Have you been geocaching yet? It is fast becoming one of the most popular recreational activities.
So what is it? Geocaching is like an outdoor treasure hunting game where you use your Global Positioning System (GPS) to find containers that have been hidden all over the world. The great part about it is that it gets you outside, you can do some travelling and sightseeing, and it promotes a happy, healthy lifestyle. And the best part is you can do this with the whole family, your friends or as a corporate event.
Today there are over 823,000 geocaches registered on various websites that are devoted to this pastime. You can find Geocaches in over 100 countries around the world and on all seven continents, including Antarctica.
David Ulmer of Beavercreek, Oregon was the first one documented to place a GPS located cache on May 3, 2000. He posted the location of his cache on the Usenet newsgroup Sci.geo.satelitte.nav and by May 6th of 2000 it had already been found twice and logged once by Mike Teague of Vancouver, Washington. This first cache was a black plastic bucket that was buried most of the way in the ground. The container contained software, videos, books, food, money and a slingshot.
They originally called this sport gpsstashing or a GPS stash hunt. After many discussions in the gpsstash discussion group at eGroups (now Yahoo) the name was changed to geocaching on May 30, 2000. This suggestion came from Matt Stum who felt the name stash could have negative connotations.
So how does geocaching work?
Well a geocacher will make up a geocache in a waterproof container. They will fill it up with different items and a log book, seal it and then take it out and hide it somewhere. They note and mark down the exact coordinates and then post them along with some other information about the area around the hiding spot on line.
Then anyone with a GPS can register for a free account online and look for a geocache that meets their goals. You may look for one close by or anywhere in the world. You may want a difficult hike or an easy adventure. When you find one that interests you then you just enter the coordinates from the list into your GPS device. Then you just use your GPS device to assist you in finding the hidden geocache.
Geocaches vary in size, difficulty, and location. They can be simple ones called drive-bys, or they may be very complex involving lengthy searches and travel. Many times it will entitle going on a hike through the countryside or woods. Some clubs will put on staged multi caches which may involve several teams. There can be underwater caches, they can be 50 feet up a tree or on long off-road drives. They have been located on top of mountain peaks, in challenging environments like Antarctica or north of the Artic Circle or in a magnetic container attached to a metal structure.
Once you find it you are free to exchange items with ones of equal or greater value. Then you must sign the logbook, return the items into the container and put it back where you got it. It is encouraged that you share your stories and pictures of your adventure online for others.
There are several different terms used in this new treasure hunt game. Before you start out it is good to know what they are so here is an explanation of some of the terms you will hear.
GPS -A GPS or Global Positioning System is a global navigation satellite system developed by the United States Department of Defense. It is commonly used by civilians for navigation purposes. It uses a constellation of between 24 and 32 Medium Earth Orbit satellites that transmit precise radio wave signals, which allow GPS receivers to determine their current location, the time, and their velocity. The GPS receivers are the main item used in geocaching.
Geocaches - A traditional geocache is a waterproof container which will include a log book (with a pen or pencil) and trinkets or some sort of treasure. The items in the geocache usually are of no value except for a personal value. They may include coins or currency, small toys, ornamental buttons, CD's or books. Lots of times people will take items from one and exchange them for items from another geocache.
Occasionally for the first one to find an item or at harder to get to areas there will be an item of greater value left in the geocache. Containers range from film containers (microcaches) to 5-gallon buckets or larger. Sometimes a geocache will be referred to as a cache.
Travel Bugs - A travel Bug is a registered trademark of Groundspeak Inc. The term is used to describe a dog tag that is used in geocaching. Each of them are printed with a unique PIN on a metal plate joined to it by a chain. They are moved from cache to cache, and its travels can be logged on the geocaching website.
Geocoins - Geocoins are metal coins minted in similar fashion as a medallion, token coin, military challenge coin or a wooden nickel. They often have a tracking number and a website engraved on them to be used for tracking them online as they go from one site to another.
Often personal geocoins will have a personal signature or logo and are often minted by caching organizations as a fundraiser for geocaching events. Therefore some geocoins become collector items and are sold, traded or collected.
