Event Caches: The Social Side of Geocaching

One of the true pleasures of geocaching is an event cache.  Because geocaching is usually done alone, or in a small group, it is both fascinating and reassuring to suddenly find yourself in the midst others who share your passion.

It’s also interesting to see the different types of people who turn out for an event.  Young couples who geocache as a way to explore a new city or region they’ve settled in.  Families who geocache to get their kids interested in hiking.  Retired folks who’ve found that geocaching is a cheaper pastime than golf and more rewarding than fishing.  (This is from the perspective of one who is crappy at fishing.)

I geocached for years before attending my first event last summer.  It was a Cache In Trash Out (CITO) event in a nearby river canyon.  It was great to finally put faces to the caching names we saw on the caches or in log books:  a sudden instance of discovery and recognition.  Like meeting a long-lost friend who you’ve never met before.

So what is an event cache like?  Well, the one they have in common is that you’ll feel welcomed.  Whether you have one find to your credit, or one thousand, any shred of social anxiety will dissipate with the first person you meet.  Geocachers who are drawn to these events are invariably friendly.

Also, you will sign a log at some point.  Just like a physical cache.  Other than that, events are just as varied as caches themselves.  Two of the most popular types are “Meet and Greet” and CITO events.

A Meet and Greet in Denver

Back in February I attended an event called “Munich Meets Denver.”  I was looking for a cache close to the office building where I worked.  Event caches are identified by a map icon just like any other type of cache on the geocaching.com website.  It showed up as the closest cache.  So I decided to attend.

Our Host: Tasdevil13

Our Host:

This event was held at a nearby brewpub on 20th Street in downtown Denver, called Jagged Mountain Craft Brewery.  I walked in, a little late, and was greeted by the hosts, Roland (a.k.a Tasdevil13) and Sabine (a.k.a. Taswombat13) from Munich, Germany.  Surprise!  I was the “first-to-find” (FTF) the cache, by the rules Roland had posted on the web site, “the first to arrive after we arrive will be the FTF.”  As it happened, they were late themselves, but since they were in a strange city, we cut them some slack.  The FTF prize was unique: a ceramic shot “glass” from Bavaria, with an intricate and colorful coat-of-arms on it.  Who said it doesn’t pay to be late?

There were about 25 people gathered, savoring craft beer, swapping stories and giving local travel and caching advice to the hosts.  Needless to say, it was a fun, relaxing way to meet folks from around the world and around the corner.  Obviously, Roland and Sabine traveled the furthest to get to the event, but we also had Coloradans from as far away as Greeley and Cañon City.

Besides being thoroughly enjoyable for the locals, think about it from the visitors’ perspective.  You travel half-way around the world to engage in your passion and get all sorts of tips and ideas from the very people who hid the geocaches, or spend much of their time finding them.

More importantly, what an efficient way to spice up your travels by meeting the locals, wherever you go!  It’s hard to think of another international network as easy to tap into and enhance your travel experience.  Through the geocaching.com website you can invite yourself to a party (or throw your own) in almost any country you are likely to travel to.

at Jagged Mtn

A Flood Recovery CITO

If the “Meet and Greet” type event I just described helps form bonds between geocachers, a different type of event, the CITO, puts those bonds to good use.  I attended a CITO recently in Lyons, Colorado, a community hard-hit by the epic floods of September 2013.

The event was titled “10th Annual Memorial CITO Breach 1 Day.”  (The memorial is in honor of Billzjeep, a pioneering Colorado geocacher who passed away while caching in 2004.)  This event is held annually by Team Laxson, in partnership with Boulder County Open Space, but had added importance this year because of the wreckage left by the floods.  Breach 1 refers to the place where the St. Vrain River jumped its channel and plowed through houses, pastures, an aggregate plant and a park.

It was a well-organized two-day event with plenty of tools, wheelbarrows, a shade tent, vehicle support and lunch catered by Chick-Fil-A.  It was two days of digging and untangling the flotsam and jetsam left behind by the historic flood.IMG_0263

This was hard work on sunny, warm days but it gave me an opportunity to meet geocachers from other parts of the state.  It was fulfilling to donate some time and effort to making a small difference in the flood zone, and meet some of the brave and resilient people who are rebuilding after the flood.

The elderly lady who lived in the closest house came out to talk with us at the shade tent and told us how blessed she was to have received enough advance warning to get herself and her pets out before the floodwaters hit.  What an inspiration!  She also gave us some history of the area – how the flood momentarily reclaimed the channel that the US Army Corps of Engineers abandoned back in 1964.  Once again we are reminded the river is mightier than the Corps.

There were other surprises, such as this young man finding an ammo box that he thought was a geocache washed downstream by the flood.  Until he opened it only to find…ammo, and a manual for caring for your semi-automatic weapon.

As it turned out, a lost geocache was recovered.  A small (film canister) cache called “Two Cs – Ralph Price Reservoir” was recovered in the debris.  Talk about a needle in a haystack!  The cache traveled approximately 12 river miles, including all the way through Longmont Reservoir, to its location at the breach.  

Hopefully this geocache will be repatriated to its’ original location soon.

World Wide Flash Mob

I would be remiss if I did not mention the World Wide Flash Mob simultaneously held at approximately 800 locations around the world.  It is yet another example of the creativity of the world wide geocaching community.  I have a post that discusses the WWFM event I hosted at a dog park here: http://www.cacheology.net/about/world-wide-flash-mob-xi/

I hope this post inspires you to check out an event cache, especially if you never have attended one.  Just go to the Community>Events page at geocaching.com to find one close to home.  Maybe I’ll see you there!