Geocaching is a global game of hide and seek. A geocache is a hidden container with a logbook that can be found using GPS coordinates. What I find most fascinating is that many geocaches have been ‘in the wild’ for up to seventeen years, and geocaching often leads to discovering interesting places that you never knew existed!
Geocachers generally play the game the way they want to, but there are three main rules:
- Don’t let anyone see you retrieve the cache
- Put it back exactly where you found it
- Sign the logbook and log it online
That is basically it, however there are many etiquette rules with geocaching. Some of these include:
- Practice cache in trash out (CITO)
- The container should suit the environment
- There should be a reason that a cache is placed in a certain location
- Respect the environment – generally you wont need to trample anything
- Caches are to be maintained by the cache owner (CO)
- Cachers should report damaged or missing caches to the CO
- If swag swaps are made, trade up and not down
- Respect each other and have fun!
These are more guidelines rather than rules, but the more you play the more you will learn, and hopefully discover what makes it enjoyable for you. Treat caches as if they were your own. Attending an ‘event cache’ (a gathering of cachers) is another way to learn more about how to follow the hidden rules of geocaching.
Caches are ranked according to difficulty and terrain. While again there are no solid rules, generally a terrain of one is wheelchair accessible and a five requires specialist equipment, such as SCUBA gear or, for the really keen, a ticket on the next space shuttle. In difficulty ratings a one is hidden in a standard hide, such as a road side guard rail (known as a park and grab cache) and a five could be a nano (a cache about the size of ten stacked five cent pieces) hidden among a rock pile. When it comes to finding them some people search for hours, and some set themselves a time limit, its best to stick to what your most comfortable with, but generally about fifteen minutes is enough. The more you find the easier it gets, and eventually you will have what they call the ‘geocachers eye’, which means being able to spot a likely hide from a distance.
There are many different types of cache, but the three main types are:
- Traditional – Cache located at the given coordinates
- Multi – Information available only at the coordinates is needed to find the cache
- Unknown – A puzzle that needs to be solved before the coordinates are available
For the others visit – Geocache types
The physical caches come in many shapes and sizes, and everyone has their nemesis and favorites. I prefer gadget caches – these are puzzle boxes that require you to solve before you can sign the logbook. I don’t dislike any cache – park and grab mint tins are my least favorite especially if there is no story or reason to take me to the location.
That’s about it – 3 simple rules, and a few guidelines just to get started. Like any hobby the more involved you get the more you will learn. The application from Groundspeak is free to find non-premium caches (CO’s decide this) and about $45 a year subscription if you want to find any cache. So grab your phone and a pen (or two) and see what is closest, with three million hidden worldwide there is bound to be one nearby.