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Forums —» General Caching —» General —» Power Trails - The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
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Power Trails - The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
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Joined: Sep 29, 2004
Posts: 1207
Location: Burnaby

PostPosted: Tue Jul 26, 2011 11:12 am    Post subject: Power Trails - The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly Reply with quote

When I read about power trails the opinions seem to be rather polarized. Geocachers tend to either love them or hate them. The argument on both sides are persuasive.

When the first power trail came out in the Vancouver area I was not impressed for a few reasons -- most of which have been expressed by power trail haters around the world.

The local argument for me was that a cache every 161 meters was not what I believed the parks board had in mind when they OK'd geocaches in lower mainland parks. Walking most of the area after the FTF rush I saw a geo trail every 100 or so steps in what I believed to be a sensitive area. I didn't need a GPS to find many of the caches. All I had to do is follow the footsteps off the trail to the treeline. There were a few more challenging hides as noted by the lack of vegetation for a 10 metre stretch along the side of the trail. There were too many obvious geotrails for my liking and I cringed at the thought of what a Forest Ranger would think upon seeing it.

It was then I vowed to hate power trails in any shape or form. Yet, I didn't hate it enough to boycott it. Hows that for being a hippocrate of the highest order.

To be fair, the FTF rush was a long time ago and a lot of the vegetation has grown back over time. The geo trails aren't as obvious as they once were.

Power trails do attract attention, but no more than anywhere on the planet that has a high concentration of geocaches. It could be argued that a certain "type" of geocacher is attracted to power trails, but it's been my experience that numbers people aren't the only ones who cache power trails.

The one thing that doesn't sit well with me is the quality of the caches themselves. When placing 100 caches, the CO is clearly going to go for the least expensive route. This means smaller geocaches, generic in nature, hidden pretty much like the one down the trail. No swag. Sorry kiddies. In this respect, the individual find is not important or fun. The intended quest is simply finding them all. The caches themselves are placed for the primary reason of proximity. So, many of the caches are in places a geocacher would never think of hiding a cache if he or she was placing just one.

This brings me to the example power trails set for other geocachers. It's been my experience that newbies will emulate and hide the type caches they have found. Examples of this have been seen in pockets throughout southwestern BC. Steveston's seasoned caching community has been very creative over the years. As a result, Steveston still continues to produce some of the most creative caches in the Lower Mainland. North Surrey's seasoned cachers put out many micros. Now North Surrey is micro central. And the seasoned cachers of Victoria put out regular sized caches and it is still the norm (for the most part) to find larger than usual caches in Victoria even in muggle prone areas. In Burnaby, I've seen a new trend. Newer geocachers are no longer content to hide one great cammoed cache but rather hide several pill bottles along a trail. Multiple hides are now common. Is this solely the result of a local power trail? Probably not. After all, the pill bottle phenomenon is everywhere. But the possibility of the power trail's influence, even in part, cannot be ruled out.

I've done parts of other power trails over the past year. One is composed of Ammo cans. And the caches aren't cramped to 161 meters from each other. That is a high standard.

Another power trail has good quality waterproof containers. I'd be hard pressed to call them a size small geocache, however. In fact, when walking the trail with other cachers we labelled them the "Smicro" since the shape of the containers themselves would not hold a small Travel bug or the average sized geocoin. That renders them useless for travellers.

I've always wondered whether a cache owner could actually maintain each and every cache on a power trail. So far, I've been pleasantly surprised in that regard. I haven't checked needs maintenance logs nor will I. But I haven't seen a flood of "needs archived" logs on any of the power trails I've done or am currently doing. That shows dedication on the part of the cache owners. So, in this regard, I can't complain.

One positive aspect to power trails is they're excellent for group caching. Geocachers in groups can get a chance to walk, talk and get to know each other without piling in and out of cars every five minutes. That is a clear bonus.

