geocachingA Brief Introduction to Geocaching In South Bruce Municipality
By Lynne Frank

Ah, the counting, the record-keeping and goal-setting. This is what happened to me in about mid-October as a geocacher. I’d looked at my ‘found’ count and realized I was very close to the 250 mark. I wanted to hit that target, despite the very rainy fall season we’d been having, before I pulled the batteries from my GPS when winter set in. I’ve enjoyed this hobby since July, 2009.

Geocaching is a world-wide ‘game’ of treasure hunting. Anyone can join in. Maybe you got a hand-held GPS for Christmas. You can borrow one free from a Bruce County library, or put the free app on your cell phone. You’ll need access to the internet. Go to www.geocaching.com┬áto set up a user name, your home location, and a password. The website will guide you through this.

Once you’re logged in, type in a desired location. Let’s say you are heading to Mildmay. Type that into the search box and a map will display all the geocaches hidden there, (by other cachers). Download these into your GPS. Some of the caches in and around this area describe the history, graveyards, geological points, or a nice hiking trail.

Hidden caches have three ratings; one on how difficult/tricky the item is to find, and two; how difficult the terrain is. The last is a scale to indicate the size of container that you’re looking for. A person in a wheelchair can participate! Kids love it. The immediate reward is the find itself. Sign the log sheet, and return everything as good as, or even better than, how you found it. Maybe there are trinkets to swap or a travel bug to move. Next time you log on to the geocaching.com website click onto that cache page and ‘found it.’ A running total is kept on your profile.

Here in Bruce County, there are not many ‘all-season’ caches. Snow on the ground is a major obstacle. Rail trails for walking and biking are now used for snowmobilers, so there’s obvious added danger. The container is likely buried under a ton of snow anyways, and really difficult to get to.

However, maybe you just got a new GPS and you want to play now! So, look at the last date a particular local cache was ‘found and read what that brave soul had commented about the conditions. If somebody logged a ‘found’ and you know January 6 was a typical Bruce County winter day, then go for it! ‘Urban’ caches are often ‘year-round.’ Try ‘Alice’ in Wingham, Huron county.) Look also for a new, year-round, wheelchair accessible cache at the Teeswater Public Library!

Also, while you’re on the geocaching website, go to ‘Shop’ then ‘International’ suppliers. Pick a Canadian retailer from the list. Have a close look at cache containers. This will help a lot when you’re on the hunt! It’s not cheating! Some caches also require answering questions to get the co-ordinates for the real find. You can do that at home by the fireplace.

In spring we hope to host an ‘introduction to geocaching’ day here in South Bruce! We have a rail trail to hike, interesting old graveyards and historic buildings to discover. We hope to see you out, whether you have 3 finds or 3000! Look for details here and on www.geocaching.com