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Geocaching offers a new way to experience The Natural State

By Blake Hannahs

photography: COURTESY GEOCACHING.COM

photography: COURTESY GEOCACHING.COM

 

It's that time of year—temperatures begin to drop, new game consoles bought for Christmas begin to buzz and laziness sweeps over your family faster than you can even realize. Lucky for moms everywhere, there is a new craze out there that involves physical activity, web research and outdoor play! The Real Housewives of New York are doing it, Melissa Joan Hart and her family are doing it, as well as Hugh Jackman and his! Geocaching is sweeping the nation, allowing anyone with a GPS-enabled device (like your smartphone) to become a real-time treasure hunter. With more than two million geocaches worldwide, the hunt invokes adventurism in adults and children alike. From learning how to read GPS coordinates, to visiting one of Arkansas’ 52 state parks that has geocaches, to the actual experience of exploration, geocaching is a great activity for the entire family. Registration is free and the geocaching online portal offers an entire community of geocachers, their experiences and their pictures, hours of endless entertainment for everyone!  

 

The word geocaching refers to “geo” for geography and to “caching,” the process of hiding a cache. In computer terms the word cache refers to information stored in memory to make it easier to retrieve. Geocaching is defined as the hunting for and finding of hidden objects or treasure using GPS coordinates posted on the geocaching website. GPS devices determine your position using longitude and latitude anywhere on the planet using the triangulation of signals from satellites. Three satellites, to be exact, calculate a general location by a process called trilateration. While the coordinates are exact the geocache can be anywhere in the area you are sent to. Some are underwater, some hidden in secret compartments in rocks and some are even in disguises such as a bird house.  

There are more than a dozen types of caches but the most common is the traditional geocache. The traditional geocache is a container located at the given coordinates that contain a logbook and sometimes items for trade. Treasures or trade items include anything from keychains to trinkets to paperback novels. You can take a treasure from the cache if you wish, the only rule being that one must leave something of equal or greater value in its place. These caches vary in size, some as small as a 35mm film canister and some as large a bucket, but all contain a logbook. You must record your discovery in the logbook when you find the geocache and then follow up by logging your experiences at geocaching.com. When you’re finished you must put the cache back exactly as you found it, even if you think you see a better spot for it.