Monday, July 26, 2004


I went out geo-caching for the first time this weekend.  It was a lot of fun.  It kind of makes you feel like you're on a treasure hunt in an old movie.  A few years ago my family gave me a handheld gps for my birthday because I like to go hiking.  I used a few times.  I wasn't hiking as much as I used to.  I'd mainly use it to keep track of how far my wife and I went when we went for walks or when I went running.

Then I heard about geocahing.  You go to and look up caches of things people have hid in your area.  They have a description of what is in the cache, a good starting point, and the coordinates of the cache.  With your gps in your hand, you try to find it.  Sometimes the website will have hints too that can only be deciphered using a key provided on the page.  This lets you try first and then if you get stuck, have a hint to help you a long.

Since this was my first time, I just decoded the hint from the beginning.  I first had to find the park that was the starting point.  I was given the park name, but I was unfamiliar with it and I couldn't find it in the phone book or the internet.  It also gave me the coordinates of the trailhead at the park so I had to find it using the gps.  This proved harder than I thought.  The San Diego area is full of hills and valleys.  It took me several tries to find the road that actually led me to the coordinates but finally I made it.  While my wife and kids played on the playground, I set off down a wide dirt access road.  I crossed a little stream and then followed the road up the other side.  I got as close as I could via the road then I had to bush-whack to the exact coordinates.  Finally I found myself in a small area surrounded by trees with plenty of rock piles here and there.  The gps can get you within a 6 foot radius.  The hint told me to look for it between a couple of big rocks to the west of a bush. Looking around I finally found it under a couple of large rocks.

It was a small coffee can wrapped with gray duct tape with a plastic lid.  It was surprisingly satisfying to have found the object of my search.  I went through the contents which were mostly random plastic toys that probably came out of kids meals at fast food restaurants.  I found the pencil and notebook in a plastic bag where I could sign my name and write a note to other would-be geo-cachers.  Often a finder will take an object from the cache and replace it with another object.  I hadn't brought anything to leave so I didn't take anything either. 

I walked back to the park where my family was still playing and played with my kids for a while before heading back home.