Top 10 Geocache Finds (2023 Edition)

I keep a list of candidates for my top 10 favorite geocache finds for each year. Usually, I have to pare each list down, and I end up with a few “honorable mentions” that didn’t quite make the cut. In 2023, however, I ended up with exactly 10 caches on the list, which means I either didn’t find as many great caches in 2023, or perhaps I’m just getting more selective about what I consider to be a really good cache. In any case, here’s the list, along with a short blurb about each cache.

  • Alphabet Z (ZZZs) – Redux (GCAGVB9)
    This was the final cache in a great series that was released over three years. There’s a “grand finale” cache coming in early March 2024, but I thought this cache warranted a Top 10 nod in honor of the entire series.
  • Alvin’s Phone Line (GC9FF)
    One of a couple of “oldest” caches on this year’s list. This is Minnesota’s oldest cache, and it’s a fun hide that is 2 to 3 hours north of Minneapolis. It’s on the list mainly because it was a great excuse to take a road trip “off the beaten path” while in MN on business.
  • CAM 2008 – Eden Mill (GC19X41)
    I have a soft spot for “Cache Across Maryland” (CAM) caches from prior years. This one is in a really nice area, but it’s really on my list because of how well-preserved it is (as of when I found it). It still had the original container, original log book, and original CAM code.
  • GoT: Drogon, Rhaegal & Viserion (GC8RCBM)
    A representative cache from a very ambitious “Game of Thrones” themed series in southern Maryland. This was a 3-stage cache in Maxwell Hall Park that had several interesting physical challenges. I still need to get back down there to finish the series.
    Another pillar climb in the Lebanon Valley area of Pennsylvania. These never get old!
  • Kerckhoffs (part 3) (GC9PC6T)
    This was one of the most difficult (and ultimately rewarding) geocaching puzzles I’ve solved. The hide itself was rather run-of-the-mill, but the puzzle alone earns it a spot here.
  • Millsboro Pond 10 (Let Your Light Shine) (GC4JCW8)
    This is one of a group of paddle caches on Millsboro Pond in Millsboro, DE. It’s a beautiful place to paddle, with tons of wildlife, and this happened to be my favorite location of the lot.
  • Quordle (GC9TPQ0)
    This was the best of both worlds — a fun Wordle-themed puzzle, followed by a great hike in PVSP to find the cache. We even scored some half-priced burgers at the Woodstock Inn.
  • Tour of Stone Mountain (GC1E)
    This is the world’s oldest active multi-cache, although I don’t believe it was originally listed as a multi, so I’m not sure it counts. Regardless, it was a really fun multi that took me all over Stone Mountain Park (outside Atlanta, GA) with a nice hide at the end. It doesn’t really get much better than that.
  • Trussville Civitan – Alabama’s First Cache (GC126)
    This is in Trussville Civitan Park, which is not too far from Birmingham. It was the first of 3 state’s oldest caches I found in 2023, and the first I found post-COVID. It felt great to be traveling and finding these historic caches again, and this was a truly great park to explore. I hiked several miles there and found a whole bunch of caches.

School Morning Ride

Looks like I’m going to have to skip mountain biking this week, due to persistent rainy weather and lack of overnight freezes. In lieu of that, I decided to shake things up this morning and take a ride out past downtown Columbia to Howard Community College and back. Normally, this is not something I would choose to do on a school day, but I figured I might as well give it a try. I left the house at 7:40, which worked out pretty well. The only significant school-related activity I encountered was in the Oakland Mills area near Talbot Springs Elementary, I guess because I happened to go through there near bell time. I got back home at 10:00, after all of the area schools had started. Obviously, I’d prefer to take a ride like this on a day when schools weren’t in session, but the weather forced my hand this week. All in all, though, it wasn’t too bad, and I wouldn’t be averse to trying it again some time. There was more traffic than on a weekend morning, which I had expected, but once I got off roads and onto CA paths, it was smooth sailing, with very few people out and about. HCC was quiet, owing to it being winter session, and I found a geocache there before turning around and following mostly the same route back home. We’re due for another 2-3″ drenching tomorrow, but beyond that, I’m hoping to take the bike to work on Wednesday or Thursday, which will give me two rides this week.

