Make Geocaching More Exciting with Puzzle Caching

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Did you know Lake Sammamish State Park has more geocaches than any other Washington State Park? Geocaching, the updated version of a treasure hunt, requires players to find an object by using GPS coordinates listed on Geocaching.com. You'll find several types of clues to get the right coordinates, including mystery or puzzle caches. A puzzle cache takes geocaching to a new challenge level!

Puzzle caching involves solving a mystery that will help you find the correct coordinates for the cache. If you're new to geocaching, begin by solving puzzles with a one or two-star difficulty rating. Move on to the next level once you can quickly decipher these mysteries.

A puzzle cache makes it harder for just anyone to find the prize. However, with a bit of intelligence and the aid of GPS tracking gadgets, then you’ll be able to breeze to the finish line before other players.

Puzzle caches come in several guises. You might need to figure out a word or number puzzle, or it could be more complicated and ask you to determine the longitude and latitude through challenge caches. A challenge cache may require you to locate as many as 100 caches in a day!

Check out these tips on the variety of puzzle caches you may encounter.

  • The puzzle may just direct you to look in the field for clues in the immediate area (a "site puzzle"), or it may be a Cryptogram puzzle written in Morse Code, ASCII, Java, SQL or another programming language.
  • A trivia puzzle contains numbers represented by dates, sports teams, actors or other kinds of trivia.
  • Steganography involves a message, file or image concealed within another file or message. A morphing GIF may contain the latitude and longitude of the cache. You may need to use GIF Explode or a similar tool to reveal the layers in trickier messages.

Brainstorm with your friends to find the solution if you’re having trouble solving a puzzle cache, or check or a caching blog for help.

When you decide to set up a cache for others to find, follow these rules:

  • Place caches on public property only, unless you have permission to put the object on private property.
  • Arrange geocaches so that passers-by won't notice it. Players should be able to find it without damaging plants or terrain.
  • Observe outdoor ethics by leaving the property the way you found it.

Lake Sammamish State Park is a great place for beginning geocaching. Start or participate in a geocaching adventure today to enjoy the outdoors and use your SmartPhone at the same time.

Contributed by Sally Phillips