There’s just something nostalgic when it comes to thinking about your childhood. When times were simpler and your free time was spent exploring, playing, and making new memories. There was no financial gain from it – no “resume building” skills arose from it, no praise came from climbing trees or rummaging through dirt and rocks. So why did we do it? Simply put – because it was fun! Young and old alike, engaging in new experiences and chasing excitement is crucial to the pursuit of happiness. Yet with responsibilities piling up in adulthood, it’s easy for those activities to get pushed to the side. But what if there was a way to recapture that feeling of exploration? Enter – Geocaching. With over 3 million active geocaches in 191 countries, rediscover your wanderlust and join the world’s largest treasure hunt!
What is Geocaching?
Geocaching has a long history, and originally sprouted from the original game of ‘Letterboxing’ which began around 1854. Letterboxing involved hobby hikers following clues or solving puzzles that were passed through word of mouth. These hints led to remote boxes hidden off hiking paths or near landmarks. Anyone who successfully followed the clues would leave a letter of completion in the box. Thus coining the name Letterboxing.
Fast forwarding to today, the game of Geocaching has evolved immensely. There are over a dozen different style of caches, including traditional, multi-cache, puzzle caches, earth caches (actually a geological location instead of a container), massive multi-day events, and more! For more information types, check out Geocache’s official site. There are millions of caches around the globe in every continent, and even extending into outer space! Caches can have a wide variety of looks, from palm sized containers, to ammo crates, to massive geological features – each with their own unique rewards/logs. While hints used to be spread by word of mouth through the original stasher, caches are now given GPS coordinates and descriptions which you can access with the Geocache app.
How to Start
As mentioned earlier, there are a wide variety of Geocache types, however for free, you will only have access to Traditional Caches. These are the most straightforward, and will be the main focus for many casual hikers. You can get started by downloading the app on your smartphone in the Apple or Google Play Store. Essentially, it’s as easy as that! After signing up you will have immediate access to the GPS locations and descriptions of Traditional Caches near you. These cache styles are a great way for you to start. They give you a location and description from the stasher to help guide you – so all that’s left is to pick your first challenge and get outdoors!
Completing Your First Cache
Although the journey can be an amazing experience in itself – there’s something to be said about the satisfaction that comes with accomplishing a goal. That’s part of the reason why people (myself included) fall in love with Geocaching. It takes a casual hike and gives it a reward. It forces you out of traditional patterns and out exploring new areas that you would otherwise never visit. I found that as a hobby hiker, it became very easy to get comfortable with certain trails near my house and repeat them. Sure, it’s nice to get up and go without thinking too much, but there’s not nearly as much excitement behind it.
Utilizing apps like AllTrails and Geocaching made it incredibly easy to plan ahead and explore new areas. After tracking down your first cache you truly feel part of a community. Each cache you uncover will have a unique reward, ranging in value and rarity. Some may just contain a simple log book, while others will have items left from previous visitors or the cache originator. This is where the “treasure” comes out in treasure hunt.
Things of value are often left as a reward system such as collector coins, outdoor gear, tickets to events, gift cards, etc. This is yet another way to step outside your comfort zone by using your reward to start a new collection, try a new restaurant, or go to an event you’ve never heard of! An important thing to note is that the caches rely on an honor system to continue – so if you plan on taking the reward, please leave something of equal or greater value to take its place.
Leveling Up Your Geocaching
So, you’ve covered a few of your local areas and have gotten comfortable with traditional caches. At this point you may be thinking about taking it up a notch and getting access to some higher-level caches or going to further areas for day/overnight trips. Well you’re going to need some gear that can take you further. For any overnight trips a Napier Truck or SUV Tent could prove to be your best friend when it comes to quick setup with minimal terrain. Both options utilize your vehicle space so you can forget about unpacking! Within 10 minutes, you can have a full campsite setup, with your gear remaining safely in your truck/SUV. This makes those spontaneous trips a breeze, and you can spend more time out on the trail instead of battling your camp.
Getting up and outdoors does phenomenal things for both your body and mind and should absolutely be part of your daily routine to the best of your ability. Personally, I love spontaneous outings without an agenda. However, adding a sense of goal/accomplishment to that just adds a whole new level to your outings and will help you break through a scenery rut. Although most of the caches will contain small Knick-knacks and a simple log book, knowing that there’s a chance to come across some amazing finds, all while exploring new trails and areas is something I cannot recommend enough. Rediscover your sense of wonder – never stop exploring!
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