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Originally published in Fireside Embers: The Voice of Colorado FCRV - Family Campers & RVers, April-May 2011 Edition Volume XXXX Issue 2
Over the River and Through the Woods, and Even Near Grandma's House
All over the world, there are over 1.3 million containers hidden by perhaps 5 million people that refer to themselves as "geocachers." These containers, called geocaches, range in size from a nano, a little larger than a pencil eraser, up to a 5-gallon bucket or larger. The name comes from "geo" for location and "cache" for a hidden stash of supplies. There is one on the outside of the International Space Station and one at the bottom of the ocean. Some are handicap accessible and some require special equipment like climbing gear or scuba tanks.
This sport or hobby or obsession of geocaching started in 2000 when the powers that be removed the random error that was built into the GPS satellites. That stands for Global Positioning System for those of you that don't get out often. On May 3, 2000, Dave Ulmer wanted to test the newfound accuracy of the GPS system and hid a 5-gallon bucket near Beaver Creek, Oregon. He then posted the coordinates on a GPS users group site on the Internet. Other users soon went out and found the "stash" as he called it at the time.
Today, anyone can look up geocaching.com on the Internet and sign up for a free account or a for-fee premium account. Then, enter an address, coordinates, or intersection and find nearby caches, and the hunt is on. The thrill is in the finding. After finding a cache, you sign the log located inside and, if the cache is large enough, it may contain trade items (toys and trinkets). In these cases, a cacher will take something and leave something. Then re-hide the cache for the next person. Most caches are called traditional, where the cache is at the coordinate. There are also earth caches that are a special place that people can visit to learn about a unique geoscience feature or aspect of our Earth. You may like more of a challenge and look for a multi cache. These have clues at the location that will take the cacher to other locations until they get to the cache. Still others are puzzle caches. These involve some kind of puzzle or riddle to be solved, like a Sudoku, math, logic, or a cipher.
Geocaching is a natural companion to RVing. When planning a trip, I often search near our planned destination and even along the route that we will be traveling. Many of you like to hike trails or ride bikes while camping. GPSrs have the ability to record a track and count the miles toward your SPC totals. The hunt for the caches can take you to a scenic overlook or a secluded beaver pond.
There are thousands hidden in the Denver area. I have found parks that I never knew existed and met other cachers while trying for a FTF or attending event caches. A FTF is a "First to Find" a new cache. You may have walked past a hundred caches and never known that they were there. We even found one across the street from the Chapter Officers Workshop recently.
A basic GPSr (GPS receiver) can be purchased for about $100. Higher end GPSrs can go for $300 or more. I have found them on eBay for less. there are also apps for some of the "smart phones" that can use the capabilities built into the phone. These have some limitations and may cease to work when outside of the range of the call towers.
The coordinates of the front gate to the Morgan County Fairgrounds are N 40 15.066 W 103 37.668. There are 21 caches hidden within a 10-mile radius of Spring Fling. I would like to invite those adventurer seekers in our midst to join us in finding a few of the caches around Brush, and learn about this sport. Doug4E, a Rocky Explorer, will conduct a seminar on Saturday at Spring Fling.
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