Welcome to CarolinaCacher

Welcome to my CarolinaCacher site. I'm Randy Hefner. My caching screen name on GPSgames, Geocaching, and TerraCaching, is RanHefner. I have been caching since June 24, 2005.

You may be asking, "What is caching?" You would probably know it as Geocaching. Geocaching is the combination of technology, outdoor activities, and treasure hunting. You use a GPSr (Global Positioning System receiver) to locate hidden containers of different sizes and shapes. All cache containers will contain a log (piece of paper, notepad, or notebook) to document your finding of the cache. Some containers are large enough to contain trinkets for trading. The rule is that you take somthing and leave something.

There are many handheld GPS receivers on the market ranging from around $75 to over $400! All of them will get you started with geocaching. The more expensive ones are good for geocaching and road navigation. The two most popular companies offering GPS receivers are Garmin and Magellan.

Garmin offers a GPS Guide For Beginners. It is a little "technical", but does offer a lot of great information about how the Global Positioning System works.

The online "How To" manual, wikiHow, offers a very good guide to geocaching. This is a good article for beginners. This article takes you step-by-step from selecting a GPS receiver and how to log your find.

A good place to start is to join a local caching club. There are several in the Carolinas. If you live in North Carolina, you should join the North Carolina Geocachers Organization. This "club" is for everyone in North Carolina or anyone interested in caching in NC.

If you live in the foothills area of North Carolina, there is a group for you! The NC Foothills Geocachers is affiliated with the NCGO above, but is targeted towards the members living in the foothills.

If you live in the Asheville area of North Carolina there is a Yahoo! Group called Western NC Geocaching.

If you live in the upstate of South Carolina, there is an organization for you. The Upstate South Carolina Geocachers Association covers the 10 counties in the northwest portion of South Carolina.

There are two South Carolina state-wide geocaching organizations. South Carolina Geocachers Association and South Carolina Society of Geocaching.

Join the organization that best fits your needs and participate in their events. You will get more out of geocaching by making new geocaching friends!
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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

First-to-find. What is the big deal?

FTF-SignalOk, what’s the big deal about being FTF on a geocache?  I freely admit it.  I am an FTF hound.  Just this week, I stormed out at 1:30 AM in a severe thunderstorm just to attempt to be the FTF on a geocache.

A FTF or (first-to-find) is a term used for the geocacher who is the first to find a newly place geocache.  Some could care less about being the FTF and other obsess about it.  I think I fall in the latter category.  I currently have 61 FTF’s out of the 395 geocaches I have found.  That is a 15.4% FTF rate.  Yes, I am counting!  This confirms my obsession.  I even went as far to establish a 10% FTF club and am a proud member of the 15% FTF club.

The appeal of being FTF depends on the finder, but, I think most would agree that being the only one, other than the original geocache owner, that has seen the geocache in its original condition and hiding spot is something special.  Every time it is found after that, it will change a little.  Also, being the “first” at most things has its certain prestige.

So, how can you become a FTF hound?  You must be a premium member of Groundspeak.  Why?  One of the premium member perks is to be notified of any newly reviewed geocaches.  In my area this is a must.  There are too many FTF hounds around here.  In many cases, if you don’t find it within 2 or 3 hours after it is listed, you will not find the clean geocache log.  Also, if you have one of the new “smart” cell phones, you will have a leg-up on most others.  I have lost several FTF’s to those with an iPhone or other similar phone.  Another thing you need is the willingness to pay the price.  What do I mean?  If you are going after the FTF status, you will probably be driving a lot.  Gas ain’t cheap!

I freely admit that I am addicted.  This is more than just an obsession with me.  It is a bona fide addiction.  I fully expect to one day making the following public statement.  “Hi.  My name is Randy.  I am a FTF addict.  I have been sober for 12 days.”  (Cell phone sounds) “BEEP, BEEP, BEEP…There is a new geocache in your area.”  “Oh, crap!  I will be back in a little bit.”

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