Cachin’ The Night Away

I was heading to work Friday morning, listening to an episode of the PodCacher podcast as I drove. The hosts were talking about night caching and they gave me the itch to go. We cache after dark occasionally but it’s been a while so I texted Jenna to see if she was interested. As I suspected she wanted to go but we would have to wait until Saturday instead of Friday…huh? Wait till Saturday, what’s up with that?

OK, I was a little bit disappointed but it gave me some time to take a good look at the map of our area on the Geocaching.com website and pick out a few good caches to hunt. I didn’t want to go look for a bunch of parking lot lamp post skirt caches just to say we went. I tried to pick a dozen or so that would give us a good mix of container types and difficulty and terrain ratings. Being that we would be caching after dark I also had to keep safety in mind and pick places we wouldn’t be apprehensive about going at night. Once satisfied I downloaded the cache info to my GPS…yeah, GPS, caching old school (OK, we took the smart phones too).

Saturday evening finally rolled around. We grabbed our headlamps, phones, pens and the GPS, laced up our boots, bundled up and headed out into the night. Our first stop was for a quick ‘park and grab’, a lamp post skirt cache just to get us on the board for the night and to get our geo-mojo jump started…or so I thought.

Cachers

As it turned out our first cache wasn’t a lamp post cache at all. Once we got to the cache location we found there wasn’t a lamp post anywhere close. There was, however, another feature that I zeroed in on. Looking back, I shouldn’t have. I circled the feature, looking in all the nooks and crannies. Jenna had walked off and come back, and circled the feature a couple of times herself before she says “Found it.” I circled the feature several more times, trying to scan every inch before finally giving up and said “OK, give me a hint.” Jenna’s response: “It’s not there.” Me: “Wait, what? Whaddya mean it’s not there? You mean…oh crap!” After turning my attention elsewhere I had the container in hand in pretty short order. Unfortunately, this wouldn’t be the only time she pulled something like this during the night. She’s like that…

After finding the first cache we moved along from cache to cache fairly quickly and had a lot of fun. We ended up in the woods a few times …

Tube in a Tree

Signing

And we spent some time on the pavement. The cache sizes we found were mostly small and smaller…

Found It

We found some animal bones at a couple of the locations we visited…

Bones

And had a great view of one of the local car sales lots…

Car Lot

And saw a coyote in the headlights while driving between caches.
Around midnight we decided that we’d reached a good stopping point and that it was time to head back home. We ended up finding nine of the ten caches that we looked for and decided to save two others for another time.

So by now I know there is someone reading this that’s thinking “OK, so just why would you want to go caching at night? After all, it’s dark and it seems like it would be a lot harder and…its dark…and…aren’t you afraid?

OK, sure. Caching at night is a bit more difficult simply because it’s dark and we don’t see as well in the dark as we do during the day. To some this is a deterrent. To us, it adds to the challenge. Some of those 2 and 3 difficulty caches become 3s and 4s.

Another good reason to cache at night…there’s less people around. Many caches are intentionally placed in high-traffic areas to make them more challenging to find without being noticed. Hunting those caches late at night when there are fewer people around is much easier.

As for being afraid…well, no, not generally. As I mentioned earlier, when selecting caches to hunt at night, we try to make sure they’re in petty safe areas to begin with. We’re not going to go caching in a ‘bad’ section of town or near the edge of a cliff at night. ConnieLou likes us to come home alive and mostly in one piece.

So that’s it. Get Out…and try cachin’ in the dark!

Posted in Geocaching, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Back to the Bend

Chattahoochee Bend that is…

Free weekends that haven’t been rainy have been pretty scarce lately. On the weekends it hasn’t been rainy we’ve either been busy with life or have been lazy and enjoying what little downtime we get. We’ve wanted to get out and do a little hiking but just haven’t found the opportunity to fit it in or have been too lazy to get out and go…yeah, it happens.

