Looking for an exciting adventure right outside your backdoor? – then you need to check out the burgeoning sport of geocaching. Also known as a 21-century scavenger hunt, there are literally 100’s of geocaches hidden in Johnson County and millions more across the world. Each geocache, ranging from micro-sized capsules to geological features, is paired with a GPS coordinate and waiting for you to discover its hiding spot. What are you waiting for, let’s get started!
So, What is Geocaching exactly?
Geocaching is a community-driven sport where users hide and search for hidden items tied to GPS coordinates. The sport itself came onto the scene in the year 2000 when the government allowed the public access to satellite data, and in the same year a local Oregon resident hid a trinket in the wilderness and challenged the public to find it via GPS coordinates. Since then, there are more than 2,000,000 geocaches hidden across the globe waiting for you to find.
What You Need to Geocache
Not a lot. To find geocaches near you, as well as descriptions and GPS data, you need to create a free account on Geocaching.com (paid premium memberships are available as well). From there you need a GPS-enabled device, such as a smartphone, to track the given GPS coordinates. For the smartphone users, Geocaching.com and other paid apps (i.e. Trimbles Outdoor Navigator), provide a good mapping system to use. Otherwise devices like the Garmin E-Trex series (available at Fin & Feather) are built just for this kind of activity. From there, you are ready to go, and the only other items you might need include good walking shoes, possibly tweezers to pull out the micro-caches, and a pen to sign the log sheet once you find the geocache.
How to locate a Geocache
First, find the geocache you want to find via Geocaching.com. Once you have the GPS coordinates uploaded onto your navigation system, simply narrow in on the coordinates and let the real search begin. Geocaches can range from large geographic or architectural features, all the way down to finger size “micro-cache” capsules, and are appropriately designated as such in their descriptions. Depending on the size and difficulty of the geocache, you could spend minutes or hours looking for the geocache once you narrow in on your coordinates, and reading any past comments, clues, or descriptions will help with your success.
What do you do when you find a Geocache?
Get excited. Keep in mind that some geocaches have been nestled in their hiding spots for years, and by finding its secret location you are now a part of its history. Whether you have to squeeze your arm through some branches or carefully remove it via tweezers, the utmost care should be taken to handle the geocache and its surrounding environment gently. Some logs contain little trinkets or toys, of which are open for trade if you brought your own trinkets along, and nearly all geocaches will include a written log of everyone who has found it. Once you sign the log within the space provided, be sure to carefully return the geocache to its resting spot the best you can so the next person looking for it has a fair chance of finding it.
Geocaching etiquette and policy
While there are few “official” rules when it comes to geocaching, there are some general guidelines that are encouraged to follow. Discreetness is key when finding geocaches and announcing, publishing, or otherwise ruining the fun for someone else is highly discouraged. Geocaches should only be hidden on public land, or any land given the correct permissions, and “I was looking for a geocache” will rarely be an accepted excuse for trespassing on private property. Anyone who participates in Geocaching does so at their own risk.