Saturday, January 27, 2007

Geocaching

I mentioned geocaching in my last two posts. I dabbled with the hobby a while back. Geocaching is a modern take on treasure hunting. People hide small containers (rubbermade containers, ammo cannisters, etc.) filled with cheap trinkets and a log book and record the GPS coordinates at www.geocaching.com. The searchers plug the coordinates into their GPS and search for the hidden booty. When they find it they record their find in the log book and on-line and if they want they can exchange one of their treasures for one in the cache. There are rules like the cache cannot be buried and it has to be publicly assessable - no private property unless you have permission from the owner. The swag really isn't the point of this hobby - finding the cache is. The search can be harder then it sounds. GPS devises are only accurate to about 10 meters (33 feet) If you have a lock on the right satellites you can get the accuracy down to 3 meters (10 feet). The GPS will get you in the area but it can still take time and bushwhacking to find the treasure.

I had heard about the hobby years ago on TechTV. I eventually bought a GPS on eBay and the wife and I did our first caches in nearby Ventura. The wife lasted about three caches. After that I did all the rest alone. I have to admit that I prefer hiking alone since I tend to have a faster pace then the wife. Hiders try to place caches in interesting places. For awhile I was using geocaching as a way to find interesting hiking trails up in the hills. I was introduced to quite a few interesting places and cool hikes. Unfortunately a large number of the caches are located in urban areas which do not interest me. I like the silence of the trail. I have kind of slowed down the past few years. For awhile there I was hitting a new trail every weekend. I think I started to run out of places to go - actually I ran out of trails within easy driving distance. The mountain trails were replaced with the easier beach walks. I need to go through some of the new caches in the area and hit some more trails. Maybe I'll start looking for places to hike this spring. I haven't really seriously geocached since 2004. From August 2001 to July 2004 I found 67 caches. This number is quite small compared with other enthusiasts. To give you an idea, there are 3,428 caches within 50 miles of my home. I have hit less then 1.8% in the area. I have done two in Alaska, three or four in Hawaii, and one in Iowa. All the rest were in California.

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