The year 2010 was interesting for me in regard to geocaching. When looking at just numbers and things like that, I took a step backward with the game. I had set many goals, which I didn’t reach each one. I’ll discuss that further later in this post.
Overall, however, I had a good year in geocaching.
In the three years that I’ve caches, this was, by far, the year with the fewest finds.
But, I added a new country (Ireland) and several new states. I finally got to cache in Maine, which was an absolute blast. States also added in 2010 were Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and Rhode Island.
Looking back at the goals
Let’s take a peek at my top 10 goals in regard to geocaching for 2010. I reached six of the 10 that I had set: Reach 2,000 finds; add at least 3-4 more states to my total; add another country; place 4-5 more caches; host 2-3 events; take more photos while caching.
The 2,000th find was in July during my trip to Ireland at Europe’s first geocache, which was really cool for celebrating a milestone. I easily got the 3-4 states as I added five new ones (I’m not including Missouri, which has been given to me because I have found a moving cache. Eventually that state will disappear.) Adding another country was also a given as I had been planning the trip to Ireland.
I placed five new caches this year (not including events) and hosted three events, so those were completed. And with my 365 project, I definitely took more photos — to and from and during — geocaching days.
So what didn’t I complete?
Reach 2,500 finds. Unfortunately, I didn’t cache as much or as often in the past, so I didn’t reach this milestone. I ended the year with 2,207 total finds.
Do a 5/5 cache. I didn’t get out to do one of these, but I still have 2 or 3 on my radar and intend on doing them in 2011.
Hike a minimum 5 miles roundtrip to get a cache. See above. I’ll do it soon enough!
Finish the New York DeLorme and County challenges. These bother me as I’m not too far from finishing either of them. However, I do have to do some traveling. They will, again, be on my 2011 list.
4. Finish the New York DeLorme and County challenges.
Looking back at the numbers
I found 491 caches in 2010.
That doesn’t compare to the 1,030 I found in 2009 or the 686 I found in 2008 (my first year, when I didn’t start until March 1).
But I had many other things going on. I was teaching on the side at a local college, which took away a few days I used to go with one caching pal. I discovered disc golf, I got more into my photography and I started going after more quality caches.
While I used to plan caching days to find 20-40 (knowing we’d likely only find 15-30 of them), I started looking at better caches. More fun. More in-depth. A tough puzzle. Some multis. A longer hike. Something to do it a little different.
And those 15-hour caching days? Yeah, not so much anymore.
The game for me has evolved. I still love it, but I’ve realized a lot of things on a personal level and on a game level. Everyone plays the game differently. Everyone acts and reacts to different things in different ways. I’m fine with that and I’ve seen some things this year that have turned me away from the game a little at times. When certain things happen, you’re left scratching your head and wondering what happened. In the end, you shrug and move on. It’s a game. I’m not going to let it run my life as some will. That’s why I’m happy I’ve found some other hobbies and such to keep my mind challenged.
Looking back at the game
Oh how geocaching has evolved in the past 12 months.
When I first started, I think it was when it was first really getting momentum to being a mainstream game. I can’t say I remember the “old days,” but when I started, I got a good mixture.
In the past year or two, the game has exploded in popularity. That can be a good thing and a bad thing. It’s good because more people are involved. It’s an outdoor activity that kids can do with their parents and anyone else can do. I’ve seen people from infants to senior citizens out playing the game and that’s great.
But with a boom in popularity comes the norm — pettiness. It’s not that I can’t say I haven’t gotten involved in some petty issues with geocaching. I have. But I feel in the past 12 months, I’ve split myself from these things. I don’t have the patience anymore to deal with such things, and, I don’t think my stress level or health cares to deal with it. So when the petty things come up (whether it be a rush for an FTF, a spot to place a cache, worrying about DNFs or anything else), I just shrug and move on. I smile a lot more when I cache now, which is good. It’s supposed to be fun. When it becomes too much like a job or a competition, I step back. I compete in softball and disc golf (and even then, only to a certain extent) — I don’t need to do it in caching. I had been there for a while, which I can’t deny, but anymore, it’s fun just to go out for a stroll and find these hidden treasures.
People, too, change. I’ve seen it personally as well as talking to other cachers I know from different areas. People with whom you cache change. Whether it’s a disagreement, philosophy or just regular changing, it seems people grow apart in this game.
I spoke with someone recently who was telling me of their situation — where someone basically tried a smear campaign on them. Over geocaching!I’ve experienced splits in this game, but hopefully never to this extent!
But what this person told me had been done? If it ever got like that with geocaching for me, I’d hang up my GPS and stop playing because at that point, the game has gone too far and becomes a personal attack — something it shouldn’t be. I wish I could elaborate further, but it’s not my place. All I can say is when I was told this story, my jaw was nearly on the ground.
The old adage is “it is what it is.” Though that statement often makes people say “huh?” I live by it as my mantra of “Ah well, it’s life.” People grow apart. A game evolves. Different things happen. You go with the flow. I think I did that well for the final six months or so of 2010. I plan to keep it up in 2011.
I still love the game of geocaching. It’s a great way to get outside, explore and have a purpose hiking around in the woods. I’d like to find some high-quality caches this year and start diving into figuring out several tough puzzle caches (especially in the Ithaca area). I want to switch the experience a little bit to not be so much about the numbers, but about the experience. Don’t get me wrong — if I’m traveling somewhere, I’d like to have a small list of 10-12 park-and-grabs or small hikes that I can get to end a day with, but I want to make sure there are 3-4 solid caches on the list to know I’ve experienced something cool.
For example, I’d like to find more multi-caches, puzzles and Earthcaches. I think it lends to the experience. I also don’t know where life will take me in 2011. I’m looking at different things with my world and that could mean eventual big changes. It could also mean nothing.
So what kind of things am I hoping for, geocaching-wise, in 2011? I’ll have my fill list of “goals” in the next week or so, but some things will include the following:
- Reaching 100 multi-cache finds
- The 5-mile hike for one cache
- New York DeLorme and County Challenges to be completed
- Attend two mega events (which I should be able to do, pending time and all)
- Place one in-depth puzzle/multi cache that requires the cacher to do the majority of the work in the field.
I’m hoping I can do some mixing and matching of geocaching and disc golf. Two of the people I disc golf with cache some, so it shouldn’t be too hard to mix the two — once the days get longer with light! There’s one other disc golfer I met who also caches and I hope to get up to his home course sometime to play a round and also find some caches.
And though I am not doing Round 2 of the 365, I’ll be taking photos along the way as well.
In the end, caching will be fun — as it’s always been. I just won’t be putting any pressure on myself. Go with the flow, smile and find the little boxes in the woods. It’s a good way to spend a day!