Something hidden begs to be found.
There was a recent story in the news about the discovery of a treasure chest hidden a decade ago in the Rocky Mountains by Forrest Fenn. Much has been written through the years about Mr. Fenn, a wealthy art dealer, and the pursuit of his hidden treasure. He left clues in a cleverly composed poem and many people spent much of their time trying to unravel those clues. One very lucky treasure hunter recently succeeded and found the treasure chest that reportedly contained between one and three million dollars worth of coins, jewels and other artifacts.
What is it about human natural that draws us toward seeking hidden treasure? Is it the prospect of discovering a lost trove of riches thus changing our lives forever? I think most of us can see the folly in chasing that dream. Is it the challenge, the adventure, the thrill as alluded to in the title of Mr. Forrest Fenn’s autobiography, The Thrill of the Chase? Maybe it’s both…maybe it’s more. The mere mention of hidden treasure stirs an emotion of excitement deep within us. The lure can be strong.
For most all of us, the probability of finding a million dollar treasure chest is only a dream. The chance of discovering a secret map to a long lost treasure is slim at best. But if, in fact, you think the reward comes from the adventure found during the hunt and if, in fact, you are someone who feels the lure of the hunt, then I have a suggestion — try geocaching.
“What is geocaching”, you might ask? It is an outdoor activity where one uses the Global Positioning System (GPS) to find hidden containers called geocaches. There are millions of geocaches hidden around the globe by geocache members. Chances are there is one near you right now. But you have to find it. It’s a treasure hunt!
It’s a fun activity for travelers and outdoor enthusiasts. It is especially fun for campers, as many of the state parks and wilderness areas have hidden caches. But you don’t need to be an RVer to join the hunt. Caches can be found in city parks, along sidewalks, in parking lots, or in any public space.
I started hunting for caches in my hometown more than fifteen years ago with a hand-held GPS tracker. Now I just use my iPhone. It’s easier and I always have it with me. Before getting started, you will need to download one of the apps for geocaching. I use the application appropriately named Geocaching. There you can sign up for the free basic membership or you can open up more caches and other options by joining their premium membership. I’ll leave a link below.
The GPS on a smart phone works well enough to navigate you to within a few feet of the cache you are searching for. That’s where the real detective work begins. You are looking for a watertight container. It could be an ammo box, tupperware, 35mm film cartridge, a magnetic hid-a-key, or even a micro pill case. I’ve seen some ingenious hiding spots. Finding a cache is always satisfying. There’s been times (probably more than I’d like to admit) that I came away empty despite my best efforts.
Inside the container is usually a log to sign and date. You can also log a found cache on the website. Larger containers have knick knacks that people have placed there. Look them over and take an inventory if you’d like. It is okay to remove an item if you leave something in its place. Some containers may have what’s called a trackable. It’s a coin or tag — like a dog tag — with an identification number. You are encouraged to take it and move it to another cache in a different location. Then on the website you log where you moved it to. It’s fun for people to see where their trackable pieces have traveled.
After a while, with all the caches that you are sure to find, you will begin to develop a map of found caches in the places you’ve gone. Grammi and I have found caches across the country as well as parts of Europe. It’s nice to look back at the found caches and remember the day we spent strolling the streets or hiking across a trail. One memorable day in particular was in Savannah, Georgia. We found a number of caches in the public squares and along the river while we explored the historic city.
Other than a cell phone, it is recommended to bring along a pen or pencil for signing the log. You might also need a stick or walking pole for probing the ground and you may want some latex gloves — especially in today’s world. Be sure you dress appropriately for the environment. Wear long pants and sturdy shoes if hiking through the woods. Have a large brim hat and sunscreen for walking in the desert. And if you’re going after those caches along Route 1 in Iceland, then wear a big coat. Let common sense be your guide.
Be cautious. I have never found a cache that put me in peril while getting to it, but you never know.
Be inconspicuous. We don’t want a muggle to ruin the fun.
Enjoy the day. Don’t get so caught up in the hunt that you miss out on what’s around you.
I hope you look into geocaching to see if it’s an activity you might enjoy as much as Grammi and I. It has brought us hours of fun. Maybe you’ve already tried it. If so, leave a comment and tell us your experience.
The link to Geocaching.com
So until next time…happy days and safe travels.