IntlEarthCacheDay
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Get to know your EarthCache reviewers

This year’s International EarthCache Day is on October 9, and Geocaching HQ is excited to partner up again with the Geological Society of America to offer a souvenir for finding an EarthCache on that date.

EarthCaches provide an opportunity to learn a geological lesson and visit awe-inspiring geological locations. Visitors can see how our planet has been shaped by geological processes, how we manage its resources and how scientists gather evidence. Typically, to log an EarthCache, you will have to provide answers to questions by observing the geological location.

Thankfully, there is a group of dedicated EarthCache Reviewers who help facilitate this program so that geocachers can enjoy EarthCaches all over the world. Instead of reading a lesson in a book, they see and learn about geological features with their own eyes.

Who are EarthCache Reviewers?

They are community volunteers with scientific backgrounds that work with EarthCache cache owners to develop the best submissions possible. Learn about their story and what they love so much about EarthCaches.


GeoawareCA, Sandra

Sandra has been an EarthCache Reviewer since 2009, making her the longest standing active EarthCache Reviewer. GeoawareCA has a degree in Environmental Science with a focus on physical geography.

Mélange at Lobster Head Cove in Gros Morne National Park (GC5B7G0)
Mélange at Lobster Head Cove in Gros Morne National Park (GC5B7G0)

What is your favorite EarthCache?

If I had to pick one as my favorite, I’d have to say Pu’u’ula’ula (Red Hill) Haleakala Volcano Summit (GC18Z99) in Hawaii for its stunning beauty.

Tell us one cool fact we may not know about the Earth.

Contrary to what you may have been taught in school, diamonds do not form from coal. In fact, most diamonds that have been dated are much older than plant life on earth (the source of coal).

Any cool stories to share?

We recently travelled to Iceland and found many incredible EarthCaches there. We climbed to the top of the Eldfell volcano which last erupted in 1973 and warmed our hands by the heat rising out of the fumaroles (GC2EVVH); we visited a couple of locations where you could walk between the continental plates for Europe and North America (GC1Z45X and GC2DK2E); we visited geysir from which the English word geyser is derived (GC1G4XZ); we saw caves carved into columnar basalt and walked along a black sand beach (GC514W0); we swam in geothermally heated pools (GC25643); and we saw many beautiful waterfalls including one we could walk behind (GC2B1TJ). Truly a dream vacation for anyone interested in geology.

  • Eldfell—GC2EVVH

GeoAwareNordic3, Mats

Mats is a naturally curious Swede that has been hooked on EarthCaches since the first one he found. His interest in science and especially earth science make him an awesome EarthCache Reviewer with the most logged EarthCaches in Sweden!

Mats at Midlina, GC2DK2E
Mats at Midlina, GC2DK2E

What is your favorite EarthCache?

MIDLINA — GC2DK2E, an amazing place to see and get the grasp of.

The Greatest Little Mine in the World—GC1W9TC, an old mine in Sweden where at least 8 of the chemical elements were discovered.

Der Alte Schwede—GC1M15Z, an early EC:s for us, a big stone from Sweden.

Dinosaurier-Spuren Barkhausen —GC18P1C, imagine, dinosaur track!

West Sulphur Mountain Oil Spring—GC1A5E2, a natural oil-river.

Tell us one cool fact we may not know about the Earth.

Earth has an equatorial bulge at 42km. This means when standing on the equator at sea level you are 21km higher than when standing on either pole. As a result of this, the summit of Chimborazo, a mountain in Ecuador, is the place where you are closest to space, still standing on Earth! This is also the point on earth farthest away from the Earth’s core.

Any cool stories to share?

My brother and I used to take EarthCache weekends once or twice a year when we drove around Sweden and logged as many EarthCaches as we could. 30+ EarthCaches is our record for a weekend.

  • Der Alte Schwede—GC1M15Z

GeoawareUSA4, Mike

Mike is an Alaskan with a degree in Chemical Engineering and strong interest in geology and earth science.He still vividly remembers walking backwards in time more than one billion years during his first hike to the bottom of the Grand Canyon when he was 10 years old. In 2010, he joined the Community Volunteer team as the Reviewer for Alaska and now as an EarthCache Reviewer.

Mike
Mike in action

What is your favorite EarthCache?

