Geo-snatching

Geo-snatching is the act of finding loopholes instead of geocaches.

This includes:

  • armchair geocaching;
  • hacking your smartphone's location so you can log Adventure Labs or solve Whereigo cartridges without visiting the location;
  • logging an FTF on a friend's cache that you helped place;
  • finding your own caches by adopting it to a sock puppet account (aka rule 52612);
  • other general tomfoolery.

The term geo-snatching was invented by gsmX2 on this Facebook post. This article explains what geo-snatching or geosnatching means in geocaching, and how a geo-snatcher or geosnatcher differs from an honest geocacher. Content of this article does not necessarily reflect blog owner's views.

Mystery at the Museum - Plan a Trip

Geocaching.com's newest promotion, Mystery at the Museum, is online today. To qualify for the first three souvenirs, you must find and log a number of geocaches, in a certain order.

Geocaching.com offers a filter function that shows which geocaches to find and log next. However, it only allows me to select the clue tiers that I currently qualify for. Since I haven't found any geocaches since the promotion started, I can only search for the Detective clue, but cannot search for any other clue types.

CLUES filter disabled except for Detective

This is inconvenient for me, because I prefer to go geocaching offline. I usually download a number of geocaches to my phone, go out to find them, and then log them at end of the day. I want to be able to search for clue types beyond Detective, even if I don't currently qualify for them. Then, I can go out, find enough geocaches to complete two or three souvenirs together, and then log them into the correct order.

I poked around the URI parameters in the address bar, and found two methods. I thought I'd share them, in case anyone needs it.

Oregon Vacation: Looking Back and Looking Forward

My 7-day Oregon vacation is over. It took even longer for me to blog about this experience:

  1. Planning and Departure explains why I chose Oregon, how I planned the trip, and a personal record I set on the departure day.
  2. GC12 and GC17 follows my adventure to Oregon's oldest geocache.
  3. Birthplace of Geocaching introduces a landmark that started one of my favorite sports.
  4. Hillsboro and Outlets tells how I met a Twitter friend in real life, how I contributed to American economy, and a painful DNF story.
  5. Eight Waterfalls, Two Beaches, and a Webcam takes me outdoors to the scenic Multnomah Falls recreation area.
  6. Portland calms me down in the peaceful Portland Japanese Garden, and gets me running around in Portland State University.
  7. Breakfast and Laundry Solutions discusses some logistic issues during my travels.
  8. GC16 in Molalla River makes me huff and puff in seek of a 19-year-old plastic jar.
  9. Oregon City lifts me up along the only vertical street in North America.
  10. Last Day brings me from the peak of Portland to the other side of the state line, and then back to the normal life.

Schedule

My vacation did not have a planned day-to-day schedule, but adopted a semi-flexible strategy. This differs from my previous vacations such as the Yuma Mega trip, where the planning covered exactly where to exit the highway and take a rest. Being flexible allowed me to spontaneously decide where to go next, based on weather, mood, and other factors. It enabled me to add destinations that I did not know before departure, such as Multnomah Falls and Oregon City, as well as fulfill friend's request of an IRL meet up. This strategy did backfire once, when I went to a museum only to find it closed.

Eventually, my trip achieved an interleaved structure between rural and urban environments:

Oregon Vacation (10) Last Day

By the time I finished my Oregon City tour, I'm 22 miles from the Portland International Airport and I have 8 hours remaining before scheduled flight departure. There are still places worth visiting.

Portland's Highest Point

Council Crest Park is the highest point in Portland at 327-meter elevation. It is also the location of Portland's oldest geocache, hidden in February 2001.

rusty statue and signal tower atop Council Crest

The park was easy to locate. The geocache, on the other hand, was difficult for me. Its location is specified as a vector offset from the hilltop, at "185 meters in the direction of 285° from magnetic north". I've seen "magnetic north" once and looked up some scientific references, but I don't know a practical way to convert magnetic north to true north that is accepted in mobile apps.

Oregon Vacation (9) Oregon City

Driving around the highways south of Milwaukie, I repeatedly saw an End of Oregon Trail sign. I vaguely remember having played a game called The Oregon Trail (paid link), but I don't know exactly what "Oregon Trail" is, so I looked it up. Oregon Trail is a 2170-mile wagon route between Independence, MO and Oregon City, OR, traveled by some of the earlier pioneers that settled in the west. Given its historic importance, after completing my geocaching mission, I decided to spend part of my last two days to visit Oregon City.

Elevator, Artwork, and Oddities

My evening tour of Oregon City was entirely guided by three geocaches:

selfie with Oregon City Municipal Elevator

Oregon Vacation (8) GC16 in Molalla River

My primary goal in Oregon is to find some of the world's oldest geocaches. I've found GC12, GC17, and the Original Stash tribute early on, but there's one more: GC16, hidden in June 2000. Wednesday, June 12, after a breakfast at Hitchin' Post, I started my quest into the BLM lands along Molalla River.

