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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Sunday, August 22, 2010

To archive, or not to archive: That is the question.

Geocache Ethics As geocache hiders, we are often faced with this question.  I have had to face it several times.  Sometimes it is difficult to find the time to replace the geocache and equally difficult to archive it.  It is a decision that all geocache placers will have to face.

When faced with this dilemma we must put pride aside and do what’s best for the geocaching community.  It may be that if you can’t make time to check on and replace the geocache, you may need to archive it and open up the area for an active geocache.  In many cases, the site will remain available giving you ample time to replace the geocache and ask the local geocache reviewer to unarchive it.

In the case of “event” geocaches, we must remember to archive it shortly after the event ends.  The guidelines published on Geocaching.com is one month.  Many people will download pocket queries to see what events are available in their area.  It is an inconvenience to rummage through events that have long since ended.

How should you react when someone requests your geocache to be archived?  Instead of looking upon it as a strike at your geocaching integrity, you should look at it as an opportunity to make things better.  Look upon it as constructive criticism and see if the problem can be corrected.  It may be that archiving the geocache is the best alternative.  But remember.  An archive post is a legitimate post.  If it weren’t, it would be available to each and every geocacher.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

CarolinaCacher issues a geocaching challenge!

Geocache-Ethics I am issuing a challenge to my fellow geocachers.  Micros are nice for padding numbers.  Tupperware and Lock and Locks are quaint.  But, nothing satisfies a geocacher like the sound of a steel ammo can being opened in the woods after a geocache hunt.

The challenge is that you hide a steel ammo can of 30-caliber or larger in the woods by the end of this year.  It doesn’t have to be a death-march, but, it must be in the woods.  Hiding an ammo can in the “urban jungle” is not a good thing!  Please demilitarize the ammo can by obscuring the military markings. 

When you post your geocache listing, please link to this posting so we can spread the fun.  Now go hide that can!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The evolution of Geocaching.com’s logo.

geocache_logo_trans I was doing a little searching on the Wayback Machine and found some old Geocaching.com listings.  While searching for some historical geocaching events, I noticed an evolution of logos used on that site.  Here are a few of those logos:

Geocaching-2001-02-03February 3, 2001

groundspeak_logo-2001-05-13April 13, 2001

Geocaching-2001-08-05August 5, 2001

Geocaching-2002-06-02June 2, 2002

Monday, August 2, 2010

Geocaching event to celebrate 10th anniversary of North Carolina’s first geocache has been approved.

event_72 On September 30, 2000 North Carolina’s first geocache, “Octopus Garden” was placed.  It is now ten years later.  An event has been planned to celebrate that important milestone.

10th Anniversary of NC's Oldest Geocache” has been published on Groundspeak’s geocaching website, Geocaching.com.  The event will be held at the parking area and trail head to the “Octopus Garden” geocache.  The event will start at 2:00 PM.  Visit the Event Page for any updates to this event geocache.


Sunday, August 1, 2010

Geocache find #400 – North Carolina’s oldest Geocache, GC70 Octopus Garden.

400-GC70-Octopus Garden I wanted to search for North Carolina’s oldest geocache, GC70 Octopus Garden, but, I wanted it to be a milestone find.  I was approaching my 400th geocache find and decided it was time to find this 10-year old geocache. 

Milestones are points in your geocaching history worth noting.  Your first, 100th, 1000th, etc.  Sometimes the milestone just happens.  Other times you plan for a special geocache or geocaching event to coincide with the milestone.  I was wanting to find North Carolina’s oldest geocache for a long time.  Since my 400th geocache find was approaching, I decided to make it this one.  I wanted to wait for the 10th anniversary of GC70 Octopus Garden, but, I was only two geocache finds away and the anniversary was two months away.  Now’s the time to do it!

I was in Charlotte, North Carolina today scouting a location for an upcoming event (as yet to be announced).  What better time to mark number 400?  I first had to find number 399.  I chose a micro nearby for this purpose.  Sorry GC1A3T9 Altoids Sours – Tangerine.  After preparing for number 400, I found the parking area where the hunt for the Octopus Garden begins.  This was a puzzle geocache.  That means you must solve a puzzle to get the actual location of the geocache.  Luckily, the puzzle was pretty simple.   That’s good because I’m not too good at puzzles!  I solved the puzzle long ago so I already had the final coordinates.

By reading the previous logs of GC70 Octopus Garden, it was clear that the hardest part of finding the geocache was to find the right way to the geocache.  A direct course is not always the best way to get to the geocache locations.  I studied topographical and satellite maps of the area.  It was clear that a direct approach would require crossing one of two creeks.  It looks like a deviation from the prepared trail was in order.

As I left the trail it became abundantly clear that searching for the “Octopus Garden” shouldn’t be done just after a rain storm.  Well, I was already here, so, quit whining and start the swampy adventure.  After trekking through some very soft soil and knee high weeds and grass, I became completely soaked from the knees down.  I tried following a little use path.  It was taking me a little off course.  I found another “path” to follow.  It was a little better, but, still didn’t take me directly to the coordinates I had.  Time for bushwhacking!

