There are things about geocaching that is more fun than they have any right to be, with many people not always realizing why they are so amazing until they try them. One of the main things that few realize can be amazing is creating your own geocache and being notified when the first few people have discovered it.
Anyone can create their own geocache as long as they meet the requirements of having the right permissions, have a proper container, mark the way signs correctly, and that you pass the review stage. Many of these things are easy to accomplish, with choosing a container and finding a location being the easiest.
There is more to creating your own geocache than having everything perfectly placed and the right permissions. You will need to ensure that you follow geocacher best practice, your cache is easy enough to find, and that you actually have everything needed for others to find the geocache when you can’t give advice.
This is everything you need to know and follow to place your first geocache!
What is the geocacher best practice?
When you become a geocacher, there will be a set of rules that you can find on the forums and within the community about how you should conduct yourself. These rules are seen as the basis of geocacher best practice.
They define how you should behave when looking for geocaches or plant your first geocache. The most general rule to follow is to leave as little traces as possible when you go geocaching or planting your own geocache.
One of the others is to not damage or hide the geocache in such a way that it could make it almost impossible for the average geocacher to find. Best practice for all geocachers means that you need to make it more fun and easier for the next cacher to come and look for the cache.
Why should a cache never be buried?
Many first-time geocache planters want to find the best way to hide their geocache, many times thinking that it would be a great idea to bury the geocache. This is one of the first and important rules of creating your own geocache, do not bury it.
Few geocachers will be carrying around the required tools to find a geocache that has been buried. Further, the markers that many people leave can easily be washed away or lost as time goes one, causing the geocache to become lost forever.
Burying a geocache means that future cachers won’t be able to find them and will cause many people to lose interest in ever looking for the cache. If you bury your geocache, no other cacher will ever be able to find it, above that it may not be able to pass through the review process and be rejected by most listing websites.
What are the types of permission needed to place a geocache?
When you go create the first geocache, you will quickly find that you cannot place them randomly around the world, many times requiring to be permitted by someone. Many times placing something like a geocache in a park or public area can be seen as littering, which can cause a bit of a problem
Further, private properties need a few extra permissions, and knowing how to get them will save your geocache from being forgotten about.
Depending on the type of public land you are planning to use, you may not need permission at all. You can often go and hide a geocache in some way that does not affect the property, with many beginner geocachers looking for these caches as an easy way to join the hobby.
However, it is required that you ensure the land you are using is actually public property. Parks that have no gates or fencing are usually safe bets when it comes to planting a geocache. These are public areas that are open to anyone to access and have no strict regulations regarding how you can plant a geocache.
You should always be careful about placing a geocache on public land as it can be hard to define what is actually public. Schools or university property, for example, while they are accessible by many people, are not public property.
Most people erroneously assume that all government land is open to the public, which is not at all true. Often, government property is considered private and only open for access to certain controlled groups of people.
Further, places like botanical gardens or museums are owned by the government and may be perfect for geocache locations. However, it is important to learn who is the manager of the property; many times, government initiatives have already created caches across these areas.
This serves to bring in more people and have the government locations be visited a wider range of people. You cannot place geocaches freely at these locations, but you are much more likely to be permitted if you go through the right channels.
Many geocaches in more rural areas forget that people or companies own the areas they go hiking in. This means that while they do have easy access to many areas and woods, this may not always be the case.
If you plan to create a geocache somewhere that is owned by an individual or a company; you will have to ask their permission to create the geocache. Many malls around the world welcome some geocaches but will refuse to allow it if there are already some across the property. Some of the most open private entities are hotels and backpacking lodges.
These locations like having people visit them and are always willing to have a regular flow of people coming through their doors. You will often find that these locations will want to have access to changing the cache listing as well.
Sometimes not even the government can safely say who owns a place. It may be lost in legal fees, be in the process of being reclaimed by a bank, or more often simply forgotten about. In the US, it has become a fun thing for urban explorers at these locations to also create caches, in or close to these places.
While you may not need to ask permission to plant the cache, it can be hard to keep the cache listed as others will report it inaccessible. If you want to ensure that everyone can access the cache, it is important to place it somewhere easy to find even if a house has been empty for over a hundred years.
Just be sure that the forgotten and abandoned location you are using is really that, no one wants to be busy geocaching and then suddenly an owner or the police show up.
How do you get permission to plant a geocache?
When you are sure who owns the location you plan to plant your cache, you will have to ask permission from the right person. For many locations, this is as simple as having a short meeting, but for others, it will involve a bit more work as you will have to fill out more forms than you thought existed.
