Fallen leaves crunched underneath the wandering steps of my muddy shoes as I looked down at my digital compass, watching the displayed number of measured distance decrease steadily. Following the teetering needle, I held onto the leash of my dog tugging me to walk faster, as I searched for one of the many geocaches on the Brushy Creek Regional Trail with the help of my furry companion, a blue heeler named Trigger.
What is a geocache? Well it may be better to ask, what is geocaching?
“Geocaching is a real-world, outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices. Participants navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates and then attempt to find the geocache (container) hidden at that location,” (geocaching.com).
Geocaches come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, some have prizes you can trade, some only hold a log book, and some are simply awesome spots in nature and finding those spots are the rewards themselves. Difficulty ranges from easy, kid-friendly challenges to difficult, complex challenges, so there’s something for everyone. There are also millions of geocaches worldwide, and I would venture to bet that there are quite a few around you too! Click here to see the geocaches around you! (Link leads to Geocaching.com, which will open in a new tab).
However, it’s important to know that there are some rules to this modern-day treasure hunt! And here are the biggies…
- If you take something from the cache, leave something of equal or greater value.
- Write about your find in the cache logbook.
- Log your experience at www.geocaching.com.
Piece a’ cake!
Actually, the first geocache I ever found was by complete accident. What seems like long ago, was a time when many of my friends and I would spend many hours at a creek named Pecan Bottom in Jonestown, Texas. One sun-blistering day near the green banks of the flowing creek, I happened to glance into a hole that sat at the bottom of a large old tree and spotted a small object wrapped in camo-printed tape. I curiously reached into the hole with my fingers, which had become wrinkled from soaking in the creek, and pulled out the unknown object for inspection.It was a waterproof matchbox, and inside was a tiny, rolled-up log book with dozens of people’s signatures accompanied by dates. From then on, my interest in geocaching was sparked.
Geocaching can not only bring you together with people you already know by going on treasure hunts together, traveling to new places, or chatting about crazy finds/challenging puzzles, but it can introduce you to a world of other people! There are over four million geocachers worldwide!
Earlier this year, I visited Dinosaur Valley State Park in Glen Rose, Texas – which was flippin’ amazing by the way, but I’ll have to dedicate a separate blog post about that later – and while I was out there hiking the beautiful trails, I came across a really cool guy from the Houston area whose geocache name is Uptrain.
Uptrain said the reason he started geocaching was basically because of the health benefits of being active outside, and so seeing the motivational potential in geocaching to get people outside walking around exploring the world, he decided to take up geocaching. Now, about five years deep into his geocaching hobby, he has found and documented 2,888 caches all over the country thus far, and is still rolling strong! In fact he has over 60 of his own geocaches hidden for others to find too, which you can check out on his profile at geocaching.com.
The beauty of geocaching is that it has such a diverse range of challenges that it has something for everybody! I’ve helped Texas Parks and Wildlife introduce geocaching to families with young children, and I’ve heard stories of professional athletes scaling extreme environments to get to caches too! Now let’s keep it real, I am in no way by any stretch of the imagination a professional athlete! But I think a hard challenge is good for everybody every once in a while. Also, I think easy caches are great confidence boosters, so to me, there’s not really any “bad” caches to go after. (Unless something’s wrong with them of course, which is why logging your finds is an important part of the game).
Whether you’re using a hand-held GPS or even just the geocaching app. The important thing about geocaching is to give it your best shot, and keeping a positive outlook on your adventure, (whether you find the geocache you’re looking for or not). Because no matter what, you are improving your health by exercising your problem solving skills and being physically active, all while exploring the great outdoors! And that in itself is something to be proud of!
Back at the Brushy Creek Regional Trail… Trigger and I are approaching our target, fast. Above the compass, the app reads off the number of feet until I reach the coordinates of the geocache. 60 feet… 50 feet… 40 feet… I start to scope the area for places I would’ve hid the geocache. I also look for worn out patches of ground or grass that is located in a seemingly “random” spot off the trail. 30 feet… 20 feet… I’m right by it… and then I see it, a visual clue that leads me to a tree right off the trail, and with Trigger’s nose following the ground right to the spot, we inspect the area to find our target sitting safely hidden right off the trail.
We Want To Hear From You!
Have you ever been geocaching before? What was your craziest find? What was your most challenging cache? If you haven’t geocached before, try checking out how many geocaches are in your area (click here), and tell us how many are near you! Ever hit up the Brushy Creek Regional Trail? What about Dinosaur Valley? How was it??
Thanks for stopping by!
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