I am a geocacher. It is one of the hobbies I pursue regularly and think about often. DNF’s or Did Not Find’s are nothing more than a challenge for the average geocacher. They present a learning opportunity, a chance to advance your craft, and a way to hone your finding skills. At times they can be aggravating, such as when the DNF signifies a cache that is actually missing, misplaced, or with wildly inaccurate coordinates. In all my geocache finds (200 now), only very few have I found when they were misplaced or far from the Ground Zero coordinates. Of those that I have found, I have looked for at least 50 more that I did not find. Sometimes I didn’t bother putting enough effort looking for these or the area was too muggle heavy and I planned to go back to look. Some of these, though, are truly missing. And here is the geocacher crux. I don’t want to assume that when I can’t find it, it doesn’t exist but I’m getting close to that point in my geocaching career that when I can’t find it, it truly is missing or buried in the forest without markings.
Here is the story of my favorite DNF:
At an undisclosed location in Washington State, two friends were hunting for caches in the area. She chose one and the hunt began. Behind a historic building at a sign was ground zero. It was fairly dark and the two friends whipped out their phone flashlights and swept up and down the sign and the surrounding area. After a thorough search, they looked up the hint, but still nothing. After twenty more minutes overturning every stone, they gave up. A week later she went back by herself and spent half an hour searching. She searched high and low and turned over every rock again. In the daylight, she was convinced that she was going to find it. She was fairly convinced, going over all the previous logs that it was on or very close to the sign but nothing. A week later they both went back, determined to find that sucker. He started perusing one side of the sign and she the other. Exasperated that it was difficult to find and obviously a creatively concealed cache, she said, “I’m convinced it’s on the sign but there’s nothing that comes off.” And with that she grabbed a chunk of wood in her hand to exaggerate her point and lo and behold it came off in her hand. They had finally found the DNF and could log it as a smiley.