If you follow me on Instagram you will notice that I post scads of pictures from our Geocaching adventures. I have come to realize that many of you may want to dip your toes in the geocaching pond, but have no idea where to start.
“How are you doing that GEOCACHING thing?!?”
You guys, YOUR SUMMER NEEDS GEOCACHING! There is a treasure hunt everywhere, you’ve probably sat on a bench with a cache and didn’t even know it. Even our small town has dozens of finds to search for.
To help you get started, I thought I would post a little beginner’s how-to using knowledge I’ve gleaned from our geocaching adventures, which are still relatively new for us.
How we started
Last summer I was listening to my friend’s podcast when a guest host came on and raved about how her family were geocaching and loving it. Somehow I figured out that it was a free thing you could do involving mini vans, kids and a GPS smartphone… so away we went with a really long break over the fall and winter.
- Your Turn- Download the Geocaching app, it’s free and it’s called “geocaching.” it features a white background with a green “G” that looks like a pin. I’ll just take a screenshot…
Open the app and set up an account, go to the main screen and go to your map. Press the little circle that looks like an eyeball and it will locate you and show you the caches in your area.
- A Note About Premium Membership– You will notice that the geocaching app offers free and premium memberships. For $9.99 you can get 3 months of premium, which is double the amount of caches… or so… Start with the free one to see if you like it, we didn’t upgrade until after our 20th find.
- Different Types of Caches- Also there are multi-caches, mystery caches and events, all noted using different color dots on your map. I don’t mess with these and stick with the green dots that are good for our family and have been recently found by other cachers.
Get Out There
Pick a cache dot and go there, we started a block away from our house. The cache will have a location, information about size and terrain and a sometimes a hint. When you’re getting close a special screen will pop up and let you know you are nearing the cache. Sometimes you can park fairly close to a geocache location and sometimes you’ll be a block or so away. The accuracy of the GPS on the app is accurate within 30 feet, but it works pretty well as long as you have a decent signal.
- Caution – If you notice the “activity” tab shows a little gray exclamation point, that means the cache may no longer be there, it may have been “muggled” or messed with. When this happens I pick another one. (see pic below)
So you’re at “the spot” and you have no idea what your first move is, here are a few things I have learned.
- Stick Your Hand in The Hole- Yep, is there a hole in the tree that the app is directing you to. Check in there.
- Cachers Love Magnets – Is there a stop sign or light post? Look for a magnetic, hide-a-key style box.
- Lightpost- I have had several caches that we found underneath the plastic surround on a parking lot light pole, don’t be afraid to lift that sucker up.
- Expect the Unexpected- Today we found one that was a random birdhouse that looked abandoned and sad, as though it had fallen off a tree near someone’s home. That was the cache. Last week I found one that was dangling on a wire down into a storm drain, you really never know.
The Cache Itself
I would say 50% of caches are pill bottles covered in camouflage duct tape. Some are larger, such as small locking tupperware-style containers and some are smaller, and known as micro caches. Many contain just a log you can sign (bring a pen) but some contain little trinkets you can swap out such as plastic army guys or erasers.
As we progressed, I bought a cheap tackle box to store our prizes, so we always have something to trade out when a cache has “treasures.” This is a good idea if you’re into it, we call it our geocaching kit. Here is what you may want to have in it:
- A Pen. Or Pencil. Or fine sharpie. Just something to sign the log with.
- A multi-tip screwdriver. Yes I have had to remove screws for one…
- Wipes or germ gel. The world is a dirty place.
That’s it guys, really. Just download the app and give it a try, read the information about the cache, be sure it’s been recently found! It is a free and a phenomenal way to get outdoors and explore parts of your area you never knew existed.
There is literally a treasure hunt going on all around you, everywhere and you didn’t even know! So give it a try, you have nothing to lose but a little time and gas money and everything to gain, including a renewed sense of wonder and adventure.
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