Bucket List Adventures: Geocaching

A geocache near the Bluemont Bell on June 22, 2015 contains the dates and names of those who have found it. Many different geocaches exist in Manhattan, including many on the K-State campus. (George Walker | The Collegian)

Last week, I started checking items off my “To do before I graduate” list with a ride on a tandem bike. Today, I am officially able to check off another one: geocaching.

I say “officially” because this was the first time that I personally found a geocache, despite having participated in the activity before. In prior attempts, I have always been bested by nature, my own patience or by a fellow searcher.

Even though geocaches can be found all over the world, including Manhattan, it seems not many people had ever geocached before. Jessica Dickens, senior in music education, said she believed geocaching was an activity in which “you pick up rocks and take them somewhere to get money.”

Dana Kilbride, senior in elementary education, similarly knew very little about geocaching, though her guess was a bit closer to the truth.

“(Geocaching is) a treasure hunt set up by adventurous people for other adventurous people to find,” Kilbride said.

Laura Wallace, 2014 K-State alumna, guessed the closest to the actual definition, with, “it is a worldwide scavenger hunt based on GPS coordinates.”

According to Geocaching.com, the definition of geocaching is “a real-world, outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices. Participants navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates and then attempt to find the geocache (container) hidden at that location.”

Jamie Teixeira, senior in English, and I began our geocaching adventure by searching for nearby containers on Geocaching.com. With every geocache, players are typically provided with the difficulty and terrain rating, a hint that is often encrypted, a decryption key and GPS coordinates of the hidden container.

The first geocache Teixeira and I searched for was titled Bluemont Bell. The difficulty and terrain are both one star out of five, an easy hunt. The coded hint reads “Ybbx pybfr vg znl or uvqqra va gur ohfurf” and when it is paired with its key the result reads, “Look close it may be hidden in the bushes.” The coordinates are N 39° 11.396,W 096° 34.772.

We quickly found the “Bluemont Bell” capsule and signed our names on the little slip of paper inside. The rewarding feeling after perseverance and puzzle-solving is incredible. Geocaching is now one of my favorite hobbies, and is a great free activity to do with friends!

After learning more about geocaching, Wallace, Dickens and Kilbride said they would love to try it sometime.

“I always grew up on adventure stories, so (geocaching is) kind of like having your own adventure,” Kilbride said.

Rachel Nyhart is a senior in anthropology.