GEOCACHING FOR BEGINNERS

Geocaching is my addiction. Since June, 2005 I’ve logged almost 9800 finds, travelled many thousands of miles, hiked and kayaked for hours. I’ve climbed trees and crawled into a drainage pipe. We geocachers are a crazy bunch, willing to do almost anything just to put our tag on a small piece of paper tucked into a container hidden by a fellow addict. 

When I began caching it was with my dog Bruno, so my geocaching “handle” is “JerseyGirl&Bruno”. 

jg

When Gizmo came into my life he became a geodog from the start, and he even has his own handle “LittleGizmo”.

lg

GPS operates through the use of 24 satellites, paid for by the U.S. government but free for the world to use, that are orbiting the earth. Originally this satellite navigation system was intended for military use and therefore the signals were scrambled. On May 1, 2000, President Bill Clinton announced that this scrambling, known as Selective Availability (SA), would be turned off at midnight. Geocaching began on May3, 2000 when Dave Ulmer hid a container in the woods and posted the coordinates online. That container was found within a day and geocaching was born. There’s a slogan all geocachers know: “I Use Multi-Million Dollar Satellites to Find Tupperware in the Woods.”

The primary listing service for geocaches around the world is www.geocaching.com. Today there are over 5 million geocachers worldwide and over 1,675,269 active geocaches to hunt. There are extreme geocaches, or “caches” hidden at the tops of mountain peaks and under the sea. There are “urban caches” hidden at convenient locations in nearly every city and town, and there’s even a cache on the International Space Station.

The geocaching.com website is free to use, though for a nominal annual membership fee geocachers get some special benefits that become useful if you continue in the sport. Anyone can go to the site, enter their zip code and see all the caches that are close to home. I bet that every one of you drives past a dozen or more every day and never know they’re there.

Over the last few years geocaching has become a great vacation activity. Cachers will plan their vacations around areas that are rich with hidden geocaches. For example, I live near Disneyworld in Florida and my small town sees hundreds of visiting cachers each year, many from outside the United States, who drive over to cache after “theme park burnout”.

So how exactly do you find a geocache? First you visit the geocaching.com website and sign up for your free membership, then visit the Hide & Seek a Cache page, where you’ll enter your address or zip code, select the distance from home you want to go,  and click “search”. Here’s a screenshot of what the list looks like when I do a search for caches within a one mile radius of my home address:

hide and seek

Pick a cache from the list you see and click on the name.  Let’s choose Anchor’s Aweigh and see what we find. Every cache is identified by what is called a “GC Number”. You can see above that the GC number for “Anchors Aweigh” is GCMC3M. That’s the number you’ll use to locate the cache after you’ve found it and you’re ready to post your log, so make a note of it.anchor

The numbers in bold, N 28° 01.679 W 081° 56.913  are the GPS coordinates for the location of the cache. You enter those numbers into your GPS and you’re ready to go cache hunting! The rest of the cache page gives you more information on the cache and possibly even a clue.  Caches are rated for Difficulty and Terrain on a 5 Star scale, with 1 being easiest and 5 being pretty darn hard. Cache size can be anywhere from a ‘micro’ that’s smaller than your pinky fingernail to ‘large’ … and I’ve seen some really large hides, like a giant boat cooler in the woods in North Carolina.

So the coords (geocacher-speak for coordinates)  are loaded into your GPS…now what? Before you leave home you can read through the “logs” posted on the cache page by those who have visited the cache before you. (More about logs in a minute) You probably want to print out the cache page so you have the information with you. Always (and I mean always) check to see that you have a pen or pencil with you (yes, I’ve forgotten mine and had to use the “charcoal the end of a stick” method to get a writing implement). Drive yourself to the cache location, get out your GPS and start following it towards the treasure.

Geocacher University is one of my favorite geocaching resources. There’s a lot of great material there, including an excellent guide on how to find your first cache. They explain the hunt far better than I could, so do go and check it out for a detailed guide. They even have a “cheat sheet” you can print and use to enter information about the cache you’re hunting and some useful tips and tricks

Inside the cache you’ll find, at the minimum, a log. Sign the log with the date and your geocaching handle as proof that you made the find, then close up the cache and carefully replace it right back where you found it. If the cache was camouflaged  or covered, replace the camouflage as carefully as possible. There you go…you’ve found your first geocache!

The final step is to record your find online by visiting the geocaching.com website again and logging in to your account. At the top of the home page you’ll see a row of options. Select “Play” and from the drop-down menu select the option for “Hide & Seek a Cache”. Scroll down the left-hand “Seek a Cache” column to the box for “Other Search Options” and enter either the name of the cache you found or the GC number of that cache.  Hit “go” to open the cache page and at the top of the right hand side-bar under “Navigation” click on the link for “Log Your Visit”.  Head back over to the Geocacher University tutorial for a great discussion on how to log your find.

