Geocaching (noun) \ ˈjē-ō-ˌka-shiŋ \ : a game in which players are given the geographical coordinates of a cache of items which they search for with a GPS device
If you’re tired of hiking the same trail or picnicking at the same park, then Geocaching may be exactly what you’re looking for. Geocaching, pronounced jee-oh-kash-ing, is the high tech version of a treasure hunt. Armed with nothing but a handheld GPS unit and a thirst for excitement, you’re off for new adventures and the likelihood of finding a hidden cache.
Here’s how it works. Geocachers seek out hidden treasures utilizing GPS coordinates posted on the Internet by those hiding the cache. So to geocache, you’ll need a handheld GPS receiver.
Satellites transmit signals that can be detected by anyone with a GPS receiver. Using the receiver, you can determine your location with great precision. But just as important, you’ll be able to locate other things too, such as a geocache. There are a variety of GPS receiver models to choose from starting at about $100. There are also many GPS apps available for your mobile phone if you don't have a handheld unit.
Once you’ve got a GPS capable device, you’ll need to know where the caches are hidden (hint: they’re everywhere). When a cache is hidden, the cache’s coordinates are submitted to a website for all to see (www.geocaching.com). Enter the coordinates into your GPS and you’re ready to go.
Did I mention there are more than 100,000 caches in over 200 countries? Most of the popular hiking trails have them throughout, as well as parks and urban areas.
Sounds easy, doesn’t it?
Armed with a GPS and the coordinates, how tough can it be? In an urban area, easy access is typically available in the way of roads and trails. But what about on a mountain? What if there aren’t roads nearby? It’s entirely possible to be a few hundred feet from something and not be able to reach it (across a river or two hundred feet below the cliff you’re on for example). After you try to find a few caches, you’ll understand a number of the nuances of actually finding the cache. Most caches are pretty simple to find, but many geocachers get creative. You could be inches away from the cache but not see it if it's under that nearby rock, in a hole in the tree you're leaning on, or tied up in the tree above your head!
That’s the fun part.
Once you find the cache, there are a couple of simple rules. Sign the logbook and if you take something from the cache, be sure to leave something for the next person. No one wants to find an empty cache!
But what about placing a cache? That’s fun too. Just be sure to follow the rules as outlined at www.geocaching.com
Once you’re a seasoned geocacher, you’ll try your hand at travel bugs, geo-teaming and benchmark hunting.
If you have only a couple hours to search for a cache, try to find one that is close by. If you have a couple days, take a family trip and make an overnight adventure out of it. Using your GPS along with your sense of adventure, you are bound to spend more time out of doors with people you enjoy. What could be better?
Use this information and you’ll Get It Right The First Time. Get Outdoors!
Photo by Alex Perez