I love the fall! In September we’ve kayaked down the Teeswater River a few times, fished and bicycled and hiked as well. I love geocaching in the fall too, there are less bugs! One thing I didn’t expect I’d find myself doing was setting up a tent and camping in the great outdoors for a few nights. I attended a very big geocaching event, GHAGAFAP #14.

Geocaching celebrated 15 years of play this summer, GHAGAFAP 14 years. There are over 2.7 million geocaches hidden world-wide, and over 6 million cachers looking for them! Google, (let’s just say the world-wide common use of the internet), has been around for 17 years. So, really this game and technology have grown up together. What I learned though, is how technology has added some different dimensions to geocaching than I’ve played it!

On the geocaching.com website if you use Mildmay as the search area, you see there are 170 caches hidden within a 10 km radius. At GHAGAFAP I ‘logged’ three events and found about a dozen caches though there are hundreds nearby. Somewhere along the way I found my 400th since I started in 2009. Lots of ‘virtual smiley faces’.

Part of the event is ‘meet & greet’ time. I met many cachers, some from Ohio and Denmark! I met an elderly couple celebrating 10,000 finds. Not sure there’d be many D 5’s, (VERY difficult terrain), for them, but they obviously aren’t sitting still in their retirement years. I met cachers who haven’t done any active searching for a year or two. They attend the event because they love the setting, the activities and the camaraderie. I understand fully! I had worries that I’d be surrounded by techno geeks and over-the-top David Suzukish nature-lovers but there was a great mix of interesting people and families who like to camp, be social, and maybe do some geocaching!

I did most of my hiking, canoeing, campfire-time and geocaching with a couple other ladies I already had met at other geocaching events, (and Kinettes). We laughed, drank campfire coffee and gabbed a lot. We also took part in a Car Rally on the Sunday. I wished I had KITT the talking car, like in the old tv show Knight Rider, but my co-pilots were entertaining and helpful! We did need a hand-held GPS. That was as ‘tecchy’ as any of us got.

‘The Bushwhacker’ and ‘Pink Panda’ took me night caching- where ‘higher use of technology’ is often involved. These people go with very high-powered flashlights, LED flashlights and UV flashlights for their searches. I thought looking for a 4″x 4″ camo-taped box in the woods was tough enough, but there are hiders and hunters of QR codes, “Munzies” (beware- some are fake). We found one stuck on the side of a rock! These cachers sat at the computer and deciphered special codes and mathematical problems to gain the first set of physical co-ordinates before setting out on the trail. A few times, a virtual search, (on the internet with I-phones), was initiated during the hunt. Like ‘normal’ geocaching, it takes familiarization to enjoy these twists. With the use of a ‘normal’ flashlight though, I found a large container in a log and solved a Freud Cube!

Another helpful tool for solving/setting up geocaches is a book titled HOW TO PUZZLE CACHES by Cully Long, (which my friends have). Bruce County Library system now has two copies! There are a lot of helpful websites as well, Swiss Army Knife, Geocachers Toolbox,…You know, just ‘Google” it.

There are a lot of night caches in and near larger ‘urban’ areas. No many out here… We’re already ‘out in nature’ so we perhaps don’t feel the need to get extreme. Our i-phones and tablets hit a lot of dead air. We run a greater risk of encountering larger-sized wildlife and poorly maintained roads too,… but I’d go again with them! I’ll go again to GAGAFAP sometime. I met a lot of nice people and had a great time. You meet a lot of nice people out on a trail geocaching, go grab a hand-held GPS from your library or health unit and try it! The weather’s perfect!