Ashley has applied to the University of Florida’s vet school for admission in the fall and was scheduled for an admissions candidate interview this weekend so she and ConnieLou were headed to Gainesville, leaving me and Jenna to get into whatever mischief we could find to get into. I wasn’t quite sure what we were going to do this weekend but Wednesday night, as we were getting ready to go to bed, Jenna said “Daddy, can we go hiking somewhere Saturday, that question was answered.

Now the big question was where to go. We wanted to be able to walk three to five miles and try some trails we haven’t hiked before, yet stay relatively close to home since we had plans for the evenig. Add to the list of criteria we wanted a place that we could look for a few geocaches while we were out. We knew of a few possibilities that fit our list of criteria but it didn’t take long for Chattahoochee Bend State Park to begin to emerge as our destination.

Bend Sign

I spent a little time during lunch at work looking at trail maps on the Georgia DNR’s Chattahoochee Bend website, the Friends of the Bend website and Geocaching.com to figure out just which trails we wanted to walk. Ultimately we decided to make a ‘loop with a lollipop’ consisting of the Wild Turkey Trail from the Visitor’s Center to Trail Head 1, the Flat Rock Trail and the Brown Thrasher Trail.

Chattahoochee Bend Map

Saturday morning started off cold and clear so we weren’t in a huge hurry to get going. We waited for the world to warm up a little but then loaded up our packs and walking sticks headed to the Bend.

Packs and Sticks

A little side story here… Jenna and I usually each use a pair of store-bought ‘trekking poles’ when we go for a walk in the woods but this past Christmas my Uncle Robert surprised me, Ashley and Jenna with hand-made wooden hiking sticks and we’ve been itching to try them out.

Jenna Stick

Did we like ‘em? Oh yeah!

OK, back to the Bend…

We stopped at the Visitor’s Center, paid our parking fee, shouldered our packs and headed east on the Wild Turkey Trail.

Visitor Center

VC Trailhead

Hiker Dude

The trails are well marked with different colored blazes. The Wild turkey Trail is marked with blue rectangles, the Flat Rock Trail with red rectangles and the Brown Thrasher Trail with blue diamonds…

Blue Blazes

Red Blaze

Blue Diamond

Sounds sort of like a bowl or Trix cereal doesn’t it?

The Wild Turkey Trail starts off in a pine forest then drops down into a hardwood bottom. There were a few creeks to be crossed via small wooden bridges of stepping stones…

Bottomland Trail

Creek

Crossing

The trail then turned back uphill into a mix of hardwoods and pines

Rocks

A large pair of oak trees parted ways with one of the trunks blocking the trail. I elected to go under and Jenna went over. We stopped for a swig of water and took a selfie.

Hiker Gothic

I stopped to re-tie my bootlaces and noticed a pine cone on the ground nearby that was just a little bit bigger than the average pine cone around here.

Cone

The Wild Turkey Trail ended at the trailhead to the Flat Rock Trail which crossed the road and headed south to a large area of pavement outcrop from which the trail gets its name.

Trailhead 1

Flat Rock Trail

Many of the blazes in this area were painted on the rock outcrops themselves. One has to pay careful attention to the blazes out on the rocks as it’s very easy to lose the trail. One could get pretty distracted at some of the overlooks too…

Flat Rock 1

Red Blaze Rock 2

Overlook

Once back at the trailhead we stopped for quick snack and a swig or water before heading down the Brown Thrasher Trail and to look for a couple of nearby geocaches.

Hiker Snack

The Brown Thrasher Trail runs more or less parallel to the Wild Turkey Trail on the opposite side of a creek valley. We found one of the caches we intended to look for in this cluster of rocks but realized we’d passed the other two as the trail wound through the woods.

Cache Here

Not really having time to double back and find them we headed on back to the car and the end of the trail at the Visitor’s Center.

Onward

At the end my GPS app on my phone told me that we’d walked 4.96 miles in 2 hours and 37 minutes. Too bad I didn’t notice we were that close to 5 miles or we would have taken a stroll across the parking lot and back to get there. Most of the trail reviews I’ve read rate the three trails we walked as easy to moderate with a few short strenuous stretches and I would have to agree. It’ll be fun to walk these trails again during the spring and fall to see the woods with leaves on the trees and again with fall colors…and besides, we still have a couple of caches left to find.

