As young boys we universally dream of finding buried treasure. We dream of finding One-Eyed Willie's pirate ship full of
booby booty, thats what I said. Traipsing through the forest finding DB Coopers stolen cash. Finding the Lost Ark of the Covenant. Hiking in the desert and finding the Lost Dutchman's gold. These flights of fancy dissipate as we get older but in the back of our minds we still always wish we could have one good adventure where we find something that has been hidden to others.
Geocaching is an adult version of hide and seek and a way to recapture those feelings of searchings and finding. A geocache is a container ranging from very small to quite large that has been hidden. The person who hid the cache logs it on the geocaching.com website with a clever title, short description and GPS coordinates. The person who Seeks that cache downloads the information to a GPS enabled device or smartphone and later comes back to the webpage to let the Hider know if they found the cache or not and if they took something or not.
Oh yeah, the containers usually contain items you can take. These vary from rare coins to mundane items you would find in your junk drawer. The difference is you had to find that container and you earned a piece of the treasure inside. The rule of thumb is that if you take something your put something in.
I started last year when I bought a new hiking GPS that had a geocache function. I decided my first find would be a cache that I had run past hundreds of times, located at Tempe Town Lake on the Ironman Arizona run course. I could not believe it was hidden in plain site just feet away. I recently purchased the websites iPhone app which takes your current location and shows the closest geocaches. Last night while watching Mighty Mo's football practice I opened the phone app and found a cache less than 200 feet away. It took a few minutes to find, I signed the logbook but decided I would let my son look for it after practice and could pick the item he wanted to trade.
Mighty Mo is at the age where finding buried treasure is still a reality in his mind. We go looking together and he gets a kick finding a container tucked into a tree or under a bush or camouflaged in a clever way. It amazes him that you can just walk up and find things like this. Last night when I picked through the cache I thought he would take a small rubber snake. He found a Star Wars toy from McDonalds that completes a collection of his. Treasure indeed.
Geocaching is a world wide phenomenon, yet you don't need to go further than a few miles from your house to get started. If you have an older GPS it costs you nothing to get started. You print out the cache page and manually enter the coordinates into the unit. New GPS units may have a geocache function that downloads the page information into the unit and leads you there then you can uploads your results later. Geocaching.com has a $9.99 iTunes app. that is amazingly simple. It's a great way to spend a few hours as a family discovering new facets to your neighborhood. Or a nice diversion on a lunch break. It has given a new dimension to my running and now plan routes in new areas so I can find new caches.