Tips for Seeking Smileys and 2023 geocaching goals: An interview with Annie Love
With the first month of Wheel of Challenges underway, we thought it would be a good idea to check in with a geocaching superstar and get some tips on how to find those smileys. We talked with Annie Love, Senior Business Development Manager at Geocaching HQ and superstar geocacher, to get advice from a pro. Of course, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to also ask about caching goals and favorite finds of 2023 so far. Read on for tips and info about a couple caches you’ll want to add to your geocaching bucket list.
What’s the most caches you’ve found in a month and how did you hit that number?
2451 finds in October 2013. Most of those finds were made over four days of caching on the E.T. Highway power trail near Rachel, Nevada. A fellow Lackey, Moun10Bike, and a few friends and I decided to visit some aliens and find a few caches after the Geocoinfest Mega in Las Vegas. At least one of those days consisted of caching from about 8 a.m. until 1:30 a.m. the following morning. Not a lot of sleep, but definitely a lot of smileys and some shared laughs! Before that trip I felt like power trail caching wouldn’t be a style of caching I would enjoy. Because of that trip, the group camaraderie, watching wild horses run across the road in front of us, and exploring some beautiful Nevada countryside, I realized that I do enjoy that type of caching on occasion.
What are your tips for preparing for and making the most of a long day of geocaching?
Getting a good team of caching friends together really helps make for a great day. Usually one or two folks can figure out the logistics for the day, including putting together Lists to share with the group, determining spots for gas or bathroom breaks, etc. Then, the day of, just enjoying your fellow cacher’s company, working together to find caches. In my more casual outings, we’ll often have far more caches on our List than we can possibly find in the day, but we focus on those most important to our caching goals. I’ve also found that some of my favorite caching days usually have a lunch or brewery stop, or better yet, a geocaching Event stop, where we can sit and enjoy each other’s company.
If someone is just starting out with geocaching, what’s your advice for how to best get into the game?
I really think the best method is the approach I was lucky enough to have when I started out: finding someone who already knows the game to take you out geocaching. Luckily for me, that person was my dad who was as thorough at explaining the game as he was patient with me and my family while teaching us.
If reaching out to another cacher isn’t an option, I usually suggest starting with caches that have a low difficulty rating and those that are larger in container size. Searching for a thumbnail size nano container under a bench can be a tad bit more challenging than an ammo can hidden at the base of a tree under a pile of sticks. Having success on your first geocaching outing can make you fall in love with the game right away, just as I did. I still remember the joy I had at spotting that tennis ball container full of trinkets under a tree at the Bruneau Sand Dunes with my family on my college graduation day.
What is your favorite find of 2023 so far?
Can I pick two? Okay, I’m going to pick two, even though that still wouldn’t do this year justice for the cool caches I’ve found.
I’m slowly working my way through visiting all U.S. National Parks, so when I saw a cheap flight to El Paso for a quick weekend, I booked my flights. This meant I got to visit White Sands National Park in New Mexico. I honestly had done no research, but knew I wanted to find the EarthCache called Birth of a Dune (GC24N2W). When I got to the park, I realized it would be a roughly four-mile hike up and down sand dune after sand dune. However, these sand dunes were made up of glistening gypsum, making it a most magical place to explore.
My favorite physical cache find of the year so far was GC9FAV3, and it’s not surprising that it’s one located just outside a brewery. My friend and I arrived shortly before the brewery closed and lit up the very obvious cache hide with the headlights of the car. Getting the cache open was the easy part. But then working through the gadget portion of it made for a really fun experience to obtain the logbook. Naturally, we celebrated with a beer from the brewery just a couple hundred feet away.
Do you have any geocaching goals or specific caches you’re hoping to find in 2023?
Completing Jasmer is my top goal of 2023. Mind you, not just my first or even second Jasmer loop, which I’ve already completed. I want to finish all four loops of Jasmer this year. After I make trips to Oregon and Michigan, I can make the trek to Kansas and complete my third and fourth Jasmer loops on the same day by finding GC30 and GC31. I’ll actually be a little sad when this goal is complete, as going after hides hidden in every month of every year since the game started has been one of my favorite parts of exploring our geocaching world.
As I’m writing this, I’m a bit shy of 1100 caches away from hitting my 20,000 finds milestone. I’d love to do that this year. I’m also hoping to save the Locationless cache (GC9FAVE) for my milestone, so I will need to be diligent in my planning to be one of my favorite local places I’ve cached when I hit 20k.
What are your geocaching goals for 2023? Share in the comments below!