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Shhh, I’ve been caching naked …

Please don’t tell my mother – or brother for that matter – but I’ve been caching naked …

In my defence, it only happened on a few instances and it was a long time ago. Plus I’ve never cached in the nude.

Confused? As any savvy seeker will tell you the term ‘naked caching’ denotes the absence of a GPSr as you search, while ‘nude caching’ involves the absence of any clothing.

Both camps have ardent followers and critics, so It’s Not About The Numbers has asked a representative from each to explain just why they like to get ‘au naturelle’.

THE NUDE CACHER

American Gary Young (GC handle: Nudecacher) plans his caching missions with military precision. He has to, if he’s to avoid injury, arrest or disapproving looks from others once he’s ditched his clothes.

The retired Washington State resident, who currently has 445 finds, has gained a cult following worldwide thanks to his photographic records from ground zero using cleverly placed objects .

But the veteran cacher and long-time nudist says the amount of pre-planning involved is a huge negative – especially when he “could just go geocaching”.

“I’ve found nearly as many caches that I haven’t logged, for one reason or another, as those that I have. I feel bad when the `standards’ change on a whim and large numbers of photos that I’ve worked hard on have to be deleted even after they have been on logs for years. I haven’t cached much since the last round of deletions three years ago.”

Young joined GC.com in 2003 – “I started too late for the charter-member cut, though I was involved relatively early” – but he and his wife had been pro-active members of their local nudist club for almost a decade at that point.

His two hobbies converged that same year when he learnt about a small nudist beach near his home and spotted a Slashdot article on geocaching in the same week.

“There was a geocache right on the trail down to the beach that I had just been hiking by. On a whim, I registered as Nudecacher, went and found the cache, took a bunch of pictures like I did for the nudist website and posted them on my first log. Needless to say, it caused an uproar and the pictures were immediately deleted by the powers that be.”

Still wanting to promote his lifestyle to a wider audience, he “timidly started again”.

“My log about the cache pirates and the ‘Nudecacher Detective Agency’ was one of my early fun ones. I documented Nudecacher in photos with strategically placed objects and was much more careful about which pictures I posted.

“[Groundspeak founder Jeremy Irish] and Moun10Bike were somewhat supportive and I spent lots of time pushing the envelope by trial and error. I’d find caches and add photos to my logs and periodically be requested to remove some or have them removed for me.”

There are plenty of postives for Young to reflect on, though.

“Overall, I am surprised by how positive Nudecacher is received and how much conversation I generate. Nudecacher became a celebrity and I would be approached at events by cachers wanting to meet me. I always wore clothes to events, though I would occationally take off my shirt for group photos.

“I receive emails every month or so from all over the world; geocachers that found caches at nudist locations, or found a cache in the nude and wanted to tell me, or who just discovered me one way or another.  I have cachers stop me when they spot me in public, ‘I recognise you!’  Plus its fun to plan and find caches that I can do nude.”

But you can’t keep everyone happy all of the time. “There are a few geocachers that don’t take to the idea of a nude cacher,” Young says.  “I try to accommodate them as best I can.  I’m friendly with everyone.  How can an enthusiastic geocacher not be liked?”

His injury rate is no more “than any other cacher” – “probably even less because I’m more aware of what’s around me and am careful”.

“There are some geocaches that are dangerous to get to, but they usually are in out-of-the-way places where I can easily be nude. I once fell when I was out by myself scouting in a bunch of logs for a location to place a cache. Fortunately, I wasn’t injured but it warned me of what could happen.  Many people mention insects and nettles and such, but they’re no worse when nude than when clothed.”

Nor, surprisingly, does Young have many red-faced moments from caching in his birthday suit.

“Being a nudist, being comfortable nude, and being very open about my nudity, I don’t have any embarrassing stories in that sense. There was one cache in town here that was recommended to me by the owner but, when I went to find it, I was followed and the police were called. I wrote up the incident in my log, including the citation and successfully getting the case dropped after hiring a lawyer and explaining geocaching and Nudecacher to the prosecuting attorney.  The embarrassing part for me was for the owner over my not being careful enough.”

Another revelation is his claim that he’s not the only cacher getting back to nature. “Very few do it more than once or twice, and even fewer document it.  There are a number of caches around the world at nudist locations or where the theme is to take a ‘Nudecacher-style picture’ of yourself before logging it. A number of nudists are also geocachers but most don’t document that they are nudists.”