Posted in Chattahoochee Bend, Chattahoochee Bend State Park, Day Hike, Day Trip, Geocaching, Georgia State Parks, Hiking | 2 Comments

Ya Just Never Know…

Sometimes ya just never know what you’re going to find…

I had to go to Gainesville, Georgia for a meeting this morning. I got into town early and had a little time to kill so I decided to take a walk around the town square and then hunt for a cache or two.  As I was walking around the park in the square I noticed a large silver orb sitting on top of a stone monument which was engraved with the word ‘SUN’.

Sun

Unfortunately I didn’t pay close attention to the plaques on the side of the monument.   I thought it was an art installation so I gave it a quick look and moved on. As I was walking back to the car after finding the two caches I picked to look for I noticed a stone monument inscribed with the words ‘ASTEROID BELT’.

Asteroid Belt

Also on the monument was a bronze plaque that said that the marker was part of the “Gainesville/Hall County Scale Model/Walking Tour of Our Solar System.” The plaque also said that maps of the model were available at the nearby Hall County Library. Needless to say, I hot-footed it over to the library to pick up a map then headed back to the Sun, passing Mars, Earth & Moon, Venus and Mercury on the way.

Earth and Moon

According to information contained on the map, the Scale Model was part of the North Georgia Astronomers’ Millennium Project in the year 2000 “to commemorate the two major astronomical discoveries of just the PAST Second Millennium, while providing an educational resource for FUTURE generations in the Third Millennium.”

The Scale Model was installed in 2000 and 2001, the last year of the Second Millennium and the first year of the Third Millennium and is 1.8 miles long, stretching from the square in downtown Gainesville through greenspace and parks to Longwood Park on Lake Sidney Lanier. In case you’re wondering, the model’s scale is 1 foot equals 2,000,000,000 feet (yes, that’s 2 Billion feet…Billion, with a B). At this scale the sun’s diameter is 27 ½ inches. The Earth, located 264 feet away, would only be about 0.25 inches…smaller than a dime.

Unfortunately I had to get to my meeting and didn’t have time to walk the whole trail today but you can bet that I will the next time I’m in town.

Want more information about the Scale Model? Check out the North Georgia Astronomers website at http://northgeorgiaastronomers.org/scalemodel/.

Now GET OUT! and walk from the Sun to Pluto!

Posted in Astronomy, Day Hike, Day Trip, Hiking | Leave a comment

Oaxacan Chicken Fajitas

I can’t remember the last time I posted anything Big Green Egg related on this blog. Honestly, we’ve been in a bit of a rut…burgers, boneless skinless chicken breasts and the occasional pizza have occupied the cooking grid more often than not lately. OK, there have also been some wings, baby backs and a Boston Butt or two…but nothing really ‘different’. It was time to change things up and two seemingly unrelated events came together to make that happen.

The first event occurred the week after Christmas. ConnieLou and I were in our local Home Depot store to buy some new blinds for our bedroom and I had received a HD gift card for Christmas that I needed to spend…no, not on blinds. I was actually planning to pick up that sack of coal that I had asked Santa to bring me. OK, maybe not exactly coal, but a sack of Royal Oak lump charcoal. While we were on the aisle with the charcoal and grill goodies I noticed a stainless steel grill pan on the shelf. At the time I was thinking we could use it to cook some fish and veggies. ConnieLou knew I wanted it so she told me to go ahead and get it…and I did.

The second event occurred last week when I received my monthly newsletter from Steven Raichlen’s Barbeque Bible website and saw his recipe for Oaxacan Pork Fajitas. The ingredient list for the marinade sounded good so I sent a link to ConnieLou to look at and mentally filed it away for future use,

The two events came together this weekend when ConnieLou gave me the task of coming up with something new to make for dinner one night this week. I knew we had some chicken in the freezer. I also had a pretty good idea that the marinade would work just as well on chicken as it would on pork . All we needed was a bell pepper, an onion, tortillas and some OJ and we were good to go. About then it occurred to me that I could cook it all in the grill pan on the Egg. A plan was coming together…

I worked from home today and got an early start so I was able to slice up the chicken and veggies and make up the marinade during a mid-afternoon work break while ConnieLou was off running a few errands. Once close to supper time I fired up the, dug the grill pan out of the grill box on the deck and got everything ready to go.

