Ok, so anyone who knows me knows that I need a new hobby like most women need more shoes. In spite of that, my neighbor took me hiking on Saturday, and she taught me about geocaching, and about the tags the orienteering clubs put on trees to find. These two things turn any walk in the woods into a treasure hunt. I followed up by taking my husband out the next day to find some more.
This isn’t the first time I had heard of geocaching. We had signed up on the website back in 2007, and had never done anything about it. For the uninitiated, or “muggles”, and the website calls them, geocaching is where you hide a waterproof container with whatever you want, usually a notebook, some trinkets or coordinates to another site, in it. You then post those coordinates (latitude and longitude) on the website, and other people try to find them. I don’t know if this was played prior to gps’s but they are the standard tool today. When you find a posted cache, you then log it online, as well as sign the notebook if there is one. Obviously, cache’s have to be in public access places, and there are rules, like don’t disturb grave stones if you hide it in a cemetery.
The orienteering clubs have organized events, where people compete to find all the tags in a race. However, they leave them up all year, so if you have one of their maps, you can go whenever you want at your own pace. Their maps are marked with clues like “distinct tree”, being difficult for being open to interpretation.
Both (games?, hobbies?) teach you map reading and navigation skills. They both get you out of doors, walking and hiking. If you are not a big fan of a walk in the woods, there are urban and suburban geocaches, and you still have to do a bit of walking to find them. Even if you are dead on the coordinates, the cache is still hidden, and some cachers take fiendish delight in making them hard to find.
In any case, it got us out this weekend, we practiced our winter survival skills. Never leave home in the winter without supplies! We tested our cold weather gear and had fun.