Tuesday, June 15, 2010

It's the wrong one people...

While on the road trip this weekend, I found a cache that had a benchmark nearby.  The cache page even stated there was a benchmark nearby.  As I've stated numerous times in the past, I usually don't go hunting benchmarks, but if they present themselves to me, I'll log them.

The Altamount Silo find was sort of like a comedy of errors.  First, I didn't believe the GPSr when it said over there.  Nope, my geosenses were saying it should be here, so that's where I'm going to look first, foxtails be damned.  Yeah, well with that much open sky, I should have trusted the GPSr, because it led me right to the cache.  After making my trade at the cache, I headed back to my van to get my camera to photograph the benchmark.  Why I didn't bring it along, I don't know, because I knew I was going to have to take some pictures at this cache site.

The benchmark page at Geocaching.com is pretty specific on how to log a benchmark.  Unfortunately, they don't require a picture of the benchmark in order to log it, which in my opinion is wrong.  The picture backs up the find and also points out possible errors, should the person get the wrong benchmark.  There is another section on the benchmark page that educates people on whether they have the correct benchmark or not.

This particular benchmark is supposedly very close to the Altamount Silo Geocache.  Looking at the two maps, they are indeed very close, but if someone is going to log that benchmark, they really need to find it first.  I didn't and realized it as soon I got home and looked at my pictures.  The designation for the benchmark is K 1258.  That means you're going to see those combination of letters and numbers are going to be stamped into the benchmark somewhere, especially if it's a disk.

When I got home and looked at my picture of the disk, I noticed that it was clearly labeled Alameda County Surveyor around the outside of the disk and CAR-ALT and 1994 stamped in the middle.  Anyone, who had taken the time to read the benchmark description page would have noticed the discrepancy in the designations, plus the other clue of the date.  The 1994 date on the disk doesn't match the description of the other disk, which was set in 1974, twenty years earlier.

The sad thing is people are still logging the benchmark as found.  I'm not a serious benchmarker by any stretch of the imagination, but I can imagine that this would frustrate people who are.   They might plan a trip out there, then realize that the disk isn't the correct one.  What's even sadder, in my opinion, is there have been people who have pointed out on the benchmark page, that the disk that is being logged isn't the correct one. This was done early in 2005. Since that time it has been logged as "found" by six other geocachers.  Two other notes have also been posted stating the benchmark they are finding isn't the correct one.

Maybe I'm picking nits on this one, since it's just a small aspect of the overall hobby, but there's something wrong with claiming a find when you haven't found it.  I think partial responsibility rests with geocaching.com.  If they're going to list this on their site, then they should police that area, but that's not happening.  And so, people are being misled.

And the flip side of this is, don't know that this disk is the wrong one.  I didn't until I got home.  The difference is, I checked before I logged it, realized that it wasn't the correct one, and so didn't log it.  Others are following through like that.  I guess I'm hoping for a perfect world where everything runs, uh, . . . yeah, perfectly.  All caches would be found, benchmarks would be logged accurately, people wouldn't lose their GPrs, and gas would only cost 35¢ per gallon.  Well, we know that's not going to happen, but I think I just needed to get that off my chest anyway.

Oh, and when I got back to the van and got ready to take off, I realized that I didn't have my GPSr with me.  I checked the van thoroughly and didn't find it there, so I went back to the cache and found it lying on the ground about four feet away.  Usually, when I find a cache, I place my GPSr on the top of my foot, since it's likely that were I to walk off, I'd feel it fall off of my foot and remember that I need to pick it up.  For whatever reason, this system failed me this time.  At least I wasn't 20 miles down the road before I realized it though.

Pictures were taken at or near the following geocache:
Altamount Silo - by Kenny162

Profile for Webfoot


Erika Jean said...

I don't think people really understand the whole benchmark thing. I know I was confused when I started doing it.... although I tend to read old logs, I too would have realized I had the wrong one and not logged it!

Webfoot said...

I think you've hit the nail on the head Erika. Most people are either too busy, or don't feel like they need to read the instructions. In this case, I think it's important to read the instructions.

Even at geocaching, before I did anything, before I posted in the forums, I read the entire FAQ page and learned as much as I could beforehand. Then, if I still had a question, I asked. I don't think enough people do that nowadays.

benh57 said...

Hey, I just drove right by that cache! And you found Ear Into Space right before me. Unfortunately i was in a pretty big hurry to get to Livermore to find a few puzzle caches, and i was finding Sacramento Valley quads along the way, so had to skip a bunch.

I concur about the benchmarkers logging the wrong things, but most folks aren't as 'by the book' about these things as we are..

team spongebob said...

I agree that a photo of the benchmark should be required in order to log it as "found." Otherwise, benchmarkers or geocachers could be couch-potato searchers and cheat.

chaosmanor said...

Missed this one, somehow, when it came out, which probably surprises Webfoot, who knows that I *am* a serious benchmark hunter, with a couple of hundred *accurate* logs, as well as over 100 NGS Recoveries.

I've gotten really laissez-faire about inaccurate BM logs on the geocaching website. As much as I would love to see TPtB be more active in updating and policing the BM area, IMHO they did folks like me a real service in working out the original deal with the NGS in the first place. Yes, they've let the area just drift since then, but there is a very dedicated group of several hundred benchmarkers, including some professional surveyors, who do what they can to educate people, as well as to file useful Recoveries with the NGS.

Now, if I saw someone file a crappy Recovery, I'd get really upset. The NGS has come to look at GC as a valuable partner, and I would hate to see someone do anything to damage that partnership. We who know what we are doing (and there are quite a number of us, most of whom are not pros; I'm not) have helped improve the NGS database with thousands of reports.

Thus, for those no-nothings who don't want to know what the rules are and don't care to learn them (we see that in geocaching, and most other aspects of life, dozens of times a day), as long as they constrain themselves to the GC website, then they can do they want. Those who come along afterward will see their silliness and roll our eyes at another idiot who can't be bothered to learn.

I just took a look at the NGS website. Earlier this year, someone with OrbiTech, Inc, filed a "Not Found" report with the NGS. That company is a professional surveying and mapping company based in Prineville, Oregon. I have to assume that they were contracted for a job of some sort and hoped to use that Station. It certainly seems reasonable that the Disk is gone, if a pro team couldn't find it.

I'll definitely have to make a point to stop at that cache sometime, just to see that BM. If you want to see another BM with some interesting logs, and a rather bizarre history, check out FT1015. As near as I can figure, the NGS set a new mark when it couldn't find the old one, probably when the old highway was widened. But the original apparently still exists, and the replacement has never made it into the NGS database, despite being an NGS disk :-o Never seen *that* before.