Geocache Your way to Treasure

BY CHLOE SEEGER

The cool, autumn breeze adds color to our cheeks. I have brought my son with me for this excursion. We cross the old, winding Chapel Road, rightfully named for the century-stood stone, and white steeple chapel with its congregation of tumbling, weathering headstones.

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Leaves and pine cones crunch under our feet. We pause at the gate. My phone chimes that we are close to what has brought us here, a cache.

Nature enthusiasts, adventure lovers and geology buffs become the hiders and seekers in the game of geocaching. Geocaching is a recreational activity where treasures are hid in a stash, which can range in many forms. A cache vessel can be something as simple as a plastic food container or a waterproof lock box.

Some caches are very creative, like camouflage tubes hanging from trees or can be disguised as rocks. Inside the cache box is usually a log book to record the past visitors along with various trinkets or charms. Determined individuals can try to find these hidden objects by means of a global positioning system (GPS). The GPS tracks the searcher’s coordinates.

This activity, since becoming easily accessible and readily available, has become a worldwide phenomenon. Geocaching can be as local as a neighbor’s backyard and city landscapes to as far off as the remote terrain of the wilderness.

There are apps that can be downloaded onto an Android or iPhone that serve as the GPS and map. One app that is simply called Geocaching, which is produced by the company Groundspeak, is free. Once the app is downloaded, the username is set, and the location on the device is turned on, the explorer is ready.

When the individual’s location is entered, the app will show a map with the closest geocaches. The available caches in the free level of the app are green and when tapped reveal a description of the hoard.

The caches are rated on difficulty, terrain and size. The description should have directions and hints to finding the cache. When close and ready, one can tap the “start” arrow and begin their adventure.

When I went with my son, our adventure really started when we passed through the timeworn gates surrounding the Heart Prairie Chapel. My son was a little inquisitive as to why we were in the middle of a cemetery.

Little did my son know that we were about to embark on an escapade that at times became frustrating.

 

The cache was rated 1.5 out of 5.0 for both difficulty and terrain. It was listed as a small cache. The terrain rating was on point, but the difficulty of the find was worsened by the inaccuracy of the app.

At times the GPS on the app was showing our position to be in the lake. Also, we would move 10 feet and the GPS would maintain the same location. This may have also been because we were in the country and the data coverage was spotty.

We eventually found the small cache by looking around where the GPS determined the cache to be. By the grace of the cache Gods, we found it.

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The small plastic container held the gems. There was no log book, as other caches usually have. There was a chain pin, army solider and a golden Buddha in the cache. We left a Spiderman top.

At times, the hunt was difficult, but finding it was rewarding. We are going to hunt for more because according to the geocache website, it will get easier to find them and eventually easier to create our own.

Some caches close to the Mount Mary University campus:

I Spy a Pirate
Located in Underwood City Park
Difficulty: 1.5 Terrain: 1.5 Size: XS
Geocache details: GC388ZZ

ZH53226-01 City of Wauwatosa
Located at North Ave. and Menomonee River Parkway.
Difficulty: 1.5 Terrain: 1.5 Size: XS
Geocache details: GC21VA9

Cache mCow
Located on the Medical College of Wisconsin grounds
Difficulty: 1.5 Terrain: 1.0 Size: —
Geocache details: GC1ZAZ8

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