From a geocaching perspective 2013 was an exciting year. Firstly I celebrated ten years of active geocaching and that in itself is quite an achievement. Hobbies come and go but this is one that I still find enjoyable. Of course I have seen a huge development in the game both in terms of positive and negative trends. I love the creativity that some geocachers exhibit in designing their cache containers and in field puzzles that show great ingiuity. On the other side of the scale I hate the meaningless micros lying around in non-descript places where no thought or effort has gone into pushing a torn up scrap of paper into a pill bottle and calling that a geocache. However, geocaching has so many aspects to it that there is something for everyone to enjoy.
I am divided when it comes to geocaching with a smartphone. They are still not as accurate or as rugged as a dedicated GPS’r and battery life is a joke, but they have so much going for them in an urban environment in terms of instant availability to full geocaching information, satellte imagery and online logging. However, for that last item please note that just writing “TFTC” is like a red flag to a bull when the cache owner has put a lot of effort into creating and placing a cache. Mind you if it’s the log for finding the aforementioned micro lying around in a non-descript location it’s a polite log.
Some of my other highlights from 2013 were huge and some were small.
I suppose that the biggest highlight of the year was turning sixty and being able to use this as an excuse to visit USA with my partner for a couple of weeks and experience several geocaching highlights.
I completed the Jasmer challenge on a sunny August day in great fashion by finding Firestone. That cache was placed just north of San Francisco in October 2000 and as well as being the cache needed to complete my Jasmer challenge it is also the westernmost cache I have found. N37° 54.637 W122° 37.590.
I found a couple of hundred caches along the famous ET Highway and saw “UFO’s” as the sun set over the mountain range. (OK, so they were probably planes flying around the air base at Tonopah) as well as spending a night at the Little A’Le’Inn.
In addition to the ET Highway power trail we also did part of the Route 66 power trail just for good measure on our way to the Grand Canyon.
Reaching my 4000 finds milestone also occured in 2013 and was my first find in France at Death Road to Cimetière St Hilaire just a couple of days after finding Belgiums oldest cache Geocache making that the next to last cache for me to find in my quest to complete the Jasmer challenge. During the few days we spent in the area that encompassed Belgium, Luxembourg and France where we were able to enjoy good weather, great beer in Belgium and lovely food in all three countries.
The second major highlight of the year was one that I hadn’t really dared to hope that I would manage. It was to fill the Difficulty/Terrain matrix. At the beginning of the year I had seven unfilled cells, six of them being T4.5 & T5 and the seventh one a D5. One by one I was able to tick them off and realising that I was able to handle the difficult terrain caches as well as the easier ones. The first two cells to be completed were Matagouri Challenge and Little G Says – It’s Oh! K both in New Zealand.
The rest I found in Dalarna, Uppsala and Gävleborg in Sweden. After finding Myggstenen together with Slas in October I just had one cell left. Unfortunately, as my geofriends had other commitments the weekend after I had to find Trädmonumentet on my own so I had noone with me to share the victory.
I started off the year with a month in New Zealand, as I do most years. I met Ingabo and family on my arrival day just as they were leaving for home. When I heard how many caches they had found on a non-geocaching vacation I knew I just had to better it as after all, I was there to find caches. With 368 finds in January alone I wasn’t really surprised when at the end of the year I had found 1003 caches – my best year ever.
After such a memorable year it will be interesting to see what 2014 brings in the way of geocaching activities. I am in the process of setting myself some new targets but they will be quite different to those for 2013.