What is Geocaching?
As we look forward to the North Wales Mega 2016; Extreme North Wales asks “What exactly is Geocaching?” The hobby is often described as, “using multi-million pound satellites to find Tupperware in the woods” and to be fair, that’s not a bad summary!
Generally speaking, a geocache is a hidden container with notepaper inside. When you find the geocache, you sign the paper (referred to as a log) as proof of your find.
They often contain items that you can swap or trade; like toys, stickers or badges. This makes geocaching a fun activity for children too. The general rule is that if you take something from the cache, you leave something of equal or greater value.
The exceptions to this rule are Trackables and Geocoins. These are items that move around from cache to cache. They have a unique code on them that allows their journey to be recorded.
But where are the caches hidden and how can you find them? A geocache can be hidden pretty much anywhere that it won’t be found accidentally (assuming that you have permission to put it there!). Some examples are; amongst the roots of a tree, underneath a bridge, or even on the underside of a park bench!
When you hide a geocache, you record the co-ordinates (latitude and longitude) so you can tell other people where to find it later. You use a GPS enabled device to do this. Most Smart Phones can download apps that will show exactly where you are on the planet, or you could invest in a dedicated GPS device like the eTrex 10 from Garmin.
At the time of writing, there are well over 2.7 million geocaches active worldwide! The quickest way to find your nearest, is to search on www.geocaching.com or to download the Geocaching Intro app from Groundspeak. My nearest cache is 150ft away from my house; but to be fair, I hid it there!
The Intro app is excellent, as it will (literally!) walk you through finding your first cache. You just search for the nearest to your location and off you go.
So now you know the basics of geocaching, but we have only really scratched the surface! There are at least 18 different variations of geocaches, including Puzzle Caches, where you have to work out the co-ordinates from clues and Earthcaches that encourage you to learn about a special geological location.
So what is a Mega-Event cache? Well, a regular Event cache is a gathering of geocachers from the local community, who organise a meeting at an arranged location. By attending the event, you get to log a find that counts toward to your total. A Mega-Event is an Event cache that is attended by 500+ people and they can attract visitors from all over the world.
On Saturday 6th August, Llangollen in North Wales will host the annual UK Mega. You can find out more information on the official site www.mega2016.org.uk Extreme North Wales is proud to be supporting the North Wales Mega and we hope to see you there!