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The Best Of British Intercaching

1Last week It’s Not About The Numbers profiled Tim Thomas, the developer of geocaching app Intercaching.com. Now we meet the British player who created the first international example of this new cache type.

John Merry is a real trail-blazer.

Not only has the British geocacher (GC handle: djjohnmerry) created the first foreign intercache (GC44E92), he has single-handedly introduced this new geo-craze to the United Kingdom.

John Merry

John Merry

“What I like about intercaching is that it is more than just finding the cache; it could be telling a story or being a tour guide on route to GZ. Also it seems a bit geeky as I am an IT person.”

It all started with a scan of the geocaching forums for “new/geeky ideas”, the Essex resident says. “I came across a post entitled ‘Is the Intercache the successor of the Wherigo?’ And I was thinking ‘great’ as I had just created two of my own Wherigos, which I enjoyed it very much; nevertheless, it was very time consuming and a massive learning curve. Perhaps there was a better and easier way to get the same effect?”

After reading as much as he could on the subject, Merry set about creating his own example on his cellphone. Despite having some co-ordinates in mind, he knew his intercache site would need good mobile network coverage.

“This was my first challenge, so I chose a location close to home as well, as I knew there would be LOTS of testing involved – like there was with my Wherigos. I found what I believe to be a great little walk with a great location for a cache and I was in luck – there was full data coverage along my whole route.”

2Later Merry fired up his home PC to combine all the facets of his intercache. “At this point, I even contacted [intercache creator] Tim Thomas, who kindly answered all my questions.”

One of those queries was whether Thomas knew of any other intercaches in the UK. His negative response and further research by Merry has since led the Brit to claim a national geocaching first.

“I believe there is another ‘early-style’ intercache here listed on Geocaching.com that uses location services [GC43RAR King Arthur’s Return] but not an actual intercache so this spurred me on.”

Start to finish, the creation process took Merry “three to four hours max”; however, he believes his prior knowledge of html code gave him an advantage when adding photos and location descriptions. In comparison, “learning to create a decent, working Wherigo” required three to four weeks of effort.

“The stage creation and question sections were easy to add and worked very well. The more creativity you have the more fun it will be. Also, adding the radius required to be within a certain distance of each stage is vital as you could do the whole thing from an armchair otherwise. However, a spinoff of that is you can walk through your intercache without going out all the time for testing if you temporary disable the radius settings.”

Since GC44E92: UK’s First InterCache was published in early April, it has been logged five times and earnt four favourite points. Only one seeker has failed to reach the final location but Merry has provided extra clues to assist their second attempt.

“So far so good,” he says. “And each log has been more than just TFTC. This is a bonus.”

3His version requires geocachers to follow a particular route in his home county of Essex, located north-east of London using clues given on the Intercaching smartphone app.  “It’s not a massively long cache but I believe it’s a very nice route and it offers a nice change to a traditional hide.

“I stop by areas letting people know of things on the route such as a duck pond and a totem pole that are worth visiting.  Once at the final, it’s the same as a traditional cache, you sign the log and then the intercache software helps you get back to the start if you wish.”

In a bid to stop cheaters, Merry has even recorded a secret word in his intercache which he asks finders to sneak into their online logs. “This way I know they tried it as opposed to just being given the co-ords.”

Yet he’s confident that intercaching will soon catch on in Britain. “There is 100 per cent room for this style of cache but, as you need to have a good mobile signal, it may be more suited to urban areas. The other downside is that intercaches are listed  on GC.com as a puzzle cache. Speaking with different cachers on Facebook groups, I know a lot of people are put off by mystery and multi caches, which is a real shame. I think if it was listed as a traditional, it would get a lot more visits.”

In future, Merry hopes to create a second intercache but says first he must find another great location. “… then excellent mobile internet, and finally some time to take pictures, think of questions and fill in the description. Watch this space …”

*Have you attempted GC44E92: UK’s First InterCache? Tell us about it in the comments section below …

 

 

5 comments

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  1. Tim Thomas

    Glad to see this expanding beyond the US border! I have some basic settings for locale specific things like units (km vs miles) that the cache owner sets up.

  2. authorized users

    Tim, have you tried speaking with Groundspeak/Geocaching.com to see if they will introduce these caches under a different icon/type?

    It’s great to see that this is expanding!! Congrats! 🙂

    1. kjwx

      That’s a bloody good idea. Would be good to see Tim Thomas and intercaches get the credit they so richly deserve, starting with their own GC.com category/icon.

  3. John

    Interesting article. But what it doesn’t do is tell us exactly what an intercache actually is. I’ve never heard of it before, so could we have an explanation?

    1. kjwx

      As the subhead clearly explains this was our second article on intercaching, John.
      The link given in that first sentence takes you to our interview with Tim Thomas about the creation of this new interactive cache type. The same link also appears twice more on this page: at the top and bottom of the Best of British post (the latter in bold and with a photo). Click on any of these and you’ll be redirected to our Intercaches: The Future of Geocaching? piece. Alternatively, type intercache into the search button on the top right for a list of both posts mentioning this subject.

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