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Do You Geocache?

Do You Geocache?

symbol for geocachingLast weekend, in the scorching heat, I thought I would sneak out for a quick kayak.  It is one of my favourite things – so peaceful and relaxing on the water.  Generally, I end up taking pictures as I paddle.  What can I say, it is beautiful on the water.  I have been taking photos since I got my first camera around the age of 10 and this outing was no different.  There I was, in the middle of the water, taking photos with my phone and instagramming away, oblivious to the world around me.  (Follow Travel Destination Bucket List on Instagram for more photos from Ottawa and around the world!)  Totally engrossed in instagram while floating along, I didn’t even notice a small group of kayakers coming my way.  One of them paddled right up beside me and excitedly asked “are you geocaching?”

To be honest, I know little about geocaching.  My understanding is that there are GPS coordinates for geocaches globally and that people search them out like a treasure hunt or orienteering adventures, sharing their finds on the web with fellow Geocachers from around the world.  It’s like the outdoor adventure equivalent to online games with multiple players!  I once thought I found a Geocache by accident when snowshoeing although it was more likely a treasure hunt for a local fitness group – it wasn’t that well hidden, just a challenge to get to.

treasure hunt or geocache in Gatineau Park

My question is this – is geocaching something I should be doing?  I am so incredibly directionally challenged (remember my confessions of a travel-aholic – I can get lost in a grocery store.  No kidding!)  Perhaps this would be a fun way for me to work on my map reading skills while discovering new places.  Figuring I should do a little research on the subject, I started poking around on line – I got nearly 22 million hits!

According to Geocaching.com, there are over 5 million geocachers worldwide and 2,142,233 active geocaches.  It is incredibly family friendly – I found a number of family oriented sites sharing their experiences (Suitcases and Sippy Cups had a couple pieces including Finding Fun with Geocaching) and it is suitable for all levels of skills from beginner to super adventurer.  They say it is a fun way to explore the world and all you need is a GPS or a smartphone.  Who knows, this may just help improve my sense of direction!

Family fun - geocaching with the kids

Do you Geocache?  If you do, I would love to hear more about your experiences.  It sounds like a fun way to explore and the links between Travel and GeoTourism are growing.  Search on your next travel destination – they may just have a geocache waiting for you.  Sounds like a great way to explore places off the beaten track!

This is what I found on the web – by no means a comprehensive research piece – but an introduction to the whats and hows behind the growing trend…

Ins and outs of Geocaching
What is Geocaching?  It is a free, outdoor treasure hunt with hidden containers (geocaches) found all over the world.  People use a smartphone or GPS to find the treasures and then share their experiences online.  This is your chance to use your skills and GPS enabled device to get out there and explore.  (oh boy, I may have travelled around the world…but this could be a real challenge for me!)
How do you play? There are 8 simple steps according to the Geocaching website: Register for a free basic membership, visit the hide & seek cache page, enter a postal code for your search region, select a geocache, enter the coordinates into your GPS device and search.  Once you find it, sign the logbook and return it to the original location.  Share your stories and photos on line.
Are there any rules?  It looks quite simple – if you take something from the Geocache, leave something of equal or greater value.  Write about it in the “cache” logbook and log your experience in on the website.  If you are unable to find the cache – log it as such.  There is a possibility it has been moved and it is the responsibility of the owner of the cache to check on it and maintain the site.
Where?  The “caches” are found all over the world.  They range in difficulty levels from quite simple to much more complicated or adventurous hiding places.  That way, anyone from a beginner to highly advanced can play.  They could be in a park, in the forest or even under water.  Multi-tiered caches mean that the clues build on themselves as you move location to location until you find the ultimate location.  It all lends to the adventure and challenge.
Types of Geocahes.  Start with the original or traditional cache (a container and a log book/logsheet), as your skills develop, try the multi-cache (aka offset cache).  This often has 2 or more locations with a physical container as the final location.  20th Century Fox created the Project A.P.E. Cache in conjunction with the movie Planet of the Apes in 2001 – each cache had a prop from the movie however there may only be one cache that still exists today.  The final challenge – the mystery or puzzle cache sounds intriguing.  It involves complicated puzzles as clues to discover the GPS coordinates.
Getting Started.  Check the cache listing for caches in your area.  The caches will be listed with a difficulty rating and a cache type.  It is recommended, when you are first getting started, that you look for a cache that has been found recently.  The logs will show when it was last found.  With more recent log-ins, it is more likely that the cache is still in place and findable.
What do they look like? Geocaches come in all shapes and sizes, ranging in difficulty from a large, clear plastic container to a fake rock with a secret compartment and anything in between.
Are you looking for me? Micro rock containers for Geocaching

Are you looking for me? Micro rock containers for Geocaching

Digging a little deeper, I found that Geocaching is very similar to the 150 year old game of “letterboxing”, with clues and references to landmarks embedded in stories.  It really is a more sophisticated form of the old fashioned treasure hunt with satellite technology to help you track down your target.

