Cache Points Part IV
Document the Location of Cache Site:
On your reconnaissance, keep documentation of the sites you liked but did not use, as this will assist in the future if you need to relocate a site. Also in the reconnaissance phase, don’t dig and bury your cache at that time; however, as I’ve stated, everyone’s situation is different and you may be restricted to a timeline that demands you conduct reconnaissance and bury cache at the same time. That’s okay, you just need to be careful and take more precautions. Don’t rush yourself if this is the plan; plan for hours at the site and stop, look, and listen every 10 minutes. It’ll be easy to become distracted while digging and you want to ensure security always. If possible, consider reconnaissance and identify the area in the daytime and place the cache under the cover of darkness some time later. If you have time, swing back by at first light to ensure you’ve covered your trail and site. Once you’ve got the cache in place (digging, under water, in building, or in a high out-of-reach point) you need to concentrate on documenting the location.
Sketches: X Marks the Spot
No matter your art skill level, take the time to make some real-time sketches of the site. Think of a treasure map you see in the pirate movies where ‘X’ marks the spot. The first sketch should be a large overview of the area that includes your likely ingress and egress routes, all your reference points, and your cache site. It’s all in the details so the more detail, the better. The second sketch should be of the cache site itself and include the final reference point, the cache location, and anything else within view that would help orient you in the area. Your measurements and azimuths, if used, should be on the map along with as written directions.
Remember, this pirate map needs to provide enough detail so that you could pass along the two sketches to anyone and they could find the cache. This is important for OPSEC, don’t put the general location of the map sketch; we don’t want someone finding it to steal your goods. So, leave out city and state information, coordinates, etc. And, don’t include highway numbers on the map; some of this information needs to be relayed at the last moment if someone else will retrieve the items.
Photos: A Picture’s Worth a Thousand Words:
Take pictures. Again, be careful not to reveal the general area, but only the site-specific pictures. It’s okay to take pictures at this time of the exact location of the cache hide. Take different angles and different directions. Label each photo with descriptions and directions for ease in later use. Finally, if you can, take photos from all cardinal directions North, South, East and West.
While a picture may be worth a thousand words, words matter too. Write an easy description of the site and how to find it, especially, if you sketch like a five-year old child. Remember, you may have to describe the directions to someone over the phone, so writing in a clear method is important to pass along information. Here are a few ideas that should be included in your written description of the site:
► Inventory and/or description of the contents, including size and weight so proper planning to remove it can be taken.
► Description of exactly how the items are cached (buried, sunk, placed in a wall, under floorboards, etc.).
► Description of the general area including the type of terrain and any particulars needed (times to avoid, etc.).
► Description of the reconnaissance of the general and immediate area to include things that might not be necessary to find the cache such as water sources or places that can be seen from the road, or other key terrain features.
► Time and date the items were stored.
► Final details in how deep it’s buried, type of container etc. to assist in the removal.
Once you’re done hiding your cache, sterilize the hide site and surrounding area. If you dug a hole, cover up the disturbed earth. It doesn’t have to be perfect but you can lay foliage over the area to hide it until nature takes over. Don’t leave signs of your presence and ensure you sterilize your footprints. And, certainly don’t leave anything manmade to give your presence away (cigarette butts, gum wrappers, etc.). If possible, have someone who’s not seen the site follow your instructions to see if they can find it during day and night. Obviously, this person should not be someone who was involved with recon or placing the cache. They should come back with notes to be included in the final instructions and take their feedback to improve the site’s sterilization.
Placing your Cache at Work or Residence
In some cases, you may want to place a cache right in your home. It could be a good practice for a newcomer and provide you with valuable knowledge when you expand on your cache points. Extremely valuable items may need to be safe guarded, in this case as such put a cache location right in your home. Hiding things at your home is a balance of ease-of-access vs ease-of-discovery, so think about what your goal is. In a lot of cases, if it’s easy to get to, it’s easy to find. Stashing money or a load of silver or gold coins under your bed would make them easy to get in an emergency but also easy to find by a thief. Building a cache hide in a wall makes it almost impossible to find but you’d have to destroy your wall to get to it, which should be acceptable to you as this is a SHTF time.
The best place at your home may not be in your home at all. Building a great cache point outside on your property should be an easy task. Consider how and when you do this and remember OPSEC, depending on your location and neighbors’ eye line, you’ll need to not draw attention or suspicion by nosey neighbors. This allows you a secure off-site location where you are assured of protecting your cached goods and ease in attaining them as needed.
If you’re building a hasty site or fear your site will be discovered, consider a decoy site near or even above your cache site. It’s like leaving a small safe in your home that feels like it has valuables but actually is your decoy to appease the thief. You could bury your item deep (five feet if conditions allow), lay a layer of dirt or rock and then add the decoy cache on top. Just give them something; you may luck out and have your needed items left alone. Consider items that can expire and avoid items that expire in less than 3 years but if items have an expiration date, mark that in your instructions. Restock your cache periodically. If you’re placing fuel somewhere, make sure you put in a fuel stabilizer, add it when you fill up your cans. Beware of freezing temperatures and water storage. We know that water turns into ice and with that reaction comes expansion. Frost levels in the United States are anywhere from 0 to 8 feet. Do your homework and avoid disappointment for when you reach your cache site and your water’s gone. Depending on the timeline of your cache, if you’re using a compass understand that there are changes in magnetic north.
The poles on earth are continually moving, a little at a time, but such that it may cause you to miss your cache point if not considered. Magnetic North changes over time and you should mark down the current declination of your area when it’s documented. If the declination changes between then and when you must go back, you could just adjust for the new direction. This shouldn’t make much difference in a short distance but if you’re orienting to a point off in the distance, you may be off by quite a bit.
Stay alert, stay alive!