Geocaching, if you don’t know is an outdoors “game” of finding a hidden prize or cache using a GPS and coordinates. Actually if you are good with a topo map you can do it with the coordinates and a topo map. I found my first several Geocaches without a GPS.
The “game” is about somebody hiding a cache, and then posting the coordinates on the official Geocaching website. It’s at www.geocaching.com If you go to the home page there and enter your zip code you will get a list of the nearest hidden geocaches to your town or more likely a list of geocaches hidden IN your town. When you register as a Geocache participant (make up a crazy name!) you will get the caches listed beginning with the nearest to your house!
There are so many caches hidden in and around Bradford, that you can start from your house without driving anywhere! You can litterally walk out your front door with a GPS unit in your hand.
Most geocaches are hidden in “cool spots” or scenic areas or peoples “favorite places” in the woods. Most are a waterproof container containing a log book and small prizes or “trades”.
The general idea, is to not just take a “prize” or item from the cache, but to “trade” for one, but putting something in for each item you take. You will also log your visit in the log book in the cache AND on geocaching.com on the site for the specific geocache you visited.
Each registered, listed geocache has a webpage with specific GPS coordinates, directions, links to several different style maps, and often clues to find the cache. And the list of logged visits by successful and unsuccessful searchers.
The sport grows every day and is getting bigger and bigger world wide.
The main idea of the sport was to hide a cache “out in the woods”, in a unique spot for others to find. As the sport refined over time it was suggested that caches be hidden in more “out of the way” places or really scenic spots that you could “share” with others.
The “race” began to be the first to hide a cache in remote scenic places before somebody else hid a cache there.
Lately the sport has had a rash of what I call “johnny-come-latelys” or what I might also call “couch-potatoes” who are very prolific at hiding “micro caches” (35MM film containers and such) all over the urban environment.
This type of cache is becoming very prevalent around Bradford. What started as a great sport to get people, and families “out into the woods” or outdoors together (without having to kill animals) … Is turning into an urban, sort of “Marco-Polo” game on land.
There are caches “popping up” where you don’t have to walk too far from your car. Some are in buildings (like the Bradford Public Library) and you don’t even have to search outdoors!
I just find this incredible that a sport intended and designed to get people outdoors and out into the woods is now being urbanized to the point that there are indoor hidden caches.
On the geocache website, the number one suggestion for hiding a cache is that you put it a couple hundred yards from a road so as to make sure somebody who is not “geocaching” doesn’t find it by mistake.
Now we have had geocaches in Bradford (like in the mall parking lot) , where you can reach out your car window and not even leave your car to do a geocache. The local parks are full of micro caches! The new hiking path at Pitt went from one geocache a week ago, to six this week! Do we need six geocaches along a path that is only a mile and a half long?
I have about a dozen hidden geocaches on the geocache site. All are in what I consider a scenic, remote site, even though you can drive a car near a couple of them. They all require at least some hiking or climbing around (some into caves) to locate. Most of my geocaches require some amount of effort to locate. This is my idea of what the pioneers of the game intended.
Unfortunately, because of human nature, the sport is quickly changing, in my opinion, for the worse. Because of some geocachers (now, seemingly the bulk of them) there is sort of a “race” to see who can find more geocaches faster than others. The new drive of the sport is to locate as many geocaches as possible in the shortest amount of time. This feeds some hiders of geocaches to place many “micro caches” , a film container with a small pad or piece of paper in it as a log, in close proximity of a road or parking lot. I've found 7 geocaches in the two years I've been a partisipant. I refuse to do an urban geocache. Walmart has multiple geocaches around it in the parking area!
Besides some people competing to see how many geocaches they can find and how fast, there is another “batch” of people (sometimes the same people) trying to put out more geocaches than others.
I met a guy in Warren this past year who said to me “you have been a geocacher for over a year, and yet you have only put out 7 geocaches and have only found 7 geocaches … what’s wrong with you?” He sounded like he was scolding me for not doing more!
HE is the kind of guy I’m talking about! He has put out dozens upon dozens of micro caches and some look like he just threw them out a car window while he was still moving! MOST of his hidden caches are just feet from where you can park your car.
Then, he had the nerve to complain to me about how “hard” my hidden geocaches are to get to! .... DUDE! THIS is the sport! …. It’s to get YOUR fat rear end off the couch, and out into the outdoors preferably with your family in tow! LOL! I presented this to him in a slightly different wording!
Geocaching is a fun and growing sport, but by all means, if you are going to participate, please do like the originators of the sport intended and get out into the woods!
PS- This sport CAN be done totally for free, buy using the maps provided on the geocache site (GPS is optional), and registration as a "geocacher" is free.