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Geocaching glossary: what do all those terms mean? part three

A geocaching travel item
A geocaching travel item
Pennington Photo

This is the last article in my geocaching terms series  These are terms the new geocaching user should become familiar with.

Mega-Event Cache
This is one of several cache types. A Mega-Event cache is similar to an Event Cache but it is much larger. Among other considerations, a Mega-event cache must be attended by 500+ people. Typically, Mega Events are annual events and attract geocachers from all over the world.
A non-geocacher. Based on "Muggle" from the Harry Potter series, which is a non-magical person. Usually this term is used after a non geocacher looks puzzled after befriending a geocacher searching for a cache, or when a non-geocacher accidentally finds a cache. Geomuggles are mostly harmless.
Multi-Cache (offset Cache)
This is one of several cache types. A multi-cache ("multiple") involves two or more locations, the final location being a physical container. There are many variations, but most multi-caches have a hint to find the second cache, and the second cache has hints to the third, and so on. An offset cache (where you go to a location and get hints to the actual cache) is considered a multi-cache.
Mystery or Puzzle Caches
This is one of several cache types. The "catch-all" of cache types, this form of cache can involve complicated puzzles you will first need to solve to determine the coordinates. Examples include complicated ciphers, simple substitutions, arithmetical quizzes and clues cleverly hidden within the graphics, Due to the increasing creativity of geocaching this becomes the staging ground for new and unique challenges.
Stands for North American Datum 1927. The precursor to WGS84. Many maps still use the NAD27 datum , so always check before using a GPS unit with a map.
Pocket Query (PQ)
A Premium Member feature, a Pocket Query is custom geocache search that you can have emailed to you on a daily or weekly basis. Pocket Queries give you the ability to filter your searches so you only receive information on the caches you want to search for in either a GPX of LOC format. This feature lets you download up to 500 caches at one time.
Project A.P.E. Cache
This is one of several cache types. In 2001, twelve geocaches were placed in conjunction with 20th Century Fox to support the movie Planet of the Apes. Each cache represented a fictional story in which scientists revealed an Alternative Primate Evolution. These caches were made using specially marked ammo containers. Each cache had an original prop from the movie. Only two Project A.P.E. caches exist today.
Volunteers from all over the world who publish the cache listings on

Hints for geocaches are encrypted using a simple format where each of the letters are rotated 13 characters up or down in the alphabet.
Decryption Key
(letter above equals below, and vice versa)
Signature Item
An item unique to a specific geocacher that is left behind in caches to signify that they visited that cache. These often include personal geocoins, tokens, pins, craft items or calling cards.
A spoiler is information that can give details away and ruin the experience of something. For example, telling someone the end of a movie before they see it. In geocaching, a spoiler gives away details of a cache location and can ruin the experience of the find.
An acronym often referred to as standing for 'Stuff We All Get." It includes the trade items left in caches by geocachers.
Thanks For The Cache. An acronym written by geocachers in physical cache logbooks or online when logging cache finds.
Thanks For The Hide
Took Nothing. Left Nothing. Usually written in cache logbooks by geocachers do not trade for material contents in a cache.
Took Nothing. Left Nothing. Signed Logbook / Took Nothing. Signed Logbook.
Traditional Cache
This is one of several cache types. This is the original cache type consisting, at a bare minimum, a container and a logbook. Normally you will find a clear container or ammo box containing items for trade. Smaller containers, called micro caches are usually too small to contain anything except for a logbook. The coordinates listed on the traditional cache page are the exact location for the cache.
Travel Bug®
A Groundspeak Travel Bug is a trackable tag that you attach to an item. This allows you to track your item on The item becomes a hitchhiker that is carried from cache to cache (or person to person) in the real world and you can follow its progress online. Learn more at

USDA Forest Service (USFS)
The U.S. Forest Service, an agency within the Department of Agriculture, administers 191 million acres (77.3 million hectares) of National Forests, Grasslands, and Prairies. These public lands are generally geocaching-friendly, with exceptions of designated Wilderness Areas, and other specially designated botanical, wildlife, and archaeological sites. The phrase "Caring for the land and serving people" captures the Forest Service mission of achieving quality land management under the sustainable multiple-use concept to meet the diverse needs of people. The Information Center in the agency's national headquarters has been a Washington D.C. Virtual Geocache since August 12, 2001.
"Universal Transverse Mercator" coordinate system. This is an alternative to the standard WGS84.UTM uses grids overlaying specific areas of the Earth’s surface and divides the Earth into 60 zones.
Virtual (cache)
This is one of several cache types which are no longer available for creation on A virtual cache is a cache that exists in a form of a location. Virtual caches have no cache container; the reward for these caches is the location itself and sharing information about your visit. Virtual caches are now considered waymarks on
WAAS stands for Wide Area Augmentation System, but that doesn't really describe what it is. Garmin has an excellent description on WAAS.
Watch List
A watchlist is a list of users that are watching a specific travel bug or cache. Each user receives a copy of each posted log via email.
Waypoints are named coordinates representing points on the surface of the Earth.
Geocaching uses a suggested waypoint for a cache, created automatically when a cache has been created. We generate a waypoint or "GC Code" based on the ID of the cache. It is optional, but makes it easier to locate a cache on the geocaching web site.
Webcam Cache
This is one of several cache types which are no longer available for creation on These are caches that use existing web cameras placed by individuals or agencies that monitor various areas like parks or road conditions. The idea is to get yourself in front of the camera to log your visit. The challenging part, however, is that you need to call a friend to look up the web site that displays the camera image. You will need to have them to save the picture to log the cache. If you are a tech savvy, you can also use a wireless modem and save the image yourself on a laptop.

Webcam caches are now in the Web Camera category on

The most current geodetic datum used for GPS is the World Geodetic System of 1984 (WGS84). The significance of WGS84 comes about because GPS receivers rely on WGS84.
Geocaching uses the WGS84 datum by default. We also use the format HDDD MM.MM, which is a standard for GPS receivers (like the eTrex).

HDD means Hemisphere and degrees. MM.MM are minutes in decimal format.
It is critical that the format be correct, otherwise geocachers will be unable to find your cache!
Wherigo™ Cache
This is one of several cache types. Wherigo is a toolset for creating and playing GPS-enabled adventures in the real world. By integrating a Wherigo experience, called a cartridge, with finding a cache, the geocaching hunt can be an even richer experience. Among other uses, Wherigo allows geocachers to interact with physical and virtual elements such as objects or characters while still finding a physical geocache container. A Wherigo-enabled GPS device is required to play a cartridge. Learn more at

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More information on geocaching is found on the Centennial State Geocaching Podcast


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