Ride Notes

I had originally planned to run this morning and ride tomorrow (Sunday), but a slight chance of rain tomorrow prompted me to switch things up. Looks like the weather is going to end up being a non-factor, though. I had not taken a 30+ mile biking/geocaching trek in quite a long time, mainly because I’ve been doing more kayaking on the weekends this fall. It’s finally starting to get too cold for that (for this season, at least) so in its place, I’ll be getting back to more hiking and biking, and by extension, caching. Today, I rode out to Columbia and Clarksville and back, for a round-trip of just over 33 miles. I found 3 caches along the way, and failed to find one. The temperature started out a little bit below freezing, and warmed up to the upper 30s while I was out. I wore my trusty REI convertible cycling jacket over a long-sleeve cycling jersey and 32° long-sleeve synthetic base layer, as well as Garneau cycling pants, wool socks, Altra Lone Peaks with warming insoles, lightweight balaclava, and liner gloves underneath open-finger cycling gloves. I rode my Surly Disc Trucker, and broke out the Bar Mitts handlebar pogies for the first time this season. They’re a bit of a pain to take on and off the bars, but they make cold-weather riding much more enjoyable. I’ll probably leave them on the Surly all winter and just use a different bike on warmer days. I was pretty comfortable for most of the ride, including a couple of brief excursions into the woods to look for caches. It was great to get out for a longer ride. Tomorrow morning’s weather looks very similar to today’s, and the plan is to shoot for a 10-mile run. Wish me luck…

Crab Creek Paddle

This morning, I headed back to Homeport Farm Park (near Edgewater) to paddle, for the second time this year. The launch is along Church Creek, a small tributary of the South River. It also provides easy access to Crab Creek, another tributary just to the east. Being 30-35 minutes’ drive from home, this ordinarily wouldn’t be a frequent paddling location for me. However, back in 2020, I adopted a couple of geocaches along Church Creek, and have since placed several more here as well, so I typically come here once or twice a year to check on them. Today was another very mild day, with highs in the 70s. However, based on the forecast, this may be the last time this season that I paddle without a wet suit. I hit the water at 8:30am, and hardly anyone else was out. No other cars were parked at HFP when I arrived, or when I left 2 hours later. I saw one boat speed by on the South River, way off in the distance. There were a few sailboats still anchored from overnight. All in all, a pretty quiet morning on the water. It definitely pays to get out early, especially on weekends.

When I come here, I often start by heading upstream on Church Creek, but today, with a receding tide, I opted to head out to the river and paddle up Crab Creek instead. While I had paddled out to the mouth of Crab Creek before, I had never gone all the way upstream. The round trip was about 5 miles. It’s typical Anne Arundel County coastline, with lots of development, and a few natural areas mixed in, particularly around the shallow headwaters. The fall foliage is nearing its peak, and there were a lot of leaves floating in the water. It’s a great time of year to paddle. I hope to get out one or two more times this year, but we’ll see if the weather and my schedule will cooperate.

Biking Report

I had originally planned to go kayaking this morning, but it was a little too cold for me to feel like venturing out, even with a wet suit. The forecast is showing a warming trend for the second half of the week into the weekend, so I may try to make something happen later in the week, although my schedule is a little tight. We’ll see. In lieu of kayaking, I decided to take a mid-morning bike ride around the airport loop. A geocache puzzle I solved this morning provided extra motivation, as the final cache location wasn’t far off the BWI Trail. This ride is a 23-24 mile round trip from home, which is about the same length as my round-trip commute to and from work. It was my first road ride in 8 days, and my first time riding my single speed bike in at least a couple of months. I used to commute with this bike regularly, but it does not have an easy way to mount a rack and panniers. Back in the day, I used a rack that clamped to my seat post, which I think I still have, but I was never a big fan of it. I suppose I’ll have to break down and use a backpack if I want to re-introduce this bike to my commuting rotation. But, I’m going off on a tangent.

