Benchmark Hunting

Spring is just around the corner and soon the geo-hunt season will be in full swing. Here is an alternative to geocaching that offers some variety and fun for your quests.

Benchmark disk

A metal benchmark disk. This one is at Battery Cooper near Fort Pickens at the entrance to the harbor of Pensacola, FL.

Geocaching gets all the press these days but there are other stashing games and some of them have been around longer than geocaches. This little disk is a benchmark. Basically it is a survey point that was used in the days before GPS. Surveyors and map makers established these as verified accurate positions using both a physical description and latitude/longitude. Benchmarks come in various forms and have been around for over 200 years. Church steeples and water tanks are often used as benchmarks. Every benchmark has a detailed written description somewhere in the halls of government. These descriptions tell exactly where to find the benchmark, how to get there, what it looks like and what’s nearby. Then along came GPS, which altered the whole structure of benchmarks and gave us something else to hunt.

Geocaching dot com has compiled thousands of benchmarks along with their descriptions and GPS coordinates. You can hunt for them just like a geocache. Keep these things in mind. 1) You may find yourself looking for a BM that’s no longer there 2) It may be on private property, in the middle of terrible terrain or otherwise inaccessible. 3) If you are running up the numbers for your geocache count, benchmarks don’t count towards the total. 4) GPS positions can be off, so you have to also rely on the detailed physical description. Nevertheless, benchmark hunting is challenging and fun. We do it as a diversion and an add on. It also has the advantage of giving you things to hunt where geocaches are not allowed, such as the national parks. Most bridges have benchmarks. So do lookouts, tunnels, peaks, monuments and other assorted structures and features. To log a benchmark, take a picture of it and log it in your geocaching dot com account.

Good hunting… Boris and Natasha

4 thoughts on “Benchmark Hunting

  1. You sure brought about a flood of memories. I use to lead 4×4 historical trips in the California desert. Also we did some searching for some long lost routes. I loved finding these in these remote places and we have found quite a few. Thanks for the reminding me of these great times!

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    1. Glad to be of service. We’ve spent a fair amount of time in the CA desert ourselves, including Camp Ibis, where Patton trained his army. They had a corral for camels. You never know what you’ll find out there. Thanks for stopping by.

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      1. I have been to many of Patton’s camps in my travels including Ibis. I also know all about the camels and the East Mojave. The camels were a success until they learned that they were terrified of the horses. I knew a man who recreated the camel adventure back in the 80’s. There was a tale that was told at our campfire about camels who had gotten away and lived wild in the desert. It was a cautionary tale but kind of scary. Not sure what we would have done if we would have actually seen one. lol

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