Looking for adventure? Try geocaching

Nature-filled GPS-guided search and seek.

Leatherman Variant of the Public Domain Geocaching Logo.

Liimes, Public domain, Wikimedia Commons

Leatherman Variant of the Public Domain Geocaching Logo.

I first heard about geocaching when I was a girl scout in fourth grade. During one of our camping trips, we were given this strange GPS-like device and told to travel to a certain set of coordinates. I don’t remember if we found anything that day, but I was reminded of their existence again after reading a childhood book that briefly mentioned the activity. I was intrigued and discussed it with my boyfriend who relayed his own experience of geocaching with his aunt. The idea of trekking through nature in order to find a mysterious container of unknown goods excited me.

I asked my boyfriend one day if we could go to a nature park and he agreed. I had downloaded the official geocaching app and loaded it up. According to the app, there was a geocache nearby. When we got to the coordinates, we searched around the area for the supposed geocache but had no luck. I was disappointed, but at least I got to spend some time in nature with my boyfriend.

A few days later, we ventured onto another reservation. I once again pulled out my geocaching app, determined to find at least something. We pinpointed one nearby and started heading in its direction. We searched around the general area of the geocache, relying on other people’s comments within the app for guidance.

A small metal cylinder wrapped with camouflage tape: my first geocache. (Logan Colman)

Just as we were about to give up, my boyfriend announced that he had spotted the geocache. We excitedly picked it up. It was nothing more than a small metal cylinder wrapped with camouflage tape. We unscrewed the lid and peered into its contents. The bounty itself was unextraordinary, some highlights were a plastic ring and a ponytail elastic. Nevertheless, I was ecstatic to have found my first geocache. I quickly snapped a photo and sent it to my mom as proof that I was doing more than just sitting in my room playing games.

I highly recommend geocaching for everyone, in particular those who love nature or like mobile games such as Pokémon GO. It’s a great activity for those who wish to get out in nature but do not want to just wander around aimlessly. Geocaching gives the hike a sense of purpose and rewards the adventurer for their travels. It also allows you to experience nature in a profound way. It gives you an excuse to venture off the beaten path and do a bit of cutting through the brush.

If this is the activity for you, I have a few suggestions.

Wear long pants and shirts that you are comfortable in and have no problem getting dirty. Some caches could be in cluttered areas or surrounded by poisonous plant life.

Download the geocaching app and make sure your phone is fully charged. You will be able to document your finds on the app, but many geocaches have a small notepad inside so you can sign your name and the date you found the cache.

Bring a pen just in case the cache doesn’t provide you with one. If you would like to take something out of the cache, bring a small item that you can put inside of it. If you take something out, you have to put something in.

Bring a friend or two. Exploring the wilderness or any secluded area could be unsafe, and geocaching is just more fun with friends.

Lastly, be patient. Just because you don’t see the geocache right away doesn’t mean it isn’t there. Check the activity on the app to see if people’s comments give you any clues as to where it might be.

Keep in mind that geocache containers come in many different shapes and sizes. Some are the size of a small toolbox while others are designed to blend in with their surroundings. A geocache my boyfriend found recently was shaped like a piece of wood and hung on a low-hanging tree branch.

Next time you find yourself in a park or nature preserve, I highly recommend that you load the geocaching app and check to see if any lie near you.

Logan Colman is a freshman. She can be reached at [email protected]