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Le Geocaching Extravaganza May 26, 2009

Posted by A. Robinson in Life.
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Two weekends ago, John and I went to a geocaching competition on Mount Magazine.  Geocaching, for those of you who aren’t sure what that is, is basically a high-tech treasure hunt.  You take a handheld GPS unit and download coordinates to a “cache” container that someone else has hidden.  You then go out and find the container, which is often filled with little knick-knacks, and sign a log that verifies your find.  In other words, it’s an awful lot of good fun.

Anyway, John and I wanted to test our mettle, so we signed up even though all of the other teams competing had found over 1,000 caches each.  Us?  We have, like, 40.  Regardless, we packed up all of our gear, fully prepared for an all-day hike-a-thon.

We showed up at the lodge and began evaluating our competition.  Everyone there was at least our parents’ age, maybe older.  Not that John and I are prime physical specimens, but we figured our age would probably be a serious boon.  There were probably 7 or  8 teams competing, which was exciting.  The chatter between groups was happy but competitive; it was obvious that all the people around us had met somehow, some way, before.  We were all undeniably excited.  It seemed like forever before the ranger gave us our first coordinates.

We received our first clue, and right off the bat we started slow.  Turns out that everyone around us had like, top-of-the-line $500 + GPS systems.  Ours is definitely a base-line model, so it took us considerably longer to input our coordinates.  I wrote down the coordinates and John and I hopped in the car, banking on the fact that we could follow the people ahead of us while our GPS found signal.

Anyway, the hunt started out at a breakneck pace and continued that way.  I had anticipated some serious walking, but I thought we’d probably have enough time to snap some pictures of our adventure.  Boy was I wrong.  Instead of hiking from location to location, it was mostly driving with some bushwhacking thrown in.  I knew that we’d be hiking off-trail, but some of the terrain was really difficult.  To add to that, it started raining, and continued to drizzle throughout the day.  By the time John and I had finished (in last place, beaten by a woman who had two knee replacement surgeries), we were soaked.

Was it fun?  Kinda.  I like to take in the surroundings while I cache; seeing the “great outdoors,” as it were, is part of the fun for me.  The fact that we were practically running from place to place, driving a bunch, etc. sort of took the shine off.  I’d much rather cache hunt at a regular pace, I think.  The point of caching is to solve puzzles while spending time outside, and this hunt was more about knowing the roads of the park rather than looking at the natural beauty of the surroundings.  From previous travels to Mount Magazine, I know for a fact that it is a truly stunning place, but I wouldn’t have been able to tell you that from the hunt.

Riverfest, however, was much cooler.  Stories are forthcoming (and again, no pictures.  I really need to get better about that).