Geo = earth Cache = hidden storage place for valuables
What is geocaching? a high-tech, 21st-century treasure hunt a popular international hobby a great way to get exercise a wonderful family or group activity an interesting way to meet people
How did it get started? When the U.S. government released Global Positioning technology to the public on May 2, 2000, a computer consultant named David Ulmer decided to test its accuracy. On May 3, he hid a “target” container (a bucket filled with all kinds of little goodies -- videos, software, books, etc.) in the woods near Bear Creek, Oregon. He posted the bucket’s GPS coordinates on an internet GPS users site, and then he invited folks to try and find it.
His invitation was simple: if you found the bucket, you could take something, but you should leave something in return. He also requested that finders sign a logbook indicating their find. This has become the basic foundation of all geocaching. Within the next 3 days, 2 people found the stash, logged their find, and then went online to comment about how much fun their “adventure” had been. The GPS Stash Hunt (soon to be known as Geocaching) was born!
Before long, it seemed as if everyone was geocaching. In addition, many folks thought it would be fun to hide their own stashes around and about. Today there are over 350,000 caches hidden in more than 200 countries, with over 4800 within a 100-mile radius of Albemarle (1180 within a 50-mile radius)!! Stanly County is home to at least 15, and the number is growing all the time! So how do you get started?
What do you need to go geocaching? First, you need a handheld GPSr unit. An inexpensive Garmin eTrex or Magellan unit can be purchased for as little as $90, or you can splurge all the way to thousand-dollar units. Don’t be fooled -- they all work the same and will get you where you need to go. You don’t need all the whistles and bells of an expensive unit, but they’re out there if that’s important to you.
Here’s what a simple eTrex looks like.
That’s really all you have to have, but here are a few other items you may want to take along when going geocaching: a few goodies to exchange a pair of “gardening” gloves (in case you have to reach into an area you’re leery of) a pen and/or pencil and maybe some paper a walking stick for “prodding” or if you’ll be doing any climbing sunscreen/hat/water/compass/snack bars/camera/ bandaids/cell phone/army knife/plastic bags/extra batteries a bag to put it all in - a backpack is great!
“Okay, you’ve convinced me. Now how do I get started?” First, go online to www.geocaching.com Create an account and login.
After you’ve logged in, find the space at the top right and type in the zip code of the area where you’d like to search. Groundspeak will return a list of all the caches within a certain-mile radius of where you live (you choose the distance), with the closest being listed first.
The check marks indicate caches you’ve found; arrows, the caches that you have hidden.
Click on a cache that looks interesting to you. This is what you’ll see... Coordinates Difficulty Narrative Hint A small map And lots of other tidbits about the site.
You’ll also find a series of log entries from those folks who have already found the cache.
Once you’ve chosen a cache to search for, you’ll input the coordinates into your GPSr, choose Goto, and you’re on your way. Be sure to notice (and decrypt) any hint that might be on the webpage (unless you are determined to do it without any help). I also print out the site info to take with me.
“So what do I do when I find the cache?” Sign the logbook. Include the date (and time, if you want), tell what you’re taking from the cache and what you’re leaving in exchange, and give any information that you feel relevant (e.g. “The log is full” or “Lots of ants” or “Saw a snake on the way to this one)”. You may want to take a photograph of the scenery or of you “finding the cache.”
Return home and log your visit on the geocaching website. THIS IS IMPORTANT! If you took any pictures, you even have the option of putting them on the website with your comments as long as you don’t “give away” information and spoil the hunt for the next cachers. This means that you should not include pictures or comments that show or describe the location.
“And what do I do if I DON’T find it?” First, don’t feel bad. It happens to all of us, so you’re in good company. When you get home, you still need to log your visit, even if it is a “Did Not Find” (DNF). The cache may be missing, and several DNFs can alert the owner to check. Feel free to write reasons why you feel you weren’t able to find the cache (e.g., GPSr jumping around, too much canopy obscuring satellites, etc.). Just be polite and don’t whine about it.
Now a word about Muggles... “Muggles” are people who are not familiar with geocaching and who might be either frightened by accidentally finding a cache or destructive if they find a cache and choose to vandalize it. They may also be suspicious if they see you “sneaking around” (their words) and could call the authorities. Unfortunately, 9/11 has made everyone a bit cautious, so be careful of muggles any time you geocache.
The value of replacement... Once you have finished with a cache, it is very important that you return it to its original location and make sure that it is as well hidden as you found it, or even more so.
So what if you’ve had fun, and now you want to hide your own cache?
There are specific rules for those wishing to “plant” a cache. Some examples are as follows: You can’t put a cache inside a national park (although a national forest is okay). You can’t put a cache close to a railroad track, a bridge, or a dam. You should place a cache on private property ONLY if you’ve gotten permission from the owner. For a complete list of instructions, go to the geocaching.com website.
For more information, go to http://www.geocaching.com http://www.marlenegeocaching. blogspot.com http://users.vnet.net/msanges/Hand outs/geocaching_info.pdf
That’s all there is to it! Ready? Set? Go!! You’re in for quite an adventure! Enjoy!
May the road rise to meet you. May the wind be always at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face and the rain fall soft upon your fields. And until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His hand. -An Irish blessing The Geocacher’s Prayer
This has been a presentation by Marlene W. Sanges, May 10, 2007