Did you know that right now at this very moment there many hidden treasures surrounding you? They’re waiting to be discovered, but can only be found by those who know where to look. Those people are called geocachers and you can become one. If you’ve never gone geocaching, you and your family are missing out on many fun and educational opportunities!
What is geocaching?
Geocaching is the fun and recreational activity of hunting for and finding a hidden object using GPS coordinates posted on a website.
What does the cache look like?
This is where things really become interesting because you’re never quite sure what you’re looking for. This just makes the hunt event more fun. Caches usually come in the following sizes:
- Nano: Tiny and usually magnetic
- Micro: Usually fits inside the hand, like a decorated pill bottle
- Small: Container such as a plastic peanut butter jar
- Regular: Tupperware container size
- Large: A large bucket (such as a 5-gallon bucket)
Cache containers are not made of paper because these materials do not fare well outside for long periods of time and in varying elements of weather. Look for plastic, usually clear, containers and sturdy metal containers. For detailed information about cache containers, check out this post, Cache Containers Explained.
How do you hunt for a cache?
Begin by downloading the official geocaching app and creating a free account. Log in and you’ll be able to see icons for all the caches hidden around you. (Make sure your GPS/location service is running; you’ll need it for directions.) Next, take a look at the map and tap the icon for the cache you want to find.
You’ll then see the name of the cache and how far it is from you. You’ll also see ratings for difficulty, terrain, and size. Tap the Hint button to see if the cache creator has offered any hunting hints. If you wish to message the person who created the cache, tap the Message button. You can also check out the following info:
- Description: You’ll usually find information about who created the cache and why. (We recently found a hidden cache in the parking lot of hospital. A mom stashed it there as a way to remember here son’s birth there.) You may also be given additional information about finding the cache and its log book.
- Activity: Here is where you can find information about when the cache was last discovered. Once a person finds a cache and logs it as found, they are required to leave a comment about the find. Most people leave a comment such as TFTC (Thanks for the cache!), but sometimes finders leave interesting clues about the cache. We’ve found these to be particularly helpful when trying to locate a hard to find cache.
- Attributes: You’ll want to read this because it gives pertinent information about each cache. This tells about parking options, whether the cache is kid and/or pet friendly and what the ground conditions may be like (poison ivy, thorns, etc).
Once you’ve read up on the cache, tap the start button and begin your search by following the GPS instructions.
What do you do once you find the cache?
You’ll be excited once you make a find, but you’ll need to be discreet when retrieving the cache. You don’t want to draw excess attention to the hiding spot because after you leave, a muggle, someone who is not a geocacher, may tamper with the find or throw it away. For a list of additional geocaching jargon, check out this link.
Once you have the cache in hand, if possible open it up and take out the log page. Sign and date the log and place it back inside the container. Some logs may already be full or they may be in poor condition due to outdoor conditions such as rain. When that happens, let others know by sending a message to the creator or by leaving a comment when you list the cache as found.
After you’ve found the cache, go back to the app and click the green button labeled Log Geocache. This will record your find by changing the green icon to a yellow smiley face.
What do you need to geocache?
You’ll need the geocache app to know where to look. In addition, I also keep some things stashed in our van.
- Gloves: Cache containers can be dirty, so you’ll want to use gloves when handling them.
- Insect repellent: Your hunt will be outdoors, so repellent can help keep pesky bugs away.
- Hand wipes/sanitizer: Allows you to clean your hands in between hunts.
- Long sleeve shirt and pants: Sometimes your hunt takes you into grassy or woods areas. Protect yourself from ticks, thorns, branches.
- Proper footwear: Sneakers are good because they’ll allow you to cover various types of terrain and protect your feet.
- First aid kit: Sometimes we’ve been scraped by thorns or branches. Ointment, antiseptic wipes, and bandages are helpful for addressing little cuts or abrasions.
- Tweezers: Log rolls come in various sizes. Tweezers can be used to pull out small logs.
- Pen: You’ll use it to sign the log page.
Here’s a photo of a recent magnetic nano size find. It’s pretty tiny. The log needed to be removed with tweezers.
This is a photo of a micro size find. This log was tucked away inside the decorated pill bottle.
Here’s what a log looks like. After it’s signed, the log is placed back inside the bottle.
Whether you’re heading out for a full afternoon of geocaching or making a quick “dash and cache” on your way to a particular destination, you’ll still have fun. There’s something rewarding about finding something the average person walks by without noticing.
Have you gone geocaching? If so, let us know by leaving a comment. We’d love to hear about what you’ve found. Are you inspired to head off on your first hunt? Let us know that too. We hope you’ll have as much fun as we have. Happy hunting!