If you have visited local parks or hiking trails, chances are you have passed a geocache, but you would never actually spot it unless you were looking — aided by a GPS device.
Geocaching is a fun way to turn family walks into an interactive experience. The concept: Ordinary folks stash containers known as “caches” in their favorite local parks or areas of interest and then register them at geocaching.com, with geographic coordinates and fun hints.
The outdoor activity was first devised in 2000, and was available to a small niche of hobbyists who owned handheld GPS devices. But now, with the ubiquity of smartphones, anyone can download an app and participate.
Try to find just one, and you’ll see it is an addictive hobby and great way to explore our area. You just might find yourself somewhere you have never been, right in your hometown.
Caches can be hung from a tree, stuffed in stump or buried under a pile of pine needles or leaves. The idea is to make them nearly impossible to stumble across unintentionally.
Caches may be very small, containing nothing more than a pencil and small pad to sign to let other geocachers know you’ve been there. Other caches are a bit bigger — ammunition boxes and small Rubbermaid containers are common — and contain trinkets for trading. When a geocacher locates the container, he takes out a trinket, leaves one of his own, and logs it in the notebook.
The trinkets are commonly small and have little to no monetary value, such as a matchbox car or wooden coin, so there is no incentive for anyone to steal a cache.
The geocaching community also practices “cache in, trash out,” in which they remove any litter they find while cache-hunting.
Start the hunt by visiting geocaching.com and entering your ZIP code to see the nearest caches and coordinates. If you don’t have a handheld GPS, you can download an app from the website for $9.99 that is adept at getting you to each cache. The app provides photos and hints, plus logs of others who found the cache.
There are numerous places around the Three Village area to find existing geocaches. According to geocaching.com, there are several at the Greenway Trail, Setauket Harbor, Avalon Park, Stony Brook University.
Season: All year
Note: Because geocaching often takes cache-seekers off the beaten path, it’s a good idea to wear long pants tucked into socks, and long-sleeve white shirts. It may look a little goofy, but it is better than getting poison ivy and being bitten by deer ticks.
Do you love adventure? Consider on Patch.