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Me, myself, and my code.

New Hobby: Hi-Tech Treasure Hunting!

08 June 2008

Geocaching: Love Bugs

What do you do when you have a GPS receiver, the internet, and a penchant for treasure hunting? You go Geocaching! Geocaching is a game where you quite literally use multi-million dollar satellites to hunt for boxes in the woods.

The game works as follows:

  1. First you log into the Official Geocaching website (geocaching.com).
  2. Enter your zip code to find all of the caches near where you live.
  3. Put a few cache locations onto your GPS, and go hunting!

View from a bluff

The caches themselves range in size from magnetic key holders to ammo boxes painted and marked with the word “Geocache”. All caches contain a small logbook where finders can sign the date of their find, their nickname, and maybe even a quick description of the fun they had hunting.

Some of the larger caches are variable treasure troves of trinkets. Geocachers follow a policy of trade equal or trade up. This means that if you stumble upon a cache with a nifty goody you’d like to snag, you must trade that item for something of equal or greater value. This ensures the boxes stay stocked with things to keep everybody entertained.

The caches themselves vary in difficulty from easy to find, to incredibly hard. To make matters worse, since some people may frown upon the idea of geocaching, you generally must stay as inconspicuous as possible while caching. After all, the last thing you’d want to do is give away the cache to someone else hunting, or even worse be witnessed re-hiding the cache only to have it stolen.

Stump with Mushrooms

The number of people enjoying this interesting hobby is often surprising. Chances are if you’re out caching you’ll bump into another person doing the same. Caches are so wide spread that if you’re anywhere any park, or city, chances are you walk right bye more than a few each day.

I began caching with a few friends from work known on geocaching.com as DrDonut and Raegx. Since then our caching adventures have taken us to various beautiful parks around the Rochester area. I’ve even revisited some of my favorite spots from high school only to discover caches present in the area.

The joy of the find and neat swag aside, the real fun of Geocaching comes from the community itself. The game itself is entirely community run. Geocachers make the caches and post them to the site. Geocachers find the caches. Geocachers police the caches and warn people when they need maintenance. But most importantly, geocachers all seem to be cut from the same adventurous cloth.

An overbearing theme for all caches seems to be to get you to look at your world a little differently. Many caches are placed in such a way that they will take you somewhere you might never know existed. Walking the trail, or even a bit off the beaten path, you’re sure to see something cool and have a good deal of fun.

Happy caching!