The timing for today’s ride worked out well. I left after all of the area schools had started, and returned home before they let out. Traffic was manageable. Going forward, I’d like to try to work these kinds of rides into my schedule more often on weekdays, especially during times of the year when I’m only going to the office once a week. In particular, I think it’ll allow me to get out on my mountain bike more often during the winter months. On days when trail conditions are bad, I can do something similar to what I did today, either looping the airport, or maybe riding out to Columbia and logging a few miles on the CA paths.

Run notes

I took my first run in 4 days today. I am in Minneapolis for the week, and if everything works out, I hope to take a run on Thursday as well. Today, I ran north from my hotel about a mile to the Mississippi River, where there are numerous walking/running and biking paths. I ran just over 10K, crossing the river twice, before stopping to do some geocaching. The caching involved probably about a mile of walking, and I finished up by running another mile back to the hotel. I obviously love running, and I also love caching while traveling, but I hate stopping during runs, which often puts the two activities at odds. Today worked out great — I ran an uninterrupted 10K, then backtracked a bit and found caches along the route I just ran. I ran back to the hotel mainly to save time, so I wouldn’t be late to my first conference session. By then, I had cooled off considerably, and as a result, I felt a little bit sluggish. It did get me a little bit of extra running distance, though. I really like the trails around the river here (and there are more caches to be found), so I’ll likely run here again on Thursday.

Labor Day Ride

I left the house a little after 7 this morning for my sort-of-weekly biking and geocaching excursion. I usually do this on Sundays, but was slow-moving yesterday due to a late night on Saturday. While it’s really hot today, it was only 73 when I left the house, with a low-ish dewpoint, and even with the temperature rising, the ride was fairly tolerable as long as I kept moving. I rode through Ellicott City/Dunloggin out to West Friendship, southwest to Glenelg, and then home through Clarksville and Columbia. I had planned for 35 miles, but the actual distance ended up being close to 40, partly due to an attempted shortcut that didn’t work out. I took my geared commuter bike in lieu of my usual single speed, which was the right call, as it gets really hilly west of US 29! I found 2 geocaches along the way, both of which were close to pavement and easy to find, which is my preference when out for longer rides on hot days. I ran out of water around 3 miles from home, after draining 2 24-ounce water bottles. Next time it’s this hot, I’ll bring my Osprey waist pack, which has a 1.5-liter reservoir. Energy-wise, I felt pretty good most of the way, but was beginning to drag once I hit the final 5 miles or so. I think the heat was just starting to get to me. I’m glad I got out for a ride, though.

Ride Notes

I took advantage of the nice Sunday morning weather and got out for a roughly 35-mile bike ride. I found 6 geocaches along the way, which is the most I’ve found in a single outing this month. After last Sunday’s ride into Baltimore, I decided to head back to the familiar territory of Columbia, riding out towards the downtown area first, and then back across US 29 through Kings Contrivance and Huntington. I then crossed US 1 and headed home through Jessup and Hanover. This is a pretty good single-speed route. Columbia is generally pretty flat east of US 29, and the few steep hills are relatively short. Things don’t really start to get hilly until you get farther out west towards River Hill and Clarksville, or north into the Patapsco River Valley towards Ellicott City. Next weekend, I’m thinking about riding out to West Friendship, and I’ll definitely want a geared bike for that.

