Caching Wisdom

Okay, show of hands. Who’s already used their Wisdom Token widget yet?

 

I know some of you out there are veteran geocachers. You’ve been blazing trails up mountainsides and plunging across rivers to leave your Wisdom Token in some hidden cache for another searcher to find.

 

On the other hand, some of you probably got wind of the need to navigate technology, and quickly stashed your tokens in a drawer!

 

I’m somewhere in the middle. I know what geocaching is. And I’d heard my friends’ stories. But I’d never actually tried it out myself. So I thought I’d dive in and see if I could uncover some wisdom to offer other first-timers.

 

There are a number of web sites that provide the coordinates for “geocaches”—small containers hidden anywhere, from neighborhoods to parks to hiking trails. The top one appears to be (go figure):

 

www.geocaching.com

 

You do have to create an account, but the basic level is free. The simplest way to use it is actually to download the Geocaching app onto your smart phone.

 

Yes, you do need a smart phone or other GPS device. But if you don’t have one, we’re guessing at least a handful of your fifth graders do!

 

(The intro version of the app is free, though you can access more caches by upgrading. A quick search for “free geocaching app” shows there are plenty options out there.)

 

Once I allowed the app to access my location, it immediately showed me three caches on the map within a few miles. There was “Zax Attack” near our local Zaxby’s, “Bridgemill Barbie” in a nearby park, and “Memories”—well off the beaten path, placed by Team Pink Elephants.

 

How could I resist pink elephants? My dog and I set off in search of adventure.

 

From a dead end road, we cut back through the woods (public property), and scrambled down the hill to the location indicated by the GPS. I promise: if that coordinate had been emblazoned on the earth in bright orange, I was standing right one it.

 

Nothing there.

 

Though caches can be hidden or hung, they can’t actually be buried in the dirt. I searched thoroughly in the recommended 30-foot radius. True confessions:

 

I. Didn’t. Find it.

 

Now, in my defense, I only had a few minutes, we’d just had several days of major leaf fall, and I was wrangling a dog who had picked up on the scent of something even more exciting than a pink elephant. (That would be a cat.)

 

I did, however, discover some valuable wisdom:

 

  • Leave yourself plenty of time to hunt
  • Take along a friend with sharp eyes
  • Leave the dog at home next time!

 

Will there be a next time? You bet. I’m just getting started.

 

What about you?—Have you been geocaching yet? Any tips for beginners?

 

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