Last week (or so) the family and I went geocaching.
Geocaching.com describes this as:
Geocaching is a high-tech treasure hunting game played throughout the world by adventure seekers equipped with GPS devices. The basic idea is to locate hidden containers, called geocaches, outdoors and then share your experiences online. Geocaching is enjoyed by people from all age groups, with a strong sense of community and support for the environment.
It was one of those things that I’d known about for a while but never really looked into. Then when the wife threw me the usual Saturday “what should we do with the children” query I had no hesitation in saying lets try this.
In short order I set myself up an account at Geocaching.com – this is not entirely necessary but gives added usability. Next I grabbed their geocaching app for the iPhone and found that it mostly effectively replicates the sites capabilities and finally searched for a nearby cache that was rated as easy.
We ended up selecting “A Milestone Cache” which gave us a very gentle entry into this hobby.
Here’s a pic of our two youngest at our first cache find – which I have to credit Jenna for.
As might be expected from the name of the cache it was hidden by a milestone. In the picture you can see the milestone, my two youngest (Coel & Jenna) with Jenna holding the official geocache box. For what it’s worth we signed the logbook and left some lip shaped lip gloss.
Buoyed by this success we headed off on our next cache hunt which was only another 4 miles away but is somewhere we’d never heard of despite my wife being born and bred in the county and myself having lived here for 23yrs.
There were a few issues we had.
The geocaching app was all you could expect but with one interface flaw for me and one shortcoming. The flaw being that without meaning too you could suddenly lose the details of the cache and have to search it out again. OK when connected to wireless or a decent 3G signal, but when in the wilds not the best. Though I do believe the cache details can be stored offline for ease of access.
The shortcoming is probably due to our lack of experience. Lots of the more involved caches work by giving you the GPS co-ordinates for what is called a Virtual Cache and then you have to answer clues based on the info at the VC. These answers then slot into a new set of GPS co-ordinates which may take you to the cache itself, or even to a secondary VC – and so on. Anyway, the geocaching app doesn’t allow for input of the secondary sets of GPS co-ordinates.
In frustration I paid my £0.59p and downloaded the “Traveller App” which unfortunately allowed me to enter Latitude and Longitude but only individually and only gave distance to the point not a direction indicator.
Due to this lack of preciseness we didn’t find the third cache but we did take a nice time climbing the cliff steps and this is part of the view from the top:
So next time we go I will ensure we have either purchased a full scale GPS unit or have found an app for my iPhone that will allow me to input Lat / Long and show me the direction to end. The only other caveat being that the geocaching app fairly ate into the battery life of my iPhone and next time I will ensure I have my backup battery.
Still, a very enjoyable day was had and even though we didn’t find the third cache this time, the family remain enthused for doing more of these.
So much so when I came home from work the following day there were fake Latitude and Longitude co-ordinates all over the house.