I hope I haven’t made this too complicated. it’s really easier to do it than to explain it Smile  I recommend visiting the Geocaching.com homepage where you’ll find a link to their Guide to the Game, as well as a link to their “Geocaching in 2 Minutes” video.

I’ll be posting more about geocaching in the coming weeks, including interviews with geocaching canines from around the world. If you have any questions at all about any aspect of the sport please leave them in the comments and I’ll be sure and answer them all. And if you do go out and hunt a cache please tell me all about your experience.

30/30 Challenge Ticker

Thanks to Two Little Cavaliers for hosting the Saturday Pet Bloggers blog hop

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About Gizmo

Hi! I'm Gizmo...a handsome terrier-about-town with a distinct point of view. I will write about whatever interesting things come across my desk, appear on my twitter feed @GizmoGeodog, or meet me out on the geotrails. I love to geocache cause it takes me to all the wild places & I can get back to being a real dog. I care about all my brofurs & sisfurs who haven't found their own forever homes yet, & raise funds to help them whenever I can. My girl brought me home from the shelter & together we explore our world. I do my best to make her smile, & she does her best for me. We are a team.
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60 Responses to GEOCACHING FOR BEGINNERS

  1. Wow that sounds like great fun for the outdoor types. Adds an extra dimesion and make hicking and the like real fun. I am sure it will get more and more popular. We bet Gizmo loves it. We’d love to hear about some of your searches. Have a terrific Thursday.
    Best wishes Molly

    • Gizmo says:

      It’s a perfect match between hiking and puzzle solving and brings you to places you never would have seen otherwise…Gizmo loves going caching cause it means we’re spending the day outdoors and he always has fun…Happy Thursday!

  2. Dis geocachin’ looks fun. We has a blog furiend (they don’t blog much anymores) that does dis and it always looked like so much fun. It’s a shame my peeps aren’t outdoors peoples. Well my dad is but mum is a different story.

    Puddles

    • Gizmo says:

      Hiya Puddles! Yes geocaching is a great hobby for dog people cause they get a chance to be outdoors together having fun…maybe your dad will give it a try with you

  3. catchatcaren says:

    sounds super complicated to me!

    • Gizmo says:

      It’s really not…it’s just much harder to explain than it is to do…Maybe as the series goes on it’ll start to make more sense to you…the easiest way to describe is that geocaching is a high tech treasure hunt using GPS coords instead of a paper map…I hope I’ll be able to make it easier as time goes on

  4. Ann Paws says:

    I understand it a little bit. This is what I had pretty much learned before when I did some quick research on it because I kept hearing about it and had no idea what it was. If I ever decide to do it one day, I will definitely refer to this!

  5. Marg says:

    Don’t know if we could figure this deal out or not. Looks like a full time project. But it does look like fun.

    • Gizmo says:

      Once you set up an account and find your first cache it’s easy…And it leads you to explore so many new places you might never find otherwise…that’s my favorite part of the sport

  6. That sounds very interesting to me. We could have a lot of fun and I think it’s much better than only to take a walk. I will read geocaching.com tonight with my dad, maybe I’m the geo-easy soon ;o) Thanks a lot Gizmo&mom for this interesting post – It could change my life ;o)

  7. I don’t understand it..BOL we have never heard of that before..Looks great fun though 🙂 xx0xx
    Mollie and Alfie

    • Gizmo says:

      Well Molly, say you’re out for a nice long walk and you get to find treasures too…It’s lots of fun for the hoomins and we dawgs get the extra long walks

  8. Mummy’s only done it once but she had loads of fun, hoping I can do it at some point:-)

    • Gizmo says:

      Misaki you would love geocaching…you’d get to go on a long walk with your hoomins and have lots of fun…Hope your Momz takes you with her next time

  9. Kristine says:

    Wow, so much good information! This really does sound like such a blast. I need to find out where to go in Nova Scotia and maybe give it a shot. Though, I’ll probably wait for the warmer weather. Sounds like a great adventure for this spring!

    • Gizmo says:

      This is my training challenge to you …there are dogs who have learned to sniff out the caches (Gizmo’s not one of them yet 😉 ) so I think you need to train Shiva to sniff them out…I know you two can do it if anyone can 🙂

  10. Will and Eko says:

    This is awesome! All the questions I have are answered in one post. Now time for Eko and I to get out there again, we’re only about 9,799 caches behind you!

  11. Loy says:

    That you love geocaching sure comes through on your blog! I’m glad you and Gizmo have such a good time with it. Happy Hunting! LOL

  12. Woof! Woof! Interesting and Golden Thanks for the clarification. Will check it out! Lots of Golden Woofs, Sugar

  13. This is so interesting. Maybe I can get mum out and about doing this crazy stuff!!

    @DashKitten

    • Gizmo says:

      It is great fun and I know your Mom would have a great time doing it…Make sure and let me know if you have any questions…I’m here to help

  14. Jessica says:

    Interesting! Of course, Silas would likely balk at the last few steps just before we got there.

