The Geocaching Blog


Ain’t No Mystery: Use the Geocaching Intro app to find Mystery Caches this Pi Day

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I love watching non-geocachers (aka muggles) try to absorb the concept of geocaching. I’m sure you’ve all heard this same reaction before: Wait. You find boxes in the woods? Well that’s just irrational.

It’s true. The things we do as geocachers may seem a little crazy at times. But good news! This Pi Day (March 14, 2015), we’re introducing a dose of rational to the irrational—all thanks to a team of designers here at Geocaching HQ.

Earlier this year, we shared an inside look at how we collect feedback from the community and how that feedback influences the tools that we make. The next step in developing a new geocaching tool is design. A team of User Experience (UX) experts at Geocaching HQ are responsible for taking the community’s feedback and thinking through everything from how the new tool will work to how the design of an emoji will help bring delight to your next geocache find.

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Left: UI Designer Abby Right: Mobile UX Designer Michelle

 

This team was recently tasked with making the experience of finding a Mystery Cache a bit more, well, rational—and all in time for you to earn the 3.14.15 Pi Day souvenir. I sat down with Mobile UX Designer Michelle Li (Username: BlueSpaceMonkey) and UI Designer Abby Deering (Username: Abbydeer) to learn how they took the mystery out of Mystery Caches in the Geocaching Intro app.

What was the biggest challenge in designing Mystery Caches for the free Geocaching app?

Mystery Caches are a complex type of geocache. One of the biggest changes we were faced with was making Mystery Caches easy to use for geocachers and coming up with a design solution that works with all the different types of Mystery Caches.

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The new Waypoint Manager in the Geocaching Intro app makes it easier than ever to add and keep track of coordinates to a geocache.

What about the new design are you most excited to share with the community?

We are really excited that we’ve found a design solution that works with all the different types of Mystery Caches (there are so many different versions!). We feel like we were able to eliminate a barrier that previously made it difficult to enter your answer. We’re excited that we removed a challenge in the tool, leaving the challenge where it should be: in solving the Mystery. And we hope this means more geocachers will now give Mystery Caches a try!

How have your designs made finding Mystery Caches easier?

We’ve made the ability to add Solved coordinates and edit waypoints easier and more manageable for all different kinds of Mystery Caches.

Editor’s Note: You’ll see in the app that “Corrected Coordinates” are now referred to as “Solved”. This decision was made by surveying the geocaching community.

How did feedback and insight from the geocaching community enter into the design?

We brought in both potential players and experienced geocachers to our office to look at our Mystery Cache design. We had them walk through a series of tasks and even took them outside to watch them geocache with the new design. We revised our design based on their feedback.

Anything else you want geocachers to know?

We’re so excited that Mystery Caches are now available in the free app and we love making products that make geocaching easier for our community!

Unlock this latest and greatest tool for discovering Mystery Caches with Premium membership in the free Geocaching Intro app for iOS and Android. And don’t miss out on your chance to earn one of two Pi Day souvenirs by logging a “Found It” on a Mystery Cache this Saturday!

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February 2015 Geocacher of the Month Nominees

What do you want to be when you grow up? Nuclear physicist? Diplomat? Physician?

Come on, you’re selling yourself short. Be Geocacher of the Month. 

The earned, never for sale, Geocacher of the Month Geocoin

The earned, never for sale, Geocacher of the Month Geocoin

Widely acknowledged as the most coveted title in the world (of geocaching), the Geocacher of the Month award is granted to one outstanding geocacher or geocaching team every month. The winner stands out as a pillar of support in their local community, and is an example to geocachers everywhere. Their contributions to geocaching run the gamut, from creating stunning caches to teaching Geocaching 101 classes to ‘caching newbies.

February’s three nominees for Geocacher of the Month could form the A-Team of geocaching. They are known by fellow geocachers in their communities as the best people to contact for geocaching advice…even if it means sacrificing a coveted FTF.

Read the profiles of this month’s three nominees, and write a supportive comment below this post describing why you think this person should be recognized.

A panel from Geocaching HQ will then use your comments to help guide the decision of which geocacher is awarded the Geocacher of the Month honor.

 

 

 

TexasWriter

TexasWriter and CornDoll

TexasWriter and CornDoll

This geocacher from — you guessed it — Texas, is always rushing out the door to be the FTF, but won’t hestitate to help out a fellow ‘cacher along the way. If you live within 50 miles of him, he’s probably at the top of your Phone-A-Friend list.

