It’s been a while since I placed the image on the right on my website and so I thought it was well past time to explain a bit about it.
As the text says, the image displays my statistics for Geocaching.
When I’m trying to explain what Geocaching is to the uninformed, I describe the hobby as a year-round world-wide easter egg hunt. It could also be described as using multi-million dollar technology to locate Tupperware in the woods. The game only requires a GPS receiver device and a bit of ingenuity and insanity. It is enjoyed by several million people and has grown from one single cache placed in the year 2000 (when the GPS satellites went live) to over 1.2 million today pretty much only by word of mouth.
The game in a nutshell: You search for objects called caches that other players have hidden. A cache consists of a container (hopefully waterproof) that at bare minimum holds a log to sign, and at most has different cheap trinkets for kids to keep if they have something to trade. The containers can range in size from a tiny nano about the size of a pencil eraser to a 10 gallon bucket.
Caches are hidden all over the world, and there are probably several within walking (or short driving) distance of your house or work place. They are hidden by other players of the game to prevent discovery by “muggles” — people who aren’t playing the game — and sometimes they deviously camouflage it, making it hard and sometimes nearly impossible even for skilled players to find.
How to get started:
Go to the Geocaching website and locate a cache near you that looks easy to find. Most caches in urban areas are rather small, so it may help to find one outside of the city. For your first cache, you’ll want one that’s Regular or Large in size as well as has a low star rating in Difficulty and Terrain. It will also help to scroll down and read the logs of the last few people that have found the cache as that may indicate that the cache is missing, (Even though they’re supposed to be hidden so that they’re permanent, sometimes weather, wear and tear, animal interest, and muggles end up destroying them.) rated low for its actual difficulty, or even provide some hints on how to find it.
Once you’ve selected the cache you want, download the GPS coordinates to your GPSr. There are many different devices out there that will let you do this, and I just use my Motorola Droid and an app called c:geo. The device will get you to within 30ft of the cache and after that you’re on your own. You’ll have to use skills of observation (hey that bunch of twigs over there look like they’re hiding something,) and deduction (now if I were hiding this cache, where would I be,) and sometimes you just have to feel your way around an object to make the find.
Hopefully the find isn’t too difficult. Once you’ve found it, open it up, go through the contents, trade something in if you find anything you like, read/sign the logbook and hide it back the way you found it. Then when you get back to your computer, log your find by writing a couple of sentences about your experience. Rinse and repeat.
Geocaching is about many things to many people. To me, it’s about the challenge of the find and encountering new and interesting places. Or, quite possibly, a side effect of mild OCD. “Gotta have them all!”
I’ve never wanted to get outside until I’ve found this hobby, now I’m chomping at the bit. It’s strange.
At the time I wrote this, I have 76 finds and 3 hides and I’m planning a fourth hide soon. However I’m vastly inexperienced in geocaching compared to most of the others in the hobby. There’s a lady here in town that I’ve been corresponding with (she hid a cache so well that I HAD to ask her for a hint) that has over 6000 finds. It’s going to be a long time before I can get to that point, but I’m sure I’ll enjoy every bit of frustration the game brings to me along the way.