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A Complete Guide to Geocaching

Introduction - What is Geocaching?

Geocaching is a real-life treasure hunt that, if you’re like me and dreamed of being a pirate as a child, fulfills your wildest dreams and beyond. It brings you to new places near and far using only a GPS and an app. I recently have been searching for a way to connect myself with my natural surroundings and fulfull my need for adventure. Geocaching has done just that! Continue reading for a beginners guide to finding a chache. And then... happy hunting!

My First Geocache

As I began walking Clarkson University’s Munter Trail in Potsdam, NY, I eagerly took out my phone and clicked on the Geocaching app. A little green symbol popped up on my map, indicating that there was a medium-sized cache hidden only .2 miles away. While navigating, I was able to enjoy the view of the beautiful Raquette River (a great feature of geocaching -- you get to go to cool places!). The hard part came when I reached the approximately 20 foot radius that the cache might have been in. That’s when I had to start hunting on my own. A cache can be in a tree, on the ground, behind a rock, or more. I was having a hard time searching, so I chose to see one hint that helped point me in the right direction. After a hefty amount of time scouring the trail, trees, and surrounding shrubbage, I finally found the cache wedged between two large rocks. I got so excited! I carefully removed the box and opened it up to reveal the inside contents. The first thing I did was sign my name in the log book, and log the find in my app. Then, I searched through the treasures! My favorite item was a little toy princess. I didn’t bring anything to leave, though, so I locked the cache back up without taking anything. It’s important to only take if you can also give something of equal or higher value! I rehid the box in the same position I found it, and carried on to enjoy more of the Munter Trail. To learn more about the Munter Trail and its surrounding area of Potsdam, read Day Trip: Potsdam.

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How I Learned to Geocache

It's so easy to learn how to geocache that I self-taught myself in only one day. More specifically, I used Youtube and other online platforms for a quick learning process. Geocaching.com has great introductory and advanced videos on their website as well as their Youtube channel “Geocaching.” I took diligent notes so I wouldn’t forget anything.


Must-Know Basics

  1. Download the Geocaching app (or find coordinates on geocaching.com)
  2. The app will tell you where to go - there is a GPS navigation feature embedded within
  3. All geocaches have a name and a description
  4. Once you get 20-30 feet near the cache, start looking with your hands and eyes
  5. Stay on or near the trail. Be careful not to harm vegetation or disrupt the natural area
  6. When you find the cache -- sign the log book and log your find on your profile
  7. If you brought a treasure to leave, you can take one to keep
  8. Difficulty Rating: How much of a mental test finding the cache will be on a scale of 1-5 (1=easy, 5=most difficult)
  9. Terrain Rating: How much physical excursion is required to find the cache on a scale of 1-5 (1=easy, 5=most difficult)
  10. Caches vary greatly in size (micro=smallest, large=largest, other=irregular shape)
  11. Always bring a pen for log books
  12. Geocaches will never be buried, but also won’t necessarily be on the ground
  13. For extra help during your search, check the ‘recent activity’ and ‘hint’ features
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