Geocaching 101: Geocaching Etiquette
Welcome back, fellow cachers!
In April, you learned about the game of geocaching. In May, you picked up some pointers about finding your first geocache. I hope you’ve had a chance to try this fun hobby and have checked out some of the 150+ caches hidden in the Great Parks.
Now, it’s time for some geocaching etiquette! No, you don’t have to worry about what to wear, or if your napkin belongs on the table or your lap. But, yes, there are some special etiquette guidelines that all cachers should follow.
When you find a geocache, many times you’ll find various trinkets inside. You don’t have to take anything but, if you do take a trinket, you should leave a trinket of equal or better value. Never, ever leave food or smelly items. These could attract critters or other curious visitors.
Many times you’ll find a trinket that has a special code attached. These are called Travel Bugs or Travel Coins. The person who placed it in this cache has a goal of where they want this “trackable” to go. If you don’t know what to do with it, leave it for someone who does. (We’ll talk more about these “Trackables” next month!)
Put it Back
When you finally find that cache you’ve been hunting for and have signed the log, place it back where you found it. If it was covered with branches, rocks or leaves, try to conceal it so it looks just like you found it.
Log Your Visit
When you get back to your computer, make sure you log on to geocaching.com and log your visit – even if you didn’t find the cache. Include something special about your adventure and the fun you had looking for the cache. If the paper log is wet or the cache needs maintenance, include that in your message. Your message will be sent directly to the owner of the cache. It will also be seen by other cachers who decide to hunt for it. Don’t give away too many secrets or post a picture of the location or the cache itself. You don’t want to be too helpful to other cachers!
Beware of “Muggles”
You used to be a “Muggle.” Now you’re not! A Muggle is anyone who doesn’t know about geocaching. When you go hunting for a cache, do it as secretly and quietly as possible. Do your best to not let other people see you finding the cache or putting it back. If someone asks you what you are doing, tell them about geocaching and invite them to join you in the hunt. They might just decide that geocaching is a lot of fun and opt to do it themselves in the future!
Be “Environmentally Friendly”
Respect the area where you are caching. Stay on trails as much as possible, don’t tramp down vegetation and off course, don’t litter! Practice “Cache In; Trash Out.” That means if you find any litter, pick it up and take it with you.
Sometimes we get caught up in the hunt and forget about safety. Take what you need to be safe including water, snacks, sun protection, gloves (for reaching into those hiding places), flashlight and a first aid kit. Bring a pencil or pen in case the cache is too small to hold one. Obey all local laws and stay off private property (unless the cache description says it is OK). And remember where you left the car!
This is a great time of year to get out on one of the Great Park trails and go geocaching. Enjoy the hunt!
Chris Wais, Volunteer