State Highpoints and Geocaching

Denali_Mt_McKinley


Above is a beautiful summer picture (note the snow line) of Denali, AKA Mount Mckinley, in Alaska. It’s summit, at 20,237 feet above sea level, is the highest point in the State of Alaska (as well as the highest in The United States, and all of North America in it’s case). Because most State Highpoints are Earthcaches (more on that later), Geocachers are much more likely than the general public to have heard of the hobby of Highpointing, in which participants aspire to visit the high points of all 50 United States. You can learn more about Highpointing and join The Highpointers Club by visiting their website or Facebook page.

(more…)

Read More

Sporadically featured OpenCaching Network cache: Der Laputische Gruß

The observant reader might note we’ve had a few Sporadically featured OCNA caches on the blog, but the title of this post references the OpenCaching Network. That is because this strange cache, although it’s posted coordinates are in the USA, is actually listed on sister site www.opencaching.de. We have mentioned in the past that Opencaching.de is by far the world’s second largest Geocaching listing site, and actually has listings in over 40 Countries, mainly placed by German cachers traveling abroad. There are currently 7 caches listed in the United States, including a virtual at Disneyland.

Gulliver and Laputa
19th Century depiction of Gulliver and Laputa

The cache name is in German, of course, and translates to “The Laputian Salute”. Laputa is a floating Island, approximately 4.5 miles in diameter, from the 1726 novel Gulliver’s Travels by Johnathan Swift. (The book is in the public domain, and the link takes you to a free downloads page). The residents of Laputa were gifted in Math, The Sciences and Music. They were a rather strange bunch, but you can read about that yourself, this is a Geocaching Blog, after all! This cache is actually a Locationless Cache, and one with a very strange logging requirement, where you have to figure out what a Laputian Salute is, and render the Salute to the last finder of the cache. You do this by projecting a Waypoint 2 miles and 500 Metres from your home coordinates in the direction of the last finder, going to that location, and rendering the salute, with photo proof, of course. Alternatively, (for privacy reasons, I imagine) you can project the waypoint from the nearest bakery to your home, of all places. Just when you thought this cache and the circumstances behind people finding it couldn’t get any stranger, it does…..

The cache was hidden on December 2, 2005, by OCDE username Laputischer Freiheitskämpfer, which translates to Laputian Freedom Fighters. This cache owner hid only this cache on OpenCaching.de, and found never found any. We can only speculate they were an experienced Geocacher who mainly used Geocaching.com, and posted their cache on OpenCaching.de because Geocaching.com hadn’t allowed locationless caches since early 2003. We mentioned the posted coordinates for the cache, were in the United States. The first cacher has to start somewhere, so the cache owner apparently thought it would be interesting if the first finder rendered the Laputian Salute outside The White House in Washington, D.C.!

The cache sat with no log entries for over 8 months until Batona, a well known user of Alternative Geocaching websites from New Jersey, saw the cache, and apparently rendered the Laputian Salute outside the White House. Google research shows him asking if anyone knew what a Laputian Salute was in a GPSGames.org forum, and being given a link to what it was by another poster to that forum (link is long since gone from the Internet). However, it appears he thought he still had to project a waypoint 2 miles and 500 Metres from home to claim the cache, so he only posted a note, not a find.

Locationless Geocache
DG rendering the salute

Fast forward 6 years to 2012, and the Der Laputische Gruß cache still hadn’t been logged as found. And with good reason, no one knew what a Laputian Salute was. Google was of no help. Batona chose to post his picture of his salute on his personal blog, which was long gone from the internet. The link he was given on the GPSgames.org forum in 2006 was dead, as was the link for “more information on the free republic of Laputa” that you can see on the cache page. By the way, we strongly discourage visiting that link, as the laputa.de domain is expired, and you’ll get pop-up ads in it’s place. Additionally, the cache owner probably hadn’t visited OpenCaching.de since shortly after the cache was listed, and could not be contacted. So along comes OCNA Admin Dudley Grunt, who saw the cache on our OCNA Cache Maps, as caches from other OpenCaching Nodes do show up on our maps. He proceed to “ask around Facebook” (not just amongst Geocachers) if anyone knew what a Laputian salute was. Eventually, he got what he felt was enough of consensus from different people on the matter, and he went out and rendered the salute and claimed FTF on July 27th, 2012. The cache has since been found a total of 4 times.

