You Can Geocache Without A GPS Receiver
If you're handy with a smartphone you may prefer this method

There's a geocacher in our area who uses this method to cache (caching is what geocaching is called by players) without any GPS receiving device. To give it a try without buying a gadget or smartphone app learning time you can give this a try.  The problem is the cache must be pretty easy to find to use this method, so choose your geocaches carefully.

Hopefully you have a desktop or laptop computer available to do the following. 

To get started you have to create an account, but it's free. Click here to go to the Geocaching webpage.  At the bottom of the screen is a place to create an account.

Some Thoughts on Usernames

Geocachers use handles/pseudonyms like Renegade Knight, OpinioNate, moonpup, despot&smitten, guttergrrl, tirediron.  When you register on the website your username becomes your geocaching name, the name you will be known by in the caching community.  Also, you will have to write it over and over and over in all the cache logs, so you may want a short easy to write.   Spend a little time thinking about what you want to be called before registering.  Click here to see a list of geocacher's names.  Think about signing a name like "headed_west_and_never_looking_back_0671" hundreds of times, often on tiny pieces of paper.


Then Click here (you may have to sign in along the way) and put your address or zipcode in the search box near the top of the page, then click the magnifying glass.

You will get a listing of geocaches that looks something like this:



I chose this cache from the list to illustrate the process because it should be very easy.  This is called the "cache page."

At the top of the cache page you will see the things in the picture above.  As a beginner, stick with Difficulty 1 & 1 1/2 for now.  Terrain of 1 is supposed to be reserved for "Wheelchair Accessible" but new cachers don't know this.  You can go up to 2 in Terrain and 3 if you are a little athletic.  All kinds of people make up these numbers so take them with a grain of salt. 

Read the description and decrypt the hint if it has one, then scroll down on the page until you see this list of  links and click on Google Maps.


Once on Google Maps, click on the square on the lower left to get the satellite view.  Then click repeatedly on the plus sign (+) in the lower right until the map is as magnified as it can be.  In our illustration it will look something like this.  The inverted teardrop is the cache location.  Coordinates aren't perfect so it won't be exactly there but hopefully it's nearby.

The tall thin shadow where my arrow points may well be the shadow of a light pole.  Look for these kinds of clues to where the cache is hidden. 



At the bottom of many parking lot light poles is a cover called a skirt.  Today too many caches are in/under these skirts.  They're called LPCs (light pole caches) or skirt lifters.  See picture on the right.  Normally the cache is lying between the bolts but sometimes people attach them magnetically to the inside of the skirt itself.

The cache is probably either in the skirt or the bush, hope it's not the bush.

In the bottom right of the screen you will see a little yellow man.  Grab him with your mouse and drag & drop him on  a nearby street.  This will give you a street view of the area that may help.

Print the map (not the street view) and take it with you.  Now switch to the "Map" view (lower left again) and click minus (-) a few times to get a wider view so you can see where the cache is located and how to get there.  If you don't know how to get there click the blue "Directions" circle on the far left then enter your zipcode or address in the blank at the top that says "Choose starting point" and click the magnifying glass for directions It will show you the route to take. Print this route to take it with you unless you're certain you know how to get there. 

Often, just below the cache description there are encrypted hints.  Decrypt them and print them to carry with you.  It depends on how good your memory is. When I began caching I printed all of the cache page down to the logs and sometimes a few of them.

A little further down on the cache page, just before the logs begin, is the Gallery of images if there are any pictures.  Click on this link and review all the pictures, they often contain spoilers -- pictures that give away where the cache is. Here's one of the pictures associated with this cache.  It goes a long way toward confirming it's a skirt lifter.

Now read the recent logs.  Logs are the reports of people who found or didn't find the cache. They sometimes contain spoilers.  If the last people have reported DNFs (did not find -- blue/purple faces) pass this cache by.  It may not be there and if it's there chances are it's too difficult for a beginner.

The cache container should have a piece of paper also called a log.  Carry a pen or pencil with you to sign your caching name on the log proving you found it, in case the owner checks.

When back home go back to the cache page on the geocaching website.  There's a place on the upper right that says Log geocache. Click that and write a note about your experience. 

If you found this guide helpful or have questions drop me a line