On a wet but warm day in mid-September, a certain caching couple were donning their waterproof clothing to go out and do some cache maintenance when Mr. Cacher, who had notifications for these things sent to his phone, said: “New cache published. It’s called ‘Machine’!” Well, it would have been rude not to! So the details were saved, the location noted and off they went in something of a hurry, not saying so but secretly hoping for a First To Find.

The 3* terrain rating was well deserved, taking them up and down muddy paths then off-piste into the darker recesses of a plantation. Remembering to look up as well as down, they soon spotted a well crafted if rather large fake bird box in a tree. There were a few strategic low branches to help reach it, but no obvious way to open it or access the log book. They prodded and poked and scratched their heads. They got out a mirror and a magnet on a stick and poked around with a pokey thing. They spent quite a long time doing all this but to no avail. Then Mrs. Cacher said “I’m going to look at the listing” as she had relied on Mr. Cacher’s hurried account of the details. It turned out the cache was called “Cache Machine” and the hint said “This Cache Machine accepts all major credit cards”. To be fair, Mr. Cacher had noticed the “Field Puzzle” attribute, which was why he had several TOTT (tools of the trade) with him, and the D/T rating, which is why these cachers were wearing substantial boots. But now with the right “tool” fished out of the bag, the box (cache size unknown by the way) was then soon opened, the cache retrieved and the log book signed. As it happens, even after all that palaver they were still first.

“Read the Cache Page”. It’s estimated that only 17% do so.

The moral of this story is, of course, “Read the Cache Page”. It’s estimated that only 17% do so. Yes, you read that right, 17%. But it can make all the difference between an FTF and a DNF, as you’ve just seen. So why don’t we read them? After all, the CO has gone to the trouble of finding the hiding place, doing what may be a considerable amount of research and putting the account together for our information and entertainment. So for a start, it’s bad form and bad manners not to even bother reading it.

We’ve all been there. We want a quick find and to be fair, we really won’t remember which Saint the church was named after or which architect designed the flying buttresses. But we do want a find. So it’s up to us to use all the information available to help us to do that. And if it’s a mystery, or even a multi cache, then reading the cache page is essential. And you never know, we might even find it interesting!

There are other reasons why we should always check all the information. There may be warnings about our safety, which could be anything from “Take care crossing the road” to “Only experienced climbers should attempt this cache”. Pretty important stuff!

And it’s not just the description we should read. The D/T rating, attributes, size and especially the hint (although of course some people consider that optional!) can be helpful and informative. There are other useful links on the page too. We have encountered a mystery cache where information was found via the link to waymarking.com. And don’t forget you can simply click on “Driving Directions” or links to various maps. There’s so much that can give you the “edge” over cachers who simply do “find next” on the phone

This article originally appeared in the GAGB’s Seeker magazine October 2016 and is reproduced with kind permission of the author.