Featured Player: 96Shadow

96shadow

What was the inspiration for your geocaching name?

My bike – motorcycle, is a 1996 Honda VT1100c2 Shadow A. C. E. (American Classic Edition)  I attempted other handles but they were all taken already.

 

Why did you decide to try geocaching?

I discovered “Where’s George” – a cash bill tracker where you enter the serial number and other information of the cash bills into a database and can get alerts when it is logged again thereby allowing you to see the bill’s travels – from a dollar I had that was stamped WheresGeorge.com. One such bill had an extra stamp on it – geocaching.com. Curiously I checked the site and then went out and found my first cache a few blocks from my home before I even signed up for membership. I was instantly hooked. It has since been archived and I now have my own cache in the general location: https://coord.info/GC6E83R. 

 

What cache were you after? What did you expect to find?

That was https://coord.info/GCHB7B. Had no idea, that’s why I went looking.

 

Everyone has a Geocaching “big fish” story about the hunt that was much more than you expected at the start. What is yours?

It was recent. Almost has to be because I’m very forgetful.  My parents heard something on the news about the Atchafalaya Basin and Louisiana and Geocaching but they didn’t understand what they were talking about. So I got a call and, as I missed the news, I had no idea what they were talking about. Then I attended the meet event https://coord.info/GC771XA and posed the question to some of the other attendees. No one heard of it. I came home and did an internet search and came up with the story from a Baton Rouge television station. I immediately began preparing for the fun. After some stressful sweating and long hours and hard work and a couple mosquito attacks and lots of back tracking miles on my gas guzzling pick-up and spending 1 night in said truck, I completed the trail – first.

 

What is your Geocaching EDC (Everyday carry)? What gear do you have to have with you?

Hmm, I’m always forgetting something. My phone is about the only thing I always have with me. I have a military belt with pockets that’s loaded with all sorts of tools. I don’t always have it with me on hunts though.

 

What is the most memorable thing you’ve seen or found while caching?

My memory isn’t any good, I forget just about everything. There is nothing that stands out. I guess https://coord.info/GCE02C would be it. Taking all those elevators and being on top of New Orleans.

 

What cache is on your Bucket List?

No particular cache. Want to complete some Trails / Challenges and make it to a Mega Event – GeoWoodStock. 

 

Any other hobbies?

Riding my bike when it’s up and running, gardening, been a very long time since I’ve seen a Where’s George bill or gotten an alert from one, spending way too much time on Facebook or the computer in general, making wine, canoeing, fishing on a rare occasion, tent camping when I can, looking for a beautiful young virgin to be my wife and later, the mother of my children (also known as dreaming / fantasizing), photography, butterflies and birds (watching and helping), some years ago I purchased an observation hive for bees and have yet to get bees for it (someday I hope to), when I can – travel / exploring / taking the back roads. I also like to check out houses and other properties that come up for sale if they are unoccupied. 

 

Anything else you would like to say?

Some caches are so cool and imaginative. I wish I had that kind of talent.
I wish I had better memory ‘cause without a good memory I find myself missing out on conversations of certain shared experiences even if not done at the same time. I’m also hard of hearing – been tested 80% loss in left ear and don’t remember what the number was for right ear.
I don’t like puzzles. I do like gadget caches.
I also like the LGO Facebook page, great bunch of people on there.

PLEASE, don’t just WATCH for but make the effort to LOOK for motorcycles!!! Often times bikes are hidden behind your mirror or C-pillar. 

LGO Honorary Member: Giddy Up GeO

GiddyUpGeo_honorary

Tell us a little about who you are and where you live.

I’m an old retired nurse who got a second chance at parenting when we adopted Peamite, who is now 6 years old. We live in the sleepy town of Wiggins, MS.

 

Other than geocaching, what draws you to Louisiana?

Muggle Hubby’s family is from Louisiana and we have lots of friends and family scattered across the state. The food, culture and atmosphere that Louisiana offers turns visits into a feeling of ‘coming back home’. Other than Geocaching? That’s icing on the cake cause Louisiana has some of the best! That alone is enough to draw us there!! 

 

Why did you decide to try geocaching?

