Cache is King: The Geocaching Phenomenon Continues to Grow

Written by: Amanda Wilson

GPSThis is a story about one of those phenomena that you’re either completely hooked on or you’ve never heard of. The phenomenon is called “geocaching,” and it was created in 2000, when GPS devices were just starting to become widely used. Geocaching is a real-world, outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices. Participants navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates, and then attempt to find the geocache (essentially, a container) hidden at that location.

Geocache 101

There are now more than five million geocache enthusiasts seeking out an excess of two million geocaches around the globe, PlumasNews reported. The most passionate geocachers sometimes travel over harsh terrain on special geocaching tours to exploring unique destinations in a new way. These tours showcase entertaining geocaches designed to introduce travelers to unfamiliar locations. If you decide to take to the road to become part of a tour, you’ll need a suitable vehicle to traverse the environment. The Toyota 4Runner has been named “one of the best SUVs for a backwoods adventure,” according to a 4Runner review by U.S. News.

It’s common for participants to hide caches in locations that are important to them or reflect a special interest of the cache owner. These locations can be quite diverse and may include the local park, under a rock at the end of a long hike, underwater or on the side of a city street. Common cache contents include a logbook, unusual coins or currency, small toys, ornamental buttons or anything that will fit inside the container.

Moreover, common objects moved from cache to cache, called “hitchhikers,” whose travels may be logged and followed online. So if you don’t feel like traveling far to find a geocache, you can opt instead to let your geocache do the roaming. Geocachers can track trinkets online as the participants make their way around the world like a virtual tourist. Though the treasures themselves may be minimal, a huge part of the attraction of the game is the thrill and adventure of the hunt.

Geocache Challenges

There are varying levels of difficulty you can choose when playing. “Hide & Seek a Cache” on contains caches with difficulty ratings of 1 to 5, related to how challenging the hiding place is to find. “Traditional” caches (more than a dozen “cache types,” with each type being different) consists of, at a minimum, a container and a logbook with coordinates that provide the exact location. Etiquette dictates that finders can keep a trinket inside the container if they replace it with something of similar value.

It’s not surprising that we have a computer consultant to thank. In May 2000, Dave Ulmer wanted to test the accuracy of the then-newly universalized GPS technology by hiding a navigational target in the forest. He coined it the “Great American GPS Stash Hunt,” the official geocache site states. The idea was simple: hide a container out in the woods and note the coordinates with a GPS unit. Little did he know that his idea would grow into a worldwide activity with millions of devoted participants.

About the author: Amanda is an entertainment writer from San Antonio.

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