For those who wish to follow in his footsteps, Young offers some sage words: “Just do it, but be careful. It’s all in the planning. I use Google Earth to scout out potential caches.  I also maintain a list of worldwide nude-friendly caches. Look for the listing on GC.com, and send me your own recommendations.”

When he’s not stripping off and heading for the hills, Young is on the board of directors for his local nudist club and has spent several years learning to paint nudes. Each July, he curates an art exhibition called Bare Images for the club, and the examples posted here (including his self-portrait) are works he showed in 2010.

“This past year I dropped the art and I’m taking math classes at the local university, getting ready to do a Masters degree in mathematics.  I’m on the board of directors at our nudist club.  In my spare time, I attend geocaching events, maintain my GSAK database with all of the caches in the world, and dream about doing more geocaching.”

Missing from that wishlist are those caches he just can’t or won’t do nude. Of these, his biggest bugbear is with geocaching events.

“I always ask if I have to wear clothes again and either get the reply ‘yes’ or no reply at all. I did the Bellingham Cache Machine event several years ago and got pictures at a number of caches. Cachers paid attention to where I was but didn’t actually join me at any cache.

“Many urban caches, especially micros aren’t nude-friendly but, since geocaches need to be secure from muggles, I can get Nudecacher pictures at more of them than you would think.

“While I try to be careful, I have run into a few muggles. I have to explain both geocaching and Nudecacher to them.  So far, except for the one time, it’s been cool.”

Young is familiar with the term ‘naked caching’ but says his own attempt at it wasn’t very successful.

“My daughter and I tried it before she got her GPS, and my wife and I tried to use one of the car GPS’s when our regular one was broken. I do a lot of planning for caches to determine the layout and whether I can find it nude, which is like preparing for ‘naked caching’ – but we take the GPS when we actually go.

“We actually talked about [caching naked] a long time ago before we justified the cost of the GPS. Now they’re cheap and we have several different kinds and one for everyone going.  Besides, now geocaching justifies any cost, some even unreasonable, between the equipment, gas, lodging and all – as any geocacher knows.”

Asked whether he thinks naked, nude caching will ever catch on, Young replies: “I think it already has, so much more than I ever thought possible.  How many geocachers in the world know about Nudecacher and geocaching in the nude? Maybe even more after they read this. :-)”

For more information on Gary Young’s World Scan geocaching project or his Nudecacher musings, check out his blogs Geocaching Muse and Nudecacher Artifacts.

THE NAKED CACHER

Fellow American Ed Scott knows the maps around Birdsboro, Pennsylvania, like the back of his hand – as he should do, after years of not blindly following a GPSr to his chosen destination.

The retired science teacher (GC name: edscott) began naked caching in July 2007 – some five years after he joined GC.com – in a bid to inspire geocachers to try his first love, orienteering.

“A friend of mine was out on an orienteering training run and saw [a geocache] in the woods. He emailed me about it and I decided to go find one.  My original motivation was to put some orienteering maps of that particular area in the cache, hoping to get some geocachers to try orienteering.”

Scott took up orienteering in 1983. He is a member of the Delaware Valley Orienteering Association, the largest and oldest orienteering club in the US, and his Scout Orienteering website promotes the past-time to boy scouts.

Despite his good intentions, Scott’s lack of GPSr use initially bugged other members on the GC.com forums.

“A lot of people said I wasn’t geocaching because I wasn’t using a GPS. Now most people on the forums either don’t realise that I don’t use a GPS, or accept it as what I do.

“I’ve cached with most of the local cachers at one time or another, and we have a great time comparing the find totals of GPS users and non-users at the end of the day.”

Scott, who is most often found on the trails with his wife JAScott, both of whom have 2000 to 3000 finds, knows he isn’t alone in caching naked. “There are a few in the US; most of them are also orienteers.  I think there are about three of us with more than a thousand finds.”

Unlike the emotional freedom offered by nude caching, the benefit to naked cachers is more cerebral.

“It helps me practice navigation on substandard maps,” Scott says. “In the beginning, I was using US Geological Survey maps at a scale of 1:25000.  Now I use the Google aerial photos right off the cache page, zoomed in as far as I can while maintaining good focus and a good attack point.”