After a couple hundred feet, I found what was surely the path intended to be used.  I was right…This time, anyway!  It wasn’t too long before I found the geocache.  It was right where I thought it would be.  Except for a few minor deviations, my planned path was correct.  There was no creek crossing involved.  It wouldn’t have mattered  because I was soaked anyway!

Me with "Octopus Garden" Me With The “Octopus Garden” Geocache

I stopped and reflected on my accomplishment.  I have just found North Carolina’s oldest geocache.  It was placed on September 30, 2000.  This was near the beginning of geocaching as we know it.  I thought it would be nice to have an event to celebrate this historical geocache.  I have just submitted an event cache.  I will keep you posted when it is approved.


Saturday, July 31, 2010

Southside Park geocache replaced!

traditional_72 I finally replaced the missing geocache at Southside Park in Newton, North Carolina.  The “Southside Park – Newton, NC” geocache is a micro geocache in the middle of the park.  Be careful for muggles.  The container and hiding spot is exactly as it was before.

Southside Park is a great little city park.  There are two walking trails.  Bring your dog with you.  There are several picnic sites with grills and picnic tables.  The kids will love the playground facilities.

Southside-Park Southside Park – Newton, North Carolina

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Geocache ethics - Doing geocache maintenance on someone else’s geocache!

Geocache Ethics Let me preface this by saying this blog posting is as much directed towards myself as anyone else.  I am not preaching, but, rather giving a little perspective on my limited experience with geocaching.  I am sure you have read a log that goes something like this:

Found the geocache.  Couldn’t sign log.  It was so wet it was falling apart.  The rubber o-ring is gone.  Maybe the geocache owner should check on it.

Yes, the one who placed the geocache is responsible for maintaining it.  But, it really is nice when someone helps out!  So what should you and I do when we come across a geocache that is need of a little tinder, loving care?

First, if you are not prepared, you can do very little to help other than report it.  I took a year off of geocaching.  I used to carry a bag of goodies when geocaching.  Of course, the bag contained things like swag, water, wet-wipes, etc.  I also carried several other items that would help in maintaining my own geocaches and any found that needs some help.  Here is a simple list that will help you be the one praised for keeping the sport fun for all.

  • Zip-lock bags of all sizes.
  • Several paper towels in a zip-lock bag.
  • Small bottle of alcohol.
  • Paper and small notebooks.
  • Assortment of rubber o-rings.
  • Three complete geocaches (regular, small, and micro).
  • Camouflage duct tape.
  • Children’s scissors.
  • Swag

This sounds like a lot of stuff to carry, but, you should be able to carry it in a small bag.  It’s probably obvious why you should carry these items.  I will go over a few just for clarification.

Zip-lock bags are used in most geocaches.  They keep the log and swag dry.  The problem is that with time, these bags will wear out.  Maybe the pen or pencil poked a hole in it and the log is getting damp.  You can find the bigger zip-lock bags at your local grocery store.  The smaller ones are a little harder to come by.  I have found all sizes available on eBay.  The prices are usually very good.  I’m sure there are other sources.

Paper towels can be used to clean yourself after searching for the geocache or to dry out a wet geocache container.  I like carrying the blue ones you find in the automotive section.  They are tough as nails!

The alcohol can be used, like the paper towels, to clean yourself of clean out a messy geocache container.  The alcohol based hand sanitizer is great for cleaning your hands, but, can make a messy container even messier.  Alcohol can take the itch away from insect bites, also!

Take a couple sheet of paper and a notepad size notebook.  The notebook can replace a full, missing, or damaged log in regular size containers.  The sheets of paper can be cut to size with the children’s scissors to fit most small and micro size geocaches.  Why children’s scissors?  They will get the job done without poking a hold in your bag.  They’re also very light weight.

The rubber o-rings that come on some of the metal pill containers (bison tube) used as micro geocaches are usually not UV (ultra-violet) proof.  With time when exposed to the UV light in sunlight and weather, they will become brittle and crack.  When that happens, you get a damp log inside.  Take one of these containers to your local hardware store and get some replacement o-rings.  Make sure they are UV rated.  I usually get them a little “thicker”.  They seem to work better for geocache use.

It may seem that carrying around three complete geocaches will be a little bulky, but, if you plan it properly, it will take very little space.  Get two lock and lock type containers.  One medium size and one small.  Also carry a micro container like a 35mm film container or bison tube.  You only need a few swag items.  Make sure you have a couple pens and logs.  You can “nest” the geocache containers together to save space.  If you run upon a missing geocache, you can replace the container and notify the geocache owner that you placed a temporary container.

Why camouflage duct tape?  Well, with duct tape and WD-40 you can fix anything!  You can also use the camouflage feature to repair a camo job if needed.

Bringing a geocache back to good health gives you a rewarding feeling.  The geocache owner will be grateful and you will be making the sport better for everyone.  Now I must get my geobag ready so I won’t be such a hypocrite!