Difference between revisions of "Geocaching sans GPS"

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(offset caches)
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Describing how to hunt a geocache without the benefit of a GPS.
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[[Category:guides]]
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While a [[GPS receiver]] is a very useful tool for navigating to the location where a geocache is hidden,
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it is often possible to do so without a GPS receiver.
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As long as you can identify [[ground-zero hunting technique|ground zero]] (GZ) within 30 feet or so,
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you can search for a geocache just as effectively as someone using the GPS system.
  
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Some geocachers use maps and satellite/aerial photos available online.
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There are links to several online mapping services at the bottom of each cache description page at [http://www.geocaching.com/ Geocaching.com].
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You can use recognizable objects in the map/photo as landmarks in the field,
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and find ground zero based on its position relative to those landmarks.
  
Speaking as [[User:BlueNinja|someone]] who did this before(14 caches), for those of us who want to use a cache listing service, it's a bit of work to find a cache.
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Obviously, it's easier in suburban parks where you can tell that GZ is the tree next to the third picnic table (or whatever),
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but you can also use natural landmarks, bends in the trail, etc.
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When there is no good landmark at GZ, you can measure distances from good landmarks,
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and then pace out the distances in the field.
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Pacing distances from known landmarks often works for [[offset cache]]s, too.
  
First, find the cache you want online. Memorize or print out the description (or at least the important bits), read the hint, and commit it to memory (I used sticky notes for hints, actually). Go to the mapping website of your choice, and note any intersections or features the cache is nearby (such as creeks) or just print out a map. Once you get that done, it's time to find the cache.
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Other geocachers use classic map and compass techniques that were used for centuries before the GPS system was available.
  
 
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Another approach is to search likely hiding spots, hoping to find a geocache without even knowing the coordinates.
Arriving at the site, you usually have no idea where access points for the cache are. You will have to look around a bit, then once you find a trail that looks promising, try to keep track of where you are on the map.
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Some have found caches in city parks this way.
 
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This technique is also used by those who brute-force [[puzzle cache]]s.
Once you think you are within 30 feet of the cache, start searching. Look in places appropriate for the cache container (You DID note the cache size, right?), and hope you find it. You may make mistakes as I did, and find a water bottle, only to discover it's filled with beer or urine. If, however, you find the cache, you should be proud of your accomplishment. Sometimes it will take multiple trips to find the cache, or sometimes you'll get lucky.
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Rather than solve a difficult puzzle to get the coordinates of the cache,
 
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they use clues in the cache description, online logs, etc. to figure out likely hiding spots,
Happy hunting, and good luck!<br/><br/>
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and then search those spots for a cache.
 
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Another option, posted by a different user:
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The cache density in some locations is so great that you can find caches not only without benefit of GPS, but also without benefit of a cache listing service. Stroll through just about any small city park, try to think where you might hide a cache, then keep an eye out as you pass through that area. Chances are good that, sooner or later, you will find some Tupperware or ammo box under the shrubs just off the path.
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Revision as of 01:15, 22 September 2008

While a GPS receiver is a very useful tool for navigating to the location where a geocache is hidden, it is often possible to do so without a GPS receiver. As long as you can identify ground zero (GZ) within 30 feet or so, you can search for a geocache just as effectively as someone using the GPS system.

Some geocachers use maps and satellite/aerial photos available online. There are links to several online mapping services at the bottom of each cache description page at Geocaching.com. You can use recognizable objects in the map/photo as landmarks in the field, and find ground zero based on its position relative to those landmarks.

Obviously, it's easier in suburban parks where you can tell that GZ is the tree next to the third picnic table (or whatever), but you can also use natural landmarks, bends in the trail, etc. When there is no good landmark at GZ, you can measure distances from good landmarks, and then pace out the distances in the field. Pacing distances from known landmarks often works for offset caches, too.

Other geocachers use classic map and compass techniques that were used for centuries before the GPS system was available.

Another approach is to search likely hiding spots, hoping to find a geocache without even knowing the coordinates. Some have found caches in city parks this way. This technique is also used by those who brute-force puzzle caches. Rather than solve a difficult puzzle to get the coordinates of the cache, they use clues in the cache description, online logs, etc. to figure out likely hiding spots, and then search those spots for a cache.

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