Remember when you were a kid, trying to find a buried treasure with a treasure map? How much fun was that?
Turns out, hunting for treasure has evolved with the times. Geocaching is a real-world, outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices. Participants navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates and then attempt to find the geocache (container) hidden at that location.
Mid-States Project Detailer Randy Cole has been geocaching for about three years. In that time, he has found about 120 geocaches in the area. Randy has utilized both free apps and paid apps on his phone and has found the only difference is in the quality of the hints that help you find a geocache. The hints can relate to the size of the geocache you are looking for, or provide a hint about it’s location, like that it is in a tree.
The geocaches range from the size of a pill bottle, which generally just contains a scroll that you record your name and date found on, to a coffee can, which can contain things like Hot Wheels, toy soldiers, wooden nickels and a scroll to record the find. There is a rule about geocaches with items in them though: if you take an item, you must replace it with another item. To make sure he is always prepared, Randy keeps a plastic bag of small toys and trinkets in his glove box.
“It’s a great way to get exercise,” Randy said. “You walk for miles without realizing it.”
It wasRandy’s sister-in-law who introduced him and his wife to geocaching. Now Randy and his wife go out often when the weather is nice, and oftentimes geocache with family, too. One of their favorite places to geocache is Beckman Mill in Beloit.
Beckman Mill is the home of a geocache that has eluded Randy since 2014. According to his app, it was placed on April 21, 2013 and was last found on June 19, 2017. Plus, his sister-in-law has already found it on her own. This one remains the thorn in his side, and he’ll continue looking for it. One of the toughest ones he ever found was a super tiny geocache by his house. It was literally a screw in a road sign with a tiny scroll in it.
“You never know what you’re going to find,” Randy said. “Half the time, that’s the battle.”
Although Randy has planted a couple geocaches, he has more fun searching for them. He uses his app to track all the ones he has found in the area, and there are still hundreds to search for.
For those interested in trying geocaching, an all ages activity, Randy has a few suggestions. Dress for the weather and terrain, wear comfortable shoes and keep plenty of bug spray on hand. Always carry a pencil, so you can add your name and date to the log. And most of all, never keep an item from a geocache.
“You can swap, but never take,” he said.