Image copyright Paramount Pictures/LucasFilms
Note: If you’re not sure what geocaching is, you probably missed my intro to geocaching post!
Geocaching is popular for a reason, although it might not be apparent when you’re just reading about it. I can totally understand the “looking for baubles in the woods sounds stupid” mentality that often kicks in when you first hear about it.
Even me . . . the former Easter egg hunt fanatic who likes wandering around in the woods . . . first thought that it couldn’t possibly be all that entertaining. Obviously once I tried it out for myself, my opinion changed. I wouldn’t rate it as exciting as being chased through Jordan by the Schutzstaffel with Allison Doody in tow, but I would give it a solid three rumpled fedoras out of five. (Bearing in mind that epic Grail quests involving Nazis are terribly inaccessible for the average person.)
Moving on. If you’re still looking for reasons to give it a shot, here are my top five reasons to go geocaching:
- It gets you (and your kids, if applicable) out of the house and doing something active. It’s far too easy to stay indoors these days. The sad thing is that once we become used to it, we tend not to miss the outside world. All we think about is the air conditioning, a soft couch, close access to the fridge, and the endless mind-numbing crap streaming out of the TV. I will absolutely agree that you can’t get these things on a nature trail, but there’s a lot more to the world than those things, right? You probably want your kids to think so, and nothing gets children more involved in an activity than turning it into a game. In essence, that’s what geocaching is: a long walk in nature disguised as a game.
- Cost of entry ranges between free and pretty dang cheap. You can start geocaching without spending a dime. By using your Android smart phone and the free c:geo app, your investment in trying out the game drops to zero. Even if you decide you love geocaching, upgrading yourself to “intermediate level” isn’t that expensive. A premium membership at geocaching.com costs $30 a year, and you can grab a used GPS for less than $50 from eBay or Amazon. Everything else, such as gear bags and hiking shoes, are a matter of preference – or things you might already own. Which takes me to the next point . . .
- It’s another way to enjoy / get your money out of stuff you already own. If you’ve invested in hiking gear, a mountain bike, an off-road vehicle, or other adventuring kit, then you probably don’t mind getting as much use out of it as possible. You’re already hiking, biking, and trucking around, so why not take a few minutes to search up the nearby caches? It’s a great way to add some extra fun and challenge to what you’re already doing.
- It takes you into unexplored territory. I had to laugh when I found my first few geocaches. Two of them were located in trees right off of trails that I’d hiked a dozen times. In fact, I’d probably looked right at the first one on a previous outing and never realized it. The third cache I hunted down was on a trail that I’d never known was there, but I’m glad I discovered. Going down the main road, there was a spot that looked like another patch of tall grass and brush along miles of the same, but once my GPS led me through it, I found a somewhat-maintained trail on the other side. By looking for the geocache, I found a whole new network of trails to explore.
- You can do it nearly anywhere, and with limited commitment. This is also one of the reasons I like photography. You can do it anywhere, any time. You don’t necessarily have to set an entire day aside to go geocaching, just as you don’t have to “plan around” pulling out your camera and taking some pictures. You could be killing an hour at the airport while waiting for a friend to pick you up or driving the back way home when you decide to check out a nearby cache.
There you go; five great reasons to go out and start geocaching! If you’re ready to get started, head over to geocaching.com and search for caches in your area. You may also want to check out the Path Untraveled Treasure Hunt, a geocaching adventure with “real cache prizes!”*
* pun intended.