We’ve referenced Geocaching in a number of posts over the last few months so I thought it was high time we actually explained what on earth we were talking about. I stumbled across Geocaching about five or six years ago. My sister, Zoe, and her husband had heard about it and came home to tell us, knowing that we’d be really into it because we love the outdoors so much. So we downloaded the free version of the Geocaching app on my iPhone and off we scuttled to our local park in the dark to find our very first, teeny, tiny, magnetic Geocache. And we were hooked.
Geocaching is like a worldwide technological treasure hunt. You will be within walking distance of one of these hidden packages as you sit, reading this blog post right now. There are over two million geocaches hidden all over the world right now, waiting to be discovered. Watch this video where the Geocaching site explains what it’s all about. All you need is to set up a free account on http://www.geocaching.com and either a GPS system or a smart phone with the app on and you’re away.
There is nobody who isn’t suitable for Geocaching. There are Geocaches that might not be suitable for everyone (some involve diving, or climbing or other extreme sports!) but you will be able to join this treasure hunt in some capacity. There are loads of reasons that we absolutely love Geocaching. We love the outdoors and this treasure hunt has taken us to SO many spots we’d have never found, were it not for Geocaching. It’s so exciting, trying to make your way to the treasure. We frequently kill entire days just walking round a particular area, looking for boxes. It’s FREE! (Well, after you’ve bought the app) and the fun we’ve had out of Geocaching is immeasurable compared to the small app cost. It helps fitness because you are walking, climbing or running towards your objective all the time. It gets the family together! Nearly all of my family have joined us on a caching adventure at some point or other – some are completely hooked, too. My little sister Meg has her own account and often joins us with Mum when we go hunting.
Geocaches are ranked by different levels of difficulty and some involve a puzzle to solve beforehand. One of our favourite caches (which is now archived – boo!) was one called Sisyphus (look up the Greek legend and you’ll get an idea of the task) in Clevedon in a forest. I had to crack a code beforehand to get the co-ordinates of the cache. Once we’d located the HUGE container we had to lug it to the top of a hill to find one key and drag it back down again to find another. Little did we know the container was also full of bricks to make it that little bit easier to find! We did this with Meg and Zoe and it took us most of the day. I can’t tell you how much we laughed and how much we earned our takeaway that night!
Part of the reason that Geocaching is great for kids is because of the little ‘swaps’ that can be found in some of the containers that are slightly bigger. It’s a good idea to carry some little bits around with you so that you can trade things you’d like to keep, whilst you sign the Found It log.If you’re lucky, you might also find some of the Geocaching trackables in the container. Either a little character or animal called a Travel Bug, or a metal disc called a Geocoin which has a unique code and a mission (Eg. ‘I want to travel to every continent’) where it’s your job to move them onto another cache which might help them to reach their destination, via another cacher. Lily wears a Geocoin (we refer to her as our GeoHound in caching logs) and we track all the caches she’s visited so that we can see how far we’ve travelled.
We’ve done a lot of caching down in Cornwall and I don’t need to tell you how beautiful some of the spots we’ve cached in are. Check out the amazing sneak preview of St Michael’s Mount we got when we found this amazing cache in Marazion, or the absolutely stunning panorama we got when Nath clambered over a cliff edge at Cudden Point to bring back this other cache at Peranuthnoe & Praa Sands. We have Geocaching to thank for a lot of why we love Cornwall! Many of the caches are placed with permission of the National Trust so you can imagine there are some sights to be seen. It’s a huge community, often with an eco-objective, too. Groups of Geocachers often organise ‘CITOs’ (Cache In Trash Out) where the objective, whilst caching, is to clean up the local area and help make it beautiful again.
Some are tiny, or in disguise – the one Meg is holding above is disguised as a rock. Being the seasoned Geocacher that Meg is meant she saw it straight away. Often they are hiding in nooks and crannies behind dubious looking ‘rock-o-flauge’ but the more you do, the more you start knowing where to look. Stealth is required. In the Geocaching community, non-Geocachers are affectionately known as Muggles! The aim of the game is to retrieve the cache and sign the log without people knowing what you’re doing. This is another element that makes it fun for kids – you’re on a secret mission. Based on the fact that Nath and I haven’t had children for most of our Geocaching ‘career’, you can take that as evidence that this element isn’t wasted on adults either! We’ve done special Night-Caches which can only be found using torches and reflectors. Meg, Nath and I completely terrified each other this Hallowe’en whilst attempting one in a forest just outside of Marazion, at 9pm at night. We’ve found over 100 caches now (which is nothing compared to many cachers) and still get a huge buzz out of it. I literally can’t wait for Darcey to get that little bit older so she starts understanding the game a little more. I know she’ll make us get out and hunt even more!
This is one hobby that everyone should have. I promise, if you give it a go just once, you’ll want to find more! Download the Geocaching Intro app and give it a go today. Let us know how you get on and share some pictures of the caches you’ve found; we’re always looking for our next challenge! Happy Caching!