Friday, November 23, 2012


A very ballsy bull.
Today I went out on a caching adventure with HeadHardHat to find 8 different geocache types.

On there are 8 cache types that are available at any time to any cacher (this excludes the event cache types which are time dependent  and the APE and locationless caches which are so rare the average cacher is unlikely to ever get a chance to hunt them).

WhereIGo in action on an Android phone.
We started the day in downtown Durham NC going after a WhereIGo cache.  WhereIGos are complex caches that require special software to run (smart phones or some Garmin GPSs).  They lead a cacher on an adventure through the real world, and can require the cacher to do something (answer questions, arrive within a certain period of time etc.) to get access to the next waypoint.  At the end the cacher ends up at a physical cache and a log book to sign.  In our case the WhereIGo took us on a 15 stage tour of the architectural features of downtown Durham, which apparently is known as Bull City.

Our next cache was a short 2-stage multi cache that happened to start at the same place as the WhereIGO - namely the bull pictured above.

We then headed south to do a unique puzzle cache.  The location had 9 places where a cache could be hidden.  The puzzle was to find out where the cache is, sign the log, then place it in one of the other hiding spots. This means that after the first finder, not even the CO knows exactly where the cache is located. Once we found the cache and hide it in a different spot, we headed to Apex NC to do a webcam cache.

Our webcam shot
A webcam cache is a fairly unique cache type.  It requires one to take a screen shot of themselves being captured on a webcam located in a specific spot in the world.  Normally this involves coordinating with a friend waiting at home, who watches a webcam feed and waits for the cacher to show up in the image so he can take the screen shot.  Since friends are tricky, I employed modern technology (aka my laptop and using my cell phone as a portable wifi hotspot), to take a screenshot of myself and HeadHardHat standing in front of the webcam.  It is basically a high tech Rube Goldberg-esque self-portrait.

Once we finished with the high-tech web cam geekery, we headed down the road to do a Letterbox Hybrid.  Letterboxes actually started in 1854 in Dartmoor England (pre-dating geocaching by well over a century).  Seekers would use a map and compass, and a series of written directions, to locate the letterbox (which looks in many ways like a geocache).  The main difference is that a letterbox contains a stamp, and the seekers carry their own personal stamp.  Once a letterbox is found the seeker stamps his stamp in the letterbox's log, and stamps his personal log with the stamp in the letterbox.

An impression of the stamp from the Letterbox Hybrid
Letterbox hybrid caches work in a similar way as letterboxes.  The GPS coordinates on the cache listing are for the start of the hunt, and cachers use instructions in the cache description to navigate to the cache - things like "walk 100ft north", "do math from information you see in the field to walk X steps west" etc.  Some of the instructions are quite cryptic until you see them in the field, and suddenly it starts to make sense.  Once the container is located a cacher can use a personal stamp to sign the log, or simply scrawl their name into the logbook.

Now that we had the letterbox under our belt, we quickly knocked out the remaining cache types.  A virtual cache at a water pump station disguised as a house, a traditional ammo can hidden under a walking bridge along a trail, and we ended up doing an earth cache.

Earth Caches focus on highlighting the geological features of the world around us.  They are like virtuals in that there is no log book to sign - rather cachers claim the cache by answering questions about the various geological features that they see at GZ.

The Whale Rock
The earth cache we did was called Whale Rocks, which is an interesting rock formation in Durant Nature Park.

The rock is pictured here. can you see why it gets its name?

With our last cache type found, our mission was complete.   We now had all 8 cache types we planned on hitting in the bag.

In celebration we took a lap on some of the trails in the park - all traditional caches - until we ran out of daylight. We managed to find 11 caches in total.

I'll leave you with some more pictures of the day, starting with one of HeadHardHat taking a photo of one of the building features from our WhereIGo tour.
 Some interesting architecture from the WhereIGo cache in Durham NC.

 This is the camera  from the webcam cache we did in Apex.
 Yours Truly grabbing that webcam screen shot.
The last cache of the day: a traditional ammo can.