Just a quick introductory post. Although the rest of this blog focuses on aspects of outdoors life, tools you might use for that, and so forth, I’ve been asked specifically to talk about geocaching. Considering that it’s one of my favorite topics since I cache frequently under the name of PandaChic, I was happy to do so.
But what is geocaching? Well, the definition that I give people is, “Geocaching is like a worldwide scavenger hunt where people hide containers, upload the coordinates to a website, and other people use their smart phones or GPS units to find those containers.”
Geocaches can range in size from smaller than a pinky finger to a full sized 120mm ammo can or larger. Most commonly in parks and forrest preserves, it’s a tupperware container or something along those lines. At the bare minimum, it contains a piece of paper you sign once you find it. Just be sure to put the container back exactly how you find it so the next person can get it.
It’s a game dedicated to the journey.
So what do you need to get started? Three simple things:
1. An account at http://www.geocaching.com
Geocaching is the main website for the sport – there are others (Opencaching.us, for example), but I haven’t used them. I find that GC has the most caches listed. Fortunately, despite the virtual monopoly, a basic account is free! I tell people that if they get more than 100 geocaches and they’re hooked, upgrade to a premimum account ($30/year) because the extra features are worth it and it’s a good company to support. However, for a new cacher, the basic account is just dandy.
2. Some kind of unit with a GPS.
I use my iPhone for caching in the city, and when I’m just wandering around. If I’m going to be somewhere with spotty cellular coverage, I have a Garmin 450t. That said, pretty much any GPS or smart phone can work; if you have a specific phone you’re curious about, feel free to leave a comment and I’ll investigate.
Your first geocache is probably going to be the hardest. Why? Because you have no idea what you’re looking for! So choose an easy one nearby, the bigger the better, and gain confidence before you go after tougher ones.
Geocaching is about taking you to neat places. Through it, I’ve been to an adorable little park in London, a surf shop in Cozumel, a cow path in the middle of downtown Chicago, and a imitation old west town right outside of Austin.
Choose your adventure, go outside, and remember – bring a pen to sign that log. Maybe I’ll see you on the trail!