GPS devices enable treasure-hunting fun with geocaching | Environment
If you got a GPS device for Christmas or have a phone with GPS capabilities, a whole world of treasure hunting is available at your fingertips. The global game of geocashing turned 10 this year, and now boasts more than 1.2 million geocashe locations worldwide. Never heard of it? Watch the video above for a quick introduction to the high-tech version of hide-and-seek, or keep reading to find out more.
Geocaching (pronounced geo-cashing) is the process of finding hidden containers, called caches, by plugging in their given coordinates to a GPS device. Several smart phones also offer geocaching apps which will also give you coordinates and clues about the cache you're searching for. The website www.geocaching.com is a hub for geocaching enthusiasts to find and post cache coordinates, share their own cache discovery stories and connect with a community of people devoted to this outdoor hobby.
Almost anything can be placed into a durable container outdoors and then listed as a new cache. Once you locate a cache, the rules of the game say you’re allowed to take whatever is inside as long as you replace it with something of equal value for the next geocacher to find. Each cache is supposed to have a log book to sign as well, so that geocachers can see who came before them and leave their own mark.
You can click here to see a list of the various types of caches that can be found. Some of them involve additional puzzles or clues besides the GPS points which will lead you to the final cache. The caches often have descriptions on the website to help geocachers have a clue about what they’re looking for (such as "traditional cache, a one-quart size Ziplock container with a dark blue lid") and are ranked in levels of difficulty. People of all ages and physical fitness levels have found geocaching to be a fun and rewarding way to track down potential treasures while spending time outside.
Geocaching.com lists more than 20 caches just within less than a one-mile radius of the Fox 6 WBRC studio. A Birmingham Weekly article featuring geocaching said more than 1,200 are hidden in a 15 mile radius of Birmingham. You can search your own zip code to find out how many are hidden around your neighborhood. Sounds like a great way to use technology to explore the great outdoors! We just might have to go on our own cache-hunting adventure and get back to you about what we find.