Spring has sprung!
Soon, it will be unbearably hot here in Florida, but for now it is time to spend every waking hour outdoors. In this spirit, today I bring you:
Geocaching is an existing community that hides and seeks containers of various sizes all over the world. These containers are caches. Inside of the caches is usually a log book for anyone who finds that cache to sign and sometimes a small prize or token.
To get started, you need a pair of comfortable shoes, a pen and access to the internet.
Start at geocoaching.com, plug-in a zip code and a list of caches in your neighborhood will generate. I highly suggest using the app for iPhone or android. In the app, you can find nearby caches and it will show you exactly where you are in relation to it on a map.
Caches are generally camouflaged into their surroundings. The idea is that seekers need to really search to find them. In this picture, Glen is retrieving a cache he spotted in the tree. This one is colored black, so it was a little easier to spot, but often they’ll blend right into the environment (natural or man-made!).
Caches come in various shapes and sizes. The cache I’m holding in this picture would be classified as a micro cache. It is small enough to fit in my hand, but not so tiny that it would be easily lost (that’s called a nano cache). This one has a screw top and resembles a test tube.
There are smaller caches, some as small as a bolt, and they can get quite large, some as big as a tackle box.
Inside most caches is a logbook. Often there is additional pieces of paper with information about geocaching just incase a non-geocacher happens to stumbles upon the goody. This information usually explains how the game works, sends them to the website and invites the lucky finder to join in on the fun!
The log book is where the pen will come in handy. Be sure to sign and date (and add more paper if necessary) the log when you uncover it. The coolest thing about the log book is it provides the opportunity to see how many other people have found this treasure. Look back to the first date provided to find out when this cache entered hiding. This past weekend I found one from 2008.
Sometimes, caches will also feature some sort of physical object or prize. The general rule is: if you take the object, you must replace with something of equal value. One cache found over the weekend contained a St. Patrick’s day coin. The log indicated the last time this cache had been found was around St. Patrick’s day. The coin was removed from the cache (this one was a magnetic key holder) and replaced with a game card from “Magic: The Gathering”. Be sure to bring some little items to leave as tokens when out geocaching. My go to items are dice and dominoes, so if you find one, maybe you’re somewhere I’ve been!
After uncovering the treasure, reassemble it and put it back EXACTLY where it was found. If the log needs more paper, add some if possible.
Then, you can log all the caches found on the website or app. Each participant can keep track of how many they’ve found and the site allows for notes about each site. There are also forums to connect with other geocachers across the world.
Some caches work out perfectly. But sometimes not so much. Sometimes a cache goes missing or gets stolen, cache sites can get destroyed, logs get soggy and useless, and sometimes the caches are just hidden so darn well it’s impossible to find.
I found geocaching is a fun and active way to spend the weekend. It felt like playing a game all day. I encourage you to checkout the geocaching website and explore your neighborhood. There are some really well hidden caches out there, but be sure to look out for nature’s little friends! In the future I’ll be posting about my first experience planting a cache for those in my area to find!