Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Buried treasure

We introduced our friends to geocaching and they loved it. It was our annual autumn get away in the western Maine mountains with dear dear friends. Before going I download
the coordinates for several geocaches in the Sugarloaf area. In case you don't know (and our friends did not know either) geocaching is a game played by people around the world. Geocachers hide things in likely outdoor places and then publish the latitude and longtitude coordinates for the site on the geocaching.com website. Other geocachers look at these caches and attempt to find them by using their handheld GPS. Often going after a geocache is just an excuse for a hike or a road trip, but seeking the treasure is a lot fun...as our friends found out. We began with three caches that were supposed to be hidden along the trails of the Maine Huts and Trails association. The friends did not know what to expect. The gps will usually get you within ten feet of the cache but then you must scouer the ground and the trees and rocks searching for the elusive hiding place. Some caches are very cleverly hidden. The first one was hidden in a stump and when we pulled it out everyone laughed and smiled. That only whetted their appetite and enthusiasm. where's the next one? they all wanted to know? This time the box was hidden under a rock. We prowled around the brookside turning over logs and bending down to peer under boulders. Here it is! one of the friends shouted. I found it! I found it! Usually a geocache contains trinkets and small items for trading as well as a small log book for recording your "find". The idea is to take an item and replace it with something you brought And so the game goes on. The ones I had downloaded into my handheld were not high on the difficulty scale. But it didn't matter. Hiking together along the trails and then scattering around in the woods to find the cache was huge fun. The last one was near the road and hidden inside the guard rail. We walked right past it but the gps pointed us back to the location. When we returned to the cabin all the talk was about the morning hunting geocaches, and how this one was obvious and this one was hard to find, and this one was hidden so well and on and on. Who'd have thought six adults would have had so much fun chasing after hidden treasures? But after all its not the cache itself that creates the fun but the searching, and puzzle solving and the sweet feeling of success when you reach under a root and feel the tupperware box. Plus it was a group effort. Working together to unravel clues and then sharing insights on where the "cacher" might have hidden their
stash only added to the fun and feeling of accomplishment. I wasnt' sure they'd even be interested in the sport but now their asking about which devices to buy so they can take their grandkids out in the woods and search for more buried treasure. But as we all found out, the treasure is not in what we found, but in the journey we all took to get to the cache. Happy geocaching. the public site that controls caching around the world is geocaching.com.

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