Adventure #49: Play High-Tech Hide ‘n Seek.
Geocaching is something I had heard about over the years but never tried. Of all the adventure suggestions posted to my Facebook page, the one that has come up over and over again is Geocaching. Many have said that it makes for a fantastic (and free) family-friendly Burlington adventure.
Geocaching is played all over the world. The official Geocaching website says that there are now 2 million official Geocaches to be found.
By visiting Geocaching.com and searching for Burlington, Ontario, you’ll discover that there are dozens of hidden caches placed all over our city — often in places you’d never suspect. Look at how many are in the Orchard community alone!
Panning over to the downtown core, there are many here as well. New caches appear all the time. Within days of the opening of our new pier, a cache with the name “14 Million Dollar Cache” was hidden. Someone
has a sense of humour!
One reason that I hadn’t tried geocaching before was because I thought I would need a special GPS device to take part. Turns out, pretty much any GPS enabled smartphone or tablet will work with the right app.
I took my iPad and visited the Apple App Store to download the official Geocaching app for $9.99. The fun we’ve had since has been worth every penny.
With the app, we were able to track our exact location on the map and navigate towards our first cache hidden in the woods near our house.
I quickly learned that the GPS and the Geocaching app will only get you so far. Once we reached the coordinates of our destination, it was up to us to find the cache.
Being our first cache, it took us a lot longer than I expected to find what we were looking for hidden in a random tree stump. All caches are rated for experience level. I realized that we should have started with a beginner cache in a park somewhere to build our skills before searching for a cache hidden in the woods.
Caches can be hidden in plain sight or very cleverly disguised. For example, I read about a girl who carved a hole in a log, stuck a Geocache inside, attached a swinging door to cover it, and turned the log door-side-down to look like part of the scenery. That’s an example of an Expert level cache.
We found our second cache stuck on the underside of a bridge crossing a creek.
This cache was stored in a magnetic key container. Smaller caches like this one simply contain a miniature log book for successful treasure hunters to sign.
Other caches include actual treasures that you can take with you, and in return you are expected to leave something of equal or greater value behind for the next treasure hunter.
Thankfully most geocache descriptions contain optional hints to help you find the treasure if you get stuck. Without a hint, I don’t think we ever would have found this cache hidden in a camouflage container hanging from a string tied to a tree branch.
When you leave a cache, close it up securely and re-hide it in the exact same place and manner in which you found it for the next person to find.
One rule of geocaching is not to let any “Muggles” (non-geocachers) around know what you’re up to. No one can see you remove or replace the cache, for this is a very secret society you’ve entered!
This one was hidden way up high. I had to stand on my tip toes to access it as I hammed it up for the camera.
Want to learn more about Geocaching? See the intro video below.
By the time an hour was up, we had uncovered four caches. At one, Jr Burlington selected a small pencil sharpener as his “treasure” and we left a figurine in its place. We replaced the cache (making sure no “Muggles” were watching) and headed back home, heads held high as we were feeling quite accomplished.
My son later took his pencil sharpener for Show & Tell and we began talk of hiding our own cache somewhere for others to find.