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!
CarolinaCacher Recommends:

Sunday, October 26, 2008

South Carolina has zero tollerance on illegal geocaches.

Many geocachers place their cache containers on private property or highway right-of-ways without permission. Now South Carolina is taking a "zero tolerance" for these placements! Here is a recent quote posted on a geocache listing by the South Carolina reviewer for groundspeak:

"I have been notified by the SC DOT that they are taking a zero tolerance approach to geocache placements on right of ways. They are using SC Title 57 Section 57-7-20 as the authority for their action.

Therefore I must strongly suggest that the cache be removed and perhaps placed in a location that is not part of a right of way. If the physical cache is not moved with appropriate editing of the cache page, the cache page should be archived." -Brad, Groundspeak volunteer reviewer.

This may be a warning to the geocachers in North Carolina. Don't push the envelope too much! Rethink your guardrail hide. Try placing geocaches in public parks (if allowed by the park) or other areas where geocaching is allowed.

A good resource for South Carolina law concerning geocaching is the blog, UnderGroundspeak.

"Johnny Appleseed" keeps planting for GPSgames.org

My goals of holding the "Introduction To GPSgames" events is three-fold. First, to bring attention to fellow geocachers the existance and differences of GPSgames.org. Second, to hide more geocaches exclusive to GPSgames.org in my area. Third, to gather members of the geocaching community in an event to introduce them to the geocaching buffet which is GPSgames.org. Two out of three ain't bad!

Again, bad weather threatened the event up to about an hour before. The skies did start to clear and it turned into a beautiful day. The lessons I have learned is that there should be a little more time between these events to allow geocachers to prepare for it.

Instead of holding them once a month, I will try about two months (maybe a little less) between events.

I arrived about 10:30 AM and shortly after, set up shop. The park is usually more active, but the weather was a major factor. Some "muggles" glanced over. I would love for one to come over and ask, "What the heck is going on?"

The fall leaves against the lake this morning was breath-taking. I love this time of year. The weather is cooler. The insects are fewer. The colors are beginning to pop!

Geitner Park in Hickory has it all. If you haven't visited it yet, go soon! Geocaching is plentiful and there are several trails, some easy and some a little difficult.

There are now two GPSgames.org exclusive geocaches in the park. These along with geocaches from Groundspeak and Terracaching will make your geocaching experience a full one at Geitner park.

I will be planing the next event soon. Keep an eye out for it. It will probably be in mid-December. If you have any suggestions, please comment on this blog entry.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

"Heritage Trail Freeloader" has been placed.

I have placed a new traditional geocache in Newton, North Carolina. "Heritage Trail Freeloader" is listed on GPSgames.org. I call it a "Freeloader" because it is inside of another geocache that is listed on "the other service".

My hopes is that this will introduce some to the buffet of games available on GPSgames.org.

Heritage Trail Greenway is a project by the City of Newton, North Carolina. It is a nice, little walking trail along a creek just a couple minutes away from the downtown area.

Enjoy the new geocache!

Friday, October 17, 2008

My Pathtag is being minted.

I finally took the plunge. I ordered my first Pathtag. Pathtags are a custom design coin about the size of an American quarter. You submit your design and in four to six weeks, you have your . A PathtagPathtag!

They are not geocoins. They do have a serial number on the back, but it is the same for every coin in the series. Each coin is not trackable like a geocoin or travel bug. The benefit is that they are much cheaper! You get the first 50 minted for $100. Additional coins are less than $1.00 each.

My first tag represents my appreciation for GPSgames.org; a geocaching games service that offers many games to be played using your GPS receiver.

If anyone would like to consider having a Pathtag minted, I will be happy to help you with the design. Just contact me and we will work on one for you.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Handicaching Ratings On Your Geocaches

There are many geocachers that also have some degree of disability. The rating system on all of the geocaching listing services do not contain enough information for these geocachers to make an informed decision on which geocaches to attempt.