But his way of playing isn’t without its downsides …

“The biggest negative is doing multi caches. I have to plot the next stage on my map using a calculator and a straight edge, or go home to the computer for a new map. For that reason, I don’t do many multis that are far from home.

“It also takes a lot more preparation time to cache without a GPS. I need a good, close-up aerial photo of the immediate area around the cache and, in many cases, a photo or map to get me there from the parking spot.

“Sometimes, I also need a topographic view if the topography is somewhat complex.  In some places, the Google Maps layers have poor registration and it takes time to determine the proper distance and direction to correct it. On the South Island of New Zealand, every cache we did was essentially an offset cache.”

For newcomers, he offers the following advice: “Spend some time learning how to read maps and interpret aerial photos. Know your local forest’s characteristics.  Often being able to identify a specific tree from the air by species is a great help.

“Every shadow on the photo is made by something. If you can find that point you can use it to find something else. Learn to pace on a compass bearing for 500+ metres with an error of under 5m. Field-check a few high-quality orienteering maps.

“But seriously, if you are just learning to navigate and want to geocache, use a GPS.  I was ‘caching’ without a GPS for more than 40 years before the game was invented.  No point in postponing the fun, buy a GPS and learn how to use it.”

Scott is familiar with the term ‘nude caching’ but says he’s never tried it himself. Nor is he aware of much confusion with that other ‘au naturelle’ option.

“Over here, it is usually called GPS-less caching. There is, or was, a Naked Cacher somewhere in the western US at one time, but I think he was literally caching naked.

Asked whether he thinks naked, nude caching will ever catch on, Scott jokes: “Catch on what? :)”

As for me: Well, it’s not much of a story … For nearly four months after I began caching, I was too cheap to buy a GPSr – after all this could have just been a phase that Cumbyrocks (and therefore myself) was going through.

It wasn’t that tricky; before every hunt, I’d read as much as I could about the hide in question and carefully examine its locale on Google Maps. Sure, it took me a little longer at GZ sometimes but, in the long run, I believe it’s made me a better cacher.

Those 40 ‘naked’ finds instilled reliance on my own abilities and research rather than the arrow on my GPSr. They taught me persistence when searching and provided the confidence to gamble on possible hiding spots in times of doubt.

That said, I love my GPSr now and wouldn’t be without it – but it’s nice to know I could cope if all those satellites suddenly fall from the sky.

Either way (Mum), you’ll always find me fully dressed when on the cache.

8 comments

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  1. rediguana

    You should also promote the GCA cache – Nude Up For A Smiley. You might recognise some names that have logged it ;)
    http://geocaching.com.au/cache/ga0337

    I’ve also skinny-dipped across a river for a DNF, and I know a few cachers that won’t let modesty get in the way of a smiley. Of course, most of these involve swimming and not just simply caching in the nude for the sale of it :)

  2. CraigRat

    One of our Locationless caches might interest some of your readers:

    http://geocaching.com.au/cache/ga0337

    Nude Up For a Smiley

    Warning: Not safe for work, nor your eyeballs.

  3. kjwx

    Thanks, CraigRat and Rediguana.
    Sadly, not many of the Kiwi names I recognise have posted photos with their logs … Could this be a case of blokish modesty?

  4. Nudecacher

    Mom knows, she’s in a few of my pictures in the gallery. :-)

    Nudecacher

  5. kjwx

    I’d be surprised if your Mom didn’t know, Nudecacher …
    but my mother – or brother – weren’t aware that I’d been ‘naked caching’ until a few days ago. I think it came as something of a shock until I explained the difference.

    1. Cumbyrocks

      yes, my initial thoughts were interesting on this one. Especially as kjwx is not known for extensive caching in the outdoors. I had great concerns about exactly where she was ‘naked’…

  6. kjwx

    Wish I’d been a fly on your Dunedin wall when you first heard the ‘news’ … But honestly, Cumbyrocks, I’d have thought you knew me better and, considering the number of muggles you’ve converted, would have be aware of the term’s meaning. One of us needs to re-read Geo-Lexicon perhaps?
    Now that you mention me and nude caching, though: there is a hide attached to the very large fountain near Victoria University that I’ve always wanted to swim in. Maybe I could kill two birds with one stone …

  7. Aranea

    :) Awesome! :)

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