When I first started Geocaching, I was a very casual geocacher. I went caching maybe once a month and found three or four on that particular trip. My first three years (2001-2003), I found 17, 28 and 32 caches respectively. Then I took off in 2004 and found 99 caches! Woooooo. During the same time period, I found out about benchmarks and checked it out. This looked kind of interesting, so I decided to do some reading before trying to find any local ones. I was familiar with benchmarks, having seen some while camping at
What is a benchmark? From the geocaching.com website,
“A benchmark is a point whose position is known to a high degree of accuracy and is normally marked in some way. The marker is often a metal disk made for this purpose, but it can also be a church spire, a radio tower, a mark chiseled into stone, or a metal rod driven into the ground. Over two centuries or so, many other objects of greater or lesser permanence have been used. Benchmarks can be found at various locations all over the
The site also goes on to state that many benchmarks are in plain sight, but mostly ignored by the general population.
Further reading on that page listed above kind of gave me a glazed over look. There’s a lot of technical information on it. I discovered that geocachers could log benchmarks, and could even fill out a form to update the benchmark with the NGS as well. There’s a FAQ page in the geocaching forums dedicated to helping people fill out recovery forms as well. I decided that I’d start small and just try to find and log one. So I printed out a couple of pages and then promptly forgot about benchmarking entirely, at least for a month or so.
Then, on a Sunday morning I was driving my daughter over to her violin lesson and we were stopped at an intersection. My gaze drifted over to the curb and there, painted on the curb, were two letters, BM with an arrow pointing up to the top of the curb. All of a sudden, the light came on. Here was one of those benchmarks, in plain sight, largely ignored by the general population. After I got home, I looked it up in the GC benchmarking database and sure enough, it was there. The next weekend, I went back to that intersection and took my pictures and logged the benchmark.
Now, I guess the big question would be, was I hooked? The next day, I went out and found two more benchmarks in the same general area, but I wouldn’t say that I was hooked. In fact, I find benchmarks interesting, but I haven’t gone out of my way to find them. One of my caching friends, chaosmanor, enjoys benchmarking and has logged over 150 benchmarks in the system. He has also logged over 80 recoveries into the NGS database as well. I’ve logged two other benchmarks since that first flurry of a weekend back in 2003, both were on a caching expedition with him and they were both found because we sort of stumbled over them while hiking as opposed to actively seeking them. In fact, we walked right by another one that was about 50 feet away. Like I said, they’re in plain sight, but usually ignored by the general population. Even two geocachers who were on the lookout for some missed it.
As I’ve continued to take my son out caching, I look for a variety of things at the same time, mostly because if they’re interesting, I like to take pictures of them. Benchmarks are the same way, they’re interesting and they tell a little bit of the history of the area where they’re found. My son has gotten quite adept at finding all sorts of benchmarks while we’re out caching and hiking. Most aren’t in the database, but we check them out nonetheless. We found a beautiful one, right off a trail in