Government properties that are publicly accessible usually only require that you go to the local council and fill in a few forms. Proving your identity, explaining what you want to do, the benefits this will provide, and how damaging it may be. Usually, you will be granted permission if the location is open to the public, allowing you to plant your cache and for others to easily go and visit it.
Private properties can both be a lot simpler and more complicated than any other location. Many times you will be rejected because the owner of the land does not like the idea. This means it can be as simple as a five-minute meeting with the property owner or accepting that you will have to find somewhere else to place the cache.
What are the types of containers that can be used?
One thing that seems to never be the same for geocaches that you can decide on as you build and plan your cache is what you will be using as the cache itself. This can often determine how difficult your cache will be and how popular it is across the community.
With the choice of your cache and the right permissions, the only thing left to do is provide the clues and the map locations for the first cachers to go and find your new cache.
- Capsules: One of the most popular caches to use in locations that are easily found by the general public is the simple capsule cache. These will be pill-shaped and have space for only a few things in them, usually only a roll of parchment to mark your name and when you visited the cache.
- Lunch Boxes: The second most popular and easy to create geocache is using a lunchbox. Usually made out of plastic, the simple design and waterproofness of a lunchbox have made them the go-to tool for caches that are more exposed to the elements. These caches usually carry mementos from those that have visited the caches, with cachers trading and adding as the cache ages.
- Ziplock Bags: One of the best and interesting caches that you can find out in the world is that of a simple Ziplock baggy. These caches can be found in areas where it rains more often, and it was required to place the cache somewhere in a hole, saving the cache from being found but leaving it a bit more resistant to being a harder shape.
- Wooden Boxes: A lot fancier than most normal geocaches, these are usually found in more deluxe areas that cachers frequent. Mostly on private property where someone can keep an eye on the cache as things go along, usually inside a building or underneath a tree, wooden box caches are rare but are always extremely rewarding.
- Cash Safes: One of the strangest but most effective boxes used for geocaching is the simple cash safes that we’ve all seen around the world. These can already be unlocked with nothing but a logbook or be a bit more exciting with the cache being easy to find, but the key is slightly hidden. These caches are usually for a more experienced geocacher.
- Metal Boxes: Like normal plastic lunchboxes, these metal boxes can be long, thin, and flat or very simple metal boxes. Usually mounted to something, they are created by building owners, mounted to walls or poles, and they are always interesting to find as you may have walked past them thousands of times before, but never noticed that they were a cache.
- Bundles: Slightly less common these days, bundles are random bags with a logbook and mementos of cachers past that leave their cache in more random locations. These caches have become less common, as raiding by random people has become more common. Bundles are more prone to be mistaken for common litter, and few geocaching apps will be willing to list these as they can be mistaken as trash.
- Inside Buildings: Something that you may not bee planning is to use the building as the cache itself, more meant for official caches created by museums or hotels. These caches require some input from the owner. However, besides simply visiting a museum, the search for a geocache can be a lot of fun, requiring that you search throughout the building and learn more about it.
How do you build a map to the geocache?
On every type of geocaching application, you will be required to give a short description of what the cache looks like and where it is located. You are not required to give the exact location, usually giving the application a longitude and latitude reading, then hiding the cache within a few meters of that.
Many easy geocaches will give obvious hints to the location of the cache and how you can find it, while harder caches may be as simple as saying what the cache is, and then the location, requiring the searcher to search the areas around where the cache has been claimed.
When you build the map to your geocache, you will have a list of information that you must fill in on the application on your phone or on the geocaching website. Creating a cache is thrilling because you need to plan how the next few people will find the cache and how the journey will inform them of the location they are in.
Your cache maintenance
Now that you have placed and mapped your geocache, you will have to ensure that the next few cachers are able to find it. Checking the forums regularly should help you keep track of what is happening. However, before you even return home, the app may tell you that someone has logged the geocache.
Every geocacher loves hunting for the caches and as soon as they see that a new cache has been logged they will race each other to find it. But as you are the one who created the cache, once reports come in that the cache is damaged or lost you may want to go back to check on the cache.
Ensuring that it is okay and replacing the logbook as needed, many times, though, once a cache has become established, other cachers will happily take care of it, allowing you to enjoy the hidden treasure that you added to the world.
Part of growing as a geocacher is building and finding more caches in the world around us, something that is just as thrilling as the hunt itself. Once you have become experienced and know what you are doing, you can easily find some of the best places to hide your geocache.
Just be sure you don’t dig a hole and that your cache won’t be taken away by nature!