The veggies went on first…

Veggies Before

And cooked up nicely.

Veggies After

Then the chicken went on…

Chix Before

And cooked up equally nice.

Chix After

I wish I’d had a chance to take a photo of the finished product dressed up and on a plate but it disappeared before I could. I knew we had a winner when ConnieLou told me to make sure that I bookmarked the page or printed the recipe so we could make it again. In hind sight I did have one issue with this meal…I didn’t have a good Mexican cervesa to wash it down with. Bad planning on my part. Can’t let that happen again.

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Hope for the Next Generation

mrbream:

Susan nailed it…read on.

Originally posted on Teach with Class:

nativity

(Brian Kershisnik’s “Nativity”)

iphones, ipads, boots, boot socks, gift cards, concert tickets – The younger generation is flooded with all kinds of gifts at Christmas. In the midst of all of the wrapping paper, bows, and gift bags this Christmas, set aside some time to think about not only giving physical gifts (books and Starbucks cards if you’re shopping last minute for me) but gifts that feed the soul. The older generation is quick to criticize youth for being shallow, purposeless, and narcissistic, yet we (I’m officially admitting to being in the older generation now) choose to overload our kids with things and overlook being intentional about giving to a young person’s heart.

This next year I want to give the gift of HOPE to the next generation. I came across a quote by Carl Henry several months ago that has stuck with me. He says, “The early church did…

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View From The Cache – Hart Family Cemetery, College Park, Georgia

I had a little time to kill the other day before I could pick ConnieLou up from work so I decided to hunt a cache or three. As I was driving around the perimeter of the Atlanta airport, heading from one cache to another, I saw a sign at the side of the road that made me do a double-take. The sign read ‘Access to Hart Cemetery’. When I looked down the access road I could see a parking area, a few trees and a white picket fence. I guess I just wasn’t expecting to find a cemetery literally adjacent to the taxiway to the new, southern-most runway.

Cemeteries tend to be interesting places and I wanted to check it out. Unfortunately I’d already passed the access road by the time everything had sunk in so I went on to find the cache I was heading toward then doubled back. When I made it back I found a little hilltop cemetery that’s now almost completely surrounded by earthen berms and fencing separating it from the airport property.

4 - Airport

3 - Airport

According to the signboard at the edge of the parking lot the cemetery is owned by the Hart family. According to the sign, the first burial was that of the family matriarch, Ellender Hart, in August, 1860 and the most recent was in May, 1969.

1 - Sign

A paved walkway led up to the cemetery itself where I found a couple dozen graves dotting the hilltop along with a few old magnolia trees.

2 - Hilltop

6 - Markers

5 - Markers

The little cemetery is way off the beaten path but to my surprise bootprints in the dirt told me that it had been visited by someone else in recent days, at least since the last good rain…

7 - Bootprint

As I learned later that evening the cemetery is at the first stage of a multi-cache and so there’s a pretty good chance that the last visitor was also a geocacher.

Gotta love having a hobby that will get you off the beaten path to discover a little known place that you otherwise might have never knew existed.

Posted in Day Hike, Day Trip, Geocaching, Hiking | Leave a comment

Goin’ Topless…

Got your attention, didn’t I? OK, now get your minds out of the gutter. Nobody’s gettin’ nekkid on this blog. If you haven’t noticed it’s a family friendly place.

Not too long ago Jenna asked me why we never hung out in our hammocks when it was raining even though we always put our tarps up. For the most part that’s just the way things have worked out. I’m one of those folks that actually enjoys hearing rain on my tarp, as long as there’s no lightening or high wind involved. I’ve hung through both. More than once. Not fun.