Luckily, there is a rating service that fills this gap. Handicaching.com does offer a more detailed geocache rating system tailored to those with disabilities. Here is a statement of the rating system's purpose:
Handicaching aims to improve the accessibility of Geocaching for disabled people all over the world.

By rating caches using a simple system, disabled geocachers can quickly find the caches they are able to do. Too often a 1 star or 2 star rated cache turns out to be impossible, causing dissapointment. Our ratings aim to avoid that.

You can help by taking a few moments to quickly rate the caches you have visited!

For disabled geocachers we also provide tools and resources to find caches with ratings, find out what caches you will likely be able to do and a quick reference guide to the rating system.
I have started rating my geocaches using this system. Please consider using this valuable service to inform everyone who may search for you geocache.

Monday, October 6, 2008

"Introduction To GPSgames II" Event

The first "Introduction To GPSgames" event was such a success, I decided that there should be a series of these events. Each in a different park in Catawba county. So, the "Introduction To GPSgames II" has been listed.

The second in the series will be held at Geitner-Rotary Park in Hickory, NC. Geitner Park is a geocache rich environment! There are geocaches listed on GPSgames.org, Groundspeak, and Terracaching. Be prepared to cache! Bring your GPS receiver and some trade items.

We will meet at the gazebo marked by the listing coordinates on Saturday, October 25, 2008 at 11:00 AM. Soft drinks and bottled water will be provided. There will be door prizes available for those who attend. I will have extra GPS receivers with coordinates loaded for those who may not have one with them.

Two new GPSgames Exclusive geocaches have been hidden in the past week and there are several others to be found. Make sure to load-up your GPSr before coming! Make this a full day of geocaching!

GPSgames.org is a service for geocachers. All variations of geocaching are provided, as well as several other games utilizing the GPS receiver. I liken GPSgames.org as the geocacher's buffet! Some of the games available on GPSgames.org are Shutterspot, GeoGolf, GeoPoker, GeoVexilla, and others.

If you are a not yet a geocacher, this will be a good opportunity to learn about the hobby. If you are seasoned veteran, you will be surprised at the other games available to you. I look forward to seeing you there!

Look for this lawn sign:

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Are you ready for muggles?

I was in Geitner Park today doing some geocaching. I was looking for a spot to place a new geocache for listing on GPSgames.org. I am planning an event this month and wanted to get another geocache in the park for the attendees.

While searching, I used the opportunity to go after "Hickory Greenway Letterbox"; a geocache I have been meaning to find, but have always put it off. I did find the geocache, but the trail in was pretty difficult. I found an alternative route out. It went up hill all the way, but was easier than the way in.

As I was leaving the woods and entering the paved walk/bike way, I saw a man and his two boys. I took a little break. They noticed I had a GPSr and asked about it. I showed it to them and asked them if they ever heard of geocaching.

They never heard of geocaching, so I took the opportunity to brag about our hobby. Luckily, I was prepared! I carry business cards with my geocaching "handle" and other contact information. It also has my blog's web site address on it. I gave him a card and talked to them about geocaching. I even had the Lock-N-Lock geocache that I was going to hide to show them.

The boys really liked the trading aspect. The father was interested in the GPSr. He asked how much they cost. I explained that the cheaper ones are good for geocaching and will be a good unit to start with.

So be prepared! Have some literature ready for that chance encounter. You may be able to transform that muggle into a geocacher!

"Just Off The Beaten Path"

I just placed a new geocache listed only on GPSgames.org. "Just Off The Beaten Path" is a traditional geocache placed in Geitner Park in Hickory, NC. This geocache was placed in anticipation of an upcoming event.

The geocache container is a camouflaged Lock-N-Lock. Have fun finding it!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

GPS Simulator

There is a now archived geocache where you used an online GPS Simulator to find the geocache! GC55A5 Änglamarken is now gone, but the simulator still remains. You can click on the picture below to give it a test drive.