|Geocache at Haines Island Overlook in Monroe County, Ala.|
As best that I can remember, the first time I ever heard of geocaching was in 2010, and it’s been something I’ve wanted to do ever since. Problem was, I didn’t own a GPS device, so I just added geocaching to my “bucket list” and patiently waited for the time to arrive. Nearly four years later, I finally got my hands on a good GPS device and scratched this item off my “bucket list” over the weekend.
For those of you unfamiliar with geocaching, here’s the best definition I could find. According to Wikipedia, “geocaching is an outdoor recreational activity in which the participants use a Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver or mobile device and other navigational techniques to hide and seek containers called “geocaches” or “caches” anywhere in the world. A typical cache is a small waterproof container containing a logbook where the geocacher enters the date they found it and signs it with their established code name. After signing the log, the cache must be placed back exactly where the person found it.”
Tuesday of last week, my friend Gilbert Harden loaned me a handheld GPS device, and my kids and I used it to log our first three geocaches over the weekend. We found the first one on Friday afternoon off County Road 5, just outside of Repton, on the Monroe-Conecuh County line. On Saturday, we found one at the Haines Island Overlook in Monroe County, and on Sunday we found one in downtown Frisco City. Earlier today, during my lunch break, I tracked one down off Exit 96 in Evergreen.
How do you find a geocache, you ask? The simplest way is to sign up for a membership on Geocaching.com. A basic membership is free and allows you to search for geoaches in your area. As geocaches are hidden in your area, the “hider” enters the GPS coordinates through the Web site, and you look them up and put them in your GPS device.
Using those coordinates, you drive or walk to the geocache, search for it and write your name on the log that’s usually stored in the cache. Once you’re done, you go back to the Web site and log down that you were able to find it. If you search for a cache and don’t find it, you also note that down through the Web site to let others know that the cache may no longer be there.
Now that I’ve gotten a real taste of geocaching, I plan to continue to keep doing it. I’d like to see if I can find 365 caches or maybe 1,000 some day. It’s a good way to get out, spend time with the family, get a little exercise and fresh air and maybe teach the family how maps and GPS systems work.
In the end, how many of you have ever geocached? How many geocaches have you found? What’s the most memorable geocache you’ve ever logged? Let us know in the comments section below.