A lot of people will be geocaching this weekend with their families, on their own and at GeoWoodstock in Carnation, Washington. Geocaching is a high-tech scavenger hunt that began in Oregon ten years ago, and has since swept the globe. You can see the spot where the first cache was hidden and follow some local geocaching enthusiasts on their adventures in this episode of Oregon Field Guide.
It all started as a fun thing for a few people who were part of a newsgroup devoted to GPS technology. An Oregon man hid a bucket in Beavercreek and posted the coordinates to the newsgroup. The next day, two brothers from Vancouver found the bucket containing a slingshot, a can of beans and a log book (among other things) and they were inspired to start hiding their own caches and posting the coordinates. The activity quickly outgrew the newsgroup and a web developer in Seattle started the official geocaching website, drawing new participants from around the world.
Today there are over one million geocaches hidden in more than 200 countries. There have been a few mishaps along the way. Just recently, a geocache in Washington was mistaken for a bomb. Geocaches are sometimes found by “muggles” (non-geocachers) who don’t know what to do with them and may move them or destroy them. There’s also some disagreement in the geocaching world about whether or not caches have to have physical items attached to them. Some people enjoy hiding and finding “virtual caches,” and some parks and recreation departments prefer this method, since it’s less likely to disturb plants and animals. Some enthusiasts aren’t into the virtual caches and get more excited about collecting geocoins and other prizes from their adventures.
Have you ever geocached? What did you find? What did you hide?