I call geocaching hiking with a purpose. It’s a worldwide, GPS-enabled scavenger hunt that is fun for the whole family. Most recently, my daughter and I spent an afternoon with my parents exploring a cemetery, a road leading to a campsite that doesn’t exist anymore, and an interesting tree formation in the mountains.
The challenge of the search and the thrill of the find, entice us to put on our hiking boots and explore new areas. If you’re in an urban area, no worries, there are caches there too. You just have to try to be discreet! Geocaching is a great way to get out and about when you’re new in town after a PCS. Before you know it you’ll be running up hills, scrambling along streams, or poking around a city and not even realizing that you’re getting a workout.
To play, you find the coordinates for hidden treasures of various sizes online or choose a cache using the app on your phone and then you put your navigation skills to the test to try and find them. The smaller ones are film canister size and hold a log to sign, and larger ones hold trinkets to trade. You choose a treasure and leave something in return. Some caches will even offer cash if you’re the first to find, or trackable Geocoins or Travel Bugs that allow you to follow the stories of their travels.
Here are some tips to get you started:
If you don’t want to get discouraged on your first time geocaching, start with a beginner geocache. For first timers, trying to find a film canister in a forest is like trying to find a needle in a haystack!
Read the activity log for the geocache you want to go to before setting out. There might be some spoilers, but you will also see whether the cache has been found recently, and whether the coordinates were off.
GPS devices have varying degrees of accuracy. If you’re not having success with directions given by your GPS, navigate according to the actual coordinates.
Start collecting a trinket stash to take with you on your outings.
Whether you want to entertain kids this summer, or you just feel the itch to get out and enjoy a pretty day, geocaching is a fun activity to try.
Have you ever tried geocaching? What was your biggest adventure?