My friend and I had always played in the woods, hiking and metal detecting, looking for Native American artifacts. I read an article years ago about finding geocaches in remote areas, but never knew how to find them. When on a Facebook group about camping, someone mentioned geocaching at one of the State Parks and there was a phone app one could use. I downloaded the app, went solo to find one near me and was hooked from day one! 

 

Everyone has a Geocaching “big fish” story about the hunt that was much more than you expected at the start. What is yours?

After finding a few regular caches, I stumbled upon a Multi (Wild Ideas- GCJ4V5) in the Desoto Forest at an old CC Camp. It was at the beginning of a hiking trail and I was anxious to find the ‘treasure’ that was hidden in the forest. I imagined it to be just like the stories I’d read after finding as much information as I could in the few caches I had already found. I arrived at the parking area, made my way to GZ, only to spend what seemed like hours trying to find the container. My phone quickly drained it’s battery. So, I leave determined to get a new phone but got a battery pack instead. Few days later, I grab my friend and we head back with new battery pack and another set of eyes. We were so excited! We were going to find hidden treasure. We finally found the container, which had cords for the second stage. I had no clue how to get those in my phone. We ended up hiking the trail and left with our bubble deflated. I spent days trying to work that stupid cords. When I did learn how to get from A to B.. I went back. I spent most of a day along that trail, found the second stage, which was an ammo can. You would have thought it was full of treasure! Miffed that this was the second stage and there was another, I hiked to the third.. and took several minutes looking and found Wild Ideas!! I was chocked full of wild ideas and TREASURE!! I don’t think I have ever left the forest any more excited than that day. I knew then, there’d be more geocaching in my future. 

 

What is your Geocaching EDC (Everyday carry)? What gear do you have to have with you?

I have a clip, that attaches to a ring on my phone case, that holds my small signature stamp, a pen and a dental pick. The dental pick is to help remove those pesty rolled logs in nano’s and bison tubes.
Like everyone else, I carry way to much ‘stuff’ in my geomobile. Besides my cellphone, I have to have my hiking stick when in the woods or forest. It’s found more ammo cans in the woods that I could ever count and is about the most useful TOTT I have. 

 

What is the most memorable thing you’ve seen or found while caching?

GC5330Y – Ancient Mariner (now archived) Multi water cache that Muggle Hubby and I did when we took our maiden voyage in our new yaks. After finding the first stage in the middle of the bayou… we paddled up a small canal and bam! There’s an ancient ship marooned on land. If I’d have pulled up the satellite imagery, I’d have known.. but it was totally amazing. It’s still one of my top favorite caches!! 

 

What cache is on your Bucket list?

Gosh… that’s a hard one. I have so many still in the bucket but right now it’d have to be GC1AM16 – I10 Interstate Highway Challenge.

 

Any other hobbies?

Peamite and I collect Extagz, another brand of Pathtags, although we like those! 

 

Anything else you would like to say? 

Geocaching, like life, can be an adventure. Just like this crazy life we live in, it’s what you decide to make of it.

Waypoints: Kisatchie and Little Pierre Bayou Falls

IMG_3209

Little Bayou Pierre Cascade: N 31° 23.717’ W 093° 03.810’

NATCHITOCHES PARISH

WHAT’S HERE:

Waterfalls in Louisiana. Yes we have some but they’re not the Oregon Trail – shampoo commercial – variety.

Most web searches for ‘waterfalls in Louisiana’ will yield the ones we know already from our geocaching exploits around LaSalle Parish: St Mary Falls and Rock Falls. According to our geo-friends who have explored that area, the Sicily Island Hills State WMA, there is a third waterfall, somewhere near GC5ZKXZ.

Frustratingly, those same web-searches typically yield some ‘hey this is in your state’ aggregate blog pages that always, always start with Clark Creek Falls, which is actually in Mississippi.

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Little Bayou Pierre Cascade, viewed from La-118, looking SW

Buried deep in the search results though, one author listed Little Bayou Pierre Cascade.  Visible from a bridge crossing the bayou on La-118, there isn’t much in the way of water or fall, but it’s there.  Without actually measuring, it appears to be a 3-foot drop in elevation. That aforementioned author labels it a Class II rapid.

On the other side of the bridge, off to the NE there is a public swimming hole.

