Geocaching has been around since May, 2000, when Dave Ulmer of Beavercreek, Oregon, USA stashed a parcel and posted its GPS coordinates online. Within three days two people had discovered the stash and the game had begun.
Much like an old-fashioned treasure hunt participants are guided to the location of the stash (known as a cache) by clues and GPS coordinates.
The format of the cache can be diverse, ranging from a simple container to specially designed artificial rocks and the like. All quite different to the original cache, which was a plastic bucket containing software, videos, books, money, slingshot, and a can of beans!
Caches, also known as ‘swag’ generally have one thing in common, and that is the logbook. Here you enter the date that you found it, along with initials or the like.
As well as the logbook you may find something of personal value to the person that placed the cache, or you may find ‘Geocoins’, personalised tokens as mementoes.
The most common type of cache that I’ve found is the 35mm film capsule containing a rolled-up logbook; however, I’ve also found a magnetic strip with logbook on the back of a telephone PCP (primary connection point), or ‘cab’. the green telephone cabinets on the side of the road. I also found one as a fake rock in a rock cage used to reduce coastal erosion. The latter being an awkward one to find as it was in the dunes, at night with a 10-knot onshore wind in my face at 3°C!
What’s the point?
People get involved for a number of reasons, some are competitive with other Geocachers, others like the technology. some enjoy the outdoor element, others enjoy the challenge.
For me, it came from a suggestion by one of my sons. He began searching for Geocaches while walking his two Standard Dachsunds, Rolo & Twix, and it seemed like a good idea. Since starting I’ve added several new ‘walks’ for Joe, my Working Cocker Spaniel.
All you really need is a GPS enabled device, and most smartphones have GPS built-in, and the App installed.
I have an iPhone and use the Geocaching App, which allows the user to find the ‘free’ caches in the area around them. I, also, paid the annual subscription of £24 (Jan 2020) which makes all of the caches available. Yes, it’s £2.00 per month, but I’m also walking a lot farther when I’m out, and it’s a lot cheaper than a gym!
Can anyone get involved in Geocaching?
Geocaching is a mixed ability pastime.
Yes, some caches can be difficult to get to (hidden up trees etc.), but many are also urban caches.
for those of restricted mobility keep in mind that there are several parts in geocaching, including problem solving, so it is very feasible to do as a team.
How can I find geocaching sites?
This’ll sound odd, but there’s probably one within a five-minute stroll from where you are reading this.
Earlier this year I booked a Shepherds Hut for the weekend. The location was also where I went for a Fly-fishing experience day (see this link). To my surprise there were two Geocaches within a few minutes. One was accessible by wheelchair!
What's the most difficult Geocache you've found?
Finding the cache is part of the problem, it then needs to be accessed. In terms of finding, the most difficult was one in a semi-rural location due to the resolution of GPS. I knew it was in a tree, but in a 10m diameter circle there were a lot of trees!
In terms of access, there has only been one, so far. I could see it in the tree, but it was wet, I was wearing wellies, and the tree covered in algae. I had to abort that one for that day, but will return.
What kit is essential for Geocaching?
All that is really needed for Geocaching is a GPS device (smartphone with App) and most importantly, a pen to mark the logbook!
Conclusion About Geocaching
Whatever your motivation for getting involved it becomes addictive. You’ve found two or three caches when out and about… maybe just one more?
It’s a relatively cheap outdoor exercise that puts purpose into a walk, be it in the countryside, coastal, or city walk.