Some general thoughts on caching. This time frame can really be different based on different places, based on the cachers and the caches that are there.
The first few years.
I have had some discussions with cachers about "the good old days". They discussed that they ran around the state finding caches. Even a few that traveled farther. There were few caches then, and to actually keep interest in caching meant that you had to travel far.
Mega Events? What mega events. It was hard to get 500+ cachers together in an area, there were not that many in some areas, so people had to travel. In fact events were few and far between. Cachers planned long trips to make some of the few mega events that were around.
Events? I just checked in Utah. There were six events in 2001, 11 in 2002, 14 in 2003, 28 in 2003.
In otherwords the caching community was smaller, in order to participate you traveled and visited with the other people. You had to, If you wanted to find 1000 caches it was a lot of work. Power trails were non existant, cities and rural roads did not have a lot of caches to grab. I was thinking that when i started people were bragging about getting 100 in a day, it was hard, and took a ton of planning.
I am primarily thinking of the 2009-2010 time frame here in Utah. We had a few big events, Utah Association of Geocachers still had good attendance, that drew people from around the state every spring and fall.
Caches were scattered about, but the numbers were far less. In Utah there were 14,000 caches. You could stay in your region and gather caches. Rural areas started to see more and more
With events things were changing again. 2009 showed 93 events, 2010 was at 150. The numbers climbed dramatically.
Mega events were appearing in more and more locations. You did not have to plan a trip to one of the few. Why? Because there were double the number from the years before.
Events hit a high in 2012 at nearly 174, and in 2013 were still about 150 events.
Mega Events? They are everywhere. Ok maybe not everywhere. There are currenly 16 on the map for North America. There are 20 in Europe
Caches in Utah are approaching 30,000. You most likely would not need to leave your county for many. If you live in Washington, Iron county, or along the Wasatch front there are so many you would not have to go far. I was just thinking I rarely cache farther than 5 miles away. There are enough to keep me busy. I do like to take trips into the hills to grab them, but not as often as I used to.
I think geocaching dropped from States, to regions to counties to communities. Many people rarely leave those areas. Why travel to get one of the events, when there are so many nearby. We have seen a change.
If I made a list of Mega events, I would pick the closest. Not necessarily Geowoodstock. Times have changed. Statewide caching groups have slid into smaller regional or city groups. That is not necessarily bad, just different.
Some will aways miss the friends from around the state, or region that gathered to share stories. I think the stories are still there, just in a different form. I don't think of the caches that were the big adventures. I remember reading about the cache at the bottom of the Great Salt Lake, or the Wreck of the Hesperis. We all thought of going after those, or a few on the peaks. Now things have changed. No one knows about them anymore. People talk about the great caches in the areas, but not about those in wider regions.
I had a cacher contact me (actually this has happened a few times) and complain how things are not as cool as it was. Yet some of the coolest caches in the state were popping up in their backyard. They were not even aware. They just looked at the older caches, and wondered why so few were going after them.
So I leave you with a challenge. It is not to go back to the old days, or even do something in another county or state. It is simple, I challenge you to make it better. Make your event better, make your cache better.
Take the time to see something new, and share it with others. I think the future of caching is your comminities. Take what we have and add to it. Perhaps it is archiving an old cache to add something special. A cache type that most never see, a challenge that people can find and talk about.
Make what you have just a little better so everyone can smile at what they find.