Leave your screens for a break and venture into the modern world’s treasure hunt.
Due to COVID-19, many of us have been forced to become homebodies. While spending time outdoors is important, walks can get repetitive and boring in a time of isolation. Why not switch things up?
Introducing your next outdoor hobby — geocaching.
Geocaching is a location-based activity where you hunt for containers using a GPS-enabled device hidden by members of the geocaching community. You navigate to the geocache’s coordinates, find the container, sign the log inside, rehide the container, and then log your find on the Geocaching website.
But rehide the container well, and don’t take it. Searching for a geocache that’s not there spoils the fun for other geocachers.
Geocaches come in all shapes and sizes. Some are larger than a sandwich box, while others are as small as a fingernail. All geocaches hold logs for finders to sign, but some also hold small trinkets to exchange. The rule is that you must trade the items for something of equal or greater value.
The difficulty and terrain of a geocache are each rated on a scale of one to five. A 1/1 geocache might be a simple magnetic key holder in a parking lot, while a 5/5 might require rock-climbing equipment. There is a lot of variety for every kind of geocacher, from the casual to the hardcore.
Besides the physical and mental benefits of getting outside and exercising, including increased concentration and elevated mood, geocaching is rewarding in its own right. The journey to finding the geocache is one of the best parts of the activity. After a long search, the sense of accomplishment you feel when finding a geocache is exhilarating — and celebrating successes has also been found to have health benefits.
Geocaches aren’t only hidden in bus shelters and parks. They can be found on a mountain in Austria, near a cemetery in France and on islands on the South Saskatchewan River that you can reach by canoe. Geocaches are like hidden gems within hidden gems all over the world — you never know what you’re going to find.
Not socializing with other people can take a serious toll on your mental health. Geocaching is an affordable, pandemic-friendly way to socialize with friends and family. Just make sure to still wear a mask and maintain physical distancing at all times.
The best way to start geocaching is to download the Geocaching app by Groundspeak Inc. from the App Store or Google Play. The app’s free version only allows you to find some of the easiest geocaches, but that is enough to see if you like it. The premium version of the app allows you to find every geocache at a cost of $36.79 per year.
Pack all your essentials when going for a hike, including a pen for logging and tweezers for taking the log out of its container. You never know where your search will take you.
So get off your computer and go on a well-deserved adventure. There are geocaches bound to be near you, and waiting to be found. Get outside, have fun and stay healthy while doing it.
Photo: Geocaches come in all shapes and sizes. Supplied | Matthew Taylor