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The Latest Rant…The Over Saturation of Caches.

October 18, 2012

As I have let on in previous posts, I live in an urban area.  The city is surrounded by many parks, conservation areas and public green spaces.  It you were a geo tourist in my area, you would be overwhelmed by the amount of caches you could find in a very short visit to our city.

I am asking today, “Is this necessarily a good thing for our sport?”  Well according to groundspeak, all caches must be placed a minimum distance apart to prevent what they call over saturation.  Does this rule go far enough?  No, not by a long shot. A large part of the reason cachers complain about crappy caches in bad locales is because of this rule.  Perhaps it needs to be changed. Do we really need a cache every 161 meters?  No, we don’t.  If you feel as a cacher you are running out of caches to find, maybe the best solution for you would be to  expand your radius of searching and take road trips to other areas to get your fix for the week.

Let’s start by examining “the crappy urban hide.”  Was getting fellow cachers to a bus stop, dumpster, mail box, or a lamp post in the city worth your effort of placing one there?  Probably not, but you did it anyway, feeling the need to somehow contribute to the game.  You should be able to tell if it was a worthwhile place to get to, by the logs you receive from finders. Does this look familiar? “Quick grab, TFTC”, “Easy find, SL”, “Found on my way to run errands”.  You need to ask yourself, “Did I place it in an interesting area to find , or did I just fill in an empty space on the map?”  We as cachers do appreciate the effort to try to contribute to the sport, we just wish you had given it more thought than “Here’s an area with no caches around”

If you were to load the map for the area in which I live,  you would not think there would be any room at all to place new caches, but every day someone seems to find a new area without a cache to place one.  Every year the local associations near me holds  event type caches and place hundreds more for cachers to find.  How about instead of placing crappy geo junk every 161 meters, you guys hold an event that encourages cachers to find already existing ones they haven’t  gotten around to finding yet?  If the whole game was to get outlawed tomorrow by the local authorities, how many of these caches do you think would ACTUALLY get removed?  You are right…, not many.

The reason geocaches has been banned in many places of conservation and nature preserves is because of the damage caused by ignorant cachers.  How many of you have “CITOed” trash left by other cachers?  I know I have done this.  If everyone would conduct themselves according to the hikers creed of  “Take only pictures, leave only footprints” I would bet our game would not be getting  a bad rap from the public and the authorities that govern these places.

Now, I don’t think that when groundspeak laid down the rules for geocaching placement 12 years ago, even they could have imagined how much this sport would grow in the coming decade.  It is however, time they woke up,  and placed a few new rules on the game.  For starters, change the minimum distance apart,  for another, how about the concept of peer review added to cache listings? A user could simply give an anonymous “thumbs up” or “thumbs down” stating whether or not the cache should even be where it is.  It is a user based sport and opinions are many, but I would like to think most cachers are the conscientious type, and would like to prevent our game from getting banned in urban areas.

Now there are always going to be cachers in every area who have found every single cache in their region and need new ones to get placed to get their “smiley” for the day.  Do you really?  You are the ones, with new cache alerts going to your crackberries and smart phones, because you want to jump on a new one, or be “first to find” on a new listing.  Ask yourselves what you did before geocaching came along?  Do you really need to be so absorbed with your sport that you run out on your lunch hour at work to make a find? You are part of the problem with over saturation, you will find any piece of geo junk out there, you need to take it down a peg.  If “quality over quantity” was part of your vocabulary you would not have run out of caches to find, and you would probably not be complaining about newbie hides.  How about a road trip for some of you?  How about waiting a few days in between finds or not going “whole hog” at cache area and saving some for finding another day?

The game is growing at an alarming rate, more and more new cachers are running out to contribute to the game.  The over saturation of caches is getting sickening, I would hate to think of all the geo junk sitting out there because of cachers who are tired or bored with the sport decide not to maintain their caches so they just archive them without removing the actual cache. (this only grows as new members join our ranks).  Groundspeak should employ some sort of “eco recovery” rules to the game, if a cache gets archived no more should be allowed to be placed in the area until two years have passed.  Campgrounds do this for campsites to allow natural flora to renew itself and not be wiped out entirely.  We consider ourselves to be “eco- friendly” type people, lets prove it.  like I said in a previous post,  it is obvious we ARE damaging urban areas and  public property  with our sport.  Let’s not give our sport a bad rap with the public, and put a cap on how many caches  an urban area can have.  There is absolutely no reason why the cache minimum distance can’ t be changed.

So if you find yourself out of caches to find, consider going out  to enjoy what the interesting city areas, parks and green spaces have to offer without finding a cache there. You might be surprised to find it is no less enjoyable and may even make you realize that “yes” we ARE causing more damage to urban areas than we are willing to admit.  If you really feel the need for a find, consider trying to find some of the “archived due to laziness” caches and “CITOing” them instead.  It’s far past time we paid the sport back, rather than just naively finding what is  part of the problem.

  1. The nearest big urban area to me is Philadelphia. I’m shocked at how few caches have been placed there. I think caching works best where there are a lot of woods for placement.

  2. The problem is that placing a cache gives the owner a “territory” they feel they own. In saturated urban areas, an emphasis should be made on taking old caches away that are not maintained or even getting someone to upgrade them to a better location and better container and better write-up.

    There are some great caches that everybody enjoys because it is in a great place with a container designed for the place and fun enough to find, but not too hard. We need more those.

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