Psst. Want an introduction to a secret world that exists right under our very noses?
Well, you’re in luck!
Geocaching is a real, GPS-enabled, outdoor treasure hunting game that many hikers have been participating in playing for over twenty years!
What Do You Need?
Yourself. Your GPS device. Swag-items for swap out (described below). Snacks, water, safety materials that you’d bring on any other hike. Trekking poles are great for poking around while searching for a container inside say, a log, or a hollowed out tree, as well.
How Do You Play?
Geocaching (geography + cache) has two different roles to play.
1) Seekers: As a seeker, you’ll follow coordinates to a specific location where another geocacher has hidden a container, know as a swag-box. To locate the coordinates you’ll utilize your mobile phone or other GPS-enabled device. Once you’ve arrived at the cache location, you’ll need to search around, as many of the cache locations are hidden, making it all the more fun and challenging. Upon discovery, you’ll open the cache filled with what are called swag-items, and swap out one piece of swag for one that you brought with you. 1:1 etiquette.
2) Cache-Owner: A person who has stashed their treasures for others to find and listed it on the main geocache website so that participants know it is available to be found. A cache owner may place multiple items into the cache container. So long as seekers are practicing proper geocaching 1:1 etiquette, the containers will never run out of new items to be discovered.
What Are The Rules Of The Game?
Geocaching does come with a set of rules to follow. The rules listed below are to ensure that you, and others, have a great time while joining in on the hunt.
1) Leave No Trace. This is the most important rule in many peoples opinions. You’ll hear this rule everywhere when you’re visiting the great outdoors. It’s a good habit to get into. When you are out in nature, it’s usually to get away from the business that circles our cities. There is nothing as exhilarating as finding yourself alone, in the wilderness. Therefore, it’s best to practice this rule with anything you do. Don’t leave food, trash or any other personal belongings out on the trails. And, this can’t be emphasized enough, don’t mark or graffiti the natural scenery along the trails. I’ve read complaints on different forums for things like this happening on trails such as the PCT or the Appalachian. It’s very sad to see it becoming a problem.
2) Caches Have A Logbook: When you find the cache, sign the book. Later, go to the main geocaching(dot)com website to let the owner of that swag-box know that you located the container.
3) Don’t Change The Cache Location: When you find the cache, remember, it’s the owner’s decision on where it is hidden. Do not change the cache location. Some will be harder to find than others. Some, you may think you could hide better. Unless you’re the cache owner, place the container back where you found it.
4) Take A Penny, Leave A Penny: Remember when you’d see a plate out at gas stations offering loose change that someone decided they didn’t need, and you could use it to round up your dollar on the sale; or, to not have to dig around for a nickel? Geocaching is similar, except, for every item you take, you are supposed to replace that item with a different one. When you open the cache there’s no telling what you may find. Many caches will have multiple items inside, and some may even hold value. Your job as the seeker upon opening the treasure chest is to choose one item, and then replace it, and return the container where you found it.
5) Some Items Are Not Allowed: You most definitely do not want to leave food items inside of a cache container. Even if it’s made to last a lifetime and dried. The scent will still attract wildlife and endanger them. Remember, Leave No Trace. Only use family-friendly items, and your items should fit into the ‘swag-box’ without force being required.
How To List Your Own Cache ‘Swag-Box’
To become a cache owner you must first understand what a good cache is. You can research other peoples containers or better yet, seek them out yourself and determine which ones you thought were the best.
Essentially, to hide your cache, all you need is permission from whomever manages the land you are wanting to hide your cache at.
Want a little-known fact reserved for only pro-hikers? There are multiple caches located within National Parks.
Most Importantly, Have Fun
You’re on a treasure hunt… have fun with it! Don’t forget to come back to HykLyt.com to let me know what you discovered on your geocaching adventures!
If you liked the article, please consider subscribing to the blog. It’s free, and helps the HykLyt dream continue. Simply enter your email in the box below to stay up to date with HykLyt articles.
Thanks for reading, hiker!
CoverArt by Andreasrochas