Tripgoers to this site should keep in mind, La Hwy 118 is one of a handful of paved highways that don’t terminate on both ends at another highway. The western end is an intersection with La Hwy 117. State maintenance ends at the Mink community, just about exactly where this waterfall is.

So don’t continue east past the falls on Kisatchie-Mora Rd. unless you want a rough ride through the country.  You may get a damaged tire like we did.

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The Longleaf Vista area of Kisatchie National Forest is geologically the same limestone foundation that make up the highlands of Sicily Island Hills.  Therefore it’s not surprising that there should be waterfalls in Natchitoches Parish as well.  We know of three, including Little Bayou Pierre’s.

Kisatchie Campground Fall: N 31° 26.674’ W 093° 05.589’

Hidden deep in Kisatchie’s Red Dirt WMA is Kisatchie Bayou Campground, on Kisatchie Bayou, a meandering stream coming out of its limestone hills, which flows north to join the Cane River near Natchez, La.  For most of the year the stream is sparse, carrying what rain water the hills take in.  Visitors to the area, following several days of storms (as we did) will find the bayou a veritable torrent.

This will reveal a set or two of rapids unseen at most other times.  This one, near the very end of the Caroline Dormon Trail and the campground there, becomes a drop of about 15-24 inches, scored diagonally across the entire bayou from SW to NE.

While there, and taking the opportunity to dip our feet and pull out rounded stones from the bayou bed, our team met a duo of downbound kayakers who verified the existence of a third fall further upriver.  The directions they gave us indicated there is a Forest Service road off of La-118 (why is it always that one?) that should take one straight to it.

kisatchiefall

Map courtesy Google / Geocaching

Turns out, that’s exactly the case. Even Google Maps identifies it as ‘Kisatchie Fall’ but only on one Zoom Level. FS-361, the kayakers indicated, doesn’t have a sign, but map-heads should be able to locate it.

Kisatchie Fall: N 31° 24.403’ W 093° 07.925’

It may be our next geo-trip.  After all, this forest road entrance puts curious cachers very close to GC13AY9.

That’s six waterfalls in Louisiana we can verify. If you know of any more, let us know.

 

This Tag is growing. See our overview of geoLa Waypoints here.

North East South and West

Here was our question: Which Louisiana geocaches are the northernmost, easternmost, southernmost, and westernmost? What are our geo-extremes?

It seemed easy enough. Starting along the beach at the bottom of our state, one needs to only follow the Geo-map from one side to the other. There’s really only a couple places that our L-shaped geography protrudes with any kind of vigor into the Gulf. There’s the Mississippi Delta, and the Bayou Lafourche corridor.

A quick search for geocaches in both of those areas easily give us the site of the geocache hidden for us which is the farthest south, and the farthest east.

No place in Louisiana goes farther east and south, land-wise, than the Delta.

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And most of it is accessible only by boat

The three-veined Mississippi entrance doesn’t have any physical hides (presently). The closest place to the river’s mouth is Venice, where the world ends. At that ending we find a handful of hides, and the one farthest to the east is GC64VNP ‘Park at the End,’ one of BAMBOOZLE’s many droppings. It’s sitting on 89° 21.158’ W of Greenwich, making it the easternmost physical geocache in Louisiana.

That stretch of delta isn’t the east-iest dry land in the State, however.

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Here’s an interesting fact: The easternmost point of the Chandeleur Islands is farther east than Biloxi is.

The Îsles de Chandeleur arc out into Mississippi Sound, and even though they’re disappearing at a disheartening rate, they still are a beach with fauna and flora. However, there isn’t and there won’t be any physical geocaches there, since they’re part of the Breton National Wildlife Refuge.

Now, a swipe of the map westward leads across Barataria Bay past Grand Isle to the land of the Lafourche, and it is there we do find the southernmost geocache presently on our map.

It’s another one of BAMBOOZLE’s. GC3A0K7 ‘Come Get Me Big Doggy’ was hidden by Bam and Short Circuit 2, as a challenge to Big Doggy, a veteran player in the New Orleans Metro Area. To our knowledge, Big Doggy still hasn’t gone after it.

Measuring latitude 29° 06.463’, it is the closest place to the equator in Louisiana that you can sign a geocache log.

