Sunday, 17 July 2016

All About Geocaching

Hey everyone! I hope you all had a lovely today. I went on a walk this morning, took photographs of the local wildlife and caught five pokemon, including an Eevee. Yay! I also saw a massive heron, which was awesome! I spent the rest of the day relaxing in the garden, complaining about the heat :) it was a brilliant day but so hot! Me and hot weather do not go well together. Today's post is going to be all about a new hobby I'm joining in with called Geocaching. I've been wanting to do it now for ages, and so I put it on my summer wishlist and I'm determined to go and find some caches, as a way to get me and about more (along with Pokemon Go). I hope you enjoy reading! 

Geocaching, what's geocaching, all about geocaching,

 What is Geocaching?

I thought I'd tell you all about what geocaching is, because it's one of those hobbies that not many people know about until they meet someone who does it. I first learnt about geocaching on tumblr and I thought it was such an awesome hobby! Geocaching is basically like a cross between orienteering and treasure hunting! All over the World, containers, known as 'caches' to people who enjoy the hobby, are hidden and it's your job to find them using a GPS device. I've wanted to jump on the geocaching bandwagon for years but I've never gotten around to buying a GPS reader/receiver. I studied an animal science subject at university and we were taught how to use one of these readers and well, I was rubbish at it! I thought I'd never be able to geocache and it was pushed to back of my mind. Recently though, me and some of my friends from high school had a little reunion night out and one of my friends excitedly showed us all this new hobby he'd used his phone for. Turns out, it was geocaching! Why I never put two and two together and searched for an app, I don't know! I know that phones have GPS but it just never clicked, silly me! So now, I have finally downloaded the app and can start geocaching. 

How do you find 'caches'?

As I am crap at using GPS readers, I can only tell you how to use the app!  Your geocaching app will show you all of the caches hidden in the surrounding areas of your current location, which are displayed as green circles. Some of these caches can only be viewed by paying members, but there's lots of caches that are available for everyone to find. You can see the name of the road on which the cache is located on your app, then all you have to do is travel to that location and as you walk around, it will tell you how close you are to the cache. It's awesome! The app will also tell you the difficulty of the terrain surrounding the cache and how challenging it will be to find. Additionally, it will include a description from the person who hid the box as well as the size of cache you should be looking for.

What should you expect to find inside a cache? 

Caches can come in all shapes and sizes, some are mini containers and others are big metal boxes. Inside each geocache, there will a log book, or in the mini boxes, a tiny piece of rolled up paper. You need to sign this once you've found the cache. The bigger caches often have 'trinkets' inside which people swap for something of their own. It's nice to have a little keepsake that reminds you of the caches you've found. The kinds of trinkets that you could find inside a cache are keyrings and charms, toys, figures, mini compasses, all sorts really. Some caches contain what is known as a 'travel bug' in the form of a metal dog tag chain. These are special tags that should only be taken from the cache to be moved to another, as the purpose of these is to travel. Some travel bugs have been moved from cache to cache all over the World. I think that's really fascinating! 

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What do you need to start geocaching?

Firstly, you will need to download the geocaching app onto your phone and make an account, or if you would prefer to do it the old school way, get yourself a GPS reader. I think you can get a decent one for around £40-£50. Once you are all set up technology-wise, you will need to find some trinkets ready to swap for anything you want to take out of a cache you find. The rule of geocaching is that you must always put something back in the cache if you take something out. For my first cache hunts, I'm going to be taking these two little charms and wrapping them in a little bit of plastic so they don't get ruined if the cache should ever get damaged. An important tip to remember is to always bring a pen to sign the log book. Some of the bigger caches will have pens kindly put inside but most of the time you'll need to make sure you have a pen. 

Some other things that I think are important to carry along with you include, a portable charger as you could be walking in remote areas so you need to stay safe and make sure you can always charge your phone should it run out of battery. I suggest taking water or juice with you as you're going to be walking around and it's important to stay hydrated. Comfortable walking shoes are also great. Take any essentials you may need like medication; I even took some plasters in case my shoes started to rub my feet and some tissues. Pack anything you would usually take on a walk with you. 

Let's go geocaching!

I'm going to do a post all about my first geocache when I find it. I'm interested to see what it will be like. I know that there's one locally and the app tells me it's an extra small cache so I might be searching for ages. I think it's handy that you can view the comments of other people who have found or not found the cache, so you know it's missing or hard to find, etc. Another awesome thing is that geocaching will get me out of the house and exploring in natural surroundings, which always make me feel good especially when it's a nice day and I can take my camera along with me. I'm also looking forward to catching Pokemon along the way! If you'd like to read more about geocaching, take a look on the Geocaching Association of Great Britain's website. 
Thankyou for reading!

Have you ever been geocaching? If not, has my post made you curious to try it out for yourselves? 

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