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rainbow_goddess in geocaching

Puzzle caches

I've been geocaching for a little over a year now and have found 89 caches. I've never done puzzle caches before, but I thought I ought to give them a try, or I'll be missing out on many caches that are not of the traditional type.

My question is: how the hell do you solve these puzzles without giving yourself a splitting headache?

I looked at the geocaching.com website for the puzzle caches that are closest to where I am (well, technically, the ones that are listed as being close before you solve the puzzle, I guess.) I downloaded a few geocaching puzzle-solving apps for my iPod. Then I tried to solve the puzzles.

The first one said, "What kind of cipher is this?" and posted a series of what appeared to be gobbledygook. It wasn't any kind of letter-number substitution because it was made up mostly of symbols. It didn't show up on any of the cipher pages I looked at either on the net or in the apps, and I Googled a lot of puzzle-solving/cipher-solving pages. The logs for the cache were no help; they just mainly said, "A-ha, got it!" and that was it. It looks kind of like this: MMMMMM.++++H02U2Q++....U+DA00Y%$%$%2QA$%%$+D%......... but goes on and on and on and on for an entire page. I got no results from Google when I fed it into the search.

I gave up on that one and moved to the next one. Well, that one looked easy enough; it was just a series of questions related to NASCAR, and once you got the answers (numbers) you did the math and got the coordinates. I started feeding the questions into Google, and soon found that some of the questions appeared to have more than one answer. For example, one said, "What position did Joe Blow start in at X race on X date in X year?" Some websites said he started in first, but others said he started in second. well, I think that the person who posted that puzzle should look up their answers before using that as a question, because I have no way of knowing which answer is correct.

Another one gave a question that I have absolutely no clue how to solve, as it requires you to actually find the cache in order to solve it, apparently: "Well, if you were at the cache site, you would find that the minutes of the longitude (i.e. 123 xx.xxx) were .417 less than the minutes of the latitude (48 xx.xxx)."

I'm beginning to wonder if there is some sort of secret code among local geocachers that enables them to solve puzzles like this, because I just can't wrap my brain around these or any of the other puzzles I've seen. I thought all I'd need would be a few geocaching cipher-solving apps and I'd be good to go.

I will add that I have a learning disability that makes it difficult and sometimes impossible for me to be able to solve some things, but when you give me a lot of gobbledygook I think that it must be some sort of joke that I'm not in on.


Puzzle caches are all over the map in terms of complexity. Some just require you to spend a few minutes thinking, while others will sometimes take hours or days to solve. Some of the ciphers might require specialized knowledge.

It sounds like the one with the minutes of the long/lat is actually a logic problem.
One of my local puzzle caches took my well over a year to solve, once I'd had the light bulb moment it was quite simple. Others have solved that one as soon as they've looked at it. And vice-versa.

There is no way to guarantee how long a puzzle will take to solve. Some are logic puzzles, some are cyphers, Some involve comments hidden in the HTML of the page. The variety is almost endless.

I find logic puzzles easy, and puzzles involving verbal reasoning difficult. Others have different problems when it comes to the puzzle caches.

It is very hit and miss how hard one will be when one looks at the difficulty rating. They are, IMHO, even more subjective than the rating of a traditional cache.

The one that is something like "MMMMMM.++++H02U2Q++....U+DA00Y%$%$%2QA$%%D%…" could possibly be base64 encoded. Without seeing the actual cache page it's hard to be more sure.
I've been solving puzzle caches for several years now. In fact, I've been participating in a monthly puzzle challenge series. They are very tough most of the time and usually totally impenetrable for the first week or two that I stare at them. Then something clicks.

I have a list of standard strategies that I begin with. Sometimes none of them is helpful but they are a basic checklist that I put every puzzle through before looking further for a solving method. Sometimes one of them pays off.

It's a bit too long to describe here, but if you're interested, email me (runeshower@livejournal.com) and we can discuss it!
Me and my friend Aslgirl do a few.
She mostly dos the words ones, and I do the math.
Some, even after we do some how find then (mostly with a few hints from others), we can't figger out them.
I quit doing them - decided they just weren't fun for me. That's okay...I don't have to find every cache. There were a few that I tried - but I just don't get why they have to be so hard. It takes the fun out for me and I get frustrated...so I quit doing them and everyone is happy. I'm not frustrated and there's plenty of other caches available. Keep trying...or not. It's supposed to be fun - not a lesson in frustration.
I've seen some that require serious math skills to solve, but another was simply "visit these 4 statues around city hall, take the last 2 digits of the dates each was placed and use this simple math to get the coords for the cache". It was a lot of fun, and I did it with a non-caching friend on a lunch hour. The hider just wanted people to see the statues. So I would say don't stop looking at them, but don't tie yourself in knots if some are not in your style.
pretty much seconding what everyone else has said - puzzle caches can range from simple to downright impossible; i imagine having a learning disorder would just make it more frustrating. ive solved several, but of the 2 im looking at right now right now, one simply has a brown square and a green square and the other just says 'all the information you need is on the cache page' and nothing else. they can make you want to bash your head against something, but when you finally figure it out the immense satisfaction is the best payoff.

if you ever want any help, my email address is no.place.special@gmail.com. best of luck!

November 2016

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