With warmer weather coming, you’re probably desperate to get out and soak up the forgotten sun. Geocaching allows you to get out and do just that, all while exploring your town, parks, and state in new and exciting ways.
Geocaching gives you a chance to explore a new town and communicate with other geocachers just like you! Never run out of entertaining warm weather activities again. You’ll be surprised with how many secret hiding spaces there are all around your town. Pack a bag and get ready for adventure!
What exactly is “geocaching”?
If you’re like a lot of folks, your first thought when hearing about geocaching is likely to be, “Woah, back up, geowhat?”
The best way to describe geocaching is this: It’s a lot like a mix between hiking and a scavenger hunt. Typically, individuals will have a set of coordinates where they know they should be able to find a “cache,” which is essentially hidden treasure. Then, using either maps, a compass, or a GPS, they’ll navigate their way to the location and search for the marker, which is often a container of some sort that has been hidden.
Often, the cache will be filled with little trinkets, and those who find them are encouraged to take something. (They’re also encouraged to leave something behind, if possible, to keep the cache well-stocked.) You can check out a forum like this one to see some of the common items that people leave behind and find on their geocaching adventure.
But sometimes the cache is nothing more than a GPS marker, making the effort and the journey the reward in and of itself.
I had the chance to try this out for myself a few years ago. My friends father was a geocaching enthusiast and was hoping to get us hooked so he could assemble his own “Geocaching Team.” We started with an easier find close by to his house. Each cache has a different level of difficulty, with this being our first one, we wanted to take it easy. We arrived to the coordinates and sift through the wooded debris until we found a camouflaged plastic box. The box contained a small finders log that we signed, and a stamp, we used the stamp to put in our own geocaching books. Not exactly buried treasure, but a lot of fun nonetheless.
A Little Geocaching History
Geocaching started as a hobby in the early 2000’s thanks to a substantial improvement in the accuracy of GPS. At the beginning,only 75 hidden caches were hidden, across all regions of the globe. Today, that number stands at around 3 million individual cashes.
Each adventure is unique because they all have different skill levels. For example, when visiting the Geocaching.com, you can search around your area for hidden items. There are so many destinations out there and I was even surprised to see how many were in my hometown. I grew up in a very small town and there will still tons of places I could go to search for hidden geocaches.
Before you head out on your first adventure, it’s helpful to lay out a nice plan so you can be sure you’re doing everything right.
The best way to get started is to sign up on the Geocaching website. It’s free and very insightful. The website does a really good job showing where everything is and breaks down the types of terrain and difficulty you will encounter on each hunt.
They suggest looking for a geocache that begins at a Difficulty 1 and a Terrain of 1. This signifies an easier find to the first-time geocachers. Even if you’re an experienced hiker, things can get pretty complicated. Don’t believe me? Check out this video of unique types of hidden geocaches.
If you have the means, I would also suggest downloading the Geocaching app. This is going to be the most helpful when trying to find your hidden items. GPS will guide you to the area in which the hidden item is. You will still have to to the challenging part of actually finding it.
Each geocache has a little story and hints that may even tell a story about the town. Look through the website to find a search that interest you. Many of the hidden items in my town are in places I walk past everyday and had no idea! There are even cryptic messages for each cache that may help you more than anything!
Interested in Trying Geocaching?
This hobby has really turned into a online community. People go to these places and when/if they find the hidden item they can go online and log their adventure and talk to others about other places to visit. If you are having trouble finding a hidden item, the geocaching map will give you some clues as to where it may be hiding.
Sharpen your skills with each and every hunt you decide to do! Bring your friends and family so they can help you track down some of the more tricky searches! Enjoy the outside, doesn’t it feel like an eternity since the last time you were outside soaking up the sun! Get a head start and get a nice list of caches to try to find. When the sun finally comes out you will be ready to roll.
Some things to keep in mind before you head out:
- Make sure you bring a pen or pencil so you can sign the logbook, if the cache includes one
- Bring your Geocaching Journal/Log, so you can add the cache’s stamp to your record (again, if it includes one)
- Bring a number of small trinkets that you can add to the cache in exchange for something someone else left behind. You should really only take something if you can also leave something behind
- Make sure you put the container back exactly where you found it