Monday, July 24, 2006


So, a few days a go a buddy from boyscout camp contacted me over MSN. "Do you have a GPS?" he asked. Why yes, yes I do.

Thinking he needed to borrow it for the boundary waters or something, I offered it to him. "Are you free Monday?" He asked next. My curiosity could take no more.

Turns out he needed it for geocaching. What's that, you ask? I know I did.

Basically, you get a starting point, a longitude and a latitude, and some clues, and you go looking for a cache. The cache has various bobbles in it, and a log, so you can let people know you found it, what you took from it, and what you left behind. Apparently, these things are hidden all over the world.

So today we went out into our little corner of that world and found three caches. I won't say where, lest I ruin it for someone looking for geocaching and stumbling upon this site. Suffice to say they were all in Bemidji, this time.

The first was very easy to find. In fact, that was the point, sort of a tune up for future cachers. We got our waypoint, and walked around trying to figure out the clue. Turns out we really didn't need it, as the hiding spot was sort of obvious.

The second one was a bit harder. We actually looked about half a mile in the wrong direction at first. A quick check of the GPS, and a couple former scouts debating about which way North was, and we found the spot. Blake, the aforementioned buddy from camp, went in search of it and actually stepped on it. Since they are hollow, we knew we had hit our mark. We took a couple trinkets from the first one, but the second one was so low we just added a bunch, and took nothing. Still we left our names in both logs, and went on our way.

The third one was very clever. Not only was it off the beaten path a bit, and on a much more obscure pathway through the woods, but the hiding spot itself was amazing. I really don't want to give it away, but the guy used nature in a very unnatural way, and the clues were terribly ingenious. It was a micro-cache, meaning it was a film canister, and that added to the difficulty of finding it. Since it was so small, it had no "treasure", but we logged our visit, and left a coin.

The cool thing about this, besides finally finding a use for high priced GPS units, is the idea that this whole time, on paths we have walked and biked countless times, these little treasures have been hiding. And you can look in the log and see who has visited them, what they left, what they took, where they are from. It is a living treasure, right in your back yard (sometimes literally).

It is such a large concept, with caches hidden in varying difficulties around the entire world! To be a part of that is special, and fun. We got to get outdoors, enjoy the wonderful weather (Thank you , Al Gore, for inventing global warming), and be a part of a much bigger picture.

Of course, the day wouldn't have been complete had we not left our own cache. Simply labeled "Blake and Joshua's First Cache", our cache is in a difficulty rating of 2, in both hiding spot and accessibility. The clue will require some knowledge of American History, and some clever phrase spinning. I look forward to seeing who finds it, and what they think.

For more info, if you haven't already hit the link above, go to www.geocaching.com. You might be surprised at how fun a hobby this can be.

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