Geocaching with your GPS

00BuckShot

You can have my guns when you rip them from my col
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I was introduced to geocaching durring my recent hunting trip to Missouri. Karstic and his family have been doing it for quite some time. It's an interesting and fun way to learn how to use a GPS and make some interesting discoveries in the mean time! Check it out!

Silver City Sun News

SUN LIFE
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Geocaching: Residents enjoy 'high-tech scavenger hunt'
By Tracy R. Patrick SUN-NEWS REPORTER
Apr 7, 2006, 06:00 am

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As a child, perhaps you wanted to be a famous treasure hunter, exploring the world to amass riches and worldwide fame. Now that you're all grown up, you think those dreams are gone. But it's time you know you're wrong.

Even with a job to hold down and bills to pay, there's time to squeeze in some quick treasure-hunting action. You may not find gold and jewels, but your treasure will be the satisfaction of overcoming a challenge, enjoying the outdoors and coming home with a trinket of your choice. All you need is access to the Internet and a handheld Global Positioning System. And your adventure goes by the name "geocaching."


Local resident Arlis Rhodes describes geocaching as "a high-tech scavenger hunt." Or as the welcome slogan on nmgeocaching.com puts it: "where one uses multi-billion dollar equipment to find Tupperware."


A geocache, or cache for short, is usually a sturdy container (like Tupperware) that contains a log book and several toys or inexpensive trinkets. The coordinates of the cache's location are posted online and the seekers, or geocachers, look up the coordinates. Using a GPS receiver as a guide, they enter the coordinates and head out in search of the treasure. Once it's found, the cacher logs his find in the logbook, takes his item of choice and leaves behind another item for subsequent cachers.

"The idea behind these is they are stocked with things. You take something and leave something of equal or greater value," Rhodes said. "Some people have signature things they leave. I always try to leave two or three things, more than we take, to keep them well-stocked."

When local cacher Keel Price finds a cache, he leaves behind his trademark -- a pewter coyote and a peso.

And once a cache is found, it's finder gets back online and logs the find on the geocaching Web site. Cachers can leave comments and notes for other cachers to view about a given cache -- whether it was found, not found or muggled, which is geocache-speak for missing or stolen.

Caches are placed in all kinds of places, from sidewalks to mountaintops. They range in difficulty from very easy to almost impossible. And Las Crucens won't have to go far to find them.

"Within a 10-15 mile radius of Las Cruces, there are easily 100-150 caches," Rhodes said.

According to geocaching.com, there are more than 1,600 caches in the state of New Mexico. The site claims there are currently 250,558 active caches in 221 countries. This may not include caches registered on caching Web sites other than geocaching.com.

Rhodes has used his GPS unit to find more than 400 caches across the country, one as far away as Maine.

"And we come along for the ride," said Pam Rhodes. The Rhodes' daughter, Kyle, 5, and son, Daniel, 2, also tag along with their parents to help find the hidden treasure.

So, how does one get started and why do they do it? Local geocachers stumbled upon the hobby in different ways.

"When my son was in Iraq, he used a GPS almost every day and when he came home, he started it," Price said. "I went with him once or twice and it seemed like something I should do. I spent most of my life working outside, but the last five years I've had an office job. I use it to get exercise."

Arlis Rhodes and his family got started when a magazine article sparked their interest.

One of their primary motivations to geocache is to see and learn about new places.

"It gets you to places you've never been and some have real historical value. To me, it's a great family activity," Rhodes said.

For others, it's an excuse to get some fresh air.

"People hide these in some very interesting places, in many cases, very close by that we didn't know existed. Or places that we did know existed, but we didn't know any specific history," said cacher Dennis Grover, who hunts for caches with his partner, Judy Elder. "We learn a lot about the area and it's an excuse to go some places you wouldn't normally go."

Grover said he visited a cache located at the remains of a war plane that crashed in the Franklin Mountains decades ago.

"I didn't know it was there. It was kind of a rough one, but it was really neat," he said.

There are many different types of caches, some with puzzles or cryptic clues to figure out.

"There are a wide variety of caches to choose from. They range in size from very small micro caches to giant, barrel-sized caches," Grover said. "The hides range from easy regular caches to next-to-impossible mystery caches. We enjoy them all, but our favorites are the out-of-the-city caches and the mystery/puzzle caches."

Grover, Elder and their dog, Waldo, go geocaching every couple of weeks and have logged more than 300 caches since they began last July.

In addition to finding all different types of caches, cachers set goals for themselves. For example, some may want to find caches in every state, all the caches in one state or a certain number of caches.

"My first goal was to get twice as many as my son. I reached that goal in about a week," Price said.

His new goal is to collect as many "first finds" as possible. Price says there is special satisfaction in being the first to find a new cache placed by fellow geocachers.

"If one pops up at night, we're out the door -- no matter where it is. That's what the flashlight is for," Price said.

Price has placed seven caches so far. He has found more than 300.

And while geocaching can be fun, it's not without rules and regulations.

"The people that do this have to do it on public lands or have permission. We follow a code of ethics," Rhodes said. "You don't want to disturb or destroy the environment when you do it. That's why (caches) are never buried."

When hiding or seeking caches, you should know where you are going and what the rules are.

Price prescribes using caution and common sense when placing caches within city limits.

"Obviously, we're at a point now where you don't put a cache under a railroad station or a bus depot," Price said.

Event caches are often organized for CITO (cache in, trash out) days. Cachers meet at a location, which they find using their GPS units, to pick up trash and properly dispose of it. These events are usually organized at the local level, but are promoted worldwide through geocaching.com.

"Geocachers help out the community through the CITO program. Cachers are encouraged to CITO whenever they visit a cache site," Grover said.

International Cache In, Trash Out day, sponsored by Groundspeak (the company that operates geocaching.com), will be April 22. According to the site, this program began in 2003, when geocachers around the world organized 67 cleanup events in five countries and 28 states.

"Geocaching isn't for everyone, but for those us who are hooked, it's great fun," Grover said.

For information on geocaching or to get started, visit geocaching.com or nmgeocaching.com.
 
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