My newest hobby is an odd thing called geocaching. It involves going out with your smartphone (or other GPS device) to find containers cunningly hidden by other people. What’s the point? Well, I find it a fair bit more interesting than just going for a random walk. Some of the caches are quite challenging to find and there’s a sense of satisfaction when you locate one. Each cache has at minimum a log for you to sign. You also log your find online.
I got into this following a talk at the ALIA Information Online conference by Andrew Spencer who blogs as Geocaching Librarian. He put a really nifty mystery cache inside his library, people have to solve clues in order to locate it.
This inspired me so I decided to give it a go. When I went to the Geocaching website, I expected to see a few caches around Perth. To my great surprise, Perth was liberally coated in them. The nearest one to my house was less than 300m!! At this point, Craig and I signed up for accounts on the website, downloaded the free apps and went to find some. It was bizarre to both of us that there was this secret world that we’d walked past for so long without knowing about it.
Soon we were learning about the different types of caches and finding trackables (special travelling items that get moved by people from cache to cache) and moving them along. I have even assembled a geocaching bag that includes useful items such as a telescoping magnetic probe, an angled mirror and tweezers. This may sound crazy, but some caches are VERY small and can be challenging to retrieve. My bag also includes little toys and knick-knacks that I can add to caches to replace swappables I take out.
At some point I heard about night geocaching and dismissed it as crazy talk. It didn’t sound very appealing in the summertime, but then I met another cacher who raved to me about a cache that was set up especially for night cachers including reflectors that shine in the light of a torch. I checked the site and found two in the hills not far from our place so we decided to give them a try. Craig’s very bright cycling headlamp came in extremely handy.
The first time I saw the reflectors shining off into the distance in the dark was so magical. It was like something out of a Miyazaki movie, I just bounded along in my eagerness to follow them. This particular night cache even had solar lights set up at the cache location, the people who created it went to a great deal of trouble. The second night cache we found that night was harder. Since the cache had been set, someone had put up a large wire fence. We were undeterred and crawled under the fence. At one point I got a face full of spider web and Craig narrowly missed walking into a spider also. We were so pleased with cracking these two night caches, we decided to have a go at a few regular caches on our way home. Much to our surprise, they were easier to find in some respects than they would be in daylight. Ever since then, we have been out night caching on a number of occasions.
Today we went out and placed some caches for others to find. I’ve been planning to hide some in my local area for a while now and I’d even prepared some small containers by spray painting them in drab colours and assembling contents for them. We ended up placing two and when I got home, I created the pages for them on the geocaching site. My first cache was published very promptly and an incredible 30 mins later it had been found by some extremely keen cachers! I’m looking forward to my second cache being published and seeing who gets to it first.
In the meantime, I’m going to continue to hunt more down. I’m nearly up to 150 finds (including one at Perth station and another up the top of the DNA tower in Kings Park!) It’s a great hobby, I totally recommend it. 😀