Caching the Trail

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Some people say geocaching is boring, a glorified internet game mixed with a bit of real life where one has to find someone else’s lunchbox and earned the right to put some imaginary name on a piece of paper.

Spot the Geocacher
Spot the geocacher: these geocaching treasure hunts can take you to beautiful places, and put you in precarious positions!

Or, it can become a life style; part of your journey that will take you to places you didn’t know existed.

Geocachers seek out a cache using co-ordinates. A cache can be easy to find or very difficult. An easy one would be a magnetic holder in your local park placed against the sign where it tells you not to damage the flowers and a difficult one would be where you need to abseil from Table Mountain to reach the cache.

But what do you have to do to claim a find? Rule one, write your name in the Logbook at each cache you find and then log it on the Internet, write a nice story, your experience, something funny. Remember, someone spent time and effort to place this cache so that you can find it.

Coin from Sicily geocaching
This coin from Sicily has travelled to South Africa with Karsten.

There are many of them around as every Geocacher can place one if you stick to the rules and have it approved by a reviewer. There are many different cache types, Traditional, Multi-cache, Earth-cache, Virtual, Webcam, Mystery, Letterbox, Wherigo and of course different type of Events as well as Travel Bugs and Coins.

Caching to running

I started geocaching at the end of 2009 when someone pushed a GPS in my hand in the middle of a snow covered forest in Germany and told me to follow the arrow. It was beautiful in the forest and I was hooked.

Back in Cape Town there weren’t many cache’s at that time but later on I found hiking and caching to be my new favorite past time. And then two things happened, I figured it out that I can go quicker up and down mountains if I am running and, secondly, while doing a Cederberg geocaching hiking trip we came across a couple of guys that were doing the 100km Cederberg Traverse which totally blew me away that someone could actually do something like that. That was a real inspiration for me; I went home, bought trail running shoes and started running trails.

Is a cache really just a lunchbox?

Geocacher’s can be an absolute creative bunch of people if it comes to looking for hiding spots or for creating containers. Yes, you get the old lunch box but you also get really tricky containers. You can make it yourself or buy them online, for example online shops like caching.co.za or capricachestore.co.za have everything you need.

Nightjartravel explains the types of geocaches one might find:

Most caches consist of trinkets and toys, known in geocaching technology as SWAG (stuff we all get). Also in the container is a logbook in which the finders of the cache are required to enter the date they found it and their code names. They should also note any item of swag they’ve taken and what they’ve replaced it with – etiquette dictates that you replace a treasure with something of equal value.”

“Travel bugs and Geocoins are items engraved with tracking numbers that are logged in and out of caches and their movements recorded online. They are not considered SWAG but earn mileage and travel the world. Basically they’re hitchhikers, carried from cache to cache (or person to person).”

Travel Bug Hotel on top of Table Mountain geocaching
Karsten’s daughters with the Travel Bug Hotel on top of Table Mountain.

One of my all-time favorites is next to the cableway building right at the top of Table Mountain, called the “Table Mountain Travel Bug Hotel” with over 2000 finds. There you can sent and collect Travel Bugs and Coins to and from all over the world but remember, they want to travel, do not keeps Travel Bugs or Coins, place them in another safe cache, log them online, and watch them travel.

And yes, a cache can be a real big box with stuff to trade, called SWAG. The biggest I have seen so far was a three metre container!

Warning: Caching can be addictive and will slow you down on your runs!

Travel Bug geocaching
A Travel Bug showing the dog-tag with details.

Geocaching lingo

  • BYOP: Bring your own pen
  • DNF: Did not find
  • FTF: First to find
  • SWAG: Stuff we all get
  • TFTC: Thanks for the cache
  • TNLN: Took nothing, left nothing
  • UPOR: Under a pile of rocks

History

It started way back in May 2000, when some Computer geek wanted to test the accuracy of the new Global Positioning System by hiding a navigational target in the woods near Beavercreek, Oregon.

The rest is history, so they say, and more can be found on geocaching.com, you can register for free or upgrade to a paid membership with some benefits, all you need to do is then download an app or use one of those fancy dedicated GPS units.

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