Get Started With Geocaching!
If you're new to geocaching, finding your first hide is remarkably easy with this unit. Once you load your GPX file into the unit, you select the large Geocaching icon with the middle mouse button. A list of the five closest geocaches is displayed. Each geocache listing shows the type of cache, name of the cache, overall difficulty, train rating, size of the cache container, general direction of the cache, and distance to the cache.
The two main types of geocaches are “Traditional” and “Multi-Cache.” A traditional geocache is a container that has, at minimum, a log book, and can have trade items like small toys for kids, “Travel Bugs,” and “Geo Coins” that are also tracked on geocaching.com. A “Multi-Cache” is a set of geocache locations that are dependent on clues discovered in one geocache in order to locate the next find until the final stage is discovered.
The name of the cache is set by the person who hides the cache, and it often reveals a clue. The overall difficulty and terrain rating is on a scale of 1-5, with five being the most difficult. A geocache with a 1-1 rating is wheelchair accessible, and there is seemingly no limits to a 5-5. Any geocache with a difficulty or terrain rating at or above three is always going to be challenging.
The sizes of the container are displayed onscreen with anywhere from small to large boxes, indicating size. The smallest geocaches are roughly the size of the end of a finger, and are often attached to a surface with a magnet. This could be considered a size 1. Most caches are size 2 and 3. A popular size 3 is a military ammunition can. General direction is noted as N,E,W, and S. Distance to the cache is designated in miles, tenths of a mile, and feet when under .1 miles, which is 528 feet.
Your next step is to select a geocache to find. Again you use the thumb mouse on this Magellan unit to make a selection. You are then presented with details that allow you to go geocaching paperless, which is a major plus for this unit. Here are additional details on what you'll need to know for a first find:
Description: Provided by the person who created the hide. Often, you will learn something about the area or the reason for hiding the cache. Two of my favorites were learning about the last battle of the Civil War that happened in Southern Texas (GCBE47) and Wanna Buy A Chicken, about capture of a British ship at the beginning of the Civil War in Charlestown, MA (GC1ABYX).
Recent Logs: This view gives you a quick look at the five most recent logs from geocachers who found or did not find the cache. You see a smiley face or a sad face. For example, GC5430 currently has two smiley faces and three sad faces. This informs the user that, out of the last five attempts to find this cache, only two found it. You can select this item and read the details left by the geocachers.
This particular set of logs shows, by date, that the last three attempts were unsuccessful and most likely the cache has been “muggled.” A muggler is a person who discovers a geocache and is unaware that it needs to stay in place. When a geocache goes missing, log files alert the owner that the cache needs to be replaced or archived. You can also gain hints about the hide reading these logs that will assist you in making the find. I have seen a few logs with misinformation, referred to as “spoilers.” This is all part of the game/sport/learning activity.
Hints:“Look behind a few large rocks that are slightly up the hill that faces the cow crossing” (GCZZYZX). As a new geocacher, hints are wonderful when they are supplied. It is up to the person creating the cache to decide if they want to include one. Once you gain experience, it is part of the challenge to only use the hint when it's needed. If I am not in a hurry, I look at the hint as a last resort before I list the cache as “DNF” for Did Not Find.
Not Attempted: When you select this screen, you are given four additional options: Found, Not Found, Needs Maintenance, and Enter Field Notes. This section is very useful for keeping track of your geocaching without the need to take notes or attempt to remember which cache was which later on. When you connect the unit to your computer, your notes are readably available.
Finding your Geocache: Your last action to take once you have decided to go after a geocache is to use the “Menu” button and select “Go.” By default, you are given a map and a green line to follow to the cache. I use this view until I get within 200 feet of the cache. Within this range, I use the “Back” button and mouse button to select the “Dashboard” view. There are several dashboards to choose from, all of which give you an arrow and distance measurement to the cache.
When I first received the eXplorist GC, the software was still at version 1.0. I was easily able to upgrade the software using utilities on Magellan's site. Version 1.4 has 25 different improvements. The main enhancements I noticed were a sharper, brighter display, faster functionality once the eXplorist was started up, and an easier-to-use mouse button.
Overall, I'd give the Magellan eXplorist GC a 4.5 out of 5. This is an excellent GPS for the new geocacher, but can still serve the experienced geocaching enthusiast well. For the price and features included, I would not hesitate purchase one of these units, let children use it, or buy classroom sets for educational purposes.
Pictures were taken 8/5/10 in Prescohtt, AZ. The Geocache site is GCZYKR Stoned at StoneRidge 1.