Now, astute map-heads will point out that there’s an Earthcache at the Head of Passes, more southern and more eastern than these.

ec

Image: geocaching.com / Leaflet

GC605FW ‘Foot of the Bird – Earthcache’ is an educational exercise touching on delta formation and river navigation. Its published coordinates are southeast of Venice, in the river proper. Auxiliary to the lesson, the owner has left a physical log at the Pass-A-Loutre WMA check-in station. Because the coordinates to that station are below the 29th Parallel, and nearly three more miles east than the pin for the earthcache, we can interject a kind of asterisk to our above statement about the southernmost log you can sign.

However, this author will claim that such an ‘additional logging requirement’ is optional for the Earthcache and does not count as a physical geocache, respectable and exceptional though it may be.

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Image: geocaching.com / Google

 

What started as a hypothetical question about geographical geocache extremes has blossomed into a monumental puzzle to solve.

Check this out. In the Caddo corner of our State we have a physical geocache, looking like it’s across the dotted line and properly in Texas, but listed in Louisiana, and hidden to the NORTHWEST of a Virtual cache, listed as being in Arkansas.

GC23HE8 ‘ArkLaTex’ and GC7EF5 ‘Two for One, Three at a Time’ seem to have swapped bathrobes. Is one of them not in their actual state? Who knows?

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Image: geocaching.com / Google

 

A Kind Of Controversy

Our North-West corner’s actual location has been the subject of much international, mathematical and astronomical debate since at least the end of the Jefferson administration.

Here’s a little history on the topic. The south and east boundaries of our State are easy enough to find, but where our legislative boundaries slice dirt can be much harder to project.

In 1804 Congress divided the Louisiana Territory using the 33rd Parallel. Everything south was called the Territory of Orleans, and is roughly our Louisiana today.

[For exhaustive history on the matter see: Oliver P. Stockwell, The Boundaries of the State of Louisiana, 42 La. L. Rev. (1982) Available at: http://digitalcommons.law.lsu.edu/lalrev/vol42/iss3/7 ]

Then, in 1812 Louisiana entered the Union as the 18th State, and its Western and Northern Boundary was at that time defined as:

Beginning at the mouth of the River Sabine, thence, by a line to be drawn along the middle of the said river, including all islands, to the thirty-second degree of north latitude, thence due north to the northernmost part of the thirty-third degree of north latitude, thence along the said parallel of latitude to the River Mississippi…

 

And on and on. It’s fascinating reading.

One thinks it should be easy to figure out. Turns out it wasn’t. Nineteenth Century geodetic and astronomy tech was good, but not to our modern degree. Those original, and later, surveyors were in error to the north by 2,220 feet when they laid a granite marker on the left descending bank of the Sabine River where they said it met the 32nd Parallel, calling it the International Boundary between the U.S. and Spanish Texas.

 

The marker still stands today. Aim for GCTBR8 and you’ll find it not far from the cache. See also this Waymark.

Since the granite Sabine-32° marker was off, their later mark for the 33rd parallel was off too. Therefore, we find there is some of Louisiana above Latitude 33°.

No big deal, right?

That’s actually the case. There has never been a dispute between Arkansas and Louisiana over the border. Whatever it is today, based on the original survey, is good enough for both parties.

It took some time before anyone asked the all-important question (it was 1841 in fact), ‘What is the granite marker’s longitude?’ Later, the Louisiana Geodetic Survey defined it as 94° 02’ 33.0”.

 

How To Give Up and Yet Succeed

This leaves us with the questions: Which geocache is farthest West, and which is farthest North?

To answer them, we are going to simply have to refer to the listings and follow the map down the border. Whatever state the Geo-map tells us the caches are in, we will use.

Of the caches which are shown as falling in Louisiana, the one with the greatest latitude will be Northernmost, and with the greatest longitude will be Westernmost. Sure, it’s arbitrary, or throwed-off a bit. Sure, the surveyors were either drunk or followed a snake. Look what happened with the ArkLaTex cache and it’s little ghosty friend.

There are a lot of candidates. For many miles the boundary between the Natural State and the Bayou State follows a road that’s supposed to be arrow straight but isn’t, and there is a series of geocaches along it to one side or the other, named alternately for local players. The AR-LA boundary was supposed to be a perfect parallel, but it’s not and so it winds a little bit. Due to surveyor’s errors, the Louisiana border dips slightly more and more south the farther east one goes.

