Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Geocaching, A Modern Day Treasure Hunt

Chances are that from where you are sitting right now, reading this, there is a hidden treasure hidden within two or three miles from you. How find it is an new high tech sport called Geocaching. I recently spent a afternoon being introduced to this new sport, by a friend of mine, a real pro at this, and when I say a pro, I mean it. He has found over 2600 Caches over the last two years.

So how do you find a Cache? Well first you log onto Geocaching.com and find your current location, next you lookup nearby Caches for you to find. Then you input the location of the cache you want to find into your GPS unit and off you go. If your like most I.T. Professionals, you do what you normally don't, go outside and enjoy the fresh air and sun shine.

You follow your GPS until you find the exact position indicated by the website, you will now be within 15 feet or so of your treasure, now you have to find it the same way you did as a kid, you have to seek it out. Normally the treasure will be contained within a weatherproof container of some sort, maybe a old ammo can or maybe just a film canister.

It might be in a tree, or under a rock, geocachers a clever creatures so it might be anywhere.

When you find it, if you find it, open it and log your find in the cache log, a piece of paper where you can see who else has found your treasure and when. Then comes the fun part, you get to rehide the cache for the next cacher to try and find, you have to stay within 15 feet or so of where your GPS pinpointed the cache to stay within the rules. Finally, go back to Geocaching.com and let your fellow cachers know of your find.

For more on this interesting high tech hobby here is a portion of Alpha Geek: Geocaching 101:

The Game

The word Geocaching comes from two separate words: geo, for geology; and cache, a hidden store of goods or valuables. It's pronounced "geo-cashing." If you go around saying "geo-catching," people will laugh at you.

This is a home-grown sport in the truest sense. You can read the full history at Geocaching.com or in my book, How to Do Everything with Your GPS, which makes a great gift.

geocaching1.jpg Here's the nutshell version of how it works:

  • You enter a set of coordinates (the latitude and longitude variety) into your GPS receiver. This is the 'X' that marks the spot.
  • You let your GPS navigate you to those coordinates. They might be in a public park, a patch of deep woods, or a mountain trail.
  • You search the area for the hidden booty, which may be wedged in the crook of a tree branch, buried under a small pile or rocks, or otherwise concealed.
  • You claim a trinket from the "treasure chest" and leave behind one of your own.

Sound like fun? All you need is a suitable GPS receiver, a set of coordinates and possibly some bug spray.

WARNING, Geocaching can be addictive but in a good way, just ask my friend who has spent most of his free time over the last two years doing it.

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1 comment:

Norm Rogers said...

Great post, and geocaching is indeed a great outdoor activity. My wife and I have been addicted since last June. Like you mentioned, it takes up most of our weekends. We're trying to get 200 finds by the end of the year, but with the snow, that may not happen. Cache on!
If interested, we post our adventures on: http://geocats.blogspot.com/