GEO WHAT?

May 18th, 2014 | By Staci Litts No Comments

geo-may

My husband and I are wandering in the same spot looking under and around things for about 15 minutes. It almost feels like an hour when you’re trying to remain inconspicuous. We know a secret … something is hidden in this area and we don’t want anyone (muggles) to know.

Unfortunately, someone takes notice of us acting strangely. We’re busted. When asked what we are doing we can’t come up with a good excuse for what we’re doing so we admit that we are geocaching. More often than not we’re asked “What is that?” and then we stumble around for a good way to explain what that means. We still get the “I see a two-headed person” look. Well, that’s all part of the fun. We get to share something we love to do.

So, what is Geocaching? 

Geocaching is often referred to as a high tech treasure hunt, using today’s technology to find a hidden cache call a geocache (pronounced geocash), “geo” for earth and “cache” for a collection of items stored in a hidden place.

Using coordinates and a GPS, you search for caches which contain a log book and sometimes little trinkets left for trade called swag. Caches range in size from as small as the tip of your pinky (referred to as nano or micro caches) to caches as big as bread boxes and larger. There are also tricky caches disguised as screws and other items you would overlook.

Levels of difficulty vary according to the size and terrain where the cache is located. Caches are strategically placed in trees or stuck to things magnetically or under something, but they are not buried in the ground. There are park-and-grab caches which can take as little as five minutes to find, puzzle caches that make you solve a puzzle to come up with the coordinates, and multi-caches for people who enjoy scavenger hunts. This makes it the perfect outdoor game for everyone.

Oh, before I forget, a muggle is a non-geocacher or someone who is unaware that there are secret treasures hidden all around them. Muggle is based on the term from Harry Potter, which is a nonmagical person. After reading this article you will no longer be a muggle!

Where are geocaches hidden? 

Everywhere and anywhere!  Stuck to a traffic sign, hanging in a drainage pipe by fishing line, in trees, deep in the woods, in the parking lot of your nearest Kroger. You can plan your walking, biking, running route, or even vacations around them.

There are more than 1.5 million geocaches hidden around the world. Geocaching is a great way to explore new places while traveling. Some of the hardest caches are hidden in the Middle East. There are geocaches in Antarctica, at the Taj Mahal in India, and my personal favorite is the cache on the ISS (International Space Station). The Athens area alone boasts several hundred.

Why try geocaching?

It’s something you can do FOR FREE wherever you go. That’s not the best part though. Geocaching is an activity in which you can share places and common interests with the people in your community and around the world and it supports the environment. There is an abbreviated saying known to geocachers as CITO, meaning Cache In Trash Out. Geocachers go into areas seeking their treasures, and when they leave, they take out any trash they find along the way.

Geocaching is a wonderful way to spend the day outdoors with friends or family. You may find places and see views of your neighborhood you never knew existed. Geocaching combines exercise and fun while enjoying the environment. Finding a cache provides a sense of fulfillment in the hunt, whether it’s the journey, the view, the creativeness of the cache or finding something someone else has hidden that most people don’t know is there.

How do you get started with geocaching?

First, sign up on www.geocaching.com, the official geocaching website, to get your free basic membership. Gather up the required gear:  map, compass and GPS (an inexpensive, basic GPS or smartphone is fine; bring the compass in case your GPS doesn’t work for some reason), extra batteries, pen or pencil to log your find, paper for taking notes. Don’t forget to bring some swag, or items for trade. If you take something from the cache make sure you leave something of equal value.

For more information on geocaching you can go to www.geocaching.com, watch videos on YouTube, or go to your local library. While getting started,
I found the Complete Idiot’s Guide to
Geocaching quite useful!

 

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