At L.L.Bean, we’re always challenging ourselves to find and share new ways to enjoy the outdoors with our fans and customers. That’s why we’re sharing the ins and outs of an activity we’ve loved for years: geocaching.
Just what is geocaching, you may ask? A hide-and-seek game, geocaching is a fun way to get the whole family outside. Think of it as a treasure hunt. Participants either assemble or seek a container, known as a cache, hidden among nature’s trails. Caches are filled with surprises of all shapes and sizes, even occasionally including a rubber duckie or set of playing cards.
So, how to get started?
Step #1: Location, Location, Location
1. Follow the rules – When deciding where to place a cache, make sure you’ve read up on local laws and regulations. As a rule, caches cannot be placed in national parks.
2. Find a balance – Select a hiding place that won’t frighten locals who may encounter the unfamiliar-looking vessel. Be mindful of your surroundings and make sure your cache is not so deeply entrenched that seekers might destroy natural surroundings in order to find it.
3. Ask for permission – If you’d like to place your cache on private land, ask the landowners first. If you’d like to hide it in a public area, make sure to get in touch with the land manager before doing so
1. Search – Select a geocache to explore by visiting a geocaching Web site. We like Geocaching.com, which provides a searchable database of local geocaches.
2. Pick a geocache – We suggest that first-timers and families seek traditional, regular or large caches with a difficulty and terrain level of 1. They are easier to spot, and the contents of the cache tend to be more fun for kids.
Step #2: Prepare & Pack
1. Prepare a cache – Make sure the packaging is durable. Tupperware is a great option, as it’s affordable and withstands severe weather.
2. Label the cache – Clearly mark the package as a geocache with the words “Official Geocache,” a name of your choosing, and your contact information. The geocache should be easily identifiable by participants.
A welcome note – write a welcome note for finders. Here’s an example.
Cache Items – Place fun, affordable goodies inside the container. Use your imagination! A disposable camera that finders can use to take pictures of themselves in the chosen location is a great option. Wrap each item individually in a plastic zip baggie to ensure the items will be protected from the elements.
Logbook – Pack a logbook with a soft lead pencil that won’t freeze in cold weather. All visitors can sign upon arrival at your cache.
1. Pack everything potentially necessary – Before you set out, check the weather forecast to make sure you’re outfitted appropriately for the day’s weather. Don’t forget to pack a flashlight (if you’re headed out in the evening), snacks, water and your GPS device or smartphone, too.
2. Waypoint – A waypoint marks your geocache’s location. Make sure to enter the coordinates of your waypoint into a GPS or smartphone before heading out.
Step #3: X Marks the Spot
1. Mark an average waypoint – This can be done automatically with a GPS or manually by using a GPS to approach the selected location from seven to ten directions at different times of day (to account for the satellite’s movement and varying detection capabilities). Mark your GPS coordinates each time and calculate an average once you have them all. Write the coordinates on the container, as well as on another sheet of paper to take home with you (in case you forget!).
2. Registration – Register the geocache here, making sure to include detailed attributes to describe the container and its location.
3. Maintenance – Return to the geocache from time to time to make sure it’s in tip-top shape.
1. Turn on your GPS – Upon arriving at the trailhead, save your current location as a waypoint. This way, if you get lost, you’ll be able to find your way back.
2. Enjoy the view – Don’t forget that the whole purpose of this activity is to take advantage of the outdoors.
3. Find the cache – Write your name in the logbook, trade items from the container, and take a moment to enjoy the view. Now, it’s time to find your next one!
Have you ever participated in a geocache? What goodies did you find or leave inside?