So, do I still hate power trails as much as I once did? Probably not. But I don't think I'll ever be a fan. As NIMBY as this may sound, I would suggest that if anyone is planning a power trail, do it well outside of urban areas. Find a nice backroad trail with hearty vegetation and place it there. Leave the city parks and urban forests for more creative ventures. Please do not hide micros in the woods and try to find a container that is not only durable but suitable for travel bugs and geocoins.

Rant end.
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Joined: Nov 02, 2009
Posts: 110
Location: Victoria

PostPosted: Tue Jul 26, 2011 3:53 pm    Post subject: Re: Power Trails - The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly Reply with quote

Well put Scruffster!!!! Very Happy

Believe in Magic!!
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Mr. Wilson and a Mt. Goat

Joined: May 01, 2009
Posts: 481
Location: Nanaimo

PostPosted: Tue Jul 26, 2011 6:14 pm    Post subject: Re: Power Trails - The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly Reply with quote

I have to say that that is one of the better rants I've heard in awhile!

I personally don't mind power trails as long as they take me somewhere nice or something along those lines...

That guy in shorts.
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Joined: Sep 12, 2008
Posts: 358
Location: Rosedale, BC

PostPosted: Tue Jul 26, 2011 8:45 pm    Post subject: Re: Power Trails - The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly Reply with quote

Great post Scruff... definitely a topic that will be discussed for the ages!

I can't vouch for any power trail outside of the Trans Canada Trail Challenge Series that I was part of. I know for a fact that geo_canuck77, grafinator, ricknsheri and I took in to account most of the concerns that you brought up.

- We hid all of the caches generally 200-300m apart instead of the minimum 161m
- We hid 99% of the caches right beside the trail, where environmental damage should be held to a minimum
- Although we hid mostly "Smicros" as you call them (which are very durable and waterproof preform containers), we strived to ensure that each leg of the trail has at least 1 non-preform cache for travellers where possible
- The entire power trail is along a somewhat less travelled part of the Trans Canada Trail and away from any major urban centres

We've had TONS of positive feedback from finders. We've had finders come from hours and hours away to take on some of the legs. We've had people thank us for bringing them out to a trail that they had never been on before and that they probably never would have explored if not for the power trail. Overall, we're VERY happy with the reception that it has received and if anything, it has brought more focus to the existence of the Trans Canada Trail in the Chilliwack River Valley.

Ultimately, we understand that not everyone will like what we've done, however our power trail abides by all of the guidelines, as well as the BC Parks Geocaching Policy, and was happily approved by our local approver without concern. The bottom line for us is that if you don't like it, don't do it... just put them on your ignore list and let everyone else enjoy them.

Lastly and for the record, we classify preforms as small containers because they are about 10x the size of a bison tube. I personally don't cache for the swag or the travellers... I cache for the adventure of finding the cache. As such, they are the perfect container for the caches that I place (which are usually in interesting and out of the way places).

Just my Two Cents and is not meant to negate or overshadow anyone else's opinion on the subject.

Thanks again for the post Scruff... it should make for an interesting conversation.
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Joined: Feb 21, 2009
Posts: 544
Location: Burnaby

PostPosted: Wed Jul 27, 2011 8:17 am    Post subject: Re: Power Trails - The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly Reply with quote

Thanks for the thoughtful discussion. As with any cache there are power trails that appeal to different types of cachers.

There are the power trails in the desert in California and Nevada that seem to be there for sole purpose of upping the numbers. I don't see the appeal of these types of drive up caches on the side of the road. I don't really feel the need to get 500+ caches in one day though there are obviously people who do. That type of caching invites a group "road trip" excitement that can be an adventure unto itself.

There are also power trails that are more common here where the hides are along trails that encourage a cacher to explore further than they normally would. There are some series where there are a variety of containers and a variety of hides that create more interest and the opportunity to drop or find swag and travellers.

Also, due to saturation there are trails and areas that are becoming "power trails" just because different cachers are putting caches out independently along a great trail or in a park.

Love them or hate them, I think they are here to stay.
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