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    You know.. I love sharing and hearing stories.  I love to sit and hear the stories from peoples caching.  So after all the time involved I thought I would share some of what I am experiencing with those around me.

    Sunday
    Mar022014

    The Smaller Caching Comminity

    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.

    Evolution

    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.

    Today

    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.

    Results

    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.

    Challenge

    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.

    Wednesday
    Jan222014

    Part 3 - Topics for EarthCaches

    This is one of those things that myself and the other Earthcache reviewers deal with the most.  It is the most problematic, and can doom the Earthcache before you start.  Pick the wrong topic and if you are not willing to change the topic, and there is nothing you can do to get your EarthCache published.

    Guidelines and Advice

    1 - EarthCaches must provide an earth science lesson.

    This is the line that causes the problems and "earth science" is the phrase that actually causes that problem.  Remember who the sponsor of the EarthCache program is, the Geological Society of America.  Earth science is defined better defined in the Help Center:

    An EarthCache provides an Earth Science lesson through a visit to a unique geological site, and generally focuses on one aspect of the site...

    ...EarthCaches focus on the solid earth and the processes that shape it.

    The other section from the Help Center has the dos and don'ts of the process.

    Acceptable:

    • Geological materials - Rocks, minerals, fossils, sands, soils, etc.
    • Geological processes - erosion, weathering, deposition, volcanic activity, glacial action, etc.
    • Geological land form evolution - glacial valleys, reverse topography due to rock properties, waterfalls with geological explanations, use of geological materials - building stones, etc.
    • Geological phenomena (not included above) - impact craters, geysers, mineral springs, etc.
    • Tools used by geologists - index fossils, rocks, historical geology sites.

    Not Acceptable:

    • Biology
    • Botany
    • Zoology
    • Ecology
    • Atmospheric observations
    • Oceanographic observations, Geodesy (unless specifically linked to the location)
    • Archeology
    • History (unless it has a geological theme)
    • a building (unless it has a geological lesson)
    • Engineering (unless it has a geological theme).

    Common Issues

    We see a number of Earthcaches that focus on those and we have to push back.  The ones that get kicked back tend to be these (and the reason why):

    Swamps/wetlands: Most of these focus on what they create; homes for animals, trees, plant life, etc.  A cache on a swamp or a wetland should focus on how they are created.  The trick with these is that the logging tasks should be on what you can see in the area of the wetlands.

    Coral Reefs:  As you can guess these are the underwater version of the swamp/wetland above.  Coral reefs tend to focus on the living coral and the plantlife around them.  Once again having an obersvation for a logging task can be problematic.

    Mountain Top/Hillside View/Lackshore: These tend to be caches that are "check out where I have been".  They usually do not have logging tasks that are very good.  In trying to get logging tasks they tend to scramble for a logging task. One cache that I reviewed said "tell me what kind of rock is here".  When I asked what the answer was, they said "I don't know, I figure they would tell me."

    The Endangered Three Toesd Mole (or some other animal):  Well, you can guess here.  Someone wants to highlight the endangered animal, their plight, and their plight.  Sadly they do not fit in the program. 

    Ancient Indian Burial Ground or Old ghost town: Archelogy comes in as another common one.  They are not related to geology, and would be better served by a Virtual if the door ever opens on them.

    And yet more Advice

    Make it something interesting.  Writing up a technical paper on the various geological layer names and babbling about the ages they were depositied will make peoples eyes glaze over.  Also try and avoid creating so many in depth questions that people just dont care about it.

    I know of a few caches where people do not want to do them.  They are in a place that is not interesting, or they are Doctoral thesis papers that are too much for people. 

    Part 1 - Happy 10th Anniversary to Earthcaches

    Part 2 - Before You Begin Your EarthCache

    Part 3 - Topics for Earthcaches

    Tuesday
    Jan212014

    Danish DC6A Kippers in the Jungle

    We interrupt your regularly scheduled discussion on Earthcaches to bring you the following.

    I have had two emails from Danish people in the last few days along with a lot of visits to my webside from the Danish.  The emails were concerning GC6A Kippers in the Jungle.  I have not included it on my list of the oldest geocaches.  Their feeling is that I shold be cause it was placed in August of 2000.  Making it one of the four worldwide from the month.

    Well.  Sorry I had decided to pull it off some time ago.   Here is my reasoning.

    The cache page was created and assigned a GC # in September of 2000.  It was then in existance for a little while in June of 2001 it turned up misisng and it was archived in June 2002. In 2006 he was lucky enough to get the old dead cache unarchived.  So the cache was not there for a period of five year.

    Just because he spoke to the right person at the right time, does not mean it was an active cache.  I decided that it does not fit my list as being one of the oldest caches on my list because of that.   Personally I would not consider it valid for a Jasmer challenge if I owned one.  However that is just my opinion.

    Also FYI. The GC # was assigned somtime in September 29-30th.  Making it a September cache not an August cache.

    Sorry I just chose not to list it, sorry if I upset someone.  It just did not seem fair to the other cachers that did keep their caches up and going.

    Monday
    Jan202014

    Part 2 - Before You Begin Your EarthCache

     Where do I start

    There are a number of things that can help you get started.  I usually start researching before I head into an area.  You have a few options.  One of the biggest mistakes of new EarthCache placer is the “pretty view”.  You head to that awesome sight.  We all know the cache; waterfall,  mountain or valley view.  A pretty view is not an EarthCache, and those are the hardest to modify into something that passes as an EarthCache.

