Sunday, April 18, 2010


Having read my blog postings about hiking, a friend of mine asked if I had ever tried geocaching, which I had not. She thought I should try it to see if I liked it. Geocaching, to oversimplify, is high tech treasure hunting using a handheld GPS unit. People hide little containers with knick knacks and others things in them in places all over, and log the information including gps coordinates on the website. You can go to that website, search for cache locations in any given area (there are currently over a million of them worldwide), download the information to your gps unit, and off you go to find them. There are 42 such locations within 3 miles of my house!

Having some interest in trying this, and wanting to get a gps for hiking anyway, I saw a good deal on a highly recommended Garmin unit that came bundled with the topographic map set that I wanted, so I bought it. I was able, with help, to get through the most basic functionality to get some local caches loaded onto it, and with Julia along to help, we went out yesterday in search of treasure.

It was a blast, and Julia loved it. For our first one, we went to the nearby Glen Eagle Square shopping center and found one near the Outback Steakhouse, which we have driven right past countless thousands of times! Then we went to Newlin Grist Mill park and found the three that were there. Julia was very excited. She decided that she wanted to go to the dollar store to buy little things that we could leave behind in exchange so that she could take a little souvenir from the ones we found. So we did that. Then we went home to wait for Dave, who would be joining us for a leisurely walk in the woods. He didn't know about the gps or the geocaching; we wanted to surprise him.

Dave did arrive late in the afternoon, we showed him what we had planned, which he thought was pretty cool, and off we went to Martin Park. This little gem of a park is just down the road from where we lived back in the 1990's, and I had never been there. After parking in the little lot, you are almost immediately back in the woods along Chester Creek, and out of sight of everything. Beautiful. The day was cool and breezy, but we had a nice 1.5 mile walk in the woods and found three more caches.

Getting back to the house, I showed Dave the little bit I knew about how to use some of the other features of the gps and the map software on the PC, including how to show the path of our hike on the map, with times, distances and complete elevation profile. Dave seemed suitably impressed and if I were a betting man I suspect he will own one of these soon (and he does have a birthday on the horizon).

Perhaps as importantly as anything, Julia loved it, had a wonderful day, and can't wait to do it again. So it was a victory across the board.

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting, and thank you for the tour of the unit and the software. I look forward to hearing of your further geocaching adventures, and hope to participate with you when I can. Very cool.