Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Review of Honey Creek Geocaching Backpack

The Iowa DNR provides nature programming at its Honey Creek Resort. Before my recent visit, I requested the GPS Field Pack (if you follow the link, look mid-page for "GPS Field Pack").

What is in the GPS Field Pack:

  • GPS with ten official geocaches already plugged into the unit
  • laminated 8 1/2 x 11" F/B sheet of the ten caches' descriptions and attributes
  • folder with a map of the park and GPS Bingo game
  • first aid kit
  • writing utensils
  • trinkets for trading
  • field guides
  • extra batteries

How to use it. The resort website states that you need to reserve the field pack ahead of time. I did this (sort of), and the naturalist remembered my name from our emails (pleasant surprise). I checked it out from her by signing a piece of paper. Everything was very easy; no credit card was necessary (different from the county park packs). Keeping it for a weekend was not an issue. Once I was done using it, I returned the pack to the office.

What I thought about the GPS Field Pack. The most difficult thing for me was not having a map with the caches located on it. But I had an easy fix. I stepped out to the resort's Business Center, printed a geocaching map of the desired area, and transferred the locations (including an earth cache) to a resort map. Total time spent: three minutes.

The pack was nicely stocked with appropriate supplies. The cache descriptions were very helpful. I usually print this out before searching.

I keep thinking about the usefulness of the map (without geocaches). I guess the value would be for general orientation and navigation, but not for seeking specific caches. There is no scale on the map, so I'm still thinking about the value.

What I would do differently. I would check the GPS unit after each check-out and clear out all the crap. It had many waypoints stored on it. Maybe they were from a past exercise with kids or left from someone accidentally pressing the "Mark" button. They were not helpful for a caching trip. I might also scan the website now and then for updates on new earthcaches. (Traditional caches are maxed out on the property.) I like earthcaches; they are cool.

There was only one winter-friendly cache, GC26YAY No Vacancy.

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