Monday, July 26, 2010

Cache hiding

In the past, I've dealt with what I think is the most efficient use of my time with regard to the hobby/game/silliness that we all know as geocaching.  I've kept a goal for myself of a 1% threshold, where I have hidden at least 1 hide for every 100 I find.  I probably could hide more than that, but there's an issue of quality in my mind.  I don't hide micros.  The smallest container I've ever hidden was a rectangular Altoids container.  The only reason I hid that was as a replacement cache for the one that I accidentally lost in my haste to make the grab.  Ooops.

Other than that cache, which really wasn't mine, the smallest has been a decon container.  I like decon containers for a number of reasons.  The first is they're large enough to hold a small travel bug or any geocoin.  In my mind, I think a small should be able to hold at least something other than a log book. A geocoin makes this criteria.  The second reason I like decon containers is they're small enough for general placement.  I have a couple of decon containers that are hidden just off trails and every time I go out to check on them, they're a tough find.  It's embarrassing having a tough time on your own cache.  Usually when happens after I check on them is I up the difficulty rating on the cache by half a star or so.

Those and the traditional ammo can are usually my containers of choice for caches, but I've been know to use other things, particularly old coffee containers.  But that's beside the point I'm trying to make here.  It's more background information.

My arbitrary 1% threshold was set by me as a way to keep a balance in my caching.  I hid my first two caches after only finding 14 caches.  By my own standards, I don't think that's enough cache finds to adequately make a decent hide.  There are always exceptions to the rule, but I think had I waited, I might have tried some camouflage techniques on the containers.  Neither of the first two containers were camouflaged, just a container with a label on the outside indicating that it's a geocache (see the picture).  Not that camouflage is a necessary requirement for a geocache, but I think they would look better if they had.  And yet one is still out there after almost 9 years in the field, so i guess it's done OK for a non camoed cache.

The 1% threshold for me keeps me from having too many caches out there at any one time, yet at the same time, it allows me to give back to the caching community.  At present I have hidden 35 caches, but only 22 are active.  I think if I had more than about 30 caches active at a time, all I would be doing would be cache maintenance.  Granted, cache maintenance is part of the game, but it's not the only part.  I don't know how people who have 100 or so hides active do it unless they shirk that part of their caching responsibility.  Nothing's worse in my opinion than coming across a cache site, not finding a cache and then checking the cache page and finding a string of DNFs dating back several months.  That just shows that the cache owner doesn't care about their cache.

What this all really leads to is I'm approaching my 1% again.  In the next couple of days, I will end up going over the mini milestone of 3400 cache finds, which will put me within 100 finds of the 1%.  I've been working on a couple of hides, so it's now time for me to go out and place a couple more caches.  The one I've been working on for the last couple of days is a puzzle cache with a theme to it, only the second time I've themed a cache.

The graphic of national park patches comes from my collection of patches that I've purchased over the years.  The Mesa Verde Patch was the very first patch I ever purchased, buying that particular patch back in the summer of 1971.  I will be making a graphic for that cache, based on those patches that cache finders will have to de-cypher in order to find the cache.  I guess local readers have an advanced warning, but they haven't see the puzzle yet, so it's really not a head start for them.

I hope to have this one out by the end of the week.  Today would have been a good day to go out and hide it, since it was unseasonably cool this morning, but I had no energy this morning due to a migraine.  If the weather continues in this vein, I might get out tomorrow or Wednesday to hide it.  I'm hoping this one will be challenging for cachers.

Top picture was taken the following geocache:
Willow Creek Cache - by The Swamp Things

Profile for Webfoot

1 comment:

chaosmanor said...

We go back as far as you do in caching, give or take a month, so this whole discourse brings back some interesting memories. We didn't hide our first cache until more than a year after our first find. That was Ojai... Oh! (GC989C), a simple two-step offset multi. We pulled it after more than four years; it was still in good shape (it was a heavy plastic box), but the area it was hiding in had gotten really overgrown, and folks were having trouble getting to it.

As it is, we almost didn't hide it. We had the cache ready, but hadn't found a good spot; we just sort of stumbled across where we hid it on the way home from something else. But we had been pushed by a couple of cachers we knew; they encouraged us to hide one for every ten that we had found. Of course, back then, caches were still pretty rare, and urban micros were unheard of. But there's no way that anyone could keep to that 10% goal nowadays.

Amazingly, in that year-and-a-half between our first Find and our first Hide, we only had 35 Finds :-o And I don't think we ever got to that 10% threshold. We're barely over 3% now.

"I don't know how people who have 100 or so hides active do it unless they shirk that part of their caching responsibility. Nothing's worse in my opinion than coming across a cache site, not finding a cache and then checking the cache page and finding a string of DNFs dating back several months. That just shows that the cache owner doesn't care about their cache."

Talk about being cut to the quick :-o We own 198 caches, of which 127 are active, with four of them being officially disabled. 22 of the total were adopted from cachers who moved out of the area. I don't know how we keep up with them, either. A lot of it is in choosing places that are very unlikely to be muggled, and to do the best I can to keep critters from getting to them. Granted, I have more free time, but there are several caches that are not disabled that I really need to check up on. I probably won't get to them for a while, though, as summer heat will keep me (and everyone else) away.

Cache maintenance is a royal pain, and there are at least five caches that I am likely to just archive rather than replace, as they are too awkward to get to. I never archive a cache without looking for it, but if it takes me that long to get to it to check, it'll be that much harder to replace it if it goes missing again.

To be honest, I oftentimes have the opposite feeling about our caches that I do about our geocoin collection. I love to have people discover our geocoins, but the fewer people who go after our caches, the better it often is from a maintenance PoV, as it likely means that visitors of any type to the area are probably rare.

Unfortunately (sort of), I do enjoy hiding caches. I would love to set up one of those large series like the Big Smiley. I enjoy doing big sets, and I think it would be awesome to set one up. But the maintenance issue would be a nightmare. Gasoline isn't getting any cheaper, and driving out to the Mojave (the only area around here suited to that sort of thing) to replace a missing cache would get onerous very quickly. But the idea is still very tempting :-)