By Lauren Saslow
Are you looking for a new family friendly activity that extends beyond costly theme parks and crowded beaches? While most modern day treasure hunting requires moderate to expensive equipment, the worldwide phenomenon of Geocaching only requires a Global Positioning System (GPS) that is equipped on most modern day cell phones.
Cathy Evangelo enjoys spending time Geocaching. “It’s a mini-adventure/treasure hunt. You can do it almost anywhere and anytime. In your hometown, it gives you a whole new purpose to visiting the same places. On vacation, it helps you find new parks and places you might otherwise miss.”
Geocaching (from “geo” meaning earth and “cache” meaning anything hidden) only requires a simple registration at www.geocaching.com. If you are using a smart phone for your GPS, you can download the free app, which is available on the App Store, Google Play or Windows Phone. (While an upgraded paid Premium version is available, the free version had a higher rating by consumers.)
You begin by navigating a specific set of GPS coordinates and then attempt to find the geocache at that location. Once you are within 10-20 ft. of a cache, start searching with your eyes and hands as they may be hidden by branches or rocks and could be located above or below eye level. Caches will vary in size, some as small as a magnetic twist-off screw or hide-a-key case containing only a log for you to sign. Be sure to bring your own pen.
Other treasure boxes may be large enough to contain trinkets for you to exchange with your own similarly valued charm. A Trackable, Travel Bug or Geocoin, found in a geocache is like a game piece that may have a ‘goal’ set by its owner; this requires either following the rules of the goal, or simply logging your find and leaving it for a more advanced player. Once you are near the cache, you log on the app whether or not you found it and write your own brief message; a successful find will display a happy face.
There are over a dozen different categories of caches. A traditional cache is simply one container, while multi-caches require two or more stages before you reach the actual cache. Each owner of a cache will offer a main clue and a hint, as well as rate the terrain difficulty and difficulty to find.
For your first few hunts, it’s best to select easy terrain and difficulty ratings. As with any hobby, Geocachers tend to use lots of acronyms so it helps to watch a few videos, read through the Glossary of Terms on their website or simply go with a seasoned Geocacher until you get the hang of it.
The Osprey Observer Newspaper Cache is hidden in Fishhawk Ranch (Phase I) on Lithia Pinecrest Rd., 1/4 mile south of Fishhawk Blvd. Check the Geocaching website or app for GPS coordinates and clues. Happy hunting.