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 Saturday, 06 May 2006
How do I find a cache? PDF Print E-mail
Written by   
Thursday, 14 April 2005
Step 1 Ė Researching the Cache
Keep in mind that distances can be deceiving. When youíre using your GPS unit to find a cache, the unit only knows how close the site is as the crow flies (a direct line). You may be a half a km from the cache, but there may be a river in the way, or a near-vertical climb involving 3 kms of switchbacks, or a mountain Ė you get the picture.
  1. Buy a map of the area from your local camping store for those caches that are off a trail or too remote to drive close to. Topographical maps (which show features of the land like hills) are best, so you can get a good idea of the terrain youíll be crossing. Youíll also know whether to bring your Honda Civic or rent a Land Rover.
  2. For car geocaches (ones you can drive to and walk a short distance), use MapQuest or Googlemaps. Make sure to zoom in on the location to make sure itís near a road. MapQuest can only get you so far!
  3. If you have a good idea of the area, you can navigate via the GPS unit. This is best when the park is small. This is also the most challenging, and is not recommended for your first hunt. Youíll most likely need to do all three things to prepare and reach the geocache, though our experience has shown different combinations for each cache. Iíd always start with one of the online map sites first to get an idea of the area, then decide on whether you need to buy a map or use what you have. Since this is your first time, itís also ok to read the stash notes, look at a picture of the cache, or read other peopleís experiences finding the cache. Some may be visible from 10 metres away, while others in more trafficked areas may be buried under some rocks (or in one case, in a World War II bunker!). Getting within a half a km or so of the site isnít usually too difficult Ė itís the last half a km thatíll get you every time.

Step 2 Ė Preparation
Preparation is key in any kind of outdoor activity, but you can never stress enough the importance of preparation and safety. Keep these tips in mind when searching for a cache:
  1. Have a buddy with you! Never go off into the woods or remote locations without a partner, especially when Geocaching. We donít want you focusing on your GPS unit and walking off a cliff. Itís great fun, so think about planning a camping trip around the stash hunt with your family or friends.
  2. Many of the caches are off-trail, so make sure to be aware of your surroundings. If youíre concentrating on your GPS unit, look around you occasionally for holes, bears, etc.
  3. Bring and drink plenty of water, and donít drink directly from a stream! For some of the more difficult trips, bring a water filtration system. You can get them at most camping stores.
  4. Let someone know where youíre going and when youíre coming back.
Step 3 Ė The Hunt
Now youíre ready for the hunt.
  1. It should be pretty straightforward to get within a half a km or so from the cache (unless itís deep off-trail). If youíve done your research, follow the map more than the GPS unit (although we keep ours on the whole time). Itís inevitable that youíll lose signal from overhanging trees, mountains, etc.
  2. If youíre using TWP or RR roads,  the signs for each road can be pretty small in size especially at the higher speed limits.  They are usuall blue with white lettering.
  3. Itís always good to have a compass on hand if your GPS unit doesnít have one.
  4. When you leave your car, mark its location as a waypoint! Sounds silly, but once you get deep into the cache hunt, itís easy to get disoriented. Weíve learned this from experience!
  5. When you get close to the Geocache (within 90 metres,, which is the length of a football field), make sure to check your GPS unit signal. Sometimes the signal will have an error between 5 - 15 metres. Donít concentrate as much on the arrow as the distance decreasing, as you get closer to the site.
  6. For the last 10 metres, use a compass or direct your buddy in the direction of the cache. In some cases weíve had good luck circling the site with the GPS unit to get a good area to search.
  7. The final 10 metres is the hardest. It helps to think like the person who hid the cache. If there are stumps around, investigate around the base. Check for a pile of rocks. Some stashes, especially in people-trafficked areas, are pretty ingeniously hidden, so it helps to know the container they used.
Step 4 Ė The Find Huzzah!

You found the cache! Congratulations!

Now what?
  • Usually you take an item and leave an item, and enter your name and experience you had into the log book. Some people prefer to just enter their name into the log book. Itís an accomplishment enough to locate the cache.
  • Make sure to seal the cache and place it back where you found it. If it had some rocks covering it, please replace them. Itís pretty straightforward.
  • Remember that waypoint we suggested you create where your car/trail was located? Use that now to get back! Youíll be glad you had it.
  • When you get home, email the person who hid the cache and let them know you found it! Theyíre always happy to know the condition of their cache and itís nice to know that people are looking for them.

Great work! After several trips to geocaches in your area, youíll be ready to place your own. Welcome to the exciting world of Geocaching!

Courtesty of
Last Updated ( Saturday, 16 April 2005 )
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