Yesterday I picked up the Garmin Vista HCx handheld GPS unit. My only reason for getting the unit was for hiking, particularly off-trail, but for on-trail use as well. Among other things, it would help with route tracking, interesting-thing-finding, and would work as a hiking odometer.
I gave it a test drive yesterday on a night hike with a few other enthusiasts, and it worked just as I expected. I love it!
It was only after picking up the GPS that I remembered that it could be used for geocaching, which is pretty much a high-tech game of hide and seek. People hide “caches” in various locations, from a tree in a park to an underwater cache requiring scuba gear. A cache at minimum consists of a logbook in which finders record their date of find and name. Caches frequently include trinkets that can be taken by a finder and replaced by another trinket of equal or greater value. The hider publishes the coordinates of the cache, and seekers head off to find it.
Today we decided to seek out two caches, both located about 1/2 mile from our RV. (There are caches everywhere. Even in Antarctica!) The first cache was located in a high-muggle area. In Harry Potter, muggles are non-wizards. In geocaching, muggles are non-geocachers. We got some weird looks while we poked around some bushes near a gas station!
That first cache never turned up, and we later read some reports online saying that it had recently gone missing. Oh, well.
So we headed off to our second cache, with Ayo navigating. The coordinates brought us to a pine tree outside a doctor’s office, where we spend a good five or ten minutes looking around – finding nothing. A bit disappointed, we decided to ask in the office if they knew anything about the cache. And they did! We went back and continued looking around, this time looking in the tree. And behold! A little house hanging in the tree, containing a pencil and geocaching log! Awesome! (Cache GC1KN79, for those of you who care.)
There are another five or ten caches within a mile of the RV, so we have a bunch more exploring to do. Geocaching is surprisingly fun!
posted by jay