TexasWriter has more than 10,000 finds and over 350 hides. Keeping that many hides in order is a lot of work, but TexasWriter rises to the challenge. In January, geocachers celebrated TexasWriter’s streak of 1,0001 straight days of geocaching. The widely attended event was “a testament to the impact he has had on geocaching in SE Texas.”

 

 

 

 

Ramgab

Ramgab on the hunt

Ramgab on the hunt

This geocacher has found just about 58% of the geocaches in his country. That’s quite a feat when the total number of geocaches in Hungary around is over 6000.

As a cache owner, Ramgab takes the cake. His cache series “Rowing in Budapest” consists of eleven caches accessaible only by canoe or kayak, and has been awarded over 80 favorite points in total.

Ramgab has also helped organize multiple geocaching Mega events in Hungary. As a result, the Hungarian geocaching community has grown significantly over the last few years.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TeamPommes

TeamPommes

TeamPommes sharing the logbook

This German geocaching Team has amassed hundreds of favorite points for their creative gadget caches, tricky Mystery caches, and stunning cache locations like this one, which has been featured on the geocaching Instagram page. You’ll recognize a TeamPommes cache by their signature pommes frites (french fries) page background.

They are always more than willing to help out a geocacher with a tricky puzzle, or point them in the right direction while on the hunt.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comment below to tell us who you think should be the February 2015 Geocacher of the Month. We will be accepting comments through March 18th, 2015. 

Know an outstanding geocacher who should be recognized? Nominate them for next month’s award!

 

 

A Puzzling Tour — Cube Root of 39.304 (GCNCMA) — Geocache of the Week

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Frank Gehry's "The Stata Center" Photo by geocacher niraD

Frank Gehry’s “The Stata Center” Photo by geocacher niraD

 

Geocache Name:

Cube Root of 39.304 (GCNCMA)

Difficulty/Terrain Rating:

2.5/1

Why this is the Geocache of the Week:

On March 14, aka Pi Day, you can earn two special souvenirs. One can be gained by attending an event. The other, by finding a Mystery Cache like this one. This Mystery Cache in particular takes you on a tour through the many art installations on and near the MIT campus. Throughout your journey, you’ll have to take a few directional readings and solve some relatively easy math. After you find this one, all you need to do is log an event for the other souvenir—and then, maybe there’s a surprise waiting for you…

What geocachers are saying:

“Finally! Brewer has been going to MIT for five years now and during that time he has been working to solve this. Patience, grasshopper. Well, sort of… there always seemed to be something that kept him from completing the cache. Today, he took his saved coordinates and went to GZ. His coordinates were within 6 ft. Not bad. So I guess all that time at MIT has helped. He even opened the log book. Seriously, this was a wonderful cache, A favorite in our book!” – Trail Buzzards

“Found it! Found it! Catkin is back in her office (on the campus of a fine institution…) doing the happy dance post-find, since that might have proven embarrassing at GZ. Add me to the list of seekers who did not recognize the cache and ignored it a frustratingly large number of times in search of this smiley. Fortunately I came prepared for the field work and the smiley is now mine! Cache container is in great shape, though the log is close to full. Thank you NTP for this engaging, edifying expedition!” – Catkin&Golden

“Waaa! Awesome! I finally discovered this brilliant little hide after several fruitless trips to the river (I couldn’t get the sculpture coordinates/bearings right and would wind up with a different GZ every time). What a wonderful cache– everything from the creative hide to the simple adventure-oriented puzzle to the beautiful buildings and sculptures and views. Here, have a favorite point to add to your well-deserved pile!” – Rainbow Crash

 

What the geocache owner, NotThePainter, has to say:

