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Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by cmpalmer, Mar 9, 2005.

  1. cmpalmer


    Jan 27, 2005
    Huntsville, AL
    My primary hobby, and one of the reasons that I bought a digital camera, started hiking and actually contributed to Frank (Flew) getting out hiking (leading to his bank account depleting hobby of digital photography), is Geocaching.

    In its basic form, Geocaching is a sport/hobby/activity where people around the world hide small containers (called caches) containing trinkets and a log book in various places and post the GPS coordinates (latitude and longitude) on a website (www.geocaching.com). Others log in to geocaching.com, search for caches based on location, and download, print out, or write down the coordinates to the cache. Then, using GPS receivers, they go out and try to find the cache. When they find it, they trade items (if you want), sign the log book (a must), and replace the cache where they find it. Then, back home, they log back into geocaching.com and log their find.

    I said basic form above because there are many different kinds of caches. Some are large ammo boxes full of stuff, others are 35mm film cans or painted pill bottles with just a log sheet inside (called micro-caches). Caches are rated by difficulty in terrain and in hiding, so a magnetic key holder on a light pole might be a 1/1, but a carefully hidden cache that requires a 5 mile hike, rockclimbing, and/or a boat would be a 5/5. There are multi-caches, where the coordinates of a first cache just lead you to a clue as to the next step -- some of these might require you to find 4 or 5 clues or intermediate caches to get to the real find. Others use puzzles, scrambled clues, pictures, or other creative ways to make the hunt more interesting.

    The GPSr will get you within 10-20' of a cache, so it isn't a giveaway to follow accurate coordinates -- most require quite a bit of searching once you get there (and some hides are fiendishly clever, like suspending it from a tree on fishing line). Caches can't be hidden on private land without permission (or on most National Park land) and they can't be buried.

    The neat intersection with photography is that I was amazed at all of the interesting places I have found while caching. Places that I absolutely would never have known existed if I hadn't been led there on a cache hunt. A huge sinkhole a half-mile from my house that required a hike up a power line cut (no roads anywhere), a multi-cache where each stage was the mouth of a cave and the final stop was a cave spring swimming hole (this one was 15 miles off the highway down some infrequently travelled rural roads), numerous overlooks, nature trails, greenways, and land trust lands. Even out of the way restaurants and areas known only to locals when on vacations or business trips. One of the driving principles in hiding cache is to lead people to interesting places (well, that and the strange thrill of finding things that 99.9+% of the people in the world don't know are there, even if they walk right by them).

    Several of the cache types require photo verification and many people post photographs taken along the way and of the cache areas (without giving away the locations, of course). There are even a few photo challenge caches (which might be adapted to an interesting activity on the contest/challenge forum).

    Anyway, a GPS is a handy tool when you are hiking and driving around looking for photographic sites and is also handy for recording (and refinding) areas where your photos were taken. There is a good chance there are caches at or along the way to places y'all might travel to take pictures, so it might be a nice diversion if the weather or light isn't right or the birds aren't there yet :?

    There are also local forums and meetings of geocachers. Here in Alabama it is www.alacache.com. Locals get together for trail maintenance, cook-outs, and group cache hunts.

    Check out www.geocaching.com and search for caches near your ZIP code -- I'll be there is a bunch.
  2. Well CM, that is a pretty interesting hobby and one that has side benefits for those trying to stay in shape. The side benefits to photography are evident. Thanks for sharing.
  3. PGB


    Jan 25, 2005

    I've been a couple of times and had loads of fun!

  4. NeilCam


    Feb 21, 2005
    Ottawa, Ontario
    CM, this sounds very cool; very cool indeed.

    What a great way to get out and about and see things all with a (nominal) purpose. I must look further into this. Thank so much for posting.

  5. You know I have been in the GIS biz for about 5 years and I have never heard of this!!! Sounds like a really cool hobby!!! :D  :D  :D 
  6. cmpalmer


    Jan 27, 2005
    Huntsville, AL
    Yep, it's a lot of fun. Your post reminded me that one of the catch phrases about caching is that it is "hiking with a purpose".

    Here is one of the photographer's caches. Unfortunately, Geocaching.com isn't allowing new ones of these, but the existing ones were grandfathered in (I think there are nine of them and you can find the others from this one). If you look down toward the middle you can see my find (the SR-71 Blackbird (bad picture)) and my challenge for the next finder (the Hotel del Coronado in San Diego).

  7. Geocaching...............would be a cool forum in the Cafe!!! :D  :D  :D  :D  :D  :D 
  8. I did a bit of Geocaching in the UK before I moved to NZ, but I started getting a bit annoyed by Groundspeaks absolute control over a worldwide sport.

    I should try and rekindle my interest now I'm a bit more settled as it IS a great way of finding places you never new existed.

    Oh, but be VERY careful about posting any good photos on their website !

    Buried in Section 6 of their terms of use is this gem ...

    "By submitting any Submission to Groundspeak, you grant Groundspeak a worldwide, non-exclusive, transferable, perpetual, irrevocable, fully-paid royalty-free license and right to use, reproduce, distribute, import, broadcast, transmit, modify and create derivative works of, license, offer to sell, and sell, rent, lease or lend copies of, publicly display and publicly perform that Submission for any purpose and without restriction or obligation to You."
  9. Flew


    Jan 25, 2005
    Hey Dougie,

    Sounds like an opportunity to start a geocaching web site and forum, huh? We could have one that allows great pictures, and actually lets the photographer keep complete ownership of the photos.... 8)

    What do you think Dougie, Chris, Patrick?? Of course Dougie and Chris would have to run the site, cause Patrick and I are already overwhelmed by the Cafe.... :?

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