When I was little, I lived in the Florida Keys. Almost every day involved my sister and me playing in the Atlantic Ocean, or the Gulf of Mexico. We dreamed of pirates and the undiscovered treasures in the water surrounding us. Treasure hunting and adventure- These concepts are what fueled my imagination and desire to write children’s books. And what led me to my newest adventure.
I am sure a lot of you have heard the term “Geocaching,” but unless you are doing it, you may not know what it means. According to Geocaching.com, the word comes from GEO for geography, and CACHING, the process of hiding a cache (pronounced ‘cash’). A cache in computer terms is stored memory or in hiking/camping terms is used as a hiding place for concealing and preserving provisions.
Basically you find something purposefully hidden, open it, sign the log and put it back. You may leave something small, and take something small from it.
I love the outdoors, but I’m the type of person who likes a goal or objective to a walk or hike- like a waterfall or a lake or an amazing view- or a hidden Cache which only a select few people (called Geocachers) know about. It makes the hike more into a hunt to discover a secret, something possibly right under the noses of others. The “others” are called Muggles, (remember Harry Potter?) mere humans unaware of the magic in the world.
It’s a great way to get kids outside, into nature and solve a mystery. My son is totally for it after his first taste of victory. We found it on the Avenue of the Fountains in plain sight, yet only we knew what was there. We discreetly signed the logbook right in front of oblivious Muggles.
To get started, you sign up at Geocaching.com- it is free, unless you want a premium membership. It will tell you everything you need to know about finding the Caches. You need a GPS device (smartphones will work).
Check this link out to get started https://youtu.be/1YTqitVK-Ts
Put in your location and up comes different locations of hidden Caches. In Fountain Hills alone, there are over 18 near and around The Avenue of the Fountain and Fountain Park, as well as over 100 in Fountain Hills.
The site shows the level of difficulty to find the Cache.
• Cache Type: Traditional
• Difficulty Rating: 1-5
• Cache Size: Micro to Large
The hidden object may be fairly large (the size of a bucket) or extremely small (smaller than a film canister) but at minimum, all of these geocaches will have a logbook. Larger containers may contain items for trade.
Types of Geocaching
- Mystery or Puzzle Caches- solve a puzzle first to get the correct coordinates of the Cache.
- Multi-Cache- get clues at the first location to the second and then third…
- EarthCache- find a special geological location; the website includes educational notes and coordinates. Locations show how geological processes have shaped or earth. http://www.earthcache.org/.
- Letterbox Hybrid- Use clues instead of coordinates. Letterboxing North America.
- Event Cache- coordinates and time for an event for Geocachers
- Cache In Trash Out Event (CITO) – An event for Geocachers to clean up and preserve the natural areas- litter clean-up, removal of invasive species, planting trees and vegetation and trail building
I am very excited to find more treasures locally as well as when we travel to Ireland this summer. There are millions of geocaches in over 185 countries around the world. I also look forward to hiding my own for others to find.
Today’s first log post on Geocaching.com:
We found our first, and certainly not last Geocache. The thrill of the hunt is in our blood!
There is so much more to learn about this fun outdoor adventure game. We would love for you to share your experiences on Geocaching in the comments section.
Here is another link on our local news with my friend Joe Highley explaining Geocaching for everyone to understand.