In part 1 of Explore the Outdoors I looked at Benchmarking and Trigpointing. In Part 2 I take a look at Waymarking.
What is Waymarking?
Waymarking is like benchmarking on crack! 😉 To access these waymarks you will need to visit the website at www.waymarking.com. As I write this there are 1000+ different categories for waymark types. The waymarks range from fast food restaurants and coffee shops, to types of signs and to benchmarks and trig points. As a Geocaching user, your username and password is also usable on the waymarking site meaning that you don’t have to fill in any additional forms.
There are millions of waymarks out there and some which I view as being a pretty pointless thing to want to collect. You can however build a favorite category list and an ignore category list. There is a ‘U.K. and Ireland Trigpoints’ category on there which holds over 3500 records, which looks like it is only a tiny amount as there are 13000 flush brackets alone in the UK Benchmarks database and 7642 trig points on trigpointinguk. After doing a search around my area it soon became clear that the number of benchmarks in waymarking is nowhere near that of the Benchmark UK database.
Searching for Waymarks
I didn’t find the search facility quite as user friendly as that on Geocaching.com, however I found that using the ‘Saved Searches‘ facility to input coordinates for an area was pretty accurate as you can then click ‘find nearby waymarks’ and filter the categories that are returned.
The waymarking “0 results returned” error page was extremely user unfriendly. I hope there was just a bug when I was trying this out, as this is something that is quite disturbing to see.
One big thing that really put me off of waymarking is the fact that there are no Pocket Queries. Instead, you can generate 25 waymarks at a time and load them into a GPXLite file.
Although I can’t really see me becoming an avid waymarker I can definitely see a practical use for the data on the site, especially if it gets larger. If you are visiting an area and are unsure of interesting places to visit, or restaurants, etc. waymarking may help you pinpoint spots that appeal to you when you are unfamiliar with the area. The maps on the site look quite helpful as they show different icons for different categories:
I thought I’d join the club anyway. I had submitted a multi-cache at Saffron Walden Turf Maze a little while ago so already had a good blurb, photo and coords so thought I’d add it to the Recreation –> Outdoor Mazes category. I can actually think of dozens of historic and interesting locations in Saffron Walden that would make good waypoints, so I think if I’m bored on a Sunday and don’t have any cache hiding locations to scout out I could quite happily take a trip down town and photograph some interesting locations to make waymarks from. I also bumped into a “Coal Post” a few weeks ago on a caching trip. I took a photo and as it wasn’t listed on the waymarking site I submitted that as well.
I think after viewing and using the waymark site I can now understand why virtuals haven’t been reinstated (yet?). There are thousands of historic or interesting waymarks and who’s to say which are the most valuable or interesting or deserve to have a virtual cache placed at them? Back when virtual caches were available to list Geocaching.com didn’t have as many members as now. Can you imagine how crazy Geocaching could become with all these users being able to submit virtual caches? I must say that my view on reinstating virtual caches has now completely reversed. I switched from “Yay, bring them back, the more the better” to “Erm, actually, unless there’s a really good way of controlling the number and quality submitted then virtuals should stay as waymarks”. I think there really can be too much of a good thing and the physical container listings will be swamped in virtual listings and Geocaching could become a duplicate of waymarking with a tupperware box here and there. I do enjoy virtuals and earthcaches, however the limited number of virtuals and the stict specific guidelines for earthcaches that ensures quality listings help keep it fun without distracting from what Geocaching really IS about.
Unlike Geocaches, you can log your own waymarks. I’ve had a quick read up on the forums and as you would expect this is quite a controversial topic. Some log them, some absolutely don’t, some only log them on return visits not for the original submission, some log them but strictly not until they are officially reviewed and published. To me it makes sense that you would log your own waypoint, and it’s something that I would do. With a Geocache it is YOU who chooses the location for it, or for an earthcache it is you who chooses the logging requirement questions. However waymarks aren’t created by you, you are just making people aware of them.
I’ve had a look at Groundspeak Benchmark hunting, Waymarking, Trigpointing, and UK Benchmark logging and I must say I’m now feeling pretty overwhelmed with everything I can find! To me Benchmarking, Waymarking, and trigpointing are all under pretty much the same umbrella in that you find something that is already out there. GeoCaching still has “the edge” as there is the “treasure hunting” aspect of it and the thought that you’re doing something quite secret.
Out of all of the sites I think I found trigpointing the most interesting. I found myself hunting for trig points on the OS maps for the places I’m planning to go caching at the weekend. I didn’t find any on route, and they aren’t something I’d seek out to especially visit yet, but I can definitely understand what attracts Triggers to this hobby and I will be noting the location and taking some photos if I stumble on any in the future so that I can log them.
I find the benchmark symbol quite interesting and I really like the look of it, however benchmark hunting isn’t something I am likely to persue other than perhaps to visit a few local ones. I will happily bump into them and get excited if I do, but don’t think I will seek them for logging purposes unless I accidentally pass one. I did find it quite interesting however researching all of the different types of Benchmarks that we use and what they all mean. I can now correctly identify them if I find them and think it’d be quite cool to find one of each common type.
The waymarking site is the one that overwhelmed me the most. I was surprised to see so many different waymarks and so many different categories. I’d say a site with Starbucks and McDonalds listed as places you can log as visited is pretty extreme hunting, however you can of course ignore these and concentrate on just the “serious” landmarks! I like that trig points and benchmarks are on there, however other than the site being a lot prettier and it being under the Groundspeak site umbrella I can’t see a reason to log these finds on it as the trig point and UK Benchmark database are far more extensive. The amount of waymarks on the site has definitely made me rethink my opinions on reinstating virtuals on the Geocaching.com site. I think it’s a good choice to leave the existing ones where they are, but if Geocachers want to find new ones then Waymarking.com is definitely the place to go. Picking through and approving the best ones to choose for virtuals would be a tricky job, and allowing any would mean that physical caches are swamped. Now that I’ve really thought about it, virtuals should remain as they are. I can see myself using Waymarking.com as more of a hider rather than a finder, however I will log the odd one that I bump into.