Have you ever wanted to be like Indiana Jones, the treasure hunter from the Raiders of the Lost Ark movie? A similar life of adventure can be yours without having to venture far from home, through the sport of geocaching.
Geocaching involves hiding or searching for hidden treasures planted by you or other cachers. Armed with a GPS unit (or a downloaded Global Positioning System application on your phone) and a list of treasure sites (www.geocaching.com), you can quickly be on your way to uncovering hidden gems in your own neighborhood.
There are more than one million geocaches worldwide and 3,500 of them are in the Sacramento region. Chances are that you drive past the hidden containers every day. You may find them anywhere, such as parks, office exteriors, parking lots, trees, bridges and signposts.
Some caches are quite easy to spot while others, even with a GPS unit, take a bit of searching. For these more difficult ones, you need to be able to put yourself into the mindset of a treasure hunter. Stealth and patience are also desirable traits for geocaching. You want to avoid leading other cachers to the treasure spot and you want to be invisible to “muggles” (ordinary citizens who might observe and question your expedition).
Don’t count on uncovering diamonds or real gold in your quest, but you might find sparkling jewels (fake, of course), toys, coupons, tokens, coins or clues to another location. If you’re lucky, you might encounter a “travel bug” which is a trackable treasure. After finding the bug, you transport it to another cache and go online to log its new location. It’s fascinating to monitor the route of the traveling piece as it wends its way around the world.
The sport is kid and pet friendly. You can even join local clubs, such as the River City Geocaching and Dining Society or the Northstate Unusual Treasure Seekers Section for camaraderie and events. Special interest subgroups exist too, such as those that specialize in locating geocoins (trackable geocaching coins) or National Geodetic Survey location markers.
As I write, I’m feeling the pull of the treasure quest coming over me. I hear there’s a “travel bug” at the “Cleared for Takeoff” cache located one mile northwest of the Natomas center. Will I see you there?