Saturday, October 9, 2010

Geocache Vandalism

A few weeks ago I participated in a geocaching event in Maine. I chose to look for caches which were hidden around the shores of Flagstaff Lake. This meant that I could spend a day paddling the lake, going from cache site to cache site, combining two fun activities at the same time. I managed to find 9 out of the 10 geocaches I looked for, a pretty good record for me. One of the caches was a brand new one created for the event on an island in the lake. All of them were not easy to find. They were well hidden!

I recently received news that some kill-joy out there has been going around stealing caches and throwing the contents in the garbage. He manged to find and distroy the new cache and perhaps some other ones around the lake. His rationale is that he is "defending the forests" by removing what he sees as trash, littering up the landscape. He fails to mention that most of the geocaches he has removed up to this point actually were hidden in roadside guard-rails, a commonly used hiding site...

Sadly this is a case of a mis-guided person whose actions do nothing to defend the forests, but serve only to alienate him from hundreds of geocachers. In fact the motto of the geocaching world is "Cache in, trash out". Caches are not litter. They are carefully hidden, safe for animals and help promote an appreciation for the wilderness by getting people out there in the natural world. While paddling Flagstaff Lake, I brought along a trash bag to defend the forests and beaches. I collected all the trash I came across - there was a lot of it! - and was able to recycle nearly all of it when I returned home.


gnarlydog said...

Interesting angle on geocaching.
What is your view on geocaching in National Parks or Wilderness designated areas?
Do you feel that is legit to place them in conservation area too or is just OK to have them in the forest which is destined to be harvested or altered by human activity?

Michael said...

Geocache hides are placed with the landowners permission. In the case of parks and wilderness areas, geocaching policies tends to vary from place to place, although I have noticed recently that many areas are being opened up for hides that were closed previously.

Michael said...

Update: I discovered this morning that this cache is still intact! It turns out that the vandal works in cyber-space and not in the real world! How silly is that? Spreading the word via the internet that geocaches have been removed does nothing for his precious forests (or his guard-rails, for that matter)!

gnarlydog said...

How do you feel if a non Geocacher stumbles across a not so well hidden cache? in a National Park where leave-no-trace policy applies?
Would you justify that person removing the cache?