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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Saturday, November 15, 2008

I got my first Pathtag today!

I got my new Pathtag in the mail today. I am very happy with the results.

I decided to show my interest in GPSgames.org with this Pathtag. If you are not sure what Pathtags are, they are similiar to a geocoin, but smaller and far less expensive. They are the size of a United States quarter.

They differ from geocoins in that they are not trackable on Groundspeak. There is a serial number on the back. This lets you log it at Pathtags.com and add it to your collection.

There is a large group of Pathtag traders. You can offer any Pathtag you have for trade. If accepted, you both will send each other the Pathtags traded.

The cost of a new Pathtag is $99. This includes the making of the stamping die and 50 Pathtags. You can select an number of colors you want. Since the Pathtags are small, you can't get too detailed with the design, but with a little creativity, you can design a very nice Pathtag.

If you are interested in creating a Pathtag, I offer my help in designing it. Just send me a message and I will get all the details and start designing.

Take a tour of Pathtag by watching this YouTube video.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Add additional waypoints to your geocache hide

Did you know that you can add additional waypoints to your geocache listing on Groundspeak?

When you hide a cache you may want to mark certain locations on the way to the cache container. Parking area, trailheads, reference points, questions to answer for a mystery or multi-cache, stages of a multi, and of course the final location.

All can be added to your cache listing and when the GPX file is downloaded, those waypoints will be loaded to your GPSr!

This makes it easier for the geocachers searching for your cache. Update your current hides and when placing new ones, include these useful reference points to help the geocachers searching for your cache!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

CITO Coordinator for NCFG.

The "North Carolina Foothills Geocachers" have been sponsoring and coordinating CITO events in the City of Hickory parks for some time now. The Parrotheads have been shouldering the responsibility since we started. They have done a magnificent job, but decided to turn the reigns over to someone to carry on that responsibility. That someone is me!

CITO (Cache In, Trash Out) is a service provided by geocachers. It is a way of paying back the community for letting us play on their playgrounds. It is a valuable service and is one of the things that define us as geocachers.

CITO not only cleans the environment in which we play, but it also allows us to say why geocaching is a good thing when talking to state and local governments. With the explosion of new geocachers and geocaches, some state and local governments may have to face the reality of restricting some geocaching activity. We have a stronger position when we can say what we do to benefit our area.

The City of Hickory has been very pleased with our efforts in the city parks. In return, we have been given, for the most part, a free hand in using these parks for geocaching. We are important to the city park system! Let's keep it that way.

The Parrotheads have done a great job and I will use their examples along with some other (not better) ideas for trying to keep our group active. After all, geocaching is supposed to be fun!

I am open to any suggestions you may have. You can email me at the link at the top of this blog or call me at 828-394-GPS-1 (4771).

Monday, November 10, 2008

Do you "preserve" or "pilfer" the geocache?

When Dave Ulmer created and placed the first geocache, one of the rules was "take something, leave something". He didn't say so, but it should be implied that when you do trade, you trade equal or better.

I placed a large geocache a little over a year ago. In it I placed about $50 of good, new items. I wanted it to be a very pleasant surprise when they found the "Big Store" of geocache swag. After several months I stopped by to check on the cache and to my surprise the cache had been pilfered. No, everything was not taken, but most of the very good, new items was traded for used McD's toys and plastic army men.

So, I did what any geocache owner would do. I restocked the cache with many new items. Several high quality baseball hats were placed in the cache. Now, these were not the cheap hats, but even if they were, they would be worth $5.00 each!

Another few months went by and I checked on the cache again. PILFERED! I just don't understand it. After examining the logs I surmise the following:

Geocachers are not prepared for trading items. They have their GPSr, camera, cellphone, but not much else. When they arrive at the geocache, they see the nice goodies and decide to "just take one". Also, some geocachers cache in groups. Maybe it is their friends, or maybe children and their friends. When the children see all the goodies, they must have one.

Now understand, I don't blame the children. They are just doing what kids do. The adults are the ones who totally miss a teaching experience. BEFORE going geocaching with the children, the parents/adults should explain to the children what it means to trade fairly. The adults should encourage the children to pick a couple of their own toys that they really like. That way, when they trade, they are trading equal or better. If the adults arrive at the cache with the children and the adult was ill prepared, they should explain to the children what fair trading is and since they didn't bring anything nice to trade, they would have to come back another time when prepared.

But, I think, what really happens is that the privacy of the moment just "excuses" the parents/adults from having to exercise parental responsibility. I know it is difficult to tell a child no, but that's part of parenting! Not teaching a child when not to do something is just doing that child a disservice.

The lesson to learn is that if you go geocaching, be prepared to trade or don't take anything from the geocache. Parents should prepare their children in advance so the geocache is not pilfered. If you find the geocache and are not prepared to trade equal or better, then just sign the log and take nothing.

We all need to take care of the geocaches we visit. Be prepared with trade items, blank logs, paper towels to clean out damp caches, etc. Make sure the experience of the next geocacher is better than yours!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

CarolinaCacher wants YOU to vote!

We often take the right to vote for granted. This right is one that people fought and died to get and protect.

There are many issues today that effect your life and is too important not to make your wishes knows. I don't care who or what propositions you vote for, but I do want you to participate! This right is too precious to just ignore.

Election day is Tuesday, November 4th. If you need to know where to vote, you can visit Vote411.org and locate you local poling place.

I am addicted! My next Pathtag is being minted.

I have ordered my second Pathtag. This can be addicting. If you have to have an addiction, I guess this one is relatively harmless.

Many geocachers know of GSAK (Geocaching Swiss Army Knife). GSAK is a fantastic database manager for all of your pocket queries downloaded from Groundspeak, GPSgames, and Terracaching.

I contacted Clyde at GSAK and he gave his permission to use his logo on my latest Pathtag. I will have a limited supply of these, so I will not be trading them right away.