On the other side of the coin is another question…why do we always hang our tarps up if there’s no rain in the forecast. I can think of three reasons, the first being to practice and become proficient in setting up your gear, day or night…yeah, sometimes we wait until dark to set up, even though it’s easier and more convenient do it while it’s still light out. Reasons two and three are dew and frost. Dew is always an issue here in the deep south. Well, except for the nights the temperatures get below freezing then we have to deal with frost. Waking up coated with either isn’t much fun and results in having to dry gear out for a while before it can be put away. However, every now and then we get a night or two when the humidity is low and the leaves on the trees keep the little bit of dew that we might get from making to the ground in our hangin’ spot out back.

This past weekend conditions were almost perfect for hangin’ out and goin’ topless…errr, tarpless. We hung up our hammocks early…

Tarpless

We waited until moon was high in the sky to climb in for a night’s sleep under the stars.

Hangerz

Too bad I didn’t have a camera capable of taking a good shot of the moon and stars through leaves and limbs. We woke up the next morning dew-free and able to see the sun peeking through the trees.

For some reason it took longer than usual to take our hammocks down, but I was able to get a nice shot of the fall leaves. Still haven’t quite figured out why it took so long to get our hammocks down…

Up

Posted in Hammock, Hammock Camping, Hex Tarp | 2 Comments

Test Drive…

It’s been a while since I’ve had a chance to go play in the woods. Between summer’s heat and a case of plantar fasciitis showing up in my right foot in June, I haven’t gotten out much. Fortunately the weather is cooling and I’ve done the stretches the doctor told me to do, bought a couple of pairs of shoe inserts and wore the night splint and the foot is feeling a good bit better so it seemed like a good time to give it a test drive and see how it would hold up under a load over a few miles. I was in the mood to go to the mountains (OK, I needed a YHC fix) and the trail up to Raven Cliffs Falls seemed like just the ticket.

Ashley had a slow weekend at school so I asked her if she wanted to go and suggested that she invite Jared. I sweetened the deal a little bit by offering to come up Friday night and cook a pot of chili for Ashley, Jared, her roommates and a few of their friends. It was an offer they just couldn’t turn down.

I had to run out to Lake Oconee for work Friday morning but by 11:00 I was headed toward Young Harris. I planned to make a quick stop in Commerce for gas and some lunch but the stop got extended by a few minutes when I noticed a Lodge factory store that carried both Lodge cast iron and Big Green Egg products in the in the strip mall behind the Quick Trip on Hwy 441 near the Interstate. There was no way I couldn’t go in. Talk about being in heaven.  I could have done some serious damage in there…but I didn’t and I got back on the road quickly before I gave in to temptation.

Once in Young Harris, me and Ashley hopped in her car and headed to town to get chili fixin’s. I didn’t know she was going to kidnap me, take me to Gibson’s and make me drink a peanut butter milkshake on the way back to the college.

As the chili cooked I has flashback of making pots of chili for ‘chili parties’ in the dorm during my own days at YHC.  The chili must have been pretty good since more than half of a double batch disappeared and the kids were all piled up on the sofa, chairs and floor and nearly asleep while watching Gladiator on video.

Chili

Saturday morning I was up bright and early and ready to go. I wanted to be on the road by 10:00 so told Ashley and Jared to meet me at 9:00…hey, it wasn’t that long ago that I was in college myself and never got to bed early on a Friday night either. I took advantage of the spare time to repack my pack and ditch a few items that I decided that I didn’t really need and that were adding weight and taking up pack space.

By 11:00 we were pulling into the parking lot at the Raven Cliffs trail trailhead, loading up and getting ready to walk.

Trailhead Sign

AJ

I’d read that bears were active in the area back in the spring, particularly around the large campsites near the parking lot. Guess they still are…

Bear Sign

The 2 ½-mile trail back to the falls is generally described in most guides as easy to moderate with the exception of the last couple hundred yards leading up to the cliffs and the falls and I wouldn’t disagree. There were a few rocky and rooty patches and some little roller hills but overall it’s a nice trail and, as such, it gets a LOT of weekend traffic.

