How would you like to go on a modern day treasure hunt? The adventure is fun, family friendly, and something anyone and everyone can do. Picture yourself, out on Main Street, heading to an unknown destination to find the virtual X that marks the spot. This is known as geocaching.
How would you like to go on a modern day treasure hunt? The adventure is fun, family friendly, and something anyone and everyone can do.
Picture yourself, out on Main Street, heading to an unknown destination to find the virtual X that marks the spot. This is known as geocaching.
Geocaching involves use of the global positioning system, GPS, floating over our heads every day.
According to "The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Geocaching," the word itself is the combination of geo for Earth and cache, a term used for both hidden provisions and, in a more modern sense, data stored on a computer. Geocaching is a high-tech treasure hunting game played throughout the world by adventure seekers equipped with GPS devices.
If you get into geocaching, you should not only take a GPS with you on your hunts, you should also take a backpack with bug spray, water, sunscreen, first aid kit, compass, and possibly mace (in case you run across a dangerous encounter).
Basically, in a few words, geocaching is a modern day treasure hunt without the riches or threat of pirates taking your booty.
Just like with the old CB radio days, those that are into geocaching have handles, or names they use instead of their own. Geocaching is a hobby and geocachers intertwine with others in the same loop.
Local geocacher Angel106 of Heber Springs (Linda Treadway) has been on the hunt for some time and really gets into her hunts. “I’ve hidden over 120 geocaches in the county. I’ve logged finds in 30 states. I have even logged finds in other countries.”
A fairly new geocacher is Beeguy7310 of Heber Springs. Many know Beeguy as Wesley Harris.
“When I decided I wanted to start this as a hobby, it took me a while to find someone else in the area that knew what I was talking about. I would call friends and ask, have to explain what it was, then find out they didn’t know. Finally I called a friend, and when I didn’t have to explain what geocaching was I knew my search to find others that did it was over. I have since met a few geocachers.”
Angel106 and Beeguy7310 took Stopthepresses (guess who that is) on a few hunts last week to get a feel for the geocaching world.
The hunt begins with someone hiding an object and logging the GPS coordinates of the location at geocaching.com. Those that are into the scene can find caches all over the world. There are over 1,000,000 caches hidden across the globe.
Caches are ranked on skill levels from one to five, with one being an easy-to-access area while a five could require ropes, harnesses, and climbing. You will even know the terrain before heading out.
You can search on private land if there is already a cache hidden. If you plan on hiding a cache on private property you must have permission of the landowner. Public land, for the most part, is open to geocaching. National forests are not open for geocaching. In any case, it’s always a good idea to check with the person in charge to get permission.
The basic geocache is hidden, and when found, the person logs their handle into a logbook with the cache, and puts it back for others to find.
There are several different types of geocaches. Geocaching.com says the types of geocaches are:
This is the original cache type consisting, at a bare minimum, a container and a logbook. Normally you'll find a Tupperware container, ammo box, bucket filled with goodies, or smaller container ("micro cache") too small to contain items except for a logbook. The coordinates listed on the traditional cache page are the exact location for the cache.
The general rule of thumb is, "If you take an item, leave an item, and write in the logbook." Some caches are themed, so make sure to read the description before going on a hunt.
Multi-Cache (Offset Cache)
A multi-cache ("multiple") involves two or more locations, the final location being a physical container. There are many variations, but most multi-caches have a hint to find the second cache, and the second cache has hints to the third, and so on. An offset cache (where you go to a location and get hints to the actual cache) is considered a multi-cache.
Project A.P.E. Cache
In 2001, 12 geocaches were placed in conjunction with 20th Century Fox to support the movie "Planet of the Apes." Each cache represented a fictional story in which scientists revealed an "Alternative Primate Evolution." These caches were made using specially marked ammo containers. Each cache had an original prop from the movie. Only a few Project A.P.E. caches exist today.
Mystery or Puzzle Caches
The "catch-all" of cache types, this form of cache can involve complicated puzzles you will first need to solve to determine the coordinates. Due to the increasing creativity of geocaching this becomes the staging ground for new and unique challenges.
A letterbox is another form of treasure hunting using clues instead of coordinates. In some cases, however, the owner has made it both a letterbox and a geocache and posted its coordinates on Geocaching.com. If there is a stamp inside a letterbox hybrid, it is not an item intended for trade; the stamp is meant to remain in the box so that visitors can use it to record their visit. To read more about letterboxing, visit the Letterboxing North America web site.
Wherigo is a toolset for creating and playing GPS-enabled adventures in the real world. By integrating a Wherigo experience, called a cartridge, with finding a cache, the geocaching hunt can be an even richer experience. Among other uses, Wherigo allows geocachers to interact with physical and virtual elements such as objects or characters while still finding a physical geocache container. A Wherigo-enabled GPS device is required to play a cartridge. Learn more at Wherigo.com.
Occasionally, local geocachers and geocaching organizations designate a time and location to meet and discuss geocaching. After the event the caches are archived.
A Mega-Event cache is similar to an Event Cache but it is much larger. In order to qualify as a Mega Event, the event cache must be attended by more than 500 people. Typically, Mega Events are annual events and attract geocachers from all over the world.
Cache In Trash Out Event
Cache In Trash Out is an activity intimately tied to geocaching. While out there on a cache hunt, we collect litter along the trails and properly dispose of it. Cache In Trash Out Events are much larger clean-up events that involve and benefit the larger community.
An EarthCache is a special place that people can visit to learn about a unique geoscience feature or aspect of our Earth. EarthCaches include a set of educational notes and the details about where to find the location (latitude and longitude). Visitors to EarthCaches can see how our planet has been shaped by geological processes, how we manage the resources and how scientists gather evidence to learn about the Earth. For more information about EarthCaches, visit http://www.earthcache.org/.
GPS Adventures Maze Exhibit
A GPS Adventures Exhibit Cache represents attendance at the GPS Adventures Maze Exhibit or a regional variation of this Exhibit. GPS Adventures Mazes are designed to teach people of all ages about GPS technology and geocaching through interactive science experiences.