GEOCACHING: VIRTUAL HUNT FOR SOMETHING REAL

by Giselle Cruz

Friday, March 16, 2018

Treasure hunting is no longer strictly for kids (or the kids at heart). In fact, it has just been taken to a whole new level. This may excite the inner youngster in you, but wait—this is quite a far cry from searching for Easter eggs or toys your Grandpa hid beneath your garden fence. Drop the old school style of treasure hunting. You need more than just soft skills here; yes, you need a mobile device and an app that connects you to the “treasure” and other “treasure hunters”. This is more like an outdoor hobby for the techies, only that your scope of search covers the entire world: literally any place on Earth where satellites can detect location. This pushes the internet age we’re living in further; with our world getting smaller and technology affecting our lives more and more. Yes, this is where the virtual world meets the real world.

Welcome to the world of Geocaching, the new playground for the technophiles.

 

Where It All Started

Geocaching started in May 2000, in Oregon, USA where the first official GPS-located cache was found. A man named Dave Ulmer hid his stash far out in the woods and not too long after, the accuracy of these satellites was confirmed when Ulmer’s cache was tracked down using a GPS-receiving device, which in today’s time can be any simple smartphone. The concept, although now digitalized by use of GPS coordinates, is actually not so new. A similar hobby called letterboxing which originated way back in 1854 involves hiding boxes in public areas. When letterboxing started, the initial goal was to post letters or post cards when you chance upon them, through clues spread around by printed catalogs or by word of mouth. Although letterboxing still exists today, various types have appeared and are no longer limited to letters planted in the wild. Fast forward to 2018, geocaching became the new bigwig in this genre, now gaining so much popularity especially in high-income countries like Europe and the Americas. However, there are now millions of geocaches worldwide, and there has been practically no geographical limits placed so far, except of course for the usual ethical considerations such as respect for private property and prevention of public alarm or danger.

 

How It Works

Essentially, GPS (or Global Positioning System) communication is used by the players to look for caches’ coordinates anywhere in the world. From a set of coordinates, the geocacher searches for the hidden cache contained usually in a weatherproof box. The creativity of hiding and disguising the cache surely could get creative. Caches come in all shapes and sizes, from a nano that’s smaller than a nickel to as big as a storage box. It is a fun outdoor pursuit of items that are of more sentimental than commercial value. It is great for individuals and families alike, although statistics say that geocachers cater mostly to the middle-aged and young professionals’ population.

Geocaching Fun in Different Forms

Geocaching has evolved into 3 categories: paper log, paperless or event. Caches with paper log come with a logbook where the geocacher who found the cache can log their code as a proof that they found it), whereas paperless caches vary in virtual methods, such as through physically embedded USB ports, QR codes or on-site webcam shots. Event caches, on the other hand, are like invite-only events attended by geocachers who happen to find that specific cache. Furthermore, a wide variety of geocaching methods has been introduced in recent years.

Geohashing

One variation of geocaching is geohashing, an active sport where, in contrast to geocaching, no item is to be found in the location. Rather, the players aim to visit as many “dashpoints” as possible and log what they find within a specific time frame.

The World's First Ergonomic Tablet Stand & Briefcase In One.
The ultimate accessory for freelancers & digital nomads...

Click to Learn More

Stratocaching

The game has been taken to the next level in stratocaching—where objects called “radio seeds” are released into the sky via a module flew up to 30 kilometers high up into the stratosphere and fall back into earthen land for geocachers to find.

Scubacaching

Yes, you read that right. Geocaching has been taken beneath the surface. This is very similar to the traditional geocaching, but underwater this time.

Abseil Geocaching

Abseiling, or rappelling, is roping down a rock or a vertical surface where the challenge lies on the height and angle of descent. This is definitely not for the faint-hearted, hunting for a cache as if abseiling was not difficult enough.

 

The Fun and Thrill of Geocaching

As with any other hobby, it is no longer a surprise that people do invest in geocaching. They spend time, effort and money to find geocaches. A few types like ones called puzzle caches and multi-cache are very similar to the style of the popular US TV series Amazing Race, where one clue leads to another. With multi-cache, a geocacher discovers the coordinates for the next cache, as if advancing to the next level, until you reach the final cache where the log book is. So geocaching not only involves walking or driving to the cache but even traveling by air and sea in long distances in some cases. Thousands of online groups have been put up as a way to gather geocachers per city or locality. What keeps this activity fun is the surprise element in what to find and where. If you’ve heard of Pokemon Go, this game reaped millions of dollars in revenue, and its cache merely involved virtual Pokemon characters but with geocaching, players usually get a small tangible prize, besides of course, the credit for your find. In turn, the players are usually expected to contribute a new prize to the cache and keep the game going.

Conversely, geocachers may have different objectives for completing the tasks. Most may be for recreational purposes, but some may be educational, some may be for money (if the game involves money prize), and some are even dedicated for environmental initiatives like Cache-In Trash-Out events where geocachers do activities like cleanups, tree planting, and other environmental activities. Positive reviews of geocaching recognize the hobby to be exciting as it pushes you to explore the outdoors, fulfill a sense of achievement, to improve one’s physical and environmental literacy, to create bonding time among geocachers searching together and simply to create opportunity for real physical activity, as opposed to the increasing occurrence of sedentary lifestyles due to our attachment to technology and the comfort of our own WiFi connection at home.

