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On this page I briefly explain GeoCaching.

In a nutshell: GeoCaching is a game where you use your GPS to locate a hidden "treasure". It is hard to predict where you will find the cache and what's in there, but hey, that's the fun of it.

For GeoCaching one can use for example the yellow Garmin eTrex or like I did with a green Garmin eTrex Venture (well any Garmin eTrex, but most other GPS-receiver brands will also do).

Note: for real usefull info on GeoCaching, please visit GeoCaching.com (English), GeoCaching.de (German) or GeoCaching.nl (Dutch). The information on this page originates most of it from them!

More info on how GPS works, can be found here.

GPS - GeoCaching - where is the cache?

Overview

What is Geocaching?

Geocaching is an entertaining adventure game for gps users.

Participating in a cache hunt is a good way to take advantage of the wonderful features and capability of a gps unit. The basic idea is to have individuals and organizations set up caches all over the world and share the locations of these caches on the internet. GPS users can then use the location coordinates to find the caches.

Once found, a cache may provide the visitor with a wide variety of rewards. All the visitor is asked to do is if they get something they should try to leave something for the cache.

Othernames for this type of game is The GPS Stash Hunt. Geocaching has become the standard for the game, however.

The word Geocaching broken out is GEO for geography, and CACHING for the process of hiding a cache.

A cache in computer terms is information usually stored in memory to make it faster to retrieve, but the term is also used in hiking/camping as a hiding place for concealing and preserving provisions.

So what's the big deal? You gave me the coordinates so I know where it is. Seems pretty easy.

It is deceptively easy. It's one thing to see where an item is, it's a totally different story to actually get there.

When the GPS signal degradation called Select Availabilty (SA) was removed by the Clinton Administration May 1st, 2000 (statement), it opened up the possibility of games like this one.

On May 3rd 2000, a container of goodies was hidden by a someone outside of Portland, Oregon - in celebration of the removing of Selective Availability. By May 6th the cache was visited twice, and logged in the logbook once.

Mike Teague was the first to find the container, and built the first web site to document these containers and their locations that were posted to the sci.geo.satellite-nav newsgroup.

What is a GPS device?

A GPS unit is a electronic device that can determine your approximate location (within around 6-20 feet) on the planet.

Coordinates are normally given in Longitude and Latitude. You can use the unit to navigate from your current location to another location. Some units have their own maps, built-in electronic compasses, voice navigation, depending on the complexity of the device.

You don't need to know all the technical mumbo jumbo about GPS units to play Geocaching. All you need to do is be able to enter what is called a "waypoint" where the geocache is hidden. On this website, more info can be found on the subject of WayPoints.

How to play Geocaching?

To play, you'll need to know how to enter waypoints into your GPS unit.

Geocaching is a relatively new phenomenon. Therefore, the rules are very simple. Naturally we startout by locating the cache. Then:

1. Take something from the cache
2. Leave something in the cache
3. Write about it in the logbook

You can even start your own GeoCaching. Visit the GeoCaching website for more details.

So what is usually in a cache?

A cache can come in many forms but the first item should always be the logbook.

In its simplest form a cache can be just a logbook and nothing else. The logbook contains information from the founder of the cache and notes from the cache's visitors. The logbook can contain much valuable, rewarding, and entertaining information. A logbook might contain information about nearby attractions, coordinates to other unpublished caches, and even jokes written by visitors. If you get some information from a logbook you should give some back. At the very least you can leave the date and time you visited the cache.

Larger caches may consist of a waterproof plastic bucket placed tastefully within the local terrain. The bucket will contain the logbook and any number of more or less valuable items. These items turn the cache into a true treasure hunt. You never know what the founder or other visitors of the cache may have left there for you to enjoy. Remember, if you take something, its only fair for you to leave something in return. Items in a bucket cache could be: Maps, books, software, hardware, CD's, videos, pictures, money, jewelry, tickets, antiques, tools, games, etc. It is recommended that items in a bucket cache be individually packaged in a clear zipped plastic bag to protect them.

What shouldn't be in a cache?

Use your common sense in most cases.

NEVER put Explosives, ammo, drugs, and alcohol in a cache.

Always respect the local laws. All ages of people hide and seek caches, so use some thought before placing an item into a cache.

Food items are ALWAYS a BAD IDEA.

Animals have better noses than humans, and in some cases caches have been chewed through and destroyed because of food items in a cache. Please do not put food in a cache.

Can I move a cache once I find it?

Unless there's a note in the cache containing instructions on moving it to a new location, don't move the cache! Responsible cache owners check on their caches occasionally and would be alarmed to find theirs missing.

An alternative would be to have a hitchiker, which is an item that you can move from cache to cache. An example of this is a candle that has travelled from Australia to Arizona, and a Mr. Potato head that leaps from cache to cache. All you need to do to create a hitchiker is to attach a note to it for folks to move it to a new place.

You can also purchase a Groundspeak Travel Bug, at the GeoCaching website.

Are there any variations in the game?

YES! We strongly encourage it, actually. Geocaching is a game that constantly reinvents itself, and the rules are very flexible. If you have a new idea on how to place a cache, or a new game using GPS units, we'd love to hear about it. Some examples -

Offset Caches - They're not found by simply going to some coordinates and finding a cache there. With the Offset Cache the published coordinates are that of an existing historical monument, plaque, or even a benchmark that you would like to have your cache hunter visit. From this site the cache hunter must look around and find offset numbers stamped/written in or on some part of the marker site, or continue based on instructions posted to geocaching.com
Multi-caches - The first cache gives coordinates (or partial coordinates) to the next location, or multiple caches have hints to the final cache.

Virtual caches - A cache is actually an existing landmark, such as a tombstone or statue. You have to answer a question from the landmark and let the "cache" owner know as proof that you were there.

How long do caches exist?

It all depends on the location of the cache and its impact on the environment and the surrounding areas. Caches could be permanent, or temporary. It's up to the cache owner to periodically inspect the cache and the area to ensure that impact is minimal, if not nonexistant. When you find a cache, it's always a good idea to let the cache owner know the condition as well.

Periodically, Geocaching.com will review each cache to ensure that everything is still current. We cannot guarantee that a cache will exist at any given time, but we'll do our best to ensure the list is as current as possible.

If you do find that a cache is missing/defaced, please let the cache owner know as soon as possible!

Where can I Start ? Where to get more information ?

Well, start by visiting the GeoCaching website near you.

The base website would be GeoCaching.com. If your German speaking, then please consider GeoCaching.de, or for Dutch speaking people start at GeoCaching.nl.

Content reprinted with permission of Grounded, Inc.
Copyright 2002 Grounded, Inc. All Rights Reserved


 

 


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