Whenever I mention the word “geocaching” to a non-geocacher (muggle) the response is either ‘oh, that’s really cool!’ or ‘why would you waste your time doing that?’ You either get it or you don’t. I for one, get it. I love geocaching. Geocaching has become a huge part of my life. It’s taken me on some incredible adventures to see some amazing parts of this beautiful country. It’s introduced me to some of my best friends. It even introduced me to my Sweetie.
But what is it exactly? Well, simply put, geocaching is a real-world outdoor treasure hunt in which a user (geocacher) uses coordinates (latitude & longitude) and a GPS-enabled device to hunt for and (hopefully!) find a container (geocache) hidden by another user.
When a new geocache (cache) is hidden, the location and a description are submitted by the hider to a website. Users of the website can then see everywhere geocaches are hidden and go find them. When a cacher finds a cache, they sign their name to the log book in the container and put it back exactly as found so the next finder can experience it as the hider intended. The finder then logs that they found it, either through the app or online, and usually writes a short description about their experience during the hunt and find.
There are a few different websites that utilize this concept, but the most popular and widely used listing service is the original geocaching.com. The website started in 2000, shortly after the US government lifted selective availability, meaning GPS satellites were suddenly available to the general public rather that just government. The history of GeocachingTM can be found here.
For the first ten or so years, the only way to find a cache was using a handheld GPS device. Today, however, the popularity of smart phones and apps has made it a lot easier and more accessible. Just download an app (Google Play or App Store), log in, and ~voila!~ look at all those caches ready to be found!!
To date, there are over 3 million active geocaches around the world! There’s probably one within a mile of you right now, and you might not even know it.
So what does a geocache look like? Well, anything really. The only requirement is that there is a container and a logsheet. It can be as small as a pencil eraser or as big as a car. It could be obvious or hidden in plain sight. It could be in a pine tree in front of a strip mall or it could be waiting for you after a day-long hike.
The most popular containers are generally Lock & Lock containers, but ammo cans and pill bottles are also widely used. I’ll go more into appropriate containers in a later post. Be sure to sign up for my emails to get notification of new posts.
So, do you get it? There’s a lot more to geocaching, like different types of caches, ratings, and trackables, but I’ve given you the basic concept. That’s enough to get you started. Go download the app and let me know what you think! Did you find one? Are you hooked? I can’t wait to hear about your adventures!