  15. Wow this sounds so fun!This is something me and my bf I bet would love to do…..now to get a gps thingie and Im on my way!

  16. Hi Gizmo! Soooo, that’s how you do it!! Ever since we met you, we’ve been wonderin’ how one goes geocaching and now we know! We laughed so hard at the slogan…that is too much! Maybe one day we can go geocaching together…you know, after we meet and find out how well we get along. BOL
    Your pal, Oz

    • Gizmo says:

      We will certainly go geocaching together…there’s thousands of hides all around Palm Beach County…There used to one at Lake Ida…I’ll check to see if it’s still there before next month

  17. Jodi says:

    That sounds like a LOT of fun and something I would love to do with the dogs. And yes, I could see myself planning a vacation around it. LOL

  18. What a great obsession. Sounds like it is worth a try. Thanks for introducing us to your love for the game. When summer comes me and mom are going to try it.

  19. Garth Riley says:

    I’ve been curious about geocaching, so thanks for the explanation!

    your pal,
    Garth

    • Gizmo says:

      Garth you are a natural born geocacher…with your love of hiking you’d have a great time…let me know if you give it a try…and I hope your mom is feeling better

  20. Bosun Dawg says:

    Sounds like great fun! Thanks for the detailed information.

  21. We’ve never done any geocaching, but I can totally understand how it could become addictive. Thanks for the great introduction – we just may check it out. I’m sure there are plenty of caches around Austin.

    • Gizmo says:

      I know a number of folks who travel full-time, geocaching everywhere they go…It’s a great way to meet people at every stop. Cachers will always help visitors to their area and there’s geocaching events where all are welcome

  22. That was an excellent explanation, thank you 🙂 Geocaching sounds so very VERY fun! A modern day treasure hunt! I had to tell Cushion about it of course and his response was, “what do you get?” ARGH! Save me from boring men.

    • Gizmo says:

      It is a great way to add “spice” to an everyday walk, as well as help find new places to explore…Tell cushion it’s not about the destination, it’s all about the journey

  23. rottrover says:

    Thanks for explaining this Gizmo! We had no idea WHAT you were talking about before this post – just that it sounded fun! This does ook like a really fun thingy to do with your peep. Thanks so much for the tutorial!!

    -Bart and Ruby

    • Gizmo says:

      You’re welcome! I’d always planned to provide some explanation, and will be talking more about the sport over time. Now that the initial technical stuff is covered I can tell you all about the fun social stuff 🙂

  24. Pingback: TOYS, VEGGIES, BUTTERFLIES & GEOCACHING – BEHIND THE PAW #4 | Terrier Torrent

  25. Zena says:

    Likewise to the thanks for explaining. I haven’t heard of it before. It sounds a great way to get out into the great outdoors, almost like treasure hunting 🙂

  26. Elizabeth Bergesen says:

    That is a great explanation! I was wondering what it was all about – now I am intrigued 🙂

    • Gizmo says:

      Caching is great fun for anyone who enjoys hiking with their dog…There’s a huge caching community in California…Not sure of current stats, but #1 in the world was a cacher in San Francisco last I checked

  27. Yesterday I went to work and they were looking for something to get the kids outside and busy, and they weren’t sure what to do. I suggested and explained caching, and they loved the idea, and loved it even more when the kids came back and had such a fun time!!! This is a great activity, only worry I’ve ever heard is the lack of worry about Leave No Trace principles, other than that its always a good time!

    • Gizmo says:

      Cachers have always promoted “CITO” or Cache In, Trash Out on the Geocaching.com website and by holding CITO events … You can’t make someone pick up that discarded soda bottle, but you can encourage it, educate, and hope the message gets across…Very glad the kids had so much fun

  28. Thanks so much for posting this!! I’ve been really curious about this for years now, but haven’t gotten off my lazy butt to find out more about it. Definitely bookmarking this for future endeavors! We love to fall and winter hike (too many allergies in the spring, and too many migraines in the summer), and this would be such a great addition to our activities.

    • Gizmo says:

      Nikki & Penny, caching is a great outdoor activity for dogs and their people…we’ll be posting more about it and will answer any questions you might have

  29. Roo says:

    Oh this was great info! I am so excited to go on my very first cache hunt with yaz! I hope we have to go through mud or climb a tree or wrestle an alligator or somethin ;D If we don’t have to, then maybe we can do it anyway just for fun Hardy har Har 😀

    Waggin at ya,
    Roo

  30. Pingback: Our Geocaching Adventure’s – Days 2 & 3 | ganderingdreams

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