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Art of the Hide: A Great Geocache
What defines a great geocache? Is it the shape or size of the container? Is it the surrounding scenery? Perhaps it was the manner in which the container was placed? Let’s explore!
The Container Itself
First of all, in order for a geocache to be successful, it must be durable. The container must be able to take a fairly solid beating from the elements, be it rain, snow, or temperature extremes. If a container can’t hold up against Mother Nature, then the log and other contents within are likely to get damaged and become unusable.
Secondly, the container needs to be discreet. If a random stranger (read: non-geocacher; sometimes called a muggle) happens to notice the container too easily, there is the likelihood that the geocache could be stolen, vandalized, or reported to the authorities. Discretion is the main reason why geocaches placed within urban areas are micros (approximately the size of prescription pill bottles) or nanos (the smallest, which are no bigger than the tip of a pinkie finger). Camouflage certainly makes the difference between a hidden, yet findable cache and one that can be disturbed by non-geocachers.
Shape and Size
Most geocaches in the Southcoast area are either Tupperware boxes, ammunition cans, or deviously disguised micros. Some can be pretty standard looking, but the ones that go the extra mile to make even a careful searcher look twice are the ones more satisfying to find. These cunningly concealed containers can resemble natural items, such as rocks or branches, or more urban creations, such as screws and padlocks.
A cache container does not always have to be small in order to be unnoticeable. Sometimes, what looks like a bird house is actually a container situated in plain sight. Perhaps the unusual patch of bark on a tree is actually the side of the cache itself. The loose brick at the back of that building might not be a real brick at all.
Location, Location, Location
One of the draws to geocaching is that in one’s quest to find the hidden treasure, the seeker must often visit places that they would not normally visit. I am not talking about haunted houses (although, undoubtedly, there are caches placed in locations reputed to be haunted.), but rather, places that hold a special significance to the individual that placed the container. It could be a scenic outlook within a nature reserve. Sites of historical importance are also prime locations for caches.
What might seem like an unimportant place to one individual could be where something amazing happened to someone else. That worn-out bench at the park, for example, might have been where a couple met or proposed. The bus stop at the end of the road might have been where a cache owner learned about geocaching for the first time. What is important about caches like these is that they hold meaning to someone, and they want to share that meaning with fellow geocachers.
Part of the Experience
Not every geocache is hidden in a traditional manner. Sometimes, the owner of a container wants to add a bit of zing to the seeking experience. This can be in the form of a multi-step cache or utilizing a puzzle in order to obtain the final coordinates. In other instances, it’s a matter of making the seeker think one way, but require another way in order to make the find.
Here is an example of a cache hidden differently: the description states that the container is a lock & lock, a container with four snap-down latches, one on each side of the box. In my experience, such a container would often be hidden in a hollow log, a hole between tree roots, or at the intersection of a tree’s limbs. Imagine my surprise when, on one expedition, I found the cache not in any of those expected places, but rather, attached to a rope and hanging from a tree branch! hey want to share that meaning with fellow geocachers.
As you can see, there are many elements that go into a great geocache. It must be resilient against the forces of Mother Nature. The container must be findable, but stealthy in places where non-geocachers are known to tread. There must also be a reason for why a geocache has been hidden where it is, be it the scenery or its history. Sometimes, a little extra work must go into the process of finding a cache container.
In the end, a seeker either finds the geocache or not, but they have found more than just the container and its log book. They have likely discovered a place that they have never been to before and had a fun time of doing it.