From that one posting, the game of geocaching has spread like wildﬁre. Geocaching is like grown-up version of treasure hunting or hide-and-seek using GPS units. Caches are hidden anywhere in the world. The coordinates of the cache are then posted on the website www.geocaching.com. People upload those coordinates into their GPS units and try and ﬁnd the cache.
There are more than 800,000 caches hidden around the world in over 200 countries, and there are 131 caches listed for the 81416 zip code. Caching takes people all over the world; at a cache located in Rattlesnake Canyon, a person who went by the name of "Toad63" left the following comment on the log: "On a road trip from Nevada to Delta. Nice hide!" After someone ﬁnds the geocache, they are asked to sign the logbook located in the cache, and then share their experience and photos on the website.
Cedaredge resident Drei Michaels has been geocaching since 2002. He lived in Illinois at that time, but made frequent trips to Colorado on mountaineering expeditions. His wife bought him a GPS unit to help with that sport, but Michaels wanted to be able to use the device for more than just mountaineering. He did a little research on the Internet, and stumbled upon the idea of geocaching. "It's great," he said. "It's really very interesting."
Some caches are boxes ﬁlled with trinkets. Sandy Mumm, a geocacher from Olathe, has found ﬂower seeds and rubber lizards, dice, keychains and more. She's found a geocaching coin that came from Quebec and a POW MIA coin. The idea is that you take an item, leave an item. Other caches are log-only, where ﬁnders simply record their name and the date they found the cache. Some are virtual caches, which are just the coordinates of a location. All caches that are in national parks are virtual, for example, so as not to disturb the park.
Caches can be hidden anywhere. Around our area, there is one that highlights the murals, called "Delta: City of Murals-Brushed by the Hand of God." Six caches are hidden near a different mural in Delta, starting with the mural on the north end of town by Delta Pawn. At each cache, the ﬁnder gets another number. The numbers are the code to a lockbox at the sixth location, inside which are coordinates of the actual cache.
"The mural cache is one of the best put together caches I've seen in a long time," Mumm said. This particular cache is a nice one to get people into the sport who hear "hiking" and immediately turn off the idea. It's a nice walk-by cache, Michaels said, with no strenuous activity. Caching is easier, Mumm said, in urban areas, because the caches are often placed close together, and it's much easier terrain.
Other caches are hidden deep in the outdoors, causing ﬁnders to take long hikes to ﬁnd them. Caches are hidden at Robideaux Canyon, Wells Gulch, Fat Man's Misery, Dominquez and Escalante Canyons, and Rattlesnake Canyon. The cache hidden there is a canister made to look like a rattlesnake. Caches are hidden in parks, in store parking lots, in ditches and on bridges.
Though the coordinates lead the seeker to where the cache is, geocaching still poses a challenge. A GPS unit won't say, for instance, "look under the third rock" or "unscrew the ﬁfth bolt on the right side of the sign." The GPS leads the seeker to a general area, and then they must put on their sleuthing shoes to really ﬁnd the cache.
"It can be intimidating at ﬁrst," Mumm said. But that intimidation quickly fades as seekers ﬁnd a cache, cleverly hidden.
For Michaels, the hardest cache to ﬁnd was a nanocache, a piece of paper folded into the size of a pinky ﬁngernail, then wrapped in plastic for protection against the elements. Another difﬁcult cache, physically, was at Rocky Mountain National Park. It was at the very top of Long's Peak, 14,159 feet in height. "The hike alone was the hardest I've ever had to do in my life," he said. To prove he'd found the cache, a hiking buddy took a picture of him at the top of the peak, holding his GPS unit, which Michaels later uploaded to the website.
At the time he began caching, Michaels said the sport was still quite new. In fact, when he moved to Cedaredge about two years ago, there were no caches in the area. That's changed. Now there are nine caches, seven of which Michaels placed.
He has geocached in 17 states and in Canada and Mexico. He enjoys solo expeditions, but he really enjoys geocaching mega events. These events bring together about 500 geocaching enthusiasts for a friendly competition. Competing in either teams or as individuals, they see how many caches they can ﬁnd in three hours. While in St. Louis, Michaels also joined a geocaching group that cached and held social functions together.
Locally, Michaels said one of his favorite caches is a microcache near Ouray. The cache, simply a small log book, was cleverly hidden on top of a trash can. He had to visit the area ﬁve different times before he found the actual cache. He loved visiting the area, though, because it gave him a chance to experience the breathtaking waterfalls there.
Mumm also likes that area. By caching, she has discovered areas that she didn't know about, even in her hometown. "When you go, you think, ‘Oh, I'm just going to ﬁnd a cache.' But you end up ﬁnding beautiful places, interesting things," she said. She went geocaching near Ridgway, and stumbled on an old wooden water pipe still stuck in the ground. "I've lived here forever, and I didn't even know that was here," she said.
She ﬁrst got into geocaching about four years ago. Her nephew, who was in the Navy, showed her an article in the naval magazine about geocaching. Around the same time, she found an article on the Internet that described geocaching as an outdoor video game. She was intrigued, and so she bought a GPS unit.
She's gone geocaching all over this area, and several other states as well. She likes to go caching in national parks. Last spring, she and her sister took a trip to California, where they went geocaching in the Petriﬁed Forest, Joshua Tree National Monument and around the Loma Point lighthouses in San Diego. She's also gone caching when she has visited her sister in Florida. Now, whenever she travels, she downloads coordinates of caches so she can explore where ever she's going.
"It's a lot easier than you think it might be," she said. Geocaching transcends the generation gap. One couple, acquaintances of Mumm's, wanted to teach their granddaughter about maps and geocaching. They placed a travel bug on one of their granddaughter's Barbie dolls, and the Barbie now travels the country. Every time someone ﬁnds the doll, the girl is able to go online and see where her doll has traveled. The cache and travel bug is called Madison the Princess.
Travel bugs are numbered key chains that travel the world, cache by cache. A ﬁnder records where and when they ﬁnd the cache online, so everyone can see where the bug is traveling. In caches that Mumm has found, she received a travel bug that came all the way from Germany. It has traveled over 34,000 miles around the globe.
Some people like to leave signature items in the trinket geocaches. She once found a "cow herd starter kit," which was a packet of beans painted with cow spots. She has left shells she picked up in San Diego, and polished rocks. As a tribute to her sister who died 20 years ago, she cut from wood a horseshoe and a riderless horse (her sister loved to ride) and attached a travel bug to the ornament.
Though that was stolen (taken by a cacher instead of remaining a travel bug) one of Mumm's items has made it back to a cache near Oregon, to the ﬁrst known geocache in the country.
She also was asked to participate in helping a family take a vacation. The family couldn't afford a vacation, so they put a family photo in a geocache and asked that fellow cachers take them on vacation via travel bug. When Mumm found the photo, she took it to her workplace in Telluride, and shot a photo on a gondola ride. When she uploaded the photo to the cache log, she told the family that had the traveled to Telluride, they would have enjoyed their vacation skiing.
One of Mumm's favorite caches to ﬁnd was the one at Fat Man's Misery. She also likes the caches hidden near Java Junkies and Devil's Thumb Golf Course.
Since she began geocaching in 2005, she estimates she's found 340 caches. But when she checked the statistics online of a favorite cache located in our area, she found that over 10,000 people have visited that site. She once found 27 caches in one day, while she was in San Diego.
Geocaching is a free activity that the whole family can enjoy, and it's easy to get started. Visit www.geocaching.com to ﬁnd more information.blog comments powered by Disqus