We had a girls’ day out on Saturday – and it didn’t involve shopping. Instead, Sondra, Kaye, Kara and I went geocaching. Although much of the outing was spent driving to find the geocaches, we also walked a nature trail in an area state park looking for some of these treasures. Therefore, I thought I’d share a little bit about geocaching – what this activity is, how you can get involved, and how to make it a fun fitness outing.
First, here’s a definition. According to Geocaching.com, “Geocaching (pronounced geo-cashing) is a worldwide game of hiding and seeking treasure. A geocacher can place a geocache in the world, pinpoint its location using GPS technology and then share the geocache's existence and location online. Anyone with a GPS device can then try to locate the geocache.” Geocaching.com keeps a registry of caches that you can download into a GPS when you become a member.
Kaye is a geocaching veteran. “I first learned about geocaching at a "Becoming an Outdoor Woman" course two years ago,” she explained. “It's basically treasure hunting with a GPS. The owner of the ‘cache’ hides it and posts its coordinates on the geocaching.com website. Members of the geocaching website can then view the list of hidden caches in their area, and go look for them. When you find one, you sign the paper log in the cache and go to the website to record your find. Often the cache is a hidden container filled with little trinkets that you are welcome to trade for something you brought. Sometimes, however, the coordinates will take you to a ‘virtual cache’ which is not an object at all but rather a place. The owner's intent is simply to share a great view or experience with you. To get credit for finding this sort of cache, you are usually required to take a photo or answer a question, then send it to the owner for verification. To me, geocaching is just another excuse to be outside and explore new places!”
I got started geocaching a couple of years ago when Sondra suggested going hiking in an area nature preserve that is owned by the city where we live. When we got there, Sondra (who also is a geocaching veteran) grabbed her GPS and off we went down the main trail. After finding one cache early during our walk, Sondra wanted to find one particular cache that had eluded her before. After a good hike, we followed the GPS coordinates and headed off the trail. We came to a ravine and followed its edge until we came to a huge tree. We looked around that brushy area and sure enough, there was the cache – a camouflage-colored box that was difficult to spot. We found another geocache that day and, equally important, got some great exercise.
On Saturday’s trip, our foursome hiked to find three caches that were hidden in a state park. The first cache was near a historical area, while the second was a virtual cache of a statue. The third cache took us on our hike around a nature trail while allowed us to enjoy the scenery, the fellowship, as well as exercise.
Last night, Sondra and I started to plan our next geocache hunts. We’ll download the coordinates of geocaches in our respective neighborhoods as well as those at area parks and state-owned land and then walk or bike to find the caches. That way, we will invigorate our exercise routines with the chance to explore our environment. Just think of it as a chance to be a 21st century Lewis and Clark – with high-tech gear, to boot!
Published On: April 05, 2011