According to the official Geocaching website, “geocaching is a real-world outdoor treasure hunting game. Players try to locate hidden containers, called geocaches, using GPS-enabled devices, and then share their experience online”. Basically, it’s a hike and a treasure hunt combined.
Today was my family’s first geochaching experience. We have small(ish) kids and we had never done a geocache hike, so we went to the website and picked out a short trail local to us. For this hike we chose a trail in the Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship, an 894-acre stead of beautiful forestry, streams, wildlife and more.
We did a few things right today and we made a couple of mistakes.
Although we checked the weather before we headed out, I think we underestimated it a little, at least for the sake of the kids. We should have worn hats and we forgot sunscreen and bug spray. We wore loose, light-colored clothing but it consisted of shorts – a big no-no when hiking in the woods – and t-shirts.
We did manage to remember rule #1: stay hydrated! Each member of my family has a personal Camel Back hydration system – I will forever recommend these! If you don’t own one or have never heard of Camel Back (gasp!!), run, don’t walk, to your local outfitter and get one! It’s a little backpack lined with a bladder meant to be filled with water and it has a drinking hose attached. Some even have extra pockets for keys, snacks, etc. The photo below shows my “team” wearing theirs. Yes, my little girl even found one in pink. We also brought both our cell phones, checked in at the trail office, and grabbed a trail map, despite the fact we had a hand-held GPS with us (turning left into a bog is NOT my idea of fun).
Following the geocache GPS coordinates, we hiked the trail with the goal of finding the trail prize. We had no idea what we were looking for or what it would look like. The person/people who hid the prize did a great job! We did find it but we had to actually use our brains a bit (double gasp!) because it was well-camoflaged.
Can you see the cache?
Here it is!
All totaled, we hiked roughly 2 miles. The kids had a great time, we all got some exercise, and we got a really great prize at the end. No, not the geocache prize (although that was kind of neat), the more important treasure of family togetherness.