Certainly not a cache for everyone, as there are a number of cachers out there who don’t like “additional logging requirements” as they’re called. And Locationless caches are ancient history to the overwhelming majority of the Geocaching populace (unless you’re a regular user of fellow alternative Geocaching website Terracaching.com), as all existing ones on Geocaching.com were locked down forever on January 3rd, 2006. But if you’re looking for a unique Geocaching experience, you’ve found it with Der Laputische Gruß! Feel free to sign up for our sister site opencaching.de and give this one a try. Click the British flag at the top of their site for the English version.

Read More

Sporadically featured OCNA Cache: Mt. Elbert Summit


The highest peak in the picture above is Mt. Elbert, located in the San Isablel National Forest, in Lake County, Colorado. Rising to 14,433 feet above sea level, it is the highest peak in the Rocky Mountains, the 2nd highest peak in the 48 contiguous United States (after Mt. Whitney in California, which is less than 100 feet higher), and the 14th highest peak overall in the United States. Obviously, it is also the highpoint of the State of Colorado. Hiking to it’s summit, although very strenuous, and involving a minimum 4,000 foot elevation gain, does not require any special mountaineering or rock climbing skills. Reaching the summit also happens to be a virtual cache on our website, Mt. Elbert Summit, and is our latest Sporadically featured OCNA cache on the blog.

We were very happy that we were able to contact the cache owner, kingbee, and the only two finders to date, kejdad and tripman1. Kingbee joined our website a little over a month after it was launched, and Mt. Elbert Summit is the 312th cache listed on our site. When asked why he made it a Virtual Cache on our website, said because “I enjoy climbing and hiking the mountains in Colorado, Most of the time it is so peaceful, quiet and serene”.

Mount Elbert Trailhead
The Colorado Trail

You’ll notice on the cache page, Kingbee gives the location (but not coordinates) of 3 starting points for the hike. One of them listed as 2WD access, two others as 4WD access. Tripman1 was the latest to try to summit the peak, at least as an OCNA member logging the virtual cache! He made his attempt on August 31st, 2013, starting from the Colorado Trail trailhead, as shown. According to Wikipedia, this route is a 4,100 foot elevation gain. He was more than happy to share the details of his experience with us. “I have enjoyed being able to chose geocaches from several websites and the opportunity to grab two different caches on one difficult climb presented itself over the Labor Day weekend. I had my eye on Mt. Elbert’s Summit (OOU0138) for a while, and another climber was finishing his ascent of all 54 peaks with the Mt. Elbert Climb, so I used this as motivation”.

Tripman heading towards the virtual cache
Going up with Tripman1

He went on to add: “The climb took about 3.5 hours up and 2.5 hours down. At the halfway point around 11,500 feet you pass the treeline and climb the rest of the way on bare rock. I was happy to have remembered sunscreen here. Since this was a holiday weekend there were many other hikers on the trail and if you did happen to run into trouble, you would have plenty of help.  It was just a matter of pace and eventually I was on the summit. There were about 100 to 125 climbers on the summit to celebrate the accomplishments of the climber who had climbed all 54 peaks. The banner in the background commemorates the event and if you look closely you can see all the signatures of the participants. The view from the top is amazing and I really appreciate kingbee placing a virtual here and helping motivate my climb to the top”.

