116 Geocaches an Hour and Aliens

Annie Love on the E.T. Highway
Annie Love on the E.T. Highway

[Editor’s Note: There’s an alien at the end of this blog post]

By Annie Love

Imagine: The midnight darkness of the desert is lit only by a pale moon. You’re driving down a dirt road in the middle of nowhere Nevada.  You see the wink of a meteorite falling to Earth.  It’s slower than any you’ve seen before, it’s greenish in hue. The trajectory of the fast moving light shows it landing in the area you’ve been told doesn’t officially exist even though you pretty much know for a fact it does. You feel validated when your friends agrees with you that this might not be a meteorite.  In fact, it very well could be aliens. Yes. Aliens.

This would seem weird under normal circumstances.  This doesn’t fall under normal circumstances though. This is geocaching.  Specifically, this is the ET Highway.

Annie Love with,
Annie Love with Moun10Bike, Princess Trouble, dsvaughn, Joe of JoenSue

Bordering the place that doesn’t exist (Area 51), this geocaching power trail is not for everyone.  It’s the ultimate in power caching. Film canister after film canister at 6,000-7,000 feet in elevation, this trail leads you through some spectacular country.  Originally 2000 geocaches, recently expanded to 2400, this is one of the largest power trails on Earth.  Traveling through this part of the world makes you feel like it’s impossible not to ‘believe.’

Knowing that Geocoinfest 2013 was going to be in Las Vegas, I immediately thought ‘I should do the ET Highway.’  Over the nine years I’ve been geocaching, I’ve only found just under 1200 caches. It’s definitely not about the numbers to me.  For me, it’s the experience I have geocaching.  That’s what appealed to me about doing the ET Highway.

Before I could make my own plans, I received an email from Princess Trouble (one of the hosts of Geocoinfest).  After a few more emails, a team was formed.  My colleague Moun10Bike, Princess Trouble, dsvaughn, Joe of JoenSue and I had plans to leave bright and early after Geocoinfest.

Blazing through rugged Nevada backcountry with our minivan and Jeep, we found the 2400 caches over four days. In our quickest hour of geocaching, we found 116 geocaches. Being in the company of cows, jack rabbits, coyotes, wild horses and fun geocachers made for a truly amazing adventure.

Some tips for folks thinking of doing the ET Highway:

-Start your planning by checking out the ET Highway owner’s information page:  http://etgeocaching.com/

-Plan to bring at least 50 film canisters with logs (for cache maintenance along the way)

-We had two stamps with us and these were both nearly dead by the end, so three might be best

-Figure out a plan in advance for getting gas or hauling gas with you so you don’t get stranded

-Cell phones don’t work on most of the trail, so be prepared with plenty of food, water, flashlights, clothing layers and make sure you have a spare tire in your car

-Allow for extra time to find the other really interesting geocaches, visit the Little A ‘Le’ Inn, and check out the ghost town of Belmont along the way

Final Geocache Finds on the Highway
 Geocache Finds on the E.T. Highway
ET Highway
Group Shot
View of the E.T. Highway
View of the E.T. Highway
ET Highway4
An Alien “selfie”


  • Firefighter Skippy

    I’m hitting the trail in @2 weeks with some friends. Looking foreword to it.

  • The Shadow

    Who took this picture….? The “Shadow” knows… !!!!!

  • SeaC2

    Can someone please explain to me how one can average less than 30 seconds per cache for an entire hour??? How does one – travel to the cache site, find the cache, sign the log, put the cache back, and orient towards the next cache – all in 30 seconds??? 116 times in a row ????? Especially if they are the ‘recommended’ minimum 500 feet apart??????? Clearly my idea of caching and this 116-per-hour idea of caching are very different.

  • Tony

    Glad I’m not the only one doing the math and wanted to see how they did 116 in an hour. 🙂

  • wally_k

    Maybe they leapfrogged with 2 vehicles????

  • Not Gullible or Impressed

    Apparently there is no definition of a find when it comes to power trails. The world’s your oyster – you can use any method you like as long as someone places the group sticker/stamp/sig on a log every .1 miles (throwdowns, leap frogging, cache swapping, etc). It’s a shame that Groundspeak expects us to be impressed by these suspect practices.

  • 116 caches in an hour??

    I agree.. Sounds quite stupid.. ‘Bring at least 50 film canisters for maintenance along the way’ You may as we’ll be just driving along and throwing out film canisters! Not at all my idea of caching.
    The longest power trail we’ve done had 200 caches – though it was WAY nicer – drives along mountains, regular caches, ocean views, etc etc etc. it’s the mid north coast power trail in nsw, Australia and is what I want from a power trail for sure!!

  • Love

    We had a fast driver and we were on a section of the “highway” where the caches were quickly spotted. I literally jumped out of the van (the sliding door stayed open the whole time) and ran as fast I could to each cache and ran back. We used the method where you swap out the container and while we drove from cache to cache, someone stamped our group stamp in the log…the freshly stamped cache would be swapped out at the next cache. We brought 50 film canisters to help with maintaining caches along the way. This is a very typical method on the ET Highway. It’s not my preferred method of geocaching, but the whole experience was pretty amazing. Honestly, it was a lot more fun than I thought it would be.

