Geocaching is both the most fascinating way to see the world and, at times, the most frustrating when you go up to a cache location, and after hours of searching, there’s still nothing there. Many times while caching, you will find dead caches that have either been removed or are simply no longer being logged.
You will know a geocache is still active by the activity logs on the app, recent logs, reviews, or location updates. Geocaches rarely go missing, and following along on blogs and the app will let you know the status of most geocaches.
However, there are many caches that are too difficult to find for people who have just started, which leads to false reports of missing caches. Checking more than recent logs, going out, and trying to find some caches is vital to keeping the geocaching community alive. When you are out exploring, it can be more fun trying to find geocaches that have gone missing than it is to find normal caches.
Here’s seven tips and tricks to knowing if a geocache is still active.
1. Checking recent logs
Whenever you tap on a cache in the application, you can check the most recent logs of the cache. This will tell you how many people have been there and when it was last used. This will allow you to see quite a few things all at once, including where it may be, how many other cachers are there, and if it even still exists.
However, when things become a bit more difficult, with caches that are rated harder to find, there will be many reports of people not finding them. Even though reports are saying that it has gone missing, it may then still be there, which is how the cache became rated as hard to find.
Many geocaches around the world will still be active, despite user reports of it going missing, hardcore geocachers that lurk on the forums will often be able to tell when a cache is still active. Often, only more hardened users will be able to tell you where to look if you want to go and confirm that a cache is still active.
2. Starting with popular caches
If you are still inexperienced with geocaching, it is never a good idea to try the hardest caches first. This can cause problems for the caches themselves. New geocachers may log it as missing while the very next day, a more experienced geocacher will log that it is still there.
Soon no one will know whether the cache is there or not, and sometimes the harder to reach caches won’t be visited for weeks. When someone inexperienced logs that the cache is missing or reports it as closed, then there may be a cache that is permanently removed from the app, leading to some great caches being lost to the world forever.
However, as you get more experienced and the app learns to know you, while you’re active in the community, you can quickly become reliable. This allows you to validate others’ claims when a cache has been reported as missing, though it will still work to talk to others on the forums to learn how the cache may be hidden.
3. Getting to the cache
Many geocachers make it their role in the community to check up on reports of missing caches, sometimes spending entire days looking for how a cache may have been hidden. This means that they are always aware of the trickier and more subtle ways that caches are hidden.
Once you have become experienced, you may start doing something similar, checking which caches around you have been marked as missing. Going out to find these may be extremely difficult and could require hours upon hours of searching from your side.
However, there are few things as rewarding as finding a cache that was thought to be missing and marking it as found.
4. Ask before going to harder caches
Many people are afraid to ask on the forums about some caches, and the easier to find ones are a lot less likely to be given advice on. Harder caches that are ranked 3 or up will usually have a few people that are keeping an eye on them.
Asking about the experience before you go to search for them will greatly affect the entire experience you are having. The older cachers will be happy to give you hints and advice before you are searching for the actual cache.
If you are checking the status of a missing cache, you may even be able to contact the last person that had found the cache and learn exactly where to look for it. This lets you confirm or deny the claim of the condition of the cache.
5. Restart the cache
As much as we would like to live in a world where caches are never going missing, you will quickly find that many caches do go missing. Sometimes the cache was badly replaced and got swept away by rains or winds. Other times vandals simply decided that the cache was something they could take, swiping a piece of local history.
In these cases, it may very well be worth restarting the cache, and the geocaching community will welcome you with open arms if this is a practice you would take up.
Nothing brings a smile to geocachers around the world, like being notified that an old missing cache has been reset, with a blank book placed within.
6. Log the missing cache
Logging in at a cache is the ultimate goal of any geocacher, both on the app and in the caches’ book.
When you find a cache that you think is missing, you can log it on the app, letting others in the area know that it was either hard to find or that you are unable to find it.
This will let others that may have found it before know so that they can then come and look for it, or let more experienced geocachers know.
7. Report the cache
Once you are well-known in the community, you have a lot of experience behind you, and you’ve visited several geocaches in the areas surrounding you, there will be a shift.
If you are trusted, you have talked to other geocachers, and you are sure that a cache is really missing, you can report it through the app.
This will let the application know that a geocache is missing, and for a while, it may remove it or just disable it appearing on the map. Others who are experienced will be notified so that they can come and check on the cache, and eventually, the cache will be reset or entirely or removed from the geocache apps.
Finding a missing geocache is never a fun thing. Seeing something that had memories of strangers and mementos of others has gone missing is always sad. As a beginner, it should not worry you too much. Just finding the next geocache should be your focus, but as you become more experienced, you will learn what to do in those situations.
Just go out and explore the world, because even a missing geocache can deliver an experience you never thought possible!