Saturday, February 12, 2005

Trekking For Treasure

Nearly a year ago I discovered an exciting weekend pastime that included moderate exercise and a reward for your efforts. The equipment required is minimal and not too expensive. If you are reading this you already have the most expensive part, that being a PC and internet access. Next you'll need a GPSr (Global Positioning System receiver). These can be purchased for less than one hundred to upwards of several hundred dollars. The cheaper ones work just fine.

The name of this new and exciting sport is called Geocaching (pronouned geo-cashing). You log onto the website www.geocaching.com, where you will be able to get latitude and longitude coordinates to lead you to the hidden treasures. You enter these coordinates in your GPSr and using that and maps from each listing you are off to seek out these hidden treasure containers. They are hidden on trails, in parks, rest areas, bike trails, or a variety of other places of interest.

Each cache has difficulty rating for the terrain, which may be a flat trail to a steep mountain. Also each has a rating for the difficulty in the find.

The rules of the sport state that the hides must not be buried. However they may under a log or a rock, in a stump, under leaves, behind objects, or any other cleverly devised spots the hider deems good. The containers used for the hide commonly include old army ammo cans, tupperware containers, 5 gal. Plastic buckets, 35mm film canisters and other cleverly disguised containers.

When you find the cache, inside you find an assortment of items from coins, toys, key chains, flashlights, buttons, collectible, and many other items. These are there for the finder to take an item and to leave an item of equal or better quality. Also there will be a log book to sign and leave a note about your experience. Then when you return home you log on to geocaching.com and log your find there as well. The website keeps track of your finds and activities as you report them.

Since discovering this sport I have logged 77 finds and seen some very interesting sights that I would never have seen had it not been for geocaching. Most often the cache hider will place his hide in a place he wants others to see and enjoy. It may be a beautiful waterfall, a nice park, a waterway, scenic mountain view, historical place or any other place they like and want to share with others.

For a more in depth understanding of geocaching, log onto the website and browse through the links therein. Then get out and enjoy the fresh air and have fun on the hunt.