  • tartan_terror

    Something I cannot figure out:
    At the first cache you drop your own”own pre-stamped logsheet” already in its fresh container, you pick up the existing container and its logsheet and rush off to the next cache you30 seconds away…

    That seems ok, but one major flaw:
    The logsheet from the first cache gets stamped or signed and dropped at another cache (not the one where it originates) which means that the log entries and names in the original logsheet sure no longer in the first cache. This practice obviously repeats itself throughout the trail.

    Why Iis this abnormality allowed? Surely the rule is clear that the cache owner could audit any one of his/her caches, and then when finding only the last cacher’s entry in the logsheet in the first cache (remember now that the logsheet originally there and with previous cacher names , had actually been moved to the 2nd cache site; and the 2nd cache log has been moved to the 3rd, etc) he/she would be entitled to delete all the “fourd it” logs of the previous cachers who’s entries are not visible on the physical logsheet contained in the first cache.

    The test case in my mind is: Would it be acceptable if a cacher finds your normal cache hide, then proceeds to dump someone else’s logbook (which he has hastily stamped if signed) in your cache, then to remove your cache’s logbook and whisk it away to only sign whilst en-route to someone else’s cache so that he can deposit in there? I think not….

  • Robert McNeece

    You could smell my breaks with so many stops! Don’t like it don’t do it, I loved it and shared it with a truckload of friends!

  • dragon flyer

    Are you kidding? The COs are only into the numbers, including how many finds are registered on the caches, so they have zero interest in deleting any logs. Different rules here – this is Nevada, let’s not forget. Doesn’t do anything for me, which is why if I should ever find myself anywhere near the ET trail I would probably find a couple here and there, and otherwise enjoy the drive. Which is my standard MO for all power trails…

  • dragon flyer


  • Don Jag

    I think the most important thing is that you spent four days finding the rest of them. The Nevada desert is an amazing place when you slow down and take a look at it. Nothing wrong with trying to set a personal record, though I don’t like the moving cache deal. I also don’t like the generic logs that get posted to memorable caches that were on that hwy for years before they got surrounded by 2400 film cans. Some of my fondest caching memories are of driving down the ET Hwy and stopping every 30 miles to find a lone ammo can.

  • NGoI

    Actually, it probably wouldn’t matter if you drove past them without stopping, then claim your extraordinary number of finds, in an extraordinary time period. 10 caches per mile, 75 miles an hour speed limit…..that would be 750 caches per hour. The COs aren’t going to be checking the logs.

  • Corey Stevens

    I used to live near the ET Highway. Well, about 2 1/2 hours away. I had always wanted to go down there, but never got the chance. While I am the one who loves to go after the creative and unique hides that bring me to places rarely seen be even the most outgoing locals, I would still like the chance to fill 100-200 spots in from the ET HWY. If you want a neat experience, go and find the Kokopelli geo-art that’s 1 1/2 west of there on the Arizona – Utah border. Even though I didn’t get to complete it, it was a fun hike and a great time!

  • tartan_terror

    Yep, doesn’t do it for me either. We also have power series here in ZA, but generally cachers team up and make a 24 hour run to see how many they can get. All the instances in ZA known to me the cachers made their mark in each log sheet as they found it (no swapping containers, dropping pre-signed logs, etc). To speed the logging process they normally used stamps or only initially instead of full handle signatures. Best part of it all is they have lots of fun, and I believe they can be proud of their achievements, even though it doesn’t make my clock tick. We did 50 in a day with 2 other teams, stopping to picnic in the shade of trees and took photos as we went along on a daylight adventure for a few hours; Great fun to do rather than rush by and not see any of the beautiful countryside.

  • SeaC2

    Well, thank you very much for the clarification. Glad you had fun. I confess I want/need a different challenge from my geocaching, but that is me. I will also add that one of the things I like most about this whole deal is how MANY ways there are for poeple to enjoy it, and that is the whole point as I see it. I sincerely doubt I would enjoy doing the ‘power trails’, especially at this pace, and most especially the ‘logging my finds’ after the fact. But who knows. Maybe someday when I have nothing better to do.

  • SeaC2

    Now THIS complaint about the ‘accepted’ methods on these powertrails is something I wholeheartedly agree should be discussed. Each cache has a unique GC number, and the log in it should reflect that, IMHO. If the whole ‘piggybacking’ thing is allowed in this region of NV, what is the litmus test for other “densely saturated” cache areas??? How do cachers that enjoy this kind of geomadness decide if moving a log is or isn’t OK to do??? I think it is a very slippery slope.

  • Snoopy and Woodstock

    Unbelivable how Geocaching is killed by ideas like this. It has nothing to do with the way this game was intended. So Sad !!!

  • Valerie La Rue

    We did a power trail of 100 in 2 days and never swapped out containers like that. Did replace one that was missing with what was at hand…others did the same trail in 4 hours….it was hard enough keeping those 100 straight….hmmmmmmmmmm

  • 4thnoel

    to me it is not geocaching but to others it is acceptable. They have a car full of people and they drop them off at different points then pick them up after they sign a few. So, each person really signs about 1/4 of the logs.