Winter caching can be a lot of fun, or a complete disaster. It is hard for a “Neo-Geo” (what I call new geo-cachers) to get their heads around all the new technology, geo-caching lingo, maps, and all that darn paper. If you Neo-Geos are as anxious to get out there finding caches as I am (yes I am a Neo-Geo too) you may start out unprepared. All the techno stuff you have questions about, you can get answers for in our most excellent forums. What I am trying to do here is give a few tips on how to prepare for a winter caching excursion.
FINDING A LISTING
What do those “Snow friendly” icons mean? This is hard to answer. It may mean you can get to the cache site without skis or snowshoes. It may mean the cache it’s self is above snow level. Placing this icon is up to the person who placed the cache. The person might have used a snowmobile to place a cache five miles in the woods and put a snowflake icon on the listing!
Look for listings of caches that have been recently found. You know these must be accessible and they probably have tracks leading to the cache. Some cachers will go out of their way to mess up their tracks and create other tracks to throw you off. A pocket query can keep you posted on recently found caches. If the snow is not too high you can go for the guardrail caches. Many film canister sized caches are hidden in guardrails. Remember that in the winter, some caches only accessible by boat , become accessible when the lakes freeze.
So you have figured out how to use your GPS, you have your Cache print-outs and Maps; and you’re ready to go. You put on your insulated undies, snow pants, parka, gloves and knit cap and head out. Did you check the weather? Nothing can turn you around faster then a white-out. You can’t see. You walk in circles, your GPS can’t pick up signals and your lost! BAD CACHING DAY! Even in the summer but especially in the winter you should always check the weather before you head out.
I prefer snowshoes to skis because skis get in the way when bushwhacking is called for. If you are on snowshoes, stay off the ski trails. Snowshoes put holes in the ski trails. Wear warm clothes in layers. Use your GPS to waypoint your vehicle. Tell someone where you are going or better yet, take someone with you. Take a cell phone with you. Wear sunglasses. On a sunny day you can go blind out in a snow field. Bring a child’s sand shovel or some other utensil for snow digging. A ski pole is indispensable for poking around the bases of trees for that “Tupperware thud”. Bring water to drink. You still sweat and dehydrate so you must have water to drink.
FIND THE CACHE
Pace yourself. Snowshoeing is more strenuous than walking. You don’t want to get to the cache location, only to be too tuckered out to hunt for the cache. Once there, look for other tracks. Try to think like the person hiding the cache. Ask yourself “Where would I hide a cache in this area?” Look behind big rocks or in between split rocks. Look (and poke) around trees. Look in the middle of clumps of trees. Some caches hang on tree limbs. Some are camouflaged to look like logs, or rocks. Look for sticks laying in a un-natural manner. Look for spots that look like they have been re-covered in snow. And most of all poke, poke, poke with that ski pole. Be persistent. I have found a couple of caches after I had changed my mind about quitting, and decided to look “just a little longer.” And last but not least ask for help. Your fellow Geo-cachers are some of the friendliest people you’ll ever meet.
HAPPY WINTER GEO-CACHING!
Sounds like good advice
I think you pretty much covered it.;)
One other note . . . if you're on a snowmobile trail be sure to pay attention to approaching snowmobiles. While most two-stroke snowmobiles should be loud enough for you to hear them approaching, four-stroke snowmobiles are notably quieter and can "sneak" up on you if you're not paying attention. If you intend to hike, ski, snowshoe in on a snowmobile trail, listening to your MP3 player at the same time is probably an unwise decision.
Finally, remember that the snowmobile trail was built, signed, brushed and groomed by volunteers associated with snowmobile clubs for the purpose of snowmobiling and as such snowmobilers have every right to be on the that trail (assuming it is a legal trail). If you see a snowmobile approaching you good etiquette dictates that you get off the trail and allow the snowmobile to pass . . . waving (with all five fingers) is always appreciated and if you have a dog keeping the dog under control is always advisable. If you follow this advice you should find most snowmobilers to be friendly and a helpful lot.
On a side note . . . where I snowmobile I have run across folks hiking, walking their dog, snowshoeing, skiing, riding their mountain bike and running their dogsleds down the trail . . . I am pleased to say that I have never had any problems with any of these folks as I am a firm believer in multi-use trails and believe that some trails not designated as multi-use trails such as snowmobile trails and ATV trails should be used by others who also enjoy the outdoors -- whether they choose to engage in motorized or non-motorized activities. In the past I have often stopped to give directions or to help out (most recently helping a dogsledder who had a pack of dogs that were trying to go after a porcupine walking across the trail.)
In all cases I have never had a bad experience . . . unfortunately that isn't always the case. In areas of southern Maine I have heard stories of folks flipping sledders the bird, deliberately staying on the trail, etc. even though these trails are, as mentioned earlier, designated expressly for snowmobilers. That said . . . I have also sadly heard stories about sledders roosting folks with snow, flying by walkers at unprudent speeds, etc. Bottom line . . . I believe that if all folks respected other folks on the trail it's good for everyone.
A lot of helpful information I wish that I had known at the beginning of winter. I'm learning through trial and error (especially about the layering the clothes). Early on I got drenched at the beginning of the caching dayday and ended up caching wet and cold part of the time.
Also know if you're going after guardrail caches, these are usually buried under a few feet of snow, too, so you'll still need a shovel--and if it's not where it "usually" is--GOOD LUCK!
Oh my, winter stuff!
Did Kevin Mannix put the "s" word in his forecast this morning? I know it was 20 degrees when we awoke in our tent in Eustis Saturday, and of course I did post about the good ol' days of skiing at the Loaf, but geez Louise, it might be a little premature to discuss winter caches, you think? But I do like getting the winter caches and LT will no doubt put out a bunch more this winter...when it comes a couple months from now. Enjoy the foliage for pete's sake!:)
There was a dusting of the white stuff up high on Sugarloaf this morning when I got up there. Woot Woot!!!
I learned early on from my friends Parmachenee and Sharron that winter/snowshoe caching is not only healthy for you, it has some definite advantages! No bugs. No rain. No mud. Bushwhacking can be much easier. No stepping over fallen trees and logs. But you have to pay attention to the cache description....if it's buried low it's definitely harder to find. Seek out caches that say "winter friendly". During the winter, go after caches that have recently been placed....they've probably been placed above the snow line. Also, on the cache description page look at the date it was placed. If it was placed on February 15th four years ago chances are better that it is winter friendly. Pay attention to the time of day you go out....there are far fewer hours of daylight during the winter. And you should also consider the access roads. Many caches are located down dirt access roads that are not plowed in the winter.....in the summer you can drive close to the cache but in winter it may by a couple of miles in on snowshoes. Finally, I'd like to ditto the entry about waypointing (or writing down the coords) to where your car is parked. If you get lost in the woods and can't find your car during summer months, that's one thing. You really do NOT want that to happen during the winter. With all this being said, I truly love winter caching.....
And just to add, the bonus of missing FTF is that you have a trail already broken.
Originally Posted by EMSDanel