In addition to camping and hiking, Joshua and I really enjoy geocaching, which all go hand in hand pretty well. The great thing about geocaching is that you can do it in the middle of a huge national park or in the middle of your city. So you might be asking, “What exactly is this geocaching she speaks of?” Well, geocaching is the process of someone hiding a cache, and you use the GPS coordinates of the cache’s location to try and find it. It’s very easy to pick up, a great way to explore your area, and a fun way to get fresh air and exercise. So how do you get started…
The first thing you do is create an account on the geocaching website. Then you search for a cache in your area and get its GPS coordinates, as well as clues and important details about its size and location. A cache can be a cylinder smaller than a quarter or a container as large as a gallon of milk. There are also some sneaky little caches that can look like a screw, rock, or even a chewed piece of gum (don’t worry, it’s plastic not actually chewed gum). Even the smallest cache contains a narrow rolled up piece of paper; this is the log. The log is what you sign when you find the geocache. This is the proof you found it (always bring a pen or pencil when you geocache). The larger caches can contain items for trading, like small toys or stickers. There are also little trinkets called trackables. These are little tokens, tags, coins, and even Legos that have a code on them that when found you enter online to see where all it has traveled. You can buy these trackables online and track their progress there. When you finally find the cache, though, you sign the log and go online to log it on the cache’s page. That’s it, you’ve done it! You’ve just found your first geocache. Now, keep it up because there are over 1.75 million caches all over the world, so there are plenty out there to find.
You’ll need a few things if you are going geocaching. Our little geocaching bag has:
- some extra paper in case the log is ruined or full
- small dinosaurs and army men for leaving or trading in the bigger caches
- a flashlight
- some extra batteries
Geocaching is way easier if you have a GPS, and Magellan, a pretty well known GPS company, has partnered with Groundspeak, the company that started the geocaching craze, to make a geocaching geared GPS. The eXplorist GC is made specifically for geocaching, but it can double as a basic GPS for those hikes, too. So you can find caches and find your way back to your car or camp site. It’s a little finicky at times, but it can normally find a cache within a couple of feet. You can also use most regular hiking or trail GPSs. Here is a guide to buying the ideal GPS for geocaching.
Now, if you don’t have or don’t want to invest in a GPS just yet there is a basic free app by Groundspeak, available for iPhone and Android, that allows you to see their recommendations for beginning geocaches, as well as tips on geocaching. This version is obviously limited, but they also have a full version that costs $10. Cheaper than purchasing an actual GPS, this version basically lets you use your phone as a geocaching GPS.
All in all, geocaching is great for the explorer/treasure hunter inside all of us, and perfect for those Saturday’s that you just don’t have anything planned and don’t want to stay home or spend a lot of money. Do something new, go geocaching! We love spending the day finding a bunch of caches all over our city, or taking time to search for them on our hikes. It’s really a ton of fun!
p.s.- Neither Groundspeak or Magellan have endorsed me for this post. These are strictly my opinions.