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Miscellaneous A Geocaching Primer

What is Geocaching?
Geocaching is an electronic treasure hunt. One finds caches at listed GPS co-ordinates.

Why Geocache?
Many geocaches are in interesting or picturesque places. I would have missed once in a lifetime views had I not hunted geocaches. Most memorable is the panoramic view I was treated to high above Ephesus.

If one has children or grandchildren, it is a way to engage the whole family in an activity. Some geocaches are listed as “child friendly” and contain small toys.

There are numerous meets throughout Europe and the Americas where one can exchange ideas and establish new friendships. Many cities have local clubs that meet regularly. Some sponsor events.

Equipment:
One requires a GPS unit or a smartphone with GPS capability. I have a Garmin E-Trex that has served me well for many years. Sales personnel at outdoor outfitters' or electronics stores can advise on a suitable device. There are also stores specializing in GPS units. Some are better suited or are exclusively for geocaching.

I carry a spare set of batteries for my unit. Also be aware that the smartphone apps are energy hogs so a recharging unit in the car is advisable.

Since some caches are in hidey-holes I like to have a stick handy to roust out any creepy-crawlies that may be inside.

I carry a small bag with trinkets (e.g. coins from home, golf markers, key chains, lapel pins) to exchange for something in the cache. Etiquette requires one to leave something of equal or greater value then what one takes. I have purchased geocoins and travel bugs to place in caches and watch their travels around the world. I have one travel bug that has been traveling through Europe for 8 years.

A pen or pencil may be needed to sign logs in caches.

Websites:
There are numerous caching and smartphone apps available.

The granddaddy of them all and the one that initiated geocaching is www.geocaching.com . A basic membership is free and sign-up is uncomplicated. Paid membership gives one preferred access to new caches, customized itineraries, access to privately-listed caches. I have found the unpaid membership adequate to my needs. The website provides comprehensive tutorials, equipment suggestions and FAQs as well as a shop where GPS units and all manner of tat can be purchased. Geocaching.com also has a smartphone app for download.

Most phone apps link to Geocacaching so membership there is a prerequisite.

On my phone, I use the app c:geo . A search of apps will bring many others up. Find one that you are comfortable with.

Common Geocache Types:
  • Micros: small containers that hold only a small log paper to record one's visit. Think photo film canister. One of the more inventive ones I encountered was a fake bolt on the submarine outside Barcelona's Maritime museum

  • Regular: any container from a small lock-lid sandwich box to an ammo box that can be hidden. Some are camouflaged; others are home-made; others are purchased (e.g. imitation rocks)

  • Puzzle: involve solving often complicated puzzles to determine the actual cache location.

  • Multi: a cousin of the puzzle cache, these involve visiting two or more locations to determine the final caches' location. As an example, In Sant Sadurni d'Anoia there were two: one had me visiting various cava bodegas; another highlighted modernist buildings.

  • Earthcaches: These caches lead one to unique geological formations. To log the cache one usually has to email answers to questions about the particular phenomenon.

Getting Started:
  1. Join Geocaching.com

  2. If you intend on using your smartphone download an App that you are comfortable with. Try out a couple. c:geo is free and is suitable for my needs. You may differ.

  3. View the tutorials at Geocaching or just wing it.

  4. If using a GPS unit download program from the manufacturer that enables one to download cache info from the Geocaching site. Note Geocaching will prompt you if you need a special program.

  5. Download geocache locations from Geocaching to your GPS unit.

  6. Be surprised that there will probably be at least one cache within 500 metres of your location.

  7. Follow the locator arrow to your cache.

  8. At GZ (ground zero) look around. Caches can be up to 3 metres from GZ. Look up in tree branches, under rocks, in holes in trees, behind bushes. Examine small cairns and carefully stacked branches closely. Look under benches.

  9. Log your visit and leave/exchange items if you wish.

  10. Don't be discouraged if you don't find the cache. It may have been moved, washed away or vandalized (muggled).

  11. Log your visit at Geocaching or on your phone App. In the comments, list any special cautions such as an ant hill, wasps' nest or other concern that will warn/assist other cachers.

  12. If you took a geocoin or travel bug log your find and commit to moving it on as soon as reasonably possible.
Anatolia 2008 623.jpg

The cache above Ephesus remains a highlight for me. Here's the view we experienced.
 
