Geocaching Tricks of the Trade

Intrigued to try Geocaching?  I bet you are!! But before you start tromping off into the woods, here are a few pieces of advice:

1. Geocaching is a Secret.
What??  But you’re blabbing all over the internet about it?? When you are out geocaching, try not to make it so obvious as to what you are doing.  It’s kinda what makes it fun – you are out on a secret mission.  Most people you encounter do not know what geocaching is and are called “Muggles” (Yes, after the Harry Potter series).  If encountering a Muggle while geocaching, simply make it look like you are out for a fun hike.

2. Be Prepared!
Like I mentioned yesterday, have your GPS device and something to capture and view the notes (we used an iPad this weekend).  But also, dress appropriately – you never know what sticker bushes, brambles, or even poison ivy you might be stepping around in.  I recommend tennis shoes and pants.  Also, be aware that you may be rooting around in some critter’s home. Just use common sense while looking for a cache.

3. You may have to Dig!
That said, you may have to really look into and under things to find the hidden cache.  Most geocachers are not going to hide a cache in a dangerous place.  However, climates and environments change, so a cache that was hidden 2 years ago in a great spot may be in a snake’s new home.  Just be aware of what you are doing.  The majority of caches I have found have been in perfectly fun, obvious, and safe environments, but I feel the need to throw that warning out there!

Free Fun In Austin continues to highlight Austin area locations and activities that may not be available at this time. We encourage you to take all safety measures to keep yourself and your neighbors safe. It is our hope that the stories and features on this site will help inform your plans in the future.

4. Look for the Obvious Spot!
When you reach your destination using the GPS coordinates, sometime the cache jumps right out at you.

Other times, not so much.  So take a step back and look for obvious places a cache can be hidden.  Most of the time, the online description will tell you if it is a micro (tiny) or regular (small plastic bucket) or other so you know what you are looking for.  Geocaching is not meant to be easy, so don’t always expect to find it in the perfect spot you thought it should be…that would take away all the fun, right?

5. Really read the clues well….really well!
My favorite part of geocaching is deciphering the clues.  That to me is the hunt itself! Some clues are easy, however, you may not get it right away. Like the one below.  The clue was “If you pass the 3 Friends, you have gone too far”.  Get it?

Other clues are meant to be more difficult and can really take you in the wrong direction.  For example, this past weekend, our GPS coordinates took us to this tree:

Our clue was “High Wire”, so we assumed the cache was going to be by some electrical pole or high wired fence (see the one in the background – we hunted around there for 20 minutes!).  Eventually, we saw this and the clue made total sense:

It was in a notch in the tree facing downward.  You pull the “high wire” to get the cache attached to it.  Tricky huh?  And there lies the FUN!

6. Cache In, Trash Out
CITO is an ongoing environmental initiative supported by the worldwide geocaching community.  There are annual weekends to clean up the parks in your area.  But you can support CITO every time you hunt by simply bringing along a trash bag and picking up the occasional piece of trash you see on your hike.  Even this small act can make a huge difference.

7. Take along LOADS of Patience!
Remember, this is a treasure hunt, so caches are not always going to jump out at you.  And there are levels of difficulty designated to the cache.  When choosing a cache to hunt on, you can decide which ones to find based on the difficulty level (1 to 5 stars).  That said, even some of the 1 stars have taken some time to find.  Just remember that this is a fun game, don’t get frustrated.  Take your time and enjoy the hunt!

This is part two of a three part series on Geocaching.  Visit Part One: What is This Thing Called Geocaching? and join us tomorrow as we take you on a fun hunt!

Rebecca, a local contributer, spends most of her time hunting down family fun around the Austin area for R We There Yet Mom?  Currently, she is running a Texas Travels Spring Break Series to help you plan all sorts of fun for the upcoming break.  Follow her traveling-momma-isms (totally a word) on R We There Yet Mom?’s Facebook Page and Twitter.

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