Have you ever been geocaching before? If the answer is no, they you're a muggle. Muggle is one of many geocaching terms. Geocaching is so rich with lingo, there is a glossary of terms. But perhaps it's geocaching itself that you're not sure about - not just the words.
When I first heard about geocaching, it sounded pretty pointless. The instructions are simple: Use GPS coordinates to find something hidden. I figured since everyone has a smart phone with GPS, there couldn't be much of a challenge. That was until we tried it and couldn't find any, not even the easy ones that had been found by geocachers just the day before we tried. And, more frustrating, the day after! Over the coming weeks and months, we kept checking geocaching.com only to learn that people kept finding the caches that alluded us. They wrote things like, "TFTC" (thanks for the cache), "TFTH" (thanks for the hide), and "TNLNSL" (took nothing, left nothing, signed logbook). We were one of only a few wannabe cachers that wrote "DNF" (did not find) with a sad face.
A year later we mustered the courage (and found the time) to try again, this time with dogged determination. As before, we used the GPS on the phone to find the spot that matched the coordinates written in the geocaching.com website. It was the same spot we'd searched before. We kept looking for 10 minutes, getting dirty and desperate. You never have to dig to find a geocache, but this particular cache was hidden among a man-made object with cobwebs and dust. The description on the website often has a few clues and there is a hint, which can be revealed if needed. Reading the most recent activity where others' describe their search can be helpful, too. Soon we resorted to the hint, which didn't give it away, but filled us with a fierce conviction to find the elusive thing. A couple of minutes later, it was found, there was glee, and we were hooked!
With the disclaimer that I am certainly a beginner cacher, here are 5 things you need to know to get started:
- Create an account at www.geocaching.com to find geocaches in your area. You can also use the Geocaching app.
- Find a geocache in your area. Head to the coordinates and start looking.
- Geocaches are often (but not always) small weather-proof boxes or tubes that contain a logbook and possibly a small trinket, which you can take if you swap it for something of similar or better quality.
- Remember that you never need to dig for a geocache. It'll be hidden in plain sight, more or less.
- Once you've found it, sign the log book, return the cache to it's secret spot, and log your find on the website or app. Be sure not to let any muggles spot you!
Geocaching is another fabulous excuse to get outside and explore a new area, all the while maintaining the health of your inner gadget geek. Kids love it! And often dogs can come, too.