I also found it quite interesting to read that it has not been all fun and games for some geocachers – attentions of the police have been alerted to the suspicious behaviors of people who place or search for the caches, especially in highly public places.  A bomb scare was reported in downtown Auckland when a suspicious person was reported “planting a device around a railing”.  The bomb squad was called in and the area was blocked off (Hide and seek game causes Auckland bomb scare).  Perhaps I will stick to the more outdoor adventure places that include hikes in the woods or along the shores of a lake – don’t want to be the cause of an international scandal!

What do you think?  Have you tried Geocaching?  Would love to hear about your experiences.

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About Anita Mac

The bucket list just keeps growing! The more I cross off - the more exciting new destinations and activities I find! I have been fortunate enough to travel a considerable distance over the years. My love of many things, including travel, cycling, kayaking and photography fit together like hand and glove. I have to keep asking myself....where to next? I am happy to share my travels and photography through my blogs: http://traveldestinationbucketlist.com and http://anitamacphotos.wordpress.com Hope you enjoy them as much as I do! On to the next adventure!


16 thoughts on “Do You Geocache?

  1. BTW – Jens Voigt geocaches on rest days…

    Posted by Peter Tregunno (@iampetert2) | July 17, 2013, 1:40 pm
  2. I Volksmarch and have recently started letterboxing – collecting stamps and no GPS coordinates to help you out. There are lots of letterboxes along our Volksmarch trails.

    Posted by walktx | July 17, 2013, 1:58 pm
  3. I’ve often wondered what Geocaching was all about – thanks for filling in the gaps. It sounds like fun 🙂

    Posted by The Travelbunny | July 17, 2013, 3:44 pm
  4. My parents are very big fans of geocaching. They’ve done hundreds of caches at this point and I was always a little reluctant when I was dragged along as a kid, but looking back on it we had a lot of fun! It gets you outside, active, and, yes, teaches you how to use a GPS (something I haven’t quite mastered yet either).

    It’s quite good for traveling too and you can kind of collect caches all over the world. It’s actually a very big and friendly community to be a part of and they have big group events sometimes that I’ve also heard can be quite fun.

    Posted by rachelynne | July 17, 2013, 4:30 pm
    • Hmmm…any excuse to get out and explore…I see a geocache in my future. Just have to pick one and give it a go. Glad to see you have good memories from geocaching with your parents, even if you were a little reluctant. I imagine there are a lot of kids like that, but I bet they have a ball once they get into it!

      Posted by Anita Mac | July 17, 2013, 6:32 pm
  5. Hey there! So thanks for checking our blog today – and yes, we enjoy geocaching all over the world! Josh (my husband) got into it a few years ago from my younger brother who would play around with it when he was bored; but Josh really loved it!

    He got me into it slowly. We started going to some caching events and met some really cool people – we didn’t realize how big the community is! Some cachers are all about numbers or difficulty, but we are more “casual” cachers because we are mostly about the scenery. We love to use geocaching as a reason to get off the beaten tourist path. Some of the coolest caches we found were when we were hiking in the Scottish Highlands or in a temple ruin hidden the the jungle of Angkor Wat, in Cambodia.

    To learn a bit more about it and read some caching stories, we have a section of our blog for geocaching. Check it out http://www.peanutsorpretzels.com/category/geocaching/

    Good to hear that other people are taking interest too! Thanks for the story!

    Liz (& Josh)

    Posted by Liz smith | July 17, 2013, 9:17 pm
    • I think I would fall into your category – casual and scenery sound more my speed! I was thinking exactly what you are saying when I started looking into it a little more – getting off the beaten path and exploring sounds like a great way to see a new place. That is promising that you liked the Scottish Highlands – I am wondering if I could fit in a little geocache adventure in Ireland this fall. Will be investigating this over the next few days. I am a little behind though – I still don’t own a GPS. Will be looking for recommendations as my smart phone won’t work in Europe.

      Posted by Anita Mac | July 18, 2013, 9:40 am
  6. My wife and I spent a few years as avid geocachers. It’s a great reason to get out and explore new destinations. It even works well as a tour guide in many areas, often geocaches are hidden at scenic or unique locations. I’d say yes you should look more into it. It also teaches you about using a GPS for navigation. We happen to own about 50 geocaches that we have personally hidden too. Great fun. Randy & Lynn

    Posted by Randy Mitson | July 21, 2013, 2:54 pm
  7. Sounds sooo appealing… I’m going to keep this idea in the back of my mind 🙂

    Posted by Bashar A. | July 22, 2013, 5:10 pm

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