I first heard about Geocaching about 10 years ago but never gave it a try. As you will read, maybe this activity is not for me. Over the last 6 months I had been hearing about Geocaching a lot. My hubby heard some people talking about it at work and asked me about it. We were hiking a few weeks ago and came across a family that was looking for a cache near the trailhead. Our friend Gizmo blogs about it a lot and launched a Geocaching challenge a couple of weeks ago. I took that as a sign and decided that now was the time to try it.
The Set Up
I skimmed through Gizmo’s primer on how to use the website Geocaching.com and Finn’s post on using a Smartphone app to go Geocaching. I went to the website Geocaching.com, created a free account and located a “beginner” cache 0.7 miles from my house. I don’t have a GPS so I downloaded the “C:Geo” (It must be the Geocaching.com app because I used the same login as on the website) to my Android phone. Located the cache I wanted to find again – Visit the Zoo Regularly Geocache #GC41PM4 – and headed out the door with the dogs. We walked and jogged toward the location of the cache. It felt good to get my blood pumping and it felt exciting to have the extra motivation of a “treasure” at the end.
Finding the Cache
I will be honest…..I did not find it. I got to the area the cache was supposed to be in and, after wandering around by some trees and realizing this wasn’t going to be as easy as I thought, I took anther look at the app. There was 1 photo so I could tell I needed to cross the street. I looked through the online log to try and find clues from people. Geocaching people are stingy and vague with their info because there was nothing that would help anyone – more mystery at best…..”great find”, “under cover”, “good-size container”, “how often should you visit the zoo?”. I discovered a compass feature and the best I could tell it was pointing me in the direction of the cache (In the end I am not sure what the compass thing was doing because it pointed me in the EXACT OPPOSITE direction of the cache). It led me into the woods where I came across a homeless camp with empty beer cans, a half-eaten cheeseburger and a food stash. I was afraid someone might come in to the woods and shank me for trying to steal their sh*t. After mostly standing around for 30 MINUTES my heart rate was no longer elevated from jogging but from frustration. I wasn’t frustrated that I couldn’t find the cache. I was frustrated that I had to spend 30 minutes in the middle of good workout doing nothing. I was frustrated that I scratched my back up crawling around under the trees and around the bushes. I was frustrated that Gretel started couching and sneezing because of the dust. I was just pissed off.
Clearly Geocaching is not for me. I will admit that from the start is was the journey to a Geocache that I found compelling. Once I got there and could not find the cache after a few minutes I totally lost interest. I think if I go again I will have to go as a team with S. He likes the minutia of clue finding. When I have a surprise for him he always wants to play 20 questions and guess. I will happily locate the cache to find but I will leave the digging around in the shrubs to him. UPDATE: I did drive S up there after he got off work and did more standing around with the dogs while he looked for the cache. HE was clearly hooked because he was immune to my pleas to “just forget it”. After 30 minutes he did find the container…..in one of the places we had guessed but not actually looked because the compass and clues seem to suggest it would not be found there. I did learn some good first-time lessons though:
- Most caches contain a log. Remember to bring a pen so you can sign it.
- Searching for a cache in a tank top is maybe not the best choice. These thing are actually hidden well and take some digging around….sometimes in the bushes. Bring at least a light jacket to put on so you don’t scratch the crap out of your back like I did.
- You need to be someone who likes deciphering vague clues and riddles to find a really tiny “prize”
- Bring a hands-free leash (or a belt you can clip yours to) because you will need both hands to operate the GPS/phone and to root around for the cache.
- Remember that some of the caches are magnetic. Don’t exclude metal surfaces (especially the underside of metal surfaces) when snooping around
Just because it is not for me doesn’t mean I wouldn’t recommend it to someone though. It is a great way to provide motivation to get out and exercise (provided you pick a cache further away so that you get some real exercise before you have to stand around for 30+ minutes trying to find this thing). It’s also good for families because you can make it as easy or as hard as you want. This probably won’t be the end for us but I am not in a hurry try it again. S may be though 🙂