Sunday, August 28, 2016

Geocaching: The Difficulty/Terrain Matrix (and my place on it)

Every geocache has two numeric attributes that range from 1 to 5: difficult and terrain. It wouldn't be too far off to say that terrain is how hard it is to get to the geocache, and difficulty is how hard it is to complete the find once you are there. Let's look at where my finds place on that matrix:
So I definitely tend towards the easier caches. I've talked in the past about finding new D/T combos to fill out this matrix, but I haven't made any progress there since April. Hard geocaches are, well, hard, and I haven't had a ton of time to seek out the more adventurous ones lately.

But let's focus on something else -- the average. As you can see above, my average cache isn't too far off a 1.5/1.5 cache. (For reference, that's the hardest cache that can be found with the official Geocaching app if you don't spring for a premium membership.) In my last post, I looked at what percentile I am in terms of number of counties. What percentile am I in difficulty and terrain? (Keeping in mind that the people I'm comparing with have necessarily had to pay for premium in order to generate the stats.

Well, my average difficulty puts me 8019/8048, or the 0.36th percentile. My average terrain puts me 7991/8048, or the 0.7th percentile. Wow -- I think there'd at least be enough geocachers in wheelchairs to bump me higher than that.

Combined, and restricting to those who have found at least 100 caches, 7865/7881, or the 0.2nd percentile. That's pretty bad! And with things like cache rate, where I can say that I'm unusual in that I've kept at it over the years without being obsessed by it, that's one thing. But this just indicates that I'm not particularly good at it!

So, how can I get better? Well, if I knew that... Let's look at my found caches by combined D/T score:
  • 2.0: 51 caches
  • 2.5: 21 caches
  • 3.0: 43 caches
  • 3.5: 19 caches
  • 4.0: 15 caches
  • 4.5: 8 caches
  • 5.0: 3 caches
  • 5.5: 2 caches
So, certainly, 3.0 caches are findable. If I brought my average ever-so-slightly up to that, I would be up to the 0.64th percentile, which is slightly less embarrassing. 3.5 is also doable, and it would bring me all the way up to the 51st percentile -- slightly better than the median cacher. So, clearly, most cachers are between 3.0 and 3.5. If I make it a point to favor caches with a combined rating of 3.5 and above, I can certainly bring up my average (and track it here).
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