There are thousands of packages hidden across the nation. Most are tripped over, stepped on and unnoticed. These secret packages weren’t hidden by spies or pirates from forgotten ages — they were hidden by everyday people caught up in the new game called geocaching.
Geocaching (pronounced geo-cashing) gets its name from the packages (or caches) hidden all over the world. Currently there are 169,223 caches in 215 countries.
The caches range from large ammo cans to small film canisters called micro caches. Micro caches usually only contain a log book for everyone who finds them to sign. Larger caches contain small trinkets such as stuffed animals or fast food kids meal toys. When someone finds one of these caches they exchange an item of their own for something in the container.
Another way cache hunters play the game is by using travel bugs. Travel bugs are dog-tags that can be attached to an item so it can be tracked around the world.
Caches can be hidden anywhere, but the goal is to find the most interesting places. They are in trees, under bridges and even hidden in containers sunk in the river.
Geocaching is a relatively new hobby because of the technology involved in playing the game. Coordinates for all of the hidden packages are listed on Geocaching’s official Web site. Then hunters use Global Positioning Devices (GPS) to get within 20 feet of each cache. The satellites that map these coordinates just became available for public use in 2000.
Though the technology sounds expensive geocaching can be a relatively cheap hobby. GPS is around $200 but you can get into it for as little as $75.00. GPS can also be used for maps and other general navigation.
Caches are usually labeled, so that they do not seem suspicious when found by outsiders.
Many people who have retired and families with children enjoy the thrill of the hunt. Many military personnel also participate because they are able to move around to different areas.
Though hunters compete with each other by seeing who can find caches first or who can find the most caches, the adventure is the biggest thrill. The best part is going places you would not normally go.