Register | Login
Attackpoint - performance and training tools for orienteering athletes

Discussion: Geocache orienteering?

in: Orienteering; General

Nov 11, 2019 2:58 PM # 
I was just thinking, couldn't geocaches in parks be used kind of like a Permanent Course? Are there any rules that could speak against going out and participating in geocaching, but with an orienteering map instead?
There are parks that now have a policy "... for the planning and management of natural resources allows no more than 20 percent of a park reserve to be developed for active use and requires that at least 80 percent of the park reserve be restored to and retained in a natural state..." which makes the created O maps useless, ore useless for regular orienteering.
But it would still be kind of a great opportunity for beginner level and cross-promotion of orienteering.
I have used this for training, where the kids were not allowed to go off trails, but could visit the geocaches - so the exercise was to use the GPS to get to the geocaches, but use the map to draw how they went to the cache and then mark the location of the cache with a control circle on the map.
Nov 11, 2019 3:30 PM # 
I "teach" geocaching to groups of girl scouts frequently. I have about six GPS units / phones they can use and the rest get orienteering maps with the cache locations marked.

The level of detail on the maps overwhelms 90% of them and they give up.
Nov 11, 2019 3:32 PM # 
Not just the scouts - the leaders (male or female) usually don't give the maps much of a chance
Nov 11, 2019 3:47 PM # 
Some of our parks also have the "80% natural" policy, but still allow horse and/or mountain bike trails through those areas, deer hunting (under the guise of "culling', but they let public hunters in by lottery), and so far at least allow orienteering through those areas. So the 80% natural isn't necessarily going to block orienteering - depends on the local managers.
Nov 11, 2019 3:53 PM # 
Geocaching appeals to many because of the gadget and lack of need for map reading, and the potential for searching for something hidden. (BTW, I'm less than thrilled by geocaching for exactly those reasons. To each his own.) That said, I think you're on to something, Andrea.

I think it's sad that people just want to use technology to get them where they want to go. I hope when you're teaching them you emphasize loss of power/batteries/signals and the need to understand maps.

The "level of detail" on a map should probably be addressed one color at a time.

I had to learn by repetition and adding skills to my repertoire. A series of trainings might be better than trying to address everything needed in one session.
Nov 11, 2019 4:15 PM # 
This concept (geocaching with a map instead of a GPS) predates GPS. Particularly popular in the UK under the name "letterboxing".

In fact, a US orienteer wrote a book about it.

And there's a website:
Nov 11, 2019 4:26 PM # 
I am really looking at it from a point of being able to use maps we have, but are no longer allowed to use them for orienteering. In these parks, caches are located within 25 ft. of the center line of the trail, and are thus often kind of controls on a White course. One could only put the important handrail features into the legend of the map that one makes available.
Yes, the hidden caches and the fact geocachers use technology to get them somewhere is precisely I do not do geocaching, other than the reverse engineering so that I can use it for an orienteering map training.
When I teach orienteering I actually have about 15-10 minutes going through an interactive discussion on how the gadgets can get them lost even if they have perfect batteries. Influences from speaking with an accent and Siri not understanding, typing the wrong address, not being able to type in words in Chinese if in China, etc. When having multiple targets, the phone/GPS will not decide the order for you, you still need to make that decision (e.g. Meals-on-Wheels, the food is cold by the time you entered all addresses into your phone and then realizing that route is criss-cross through town, etc.) It is often the part of the session teachers appreciate most.
When I learned O as a young kid, we learned with regular O maps, but had a limited legend and focused only on those things. And then the legend grew bigger after that.
With the geocache-O one would have to create an added list with the geocache info, but that should not be a big deal. I mean, especially if someone asks: do you have a PC at.... Park, one could always say, no, but you can still enjoy pseudo-Orienteering with.... Who knows, it may actually catch on if geocachers then encounter orienteers with maps at the geocaches :)
Nov 11, 2019 4:33 PM # 
@jjcote - geocache+letterboxing pseudo-O :)
Nov 11, 2019 11:41 PM # 
The fact that geocaches are tiny and hidden, IMO, would preclude using them as orienteering controls.
Nov 12, 2019 12:44 AM # 
Chuckle. As far as our scouts know, geocaching requires an orienteering-style map...can't imagine where they might have gotten that impression.

