Ohhhhh Geocaching. Although it’s not a backyard game, we felt it was appropriate to write about because the Backyard Buffs wouldn’t be around today if Geocaching hadn’t graced us with its goodness. Geocaching is one of the reasons why we like to just get out in the fresh air and go on adventures.
Here’s a fun backstory of us: Back in the early stages of Merek & Cassidy’s relationship, they were living in the California Bay Area just getting to know each other and becoming friends. Each night after they would get home from long days of work, the sun was still high in the sky, the weather was great, and they wanted to get outdoors. Merek introduced Cassidy to the wonderful world of geocaching. Amazing little treasures hidden all throughout the city, trails, and mountains for anyone to find. You may have been walking by them everyday for years, but never even knew they existed! All you have to do—download an app, follow the clues, and find the treasure!
“Amazing treasure” may be a little misleading. Typically, it’s something like an old pill bottle camouflaged with brown duct tape and filled with some coins, little trinkets and a piece of paper to write your name down saying you found it. The triumph of finding the cache is satisfying enough, so the letdown of what’s inside isn’t bad! Besides, you get to sign your name and hide it in plain sight away from , so who needs treasure anyways?!
Cassidy talking here—I remember one of the first geocaches that Merek had me find… we took a walk around a neighborhood to the edge of a busy street. The clue had something to do with the street name, and quickly I found street name inscribed on the curb of the street. By the curb, there were quite a few rocks, but one looked just a bit different than the others. Well, it was a fake rock! Picked it up, slide off the bottom and voilà! The paper floated to the ground where I happily wrote my name as a finder of the geocache.
Side note: even cooler was a note in the cache’s description that told about the history of the area before it was developed and filled with houses. On the curb next to where the cache was hidden was the old street name, etched but only visible to those with eyes to bend down and see it. Visible only to those looking for it.
Side side note: some of the coolest things about geocaching is the history you learn and the creativity you see that people have. The caches that you find are made and hidden by regular people like you and me. Many times people find ingenious little nooks and crannies to hide things in. Or even design an apparatus especially made to hide the treasure. For example, someone drilled a hole in a gate at a park in Merek’s hometown. Any unsuspecting person who walked through the gate hundreds of times would never notice or know that pulling a pin from the drilled hole would cause a hidden geocache to fall out the bottom. So many other creative hiding spots are just waiting to be found. The history: many times the creators of the caches spend time telling stories about local history and incorporate it into the cache. Areas may have a series of caches that tell a story or highlight historical tidbits from the area.
From there, we literally went geocaching night after night, talking and getting to know each other while driving all around the Bay Area. A great way to get to know someone I might add. First of all, it’s free! Second, it gives you lots of time to chat…. and flirt!
How can you get in on the action? It literally is as simple as we described.
- Download App
- Look around your area via the map and see what geocaches are around!
From the picture shown below, you should see some Green dots, Gray dots, and some Smiley face dots. (I apologize to the color blind because it’s very likely the color description I gave is inaccurate for you. 😉)
What do each of the colors or icons mean?
– Smiley Face: You’ve found that geocache before! Yippee!
– Green: A geocache just waiting to be found by you
– Gray: “Premium” geocaches. (You have to pay an app subscription in order to get the clues to these ones.)
As you click on each geocache, there are a few areas to take note of. (As highlighted in purple below.)
First, Navigate. When you are near the geocache, click navigate in order to see your positioning relative to the geocache’s hiding spot. This helps you to know that you are going in the correct direction. It won’t lead you directly to the location, but within a good 20 ft radius so that you aren’t searching forever in the completely wrong area.
Second, Log. This one is easy enough… once you have found the geocache log it and make sure the smiley face pops up on your map! Great satisfaction, I’m telling you. It also gives you the ability to log if you Did Not Find (DNF). Lastly, you can also leave some comments if there is some maintenance needed, or some other note.
Third, Hint. We probably use this one a bit too much, but we don’t like rummaging forever… click on this to get a quick hint! It doesn’t typically give the location away, just helps you look in the correct spot. (In a large tree vs. the bushes 5 ft away.)
Fourth, Activity. This may be one of the most important buttons when pre-planning your geocache hunts. Before we leave to a geocache location, we like to take a look at the geocaches that we are targeting that day. Click on the activity to make sure someone else has found the geocache in the last few weeks!! If it has been months since the last person found it, or if you are seeing quite a few DNF’s (Did Not Finds), it’s probably not worth looking for that geocache. Try another!
Other common questions:
Should you pay for the app? There are plenty of Green, meaning free geocaches, to begin your adventures with. If you and your partner or family or whomever get really into it, then yes we think it is worth purchasing! We had a paid account for a bit and enjoyed that it opened up quite a few more options for us. We’d suggest possibly just getting it for a few months, like the summer months, and then downgrading for a while. I don’t think it’s something you should pay for continually unless you are going at least 3+ times a month.
TFTH/TFTC: Thanks for the Hunt, or Thanks for the Cache
Muggles: Non-geocachers. Make sure you don’t look too suspicious to the muggles! (Honestly though, any group of people rummaging through bushes looks sketch. 😂)
One final note: Before spending hours trying to find a geocache that has gone missing or is no longer where it should be, check in the app to see when it was last found. If all the last logs are people saying that they couldn’t find it, then it’s likely that it’s either hidden really well or not where it’s supposed to be.
What do you think? Are you going to go Geocaching this weekend? Give it a try! You won’t regret it!