The Sun-Times - Heber Springs, AR
  • Geocaching is for everyone

  • It’s the modern treasure hunt.

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    How would you like to go on a modern day treasure hunt? The adventure is fun, family friendly, and something anyone and everyone can do.

    Picture yourself, out in the wilderness of Main Street in Heber Springs, heading to an unknown destination to find the virtual X that marks the spot. This is known as geocaching.

    Geocaching is probably a word you have never heard, or if you have, you don’t really know what it is, right? Geocaching involves use of the global positioning system, or satellites, (GPS) floating over our heads everyday.

    According to the book The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Geocaching (TCIGIG), the word itself is the combination of geo for Earth and cache, a term used for both hidden provisions and, in a more modern sense, data stored on a computer. Geocaching is a high-tech treasure hunting game played throughout the world by adventure seekers equipped with GPS devices.

    If you get into geocaching, you should not only take a GPS with you on your hunts, you should also take a backpack with bug spray, water, sunscreen, first aid kit, compass, and possibly mace (in case you run across a dangerous encounter).

    Basically, in a few words, geocaching is a modern day treasure hunt without the riches or threat of pirates taking your booty.

    You, you that are reading this article, you are either a muggler (same as the writer of this story) or you are a geocacher. A muggler is someone that does not know anything about geocaching, and of course, a geocacher is not new to expeditions.

    Just like with the old CB radio days, those that are into geocaching have handles, or names they use instead of their own. Geocaching is a hobby and intertwines with others in the same loop.

    Local geocacher Angel106 of Heber Springs (Linda Treadway) has been on the hunt for some time and really gets into her hunts. “I’ve hidden over 120 geocaches in the county. I’ve logged finds in 30 states. I have even logged finds in other countries.”

    A fairly new geocacher is Beeguy7310 of Heber Springs. Many know Beeguy as Wesley Harris. “When I decided I wanted to start this as a hobby, it took me a while to find someone else in the area that knew what I was talking about. I would call friends and ask, have to explain what it was, then find out they didn’t know. Finally I called a friend, and when I didn’t have to explain what geocaching was I knew my search to find others that did it was over. I have since met a few geocachers.”

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    Angel106 and Beeguy7310 took Stopthepresses (guess who that is) on a few hunts last week to get a feel for the geocaching world.

    Caches on Main Street, Searcy Street, Eleventh Street, off Hwy 110 West, and off Hwy 110 East were located. The caches ranged from very small to ammo box size. Actually, the one off Hwy 110 Wet had been muggled according to Angel106. “That means a muggler either found it by accident or knew where to look and took the cache.”

    During our hunt we ran across Serenade09 at her place of business on Main Street. She said she and her husband, Shabach, have been into geocaching for a few months. “We love it. It is an exciting and fun thing to be involved in.”

    The hunt begins with someone hiding an object and logging the GPS coordinates of the location at geocaching.com. Those that are into the scene can find caches all over the world. There are over 1,000,000 caches hidden across the globe, dozens within Cleburne County.

    Some caches are hidden in the downtown area of Heber Springs and some are hidden where the thrill seekers can only find them. Caches are ranked on skill levels from one to five with one being an easy to access area while a five could require ropes, harnesses, and climbing. You will even know the terrain before heading out.

    You can search on private land if there is already a cache hidden. If you plan on hiding a cache on private property you must have permission of the landowner. Public land, for the most part, is open to geocaching. National forests are not open for geocaching. It’s always a good idea to check with the person in charge to get permission.

    The basic geocache is hidden, and when found, the person logs their handle into a logbook with the cache, and puts it back for others to find.

    There are several different types of geocaches. Geocaching.com says the types of geocaches are:

    Traditional Cache

    This is the original cache type consisting, at a bare minimum, a container and a logbook. Normally you'll find a Tupperware container, ammo box, or bucket filled with goodies, or smaller container ("micro cache") too small to contain items except for a logbook. The coordinates listed on the traditional cache page are the exact location for the cache.

    The general rule of thumb is, "If you take an item, leave an item, and write in the logbook." Some caches are themed, so make sure to read the description before going on a hunt.

