What on earth is Geocaching?
It started when I unwrapped a Garmin eTrex 20 on Xmas morning. A hand held, GPS tracking device nonetheless. Whilst I love a good gadget I must admit I was a bit perplexed. It must have shown on my face as my wife promptly announced
“It’s for our new family hobby”.
I was none the wiser.
“We’re going Geocaching!” she exclaimed “It’ll get us out and about more as family.”
Again, not a clue. But I was acutely aware that ‘something’ had just begun and Charlotte’s enthusiasm hinted that she’d spent a lot of time and effort considering this new adventure.
So when I got a spare moment between shoving my hands up a turkey and entertaining old people – I logged onto www.geocaching.com. I did as I was told, registered my details and began watching the online tutorials.
How do you describe Geocaching? Well – it’s one massive, worldwide treasure hunt. Orienteering for the modern geek if you will.
There’s millions of ‘caches’ hidden all over the place. You go for a hike, solve the odd puzzle and use your GPS to find the treasure.
Cache’s range from tiny little tubes to ammo boxes. Not to mention the sneaky little camouflaged caches that masquerade as nuts and bolts and tufts of grass. Once you find it, you sign the little log book, exchange some items if there are any and then put it back where you found it.
Then you go online, record what you’ve found, congratulate yourself and arrange the next adventure.
You can even get ‘trackables’. Little tokens with identification numbers on that get moved from one place to another. Then – because you’ve logged them online – you can track them from location to location to see how far they’ve been.
But the best bit is, you can’t tell anyone. Geocachers are a secret society who perpetuate this endless game. Laying caches and setting puzzles for each other. Literally -millions are hidden that nobody knows about and you can’t talk about it for fear of spoiling the fun for the next person. Or indeed from revealing your cache secrets to non-geocachers or ‘muggles’ as they are known in the community.
So where were we going to start? There must be one in Coventry I thought. Wrong. There’s thousands and I’ll describe our first hunt without giving too much away!
On Boxing Day morning we set the coordinates into the Garmin and the three of us simply walked out of the front door. Of course we knew our general direction and we headed off towards my daughters school. The cache itself was supposedly located in a piece of woodland behind a car park near the school which, I thought, was totally implausible.
Our inexperience meant had a little trouble finding it. But once we’d worked out the clue, it led us to an old telegraph pole. At the rear of the pole, just above ground level, someone had taken the time to drill a hole. Inside the hole was a little test tube shaped cache.
Treasure! How weirdly satisfying to find our first cache. The 3 of us were elated. It actually felt like we were adventurers and we’d achieved something. We signed the log, placed it back and made our way home triumphant in the knowledge that we had our own little secret.
So we’re now hooked. Geocaching is the perfect mixture of geekdom and getting outdoors and having some fun with the family. No doubt I’ll be compelled to write more about our treasure hunting adventures on my blog. Even though I’ll be at risk of breaking the first rule of geocaching…
Never talk about geocaching!
Photo courtesy of Pixabay
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