Biking Report

I rode my bike into Baltimore today, for the first time since May 14 (according to my geocaching logs). My usual route into the city has me picking up the Gwynns Falls Trail at Wilkens Ave. about 0.6 mile east of Caton Ave. Then, I follow the GFT into the city and past Carroll Park, where I can go north towards the B&O Museum, or east past M&T Bank Stadium, towards Federal Hill and the Inner Harbor. To exit the city, I usually go south through Federal Hill, over the Hanover St. bridge, and through Brooklyn and Harmans to Linthicum. Both routes are roughly 14 miles one-way to or from home, so I’m guaranteed to get 28 miles plus wherever I go within the city. Today’s ride took me through downtown along Light and Pratt Sts., and along the waterfront promenade to Fell’s Point, one of my former stomping grounds which I hadn’t visited since probably before COVID, and never on a bike until today. I had mixed luck looking for a few geocaches along the way — I found a couple, but struck out on several others. That’s kind of the way it goes with me with urban caching.

Baltimore really gets a bad rap nowadays, even amongst people I know who grew up there. It’s kind of depressing. The city has its problems for sure, but there are parts of Baltimore that are still very nice. The city has added two-way protected bike paths in a lot of downtown areas, and when I was there, the whole harbor area was busy with walkers, joggers, and bikers. There were lots of folks out and about in Federal Hill and Fells Point, as well. I will grant that some areas along my routes in and out of Baltimore leave something to be desired. Parts of the GFT between Wilkens Ave. and Carroll Park are secluded and a little bit creepy, and Brooklyn is not a great neighborhood, in spite of being along the East Coast Greenway. It probably helps that I usually ride through these areas early on Sunday mornings, but I’ve never had a problem after 3 years and 15-20 rides. Once I’m in the city proper, I stick to nicer neighborhoods like Downtown/Inner Harbor, Federal Hill, Locust Point/Port Covington, and Fells Point, and I have always felt safe.


We took the “kids” (age 20 and 17) for an overnight trip out to far western Maryland Monday into Tuesday. We visited Swallow Falls State Park, the Maryland Rock Maze, Sideling Hill Creek State Park, Cumberland Narrows, and Washington Monument State Park. We got some hiking in and found several geocaches. Even though we were away less than 36 hours, it was nice to get out of the house for a while, and brought back memories of trips like this we used to take back when the kids were smaller. Who knows if we’ll ever be able to drag both of them out for something like this again!

I rode my mountain bike to work today, for the first time since June 7. Although I’m no fan of mountain biking in the heat and humidity, the main thing stopping me this summer has been the wet and stormy weather we’ve had since the second half of June. My schedule is most conducive to mountain biking on Wednesdays, and most weeks, the trails have been too muddy. Currently, we are in the midst of a several-day dry spell, so conditions were pretty good. I stuck to familiar trails, and they were in mostly good shape, but there were lots of muddy patches in areas that aren’t usually muddy. I passed around 8 hikers on the Howard County side between Belmont and Rockburn Branch, which is 8 more than I usually see in that area weekday mornings. I guess the beautiful early August weather brought everyone out of the woodwork. Temperatures were in the upper 60s, with low humidity.

On the swimming pool front, something seems to be wonky with our SWG today. This morning, I went out and noticed that the temperature sensor was reading 5-8 degrees higher than the actual water temperature. I calibrated it to match, but I’ve never had to do that before. I ran a test, which showed normal cell amps, but then after I exited the menu, the display started flashing a low amps warning. Not sure if the two issues are related. The temperature thing is usually related to the tri-sensor, but the low amps thing usually points to the cell, so I’m not sure what to make of this. I power-cycled the controller and also backwashed the filter, but neither helped with the temperature anomaly. The low amps display went away after a minute or so, but the Chlorine has been running a little lower than expected this week, so I wonder if this has been happening for a few days. This evening, I’ll pull the cell out and inspect it, and I’ll also look at the check valve and see if there’s anything impeding flow through the tri-sensor. The cell is 14 years old, and has outlasted the original controller and tri-sensor, so it could be that it’s finally time for a new cell. However, it doesn’t seem like a bad cell would cause the issue with the temperature reading. I’m sure I’ll get to the bottom of it, and I’m sure it’ll end up costing me more money. That’s just life with a pool.