This is something that I’ve wanted to speak on for a while but kept putting off as just being whiny and not necessary to voice. Well, I can’t hold my tongue (or should I say fingers) any longer. This is something that annoys the crap out of me and I want my voice to be added to the countless thousands who have no less also made the same proclamation.
I HATE MUGGLED CACHES
I couldn’t have made that any more blunt. This past weekend, I had a chance to grab a few caches while out and about. So I opened the Geocaching app and did a search of nearby caches. I also had a puzzle cache I had solved back in November that I wanted to wait for better weather before attempting. The area where the cache was hidden has quite a few caches that normally don’t come up in my PQs (pocket queries) because I set the parameters to only return caches that have been found in the last seven days. Call me a wimp, but like to know that what I’m attempting to spend a chunk of my time on (and sometimes skin, hair, and clothing depending on the terrain difficulty and the amount of briers and shrubbery I have to stomp through) is not for naught. So I decided I might as well try to knock out a few of these.
I headed to the GZ for the puzzle cache that I have verified using the GeoChecker site that they linked on the cache page, so I know the coordinates are correct. However, after about 20 minutes of clearing dead leaves and underbrush, as well as tending to a couple scrapes and cuts, I turned up no cache. Now, the thing about these Puzzle/Mystery Caches (for those who either haven’t been playing very long, haven’t played at all, or don’t do anything other than traditionals) is that you aren’t given the coordinates to the cache. You actually have to solve a puzzle, ranging from solving a very easy cipher all the way to an extensive, exhaustive series of puzzles that usually require a huge grasp for puzzle-solving, logic, and sometimes plain old trial-and-error tactics. Once you’ve figured out the puzzle, it provides you the coordinates to the final GZ where it is located. So this means you have to be a Geocacher to come up with the coordinates and find the cache. Either that, or you watch someone go to the coordinates and then follow shortly thereafter. This is sometimes how a cache is muggled. Most of the time it is someone happening upon it and thinking it weird to find a tupperware container out in the middle of nowhere with a bunch of what they perceive to be crap stuffed inside. They will then take it and throw it away. And yet there is still a small minority of Geocachers who, for whatever reason, have gone rogue and have decided to be anti-cachers and are systematically destroying caches they find.
I’m not sure which of these instances occurred, but what I do know is that it happened within the last 5 months because the last find was in December. After that, nothing. No DNFs, Needs Maintenance, or Needs Archived logs. Aggravated, I move onto the closest cache. This one was last found in early April and the log was wet, so I was a little worried what I’d find. Imagine my surprise when, after another 15 minutes of looking I came up with nothing. The same happened at the next cache I looked for as well. Last find was in March. Surely they couldn’t all have gone missing in the past several days and no one attempted to find them in that short window of time. Which brings me to my next big pet peeve.
LOG YOUR DNFs JERKS
I understand that there is something undesirable about having a frown face on your profile. It’s ugly and means that you were unsuccessful. But that doesn’t mean that it’s not valuable information to others. Without a DNF, I, and I’m sure others, were unaware that this is potentially missing. I know it can be embarrassing to be the first person to state they can’t find something when the last 50 had no problems. That’s when you put out a Needs Maintenance log. Chances are the cache has gone missing and needs to be replaced. It’s the cache-owner’s responsibility to make sure the cache is available to find and in good shape…unfortunately they can’t do this if they have no clue something is wrong. The CO is notified whenever someone logs any activity on their cache, be it a Note, Found, DNF, Needs Maintenance, or Needs Archived log. Unless the CO is no longer active with Geocaching.com, they will receive the notification via email and will then be put to task to resolve the issue, if necessary. After a period of time (usually 3 months), the reviewer(s) responsible for the area the cache is hidden in will make a comment on the cache page if nothing’s been done, letting them know that if they don’t respond or replace the cache, that it will be archived. They are very good at this, but it can’t be done if everyone isn’t doing their part.
In the end, I logged DNFs on all of them but I made sure to put in a Needs Maintenance log for the Puzzle Cache. I then added the cache to my Watch list so I would receive notification as soon as it is responded to. Already I have received an email stating that the owner has verified the cache is gone and is working on replacing it within the next 2 weeks. See….that’s all it takes, people.