Geocaches are currently placed in over 100 countries around the world and on all seven continents, including Antarctica. There are over 820,000 active geocaches in the world right now.
"RICK, MEET GEOCACHING"
I first was introduced to this "geocaching" hobby by my friend Todd in San Francisco. He told me how he and his son would hike all over to find these hidden boxes using his GPS.
LET THE GAMES BEGIN
Now that I was back home in Connecticut I decided to give this game a try. I looked on the geocaching site and I found that there were hundreds of caches hidden in Connecticut and some right in my home town.
I quickly fired up the geocaching app on my iPhone, kidnapped my little nephew for company and set out to find my very first cache on my own. It was an easy one. The GPS on my iPhone took me right to the place I needed to be. It was "The Old Stone Church" (the oldest stone church in the country, built in 1774) that was right down the street from my house.
A clue that was given to where the box was hidden read "under the old stone". That was about all we had to go on. We knew we were in the right area because out GPS told us so. I knew that there was a good 15-20 feet radius that the GPS could be off, so with my nephew's help, we started looking under every "old stone" we could find.
After a good 45 minutes I was getting discouraged. Sammy, my 3 year old nephew, was bored and it was starting to drizzle out.
"I failed", I thought to myself. As I walked toward the parking lot defeated, I looked up at the church door and I noticed the sign above it said "Old Stone Church". I then looked down and noticed the stairs leading to the door were made out of the same brown stone as the church itself. In one last ditch effort I walked over to the stairs and looked around them. There it was, tucked neatly behind a crack in the stone stairs. It was a small film canister. I quickly opened it and inside was a scrolled up piece of paper which I took out. On it was a bunch of names of the people who found it before me. I signed my name, along with Sammy's. I them returned the canister back to it's hiding place and off we went with anticipation of finding our next cache.
I had no problems with Chris bring his small child, after all, how hard could this one be? I found the first two caches quickly and I didn't even break a sweat. So on a sunny, Sunday afternoon we set out to find the cache on the Sleeping Giant.
The GPS took us to an old rock wall hidden in the woods on Sleeping Giant. The clue was "about 3 feet up from ground level." That was easy enough. So after almost an HOUR, Chris found a small canister hidden in this massive old wall. We opened it and in it was coordinates leading to the "real cache box".
I punched in the numbers in my GPS and it set us a path on a map on the iphone. I figured it was up the path, maybe a quarter mile or so. It was nice and sunny out and we had all day so I thought a nice hike through the woods would be fun.
As we scaled rocky vertical paths and walked along cliffs that would send us plummeting hundreds of feet straight down with one slip of the foot, I feared the wrath of Chris' wife if I returned without one or both of her family members. Sweating fro the beating sun, dirty and out of breath we finally found our destination a couple hours later.
Hidden within a pile of rocks and boulders was a toaster sized metal box. We quickly opened it and in it was all sorts of treasures, from match box cars to coins. After signing the scroll, we told James, Chris' son, that he could pick anything he wanted out of the box.
After looking through the numerous treasures, James chose a stick with a point. Kind of like a stick you would stab a vampire with. James figured that we were deep in the woods of Sleeping Giant and the sun was going down and you never knew when bear or lion would jump out and then we would all be thankful he chose the one thing in the box that would save all our lives. So with Chris and James and his pointy stick, I returned the box and we headed out back to the car. We beat the Sleeping Giant!
I would soon learn that geocaching could be very easy, with finds that were nearly in plain sight and then there was the hard, like the one we found hidden a good 30 feet, deep down in a rocky pit where the only way in was through a hidden cave.
In our short time in playing this game we had scraps, cuts and bruises... and we almost lost Chris when he tumbled down a jagged rocky slop, causing some really cool looking cuts.
This geocaching hobby is addicting. It's the challenge of finding what is hidden from you. It's the mystery of the hunt and the satisfaction of the find.
My suggestion to you if you decide to try geocaching is to map it out before you leave. Try not to do it alone. Bring a cell phone. Bring gloves, water and some snack food. Have fun. This is a web site where you could learn all about geocaching and how to get involved. Seriously, it's great fun so check it out!
Here are some pics from out geocaching adventures so far.
Rick, James and Mike with the "Pit" cache find!
This is a typical "canister cache". It usually contains a log book or scroll to sign.
Chris and his son James coming out of the cave that leads to the "Pit".
Huge find on "The Sleeping Giant".
The "Lizard Rock" clue.
Coordinates that led to the cache location.