An introduction to Geocaching
The leading Geocaching website is Geocaching.com and once you have registered you can download cache details direct to your GPS (this is called paperless geocaching). Downloaded caches will be found in the GPS Geocaching manager; you will then be able to navigate to the cache using the GoTo feature in the GPS. You can upload, download & log any cache finds to the website.
Geocaching.com has been about for about ten years now and is probably the most widely used geocaching website. Once registered for standard membership you can download caches singly; however if you want to download multiple caches and view hints & logs in your GPS you will need premium membership which costs £24.99 per year.
Geocaches can take many forms; the main one being the Traditional Cache the original cache type which at a bare minimum is a container containing a log book. Normally you'll find a tupperware container, ammo box, or bucket filled with goodies, or smaller container ("micro cache") too small to contain items except for a log book. The coordinates listed on the traditional cache page are the exact location for the cache. The rule of thumb is, "If you take an item, leave an item, and write in the logbook."
There are two players in the game the person who places the cache and the person who is seeking the cache. As a geocacher you can place a geocache in the world, pinpoint its location using GPS technology and then share the geocache's existence and location online. Anyone with a GPS device can then try to locate the geocache.
You can also seek out caches and Log Your Experience. Once you have found a geocache the rule is: sign the logbook and return the geocache to its original location. Afterward, share your geocaching stories and photos online!
As well as caches there are trackable items like Geocoins, Travel Bugs and Promotionals they are items that move place to place, picking up stories along the way. You can track and search for items on this webpage then add your own story - visit UK Geocachers for official groundspeak merchandise etc.
Once logged into Geocaching.com you can search for caches by location (geocachers mainly use Lat/Long) or by entering the code of a specific geocache. Each Cache is given an official number/reference, the cache page lists the cache description, difficulty, terrain difficulty, cache note, cache hints and cache inventory (are there any travel bugs etc)
Standard membership restricts download to PC or GPS – full details of each cache are found in LOC Waypoint files and GPX exchange Files – Garmin owners can use the Send to GPS tab using Garminís Communicator plugin (found on Garmin.com/support). The main benefit of premium membership is access to multiple cache downloads and access to .gpx.files.
The latest trend is to move towards paperless geocaching; all this means that you move your caches directly from Geocaching.com to the Geocaching manager in your GPS and then log a cache find on the move and confirm your log visit back to geocaching.com – your visit then gets added to cache logs for the cache in question.
Many GPS & Mapping companies are working to make their products Geocaching friendly; all of the current range of Garmin Outdoors GPS units provide paperless geocaching. Some units like the Oregon 650 and Montana 650 include a camera for geotagging (link location & image) allowing you to share your geocaching stories and photos online!
The latest offering from Garmin takes this one step further by offering internet access; simply connect to your active GPS to the internet, open your Groundspeak app Login to your Geocaching.com account and hit the Find Nearby Geocaches tab. The app generates a list of nearby caches any of which can be saved to an Off Line List which can be used later when you have no internet access. Clever!!
If you are using a new generation Garmin device then you can combine this with Garmin's OS Discoverer mapping allowing you to navigate to a cache both on and off road – on road will give you turn by turn routing – off road gives direct routing.
eTrex Touch Range - Preloaded with 250k Geocaches
The new range of eTrex Touch Devices are great GPS to use for Geocaching, they have an easy to use pre-set Geocaching Activity Profile Screen and come pre-loaded with 250,000 Geocaches to get you started.
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