Guest Post: Confessions Of A Geocacher

 

Categories: Canada Milestones New Zealand Steve Mills

 

TM4Until recently Steve Mills (GC handle: timbermills) was more at home geocaching in Canada’s snowy climes. Now he’s hoping to boost his numbers in the sunny New Zealand region of Hawkes Bay.

Steve Mills

Steve Mills

“It’s not all about the numbers, right? Or it is? Despite the fact geocaching was intended to get us outside, many players obsess over those numbers and statistics that we see every day when we’re not out hitting the trail.

Did we cache on this non-cached day? What is our average difficulty? Did we find enough geocaches to bring us to our next milestone? What is the most caches that we have found on one day?

Do we geocache enough on a Tuesday? And so on. We only have to click on our Geocaching.com profile page to see all our of vital statistics instantly. Let alone what figures the other geocaching programmes and apps (that we all have) can show us.

TM2When I first started geocaching in 2008, it certainly wasn’t about getting the numbers; it was the thrill of the hunt. But then a strange thing happened when the first milestone appeared on my homepage.  Something triggered in my brain that I had to go out and find more, just to reach the next milestone. I would cache in the morning, during lunch while at work, on the way home and even in the evening.  Obsessed? Maybe a little!

Once TM5I hit 200 finds, a geocacher friend informed me that I now had a world ranking on CacherStats.  I went to that website, clicked on the number representing my finds bracket and, sure enough, my username was there with a world ranking. It even gave me a Canadian ranking and, better yet, my Ontario ranking as well. Every number got better! 

Now this website gets updated twice weekly, so there I was checking the numbers and recording them on a spreadsheet … Each week, making sure those numbers got lower and lower. 

Some weeks they only moved a couple of places, others they leapt and jumped ahead, especially after a good weekend of geocaching. More milestones kept coming, and I maintained a close check on other local cachers to see how many caches I needed to keep my lead over them, or how many more finds I needed to place in front.

Golden opportunity: Geocachers in the Canadian province of Ontario can pick and choose from a large array of hides.

Golden opportunity: Geocachers in the Canadian province of Ontario can pick and choose from a large array of hides.

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I was in the top 500 in Ontario and steadily climbing when we decided to move back to New Zealand.  We had been living in the Canadian province for the last 15 years and decided that New Zealand was calling us back.  Naturally, I checked my rankings Down Under and was excited to be in the top 200 for finds – a number that was steadily changing with each new find I logged. Secretly, I was hoping to break into the top 100 ranked geocachers for New Zealand by the time we arrived.

We flew to New Zealand in September 2012 and, after a brief stay in Auckland, my wife and I both landed fulltime work in the sunny Hawkes Bay.  Much to my dismay, I was soon to discover that Hastings did not have very many geocaches, and some of those still active had not been maintained for a long time. 

Baying for more: The current host of geocaches on offer to Steve Mills in Hawkes Bay.

Baying for more: The current host of geocaches on offer to Steve Mills in Hawkes Bay.

Don’t get me wrong; there are a number of quality hides here too, like the 5½-hour return hike up to Sunrise Hut in the Ruahine Ranges, as well as several placed around Te Mata Peak in Havelock North. 

This lack of geocaches has certainly helped change my perspective of getting those numbers. At first, I was a little disappointed to see my ranking drop, but I’ve since realised that I can help another geocacher reach the milestones they desire.

My focus has changed a little: I am now more of a ‘geocache placer’ than a geocache finder. 

I have created a small power trail of 20 caches along one of our great cycling routes, not to mention many other geocaches around the area. I organised Hawkes Bay’s first CITO event (GC45K3R CITO Three Rivers Converge at Clive), and have plans to run more events in the future. I am also taking the time to produce some higher-quality geocache containers, something a little different from the usual plastic offerings.

With the 30 new geocaches I’ve placed in Hastings over the last nine months, and with many more planned for release soon, I hope that I can help those still trying to increase their numbers.

Don’t get me wrong, when a new cache is published, I may still race out the door to score another FTF. At each opportunity I am still trying to fill in the blank days on my geocaching calendar, and I will still occasionally check to see where my ranking currently stands (now dropped into the top 300s; I also notice that It’s Not About The Numbers‘ kjwx is just five places behind me!)

If you ever find yourself geocaching in the sunny Hawkes Bay region of New Zealand, make sure to say hello – whether it’s physically or in your Found logs.

You can find me on Twitter, my handle is @timbermills. I also tweet under @Bay_geocacher, which is an account set up to help fellow players keep up-to-date with all things geocache-related – mainly in the Hawkes Bay region but also with retweets of anything geo-worthy.  Be sure to follow both and I hope to see you on the trails.”

 

 
 



 

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  1. Day 202: 5/5 | ThomasJPitts' Blog says:

    July 22, 2013 at 11:08 am

    […] Guest Post: Confessions Of A Geocacher […]

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