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General Articles - Trip Reports

Jeepin? n Geocaching

Article written by Warner Fellows

Date Added: 05/07/2006

Jeeping and Geocaching, are there two activities that go together so well? Probably not.

Geocaching is an entertaining adventure game for all GPS users. There are 212,381 (at the time of writing) caches hidden in all 50 states and 218 countries, so there are probably some near you. Jeeping and Geocaching is the perfect combination. The geocache will lead you into new areas, and your Jeep will take you there.

Geocaches are not usually placed randomly. They are typically in locations that have spectacular views or are historically, geologically, or culturally significant. Sometimes they are in locations that hold a special memory for the cache owner that they would like to share with you. Hunting a geocache will get you and your Jeep out into the fresh air and sunshine for a great adventure.

Geocaching is a great activity that is relatively inexpensive to get involved in. You?ll need a computer with an internet connection. Geocaches are listed on the Geocaching.com website. You?ll also need a GPS receiver. Many people involved in Jeeping already have one. They really are a great way to navigate, and Geocaching is a fast, fun way to learn how to use your GPS. Next, you?ll need some good maps. You see, GPS navigation is in a straight line, and a straight line is rarely the best way to go. Maps will help you plan your trip in the cache area. Many GPS receivers have built in road maps, but they don't do much for back-country navigation. Lastly you need a strong thirst for adventure. You are going into an area you?ve probably not been to see things you haven?t seen.
Recently our 4 wheel drive club, the Gear Grinders of Ridgecrest, went on an unofficial Geocaching trip into the Panamint Valley in Southern California. We wanted to keep the search easy and short as we didn?t want to wear out those new to caching. We concentrated on the eastern side of the valley, against the Argus Range. We chose five caches that were relatively close together and would take us to interesting places. For this trip we chose Garmin RINO 110 and 130 GPS receivers equipped with FRS radios so we could communicate while on our quest.
The first stop on our trip was the Slate Range Crossing cache (GCJGYE) placed by Team Xterror. This is a traditional cache placed near the old freight road into Panamint Valley. This site offered an excellent view of the valley and a look into the past. An interesting feature of this cache was that it is near a ?Bearing Tree?. This is a navigation aid placed by the BLM during their survey of the area many years ago.
Next up was the Tiny Barren cache (GCJ2JY) placed by n6mqm. This is a micro cache, and it was placed here by the owner to commemorate a trip to the area some 30 years ago. The ?parking lot? that the cache is hidden on is an excellent example of desert pavement. The wind and heat have scraped the ground clean and flat as if it were paved.
Then it was on to the Corner of Nadeau and 178 cache (GCNRJR) placed by the MojaveRats. This is a traditional cache that marks the beginning of the ?new? paved freight road. These freight roads were put in during the late 1800?s to serve the booming silver and gold mining towns in Panamint Valley.
We then traveled a few short miles to the Site A cache (GCH9WF) placed by the MojaveRats. This is also a traditional cache that marks a mining area that was originally called site A and is now known as the Onyx Mine. An interesting feature of this cache is that it is on the edge of a huge, canyon-like wash. This cache offered us the opportunity to explore mining ruins and a look into a bygone era.
Our last stop on this Geocaching excursion was the Panamint Valley Crater cache (GCNTQH) placed by Spookyone. We saved the best for last; we wanted a big finish! This is a traditional cache and is located next to a genuine geologic anomaly. The Crater was discovered in the 1960?s while researchers were poring over 1947 aerial reconnaissance photos of the valley. A team of scientists was sent out to the site by the Naval Ordnance Test Station (NOTS) to investigate. They determined that the crater was the result of a limestone formation collapse, in other words a sink hole.

Final Thoughts

With our fifth and final cache firmly bagged, we headed back to town where we celebrated over ice cream. We introduced Geocaching to some our members who had a great time and said they would enjoy an outing like this again. Geocaching is a fun activity that you and your group will almost certainly enjoy. So give it a try.

If you are interested in trying out this world wide game of GeoCaching then please read our article looking at different GPS features & functions available.

Our Thank You's!

MoabJeeper Magazine would like to thank Warner "Wheezer" Fellows for submitting this article.

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