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Public Notices

April 17, 2014

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CITO Brings Geocachers to Horse Creek

Photo Courtesy of Chuck Ratliff

Geocachers who gathered at Horse Creek Saturday for a Cache In Trash Out event included, from left: Chuck Ratliff, aka "BoneShaker," and Veronica Ratliff, "the looney cacher," both of Oakwood, Va.; Joe Solomon of Chuckey, "jollymon9999"; Michelle Childress of Bristol, Va., "VaTechnoTeacher"; Amanda Solomon of Chuckey, "IGottaGoWereItsWarm"; Dennis Mott of Gate City, Va., "DMFlyer"; Joe Keys of Jonesborough, "cache a cowboy"; Mike Starnes of Kingsport, "worriedman"; Logan Childress, "AltoSaxPlayer," and Ken Childress, "Question Mark," both of Bristol, Va. Also attending, but not available for the photo were Charlie Carson of Jonesborough, "tyroniac"; and Marvin Solomon of Greeneville, "NIVR."

Originally published: 2009-03-05 13:38:44
Last modified: 2009-08-03 16:50:09
 


By Velma Southerland
Living Editor

About a dozen diehard geocachers showed up in the rain Saturday to participate in a CITO event - and find a few caches.

The above sentence is in English, but translation is necessary for the majority of us.

The Web site geocaching.com states: "Geocaching is a high-tech treasure hunting game played throughout the world by adventure seekers equipped with GPS devices. The basic idea is to locate hidden containers, called geocaches, outdoors and then share your experiences online. Geocaching is enjoyed by people from all age groups, with a strong sense of community and support for the environment."

A CITO (Cache In, Trash Out) event is when geocachers get together to clean up an area. Saturday, they met at the Horse Creek Recreation Area. Joe Solomon, a math teacher at West Greene High School, organized the CITO event, which was attended by people from as far away as Oakwood and Gate City, Va.

Because of the rain, the group stayed mainly under the pavilion and had a good time, Solomon said Monday afternoon. Around noon, the rain did let up enough so that the group removed downed trees and limbs in an area the U.S. Forest Service had asked them to.

Saturday's CITO was a collaboration of Tri-Cities Geocachers, Keep Greene Beautiful and the U.S. Department of Agriculture/Forestry Service. Keep Greene Beautiful supplied gloves, trash bags, and vests for along the roads, Solomon said.

As of March 4, on geocaching.com there were 740,643 active geocaches around the world, and the number increases everyday. There were also 64,916 account holders (geocachers) on the site.

There are 87 caches within 10 miles of The Greeneville Sun.

Caches are hidden by everyday folks, who then publish the latitude and longitude coordinates on such Web sites as geocaching.com (the main site) so that fellow geocachers, using their handheld GPS units, can have the fun of finding them.

How It Started

Geocaching became a possibility May 2, 2000.

About midnight, Eastern Saving Time, the "Great Blue Switch" (there is no actual switch) controlling the selective availability of 24 satellites around the globe processed new orders and the accuracy of GPS technology improved tenfold, according to geocaching.com

The next day, Dave Ulmer, a computer consultant, hid a navigational target in the woods and called it the "Great American GPS Stash Hunt." The coordinates were posted on an Internet GPS users group, and what is today called geocaching began. The rules for the finder were simple: "Take some stuff, leave some stuff."

The term "geocaching" was first coined by Matt Stum on the GPS Stash Hunt mailing list later that month on May 30, but did not become the most accepted name until September of that year.

Stum combined two familiar words.

The first, "geo" is for earth and describes the global nature of the activity as well as its use in familiar topics in gps, such as geography.

"Caching" is taken from the word cache and has two meanings: a hiding place someone would use to temporarily store items and, relating to modern technology, a "memory cache" is computer storage that is used to retrieve frequently used information.

In nine years it has grown from a few experienced GPS users, who already used the technology for outdoor activities such as backpacking and boating, to nearly 65,000 registered cachers.

Types Of Geocaches

Geocaches vary widely in size, difficulty of the hide and terrain (some are wheelchair accessible and others require long hikes with creek crossings, or specific gear: a boat, scuba gear or rock climbing knowledge and gear).

