by Kelly Tolbert, Recreation Services Coordinator, Prescott Parks and Recreation
Looking for an inclusive, outdoor activity that requires critical thinking and takes you places you have not yet discovered?
Geocaching may just be the perfect activity. Essentially cost free, this fun-for-all-ages outdoor recreation activity uses a Global Positioning System (GPS) device, either a receiver or mobile, sending geocachers on a treasure hunt of sorts.
Brief history of geocaching
What is now known as geocaching began in 2002.
Curiosity as to the accuracy and preciseness of locations, coupled with prospective technological advances inspired the first documented geocache (at this early stage it was essentially a container serving as a navigational target) to be hidden in the woods outside Portland, Oregon.
The waypoints of this hidden treasure were posted on an online satellite navigation community and within several days the Great American Stash Hunt, as deemed by original stasher Dave Ulmer, began to gain zealous energy within the GPS community.
One of the first discoverers of Ulmer’s hidden treasure was Mike Teague whose initial contributions set the precedence for tracking the influx of coordinates posted by other GPS Stash Hunt participants (his personally named web page).
Shortly after its inception, a user of the GPS Stash Hunt named Matt Stum coined the term geocaching, derived from the prefix geo (meaning earth) and cache (having two meanings: temporary hiding places and more recently computer related storage).
Another GPS enthusiast, Jeremy Irish, became familiar with Teague’s website and immediately went treasure hunting. He was so pleased with his experience that he decided to use his web developing skills to create new amenities to the existing website. Eventually collaborating on the creation of Geocaching.com, Teague and Irish launched the site with about 75 caches all over the world.
Deemed the world’s largest treasure hunt on the official global website geocaching.com, getting started is as easy as setting up your account, locating nearby geocaches by entering a zip code, and then entering your information in the log book (and online) once you find the geocache.
The activity has grown in leaps and bounds as other fun embellishments such as trackable, tradable, and various novelty items have been added to caches leading quite an evolution since the initial stash days of Ulmer’s black bucket only containing a log with videos, books, software and a slingshot.
Since receiving national press coverage, this hide-and-seek based hobby has grown exponentially since after the early days in 2000. There are now reportedly over 2 million geocaches worldwide. Sophistication of contents varies among caches and each is generally rated on a difficulty scale of 1 to 5. The Prescott area alone features over 2000 geocaches within a 10-mile radius and features several top ranked caches in the world. Geocachers travel from all over the world to hunt caches in Prescott, adding greatly to our tourism economy.
While Geocaching.com remains the official website for the hobby, a quick Google search provides information on local meet-up groups, reviews on geographical areas that feature caches, as well as other general advice on successful geocaching.
Being a Prescott resident has many benefits, some better known than others. Geocaching is an excellent opportunity to get out and explore new areas, perhaps incorporate a little exercise, use the thinking skills, or perhaps rediscover a desire for adventure.