Log Abbreviations: Decoded!

My favorite part of the whole geocaching process is not finding the cache, signing the log, or even trading swag. My FAVORITE part is actually reading the log. I love reading the history of the cache, noting when items were placed for trade and when they moved on.

The best logs have a little “snippet” in them; the story of the find, the drive, the hike, etc. I love reading the antidotes. This is one of my favorites! It was one of the first caches we ever found. It’s near Williams, Arizona, above Kaibab Lake. Kaibab Lake actually has a TON of geocaches nearby but this is the only one I’ve found personally: GC86B4

The first log sheet. Notice the date!

The first log sheet. Notice the date!

But, of course, like anybody, I was puzzled by some of the things said in a log. What, for instance does:

TFTC TN SL mean??

Is this short hand for:

This Find Took Climbing. Tired Now. Sleep Later. ?

Well, it took me a long time, but I think I finally have most of the cache signing jargon figured out. These are the most common abbreviations I’ve seen.

Common Geocaching Abbreviations:

ATCF – As The Crow Flies. Point to point mileage, irrespective of roads or barriers. Note that it’s not a true point-to-point distance, as the distance calculated by a GPS is actually measured following a mathematical model of the curvature of the earth.

BYOP – Bring Your Own Pen/Pencil. An acronym often used by cache owners to communicate to other geocachers that you will need to bring your writing utensil in order to sign the cache logbook.

CITO – Cache In Trash Out. On your way to find the geocache, pick up trash and clean up the area. CITO is an ongoing environmental initiative supported by the worldwide geocaching community. Since 2002, geocachers have been dedicated to cleaning up parks and other cache-friendly places around the world. Learn more at www.geocaching.com/cito.

CO – Cache Owner.

DNF – Did Not Find. An acronym used by geocachers to state that they did not find a cache. This is also a type of online log on Geocaching.com and is useful for alerting cache owners of potential issues. Cache owners who repeatedly receive “Did Not Find” logs should check to see that there cache has not been removed.

FTF – First to Find. An acronym written by geocachers in physical cache logbooks or online when logging cache finds to denote being the first to find a new geocache.

You can see the FTF on this cache belongs to a cacher named Aotea.

You can see the FTF on this cache belongs to a cacher named Aotea.

GCxxxx – Abbreviation for a cache identifier used on geocaching.com. Also known as GC code.

GPSr – Global Position Satellite Receiver. Slang for a GPS device.

GZ – “Ground Zero. The point where the coordinates displayed on your GPS exactly match the coordinates given for a cache. Can also mean the location where the cache is hidden, does not necessarily mean on the ground since many caches are hidden above or below the ground.

L: – Left. Means that they left a trade item. Usually logged like this: L: Keychain

LEO – Law Enforcement Officer.

LN – Left Nothing.

LPC – Lamp Post Cache. A very common hiding place for micro caches, this exploits the fact that the shroud (or “skirt”) on lamp posts that cover the anchor bolts are usually not secured, and can be lifted up to provide a hiding place.

MEFF – Most Esteemed First Finder. (I’ve never personally seen this one but I could see how it might exist!)

MKH – Magnetic Key Holder. The hide-a-key box, usually intended to conceal a car or house key, can be utilized as a ready-made micro container. Since they are usually not water tight, logs need to be within small zip-lock baggies, if the container is going to be out in the elements.

Common #geocache log abbreviations! Click To Tweet

MOC – Members Only Cache. A Members Only Cache is one that’s reserved for Premium Members of geocaching.com. MOC caches are designated with a icon. Only Premium Members can display a MOC cache page, and consequently, only Premium Members can log a MOC.

NIAH – Needle In A Haystack. A small cache placed in an area where there are a great number of possible hiding locations.

P & G – Park and Grab. A easy-to-find cache that you can get very close to by car. Sometimes written as “P-n-G” or “PNG”.

PAF – Phone A Friend. Usually done in the field, via cellphone. This may take one of two forms. If the cacher is hunting a cache without the cache page information, he or she may call someone who will look up the cache page and relay the description and hint. In other cases, the cacher may phone someone who has already found the cache, in hopes of getting additional information about its location.

PI – Poison Ivy. Meaning that poison ivy (or sumac) might be in the area and finders beware!

R.O.W. – Right Of Way. Often, the area between a street and the sidewalk.

SBA – Should Be Archived. Log type indicating that there is a severe problem with a cache (missing, destroyed, inaccessible, or on private property without permission). When a SBA log is made to a cache, a copy of it is automatically sent to the geocaching.com administration, who then route it to a local reviewer. The official log type is Needs Archived but the term Should Be Archived came first, and has stuck.

SL – Signed Log. Every geocache item should have a paper log near it and geocachers will sign the log to show they found it. They typically sign their geocaching.com username instead of their real name.

STF – Second To Find. The Silver medal winner in the race to find a cache first.

SWAG – An acronym often referred to as standing for ‘Stuff We All Get.” It includes the trade items left in caches by geocachers.

T: – Took. Usual short hand is something like this: T: Keychain L: Golf Ball

TB – Travel Bug. This is a blanket term for any trackable including a geocoin.

TFTC – Thanks For The Cache. An acronym written by geocachers in physical cache logbooks or online when logging cache finds. Occasionally written as T4TC.

TFTH – Thanks For The Hide. (or Hunt). Occasionally written as T4TH.

TN – Took Nothing.

TNLN –     Took Nothing. Left Nothing. The cacher did not exchange an item from the cache contents.

TNLNSL – Took Nothing, Left Nothing, Signed Log. Similar to TNLN above, but also indicating that they signed the cache’s logbook.

TNSL – Took Nothing. Signed Logbook.

TNX4GC – Thanks For The Geocache. Similar to TFTC.

TOTT – Tool Of The Trade. This generally indicates that some type of tool or instrument may be required to retrieve or gain access to a cache. The nature of the tool is usually not specified, but there may be hints within the cache page. It could be an actual tool, such as a screwdriver, or something as simple as a long stick to retrieve a cache from a high perch.

TPTB – The Powers That Be. Refers to the upper echelon of the geocaching.com administrative hierarchy.

UPS – Unnatural Pile of Sticks. A common telltale sign of a hidden cache.

UPR – Unnatural Pile of Rocks. Refers to common practice of stack rocks on top of the cache to hide its location. The resulting pile often stands out to natural formations.

URP – Unnatural Rock Pile.

XNSL – Exchanged Nothing, Signed Log. A variation on TNLNSL (see above).

YAPIDKA – Yet Another Park I Didn’t Know About. Refers to the fact that some caches bring people to parts of town they know little about.

This is a GREAT log: plenty of abbreviations and a fantastic story of the experince.

This is a GREAT log: plenty of abbreviations and a fantastic story of the experince.

If you want to read the original log post, it’s available at:

Now, here’s a question for all you senior cachers out there:

Is it more common to use the abbreviations in the written logs in the cache or in the digital logs on Geocaching.com?

And, in doing my research, there are a TON of abbreviations I’ve never seen before. Is that just me or are they rare?