Geocaching was a hot pursuit when GPS devices first hit the mass market, and although the hubbub has died down somewhat, the hobby lives on for many outdoor enthusiasts. If you’re not familiar with the term, geocaching is basically a worldwide treasure hunt in which GPS coordinates are used to track down hidden caches, which contain small trinkets or souvenirs. It’s a great way to add a sense of excitement and purpose to your hiking adventures.
Once you own a GPS device, it’s also fairly inexpensive; all you really need is a good LED flashlight or headlamp, some small tokens or “treasures” to replace what you take, and your regular hiking supplies. Here’s a more detailed look at what to bring on a geocaching expedition:
1. LED Flashlight or headlamp.
Your GPS receiver will get you to the general vicinity of the cache, but once you’re there you’ll probably have to do some hunting. Although the caches are never buried, they’re often cleverly hidden and tricky to find. You may have to do some poking around in shadowy areas, so an LED flashlight or headlamp is a must-have item. An LED headlamp is especially useful, as it leaves your hands free for searching.
2. Navigational aids.
In addition to your GPS unit, you’ll need a compass and a topographical map. Make sure you’re familiar with and comfortable using all of these items before you go.
3. Cache treasures.
A good rule of thumb for geocachers is to always leave the cache better than you found it. Bring along some small, inexpensive items to place in the cache. Choose items that are culturally and environmentally friendly and won’t degrade inside the cache. Matchbox cars, plastic action figures, marbles and other small tokens are common examples.
4. Disposable camera.
Many caches include a disposable camera so each person who finds it can snap a photo. Once the camera is full, the owner will often post the photos online. It’s a nice idea to bring along a replacement camera in case the one you find is full.
5. Basic hiking supplies.
Finally, you’ll need all the basic gear you would normally bring with you when hiking: food and water, a first-aid kit, a cell phone, bug repellant, sunscreen and something warm to wear. And did we mention an LED flashlight or headlamp?
Geocaching is a great outdoor activity for families as well as individuals. Just remember to maintain the community spirit of geocaching by replacing what you take and leaving the environment the way you found it.
[ photo by: Anya1986 ]