Geocaching a rewarding experience

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Adventurous, daring and intrepid — these are three words no one would ever use to describe me. They are, however, words that describe a sport gaining popularity around the world: geocaching. Inspired by a new geocaching club at K-State, I thought I would expand my horizons and give it a try.

When I first heard about geocaching, I figured it was an obscure sport that was still on the periphery of the sporting world, but I soon learned I was wrong. The more people I talked to, the more apparent it became that geocaching is already very popular in the U.S. A few of my friends had even been geocaching for several years and I never knew.

After hearing all of their geocaching stories, I was even more excited to get started. I began by logging on to Geocaching.com and making a free profile. By becoming a member, I got access to the coordinates of all online geocaches and the encrypted clues that often accompany them. I thought I would start small, so I chose a location right here on campus. The description of the cache I chose said that it was a small container of mixtapes, which also seemed like the perfect choice.

For every item you remove from a cache you have to add an item, so I made an awesome mixtape to contribute to the cache. After that, I looked up the coordinates, decoded the clue — which was also a Harry Potter reference, major bonus — and was on my way. I ventured to the location given on the Web site with the help of a couple fellow geocachers, and we began our search.

After looking in every nook and cranny we could and getting a few strange looks from passersby, we decided maybe we were not the explorers we originally thought we were. We had spent 45 minutes looking everywhere we could think of and had no cache to show for it.

Slightly exasperated, we decided to try an easier cache that was located across campus. We went to the landmark that the cache was supposedly planted around and began our second try. The other students who happened to be hanging out near the landmark were skeptical of us looking through bushes and brush at first, but quickly joined us in our search.

After a couple of minutes one of our new geocaching friends found the tiny cache, and we were all excited to see what treasures it held. Inside was a long list of everyone who had found the cache and the date they found it, the most recent being just two days before. The finder signed the log and returned it to its hiding spot for the next curious geocacher.

Even though we didn’t accomplish our original goal, it was still a fun and fruitful adventure. I got to see parts of campus I had never bothered to look at before, while having a good time with friends. If looking on my own campus was fun, I can only imagine how cool it would be to travel to remote and scenic places to find all kinds of caches.

My first experience as a geocacher definitely opened my mind to the sport, and I’m really glad I got to try it.

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