Remember treasure hunts as a child? Ever wish you could recreate these, on a global basis? Geocaching is the answer. An outdoor treasure hunt for everyone- adults, children, those in rural or urban areas -if you’ve got an iPhone, android or a handheld GPS system, you can get involved!
You might be feeling a bit puzzled and wondering ‘what is geocaching?’. If ‘trackables’ (traceable chips), ‘muggles’ (non-geocachers) and ‘TFTC’ (A ‘Thanks For The Cache’ acronym) are all Greek to you; here’s a quick guide. What is the key point of geocaching?
You can plant prizes, known as ‘caches’ and have others find them, or you can find your own.
Why is it called a geocache?
The geocache is named after geography, and a ‘cache’ (meaning stored or stashed in both computing hardwear and hiking terminology.)
Essential Geocaching Lingo:
- BYOP: Bring Your Own Pen/Pencil
- FTF: First to Find.
- Geo-coin : A trackable (more on this later)
- Puzzle Caches: Caches with puzzles to be solved to determine the coordinates.
- TFTC: Thanks For The Cache
- TFTH: Thanks For The Hide
- TNLN: Took Nothing. Left Nothing
What is the cache?
A cache is a prize inside a sealed container, with a log book. You take a prize, and put one back in of equal value. Prizes can be things like trinkets, coins, games, toys, so long as they are inedible and safe for all ages.
How is Geocaching played?
Register online at geocache.com (it’s free), and search for caches near your location. Pick the size cache you want to find- there are micro sized to large. (For guidance, a regular is about the size of a loaf of bread, micro is the size of a film canister.)
Get the co-ordinates- like these: N 45° 17.460 W 122° 24.800 sent to your phone or enter them into your GPS. Then go find the cache!
Will I get to my cache immediately?
According to geocache. com, a GPS will get you close to your prize, but will need to put in effort when it comes to the specific location at around 30 feet away.
Some of them are very well hidden. Remember that most are on the natural trails, and won’t be on any private land (without permission) historical sites or extremely busy areas.
To help, the cache you choose will have a hint that can make spotting the cache easier. This will need to be decrypted from something that looks like this; “Vagurgbcbsgurzrgnyfcvplcrnahgfbagurzvaglfvqr”.
I’ve found the cache. Now what?
Sign the log book, using your ‘lingo’ (TFTC!- Thanks for the cache!) and take what’s inside it, replacing with something new before placing it back. You can also check if there is a ’trackable’ inside.
What is a trackable?
This is a chip or a coin with a code on it. The idea of a trackable is that it is moved from user to user to get to an intended destination. If you wish, you can take this, and using the geocache website you enter the code into the website and see where they want the coin to go. You then move it on your next cache.
Geocaching started in America, but has grown into a worldwide phenomenon. Have you been geocaching? What caches have you got, or given?