Hide a Cache / Seek a Cache - This is the basics of this adventure game. First someone has to Hide a cache somewhere, note the coordinates and then log them online at one of the many official geocache websites. Then another person will look for the coordinates, enter them into their GPS system and set out to find the Cache. A basic hide & seek game.
Geokits - This refers to your own kit you take with you when geocaching. Remember to be prepared before you go. You will need your GPS device, extra batteries, a map, a compass, information about the terrain, appropriate clothing and footwear, water, food and extra clothing. Always remember to let someone know where you are going also.
Driveby Cache - These are simple caches that usually do not include very much hiking or walking. They are often found somewhere close to a road or highway. Other terms used for this type are "park & grabs (PNGs)" and "cache & dash".
Muggled - If a geocache has been vandalized or stolen it is said to be muggled or plundered. If you notice a muggled cache you are asked to report this on line and the owner will be contacted to fix or remove it.
Geo-mugglers - People who are not familiar with geocaching are referred to as geo-mugglers or just mugglers.
Cash In Trash Out -Cache In Trash Out is an ongoing environmental initiative supported by the worldwide geocaching community. Since 2002, geocachers have been dedicated to cleaning up parks and other cache-friendly places around the world.
Today geocaching has become very popular and thus there are several different types of geocache hunts. Here are a few of the different types:
Nova Scotia has been quick to get in on the game of geocaching. From the highlands of Cape Breton to the dykelands of the Annapolis Valley Nova Scotia is home to hundreds of clever little geocaches. In fact, Canada's first geocache was hidden in June 2000 at East River just over a half an hour from Halifax by Ken Kane.
Geocaching is a fun and inexpensive way to add a great family adventure to your vacation here. You can involve your whole family, even bring along your pet for a lot of them. Gather up your friends and spend the day together enjoying some of the best scenery in the world, enjoy the fresh air outside, and get a little exercise all while you visit together.
Plus you just may learn a little bit more about our history, read about a legend of the area, or enjoy scenery you may otherwise never get to see. Many of our caches have been set up in a special way to add to your already great Nova Scotia experiences.
They can be located on car ferries, in cemeteries, high up in trees, underwater, in restaurants, or on bridges. Just a sample of our better known caches include the Horseshoe Turn Falls in Cape George; Third Largest Port in Canada near Windsor; Oliver's Cove Cache on Brier Island; and there is even one at the Upper Clements Wildlife Park, along with several located all throughout Halifax.
We only ask that you respect our environment by leaving it as you found it and not leave any garbage behind. Also always remember to respect private property and any posted signs.
On some of the more difficult hikes please take care and remember to use all safety precautions as some of our terrain can be rugged.
Another easy way to find an interesting geocaching site in this area is to go to the The Official Global GPS Cache Hunt Site and type in the local postal code. Some local postal codes for the Annapolis Valley that you can use are:
Kings County - B0P 1C0; B0P 1E0; B0P 1H0; B0P 1J0; B0P 1M0; B0P 1R0; B0P 1W0; B3N 3V7; B4N 1J6; B4N 1J8; B4N 1M9; B4N 3E2; B4N 3K8; B4N 3X9; B4N 4E5; B4N 4K1; B4P 1B7; B4P 1C3; B4P 1C4; B4P 1E8; B4P 1X1; B4P 1Y9; B4P 2G8; B4P 2R1; B4P 2R2; B4P 2R3; B4P 1W4; B4R 1B6; B4R 1B9
Annapolis County - B0S 1A0; B0S 1C0; B0S 1E0; B0S 1J0; B0S 1K0; B0S 1L0; B0S 1N0; B0S 1P0
Digby County - B0S 1B0; B0S 1S0; B0V 1A0; B0V 1B0; B0V 1C0; B0V 1E0; B0V 1G0; B0V 1H0; B0W 1H0
I hope you find something that interest you here. I think I am going to have to take up geocaching myself, I found a lot of interesting caches while researching this information.
We would love to hear about the adventures "you" had while Geocaching in the Annapolis Valley!
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Click on the links below to read what other people have written about their experiences while Geocaching in the Annapolis Valley.
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