DAN ANDREWS/Niagara Outdoors
Ever try something new out of curiosity and find you just can’t quit?
After investigating this story I have formed a new habit.
Not drugs or alcohol or even anything daring or dangerous.
There is no great rush or riches to be earned either.
Just good clean fun that is environmentally friendly and reasonably inexpensive.
Geocaching is an easy game that everyone can enjoy. It is an outdoor activity for the most part but does require a computer to a degree.
This makes it the perfect transitional tool to get the kids off the computer and outside to play again.
It may even get Grandma and Grandpa outside to play with them.
An all ages version of hide and seek, this game requires an account with http://www.geocaching.com/ and a hand held GPS unit. Simply use the geocaching website to program your GPS (Global Positioning System) and then use the unit to find hidden treasures near you and around the world.
The GPS unit will run you just under $200 and the hidden treasures are placed everywhere! If you check the geocaching map you will surely find some in your neighbourhood.
Spaced no less than 161 meters apart there almost seems to be a race to fill in areas of Niagara where caches haven’t already been placed. You should have no trouble trying this activity out within a short walk from your home.
So what exactly is geocaching? I’ll let the geocaching website explain that themselves in less than two minutes.
Geocaching has introduced me to places and features in Niagara I never knew we had.
There are many different types of caches but the ones I like the most are the ones that get me into that little gorge or waterfall that I didn’t know existed and places with historical significance.
I have been to the Shorthills and the St John’s Conservation Area but just recently discovered Marlene Stewart Streit Park which is also located within the Fonthill Kame-Delta. I would not have found this park if not for geocaching. All the major parks in Niagara have geocaching opportunities within them.
There are ratings listed online for each cache that let you know the difficulty to find it and ratings for the terrain. Some require wading and climbing while others can be found from a wheelchair.
Once you’re hooked you’ll likely find yourself progressing to more challenging searches and even hiding some yourself for others to find. Hiding them is even more fun because it gives you a chance to prove how cunning you can be with your camouflage. Experienced cachers like a cache that is near impossible to find!
I recently attended a geocaching wing night which happens on the third Monday of the month at a restaurant in the North end of St Catharines. Here I met some very young outdoors people, along with some senior citizens.
There were people covered in tattoos, some wearing cowboy hats and a good turnout from the church community also. It is perhaps the most diverse crowd I have ever met under one roof to celebrate a single activity.
The geocaching community is the friendliest most helpful bunch of people you will ever encounter.
On April 20, cachers were to join together to hold a C.I.T.O. (Cache In Trash Out) event.
This trash cleanup event was scheduled for Saturday as part of International CITO weekend and events like this will occur all around the globe.
This CITO event in Eastmount Park on Thorncliff Drive will be the only one held in Niagara during Earth Day weekend and has been organized by cachers Hellnite and Team Dyverdown and will start at 1 p.m.
If the weather turns really bad it will be bumped to Sunday. Cachers will join together to find a series of hidden containers in the woods and then proceed with a clean up effort.
If you’re interested in investigating further be forewarned! Geocaching can be an addictive activity that will convert your TV and facebook time into outdoor excursions and will make every road trip and out of town visit a research project before you leave home.
You’ll be adding geocache hides to your GPS before ever leaving town and it will add miles of walking to every vacation. You will likely be outwitted by small children and you’ll never look at your recycles the same with every container being a possible place to hide a logbook and pencil.
For more information about geocaching visit: www.geocaching.com/guide/
I recommend signing up for an account and viewing the map to see just how many of the over two billion caches are in your neck of the woods and start planning your CITO geocaching event for next year’s Earth Day celebrations.