“I’ve always enjoyed art, especially public art. This cache, and another long archived one, was a way to invite the caching community to go for a small walking tour of the MIT campus and see what public art MIT has to offer to the local community. I was also quite insistent that the cache be wheelchair friendly since my father had great difficulty walking at the time….A puzzle, and a multi, are the only ways to get a cacher to visit more than one spot, or more than one piece of art. Also, at the time, caching was pretty young. Puzzles, back then, were essentially gimmes that took only a few seconds to solve. (First letter of the sign is a 7, that sort of thing) and I wanted to stir up the local caching community. Based on emails and meeting cachers at events I know I was successful at that. Cachers either flocked to my puzzles or, more likely, ignore them, but that’s fine also.I have enjoyed [all the favorite points and positive logs]. I don’t use geocheckers on my puzzles, I prefer interacting directly with the seeker. This puzzle hasn’t had much interaction, since it is all solved on the ground, but I do enjoy helping a cacher work through my puzzles. The Favorite points are nice, but sharing a beer at an event is a far better way to enjoy a cache! I was exceptionally moved to find that a local cacher was secretly battling cancer, and he used to work on hard puzzles, including mine, to take his mind off his therapy during the long train ride from NH to Boston for treatment. Cube Root was one of my two Boston area caches that actually got to find during one trip to the hospital. (And yes, that cacher did eventually beat the cancer!)

Photos:

Another sculpture you'll see when solving this puzzle. Photo by foragess

Another sculpture you’ll see when solving this puzzle. Photo by foragess

Alexander Calder's "The Big Sail" Photo by geocacher niraD

Alexander Calder’s “The Big Sail” Photo by geocacher niraD

Mark di Suvero's "Aesop's Fables, II" Photo by geocacher niraD

Mark di Suvero’s “Aesop’s Fables, II” Photo by geocacher niraD

 

What’s the most puzzling geocache you’ve ever found? Tell us in the comments.

Continue to explore some of the most engaging geocaches around the globe. Check out all the Geocaches of the Week on the Geocaching blog. If you would like to nominate a Geocache of the Week, just fill out this form. Thanks!

Don’t Miss Out on Pi Day! Top Tips for Mystery Caches

Earn one out of two souvenirs on Saturday, March 14 Pi Day by finding a Mystery Cache.

(Earn the other souvenir by attending any Geocaching event on March 14)

 

Does the thought of having to decode encrypted messages make you break out in hives? If yes, then take a deep breath and find your happy place because we have just the tips to sooth your Mystery Cache anxiety and prepare you for March 14th, 2015.

About to sing an "Ode to the Golgafrinchan Phone Workers"...GC32A0H

About to sing an “Ode to the Golgafrinchan Phone Workers”…GC32A0H

 

Mystery Caches (also known as Puzzle caches or Unknown caches) are a type of geocache for those who enjoy an extra challenge.

They require geocachers to solve complicated puzzles in order to decode the correct cache coordinates or crack secret clues to unlock a cache’s stash. If you haven’t encountered this kind of cache before the prospect may seem daunting, but have no fear! Mystery Caches are fun way to spice up any geocaching adventure while flexing your beefy brain muscles.

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Working on the solution for GC2400Z “Truncated Icosahedron,” a puzzle cache by PhilNi

 

So don your trenchcoat and channel your inner Sherlock.

(‘Cause who wouldn’t want to be Benedict Cumberbatch?). Here are Geocaching HQ’s top tips for Mystery Caches:

  • Practice Makes Perfect. Start easy by tackling Mystery Caches that have a one or two star difficulty rating. The more caches you conquer over time the more tricks of the trade you’ll pick up and the easier it’ll become.
  • Check what type of puzzle needs to be solved. There are different kinds of Mystery Caches that call for different strategies, so before you head out check to see what the requirements entail. Some caches are in-the-field, meaning you have to use visual clues from the surrounding location to decipher the coordinates or unlock the cache. Other caches can be solved before you even step out the door! These ask you to solve a particular puzzle off of the geocache’s webpage or lookup information on the internet.
  • Gather the Mystery Gang. Two heads are better than one! Bring your geocaching pals along, not only is geocaching more fun when you have your buddies but they can help you brainstorm through those extra tricky questions.
  • It’s all in the name. A hint to the cache’s location may be located in the cache’s or cache owner’s name or give you an idea of where the cache may be or what it may look like.
  • When in doubt use Google. Search engines may not have the answer to everything, but they have the answer for a lot of things. So if you’re truly stuck, look to the internet to give you a helping hand. Some cache pages may even include answer checkers to see if you guessed the correct coordinates.
  • Check for invisible ink. Sometimes cache owners will hide clues on a geocache’s webpage in white font. Highlight the page to reveal the secrets that were right in front of your nose the whole time. Bonus points if you caught this one! You’re a Puzzler already!
  • The source code isn’t just a movie. Cache owners may add comments with hints in the cache’s html source code. To find this open the source code on your browser’s menu selection and search for comments.
  • Stumped? Don’t hesitate to send a message to the cache owner. There’s no shame in asking for help…and a small hint might just be what you need to get started.

