I learned a few days ago that several geocaches were removed from the Guelph Radial Line trail. I was puzzled at first as to why the Guelph Hiking Trail Club would remove the caches. It turns out it wasn’t really the Guelph Hiking Trail Club that took exception but rather it was the property owners who have given the Guelph Hiking Trail Club permission to use their property for the Radial Line Trail. Whenever placing a case it is important that we seek permission of the land owner. Unfortunately this is not always easy.
This is what Kathy Somers the President of the Guelph Hiking Trail Club had to say when I asked why they had removed the geocaches.
The Guelph Hiking Trail Club (GHTC) has not taken exception to geocaching on our trail….
However we have learned that caches have been placed without landowner or GHTC permission and some geocachers are bushwhacking across private lands and yards to get to the caches. To these behaviours, we do take exception.
For me geocaching is about finding interesting locations and not about trailblazing. We do our community a great disservice when we do more bushwhacking than is absolutely required. I’ve never understood why a geocacher would hide a cache 50m off a trail. A muggle is no more likely to find a cache that far from a trail than a well hidden cache 5m from a trail. As geocachers we participate in an activity that relies on the goodwill of others to allow us to continue to enjoy our activity. We need to be mindful of this.
There was one log entry that Ms Somers included in her email that highlights what we shouldn’t be doing:
“even threw a couple of short running bushwhacks in just for kicks.”
Bushwhacking may be for kicks today but doing it leads to the kinds of drastic steps taken by the Guelph Hiking Trail Club. No one wants to have their cache removed. We go to a lot of effort to place them. We need to do a little more effort and reach out to the property owners of where we want to place the cache. I haven’t done that every time I’ve placed a cache and I should.
I think organizations like the Ontario Geocaching Association needs to reach out to groups like the Guelph Hiking Trail Club and find ways to work together. We need to make related organizations aware of geocaching so that we can work together. We need to work within the rules of what stakeholders will allow or we will in short order find fewer places that are accepting of geocaches.
Here are some things we can do to ensure we respect land owners rights
- remain on the marked trail
- use stiles rather than climbing fences
- walk around farmer’s cultivated fields rather than across them
- respect signs that say “danger / keep out” and “no trespassing”
- avoid disturbing wildlife/property
- get landowner or land manager permission before placing a cache.