GC16

Just like other historical caches in Oregon, GC16 does not have parking coordinates in its listing. Once again, Google Maps tells me that I can drive straight to it. I know it can't be so easy, so I did my planning and identified two potential trailhead / parking locations:

  • Annie's Cabin trailhead, N 45°01.015 W 122°29.001, 3.0 km hike.
  • Hardy Creek trailhead, N 45°02.382 W 122°29.348, 2.3 km hike.

I looked over the "Old Oregon Coast Cache Access" document that I received at GEOregon event, and it suggests the first parking area. I'd better listen. It's a half-hour drive from Molalla on a wide, well-maintained road. I saw several logging trucks passing by, which explain the necessity of good roads.

Oregon Vacation (6) Portland

Tuesday, June 11 is the fourth full day of my Oregon vacation. Having accomplished most of my geocaching goals, it's time to be a tourist. Primary goal for the day is Portland, the largest city in Oregon.

A Day Pass

I have a rental car during this vacation, but experience tells me that driving in a large city like Portland would not be an enjoyable experience. There's traffic, and parking is difficult. Therefore, I opted for public transportation.

One of my strengths is being able to quickly figure out how transit works in any city. I successfully used Boston subway, Denver commuter train, Las Vegas Deuce, Flagstaff Mountain Line, San Francisco BART, San Diego trolley, Honolulu TheBus, and many other transit systems during my travels. Likewise, I familiarized myself with Portland's TriMet transit system through 15 minutes of online study, including its major routes and fare options.

TriMet is, in fact, one of the easiest transit system I've ever used. It offers both bus and light rail (tram) service. Routes and real time tracking are available through Google Maps and Transit App. Every fare box can accept mobile payments such as Android Pay, in addition to cash and "Hop Fastpass" smart cards. Day passes are offered, but you don't have to plan in advance: if you paid enough single trip fares in one day, your ticket is automatically upgraded to a day pass.

Oregon Vacation (5) Eight Waterfalls, Two Beaches, and a Webcam

I arrived in Oregon for a 7-day vacation, without a specific day-to-day trip plan. I travel alone, have a rental car, and live in a "central" location, so that I can have the flexibility to spontaneously decide where to go next. I'm obsessed with geocaching and interested in museums, but I don't want to spend all my time on these. I need to discover something new.

Planning for Multnomah Falls

Every motel has a shelf of tourist information booklets. When I was checking in on Jun 07 evening, I browsed that shelf, and grabbed a few maps. I asked the front desk lady for recommendation, and she mentioned Multnomah Falls. Photos from the booklet and online search are gorgeous. I have to see Multnomah Falls during this trip!

Official website tells me that parking is very difficult on weekends between 11:00 and 16:00. Therefore, I planned the visit on Monday Jun 10, and I would depart early so that I'm parked well before 11:00.

The Q&A section of Google Places reveals a potential problem:

Oregon Vacation (4) Hillsboro and Outlets

Jun 08 afternoon, I visited the birthplace of geocaching near Estacada, Oregon. My dinner is scheduled at Copper River Restaurant & Bar in Hillsboro, where I can attend a geocaching event.

GEO June 2019 Meet & Greet

Geocaching is generally a solo sport, except when I run into other geocachers on the trail. However, the "event cache" is an opportunity for geocachers to meet other participants of the sport. When I was planning my Oregon trip, I kept searching the event listing every week, until a suitable event showed up: Geocachers Exploring Oregon (GEO), Oregon's geocaching community, has a meet & greet on Saturday evening. Therefore, I planned my dinner to be at this event.

After spending too much time on the Un-Original, I drove 79 minutes to the event venue. Copper River is a large restaurant with more than 100 seats, and GEO is the largest group in the restaurant. I arrived at 18:02, just as the "official program" was starting and a president-level figure picked up a loud speaker to make announcements. I received a blue raffle ticket, and later won a geocoin.

I found a seat in the middle of a 30-person long table, and introduced myself as yoursunny to people around me. longtrails, who's seated to my left, remembers my name because I signed his challenge cache this morning. We chatted, and he offered me a document of driving directions to some of Oregon's historical caches.

Oregon Vacation (3) Birthplace of Geocaching

Jun 08 morning, I found GC12 and GC17, two oldest geocaches in Mt Hood National Forest, Oregon. I returned to GC17 trailhead at 12:19. It has been five hours from when I left the motel, I have chewed two protein bars, so it's time for lunch. Google Maps says there's no restaurant in the middle of the forest, but there are some near my next destination. I entered the address into HERE WeGo, ate a third protein bar, and started driving.

Here we go again, HERE WeGo commanded me to "turn sharp left toward SE Brian Ranch Rd", a narrow, steep, and unsafe road through the ranches. I ignored this command, and continued on SE Wildcat Mountain Dr. An hour later, I arrived at View Point Restaurant & Lounge, Estacada, OR. I need a burger right now.

view of Clackamas River from View Point Restaurant

Original Stash Tribute Plaque

World's first geocache, then known as "GPS Stash", was published by Dave Ulmer on 03 May 2000: