Social media is alive with New Year’s resolutions this week, many of which will sadly be broken by mid-January. The possibilities to challenge yourself are seemingly endless for geocachers. Even if you’ve completed some challenges already, there is always the opportunity to mix it up slightly and double your efforts or use specific cache types to complete a grid.
If you’re looking for some inspiration, I have put together a list of some popular challenges you could try this year below. Firstly though, a brief explanation of what a challenge cache is, in case you don’t already know.
What’s a Challenge Cache?
Challenges falls under the unknown cache type and are therefore denoted with a blue ? on the map. The physical cache for challenges are usually located at the posted coordinates (although some older caches may have an additional puzzle or multi element with a hidden final location), and are there to be found by anyone, but a find cannot be logged online before the challenge requirements laid out in the description are met.
Groundspeak introduced some new rules regarding challenge caches last year, including the requirement for each new challenge cache to have a challenge checker, and for the word ‘challenge’ to appear in the cache name. As you may expect, challenges published before the changes may not adhere to these new rules.
Now you know what they are, here are a few more popular challenges to consider working towards in 2017:
1. The Fizzy Challenge
What makes a geocacher well-rounded? Why, qualifying for the Fizzy Challenge, of course! This challenge requires the finder to find at least 81 caches – one for each possibly difficulty/terrain (DT) combination, and also to find at least one of each cache type (excluding some more rare types).
Some DTs are harder to come across than others, and you may need to travel further afield to nab those. Project-GC provides a tool called Map DT Matrix, which will identify the DT combinations you still require and where you can find them.
I finished my Fizzy grid in July 2015 and it felt like such a great achievement to do it. Even if you’ve completed this challenge, you can do it multiple times; I’m now working on the second loop and have three left to fill (this is one of my own challenges for the year). There are challenge caches out there that require you to fill the grid multiple times so the fun only ends when you decide!
2. Jasmer Challenge
The Jasmer Challenge involves finding at least one cache placed in every month since geocaching began in May 2000. This is one of the ultimate geocaching challenges because it is quite tough to complete, and will likely involve some travel.
The history of this challenge goes back to 2008, when geocacher jasmerb placed the first version in Northern California. Project-GC again offers a tool to identify which months are missing and where you can find them. I have 8 months from 2000 and 2001 left to find (well, 9 if you include January 2017 but I should be able to fill that one in easily enough ;)) and none left to find in Ireland so I need to travel to finish the challenge.
3. Daily Streak
Find a cache every day for a set period of time – most commonly for 365 or 366 days. It could be argued that this challenge is easiest if you start working on it when you’re still new to geocaching, as you’ll likely have a lot of caches to pick off more easily one day at a time. Similarly, moving to a new area can be the perfect time to start a daily streak.
When I did my 404 day streak, I was somewhat lucky because I lived near Dublin, which has a high density of caches, but it still wasn’t easy, especially in winter – and we have very mild winters compared to some people! I always took it in smaller increments, 30 days at a time, “if I get to 30 days, I’ll see how I feel and keep going if I can/feel like it.” I know some people who didn’t like the pressure that comes with this challenge and it can even turn some people off geocaching altogether. That said, it is such an achievement when you get to the one year mark!
4. County Challenge
As you can guess, this challenge involves finding at least one cache in every county in a given area. In Ireland, we have just 32 counties but in other countries, there are many, many more, making this challenge a lot more difficult.
What’s nice about this challenge is the different places you see and experience as you tick all the counties off your list. Project-GC has a handy county mapping function too so you can figure out where you need to find caches.
5. Travelling Challenge
Travel is one of those things that goes really well with geocaching, as local cachers are your guides to the best spots and hidden gems in their home villages, towns and cities. Obviously, not everyone is lucky enough to have the means to travel extensively, and some people don’t really have an interest but if you are able to travel and enjoy doing so, there is little more satisfying than visiting a new country or state.
6. Icon Challenge
There are currently 16 cache types* to be found but how many can you find in a day? My personal record is 10 and I did this the day following the 2015 UK Mega in Essex.
The way to maximise cache types is to find an area where a lot of the types already exist. Cachers often travel afar for mega events and this opens up an opportunity to maximise cache types in a day.
*Traditional, multi, mystery, EarthCache, letterbox hybrid, event, CITO, mega, giga, Wherigo, Geocaching HQ, GPS adventure maze, lab cache, virtual, webcam, Project A.P.E.
7. Hidden Date Challenge
Another one of those pesky grids to fill in! This one involves finding a cache placed on each and every date of the year. The more caches you’ve found, the more likely it is you’ll have filled out the majority of dates without even trying.
There will likely be a few random dates that are inexplicably more rare and therein lies the challenge.
These are just a small sample of the types of challenge you can set yourself, and you don’t need to have a specific challenge cache in mind to set yourself a goal. If you do want to work towards a challenge cache in your own area, or somewhere you’re travelling to, Project-GC has a tool that searches for challenge caches in specific areas, which is really useful!
Don’t forget you can find and sign the log on a challenge cache before qualifying, but can only log online once you have met the stipulated requirements.
Which challenges do you have on your list to work on this year? Have you already completed any? Let me know in the comments!
© 2017 | Sarah Murphy | All Rights Reserved