Geocaching: Modern-day treasure hunting

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Marco paused a moment to catch his breath. His heart pounded with exhilaration, for he was only moments away from making his very first discovery. He looked down at his map once more; this was definitely the place. He scoured the surrounding area looking for any sign of his precious prize. High and low he searched, but as time passed and the sun beat down on him he began to feel the first trace of discouragement begin to set in.

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Finally losing hope, he threw himself down onto the ground, sure now that he’d never find his treasure. However, as he sat there hopeless, Marco noticed something he’d somehow missed before – a small opening in the thick bushes adjacent to him. Could it be? Cautiously optimistic, he reached into the thick briers, farther and farther until his fingers felt the cool touch of metal. Barely containing his newfound excitement, Marco pulled the object from the brush to reveal what he had been searching for all this time: his very first geocache.

If you’ve ever thirsted for a taste of treasure-hunting adventure like Marco, you don’t need a pirate ship, crew, or enchanted compass. Not anymore, anyways. All you need to enjoy a good “X marks the spot” experience is your smartphone and your feet. But before you grab your peg leg and cutlass, here’s everything you need to know about geocaching in the Rexburg area!

What Is Geocaching?

Simply put, geocaching is an enormous game of multi-terrain hide and seek. However, instead of looking for people, participants look for metal containers of diverse sizes hidden in obscure locations. After obtaining coordinates from the web, players use a GPS device or a smartphone to travel to the indicated location. There are no directions, just a single point on a map. Once they’ve found their way to the coordinates, the real search begins. Caches can be hidden just about anywhere; up in trees, between rocks, in bushes – wherever the person who placed it was creative enough to hide it.

Geocaches come in many different shapes and sizes, which adds to the difficulty of the hunt. They can come in the form of anything from a military ammunition box to a film container. Many contain some sort of log so that each person who finds the cache can record their name, and the date they found it. They’re also filled with a collection of all sorts of knick-knacks from which the finder can take any one item, as long as they have a knick-knack of their own to leave in its place.

How Does Geocaching Work?

You may be asking yourself where all of these geocaches came from. No, they weren’t left by aliens (as far as we know anyway), but by volunteer geocaching enthusiasts who simply have a love for the activity. Hundreds of thousands of these enthusiasts interact via forums on the activity’s most official website. These community members create, approve, and maintain geocaches, all for the fun of it.

What Do I Do?

There’s very little standing between you and your first treasure hunt. Follow these quick steps and you’ll be on your way in no time.

Step One: Get an account

The first thing you’ll want to do is sign up for a free account with Geocaching.com. This will allow you access to their enormous database of geocaches, search for caches anywhere, log your finds, create your own caches, participate in helpful forums, and more.

Step Two: Get an app

Unless you’ve got a GPS tracker lying around, you’ll be using your GPS-enabled smartphone to track your targets. All you need to do this is an app that allows you to connect to Geocaching.com’s database. There are several apps that can do this, and the one you choose is entirely up to you. Some are free, others cost around 5 bucks. “Looking4Cache Lite” is a decent one, and offers a free trial of their premium app. “Cachly” has the best reviews on the App Store and only costs $4.99. Once you’ve chosen your app, use the login information you used to create your online account to access registered cache locations.

Step Three: Plan your hunt

Either online or on your app, choose which geocaches you want to search for. Don’t just choose one; pick one that’s farther away, and then choose caches to search for on your way there. Remember that your phone has to have a good signal to display maps and your location, so if you plan on venturing outside of cell range, be sure to take several screenshots of your maps so that you can still figure out how to get to the area in which the cache is hidden.

Step Four: Go for it!

Now it’s time to get out there and start looking! Geocaches can be found anywhere from right on the BYU-Idaho campus to mountaintops to the bottom of lakes, so what are you waiting for? Get out there and find your very first treasure.