Mystery caches are an excellent way to sharpen the geocaching saw. If you’re looking for a little cache-speration check out our Mystery Cache Pinterest board. Want to take all this info (and more) with you? The Geocaching Shop has just the right book for you: How To Puzzle Cache.

Do you love a good Mystery? Tell us about your puzzling geocaching experiences or share your favorite puzzle tips! Be careful not to reveal any cache spoilers.

 

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 Can you spot the mystery within this post?

5 Geocaching Dreams — And How to Interpret Them

You know you’re a geocacher if you’ve had a geocaching dream, right?

 

What you might not know is what your subconscious is trying to tell you. Whether you were digging through trackables in a bottomless lock-n-lock container, or found yourself frighteningly under-dressed for a geocaching event, your subconscious is probably trying to tell you something. Don’t worry—here are our interpretations of the 5 most common geocaching dreams.*

*And here is a grain of salt.

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What dreams may come when we have cached away this mortal coil?

Dream #1

You’re out geocaching for days and days on end, and all you get are DNFs, even on the easiest geocaches. Each time you reach GZ you look everywhere, but the situation is hopeless… not one geocache is found before you wake up.

What it means: You might be feeling incomplete or ineffective in your geocaching of late. Think about your recent geocache finds. Have you been misinterpreting hints? Struggling to find good quality geocache swag among a sea of useless fast food meal toys? Or maybe your trackables just haven’t been getting the logs that they deserve. Whatever it is–something is missing from your experience. Figure out what it is and you might just have put a smiley on yourself. And remember, you’re not alone. Check out this DNF Pride video.

DNF Pride Party

DNF Pride Party

Dream #2

You’re on your way home from a successful geocaching outing at a really awesome geocache, when you realize you still have said geocache in your hands.

What it means: Wretched thief! Just kidding. Your subconscious might just be coveting more favorite points, and gently prompting you to hide your own geocache. If you’ve never hidden one before consider giving it a try. If your geocache hides already number in the dozens, this is your chance to access your creative side and design a cool new geocache container.

Those favorite points can be yours if you start thinking outside the lock-n-lock.

Those favorite points can be yours if you start thinking outside the lock-n-lock.

Dream #3

You’re geocaching deep in the woods and suddenly everything goes silent. You notice the light has faded and a strong, chilly wind has picked up. You’re miles away from civilization and your phone/GPS has just warned you that it’s losing steam. The tree cover is already making the GPS signal hard to pinpoint. You ate your last energy bar two hours ago.

What it means: It’s time to find a geo-buddy (or two or three) to go geocaching with. Sartre might say, “If you are lonely when you’re alone, you’re in bad company,” but geocaching was only invented after he passed so his perspective was probably deeply skewed. And besides, geocaching is more fun with friends. It’s been scientifically proven.* Check out Geocaching Events to find geocachers near you.

*sort of

 

When the woods go silent...

When the woods go silent…

Dream #4

A new geocache was just published within a mile of your house, and you set off to find it. Just as you’re within size of GZ, you see another geocacher making his way to the geocache…and he’s moving faster than you. You try to run but your limbs feel strangely heavy, getting heavier by the second.

What it means: Your FTF (First to Find) obsession might be getting a little out of hand. It’s not all about the FTFs, even though they’re fun. Try turning your notifications off for a few days, just to see what it’s like. The goal is to reach a good balance between your day to day responsibilities and your geocaching responsibilities. Maybe 30/70.

 

Woods

The struggle to be First to Find is real.

Dream #5

You walk into the room at a meet-and-greet Event Cache 45 minutes late to accusing and shocked stares. Accusing, because you’re the event host. Shocked, because you’re a tad… how shall we put it?… under-dressed.

What it means: Like any good event host, you feel the pressure to make sure your guests are happy and have a good time. Sometimes, that pressure can translate into weird dreams like this one. Our recommendation? Relax. Geocachers are genetically predisposed to be awesome. Put a bunch of them together in a room and they’ll be laughing and sharing stories all day (until someone gets a new cache notification, of course).

How to spot a geocacher...

We think her ‘cachin fashion is spot on.

Tell us about your geocaching dreams and nightmares in the comments below!


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