips and videos to turn muggles into geocachers in just a few clicks. The apps offer your friends everything they need to launch on a geocaching adventure. Use the app to search for Traditional geocaches, navigate to their locations and log finds. Now when friends ask about geocaching, you can say, “download the official Geocaching intro app, and I’ll show you all about it.” Or say something even wittier, maybe even add a joke. Your friends like jokes.
If you’re a Geocaching Premium Member the intro app offers even more features, like access to all Traditional geocaches regardless of terrain or difficulty, including Premium Member Only Traditional caches. Download the app for your phone now, and begin a geocaching adventure anywhere.
A Moagem (GC4QYFG) [translated from Portuguese: The Grind]
Geocaches take on many forms: some are cool containers, some are in interesting places and some are mind-bending puzzles. This week’s Geocache of the Week is a combination of all three. The geocache itself is an incredibly well-made, large cryptex. Geocachers have to use the clues in the description to decipher the code, then line up the different wheels in the right spot to release the geocache. The place where this geocache resides is also interesting. “A Moagem” in Portuguese translates to “The Grind”, which is appropriate since the geocache is placed inside a grinding mill that has now been transformed into a museum, arts exhibit and meeting place. After you earn your smiley, you can even take a look at some of the original grinding machinery.
With this cache we used the concept of indoor geocaching. After understanding this kind of cache rules with the help of the reviewer btreviewer, we started the developement and prototyping process. We take this opportunity to thank him for the cooperation. The cache is inside a reconstructed milling house, that a long time ago used to collect the rye seeds from the local producers and produce the flour. According to this, we inspired in the grindstone to build the cache. We also thought that the container opening method should be as original as the design. After thinking about a few possibilities, we came to decide to build a big dimensions cryptex with an opening device that looks like a grindstone.
The museum belongs to Fundão city hall. The team fundao365 is composed by some of its employees, that share the passion of geocaching. The partnership was born naturally.
The cache was developed and created in Fab Lab Aldeias do Xisto, that is a Digital fabrication laboratory recently created by Fundão city hall, wich main goal is to support open access to entrepreneurship and idea development.
It’s rewarding seeing that our work is being recognised by the geocaching community and it is an inspiration to future projects that we are already working on.
We appreciate the opportunity that Groundspeak gave us to invite all geocaching community to visit Fundão and meet its wonderfull territory, wich has too much to offer to geocachers. We’d also like to promote our nearest Mountain: Serra da Gardunha, that has an unique landscape and offers other activities like mountain bike, hiking, Hang gliding, canoeing etc…
[all translated from Portuguese]
“Excellent cache that I got to know during the event held on the same day. Cache that deserves a visit from all geocachers.Thanks to the owner for sharing.” – jccms
“I confess that I was very impressed with the work that went into the design of the container and was even more surprised with the logbook cover is genius. Throughout originality gets the deserved FAVORITE!” – scalpelman
“…this is wonderful, very original and well thought out! now here’s a cache to last a few many years! TFTC” – grilo85
Continue to explore some of the most engaging geocaches around the globe. Check out all the Geocaches of the Week on the Geocaching blog.
If you would like to nominate a Geocache of the Week, just fill out this form. Thanks!
Geocachers are born to break records, to test limits, to push boundaries. So when four guys set out in a boat on a journey to an obscure island to find a geocache with impossible odds, we were excited, enthralled, even impressed. But we were not surprised. No, never surprised. The need to seek adventure is in a geocacher’s very DNA.
SK Extreme 01 is a virtual geocache on an uninhabited and unnamed island in Brabant Lake, in northern Saskatchewan. (Note that Saskatchewan is just about twice the size of Germany.)
The geocache was published in 2002 by KenJamin, who was staying on the island during a guided canoeing trip for Rotary International Youth. He found a topographical survey benchmark and, realizing that Canadian benchmarks weren’t published online like American benchmarks, thought it would make a good virtual cache. The virtual would be the start of a series of extreme caches, says KenJamin, “The kind of caches that drew me to geocaching in the first place.”
Team BOSS, consisting of Bennykidd, Olemaz, Scratch1, and Sasktravelbugs, planned a trip. Snow and ice would force them to delay their adventure until spring. Their journey would begin with a drive from Saskatoon to Brabant Lake, a route so long and remote even Google Maps doesn’t dare plot it. And they knew the drive itself wouldn’t be a picnic: “We had heavy rains in Southern/Central Saskatchewan and if we had the same rain that far North, roads could have been treacherous. ”
Once at the lake, which is shaped more like a trailing globule of drool than a lake, they’d cross the water in a rented boat to the island—GZ. Rain, fog, and wind were of primary concern on this stretch of the journey.
Team BOSS had, “perfect weather, perfect roads, and a perfect landing.” And the benchmark itself? It was “a fairly quick find.”
The real challenge came when the team was forced to wait to return to an area with cell service before making the phone call to KenJamin. The reward, however, was spectacular. “The phone call to the CO, KenJamin, for his required answers made our day as we knew we’d catch him off-guard and he would be stunned. ”
And he was. “I vividly remember receiving the call from Team BOSS. I think olemaz said the digits from the benchmark followed by the key digit and words to the effect of ‘does that mean anything to you?’ I admit I was stunned and didn’t make the connection at first. I paused and thought; then it suddenly stuck me and I blurted out ‘No Way!’”
Not quite. But a great deal of excitement and adventure for sure. “The best moment of the trip was seeing the beauty of nature in this world and the camaraderie among geocaching friends having fun.”
Among other things on a long, long bucket list…
“As I reflect on this, the first cache in the series, I recall and appreciate all the great logs and pictures I have received as a result. The three caches and the cachers that have visited them have made the distance, hikes and effort to place them repaid ten fold. As far as my future geocaching adventures go I have ambitions for areas in and around Arches and Grand Canyon National Parks. Cache recommendations would be appreciated.”
Want to read more about this epic adventure? Check out the audio of an interview with Team BOSS on http://www.livingskies2014.ca/ or http://www.podcacher.com/2014/06/show-474-1-pmm-ftf-12-years-later/
Geocaching Presents: Favorites
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