How to hide a Geocache
Step 1 - Research a cache location
Geocaching is just like real estate - location, location, location! When thinking about where to place a cache, keep these things in mind:
- Will it be easy to find? - If it is too visible, or too close to busy roads, trails, etc. there's a good chance someone may stumble upon it. Several of the original caches were discovered this way, but the people who found it were nice enough to leave them there (or participate). But don't make it too difficult! If you hide it well, give hints on geocaching.com as to the location.
- Will it be on private or public land? - If you place it on private land, please ask permission before putting it there! If you place the cache on public lands you need to contact the managing agency to find out about their rules.
- Will it cause unnecessary concern? - Please use common sense when choosing a location for your cache. Do not place your cache in any location where it might be confused with something more dangerous.
- Will it be easy to get to? - If it is only a couple hundred feet from the highway, there's a strong chance someone may disturb it. Try to find a place that will take a bit of time to get to, preferably on foot.
You are ultimately responsible for the cache so make sure you know the rules for the area where your cache is being placed.
Ultimately you'll want to place a cache in a place that is unique in some way. The big reward for geocachers, other than finding the cache itself, is the location. A prime camping spot, great viewpoint, unusual location, etc. are all good places to hide a cache.
Note: Please be respectful of the areas in which you are thinking about placing the cache. For example, if the cache is located off-trail with delicate ground cover, keep in mind that others will be walking in these areas.
Please do not place caches on archaeological or historical sites. In most cases these areas are highly sensitive to the extra traffic that would be caused by vehicles and humans. If you find a cache in one of these areas, please remove it and replace it a safe enough distance from the site to ensure the site will not be impacted by people searching for the cache and unknowingly traveling over or through a site.
Step 2 - Preparing Your Cache
First, you need a container. Anything water resistant, snow resistant, etc (depending on your climate), will do, but geocachers have had good success with plastic buckets, plastic containers, metal boxes, or unused sewer pipes (really!). You'll also want to invest in some plastic baggies to put the items into just in case your container leaks.
Whatever the container, make sure to mark your cache so that non-geocachers can figure out what it is. Most people mark the container with Geocaching.com, the name of the cache, and any contact information they feel is necessary. More information is better than less.
Next, you'll need a logbook and a pen. A small spiral notebook does the trick. Make sure to put a pen in the cache as well! (If you are in an area where the temperature dips below freezing, make sure to bring a soft lead pencil to place in the cache. Pens tend to freeze and are rendered useless.)
It's also recommended to have a note to welcome the cache finder and let them know what it is all about (if they accidentally found the cache).
Lastly, you can put gifts and goodies in the cache. It's recommended, but not necessary. Some ideas of items to give as gifts:
- Disposable camera - Put one in and ask everyone to take a picture of themselves and put it back in the cache. Later you can develop the photos and place them online.
- Inexpensive toys - play-doh, silly putty, action figures, etc.
- CDs, VGA Cards, gift certificates, dollar bills, etc.
It's up to you what you want to put in your cache, budget permitting. Do not put food in a cache! Critters have better noses than we do, and will bite, nibble or swallow your cache in an attempt to get to the goodies.
Please note that alcohol, tobacco, firearms, and prescription or illicit drugs are not allowed. Let's keep this safe and legal.
Step 3 - Placing your cache
When you reach the location to place your cache, the hardest part can be getting exact coordinates from your GPS unit. It all depends on how visible your cache is, but you'll need to get the coordinates as close as possible to the cache.
Some GPS units have the ability to do averaging, but if yours can't, the best suggestion is to take a waypoint, walk away from the location, then return and take another waypoint. Do this around seven to 10 times, then pick the best waypoint.
Once you have your waypoint, write it in permanent marker on the container, the log book, and make sure you have a copy to bring back with you. Write a few notes in the log book if you like, place it in a plastic baggie, and then place it in the container. Make sure to secure the container with a rock, etc, to decrease the chance of it blowing, floating, or being carried away.
Please do not bury the container unless you have express permission of the landowner or manager. If the cache is far enough away from trafficked areas, it should be fine. An exception would be covering the cache with dead branches, bark, etc. to conceal the container.
Step 4 - Report the Cache
Add your cache to the Geocache website so that others can find it.
Step 5 - Maintain the Cache
Once you place the cache, it is your responsibility to maintain the cache and the area around it. You'll need to return as often as you can to ensure that your cache is not impacting the area, and that the cache is in good repair.
Once people have visited the cache, inquire about the cache and their opinion of the location. Does the area look disturbed? Are visitors disrupting the landscape in any way? If you have concerns about the location, feel free to move or remove it from the area.
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