A traditional geocache is a watertight container of any size from 35 millimeter film canister up to five gallons. Inside the tiniest are logs, rolled and scrunched, onto which finders put the date and their geocache names.

Yes, participants in the sport have a "geocache name."

For instance, Saturday's CITO organizer Joe Solomon goes by Jollymon9999. His wife, Amanda, who he said has helped him find 75 percent of his 2,065 caches, has just taken a geocache name, IGottaGoWereItsWarm, and has logged only 40 finds. Solomon has been geocaching since Feb. 4, 2003. His wife's official information has her involved in the sport since Feb. 2, 2009.

He noted that most of their 42 combined "hides" have been her idea. As a math person, he says he's not very creative.

In caches larger than the micro are trinkets of all varieties: action figurines for the children, hair doodads, lapel pins, patches and whatever "treasure" the finder has on hand to pass along.

Dennis Mott, aka DMflyer, of Gate City, who has accumulated 4,542 finds since Sept. 13, 2003, said, "When I have them, I usually leave airplanes."

Mott, whose job with AT&T takes him over a wide area, has hidden 569 caches.

He noted that Joe Keys "cache a cowboy" (336 finds since March 16, 2008) leaves little horses.

Both Mott and Solomon note with something close to awe in their voice "ginseng 33" who has amassed 3,913 (as of Wednesday at noon) finds since July 11, 2007. Mott calls him elusive since none of the other geocachers have ever met him. He lives and works in Greene County and, according to his profile, has not put out any caches.

Jeff Hartman, a marketing teacher at South Greene High School has been caching since Dec. 9, 2004. As TNFishDaddy, he has found 352 and hiden 40, many of which have been "archieved" or taken off the active list.

Hartman's family responsibilities have grown to include coaching ball for his two boys and he has less free time. Since the owners of the caches are responsible for maintaining the caches they put out, he discovered that less free time kept him from being able to maintain that many caches.

"I like the ones out in the country." He said, the ones that "make people get out and take a little hike."

With his changing lifestyle, he didn't feel it was fair to people who might have to hike a mile to a cache, just to discover it had vanished.

The 40 were placed back in the days when he was "gung ho," and have been archieved as his "obession has changed" to his children.

"I just had too many out there to maintain," he said.

"Travelers" might also be included in the caches. A traveler is a "bug" or "coin" that is numbered and can be tracked as it is moved from cache to cache in an attempt to accomplish its "mission." Some have missions to travel to certain locations, such as "North to Alaska," going, you guessed it, to Alaska, or others to remain in a certain state or area, others to go to parks - the missions are limited only by the owner's imagination.

There are multi-caches that involve two or more locations with the final location being a physical container.

It's the multiples with the added puzzle combination that Mott (DMflyer) recalls most fondly.

What he considers fun - such as tube torchure - most of us would likely consider torture.

All 10 stages were "associated with underground culverts or drainpipes or silos, clues painted on the sides with fingernail polish or climbing to the tops of silos," he said.

Others involve decrypting cyphers, climbing water towers or dealing with your personal phobia in the "Fearfactor series."

There are just so many interesting caches, there's not room to even discuss them all.
On the "Geocache Types" page at geocaching.com are listed active types: traditional cache; multi-cache; Project A.P.E. Cache; Mystery or Puzzle Caches; Letterbox Hybrid; Wherigo Cache; Event Cache; Mega-Event Cache; Cache In Trash Out Event; EarthCache; GPS Adventures Maze Exhibit. There are also "grandfathered" types still up and running, but not new ones are being added.

There is no charge to choose a geocaching name and register at geocaching.com if you are interested in logging on and exploring the world.

From reading about geocaching and geocaching logs, come stories about families who hunt together.

The one this writer recalls best is a mother said that her very young daughter had hiked 10-12 miles that day. Ordinarily, she would have been complaining all day and never have gone that far. However, they were geocaching. So the youngster raced from one cache to the other without any complaint.

 
For more information and stories, see The Greeneville Sun.

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