Monthly Adventure # 14 – Geocaching
The High Tech Treasure Hunt
With as much grace as I can possibly muster, I retrace my last few steps completely covered in cobwebs and dirt.
Attempting a somewhat awkward maneuver, I walk backwards trying to see if I can gain any insight into the situation at hand from an entirely different perspective.
I jump, startled, when I see a shadow out of the corner of my eye. Heart thumping, I foolishly realize that it’s just me.
But really, one can never be too careful with those muggles around.
I can’t let them see what I’m doing so I quickly hid the device under my jacket. They could ruin everything. I need to find it.
I deek behind a tree but I’m not entirely convinced the whole hiding-behind-a-tree-thing is really working out so well. As I peek out, I notice they’re kinda tossing over weird looks at me, watching my every move. So I decide to take a different tact and I pretending that I’m looking at something really interesting.
Like that pebble over there…
I whip out the device and glance down at its screen. I can see that I’m less than 3 metres away from the designated target…mere steps away…but those stupid muggles are everywhere. Am I just being paranoid in thinking EVERYONE is watching me?
I inhale deeply and choose to focus my attention on the target instead. I’m just too close. I stop suddenly and take shallow breaths – I think I see something not quite right. Something not so ordinary. I feel my heart skipping a beat because I know this game of hide and seek is about to come to an end.
Like a pirate who’s just discovered that ‘X-Marks-The-Spot’ on the treasure map, the taste of loot permeates my being and I know that it will soon be mine.
I reach into hidden nook and pull out the treasure chest. My whispered words are carried softly into the wind…Ahoy, matey.
When I was a little girl, I grew up with such stories as “Treasure Island” and “Darby O’Gill & the Little People” where everyone was searching for that crazy pot o’ gold. I would solve riddles and participate in scavenger hunts – doing anything I could to fulfill my desire to pursue the hidden.
Of course, as a ‘so-called’ grown-up, my tastes have become a little more sophisticated.
Or so I like to think…
Graduating from Easter egg hunts, I would fulfill part of my fantasies through stories told by the world renowned author Clive Cussler, who has found numerous sunken ships – as a real life treasure hunter extraordinaire. Then I was regaled with stories told by my uncle John who would quite literally look for gold. In his case, it had to do with mining claims, panning for gold, and metal detectors.
All hunters, in one form or another, seeking undiscovered territory.
Surrounded by tales and the promise of undiscovered loot, I took it upon myself to look for any opportunity to do what I could to join their ranks. But instead of using a treasure map with that ‘X-marks-the-spot,’ I found myself using a global positioning system (GPS) which uses satellites from outerspace.
You see, I’m on a high-tech treasure hunt.
Introduced to the international game of hide and seek – otherwise known as Geocaching – I soon discovered there are over a million locations containing hidden treasure of all types. But the only way to find this location – or ‘geocache’ – is if you have a GPS unit and a few super-duper sleuthing skills.
For those like me who have a taste for treasure hunting, this particular sport can help satiate that need by solving riddles, clues, and discovering hidden secrets – all under your very nose.
Because they are everywhere.
Underwater. On top of a mountain. Up a tree. At your local gas station. Wherever you can imagine, without a doubt, there is sure to be treasure. Coming in all sizes – from extremely tiny to the size of a 5 gallon bucket, most treasure at the geocache are not high in monetary value. They can contain anything from unusual coins, toys, trinkets, CDs – or even a ‘hitchhiker’ – a device that travels from location to location and is tracked on a website for all to see its journey.
I found one hitchhiker at Granville Island, a travel-turtle that originated in San Jose, California. I kept that turtle travelling as I passed it along to my sister who lives hundreds of kilometres away from me.
But there is more to geocaching than just ‘finding’ the treasure.
You have to be on the lookout for ‘muggles’.
Yes, you heard that correctly. Muggles.
They are the NON-geocachers who sometimes loot our treasure, making off with their ill-gotten gains.
You can never let on to what you are doing. Once, I returned back to a geocache I previously visited only to discover it had been muggled. The trick is to not ever allow the muggles to know what we are up to. Although, granted, I tend not to do ‘unobtrusive’ very well.
Not even when I try real hard.
One trick I learned from my sister and her man Josh is to totally look like a goofy, clumsy tourist. Seems to work every time. Especially the clumsy part.
Alas, not all of us can be like James Bond, all smooth and ready with a quick response when questioned as to why we might be hanging around an area that isn’t really touristy. More often than not, we look totally suspicious.
Some geocachers have been stopped by police or security trying to figure out what we are doing because we look so suspicious.
And then there are the muggles who stumble across a geocache, confusing it with an explosive device. Go figure.
Interesting Factoids About Geocaching:
- There are over 1.4 million geocaches world-wide.
- They are located on all 7 continents.
- There are over 4 million geocachers.
- Geocaches vary in size – some of them can be as tiny as your baby finger, some you can fit your head into.
- Sometimes you’ll run across trackable items such as ‘travel bugs’ or even ‘travel coins’. They have a tracking number so you can see where they’ve been.
- A geocache is comprised of a ‘cache’ hidden at ‘geo’-coordinates – so the cache is actually your hidden treasure chest and the geo-coordinates are the ‘x-marks-the-spot’ on the map.
- If a geocache has been tampered with or is missing, it is considered to be ‘muggled’.
- Geocaching is similar to letterboxing. Created in 1854, it is a game that uses orienteering, art, and puzzle solving to find a hidden, waterproof box with items.
- In some cases, geocaches have created actual bomb scares. Bomb squads were called out to deactivate the potential bomb threat because someone saw another person behaving strangely. That, of course, was the geocacher trying to find the geocache without letting on to other people what they were doing.
What do you need to get started?
- GPS unit (global positioning system).
- A free account set up with www.geocaching.com to get the GPS coordinates of the geocache.
- A swag bag filled with tiny treasures.
- A pencil and paper.
Never a dull moment geocaching. One thing I’ve noticed is that it is highly addictive. Once you get that first real taste of it, you just keep going back for more…and more…and more.
I spend my time geocaching with my family and friends as it’s a great time to hang out, be sociable, be on a mission together, get some exercise. It’s better than staying at home and playing monopoly – a game that I love and truly suck at.
Without a doubt, this will forever remain an ongoing adventure. After all, there’s millions of treasure chests all over the world just waiting to be discovered by little ole me.
Josh shows us how to properly hide a geocache in plain view of the muggles: