Thursday, December 30, 2010

Geocaching - End of Year 2010 Recap

I began geocaching on April 15, 2010, and when I look back on what I was able to accomplish this year, I am amazed. I am also somewhat stunned by the amount of time and energy that went into a hobby that I had never even heard of when the year began, although I certainly do not mean that in a bad way. It is just a reflection of the unexpected turns our lives can take in terms of how we choose to spend our free time.

One of the ways to keep track of milestones in geocaching is by using a freeware badge generation macro that takes your data as an input and awards you various levels of badges based on predetermined numerical achievements. In my first year I was able to find 558 geocaches, 15 benchmarks (US survey markers), and 45 waymarks (landmarks and places/things of interest). This earned me 11 badges of various degrees.

Due primarily to my most noteworthy achievement, a 100 consecutive day streak with at least one find, I was able to find at least 1 cache in 182 of the 261 days since I started (70%). My total cache-to-cache distance was almost 12,000 miles courtesy of some business travel, especially out to Utah/Wyoming and back, but also including Illinois, Missouri, North Carolina and a bunch of trips to north Jersey.

Other things I like to keep track of are how many of the 81 different Difficulty/Terrain rating combinations I have made a find in, as well as how many days of the calendar. As of the end of the year, I have filled those 182 days on the bottom two-thirds of the calendar, and have made a find in 46 of the 81 D/T combinations. Both of these are like Bingo - you want to fill your card as much as possible. As an aside, February 29 next comes around in 2012, so no amount of effort would fill the calendar this year.

Perhaps one of the more fun things to work on from the perspective of using geocaching as an excuse to go new places is the focus on finding caches in new geographies. I have now found caches in 10 US states, as well as 17 of the 67 counties in Pennsylvania. I am also halfheartedly keeping track of counties in Maryland where I have found 9 of 24 counties, and New Jersey where I have found 12 of 21 (mainly in northern and central NJ which is actually further from my home).

Statistical bests at this point are:
  • 31 in a day. 10/7/10 in NC.
  • 24 in a weekend. 10/30-10/31/10 mainly in Lancaster county.
  • 50 in a week. Includes my 2 big NC days.
  • 120 in a month. Includes my 2 big NC days.
  • 25 days for my fastest 100 finds.
  • 4 cache types in a day.
  • 2 states in a day. I guess I never tried to do better at this since I live within about 30 miles of 3 states not including my own and can practically hit a golf ball into Delaware from here...
  • 7 counties in a day. 6/27/10 in NE PA on the way to our Pinchot Trail backpacking trip.
In the overall scheme of hard-core geocaching, these numbers are not all that impressive, but they are to me, knowing the time and effort that went into them.

But, now having rambled on for quite a while on all sorts of numbers, I will stress again that no matter how much I like looking at those sorts of things, it is not the numbers that have gotten me so addicted to this hobby. It is the things I have seen and the adventures I have had along the way. Some of my favorite memories of geocaching this year would be:

  • Doing those 7 NE PA counties with Dave on the way to our backpacking trip in June.
  • My 31 find day in NC on the American Tobacco Trail with Ellen in October.
  • Finding 11 caches in Utah and Wyoming while out there on business for 4 days. Especially the rental car run to Wyoming one evening, just because I was within an hour and knew I might not get back that way any time soon.
  • Road tripping 250 miles of the Eastern Shore of Maryland in July.
  • Working really hard to get just a few caches on the Appalachian Trail above Port Clinton PA with Dave in the late fall.
  • And last but certainly not least, all the little trips I made to some local park with one or both of my daughters. Precious time well spent.
Wow. It has taken me a long time to write this post because of all the time I have spent remembering all the fun I have had. Ultimately, that is the best testament to geocaching that I can give. And it makes me think forward to all the things I would still like to do...

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