Travel isn’t just about the destination; the journey is just as fun. If you love adventure, and a good treasure hunt, all the tools you need are a vehicle and a cell phone. Geocaching has exploded in popularity over the last few years. Think of it as an adult version of hunting for Easter eggs. But if you want to find these Easter eggs, you will need GPS, and it doesn’t hurt to have a good friend to help you out. Road trip, anyone?
Full Disclaimer: I have never, not once, went hunting for a geocache. That’s not to say I don’t think it is not fun, I just haven’t made the time to get started yet. I think I will change that as soon as the weather improves this spring.
I have seen bits and pieces on the internet about the hobby, but I gave it little thought. However, I have a lifelong friend, Charles, who discovered geocaching a few years ago; he can be very persuasive. He regularly posts about his hunts on social media, which looks like so much fun. He has piqued my interest in the hobby.
Charles has a Facebook page dedicated to the geocaching, where he not only hunts for caches but has hidden many himself. He also has a website where he discusses geocaching in more depth and a blog showcasing the hobby. If you are interested in geocaching, I encourage you to check out Public Land Fun. You’ll find excellent advice for beginners and avid enthusiasts alike on the website.
What is Geocaching?
Geocaching is a real-world, outdoor treasure-hunting game using GPS-enabled devices. Participants navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates and then attempt to find a hidden container, called a “cache,” at that location. Sounds simple enough, right? Well, that’s not always the case. For example, this is one of Charles’s finds.
Even with the aid of GPS, that will only get you in the right area. The real fun comes when your boots hit the ground. Typically caches are relatively small, but they can also be huge, so you need to know what you are looking for. Chances are you drive by dozens of these hidden-in-plain-sight treasures every day without even knowing it.
A cache can be smaller than a pill bottle or big as a truck.
How to get started
The easiest way to get started is to download the app. Once you get the app, you can open it up and look at caches in your area. You will be surprised at how many are within a few miles of your current location. Once you find a cache on the map you want to hunt for, you can view hints as to what you will be looking for once you get there. Most caches are on public land or private land with the owner’s blessing, so you shouldn’t have to worry about trespassing to find your prize.
What to do once you have found it
Once you have found a cache you can log it on the app or message the owner to let them know if it is missing or you couldn’t find it. There will often be a logbook inside the cache for you to sign as well. Sign the logbook and return the cache just as you left it. With smaller containers that is typically all you have to do.
Sometimes you will find larger containers like ammo boxes. They may also have swag in them. It is okay to take the prize, but please leave something of your own to replace it for the next hunter. So it doesn’t hurt to keep some small prizes with you in case you run into a larger box. Smaller toys or keychains are popular swag. The app will let you know the size of the cache if you want to only hunt for the larger ones.
- Download the App
- Find a suitable cache near you or farther if you are adventurous
- Follow the GPS
- Once you find the cache, sign the logbook
- Log the find on the app if you want to keep track of your finds
- Go find another one!
You will notice if you download the app, there is a premium version. If you get into hunting for these treasures, you can pay a premium for advanced caches. These are typically harder to find and in more challenging terrain. This is more for the hardcore enthusiast. The free version will give you plenty to find to see if you enjoy the hunt. I live in Northwest Arkansas; below is the map of caches within about 50 miles of my location.
I’m ready to go, but not today
That will keep me busy for the foreseeable future. I want to get into the hobby myself. This would be a perfect fit for me as a nature lover and hiker. This post is my motivation to get started, I will start talking about my experiences with geocaching once I get going. If it weren’t for the weather, I would jump up and go right now, but here is another map of my area. I believe I will sit in my cozy recliner and think about hunting my first geocache in comfort. Some Tavern Master might cure my boredom.
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