The Future of Geocaching

It feels amusing to imagine what the future of geocaching would be like, perhaps they may up the hunting to tougher levels and start to incorporate money or use it for other more critical purposes. Whether or not this craze is expected to last, geocaching gives us a glimpse of the kind of activities of the future generation. Non-technological hobbies like reading books, playing sports and musical instruments become less appealing as the world continues to thrive in its digital bubble and bridges the gap between the realms of the real and the virtual world.

by Giselle Cruz

by Giselle Cruz

Friday, March 16, 2018

Giselle Cruz is an avid freelance writer, a foodie and a full-time solo traveler. She is a mainstay of the outdoors and loves hiking, sunsets and hammocks.

Read more at cruzwithme.com

Buy GEOCACHING & Accessories

Garmin GPSMAP 64st, TOPO U.S. 100K with High-Sensitivity GPS and GLONASS Receiver

Friday, March 16, 2018

by Garmin
Rugged, Full-featured Handheld with GPS, GLONASS and Wireless Connectivity 2.6" sunlight-readable color screen High-sensitivity GPS and GLONASS receiver with quad helix antenna Preloaded TOPO U.S. 100K maps plus a 1-year BirdsEye Satellite Imagery subscription 3-axis compass with barometric altimeter Wireless connectivity via Bluetooth® technology¹ or ANT+™ GPSMAP 64st features a 2.6” sunlight-readable color screen and a high-sensitivity GPS and GLONASS receiver with a quad helix antenna for superior reception. GPSMAP 64st includes a 3-axis electronic compass with barometric altimeter, wireless connectivity, and preloaded TOPO U.S. 100K maps plus a 1-year BirdsEye Satellite Imagery subscription. Explore the Terrain GPSMAP 64st comes with a worldwide basemap with shaded relief and is preloaded with TOPO 100K, which includes coverage of the full U.S., including Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico. Plus it includes a 1-year BirdsEye Satellite Imagery subscription — all the tools for serious climbing or hiking. Map detail includes national, state and local parks and forests, along with terrain contours, elevation information, trails, rivers, lakes and points of interest. Get Your Bearings GPSMAP 64st has a built-in 3-axis tilt-compensated electronic compass, which shows your heading even when you’re standing still, without holding it level. Its barometric altimeter tracks changes in pressure to pinpoint your precise altitude, and you can even use it to plot barometric pressure over time, which can help you keep an eye on changing weather conditions. Share Wirelessly Share your waypoints, tracks, routes and geocaches wirelessly with other compatible devices. Your friends can enjoy your favorite hike or cache without waiting for you to plug in to your computer — simply press “send” to transfer your information to another Garmin handheld. GPSMAP 64st also connects to compatible Garmin devices, including VIRB™ and accessory sensors, including tempe™, foot pod and heart rate monitor. Stay Connected With Smart Notification you can wirelessly receive email, texts and alerts from your compatible iPhone® 4s or later. Stay connected without having to dig into your backpack for your smartphone. Keep Your Fix With its quad helix antenna and high-sensitivity, GPS and GLONASS, receiver, GPSMAP 64st locates your position quickly and precisely and maintains its location even in heavy cover and deep canyons. The advantage is clear — whether you’re in deep woods or just near tall buildings and trees, you can count on GPSMAP 64st to help you find your way when you need it the most. Add Maps GPSMAP 64st comes with a built-in worldwide basemap with shaded relief, preloaded TOPO 100K and a 1-year subscription of BirdsEye Satellite Imagery for a photo-realistic view. Adding more maps is easy with our array of detailed topographic, marine and road maps. With 8 GB of onboard memory and microSD™ card slot, you can conveniently download TOPO 24K maps and hit the trail, plug in BlueChart® g2 preloaded cards for a great day on the water or City Navigator NT® map data for turn-by-turn routing on roads (see maps tab for compatibility). In addition, the 64st is compatible with Garmin Custom Maps, a map format that allows you to transform paper and electronic maps easily into downloadable maps for your device, for free. Find Fun GPSMAP 64st supports paperless geocaching with 250,000 preloaded caches with hints and descriptions from Geocaching.com, and has a 16-hour battery life. By going paperless, you're not only helping the environment, but also improving efficiency. GPSMAP 64st stores and displays key information, including location, terrain, difficulty, hints and descriptions, which means there’s no more manually entering coordinates and paper printouts! Slim and lightweight, 64st is the perfect companion for all your outdoor pursuits. Plan Your Next Trip Take charge of your next adventure with BaseCamp™, software that lets you view and organize maps, waypoints, routes and tracks. This free trip-planning software even allows you to create Garmin Adventures that you can share with friends, family or fellow explorers. BaseCamp displays topographic map data in 2-D or 3-D on your computer screen, including contour lines and elevation profiles. It also can transfer an unlimited amount of satellite images to your device when paired with a BirdsEye Satellite Imagery subscription. ¹GPSMAP 64st is a Bluetooth® Smart device and can wirelessly sync with compatible Bluetooth® Smart Ready phones. Contact your provider to verify if your phone is compatible. The Bluetooth® word mark and logos are registered trademarks owned by Bluetooth SIG, Inc. iPhone is a trademark of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries.

$263.67 on Amazon.com

Tech WTF is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.