Geocaching is a free real-world outdoor treasure hunt. Players try to locate hidden containers, called geocaches, using a GPS or smartphone plus some clues and hints and then share their experiences online. Inside a cache you will always find a logbook, and larger caches may contain any number of items turning the adventure into a treasure hunt. You never know what the cache owner or visitors to the cache have left for you to enjoy.
While I had heard of Geocaching it wasn’t until hiking with Cooper in Herber Downs this past weekend that we came across our first find.We opened the cache and found a small note book and pencil, a couple of stickers and a few small plastic toys among other items and a sheet with instructions. The instructions explained that we sign the logbook and return it to the cache. Then we could add an item to the cache for others to find, or we could take an item as long as we left something of equal or greater value. When you’re finished you put the cache back exactly as you found it. We happened to come by this geocache with nothing but a paperclip to offer, and decided to add it to the other items. Then you visit the cache page to log your find and share your experience with others.
Out of curiosity, I decided to create an account and I was blown away by how huge this geocaching thing really is. This map shows all the caches to be found in North America alone.
The more I looked into it the more fascinated I became. Each geocache point on the map comes with a title, GPS co-ordinates, a difficulty level and terrain rating and a short blurb to lead you in the right direction. For example the one we found was titled ‘Where The Devil Meets The Train’ and said ‘Located in Heber Down Conservation area just off the main trail, this is a regular size cache in a camo’d plastic jar.
This should be a fairly straight forward find, and is a pretty easy hike from the main parking lot. The name of this cache should get you close to where the cache is hidden.’
Some caches contain Trackables, which are like a geocaching ‘game piece’. Each is etched with a unique code that can be used to log its movements on Geocaching.com as it travels in the real world. One Trackable is called a Travel Bug® and each Travel Bug® has a goal set by its owner, most are typically travel related such as to travel from coast to coast or visit every country in Europe. So if you’re heading in that direction you move it closer to its final destination.
There are currently 1,959,603 active geocaches and over 5 million geocachers worldwide. It’s another great reason to enjoy the outdoors and it’s definitely something we plan on doing more of. How could we not when Cooper enjoys it this much!!