Geocaching Dogs Unite!
I have to share one of my favorite pastimes with you, and that is geocaching with my dogs. Truth be told I am into this “sport” because of the quality time I get to spend with those I love, furry and not so furry. It seems like almost every weekend we are out geocaching with our pack, and it is truly a blast!
For those of you newbies, Geocaching is an outdoor activity in which the participants use a Global Positioning System (GPS) to hide or seek containers called “geocaches” or “caches” anywhere in the world. Now, that last part is the part I want you to focus on, you can literally do this almost ANYWHERE in the world, including Antarctica! My significant other recently retired from the Navy and he is the one that turned me onto this sport, he has geocached throughout the world.
A typical geocache is a small to large waterproof container containing a log book so that you can log the date it was found. Larger objects like Tupperware containers or Ammunition Boxes (ammo boxes)contain items for trading such as children’s toys, trinkets, and sometimes scratch off lottery tickets. Some geocaches can even be camouflaged; we have a fake rock cache in our front yard!
Geocaching is described as a high tech game of hide and seek, or treasure hunting! What’s not to like about treasure hunting? Hints are sometimes provided to help you when you struggle. Caches can be hidden in trees, in holes, under leaves, in fallen logs, under rocks…anything but burying the cache is acceptable.
This is a wonderful activity for children because it is fun and exciting. If they take something from a cache they should leave something in return. There are even items called “travel bugs” which can be followed online and usually have specific destinations. For example, I am getting ready to travel to Salt Lake City, UT to visit my sister so if I find a travel bug that’s destination or goal is to go west, I will take it with me and deposit it in another cache for another person to find and help take it to its ultimate goal.
There are also puzzle caches that require information or solving a puzzle to locate the cache, and multi-caches that contain one or more points containing coordinates for the next stage or the final locale of the cache. There are even doggy themed caches. The options and types really are almost limitless and can appeal to children and adults of all ages! Simply put, its just a lot of fun and free once you have the equipment.
What about your dog? Well, this is the part I like about geocaching I can find hiking trails and secluded areas that I would never have known existed, without geocaching. I have been to some of the coolest places and had some of the best hikes of my life! You can determine just how difficult you want to make things on yourself by looking at the degree of difficulty.
Geocaches are located in cities, in city parks, on trails and even in people’s front yards. The great thing about it is that you can decide just what you want to do each day. I like trails as I mentioned because my dogs get out and get to walk, and I too like a good hike. To find a trail system you put in your zip code or the zip code where you want to go and then you click on search with Google maps this will bring you to a visual map.
If you want to find some hiking trails you click on the satellite button and you can zoom into the cache area. If you see several caches off in a green area it is usually a park or trail system. We like finding several caches on the way to the trail and then many along the trail!
If you want to do “park and grab” caches they are normally located right next to streets and roads, hidden in bushes or trees and are fairly easy to park, grab, and go. On colder days or days with questionable weather we hit a few of these and the dogs go along for the ride.
The costs are quite nominal, first you must invest in a good handheld GPS unit that you can use on the trails. You can borrow GPS units at some state parks. Although geocaching is free, if you want to become a member you can go to geocacing.com and they will provide you with a listing you can upload to your car GPS and some hidden caches that only members can see. You can also log all your finds on line and get to know others in your area that enjoy caching! You can even ask for help or pointers if you just can’t seem to find one! You can even find apps for your Droid and IPhones!
If you like nature and enjoy getting out of the house and exploring, I highly recommend it! If you just like hiking with your dog, use the website to help you find some hidden trail systems that you might not have known about! But, either way just get out there and have some fun with your favorite furry person, well, and your family too if you decide to invite them along!