Choosing Your Time Capsule Drop Site
If you are going to be a part of a Geocapsuling Adventure, you simply need to be responsible about doing a thorough job of preparation. These adventures require more planning and more attention to detail than the geocaching experience, so they are not for careless people. They also demand an appreciation and an awareness of our remote American backcountry.
Rules of Engagement:
To ensure that future Geocapsuling adventures will not be restricted by any public or private intervention, make certain your Geocapsule’s drop site is as remote and secure as possible:
• FAR away from trails or any possible foot traffic over extended years
• Nowhere even vaguely close to environmentally sensitive, archaeological or heritage sites
• Away from stream, river beds, flood plains, or potential mud flows, rock falls, ravines, or lakes
• Never close to threatened or endangered species habitats
• Never in restricted or high use areas
Let’s Be Obvious:
• Don’t subvert laws that directly prohibit placement of such a cache on public lands.
• NEVER place a cache within 150 feet of any railroad line, near dams, airports or other areas that would be considered sensitive targets for terrorist activities. Or under public structures deemed potential or possible targets for terrorist attacks. These may include but are not limited to highway bridges, dams, government buildings, schools, airports or military installations. Duh.
Finally, realize that poor drop-site selection and poor internal protection for your Geocapsule contents can put all your preliminary efforts at risk. Don’t take a chance that your small family treasures will become a diminished adventure for your descendants because of your own poor planning.
Above Ground Drop-Site Planning
You’ve Got to Get Out More: In the expansive regions of the mountain west that we commonly explore, we rarely see other hikers. A Geocapsuling adventure is not a walk in the park; it’s intended for remote adventures, light years away from the madding crowd. After all, our original purpose was to encourage a remote wilderness adventure for our descendants, i.e., to distance them from the city.
The following information is critical in the planning and preparation for your Geocapsule placement.
• When researching drop site locations choose a placement that is hundreds of feet away from any trail. The farther that you move from any existing trail, landmark, or potential viewpoint the better. Pick a site that has no discernible reason to invite any traffic or curiosity, ever. Remember that while the general region of your visit may be spectacular, the exact placement site of your Geocapsule needs to be unremarkable.
• Find a location that has a clear GPS reading but is shaded from direct sunlight. The best sites are shielded by large rock outcroppings or other substantial environmental factors. They will be above any possible flood plain, creek bed, or rain chute. Beyond rock falls, mud flows, avalanche areas, etc.
• If there is any possibility that your drop site location is within view of other hikers at the moment of your placement, delay it. You never want to invite a curious stare or the chance that someone else will want to investigate your activity.
• For good photo documentation, choose a site that is in proximity to a few obvious and permanent landmarks. The optimal location will be protected from weather, sunlight, foot and animal traffic, by large boulders or other environmental obstructions. These structures, as observed in your photos, will also help to identify and confirm the location for future retrievers.
• Make your small Geocapsule blend in as one of several similar shaped rocks (or logs) at the immediate drop site. Once again, successful camouflaging means that your location must be unremarkable in every respect.
The Snatch and Grab Technique
It’s always best to find a site where you can place your Geocapsule below ground several inches and then pack existing soil around its edges.
A perfect site for a Geocapsule housing can be found by replacing another similar sized rock that has been embedded in the ground over many years.
(See photos to right.) These are excellent locations because they will reveal evidence of ground stability by the amount of soil buildup around the original rock.
• Removing the existing small boulder should reveal a depression of several inches. Simply replace the original rock with your Geocapsule and tamp down the surrounding soil. No need for any digging. You’ve just found an ideal and stable site that has already stood the test of time.
• Remote backcountry boulder fields are often perfect drop sites for concealing Geocapsules. Large rock crevasses also serve as shields from weather and other environmental elements.
• Rain, snow and sun will not penetrate or damage the exterior of our recommended above ground Geocapsule, but you should avoid a placement where overheating might compromise your time capsule contents.
• Always take an accurate GPS reading at the exact drop site. You will want to double check the GPS reading by confirming it with several walk-overs. Write the coordinates down immediately.
• After your Geocapsule’s placement, note general compass directions and then take photographs from every conceivable angle. Include obvious landmarks in your photos. (When photos are printed for your Retrieval Folder, mark each photo print with the general compass directions.)
• Clearly, your greatest goal is to make certain your Geocapsule blends perfectly with its surroundings.
Hello. I Must Be Going. One more thing. Although you will be leaving a finely duplicated artificial rock -or log- among thousands of similar objects, no one should ever need to prompt you to make certain your drop site remains in its pristine and natural state when you leave. A perfectly camouflaged, stable and secure site is confirmation of a well-planned time capsule adventure.
I Need A Checklist: Granted. You will find a quick checklist of all drop site criteria on the Fast Track to Geocapsuling page.
Permissible Public or Private Underground Sites
Examples of enclosed or below ground sites include private buildings, municipal cornerstones or similar locations often covered by granite plates or engraved plaques. These capsule locations will be easily identified in future decades by the authorizing public or private authorities.
For a broader discussion of private land, underground placement of time capsules, see our Time Capsules on Private Lands page.
For those remote private or public drop sites that allow underground placement of a camouflaged time capsule, careful procedures will ensure the rediscovery of your capsule in future decades. To help guarantee the planned rediscovery, you should take along two short lengths of reinforcing bar (or small pipe) which you can drive into the ground below the surface and directly above the buried capsule. Inexpensive rebar is available at most building supply stores. While out of view, these metal rods in future years will alert your retrievers to the exact location of your capsule…as long as a metal detector is used. Even though your GPS coordinates together with photos and other clues will make identification of the drop site easy, your Retrieval Folder should advise the use of a metal detector in the retrieval process so the exact underground site will be pinpointed without any question.