I have been meaning to try Geocaching for a while and deep into the school summer holidays I finally had the head space to have a go!
But first I needed to figure out how it all works.
Pretty straightforward actually.
1. Join a geocaching website, we used www.geocaching.com, and sign up for free.
Geocaching is a giant treasure hunt. Caches are hidden all over the place by many, many different people. A ‘cache’ vary in size from tiny micro caches (about the size of a film canister) , to large boxes that it takes two hands to lift – as a rough guide. Inside is a log to write your name on to show you found it. Some caches contain little treasures – rubbers, badges, small plastic toys etc. You can take one as long as you put back something of equal or higher value.
2. If you have a smart phone download the app.
There are different apps available but I used the official Geocaching Android version purchased through the Android marketplace for £6.99. It is a more expensive app I guess, but that is all you need to play the game! (You can also use a GPS unit but I used the app so that is the method I will be describing,)
I think this is a good place to start. As with everything there are various options available if you want to get more into the Geocaching. Some people take it pretty seriously but Geocaching is very accessible for the newbie (like us!)
3. Now decide where to go.
On the website you will find a map with a huge number of caches. You can search for caches based on location. They are graded for ease of terrain and size of cache.
You can look for a ‘series’ of caches which is what we went for, they will have some random name and a number say 1 -10. They can be found in order and will take you on a good walk (or bagged individually, either way is fine). When you look at the map you may notice circular patterns or caches marked these are often a series .
I was worried about not finding caches and disappointing the children so looking for a series increased our chances of success.
So now, you know where you are going. You’ve fiddled around with your app to get to grips with it. You are ready to go adventuring!
Well nearly ready, Any adventure requires a few bits of kit.
- Some sturdy shoes and waterproof coat.
- Snacks and drinks.
- A pen (not all caches have a pen or pencil).
- Some ‘treasure’ to swap in the cache.
4. Finally find your starting point.
Usually information about parking and bus stops is included in a cache description. Turn on the app, go to the compass function let it adjust and start your adventure!
Some helpful hints.
1. If you are using the app and having some problems with reception try turning off your bluetooth and wireless functions. These can reduce the effectiveness of your GPS due to interference. When you get to within approx 20m you will need to start looking with your eyes, the GPS has limited accuracy and will vary depending on the terrain.
2. Use the compass function to find the direction of travel and follow as much as possible. However, if the compass is directing you into barbed wire or any where that doesn’t seem accessible keep going until you find a path leading in the right direction.
3. If you want more of a challenge search for the item in the general area your app brings you too, imagine you were hiding a cache, where would you hide it? If you can’t find it or just want to find the cache more quickly read the ‘hint’. Some times it will give quite precise directions other times it is only a hint.
4. Keep an eye out for a slightly unnatural looking pile of stones or sticks, or a likely looking crack or crevice.
5. Make sure your phone is fully charged before you set out.
6. Check that the cache you choose has been found quite recently so there is more chance it hasn’t been discovered, moved or stolen.
My next post will be about our first Geocaching adventure and how our Mountain Warehouse kit stood up to the task!