    What do you know?

    What do you remember from school, or what have you read?  If you remember information on erosion, or a particular stone, watch for it.  Look for that as you travel.  Faults, road cuts, mountain views can all work to help find something unique.   Look for what you know.

    Research before you go.

    Pull geological information about the route.  There are a number of books, and book series, that let you learn about the routes that you are on.  Many times you can find that information and look for the highlights before you go.  Much college geology department print “road logs” for self-given geology tours.  Find those topics that you would be comfortable writing about.

    Here are some ideas or some books that I use near home

    Roadside Geology of Utah

    Geology Underfoot in Southern Utah

    Here is an idea of a Road Log from a local University

    Milfort 1973 road log PDF file 6mb

    Permission

    If you have some ideas of locations beforehand, what permission do you need?  Is it on a city sidewalk?  In a highway?  Backcountry?  One of the biggest surprises that I get is people from Europe (and some from the US) that don’t realize that in the United States we need permission for all the caches in the National Parks.  It is part of the agreement to have them as a partner in the EarthCaching program.  Look for that, I have seen many caches where someone has put in many hours of work to get the cache going, and it is in a National Park, and they cannot get permission.  A few Native American reservations will not give permission.  Be prepared before you start.

    If you wish to place a cache on a certain subject, make sure there is not another nearby.  Yellowstone National Park is the biggest problem area for this.  Within an hour drive you can find multiple caches on geysers, mudpots, and volcanic features.  If you want to descibe how a geyser, mudpot, caldera, etc works then Yellowstone may not be a good location.

    Visit your location

    So you are driving down the road and you find that incredible spot,  stop.  Get out of your car and look around.  Is there enough parking?  Is there a sign?  As you drive up the road is there another location that is better? Watch for a better spot. Remember to mark that location on your GPS.  Watch for a few locations that may work, and gather those coordiates as well.

    Photos, photos, and more photos

    Once I find the spot I start walking around.  Take notes, photos, and more photos.  Quite often people try and make a logging task on something that is not related to their cache.  They will get told to find a new logging task on your topic.  If you live 5000 miles away, you may have a very hard time, especially if you visited the cache a while ago.  I will take 15-20 pictures.  Close ups, from afar, of the entire area.  Something in them to give scale or size. Remember if you are doing a cache from a roadside location, to make your logging tasks something that google Streetview can give someone the answer.

    Oops I screwed up

    These are some of the most common issues I see, in preparation of doing a cache that make it far harder.

    • Not knowing your topic, or what your EarthCache is on.  Nothing can save your EarthCache if you have no idea what you are doing.
    • A view is not an EarthCache.  Just because you made it to the hilltop, or the waterfall and the view is amazing does not make it an EarthCache.  Can it be, yes, but expect scrutiny and work.
    • A sign is not an EarthCache (the Earth around you is).  What is around you is the EarthCache.  Like your cache page, the sign can give me information on the site, but your logging tasks are done in the Earth around you. 
    • Finding something cool and driving away.  Not having the information for your logging task.  Or if you want to change the direction, no ability to do so.
    • Not knowing if you need permission for the location, or not getting the permission.
    • Your EarthCache is near another on the same feature. 

    Summary

    Nothing is more important than planning ahead.  Finding something interesting on a route may happen, but it is far easier if you are looking for something.  I know some EarthCache placers specialize a a few different kinds of EarthCaches.  Just don't be afraid to read a little and move ahead.

    The second in a series about EarthCaches.

    Part 1 - Happy 10th Anniversary to Earthcaches

    Part 2 - Before You Begin Your EarthCache

     

    Thursday
    Jan162014

    Happy 10th Anniversary to EarthCaches

    Happy 10 years to the first EarthCache.  Ten years is a long time in caching terms.  Thinking that there were few caches in the 2004 world.

    Last week there were nearly 125 events around the world to celebrate EarthCaches.  It is hard to believe how much it has grown in the last few years.  I see so many submissions, many with the same problems.  Sometimes those problems were because they tried to copy an old cache, other times because a cacher did not understand the process. 

    Many get listed, I am happy to see how many of those EarthCaches need a few small tweaks and we get them listed.  Often I follow those pages for a while, to see the reactions of people who are taken to those interesting places, and read their logs.  Unlike so many other caches you rarely see a TFTC on an EarthCache. 

    I was curious so I pulled up the favorites in each state.  So I looked at 1000 caches, and in that 1000 caches I found almost 100 EarthCaches in that list of caches.  So 10% of the favorite caches are EarthCaches.  If you want to compare that with how many Earthcache there are, we have 16,000 in 2.3 million caches.  So under .7% are EarthCaches, and 10% are favorites.   I did not look at others.  I am sure that virtuals rank way up there as well. 

    So with that thought I was thinking I would write a few articles on EarthCaching, over the next few weeks.  Hopefully that will give me something to do in these cold frosty months.  If you have questions let me know, I will see if I can incorporate them into these posts. 

    So I hope to see you all on the trail.  

     

    A series about EarthCaches.

    Part 1 - Happy 10th Anniversary to Earthcaches

    Part 2 - Before You Begin Your EarthCache