My Geocaching story…….

Recently someone asked me what is this geocaching that I often mention. So I thought I’d share some of my experiences and tell you how it has enriched my life and helped me through some really difficult times.

Geocaching is a game using Satellites and coordinates to search for a container or location of interest using an app or a GPSr. When you find what you are looking for you can sign the log sheet and log your find online. It’s basically a treasure hunt. If you would like to look at the website look here: https://www.geocaching.com/play/search

I started looking for treasure (ok small bits of Tupperware) back in 2010 using my phone app. Slowly at first then becoming more drawn in to the game. (I will mention that this was to be a free hobby, apart from a small yearly subscription for the premium membership. However over the years as the game changed for me it saw me buy a VW Campervan, a few inflatable kayaks, climbing kit, knee pads, walking boots and clothes, a decent GPS amongst other things)

After a while I heard that geocaching events were organised in the county where I live and I went along. I knew Nick and he met me at the pub where the event was being held and introduced me to a few others. Little did I know how much some of these friends would mean to be and how tightly the friendships would form over the coming years.

Gradually I joined other like minded people in organised walks and events exploring the countryside and some of the pubs in and around the area for a well deserved drink at the end of the walk.

Still smiling through the mud.

Now you don’t have to go on long walks, you can just find one cache maybe near you place of work or on your route to somewhere else.

A few years on and my adventure took me to Brugge in Belgium where a larger Mega event was being held. My dad and son came along to and we made a holiday out of the trip. My dad discovered that he also enjoyed caching in his own way and loved to drive me around so I could jump out the van and sign the log or stand back whilst I searched and searched before he said “why are you looking there? Perhaps you should look here” he had a rather good eye for spotting something out of the ordinary.

Mega event in Germany.

Now I was really hooked. I could combine my love of travel and exploring off the beaten track locations with friends and family, looking up the caches descriptions and photos to plan my next foreign adventure. I consider caching to be my travel guide.

Over the years I’ve found caches in many European countries as well as America, Canada, St Lucia, Norway, the Channel Islands and many more.

The Channel Islands, Guernsey in particular was where I was to find my milestone 1000th cache. I’d asked on their local Facebook group if any could recommend a worthy find and Terry answered my message. He said he would meet me and help me at a cave cache. This was the start of a fabulous long friendship with him and his partner Sandy we have since met up on many occasions either in England or back on the island.

The lost world cache in Guernsey.

Then I must have got to an age where I wanted to see how far I could push myself and you can still do this with geocaching. First I found myself crawling through tunnels, wadding through murky water, paddling my inflatable kayak along the river Medway, climbing small trees and then I met Rich.

Getting ready for our 24 hour caching adventure to France, Belgium and Holland

We spoke about our need for adventure and started to combine our caching with climbing. We had a lesson with another Cacher who was qualified in rope work and off we went. Climbing trees and a sailing off stuff. Rich and I even did a weekend recreational tree climbing course with in-depth instructions and rescue techniques.

Yep, I am hanging off a bridge.

This expanded our hobby as we were now off caching in Europe where they love their out door sports and adrenaline rushes. Holland, Germany, Luxembourg, Belgium, France, Austria. Wow some fantastic adventures, great food and such interesting locations.

Slowly however things began to change. Rich could no longer climb but that was ok. The beauty of caching is that you can adapt the way you cache to suit your needs.

We had a more gentle pace and our friend Matt started to hold small events in superb little cafes that Rich was comfortable to attend and that I could still join in for a short walk after. This meant so much as it kept us in touch with our friends and enabled us to get out.

Then we lost Rich, then dad, then lockdown happened. Then I needed major surgery. When would it all end? We were all isolated. No longer able to go out and meet friends, stop at a cafe or pub for refreshments. For quite a while I also didn’t want to cache as it just wasn’t the same without Rich. How could it be? And to be honest I didn’t want to try and make it the same as it had been before as that wouldn’t be right.

Months passed and finally we were able to meet up with a few friends. The beauty of caching is that is it outdoors but did I want to be finding and touching Tupperware with a world pandemic? Also I hadn’t yet walked to far after surgery so wasn’t sure how much I could manage. As it turned out I could do short walks but twisting and bending were a slight issue.

So time to rethink. How could I carry on with this hobby? A type of cache called adventure lab had expanding rapidly. It’s similar in the traditional caches but instead of finding a container you go to a set of coordinates and look to answer a question online. Perfect. This means I could have bite size walks, in towns and villages, stop when I needed to and not have to bend down or handle any containers.

Little did I know this was the start of my new favourite bit of caching. So much so when we could travel again I would choose destinations and days out based on where a set of labs could be found.

I’ve seen some beautiful villages and architecture on my recent travels and of course I love to stop and look at the gardens.

Then going forward a new series was released. I’m not often bothered by completing a whole series these days, as it’s more about the days out and friendships however, this one has quirky cache containers, some similar to the ones I had seen in Seattle and art work around the east coast of England.

Here is the link if anyone would like to find out more.

https://www.englandscreativecoast.com/see-and-do/englands-creative-coast-art-geotour/

So far I’m about half way through the series and have seen some fantastic coastal areas. I’m really enjoying the various art works, street arts and architecture that I’ve come across and of course it’s always nice to be by the sea.

Last weekend I enjoyed a last minute camping getaway with my geotour and walking buddy Martin. A series of 107 caches all puzzle types that had to be solved to obtain the corrected coordinates to reveal the route. Some were simple questions to research the answers and some were online jigsaw puzzles. Another part of caching that fills time when your relaxing at home.

Despite breaking the series into sections and waking 20 miles over two days we didn’t get to complete the series as the weather on the first day had other ideas. We were soaked, Suzy was not impressed so we headed off to find our campsite. Later on the weather did brighten up so we enjoyed a walk round the village of Ashwell completing a series of lab caches and Suzy got to enjoy padding in the crystal clear springs

Mummies little helper having a lie down on the long walk.

Matt messaged whilst I was away to say well done for getting so many points in the new caching challenge. I wasn’t really aware there was a new challenge but hey another good reason to continue with the Geotour. The idea is to virtually climb a mountain by collecting points based on what type of cache you find.

REACH THE PEAK

Inspired by the mountaineering challenge of reaching the summits of the tallest mountains on all seven continents, we’re inviting you on a challenge to reach new heights in geocaching. From August 2 at noon UTC through March 6, 2022, earn up to two new souvenirs each month of the challenge by collecting enough points to reach the summit of each month’s mountain. The points required to earn the summit souvenir each month will correspond to the height of that month’s mountain. Geocachers who earn all 14 souvenirs will earn an additional meta souvenir. Search for Reach the Peak on the official Geocaching Blog to learn more.

Am I bothered by finding caches to be rewarded with points and souvenirs? Not so much, but what was great about this was that Matt had messaged me after spotting that I’d already completed the August challenge on day one! So ok I’m not fussed either way if I complete it but the positive thing about it is that it gave us something to talk about, message each other and see what our other friends were up to. Kept us socialising. So important after the last 18 months.

So there you go. An insight into the world of geocaching and how it can evolve and adapt to your limitations and interests. There is so much more but I won’t go into it here. Why not sign up on the website and have a go yourself.

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