 

The Winners Are…

So, after following the map east and south, and much aspirin, we have the following results:

Northernmost: GC17J60 ‘A Welcome Sign’

Westernmost: GC23HE8 ‘ArkLaTex’

Easternmost: GC64VNP ‘Park at the End’

Southernmost: GC3A0K7 ‘Come Get Me Big Doggy’

Honorable Mention: GC605FW ‘Foot of the Bird – Earthcache’

There you have it. A little history, a little geography, a little nonsense.

 

Here’s a challenge: If you find and log all five of them in the same day I have a little prize for you. How little? You’ll just have to try it and see.

How-To: Mysteries & Double Decryption

Mystery Caches are like geo-sardines. Either you love them or hate them. And they’re everywhere. Very likely, you know someone who is good at mystery caching.

lastar

If you want all smileys here you’ll have to deal with them.

Mystery caches (formerly ‘Unknown’ caches) appeal to that next-level geocacher. They add another level of hiddenness to the hunting experience. They grant giant asterisks of satisfaction to the find.

Dealing with a new mystery cache on the map can be a daunting challenge. The scenario typically goes like this (for me anyway):

  1. Open listing
  2. Exhale aggravatedly
  3. Decrypt the Hint, if any
  4. Read listing
  5. Scratch head
  6. Try a few things that worked with other mystery caches

If that doesn’t yield something like an answer or a breadcrumb along the path to a solution, then it’s common to close the listing and try again another day/month. What drives many players up the wall, this author included, is when a mystery cache doesn’t lend any help along the way to a solution.

Veteran mystery cachers know it’s that breadcrumb which is the hallmark of a good mystery cache.  A good mystery cache will give the solver at least one ‘a-ha!’ moment, reeling them in toward the final, or the next portion of the puzzle.

Since the ‘solving’ of a puzzle for coordinates can mean translating from one kind of information to another, mystery cache hiders regularly use Encryption to create something that must then be Decrypted.

 

A Breadcrumb Around the Corner

A coworker of mine is a fellow geocacher, who one day was getting off the boat while I had to stay and work the next two weeks.  He knew I was working on crafting my own Unknown Cache for the geo-map, and he decided to leave me a cryptic message to have a little fun with me.

01010010 01001001 01001100 01001010 01000001 00100000 01001000 01011010 01000010 00100000 01010100 01000110 01000001 00100000 01010010 01011010 01000110 01011000 01001100 01010011 01001101 00100000 01001100 00100000 01010010 01001100 01001010 01001010 00100000 01010001 01000001 00100000 01010000 01000110 01001100 01010011 01011000 01001100 01010011 01001101 00100000 01010001 01000001 01000001 01000110 00101110 00100000 01011001 01010101 01010100 01001000 00100000 01011001 01010100 01000100 01000001 00100000 01010100 01010011 01010000 00100000 01001100 00100000 01010010 01001100 01001010 01001010 00100000 01011001 01000001 01000001 00100000 01001000 01011010 01000010 00100000 01011001 01011010 01011010 01010011 00101110 

Well, I didn’t quite know how to answer that. But I did know what I was looking at.

The idea here is that the letters you see on the screen in front of you aren’t really there. The computer that houses this page has a packet full of 0’s and 1’s that your web browser turns into letters to make this page.  It’s called binary data.

There are several websites that converts binary data into alphanumeric data. Here’s a good example of one.

Once translated, you get:

RILJA HZB TFA RZFXLSM L RLJJ QA PFLSXLSM QAAF. YUTH YTDA TSP L RLJJ YAA HZB YZZS.

That’s one layer down.  Because we’re definitely on to something here.  This is the Breadcrumb effect.  The solver has attempted and achieved something that tells them Yes, you’re on the right road.  So many good Mystery Cache puzzles miss this important feature.

 

Substitute Teacher

RILJA HZB TFA RZFXLSM L RLJJ QA PFLSXLSM QAAF. YUTH YTDA TSP L RLJJ YAA HZB YZZS.  What this looks like is a sentence with the letters all wrong.

There are a couple of approaches here. If you’ve spent any time with the Hints portion of geocache listings you’re familiar with Rotation Ciphers.  The letters of geo-hints are typically rolled forward by 13 letters.  A becomes N, B becomes O, etc.  So, naturally, that was my first avenue of exploration.

rot13

We hit the Decrypt link so fast we rarely see the Key on the right side.