Trail

Hikers

Once at the cliffs Ashley and Jared climbed the hill to see the upper falls back in the cliffs.

Falls

I’d been there before about 30 years ago so I stayed back at the base of the cliffs and let them have all the fun. OK, yeah, I wimped out. Get over it. We hung around below the falls for a bit, drank some water, had a snack and watched the expressions on other folks’ faces as they approached the hill up to the upper falls.

After a short break we headed back down the trail to find a campsite. We’d noticed several campsites with good trees on the way in. It’s sort of funny how one’s thought process of looking for a good campsite changes when camping in a hammock instead of a tent. Tenters want flat, level ground with no rocks or roots. Hammock campers just want two good trees, not too far apart and not too close. Ground not flat? No problem. Not level? No problem. Rocks and roots? No problem.

It didn’t take long to find a campsite with good trees about half a mile back down the trail from the falls. We were at one end of a huge campsite and we were all surprised that we didn’t have company by dark and we ended up having the whole place to ourselves. We set up camp, gathered up some firewood then got down to the important business of relaxing for a while before supper.

Campsite

Hammocks

Don’t feed the bears!

Selfie

The view from my hammock was pretty nice…

Feets

View

Ashley got to try her luck at boiling water to rehydrate her supper over a home-made alcohol stove and Jared was able to refine his technique a bit. Fortunately there were no melted freezer bags this time around and everybody was happy.

Supper

I got the fire going but we let it burn out after an hour or so…we were all ready for some hammock time and a good sleep.

Campfire

I was up with the sun this morning but I let Ashley and Jared sleep in a bit…

Sleeper
Once they were up and moving we ate a Pop Tart and granola bar breakfast, packed up and headed back out, passing lots of day hikers heading in…and with the drive back to YHC, another fun weekend adventure came to an end (OK, except for telling the story).
So…how did the foot hold up? So far, so good, no major pain that I’ve noticed. The real test will be when I get out of bed tomorrow morning.

Posted in Alcohol Stove, Backpack Stove, Backpacking, Big Green Egg, Camping, Hammock, Hammock Camping, Hiking, Raven Cliff Falls, Raven Cliffs, Young Harris, Young Harris College | Leave a comment

New York, New York – From Jenna’s Point of View

Sometimes it’s fun to look at the world from someone else’s point of view. It’s especially fun to look at the world through the eyes of someone a good bit younger as they often see things we overlook or are willing to look at things from a different angle. Jenna’s photos have captured my interest lately. Like most teens these days she takes plenty of ‘selfies’ and candid photos of her friends but she has a pretty darn good eye for the world around her too.

We took a quick day trip to New York City yesterday. Rather than post a narrative of the trip, I thought it’d be a lot more fun to let you experience our adventure through her eyes and lens…with just a little narrative from me…

The adventure begins…

1 Da Plane

2 Da Girls

Back on the ground…

3 Graffiti

4 Wall

Hello…

5 Hello

Subway fun…

7 Subway

Manhattan…

6 5th Ave

Lunch.  New York style…

8 Pizza

Lookin’ up…

9 Buildings

Windows…

10 Window

Places to go…

11 Places

12 Sign

13 Buildings

14 Buildings

Central Park…

15 Park Bridge

16 Vines

Urban Jungle…

17 Urban Jungle

18 Tree Bark

Many of the benches in Central Park had little dedication plaques attached.  Most were dedicated to family or friends passed on.  Some offered wise words…

19 Wise Words

And some just made you say ‘Awwwwww’…

20 Awwww

21 Buildings

At the Central Park Z00 we felt a little fenced in at times…

22 Fence

23 Temple

It was a little cloudy in the afternoon…

24 Clouds

25 Skyline

Lots of water in the park…

26 Pond 1

27 Pond 2

30 Pond 3

We saw some urban wildlife…

29 Park Rat

Ground transportation…

28 Subway

We found a couple of horses for Ashley in the subway station just before we flew off into the sunset…

31 Subway Horses

32 LaGuardia Sunset

Posted in Day Hike, Day Trip, New York, New York City | Tagged | Leave a comment

INTRODUCING…!

