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Winterizing Geocaches

We just had our second snowstorm of the season last week here in New England and while I may be a little bit late on getting this post up (seeing it is already the middle of December) there is still time to get out there and prepare your geocaches for the long winter’s months ahead. If you are lucky enough to live in an area that does not get much snow or stay below freezing for long periods of time you can probably ignore most of this.

Some geocachers will say that if the cache is a well constructed and well hidden in the first place there is nothing special you need to do. While that may be partially true there are still a few steps you can take to ensure your cache stays high quality (especially if it is going to be buried under the snow).

Geocaching Burnout

After waking from our winter slumber we picked up right where we had ended a couple months before (we are not big fans of January and February caching in New England). We started out strong; taking regular caching runs with friends, heading out at all hours on FTF runs, going to all of the local events, planning vacations based on what caches we might want to find.

However something was different this year, geocaching was starting to feel more like a job than a hobby. Instead of looking forward to a caching run we almost felt obligated to spend our weekends trudging through brush and swamps.

After suffering though a string of what we thought were poor quality caches in miserable locations (some of which we didn’t even bother trying to find), we came to the realization that we just weren’t having fun anymore. So, instead of changing our game plan, we just stopped doing anything geocaching (including updating the site).

Was it the feared “geocachers burnout” or was it just boredom and frustration.

Project APE Cache “Mission 9: Tunnel of Light” Archived

It is always a bummer waking up to sad news. Yesterday evening the last surviving A.P.E. cache in the United States was archived. The Mission 9: Tunnel of Light A.P.E. cache in Washington state was placed in June 0f 2001 and has been maintained for the last ten years by Groundspeak lackey Jon Stanley (aka Moun10Bike). Jon announced the end of the cache on Twitter last night and going by the archival post it was not an easy decision (as to be expected).

For those that don’t know, Project A.P.E. was a promotional tie-in with 20th Century Fox, to publicize their remake of the movie Planet of the Apes back in 2001. A total of 14 caches were set up around the world, stocked with promotional items from the movie. Now there is only one official A.P.E. cache left in the world, the rest are archived or just function as Traditional caches. This is a bookmark list of the A.P.E. caches new and old. For the curious, A.P.E. stood for Alternative Primate Evolution.

Geocaching Spring Cleaning

I love spring but I hate seeing the toll winter takes on my property. Sticks and branches all over the back yard, sand from the road all over the front yard. We got so much snow in New England this year the weight of it actually crushed my downspout.

Spring cleaning and repairs shouldn’t just happen around the house though. Our caches and the areas around them also take a beating in the winter.

E.T. Highway Geocache Series Gets Archived

Love them or hate them, power trails are a part of geocaching and one of the more famous was archived yesterday. The Nevada Department of Transportation contacted Groundspeak and requested that the  “E.T. Highway Power Trail” geocache series be shut down.

The E.T. series was started back in May 2010 by cachers Clay4 and whtwolfden and stretched for 1021 caches along a section of  Nevada State Route 375.  The cache series got its name from the area’s reported UFO activity but more so from the highway which it follows (officially designated the Extraterrestrial Highway in 1996). The E.T. series also made up the bulk of the finds for the record of most finds in 24-hours.

Geocaching.com Maintenance Improves Features

Geocaching.com Beta Map Filters We were excited about the new additions to Geocaching.com released during their big site update back in December, however it became quickly apparent that some of those features needed a little polishing. Yesterday’s website maintenance (which they are refurring to as “Phase 2″) brought great improvements to some of the features.

Besides a few small layout changes to the cache listing pages (like moving the d/t) and possibly new icons (they could have been changed in a previous update and I just never noticed it) the big changes came in the form of improvements to the Maps Beta, Statistics, and Favorites.

New Features at Geocaching.com

Groundspeak cooks up some new features! As most of you are aware by now, Groundspeak rolled out some cool new features yesterday. We were really excited to check out the new toys and think that most of the Geocaching.com community was as well.

Shortly after coming back online the massive volume of server requests from the new features started tripping “throttling” triggers and brought the site down to a crawl. The Lackey’s were right on it and within an hour or so the site had, for the most part, settled down.

Since we are a little late with our article (crazy holiday season!) we are just going to look at the biggest changes, do a quick rundown and review, and take a glimpse at what is on the horizon. Pop over to CacheMania.com to get the new features in detail (with pictures!)

Garmin’s OpenCaching.com Goes Live

Opencaching.com screen shotAfter weeks of anticipation and speculation it is now official, Garmin’s geocache listing website, OpenCaching.com,  went live this morning.  OpenCaching.com is “a completely free online community for creating, sharing and finding geocaches around the world” and don’t think it is just a fancy name, it really is open. All of the data published on OpenCaching.com is under a creative commons license and the website was launched with a published API.

If you plan on logging finds or hiding caches you will need an account (isn’t that the point), either by creating one or by using your Garmin account, however to search for caches or to view the cache listings (including full coordinates) you do not need to be logged in.

Garmin chirp Offers Geocachers More Creativity

Today Garmin announced a brand new product for geocachers called chirp, a wireless beacon specifically designed for geocaching. Most of Garmin’s outdoor GPS units can detect the beacon and, when a user gets close by, is capable of automatically unlocking hints or other details about the cache.

The owner has full control of the device and can password-lock the beacon to prevent tampering. Other features include the ability to create coordinates for a multi-cache set or check how many users have visited a given chirp unit. According to Garmin the unit is rugged, waterproof, and has a battery life of about one year (the battery is replaceable). 

What is Geocaching?

GeocachingOne of the most frequently asked questions that we hear is “what is geocaching?”

Geocaching is an outdoor activity that began in May of 2000, where participants use a GPS receiver to hide and seek containers, called “geocaches” or “caches”, anywhere in the world. A typical cache is a small waterproof container containing a logbook. Larger containers such as plastic storage containers (Tupperware or similar) or ammo boxes can also contain items for trading, usually trinkets and toys of little value. Some caches may also contain trackable items such as “Travel Bugs” or geocoins. Geocaching is most often described as a “game of high-tech hide and seek”.