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joe

500+ Posts
Hello Dennis,

I have heard and read about geocaching, but never felt inclined to do one of these hunts (or place a cache). A treasure-hunt type of game is one of the best types of games around, both for kids and adults (I used to organize some for my children and their friends when they were young), and I completely understand the appeal of these. You also mentioned the sense of community between participants, and the opportunity to reach interesting places that you might not have seen, were it not for geocaching.

But what I'm curious about is why people are attracted to this type of way of seeing new places, and are willing to devote so much time to it. Basically, when you travel (or even just visit an area that could be new to you, even though it's close to home), your senses are flooded by new sights, and one's natural curiosity is usually sparked. Everyone gets attracted to whatever is interesting to them personally (and if you like to just let your instincts lead you, then all the better). What do you think is special about geocaching, that just good-old exploring can't accomplish?

In my case, walking around for hours squinting at an "X" on a screen while traveling would be a sure-fire way to be invited to a divorce...! ;)
 

Dennis

100+ Posts
Hi Joe:
I agree with you Joe. The old saw about golf "a good walk ruined" could apply to geocaching. For me the attraction is doing the activity in the company of others, particularly my grandchildren. I was introduced to it while travelling with my daughter in Turkey. My wife too poo-poos some of my quests but she also at times becomes infected with the thrill of the chase and has persevered when I was ready to give up.

In familiar places like our neighbourhood parks, it gets me out walking territory I've been over many times. I view the trail with new eyes ("Hmm I hadn't noticed that bunch of lady slipper orchids before"). In new places your comments ring particularly true. However, by viewing the description and others comments on the website I have chosen obscure tracks that I would not have known about otherwise. The cache above Ephesus remains a highlight for me. Here's the view we experienced.

Anatolia 2008 623.jpg


In the final analysis, it's another fun outdoor activity. Your comments could also apply to individuals who do birding, wild flower viewing, photography or any other focused outdoor activity.

I, like you, are content to, in Wordsworth's words "wander lonely as a cloud" for many of my walks.
Buen Camino!
 

joe

500+ Posts
In the final analysis, it's another fun outdoor activity.

I'm sure it is.
Is there some way I can see if there are any caches in my area, for example, without having to pay anything? Do they give you general locations of caches, with the exact coordinates kept for registered members? Just out of curiosity....
 

Dennis

100+ Posts
Hi Joe:
Go to www.geocaching.com. Register as a basic member. It's free. That's all I've got and am satisfied with it. Once registered you can put in your address (street and city). A list will come up. From there you can either click on the cache name or go to the right hand side top and click on "Map these caches" or something similar. A map will appear. You can zoom in or out. Click on a symbol and the cache name and info will pop up. Then click on the name to get particulars. "Clear search filters" in map view will generally garner more cache hits.

The process for c:geo is much the same. It is an app that presently is only available for android devices. Download it from Google Play. This website has a good overview and instruction guide : http://www.torontopubliclibrary.ca/...ed-series/geocaching/pdfs/c-geo-tip-sheet.pdf
 

joe

500+ Posts
Thanks Dennis, I'll look into it. This will be interesting - if there's something close by, I might give it a go...
 

joe

500+ Posts
Well, I registered on the site, and lo and behold! there's a cache less than two kms. from my home.
I entered the coordinates into Google Maps on my computer, saw more or less on the map (satellite view) where the cache is located , read the hint on the site - and off I went.
This one was pretty easy, I found it in about five minutes. Here are some pics for those who are first-timers, like me. (Spoiler warning : I show the cache!).
I didn't get hooked, but I can see the appeal, especially for a foreign tourist. Also nice to read the comments on the site, from tourists who found it.
I just replaced everything as I found it.

R0004412.JPG
R0004413.JPG
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R0004415.JPG
R0004416.JPG
 

Dennis

100+ Posts
Congrats Joe! Kudos for giving it a try. Specially impressed that you tracked one down without relying on a hand-held GPS unit. Remember to log it in.
 

Pauline

Forums Admin
We found one today on the Main Street of our village. The hint was To The Sea and this is my favourite sign in the village. It also said magnetic and we eventually found a small container with a magnet attaching it to the back of the sign. Inside were tiny pieces of paper.

IMG_3198.JPG


IMG_3199.JPG
 

Dennis

100+ Posts
Bravo Pauline. The pieces of paper were logs of others who have found the cache. Micros like the one you found, are, to my mind, less satisfying than regular sized caches that contain "treasures" like lapel pins, foreign coins etc. I specialize in garnering key chains. Others like micros because they are harder to fond.
 

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