Tripman1 at the top with the banner

View of some Lakes on the way up

Kejdad, another of our users from Colorado, made the ascent a little over 3 years earlier, July 29th, 2010.  He posted a somewhat brief log on our website, but referred us to his log on one of the many peak bagging websites on the internet for some detailed quotable material. He says “WOW! What a hike! I came up to Mt. Elbert with friends, who left me in the dust. I plugged along in the rain, hail and sunshine and finally made it up to the top! My friends got there and it was still raining, so I saw them as they were coming down. I made it to the top and the rain stopped and clouds cleared away and I was blown away by the amazing view! It was definitely worth the hike! I ran into a guy who was roadtripping around the country and happened to be on Mt. Elbert that day.”

kejdad getting very close

He went on to describe his descent: “I made my way back down and ran into a church men’s group from Omaha, all of whom were taking their time getting up there, just like I did. I didn’t use my rain gear going down and made it back to the car in under 4 hours (which all things considered is pretty good for me!) I spent 8 hours total on the mountain. What a great experience. The photos can’t even come close to doing justice what I saw up there.”

kejdad finds the virtual cache
kejdad atop Mt. Elbert

Kejdad has also made a couple Colorado Mountain Summits into Virtual Caches on our website. Another of the 54 “Fourteeners” in Colorado (Mountains with an elevation exceeding 14,000 feet), Mt. Bierstadt, is featured as our OU059D. Additionally, he has made summiting 12,618 foot Lone Cone, in the Southwest corner of the State, a Virtual, our OU01F4.

Great cache, the Mt. Elbert Summit Virtual. We here at the blog would like to thank our three contributors to this post, all of whom are regular users of our site with many finds and hides apiece. (by our standards that is). Inspires you to go out and bag some peaks doesn’t it? Including the Blogger, who would now like to go bag a few Adirondack summits, which he hasn’t done this Century. 🙂

Read More

Sporadically featured cache: OCNA’s oldest cache (sort of) – The Truth Is Out There


We have a very unique cache listing for this installment of the sporadically featured OCNA cache; this cache was originally placed in early March, 2001. Which was less than ten months after Geocaching was invented, and almost ten years before our website was launched! The cache is located in Charlotte, North Carolina, near the campus of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte (parts of which can be seen in the upper right corner of the Google Sat View above). To find out more about this cache, and why it’s so old, you’ll have to read beyond this conveniently placed page break.

The cache in question, named The Truth Is Out There, was archived on Geocaching.com on August 12th, 2002, and never picked up by it’s owner. It is no longer eligible to be listed there, as there are not one, but two Geocaching.com caches within 528 feet of it’s location, as seen here in a nearby caches search. (By the way, we’d like to insert a plug here that we have only a “300 foot rule” on the OCNA website). It was found (more than 10 years after archival), left in place, cleaned up, and listed on our website by TermiteHunter, the 3rd most prolific cache hider on the OCNA website.

The path to the cache (with Blair Witch figures)

We wondered how TermiteHunter even knew about this archived cache, and why he suspected it might still be in the woods. He says “There had been some discussion in our local club, the Greater Charlotte Geocaching Club, (GCGC  Charlottegeocaching.com) about finding old caches from the early days of caching.  We had talked about the style of the Old Guard cachers especially in reference to NC’s oldest cache Octopus Garden and another, Lara’s Tomb.  While perusing the profiles of some of these original cachers in the area, I took note of their archived caches.  The Truth is Out There logs mentioned that the cache was chained to a tree.  There was no mention that it had disappeared or been removed before archival in fact it had been found by accident by another cacher after archival so I set out to find it.” The blogger doesn’t think this is too unusual, seeing as similar situations have been discussed on his own local forums. For example, many of us in my area speculate that The world’s 62nd placed cache, which is in our area, was never removed after archival. And I’m sure such conversations have taken place on local Geocaching forums all over the world.