Why not, Andrea?
Nov 12, 2019 1:00 AM # 
I am thinking along the same lines. Currently trying to introduce Orienteering to a ski club. Orienteering not catching up after 2 classic events and many Rogaines. Was thinking about Geocaching for the next summer season, but with a map, and control descriptions. Will do it from easy to well off-trail so the map will be very handy, with all its details. My today's question: would it be covered by any insurance? How does it work with Geocaching?
Nov 12, 2019 1:26 AM # 
@snail: I thought VSC was well on-board with O...
Nov 12, 2019 1:33 AM # 
My limited experience with Geocaching brought the realization that certain orienteering skills I had acquired were valuable to finding a cache. Those skills were interpreting a skanky map and finding misplaced controls.
Nov 12, 2019 2:55 AM # 
Hi Guy, they encourage but hardly take part.
Nov 12, 2019 3:40 AM # 
LOL Geoman. Not to mention the non-orienteering skill of having to solve a ridiculously obscure puzzle to actually find the cache, once you have reached the "control circle".

I wonder how strong the correlation is between enjoying orienteering and enjoying geocaching, or if there is even any positive correlation at all. Not as much as a lot of orienteers would like to believe, I suspect.
Nov 12, 2019 5:25 AM # 
There's a tendency by some followers of organised religion, to preach that there's only one true way. Don't know what made me think of that.
Nov 12, 2019 10:46 AM # 
Orienteering IS like geocaching (and Pokemon-go) except it is the person and not the box that does the navigating.
Nov 12, 2019 12:42 PM # 
@Snail, you could confirm with Orienteering Canada but I don’t think there would be any insurance issue. They’ve covered many events that are variations on the theme of orienteering. When you’re working with a group like a ski club, a school or Scouts, they may use their insurance instead.
Nov 12, 2019 2:20 PM # 
an epic multi-stage geocache was placed in Raccoon Creek state park with park's permission and sponsorship, with a route that circum-navigated the entire park, estimated distance at about 30 km. It is now archived.

In that project, each stage cache had paper fliers and even maps, describing history of the location (a former farm, a quarry, a natural feature).

btw, finding this cache was what triggered the idea of creating Raccoongaine.
Nov 12, 2019 2:45 PM # 
I've long wanted to create some multi-stage or mystery caches that involved a park-O map for the final cache location. E.g., find the first cache, and in the first cache there is a map snippet of a park in the same city, with a circle (or x marks the spot) for the final cache location. First you'd have to figure out which park it is, then use the map to find the final cache.

I'm sure I'm not the only active orienteer who enjoys geocaching. Though they obviously function very differently they have some similar appeals - namely that both activities can bring you to some place you never would have gone otherwise, and you might learn something in the process.
Nov 12, 2019 3:05 PM # 
I've long wanted to create some multi-stage or mystery caches that involved a park-O map for the final cache location. E.g., find the first cache, and in the first cache there is a map snippet

Lots of fun designing multi-stage posted-map-to-next-posted-map courses. Do it !!

using USGS topo maps

using O maps

in an urban landscape
Nov 12, 2019 11:38 PM # 
Pink Socks:
Has anyone flipped this?

As in, put existing permanent orienteering controls in geocaching databases and link the maps?

Since the controls are already in the field and the maps already made, it seems like this could be an easy way to cross-pollinate into the geocaching community (and easily see how the orienteering controls are received by the community by reading the cache visit logs).
Nov 12, 2019 11:57 PM # 
@Pink Socks - interesting idea. Problem is the amount of work one would have for every single little control to obey the geocaching community's guidelines/rules , especially checking whether there are is no real geocache already hidden within 160 m
Nov 13, 2019 1:40 AM # 
I didn't see anything in those guidelines that would preclude using an existing permanent control, which met the spacing requirements, as a geocache. It would probably have to be a 4x4 post, so the cache could be placed inside it.

Perhaps a series of (W/Y) controls could be used as waypoints (unless my understanding of them is incorrect).
Nov 13, 2019 2:08 AM # 
Wouldn't have to be a 4x4 post, a cache can be basically any size and does not actually have to be a container.
Nov 13, 2019 2:36 AM # 
From time to time while setting orienteering courses or mapping, I stumble across a cache, and I put a map and brochure inside. I know of at least one response who discovered orienteering that way.

This discussion thread is closed.