Why wouldn’t you add a treasure hunt to your hike?
Geocaching is a strange phenomenon. There are over three million geocaches hidden in 191 countries on all seven continents, yet I still meet people who have never heard of it. So, what is it?
Geocaching finds its roots in something called letterboxing, which started in England in 1854. Clues were published in newspapers and also were spread word of mouth. Hikers, in search of adventure, could then head out to find the wooden letterbox to examine its contents. The practice continues to this day, but in 2000 the advent of the Global Positioning System created a modern version of the game that quickly spread around the world.
A cache is a small container that geocachers hide for others to find. You’ll discover caches anywhere from the inside of old tree stumps to the underside of park benches. Caches usually contain a pencil and a notepad, as well as a variety of trinkets. You record your username on the notepad, and the rule with trinkets is that you can take one if you leave one.
Most geocachers use a smartphone app to find geocaches. I’ve used the app many times, and it works remarkably well. It shows you where you are on the map, and it shows you all of the geocaches in your area. You can log your finds in the app, and can even leave notes for other geocachers.
I love geocaching because it adds adventure to my hike. If I decide to hike a few miles in the woods, it makes it more fun. It takes me to places in the forest that I might not discover otherwise. Geocachers often pick their favorite spots to hide caches, and it’s usually a scenic location.
3 Tips for successful geocaching
- When you get close to the cache, pretend like you were the one hiding it. Where would the sneakiest place be? Inside that old log over there? Under that weathered rock? Maybe up in the fork of that old maple tree?
- Remember that your smartphone GPS is accurate to about 16 feet give or take, so it isn’t going to put you right on top of the geocache. I like this because it means I get to do a little hunting.
- Check the “Activity” section in the app. You want to make sure that someone has recently found the geocache. If the last few attempts are unsuccessful, there is a good chance that the cache has been stolen or removed by the person that placed it.
I hope this article gets you excited to head out and try your hand at geocaching! The best thing about it is that geocaches are always close to you, no matter where you are. If you find that you have a spare hour or two, you can open the app and take a walk. It’s a great way to burn some calories and have a little fun along the way.