Since we started caching back in 2013, Groundspeak, the company responsible for geocaching.com, have come up with some form of initiative each summer to try and keep people’s interest in geocaching alive. So far, we haven’t needed any such challenges to rekindle our interest in caching, we remain as enthusiastic about it as we were back in 2013, but it is always fun to build in another challenge or dimension into the hobby with the added bonus of earning some attractive digital souvenirs for our profiles. The aesthetic nature of the souvenirs are, obviously, lost on me but the prospect of “collecting a set” of anything appeals to me on a primal geek level.
In 2013 Groundspeak’s challenge was to try and collect a cache every day for the month of August. This didn’t really do it for a lot of people. Newbies like us just got frustrated and argued about “having” to go out every day and old hands who had cleared out all the caches in their local area got pissed off because they had to travel miles each day to try and get a smiley. In the end we managed to find caches on just over half of the 31 days with 12 being our longest streak during that time. It is telling that we have never improved on this figured for number of consecutive days cached… and I am not sure we ever will.
Last year, they came up with the Seven Souvenirs of August or SOFAs as they became known. This involved finding 6 distinctly different cache types with a bonus 7th souvenir if you got all of them. You can read my Seven Souvenirs of August articles here. This worked a lot better but was seen to be a bit easy for experienced cachers. It was still a vast improvement on 2013’s challenge though and this is no doubt why that when the 2015 challenge was launched, it had elements of the SOFA about it.
The 2015 Road Trip challenged geocachers to find just 5 caches with the promise of receiving a “Road Trip Hero” bonus for finding all of them. The challenges were set out over a couple of months and were a combination of cache types, e.g. event, mystery, earthcache, but with a couple of more interesting tasks thrown in. One of these was to find a cache with more than 10 favourite points and another was to find a cache with either a D5 difficulty rating or a T5 terrain rating. This last Challenge was obviously in response to comments about last year’s SOFAs being a bit easy.
So how did we get on?
Our first one was the favourites challenge which we found almost without trying. 10 favourite points really isn’t that much and it might have been more interesting to increase that to 20 or even higher. We managed to collect the souvenir whilst doing one of our Chiltern Hundred caching days back in June, see Raindrops on Roses and Whiskers on Kittens. The cache in question was a drsoly puzzle cache about arithmetic and I think it had earned its favourite points from both the cunning puzzle and the clever container. According to geocaching.com I was geocacher #56,547 of 463,297 to earn this souvenir. Interesting that they should include how many people have completed the challenge. This figure quoted here is accurate at the time of writing as I notice it is still going up slowly as people catch up with their logging. Even though the challenges ended on September 2nd it obviously allows for people who log late. I also find it interesting that only half a million people achieved this challenge. There are reported to be over 10 million registered caches worldwide and this challenge could be easily completed without even trying.
The next one for us was the souvenir for attending an event. We had quite a few to choose from in this regard and we were very lucky that the monthly meet-up of the BBH geocachers happened to be very close to Watford in July. We attended the event hosted by our friends Greg and Louise and you can read about that at An EVENTful evening. Groundspeak is always keen to push the social possibilities of geocaching so it was almost guaranteed that an event was going to be included in the challenge. We were 32,558th of 80,042 to get this one. That is a staggering figure! I thought the above half a million figure was low, but only 80,000 people managed this one. I guess attending events really is not an easy thing for a lot of cachers. I can see how a lot of people are drawn to caching because it doesn’t involve the complexity of having to form friendships or otherwise interact with strangers but I am still shocked that worldwide the figure is still so low. Especially considering that during the summer months there were a number of MEGA and even a GIGA event around the globe.
Our next souvenir was arguably the hardest for most cachers to get but we got lucky with our timing on this one. Finding either a D5 or T5 cache is quite often beyond the reach of a lot of people, not because of their abilities but because most people are happy to sticky with the easy caches. Our 6 month project of finding all the Chiltern Hundred caches left us with a perfect opportunity to collect a cache that had both a D5 and a T5 rating. The Chiltern Hundred Bonus cache is rated 5/5 because of the complexity of the task in actually collecting enough information to be able to find it. The cache itself is a relatively easy find in a patch of woodland but the work needed in order to get the coordinates is somewhat harder. You can read about how we collected this souvenir at Chiltern Hundred – The last Leg. We were 12,551 of 91,718 to get this one and that highlights an even more staggering statistic. More people got a D5 or T5 cache than attended an event!!
Keen to affirm their eco friendliness Groundspeak included a challenge to find either an earthcache or attend a Cache In, Trash Out (CITO) event. We went for the earthcache which you can read about at Swallow holes and improvised Techno. There are far less earthcaches and CITO events going on than most other cache types and this explains why only just under 90,000 people managed to get this souvenir. We ranked around 35,000th for this one.
It took us until the end of August to get the last souvenir which was for finding a mystery cache. There was never going to be a problem getting this one as there as so many puzzle caches around us and I have solved a lot of them but not gone searching for the containers yet, so it was just a matter of choosing one. As it turned out we were able to pick up 2 when we went out with Geoff and Melissa on our PugWash adventure to Cowley, Flying Low in Cowley. Over 110,000 managed to get this souvenir and as we left it quite close to the 2nd September deadline we only ranked 102,118 for this one.
For completing all the challenges we were branded a “Road Trip Hero” and received our bonus souvenir on 30th September. Only just over 51,000 people worldwide managed to get this souvenir and we were 45,433rd to do so. YAY us. All in all the challenge this year has been a lot of fun. It has been both challenging and achievable which for us is what it should be. I wonder what they will come up with next year?
How did you get on with the 2015 Road Trip challenge?