Having completed nearly 300 EarthCaches, it is difficult to pin down a single favorite. However, some highlights include “Umpire Rock,” GC1G4W0, where an urban EarthCache teaches a glaciology lesson in New York City’s Central Park, “Cabo da Roca – DP/EC33,” GC1HGAY, and many other EarthCaches along Portugal’s west coast developed by danieloliveira, which brought the local landscape alive for me during a tour with the EarthCache developer himself, and “Ape Cave,” GCZ8ZQ, which took me about a mile through a lava tube on the flank of Mount St. Helens. Yellowstone National Park has several dozen EarthCaches of which I’ve completed 27 during 2 visits, which greatly enhanced my experience to one of the most amazing “living” geology locations in the world.

Tell us one cool fact we may not know about the Earth.

As a result of melting glaciers retreating from areas long-covered by ice, many parts of Alaska are “rebounding,” which means they are increasing in elevation.

Any cool stories to share?

My brother and two nephews accompanied me on my first visit to Yellowstone National Park in 2013. After visiting “No Finger Painting Allowed,” GC1ZTH2, and watching the many mud pots burp and gurgle while we inhaled sulfur-laden fumes, my youngest nephew exclaimed “this place is disgustingly awesome!”  Having a youngster think anything in a natural setting is “awesome,” is, well, “awesome!”

  • Portuguese EarthCache Field Trip with Danieloliveira (right) and BTRodrigues (left) and Natasha.

There are currently 24,271 active EarthCaches in the world. Have you ever found an EarthCache? Tell us about your experiences in the comments below!

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5 Ways to Mentor A New Geocacher

So you’ve been geocaching for 6 months now… or is it 6 years? Whatever the number, there comes a time in your life when you stop saying, “I go geocaching” and start saying, “I’m a geocacher.”

At this point you’ve probably found quite a number of geocaches, and hidden a few as well. You’ve dipped your toes into different cache types, and you’ve played around with logging trackables. You’ve grown from a wee geo-acorn into a strong geo-oak tree.

Capitalize on your experience by mentoring newbie geocachers you encounter along the way. These 5 tips should help you get started.

1. Be kind, rewind, then pay it forward

So someone just logged “Found It!” on a geocache but in their log they wrote, “We searched everywhere but couldn’t find it today.” Did this person just log a find they didn’t actually earn? Yes. Did they commit a cardinal sin? No. Take a moment, give a newbie the benefit of the doubt, and kindly remind them that to log a find, they have to find the log! Remember your interaction with this person may be the first contact they’ve ever had with another geocacher. Be kind and pay it forward.

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2. Teach them the ways of the log

Are newbies always writing short logs (TFTC) on your geocaches, and you want more, more, more? Send them this friendly link to motivate them to channel their inner William Shakespeare: 5 Tips for Writing the Best Log in the World

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3. Give a lesson in trackable etiquette

If you own a geocache that’s big enough for trackables, include a friendly note about trackable etiquette. And better yet, include a description of what trackables are and how to log them! New geocachers are often confused about the difference between trackables and swag, and what better place to have information about this than in the geocache itself.

This group of kiddos are super excited to find the cache... and its swag.

4. Be the hostess with the mostest

Whether you’re hosting or attending an event, make sure new geocachers are welcome, included in conversation, and comfortable. As a host, you can make a new geocacher’s life easier by putting up a “We’re Geocachers!” sign at your table so they know where to find you. As an attendee, take ownership over making the new cacher feel comfortable, especially if you’re lucky enough to live in a tight-knit geocaching community.

20993254696_30e681199c_b5. There are no stupid questions – and newbies have TONS of questions

“What does ‘TFTC’ mean? What’s a ‘Jasmer‘? What are those question mark geocaches in the middle of the lake?” We all know the jargon like the back of our hand, but all this geo-speak can be overwhelming to a new geocacher. Be a Jedi to padawans and teach them to use the force. The way our community grows positively is by educating those who actually want to learn. And don’t forget to tell them about our forums, Help Center, and the online geocaching glossary.

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Walk the (Geocaching) Line

Unless you live on the moon, you’ve probably gone geocaching in some sort of natural area—food garden, arboretum, provincial park, nature reserve, etc. Most areas have designated walking or hiking paths, but it can be sorely tempting to march straight off into the bush looking like Kipling’s Mowgli.