This story gets even better though. Although The Truth Is Out There was originally placed as a traditional cache, it was adopted out to another cacher in January, 2002, and was changed to a multi cache, and the first leg was nowhere to be found! Says Termite Hunter “I thought that the cache may not be all that far from the starting point but all I had to go on was that it was chained to a tree.  I searched the area trees expecting that I could avoid the nearby path and low lands subject to flooding.  I spotted it from some distance away.  It was a thrill like finding my first cache.  This thing had been abandoned for years waiting to be found again.  I came prepared to clean it out if I should find it.  The cache is a tool box with a tray inside.  The contents of the tray were mostly ruined by ants that had made it their home and the bottom of the box was full of water and rotted goo.  I cleared it out and placed my new items and log in the tray.  I managed to salvage several old City of  Charlotte token coins that were around during the caches’ heyday.  I kept a few and gave a couple away when telling my story to Geofriends.”

The Cache (with more special effects)

The Blog has received permission from Geocaching.com username adventuretom to use the previous photo, and the one to the right for this post. Obviously, he’s fluent with photoshop, and there’s a Blair Witch Project thing going on, both in his find log photos, and on the original cache page. We didn’t ask. But as we said, Termite Hunter went out ten years and two months after the archival date and found this cache, cleaned it up, obtained coordinates, and decided to list it on OCNA with the same name, The Truth Is Out There. He tells us “I Joined Opencaching.us right after DudleyGrunt posted about it on the GCGC forum. I quickly went out and hid several caches on the site at my favorite park and have promoted OCus, now OCNA, at every opportunity. After finding The Truth is Out There I knew exactly where I would be listing it, hoping that giving others the chance to find such an old cache would be another way to promote OCNA.  The decision was really made for me since newer caches now occupied the .1 mile area around the cache and there was no way to move it being chained to a tree preventing submission of a new listing with Geocaching.com.”

It is important to note, that Termite Hunter posted a note on the original Geocaching.com listing saying the cache is still there and being cared for, and if the owner wants it back, he can reclaim it at any time. We at the Blog think this is a pretty darn good idea, reusing an abandoned container sitting out in the woods, what has become known in the Geocaching community as “Geotrash”; an abandoned container that has not been removed. We don’t see how anyone could have a problem with it. If you are a long time user of one of the alternative Geocaching websites, such as Terracaching.com here in the U.S., I’ll bet you’ve seen this happen before. If you have, feel free to comment on this post, we’re always looking for comments here at the OCNA Blog. Or you could even comment on our new Desert scene banner. Congratulations to Termite Hunter for being the owner (sort of) of the 3rd sporadically featured OCNA Cache. Great job!

Read More

Sporadically featured OpenCachingNA Cache: Ohio’s First Dead drop!!!

Xenia Station, hub for 5 bike trails

As mentioned in the last post, the Blogger recently went on a little Road Trip to the great State of Ohio, where he attended Midwest Geobash 2013 in Wauseon, Ohio. That was not the focus of his trip, however, and he spent only about 2.5 hours at the event, and most of that finding caches and capturing Munzees. Zero of which, for either game I might add, were very challenging! After the event, the Blogger, and his two traveling companions (his 13 yr. old son and 14 yr. old nephew), headed 3 hours south to the greater Dayton, Ohio area, for a two day stay at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, where he hoped to find some of the 16 Opencaching.us listings in the greater Dayton area, with a focus on Ohio’s First Dead Drop!!!, the sporadically featured cache.

Little Miami Scenic Trail, one of the five

 The Dead Drop Cache is located in The City of Xenia, Ohio (ZeeNeeUh), 12 miles SE of Downtown Dayton, and very near Xenia Station (pictured in the paragraph above), a hub for five bike trails. The building is a replica of the City’s 1880’s Rail Station, not original, but is very nice, and has a lookout tower you can visit. Shown to the right is one of the five trails, The Little Miami Scenic Trail, with a bridge over Shawnee Creek. The City of Xenia touts itself as “The Bicycle Capital of the Midwest”. The slogan is even on one of the water towers in town, which I later visited for an Opencaching.us listed cache. You can read about the five trails on the Xenia Station wikipedia page.