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    Multi-Cache (Offset Cache)

    A multi-cache ("multiple") involves two or more locations, the final location being a physical container. There are many variations, but most multi-caches have a hint to find the second cache, and the second cache has hints to the third, and so on. An offset cache (where you go to a location and get hints to the actual cache) is considered a multi-cache.

    Project A.P.E. Cache

    In 2001, twelve geocaches were placed in conjunction with 20th Century Fox to support the movie Planet of the Apes. Each cache represented a fictional story in which scientists revealed an Alternative Primate Evolution. These caches were made using specially marked ammo containers. Each cache had an original prop from the movie. Only a few Project A.P.E. caches exist today.

    Mystery or Puzzle Caches

    The "catch-all" of cache types, this form of cache can involve complicated puzzles you will first need to solve to determine the coordinates. Due to the increasing creativity of geocaching this becomes the staging ground for new and unique challenges.

    Letterbox Hybrid

    A letterbox is another form of treasure hunting using clues instead of coordinates. In some cases, however, the owner has made it both a letterbox and a geocache and posted its coordinates on Geocaching.com. If there is a stamp inside a letterbox hybrid, it is not an item intended for trade; the stamp is meant to remain in the box so that visitors can use it to record their visit. To read more about letterboxing, visit the Letterboxing North America web site.

    Wherigo Cache

    Wherigo is a toolset for creating and playing GPS-enabled adventures in the real world. By integrating a Wherigo experience, called a cartridge, with finding a cache, the geocaching hunt can be an even richer experience. Among other uses, Wherigo allows geocachers to interact with physical and virtual elements such as objects or characters while still finding a physical geocache container. A Wherigo-enabled GPS device is required to play a cartridge. Learn more at Wherigo.com.

    Event Cache

    Occasionally, local geocachers and geocaching organizations designate a time and location to meet and discuss geocaching. After the event the caches are archived.

    Mega-Event Cache

    A Mega-Event cache is similar to an Event Cache but it is much larger. In order to qualify as a Mega Event, the event cache must be attended by 500+ people. Typically, Mega Events are annual events and attract geocachers from all over the world.

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    Cache In Trash Out Event

    Cache In Trash Out is an activity intimately tied to geocaching. While out there on a cache hunt, we collect litter along the trails and properly dispose of it. Cache In Trash Out Events are much larger clean-up events that involve and benefit the larger community.



    An EarthCache is a special place that people can visit to learn about a unique geoscience feature or aspect of our Earth. EarthCaches include a set of educational notes and the details about where to find the location (latitude and longitude). Visitors to EarthCaches can see how our planet has been shaped by geological processes, how we manage the resources and how scientists gather evidence to learn about the Earth. For more information about EarthCaches, visit http://www.earthcache.org/.

    GPS Adventures Maze Exhibit

    A GPS Adventures Exhibit Cache represents attendance at the GPS Adventures Maze Exhibit or a regional variation of this Exhibit. GPS Adventures Mazes are designed to teach people of all ages about GPS technology and geocaching through interactive science experiences.

    To begin geocaching you don’t have to have a GPS device. You can go to the geocaching hub of geocaching.com, find the area you want to search either by using the zip code of where you will be, address, state, country, latitude and longitude, area code, or keywords. If you know the handle of the person who hid a cache you can even search their name.

    The reason you don’t necessarily have to have a GPS is because some caches can be found using the Google map that pops up after entering your search criteria.

    Geocaching has been around for nearly 10 years. TCIGIG says the adventures began after restrictions, or scrambling techniques, were removed from GPS in May 2000. TCIGIG says GPS receivers were made to be inaccurate up to 300 feet. Now that receivers are accurate within approximately 49 feet 90-percent of the time, it is possible to navigate to a specific location with more precision.

    You read, “adventure seekers” in the definition part of geocaching and hopefully you are still reading. You don’t have to be adventurous in the normal scope of the word to partake in geocaching. This is set up to be a family event and there are even caches hidden that are wheelchair accessible.

    To read in detail what geocaching is you will need to log onto geocaching.com or pick up The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Geocaching.

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