Boy, nobody was more surprised than me when I happened to notice a mystery cache smack dab in the middle of Raleigh had sat there for two days and no logged FTF. So taking a slightly altered route towards home I stopped by the area to take a chance of finding clean log sheets.
I was hoping for a relatively quick find but instead it quickly turned into a rather lengthy adventure. It started out simple enough by reading the description and attempting to find ground zero, in other words where we think the exact spot where the cache should be. I searched high, I searched low, I searched in between and all around. Could not find the little micro cache anywhere. Very frustrating and I think to myself, "I know it's here I can hear the darn thing breathing". I read the description again and validate my conclusions, I know it just has to be right here yet one little piece of the puzzle was missing, but what? This particular mystery cache was a series of directions all pointing from different directions towards the cache. Simple right? How hard could this actually be and yet 30 minutes vaporized already. I continue on through barbed wire and grape vine, grasping through Virginia Creeper and other questionable greenery, I am getting frustrated but I know this is a FTF and there is no way I am walking away from it.
Finally, after rereading the description for the gazillionth time it clicks. That one little fact which just didn't make sense at the time finally became clear and boom there was the cache. Right there all the time. Nothing can cause so much frustration and yet bring so much satisfaction at the same time. The worst thing you can do is give up. Keep on trying.
With hindsight I realized after finding this tricky cache there were some basic rules that I should keep in the back of my mind each time I go hunting for caches. See if this helps you.
Tips to the Wise,
- Read and understand the title of the cache. Not always easy - why? We usually interpret our first initial thought of a concept and stay with it. So if we read the title and come to a conclusion it usually takes some external factor to make us change our minds. If we make an inaccurate conclusion we will most likely be looking in the wrong place for a cache. In the case of this cache I did not fully understand what the title meant so the playing field was wide open. It wasn't until after I found the cache it made sense.
- Read and understand the description. In the case of this cache I looked for almost an hour and almost gave up twice before finding it. Again it wasn't until after I found the cache to fully understand one little invaluable piece of information in the description. In fact as I was rolling through the description the seventh or eighth time I kept saying to myself, "this doesn't make sense, why did they say that?". This is usually the point that gets overlooked the most and is usually the key to solving the puzzle. You just don't realize it at the time. So if you ever find yourself doubting your conclusions it is usually when you are the most correct. Find your doubts while problem solving and pursue them.
- Take Nothing For Granted. In Geocaching the obvious is your worst enemy. Because we tend to look for something that is "hidden" we forget to open our field of view to ALL that is around us. Some of the best compliments that I have received for my caches is by taking advantage of this very point. It also brings the greatest shock appeal when discovered. Nothing brings a bigger surprise than having a cache "appear" by always being right in front of you. This particular cache did just that for me. It gave me a preconceived notion of where it could be and then turned up right where I thought it should be but couldn't see it at the time.
- Use the Hint. Hints usually are the lifeline needed to give us that moment of change in our thought process. I have found it is better not to read the hint too early because if you use the hint initially you have nothing to fall back on. There is nothing left to help you change your thought process. If you do decide to use your hint be sure to try and understand it thoroughly. If you take the hint for granted it can trap you just as easily as the title or description.
Well I hope this cache log turned tutorial helps in some way. In the world of Geocaching every little bit helps.