There comes a time for most, if not all, geocachers when thoughts turn towards hiding your own cache out there for others to find. For me these thoughts started even before we had found our first geocache. The idea of being the hider as well as the seeker is very appealing and sets my creative brain a-fizzing. Shortly after we started playing the game I was reading anything and everything I could find on the internet about geocaching and in the process found a number of articles and opinions about when is the right time to hide your first cache. The general consensus was that you should not rush into it. The experience you gain from finding caches is invaluable when it comes to placing your own hide. As you start to find caches you learn to identify what you like and what you don’t like when it comes to containers. You also gain valuable insight into what makes a good hiding place and more importantly what does not. So I waited… I thought a lot, and I found myself tweaking my thoughts as I went along and gained more knowledge about the game and the sorts of things other geocachers like and don’t like about hides. When we hit the 100 mark I decided it was time to start seriously thinking and planning what to do.
There are many approaches, I am sure, when it comes to hiding. Some people treat each hide as a separate entity and put them together with varying degrees of thought or care it seems, whereas other invest a lot of time and thought into the planning, placement and delivery of single or collections of caches. Both methods are a valid strategy I suppose for the continuance of the game and both have their advantages and disadvantages. Anyone that knows me can pretty much guess which side of the fence I fall on… that’s right I opt for the planning and care and detailed approach. As much as I am itching to get my own little Tupperware box out there for others to find, I also want the experience to be well rounded and have a little more purpose for the geocachers than just plucking a 35mm film pot out from behind a lamp post. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with your 35mm film pot cache but I personally want to add as much value as I can to any caches I place out there.
So what is my philosophy when it comes to my first hide? I want to achieve the following…
1. To place a cache that had a puzzle element to it but not too difficult. I love puzzles and have ideas for devious and tricky ones but that will come later I think.
2. To create a theme to the cache that could be continued and developed into a series in the future if all goes well. Our most enjoyable geocaching days have often been whilst completing a series with the added promise of a bonus cache at the end.
3. To place the first caches close to home to make maintenance of them simple.
4. To place containers that are as large as possible into the available environment. I want to encourage people to leave swaps and trackables in my caches. These are the things that encourage and excite kids and they are the future generation of cachers that will grow up and carry the game on, so we need to keep them interested.
In the last couple of months I have spent a lot of time thinking and planning and it has surprised me as to how much thought and preparation goes into placing a good geocache. I have had lot of questions that I have had to research and find answers for and as we speak I am still a little way off actually putting one out there but there are more answers and less questions buzzing around in my head now.
So what is my idea? Well here it is… and if you are a fellow geocacher in the local area don’t get too excited, whilst I will be telling you about my concept you won’t get any specific spoilers that will enable you to find any of the caches. Lol sorry I plan to create a small series of caches called Street Name Scramble. The plan is to have 9 caches in this series and for those to contain clues to enable a tenth or bonus cache to be located too. Being my first hide I was worried about placing a whole series and making lots of rookie errors so I have decided to dribble out the hides gradually so that I can tweak the concept as I go if I need. Each cache in the series will be a puzzle cache and have as its title an anagram of a street name. In order to find the cache you need to solve the anagram and then travel to the street to find clues to obtain the final coordinates. For example you might have an anagram such as “O NOT A TARDIS” which if you unscramble it will give you Station Road. Because the published coordinates will be within a limited distance from the final as per the guidelines you will be able to use a map to help you decipher the anagram based on the roads close to the published cordinates. Once in the correct road you will have to find pieces of information as detailed in the cache listing. For example counting lamp posts or reading numbers from Hydrant markers and signs etc. With this information you can then assemble the coordinates to the final cache which will either be somewhere in the actual road or very close by.
Whilst these hides will be in relatively urban areas I want as much as possible to place decent sized containers in well thought out places. It is my goal to either make the containers smalls and where I can’t then to make it a particularly cunning hide using a micro or nano container.
So that’s the basic principle of the thing and I have already scouted out half a dozen possible locations and taken some GPS readings and assembled some anagrams. There is much to think about and much to do when putting something like this together and I will hopefully talk about some of the more interesting aspects of assembling and placing caches in future entries.