Hidden in Plain Sight
Sometimes the trickiest (and, some think, most fun) traditional caches are the ones that are hidden in plain sight. It can be the same with puzzles. We can get so used to looking at a cache page that we might overlook the many places, in addition to the description, that can be used to hide hints or even the puzzle itself.
Below are examples of a typical cache page. I'm not giving away any secrets with these - they are composites of bits from more than one cache page. I'll start at the top of the page and work my way down, pointing out some tips as I go.
There are tips in some of the image details, as well as the explanations below them. The red numbers in the images correspond to the numbered paragraphs in the explanations.
You can zoom into the images to make them easier to read. CTRL + (CTRL plus) will zoom in. CTRL - (CTRL minus/dash) will zoom out. CTRL 0 (CTRL zero) will return to the normal zoom level.
1. Title: Often used for hints. Try an internet search for some or all of the words. It may contain wordplay - for example, an anagram or acronym.
2. Cache Owner: This link leads to the cache owner's profile, but there can be a different name (or other words) entered here which might be a hint. Click the link to go to the cache owner's profile - there may also be hints there.
3. Hidden Date: The cache owner can enter any date here that's on or before the cache publication date (which is posted by the cache reviewer and found at the bottom of the list of Logged Visits).
4. Difficulty: If a puzzle has a high difficulty rating, you should expect to have to spend more time, dig a little deeper, go through more steps, and run into more dead ends and red herrings than with an easier puzzle. If you're having an inordinate amount of trouble with a puzzle with a low difficulty rating, maybe you're overlooking something simple.
5. Terrain: Check your solution on a map. (I'll talk more about maps in a future #@&% puzzle.) If it puts you in a spot radically different from the terrain rating (e.g., Terrain rating is 1.5, but your solution is on a hill top in the woods), it might not be correct.
6. Related Web Page: This isn't on every cache page (and is easy to overlook), but if it is there, it may be worth clicking on the link to check it out.
7. Posted Coordinates: Sometimes these point to a place on the map that may act as a clue. When you have the puzzle solution, you can save it to the cache page by clicking on the pencil icon next to these.
8. Other Conversions: Remember that sometimes your solution may be in other coordinate formats. Although this feature is no longer available on cache pages, you can look at my @#$% puzzle about Coordinate Formats for ways to convert coordinates.
9. Favorites: There are SO MANY caches available that I'm unable to get them all, so I prioritize. One way I do that is by looking at the number of Favorites points a cache has. I figure that, if a cache has several Favorites points, it must have something good going for it - clever description, unique container, nice location (or even better, all three), and so I'm more willing to spend extra time and effort trying to get it.
10. Gallery: Images in the gallery may have hints. A previous cache in this series, GC5JGNC - How Do I Solve These #@&% Puzzles?!! Pictures, tells about a few ways info may be hidden in pictures.
11. Watch: Click this link to be notified of any logs posted to the cache. The cache owner may clarify confusing parts, add hints, or fix mistakes, and post a note saying so. Sometimes finders drop sideways hints in cache logs.
12. Personal Cache Note: (Available to Premium members.) While you're working on a puzzle, this is a handy place to keep notes about things you've tried that have and have not worked. Once you've solved the puzzle, you can store solution notes here, which can help remind you (when it comes time to post your "Found it" log) of your adventures in getting to the solution. These are also handy if you come across a similar puzzle and would like a reminder of how you solved it.
13. Description: The puzzle is usually contained herein. Pay close attention to what is said and how it is said.
14. Attributes: These can be used for a puzzle. Especially take note if the attributes don't seem to match up with the terrain rating and cache description.
15. Background Image: A cache page background image may contain hints in the same manner as other images. You can find it by way of the source code.
The previous cache in this series, GC5J53Y - How Do I Solve These #@&% Puzzles?!! Hidden Info, explains in detail how to find and search the source code, so I'll just list the steps here to find the background image:
- Press CTRL U (to open a page with the cache page source code)
- Press CTRL F (to open a Find box)
- Type backg into the box (to find background. It will find whatever you type - you don't need to type the whole word)
Not all cache pages have a background image, but if one does, this will find it. Use the techniques as for Gallery images (see 10 above) to search for hidden info.
16. Checker: If there is a high number of correct checks to wrong ones, then the puzzle is probably straightforward. On the other hand, a high number of wrong answers to right ones may mean the obvious approaches to the solution are probably wrong and that you may need to try something more unusual, unconventional, or unexpected. Be prepared to have to work hard for it.
17. Additional Hints: A hint may be a little puzzle in itself involving wordplay (such as anagrams or acronyms) or words on which you could try an internet search.
18. Inventory: Check travel bugs and geocoins listed on the page - especially ones owned by the cache owner, or which have unusual travel histories. Read through the descriptions (checking also for white font or source code comments), and maybe also the logs.
19. Bookmark Lists: Look to see if there is a suspicious bookmark list - especially one by the cache owner.
20. Additional Waypoints: These can be used as parts of puzzles. Check to see if any waypoints might be significant to the puzzle, and that they are what they represent.
21. Images: These are images specific to the cache page. Click on the links to view them.
22. Logged Visits: : Sometimes oblique hints can be gleaned from logs.
So where is this #@&% puzzle?!! Six of these techniques will help you find the coordinates. Good luck!
As I said, this is one of a series of "How Do I Solve..." caches. They are spread out in different neighborhoods. It might help to solve them in order, but you don't need to. I tried to make these easy to understand, but if you have any questions about them, please ask.
Here are all the caches in the series. They are also posted in a "How Do I Solve These #@&%$ Puzzle Caches?!!" bookmark list.
This series of #@&%$ Puzzles contains the following caches:
Have fun solving puzzle caches! And remember ...