Required caching equipment

 Some of you may have read this far, and are still wondering “what the heck is a Dead Drop?” They are probably more commonly known as a USB Dead Drop, and they are computer USB Flash Drives hidden (sometimes in plain site) in public. We at OpenCaching North America have only adapted the concept to Geocaching; the world-wide peer to peer file sharing network was invented by German Media Artist Aram Bartholl in October, 2010, and he maintains the official website. The concept of public USB Dead Drops is not without controversy though; anyone can intentionally or unintentionally infect the flash drive with Malware such as a trojan horse or keylogger, for example. The flash drive itself could become corroded from the elements, and short out your USB port. We at OCNA feel our Dead Drop caches are much safer then the public Dead Drops, at least from the standpoint of receiving Viruses or Malware, as the drive will typically only contain two text files, a “readme” file, and the log. This is outlined in the article on that cache type in our OC Wiki

The readme.txt file on the flash drive

Ohio’s First Dead Drop!!! was placed on September 1st, 2012 by username Bernoulli on our website (Bernoulli and family on Geocaching.com). We asked him how he first heard about our website, and what he liked about it. Of course he couldn’t remember exactly where and how he heard about it, but he had a lot to say about what he likes about the unique cache types available on our website:I spend a lot of time outdoors in the woods and on the rivers but I also have a young family who is into everything so I get busy and can usually just work it in when I can.  That’s where virtuals and other cache types come in – I love taking the family to interesting places that others should see but I can’t always place a physical cache there because of restrictions, as there should be.  Both the Hocking Hills Region of Ohio as well as the Red River Gorge of Kentucky fall into that category and Earth Caches are OK but it’s hard to get confirmation that someone was there.  You can’t require a photo anymore with EC’s and there is no option for some sort of required code to prove you were there.  With the “numbers mentality” of many cachers, it wouldn’t be too hard to fudge a log to some of those EC’s and I hate having to delete logs.  With OCUS virtuals, I can require a picture and a confirmation code that can only come from being there.  Caching is about the journey anyway, so virtuals make perfect sense”. We agree! Did you know that about 97% of Geocaching.com accounts were created after they stopped accepting virtual caches? We are happy to allow this cache type, and, contrary to popular belief, we rarely, if ever, receive any “lame ones”.

The Blogger’s find log; ignore the fact he forgot to date it

Well, the Blogger and his traveling companions arrived on site at Xenia Station, and found the cache relatively quickly. We would say we consulted the hint, but the “hint” was pretty much on the cache page in plain text. We did sort of need it, the USB Flash Drive was extremely well-hidden to the casual passer-by, and we did have some difficulty locating it before consulting the cache page on the GPS! On the left, you see the Blogger’s find log on the computer screen. Complete with a reflection of him taking the picture of it, in the 9:30 or so AM sun. It almost looks like it’s supposed to be the background image on the computer, doesn’t it? P.S., ignore the fact that he forgot to date it. :-). 

An excellent cache, in an excellent location, near the hub of five bike trails. And a unique cache type, which is only available on Opencaching North America. How could you possibly go wrong here? Thanks to Bernoulli for placing the cache, and congratulations for being the second Sporadically featured OpenCachingNA Cache on the Blog. 

Read More

Sporadically featured OpenCachingNA Cache: A Virtual Made in the Mist

Welcome to the first “Sporadically featured OCNA Cache”, a feature promised in the very first blog post. Above is a picture of Niagara Falls, more specifically, the American Falls, as taken by the blog author from the Maid of The Mist tour boat. If you’ve never been to Niagara Falls, you can read about the three waterfalls collectively known as Niagara Falls on Wikipedia. The task of visiting Niagara Falls from below, which can be accomplished only through one of four “paid” access options, is the object of the Virtual Cache A Virtual Made in the Mist, created on July 6th, 2011, by Opencaching North America Admin DudleyGrunt.

Editors note: Like virtually (pun intended) all the “alternative” Geocaching websites, we at Opencaching North America list Virtual caches. But we always like to add the disclaimer that you should review the section on them in our terms of use first.

(more…)

Read More