How to find good geocaches

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How to find GOOD geocaches

Geocaching has a common problem: you don't like all the caches you find. Sometimes you have good days, sometimes you have bad ones. Sometimes you wonder "why did I come here?" and sometimes you wonder "how would I have ever found this cool spot if there wasn't a cache here?". What you may like will likely differ that what other people like.

GeoQO can help you. So can just changing how you think about Geocaching in general.

The First Step: Admit you have a problem

There are geocachers that have actually quit participating because they're fed up with "lame micro caches". The first step in preventing your unhappiness is realizing you are or are heading that way. If you realize this, then read on to find out how you can start having fun again or maximizing your fun. It doesn't require that you use GeoQO and this is just a general philosophical rant. But, GeoQO does have tools that may help you.

The Second Step: Find out who you are

You need to decide what type of geocacher you are. Generally, there are 3 types of geocachers (in Yamar's humble opinion):

  1. Location Location Location: Someone who likes being outdoors, hiking, being in nature.
    • Hiking 2+ miles to get to a cache is a very good thing, not a bad thing.
    • Adventure is my middle name
  2. High rollers: Someone who cares about the numbers.
    • They like to find as many caches in a day as possible.
    • High difficulty ratings, long hikes, etc. are not condusive to this activity.
  3. Left-brained: Enjoys the creative caches.
    • Micros are typically fine, as long as they're amazing camoed

Who are you? Are you all 3? Just 1? A mix? Something else? Deciding what you like most is a very important step in making sure you have the most fun in the future.

It's possible, you rotate. I live for big hikes, but I like days of high number counts sometimes, and I marvel at amazing camos. But what I target next is not always what I did the day before. When I'm tired and brain dead after a long day of meetings, looking for an amazing camo and not finding it leaves me tired and depressed. But if I'm energetic and rarin' to go, doing a string of lamp-post caches leaves me bored.

If I can figure out what mood I'm in before heading out and tailor where I'm going based on that mood, I'll have a much much better day while caching. The trick is, how do you do this when going into an unknown area with unknown cache owners?

The Third Step: Take action

Ok, you've made it through admission and through self-discovery. Now comes the hard part: commit to what you have learned. This is the hardest for some people. Now that they mave have learned they dislike lamp-post caches (maybe just sometimes) and the numbers counters are freaks of nature. Or the numbers counters think that anyone who walks 3 miles through nature just to get a single cache is the person who should be called the freak. But neither will put caches on their "ignore" list or filter out the caches they upload to their GPS. (Ok, the high-number counters often do).

So, lets assume you want to have the best day of caching you've had in ages. What do you do, where do you start, and how can you achieve happiness with the least misery?

General Guidelines

  1. Be willing to ignore caches you don't like. (At list for that day.)
    • You're more likely to be happy if you hit an area twice, in two different moods than if you try to do everything in one day.
    • this may require that you use something like the geocaching.com ignore lists
    • You may be helped by the GeoQO Rating and tagging system.

= Location Location Location

To find the best locations with the most interesting areas to look at, it's best to start by narrowing your search down.

  1. Look for what others have thought were amazing caches.
    • Any
  2. Consider filtering by terrain, at least to see where higher-terrain caches lie if you like pretty areas.
    • (load them all for the area, but filter just to do mapping when looking)
  3. Perform intelligent searches.
    • If you like hiking, see where all the terrain > 2.5 caches lie
    • A quick search of caches in my "near me" 500-count pocket query shows me that there are 24 caches that someone has used the word "awesome" in the log. Only 4 of those have the word "view" in a log as well. (to do this run something like: geoqo -s 'set:import:near me&&log:text=awesome&&log:text=view' -l).
    • Once you've found a target area to go do, feel free to load all the other caches in the area too... But aim for the end goal and pick up the rest "because they're on the way". I bet you'll have a good day.
  4. Consider using GeoQO's cache-density plots and generating a density map based on the criteria you want. If you like high terrain hikes and want to do a bunch, generate a cache density plot of only caches with a high terrain rating.
  5. Consider using GeoQO's rating and tagging system to help you look for caches that other people have found and have tagged with keywords you like, or with high ratings.

High Rollers

  1. Find out where the high density areas are for places you want to go
    • Looking at the 'original geocaching.com maps (not the google maps one) will certainly give you a feel for where the caches are placed. But as you zoom out too high, it gets too cluttered to really get a feel.
    • Consider using GeoQO's cache-density plots. These plots will give you a much better feel for where caches are.
      • Optionally, use the search mechanism to limit the caches included to just ones under a given difficulty level, or "only traditionals", or whatever you wish to filter by. Or make a few and compare them. If the high density area shifts from one area to another when you filter out the difficult caches, you'll know that the original area likely contains cache owners that place harder to find ones (which will lower your "score" for the day).
      • A future version of GeoQO will let you multiple the density by, say, a cache difficulty or other number so you can find where the highest density of "easy" caches are, for example.
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