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Introduction to Geocaching

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Introduction to Geocaching

Over the years, TrustedReviews has looked at many different types of GPS device, from everyday car sat-navs to watches aimed at sports and handheld hiking aids. For the majority of these gadgets, GPS technology's ability to link the real world with abstract mapping schematics has been harnessed for getting you from A to B. But it has many other uses of a far more recreational nature.

Almost exactly 10 years ago, the GPS 'Selective Availability' limitation was removed, and orienteering enthusiasts were quick to realise the possibilities. A new hobby emerged, too, that combined this newly democratised technology with the age-old orienteering treasure hunt. Since 'geostashing' had some insalubrious connotations, it came to be known by the friendlier 'geocaching' instead.

The essence of geocaching is still a treasure hunt; you search for a hidden trove of goodies. Except that you use a GPS-enabled device to help you find it rather than just a paper map. The main hobby revolves around the eponymous website Geocaching.com. To use the features available on this site, you need to register. However, whilst there's a $30-per-annum Premium membership, you can still get the essential capabilities with the free Basic membership.

Once enrolled, you can search the massive database for geocaches near you or anywhere else in the world. There are well over a million active geocaches in hundreds of countries around the world, so this is a hobby of distinctly global proportions. From the search list, you can drill down to a specific entry. This calls up the precise location expressed as various types of coordinates, including the British Grid reference. There's a description of the location to help you find it, and usually a hint as to exactly what you're looking for, and maybe even a picture.

A geocache is generally a weatherproof box filled with various strange and sometimes surprising objects. There will usually be a notebook, too, within which you can record your success in finding the cache and any other comments you wish to make. But the other items could be anything from toys to quite curious paraphernalia. Part of the fun of geocaching is that you are allowed to take something out of the box, so long as you put something else back. The idea here is that regular geocachers will move objects from location to location, in the hopes that they end up in surprising places. For example, we found a medal that had clearly originated in France within a geocache located in a North London woodland.

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