Monday, October 21, 2013

Treasure Hunting

     Since we haven't been doing much fishing, riding or camping this year, I had a lot of time to read a lot of other outdoor blogs and social media posts. Because of all of this, I got hooked on geocaching. I have always thought geocaching would be fun, but never had the time to figure it out. I am up to 11 finds right now and after looking at the map, I realize it will be easy to get more finds because a lot of the lakes and riding areas we go to a lot have geocaches either in the area or very close by!
     First, here's some info: Geocaching is a worldwide game of hiding and finding treasures. One person places a geocache in a location somewhere in the world, pinpoints the location using a GPS unit and then shares the location online. GPS stands for Global Positioning System. A system of satellites works with a GPS receiver you hold to determine your location on the planet. Anybody with a GPS unit can search for the treasure. A geocache (cache for short) is the hidden container. The container contains at least a logbook. If the container is big enough, it can also hold a pencil and treasures to trade.
     One important term you may find in the descriptions or in comments is the word "Muggle." If you are a Harry Potter fan, you know a Muggle is a non-magical person. In geocaching, a Muggle is a non-geocaching person. Muggles may look at you weird while you are looking under rocks, in trees and walking through areas off trail with lots of tall weeds and lots of cactus. They may also accidentally find a cache and either get hooked on geocaching, ignore it or they may take the cache thinking they are cleaning up litter. Muggles get blamed for missing geocaches all of the time.
Here are the steps for Geocaching:
1. Set up an account at You can sign up for a free account or a Premium membership (see the website for details.)
 2. Search for geocaches close to home or in an area you are going to be (lake, atv trail, hiking path, etc.).

The Smiley Faces Are Geocaches I Have Found
 3. In this step I have to write down the coordinates, clues and GC number. If you have a nicer GPS unit (which is on my list to Santa this year) you can send the coordinates to your GPS unit.

 Each geocache has a GC code assigned to it (you can see the GC code on the right side of the screen below). The code starts with the letters "GC" and is followed by other letters and numbers. After you find the geocache, you can use this code to easily find the geocache on the website to log your find.

There are a lot of acronyms you need to know because they are used a lot in the comments and descriptions left by other geocachers:
  • FTF: First To Find a new geocache
  • BYOP: Bring Your Own Pen/Pencil - let's you know you need to bring your own writing utensil to sing the log
  • DNF: Did Not Find - A log type to let the owner of the cache know that there could be an issue with their cache.
 4. Next, search for the geocache. Before you start your search, make sure you are prepared. Wear appropriate clothing (hiking books/shoes, long pants and jacket if the weather looks like it is going to get cold). ALWAYS bring water, too! I almost always forget water because I think we aren't going to be away from the car for very long and then we end up away from the car for a lot longer than we thought and wishing we had at least 1 bottle of water with us. Also, don't forget bug spray and sunscreen.

Sasha & Kaos enjoy Geocaching, Sasha even found one for me this past weekend!
    The nicer GPS units help you find the geocache by telling you which direction to go and they catch up to your coordinates pretty fast. (I can't wait for that feature! We end up off course a lot because we walk faster than our receiver can update.) Look in trees, under rocks, attached to something metal with a magnet or pretty much anywhere. Geocachers are getting more and more creative with their hides.
     When you find the cache, sign the logbook (or log sheet) and check out the SWAG (acronym for "Stuff We All Get"). If you take some SWAG, be sure to leave something. In the cache below, I took the Scooby Doo SWAG and left the bobber. If you take something, you HAVE to leave something!

     The above picture is of a traditional cache because it contains a log sheet, pencil, and SWAG. There are many different types of caches. Some blend in to the area so well you can step on it 10 times before you realize it is the cache. Nanos and Micros are tiny and only big enough for a log sheet. Nanos and Micros are hard and I don't usually search for them because I get frustrated.
5. Enjoy the area. A lot of geocaches are hidden in areas with a lot of history, beautiful scenery or lots of fun things to do. One of our favorite lakes to fish and camp at has a lot of areas with historical signs and we have never stopped to look at them. On this trip, we stopped and checked out the signs while we were looking for the geocaches.

     Also, enjoy the views. Most geocaches are hiden in areas that are meant for you to explore the outdoors. Parks, lakes, trails and historical overlooks are some of the popular areas geocahes are hidden.
John Martin Reservoir & Dam
6. The final step is to relax. You probably did a lot of hiking while you were searching for the geocache so when you get back to camp be sure to relax, rehydrate and make sure your notes are organized for the caches you found to make logging them on the computer easier.

Kaos and Sasha relaxing after a day of Geocaching
     When you get home (or back to computer access) log back into your account and log your find. If you want to share pictures, make sure they don't giveaway the location of the cache.

When logging a find, you can use these as comments:
  • TFTC: Thanks For The Cache
  • TFTH: Thanks For The Hide
  • TNLN: Took Nothing Left Nothing
  • TNLNSL: Took Nothing Left Nothing Signed Log
  • TNSL: Took Nothing Signed Log
     Those are the basics of Geocaching. There are some Girls In The Outdoors geocaches in the works and will be hidden near CaƱon City, Colorado so that we can take care of them. In those geocaches, there is a good possibility you might find some of the smaller items we sell on our website. Be sure to follow our Facebook, Twitter, Pinterst and/or Google+ pages to monitor our geocaches.

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