Here are three reasons not to release your inner Tarzan unless you’re in your own jungle oasis (or…potted plant patio).

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1) You are a big, strong human, and you will crush the plants.

Are you in the new King Kong remake? If not, then there’s no reason to blunder around crushing things. Your wanderings off the path are likely to leave a trail, one that another geocacher might follow thinking it leads to a cache. By the time the next person finds out your trail doesn’t lead anywhere, they’ve made it look even more like a trail that leads somewhere. You see where this is going. Big strong human, please keep all arms and feet inside the designated trails…

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2) Stingy, bite-y, slimy things.

What’s red and green and stings all over? Poison oak, poison ivy, and stinging nettles. And they can really ruin a geocaching party. Keeping to the designated paths (and wearing your cargo pants) is key to avoiding these antagonists of the plant world. Nettles, like human children, are best seen and not heard disturbed.

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3) Every step you take…the land manager is watching you.

Alright, so that may be unnecessarily creepy. But it’s the land manager’s job to make sure activities like geocaching are done in harmony with the environmental goals of the area. It’s the geocacher’s job to know what that means for geocaching. It’s true that geocaching in public natural areas is a privilege, not a right. Is this patch of hillside closed-off to protect sensitive species? Don’t go there human! No find is worth being kicked out of a park.

 

Tell us (and share some pics)…what’s your favorite natural area in which to geocaching?

 

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7 Tips to Attending a Mega-Event

Editor’s note: Groundspeak Lackeys traveled thousands of miles from H.Q. this year to share smiles, shake hands and make geocaching memories at more than a dozen Mega-Events worldwide. Nicole Bliss, a.k.a. Louie Bliss, attended Mega-Event Catalunya 2011 in Calella, Spain. Nicole has been  a Lackey helping geocachers in customer service since 2010. This is Nicole’s account of the Mega-Event. 

Nicole and Signal

Oh Mega, My Mega! Catalunya 2011

I recently attended Mega-Event Catalunya 2011 in Calella, Spain and represented Groundspeak. It may have been my fifth Mega-Event, but it was my first international event.  I was surprised at how Mega-Events can be so similar 5,000 miles away from each other. There were still the same activities: discovering Trackables, shopping for merchandise, dinner events and, of course, lots of caching. I even attended my first flash mob – one of the best parts of the event! Yet, international events can be so different; everyone speaks different languages and cache descriptions are all in the local language. The difficulty rating goes up at least a star for foreigners. It helps that many geocaching phrases are universal.

With an international event, it was amazing how many countries were represented. I met cachers from Switzerland, Sweden, Norway, Germany, Czech Republic, Portugal, UK, Canada, France, Netherlands and Spain. I was the only American. I spent so much time with a group of French cachers that at one point, I felt like I was in France instead of Spain.

I learned a lot about what to plan for when attending a Mega-Event. If you haven’t had the opportunity yet, listen up! Here’s 7 tips for attending a Mega-Event –

Catalunya 2011 Flash Mob
  • Check to see if there are any additional events nearby. Plan to arrive a day or two beforehand to attend these events and find nearby caches.
  • Plan your routes ahead of time. If you are a Premium Member, you can sort by Favorite Points so you’ll know which are considered the best local caches. The event organizers may even publish a new GeoTrail for the event so it is a good idea to run a Pocket Query on the day of the event.
  • Check the event forums to see who else is going. It is much more fun when you meet new people or go in a group. I cached with a few different groups and had a great time.
  • Are you attending an international Mega-Event like I did? I suggest learning the major phrases of that language. It can still be overwhelming, but it is much easier and the locals appreciate it. I was surprised that Barcelona and Calella, Spain primarily spoke Catalan and my Spanish was almost useless.
  • Make time to see the tourist sites. There’s a Mega-Event there for a reason! Of course, you can cache along the way.
  • Considering organizing a Mega-Event? Check out the Knowledge Books article on Mega-Event Classification.

    Cataluyna 2011 Community Dinner
  • After the event, log your Trackables quickly! Too often, Travel Bugs have gone missing from events because they are forgotten.

In the end, I realized geocaching is a language all its own. No matter what our native language is, we can understand each other perfectly.

 

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