By Chandler Walter, Editor-in-Chief
I recently started geocaching again, and (I’m hoping that) it has changed my life for the better.
For any of you who have no idea what geocaching is—you’re what’s known as “muggles” to the community—here’s a brief breakdown for you: Geocaching is the act of going outside, following GPS directions off your smartphone to a specific location, and hunting down a hidden a container of varying sizes. It’s basically a 21st century treasure hunt, except instead of finding gold, you’ll discover small trinkets and a logbook you get to write your name into.
There’s no monetary gain to be made by tracking down these containers, nor do you really learn anything other than what obscure parts of your neighbourhood look like. What the real draw is, for me at least, is that it provides a reason to get outside.
I was most definitely the guy who went all in on Pokémon Go. I’d be ripping around on my longboard going from pokestop to pokestop, gym to gym, living my very best Pokémon Master life. For those first few months after the app launched I spent more time outdoors than I probably had in the previous two years combined. I unfortunately had to put an end to my Pokémon quest once it became clear that my iPhone 5 battery seriously couldn’t keep up, and I went back to spending the majority of my free time indoors.
It should also be made clear that I’m not the kind of person to go for a walk just for the sake of going for a walk. I wish I could, but it’s just not me. And, finally, that’s where geocaching comes back in.
Geocaching has given me a fun reason for getting outdoors on those days when it would be a shame to stay inside, and it has also brought me into a community of people who are going about their business completely unseen. My first cache in Vancouver found me chatting with two people who were also on the hunt for a tricky magnetic cache I’d found in Yaletown. We chatted for a while about how weird it was that no one else had any idea that these things were basically everywhere, and then went about our business logging our names on the tiny scrap of paper.
There’s just something so damn euphoric about finding a container the size of an eraser in sneaky spot, or logging a cache as “found” in the app’s database. These things are all over, so the next one is always no more than a few hundred feet away. This weekend I logged about seven kilometres of walking, but that was all done in small increments, with me stopping every so often to lift up rocks, peek under roots, and just look generally suspicious to those around me.
I’m thrilled to have a reason to head outside now that spring is on the horizon, even if it is for a quick find here or there.
I’d definitely recommend trying it out to anyone who wants to spend less time on their couch or in front of screens—the app is free, and it’s a seriously unique experience.
You may have to get a little dirty now and then, but that’s all part of the fun.