Geocaching. (pronounced \ˈjē-ō-ˌka-shiŋ\).
Merriam Webster explains it as a game in which players are given the geographical coordinates of a cache of items which they search for with a GPS device.
I first heard about geocaching several years back when my neighbor told me she was out on a geocache excursion with her kids. I had never heard of it before and was blown away to hear that all over the world people have hidden little treasure boxes that you can search for, record your name, take a prize (replace the prize) — and no one disturbs them or steals them! It intrigued me and I had to find out more about it. My daughter and I got the geocache app on my phone and we set out to try to find one. We didn’t quite understand how to use the app at the time and felt silly walking along the highway where it brought us, so we gave up quickly. A few years later I was talking to a friend about it and we decided to give it a go. I was out on a hike near Calumet Trail and pulled up my app again. It looked like there were several located along the trail so I figured I would be able to find at least one. And I did! It can take some time, there are big ones and small ones, some with prizes, some with just a log — but they are out there and it’s always fun to find one.
There is an entire community of geocachers out there. You can find much more out about it at geocaching.com. You can also sign up on the website which allows you to log in your finds or even hide a few of your own.
I find on spring or fall days when you’re looking for something more than just a hike, it can be a fun way to spend the day — especially with kids! My daughter gets a kick out of trading her toys for something new. It can bring you to new places, give you an adventure at a place you’ve been many times before and gives you something fun to do while vacationing. I’ve found it’s more fun to go with someone else because if you are in an open area people will start to look at you a little strangely when you start searching around a lamp post or bench for too long!
Fun geocache facts:
• There are 2 million geocaches worldwide
• They come in many different sizes, shapes and difficulties
• There are both urban and rural geocaches
• There are magnetic boxes that are hidden under benches, in newspaper dispensers, phone booths, just about anywhere!
• Some of the best local areas to go explore are Moon Valley (between stop 2 and Karwick in Michigan City), Calumet Trail and many of our city and county parks.
The Indiana Dunes State Park puts on a geocache event each year. Dig the Dunes got out and filmed one a couple years ago. Full video can be viewed here.
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Keep diggin’ those dunes!