Here's an article that appeared in The Patriot News (Harrisburg) this week.
Tuesday, July 08, 2003
BY PAT CARROLL
Of The Patriot-News
If you want something more out of your trip to the woods than trees and flowers and bears, you might try the new game of geocaching.
(Warning: It's an equipment sport, and one that involves using the Internet.)
Here's the idea: Somebody hides a package in the woods, somebody else tries to find it.
Now here's the idea on steroids: Somebody hides a package inside a thorny, brambly shrub in the middle of bushwhacking country, takes a read on a handheld navigation device, then goes home and posts the coordinates on the Internet at www.geocaching.com.
Somebody else logs on, gets the coordinates and busts their brains trying to find it. If they do, they might put it back, or take it and leave an item of similar utility: a music CD for a music CD, a book for a book, and so on.
Joel Rackley, a software analyst, thought it might be something fun to do with his son Brendan, an eighth-grader at East Pennsboro Middle School.
So for Christmas, Brendan got a 5.3-ounce Garman eTrex, a handheld navigation device linked to the U.S. Global Positioning System.
GPS is a system developed by the Department of Defense to provide navigation signals from satellites 12,000 miles above Earth. There are two signals: an encrypted military code and an open free signal for civilians to use to determine positions on land or sea.
Most GPS use is by civilians, in everything from automotive navigation systems to wilderness hiking to . . . geocaching.
This spring, Staos and Neonnoodle (aka Rackley and Rackley) cached a green ammo box full of CDs at North 40.16.413 (that's north 40 degrees, 16 minutes, 41 seconds) by West 076.56.39, near a tree in Adams Ricci Park, East Pennsboro.
They posted it on the Web with the warning:
"VERY HEAVY OVERGROWTH during summer, lots of thorns. Wear long clothes."
The Rackleys had already made several finds. This was their first hide
"It was pretty cool seeing more people come to our cache in three months than some other local caches in nine months," Brendan said. "I think a lot of people were surprised at how hard it was to get to. If you look at it on a map, it looks like just another part of Adams-Ricci, but if you go there, you will have to bushwhack a good 100 feet before you get to the cache site."
Last month, a cache-searcher whose Web user name is jt-3rd posted, "Tried this one about three weeks ago. Considering ourselves fearless of any Geocache, we will have to admit this one SLAUGHTERED us. Sticker bushes? Ha! Those might as well have been the concertina barbed wire on a Federal supermax prison."
This week, a more experienced hunter code-named Columbo said, "Required some major bushwhacking due to heavy undergrowth. Camouflage was not needed to hide this one in the summer -- nature has taken care of that. Took a CD, left a CD and signed the log. Thanks for the cache."
The log is part of the geocache ethic.
Actually, the cache can be just a logbook in a waterproof container, with information from the person who founded the cache and notes from those who discover it. At the least, according to the protocol, a visitor should note the date and time.
Geocaching.com has a substantial log of frequently asked questions about the game, and a buyer's guide to GPS units.
Buxley's Geocaching Waypoint, a site that indexes caches, puts Pennsylvania 11th among the states in density of hidden treasures, with 1,402 caches published. Buxley maps them all, with links to the directions on geocaching.com.
PAT CARROLL: 255-9149 or email@example.com