Take a Hike – With a Purpose

Kelly and I were first introduced to geocaching in 2006. That Christmas, I bought Kelly his own GPS unit, a Garmin eTrex Legend.

The Hayleys like geocaching and aren’t afraid to admit it!!

Bottom line: geocaching is a great recreational sport. It gets you outside, exploring new places (sometimes in your very own neighborhood) and engages the child within as you embark on treasure hunt after treasure hunt.

And trust me, geocaching is an activity for the frugal. Outside of the investment in a GPS unit (costs, and quality, vary widely), you won’t spend a dime. That’s not even counting the money you save by spending time outside rather than shopping, watching movies and the like. (Need I also mention the calories you burn while moving from place to place?)

Here’s what it takes for you to be a modern Indiana Jones:

1. A GPS unit. The model I purchased for Kelly has pretty much held its price point over the years. However, it’s very accurate, saving us a lot of time and frustration as we’re seeking the next cache.
2. A list of caches nearby. “Nearby” can mean near your home or on a route that you’re planning to travel. The best resource for finding caches is Geocaching.com, the official website for those who love the activity. Here you can search by a multitude of options: address, zip code, latitude/longitude and the like. Download the waypoints (think: X marks the spot) or jot down the relevant information on each cache you’re hunting and off you go!

3. Get out and explore. Use your GPS unit to locate the cache’s coordinates.

4. Find the cache. The real work begins once you’ve zeroed in on the cache’s coordinates. Caches are often small (called micro) and usually are camouflaged. Some caches are even virtual, where you’re looking for information or a large object, rather than a hidden treasure.

5. Don’t give up. Caches often aren’t easy to find. We’ve found caches in metal key hide boxes attached to guardrails, inside hollowed out pine cones hanging on a tree and secreted within tree trunks. The cache Kelly’s digging for in the photo above was extremely well-hidden. This is what it looked like to the casual observer:

6. Sign the log! Caches may hold small trinkets, items that are trying to travel on (called geocoins and tracking bugs), or nothing at all. But, with very few exceptions, they all hold a log sheet. Once you find the cache, sign the log to let the cache-stasher know who has been there. If you’re a serious geocacher, when you get home, you’ll sign into the geocaching website and log your finds there as well.

7. Put things back like you found them for the next geocacher so they can experience the thrill of the hunt!

3 Comment

  1. John says: Reply

    I knew those photos would end up here .
    A very good explanation of our little addiction.

  2. We geocached today – found 3, stumped on 2. It was verrrry hot.

    There are so many around here! We'll definitely have to go on the hunt the next time we're all together.

  3. Sounds fun! I'll have to look at that website.

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