To our dismay, translated in ROT-13 (rotated forward 13 letters) ‘RILJA‘ becomes ‘EVYWN.‘  So that’s not it.

Next, we explore whether it’s a rotation cipher, but not 13 steps.

ROT-14 yielded FWZXO, ROT-15 gave us GXAYP, ROT-16: HYBZR, so on and so forth.  I’ll spare you the legwork here.  Nothing of consequence came up for rotation ciphering.

This is when you step back and look at it with one eye closed.  Do you see the letter L by itself?  How many words in English have only one letter?  There are two: ‘a’ and ‘I.’

This is a Substitution Cipher.  The letters are actually other letters, and there’s a pattern to it all.

So, that letter L by itself is a vowel, either ‘A’ or ‘I.’

Look also at ‘YZZS.‘  There is a super-high probability that Z is also a vowel.  If so, it’s very likely an ‘O’ or an ‘E.’  Then there’s ‘QAAF’ at the end of the first sentence, and again, that letter ‘A’ is probably substituted for another vowel. Also there’s a ‘QA‘ which is going to be a two-letter word ending in a vowel.  So, He, To, Be, We, No… There aren’t many likely ones but they’ll help you figure out what’s the right one.

Take what you suspect to the other words with those letters, like ‘YAA‘ and see if your vowel fits into any words which could be there.  Unless my friend was trying to tell me something that had the word MOO or POO in it, which wasn’t likely, ‘A’ wasn’t ‘O,’ but ‘E.’

This is when you realize you’ll need to make a list of letters on one margin and a list of what they’re substituted for, on the other margin.

I like this puzzle because it has breadcrumbs the whole way down.  Once you figure out ‘YAA’ is ‘SEE’, YZZS becomes ‘SOO_’ and then you have to realize ‘S’ is ‘N.’ (Unless he wanted to tell me about SOOT which is possible, but again, not likely.

WHILE YOU ARE WORKING I WILL BE DRINKING BEER. STAY SAFE AND I WILL SEE YOU SOON.

Thanks a lot, bro.  All this so he could goad me about having to work while he was out having fun.  He could have at least told me he was out finding caches without me.

 

Moral of the Story

If you’re going to craft a mystery cache puzzle, especially one with more than one level of difficulty, remember: Leave a Breadcrumb.  The last thing you want is for your neighborhood FTF-hound to give up trying to figure out your mystery cache.

Waypoint: Burr’s Ferry

DSC00354

N 31° 03.936 W 093° 30.716

VERNON PARISH

WHAT’S HERE:

Just 18 miles west from Leesville is the Sabine River crossing ghost town of Burr’s Ferry, named for Dr. Timothy Burr, cousin to 3rd Vice President Aaron Burr, who built a home here in the early 1800’s.

From http://www.toledo-bend.com/:

Burr’s Ferry was a point on the Sabine River where invasion by Federal forces was expected during the Civil War. Extensive breastworks were thrown up, and these may be seen today north of Louisiana Highway 8 a short distance from the bridge.

It was never a bustling city, but the relative importance of the town in the period from 1850 until 1910 was considerable when compared with its status today. It has no school, no post office, no commercial enterprise except for a small restaurant on the bank of the river.

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Nearest Geocache Listing: GC2F3PM

This Tag is growing. See our overview of geoLa Waypoints here.

Houma GeoTour

HOUMA

Houma Travel has partnered with Geocaching to bring you the Houma GeoTour, a many-cached venture into urban and swamp-rural South Louisiana.

Our state has gained a welcome notoriety from its creation.  One famous Youtuber has recently featured it on his channel, garnering thousands of views. See it all here.

One can only hope for more GeoTours in Louisiana to come.

Louisiana Geocaching Organization

Visit us on Facebook

LGO

Louisiana Geocaching Organization is a social benefit organization promoting Geocaching and geolocation gaming in Louisiana.

LGO aims to be the foremost unified society of geocachers in Louisiana, in order to keep geo-gaming relevant and modern, available as a vibrant family-oriented activity for present players and generations to come.  LGO uses modern internet-based social media and forums to keep member players connected.