Geocaching within our parks
Within the many parks and trails we manage you can find hidden treasure. Not the gold and silver that wayward pirates might have lost but something just as fun to find. Geocaching is a fun and exciting, family friendly activity that you can participate in year-round. Below you will find more information and helpful links about caches hidden within our parks.
What is geocaching?
Geocaching is an entertaining adventure game for GPS users. Participating in a cache hunt is a good way to take advantage of the wonderful features and capability of a GPS unit. The basic idea is to have individuals and organizations set up caches all over the world and share the locations of these caches on the internet. GPS users can then use the location coordinates to find the caches. Once found, a cache may provide the visitor with a wide variety of rewards. All the visitor is asked to do is if they get something they should try to leave something for the cache.
How do you pronounce "geocaching"?
You pronounce it Geo-cashing, like cashing a check. The word Geocaching broken out is GEO for geography, and CACHING for the process of hiding a cache. So what's the big deal? You gave me the coordinates so I know where it is. Seems pretty easy. It is deceptively easy. It's one thing to see where an item is, it's a totally different story to actually get there.
What is a GPS device?
A GPS unit is a electronic device that can determine your approximate location (within around 6-20 feet) on the planet. Coordinates are normally given in Longitude and Latitude. You can use the unit to navigate from your current location to another location. Some units have their own maps, built-in electronic compasses, voice navigation, depending on the complexity of the device.
You don't need to know all the technical mumbo jumbo about GPS units to play Geocaching. All you need to do is be able to enter what is called a "waypoint", where the geocache is hidden.
What are the rules in geocaching?
Geocaching is a relatively new phenomenon. Therefore, the rules are very simple:
What's usually in a cache?
A cache can come in many forms but the first item should always be the logbook. In its simplest form a cache can be just a logbook and nothing else. The logbook contains information from the founder of the cache and notes from the cache's visitors. The logbook can contain much valuable, rewarding, and entertaining information. A logbook might contain information about nearby attractions, coordinates to other unpublished caches, and even jokes written by visitors. If you get some information from a logbook you should give some back. At the very least you can leave the date and time you visited the cache.
Larger caches may consist of a waterproof plastic bucket placed tastefully within the local terrain. The bucket will contain the logbook and any number of more or less valuable items. These items turn the cache into a true treasure hunt. You never know what the founder or other visitors of the cache may have left there for you to enjoy. Remember, if you take something, its only fair for you to leave something in return. Items in a bucket cache could be: Maps, books, software, hardware, CD's, videos, pictures, money, jewelry, tickets, antiques, tools, games, etc. It is recommended that items in a bucket cache be individually packaged in a clear zipped plastic bag to protect them.
What shouldn't be in a cache?
Use your common sense in most cases. Explosives, ammo, knives, drugs, and alcohol shouldn't be placed in a cache. Respect the local laws. All ages of people hide and seek caches, so use some thought before placing an item into a cache. Food items are ALWAYS a BAD IDEA. Animals have better noses than humans, and in some cases caches have been chewed through and destroyed because of food items in a cache. Please do not put food in a cache.
Where are caches found?
The location of a cache can be very entertaining indeed. As many say, location, location, location! The location of a cache demonstrates the founder's skill and possibly even daring. A cache located on the side of a rocky cliff accessible only by rock climbing equipment may be hard to find. An underwater cache may only be accessed by scuba. Other caches may require long difficult hiking, orienteering, and special equipment to get to. Caches may be located in cities both above and below ground, inside and outside buildings. The skillful placement of a small logbook in an urban environment may be quite challenging to find even with the accuracy of a GPS. That little logbook may have a hundred dollar bill in it or a map to greater treasure. It could even contain clues or riddles to solve that may lead to other caches. Rich people could have fun with their money by making lucrative caches that could be better than winning the lottery when you find it. Just hope that the person that found the cache just before you left a real big prize!
A variation is to have a trackable item, which is an item that you can move from cache to cache. An example of this is a candle that has traveled from Australia to Arizona, and a Mr. Potato head that leaps from cache to cache. For example you can purchase a Groundspeak Travel Bug, which is a tag that you can attach to an item so you can track its movements through the Geocache web site.
How long do caches exist?
It all depends on the location of the cache and its impact on the environment and the surrounding areas. Caches could be permanent, or temporary. It's up to the cache owner to periodically inspect the cache and the area to ensure that impact is minimal, if not nonexistent. When you find a cache, it's always a good idea to let the cache owner know the condition as well.
What do I do if I find out that a cache has gone missing?
If you visit a cache location and the cache is missing, always make sure to log the cache as "not found" on the web site so the cache owner knows. If you notice that the logs show an unusual number of "not found" logs, please inform the Geocaching web site so they can check on the cache page. The cache can be temporarily disabled so the cache owner can check in on it. Sometimes, though rarely, when the cache owner cannot be contacted they can either allow folks to adopt the cache or have the cache removed completely from the site. They rely a lot on the Geocaching community to let them know the status of caches in their area.