I am now a geocacher. My friend Chris and I, with a sunny afternoon at our disposal, tested the geocaching waters in my fair city recently. It was my first venture in geocaching, which I had to look up on Wikipedia and geocaching.com before I started. I usually shy away from activities involving numbers, coordinates and rain-soaked jungle paths. But Chris was a veteran – she had geocached the previous day in Ripon. And she has always had an irresistable way of enlisting me in something new.
What is geocaching anyway?
Geocaching combines hiking, hunting, trespassing, gambling and social media into hours of fun, followed by hours of laundry. On the website, it’s billed as “a free real-world outdoor treasure hunt. Players try to locate hidden containers, called geocaches, using a smartphone or GPS and can then share their experiences online.” Lucky for us, West Bend, Wisconsin, is the Geocaching Capital of the Midwest™, and has more than 900 caches within a 10-mile radius, according to my friends at the Chamber of Commerce. When you find one, it’s often a small canister or container wrapped in camo duct tape. Inside is a record of the last finder and perhaps a trinket or two which you can leave or replace with something equally cool of your own.
You search for the cache using your smartphone GPS app. Data about the location and the find have already been entered online. You can use that data, along with maps and aerial views on some apps, to hunt down your cache. Meanwhile, you are enjoying and exploring nature and the city, getting sunburned, making friends, getting bit by bugs or all of the above.
So what do I need to know?
Within about two hours, Chris and I had ably discovered three caches. We were still within about three blocks of my house and had gone through a primordial swamp, public park and residential intersection.
We learned alot about geocaching and we wanted to share three rules:
- Don’t wear white. Those crisp capris should not be climbing on a soggy, moss covered log.
- Don’t drop your phone. It’s hard to get the mud out of those tiny crevices.
- Seek and you shall find. Caches can be anywhere, and they usually are!
Next time you want something to do, turn off the TV, phone a friend and go geocaching. It’s caching!
What’s your geocaching experience?