Start, stop, start, stop…procrastinate…start again, stop, wait, think a bit, start, stall, stall some more, download and format the pictures, stall some more, stop, start yet again…

That’s a quick summary about how writing this entry has gone…with a few more stops, starts, stalls and iterations of thinking thrown in. If I could invent a way to transfer thoughts directly to an electronic document during my daily commute to and from work I’d have this blog writing thing whipped…and probably get myself in really big trouble.

So what is it that I’m trying to write about that’s giving me fits? Geocaching. OK, not just geocaching but Groundspeak’s new Geocaching Intro app for iPhone and Android. Sorry Windows Phone folks, there isn’t a version for you…well, not yet anyway. This shouldn’t be giving me fits right? Right…but it has been…but now that I actually have more than a few words on the monitor I best just put the frustration behind me and go with the flow.

Intro

Here’s the deal, Groundspeak, Inc., the parent company of Geocaching.com, recently released a new ‘Geocaching Intro’ app. Geocaching Intro is primarily designed for folks that want to give geocaching a try without having to pay $10 for the full Geocaching app or pay $30 a year for a Geocaching.com ‘premium membership’ for use with an app by another developer in order to not be limited to downloading just three geocaches a day without the premium membership. Simply download the app, set up your basic membership via the app (its free!) and GO!

So what’s the catch? First of all, Geocaching Intro doesn’t have as many features as the full-blown Geocaching app – not that big of a deal for me since more often than not I don’t use all of the available features in any given app. Second, the user is limited to ‘traditional’ caches instead of being able to download the cache info for the various other types of caches which are available…again, not that big of a deal…especially for beginner geocachers.

I’ve heard some pretty good things about the app from some fairly experienced cachers so I downloaded the app onto my phone a couple of weeks ago to give it a try. I’ve had time to hunt for a dozen or so caches with it and so far I like it pretty well.

How does it work? Here’s a quick rundown of the basics, assuming you’ve set up a basic Geocaching.com account…

Once the app opens and gets past the intro page it will pull up a map centered on your location and populate the map with nearby caches. The app will identify three ‘recommended’ caches (green cache symbol) and show other nearby caches (green or gray dots).  For folks that have already done a but if caching, the app will also show the caches you’ve found and logged (yellow smilies).

Local Caches

To select a cache to hunt tap the symbol or dot to get to the cache page…

Location

Swipe the gray bar with the cache name at the bottom to get to the cache information including difficulty, terrain, cache size, the cache description. Tap on ‘Activity’ to get to recent cache logs and ‘Hint’ to see any hints that might be available.

Details

To start your search tap the ‘Start’ arrow on the right side of the screen to get the straight-line distance and direction to the selected cache as well as a ‘compass bar’ at the bottom of the map

Distance and Direction

Navigate to the general location of the cache then center the orange line on the compass bar in the middle of the screen to navigate to the cache location. There’s also an option to bring up a compass by tapping the orange arrow that will show up at the end of the compass bar when turned away from the cache. One thing to note…the compass face will always be oriented toward the north but the orange end of the needle will point to the cache…sorta counter-intuitive for experienced compass users, not so much for folks more familiar with a handheld GPS receiver.

Compass

As much as I’d like to say if you just follow the arrow it will take you directly to the cache. Sometimes it will but more often than not, because of limitations of cell phone GPS antennas, you’ll have to get close and then use your intuition or ‘geosense’ to actually find the cache. Once you find the cache…or maybe you don’t find it and give up…tap ‘Log Your Experience’ on the info page, select ‘Found It” or ‘Did Not Find”, whichever the case may be, type in your log entry, then tap ‘Post’ at the top right corner of the screen to submit your log to the Geocaching.com database and you’re on to your next cache.

Log It

All in all the app is pretty easy to use. It only takes a few minutes to learn the features well enough to get started and even though there are limitations when compared to the full Geocaching app, there’s still plenty there to keep one busy for a fairly long time.

Sooo…GET OUT! And give geocaching a try!

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