Those who follow me on Twitter will already be aware of my antics this past Saturday afternoon. Me and Mini-MaFt went geocaching – now if you don’t know what it is then check out the geocaching website but, put simply, it is a GPS/SatNav-based treasure hunt. You get a set of coordinates from the website along with a title and a clue and you have to find the ‘treasure’. Groundspeak, the company behind the geocaching website, recently released an iPhone app which links to the geocaching website allowing you to find local caches, see the hints and read other peoples reports on how they got on.
Armed with my iPhone, a couple of goodies (you can leave items for other geocachers in some of the larger caches or do swaps for items already in the box) and a thick coat (it was blowing a gale, but at least the rain had stopped); me and Mini-MaFt headed out across the field towards our local alpacca farm for our first ever cache.
Thankfully this one was relatively easy to find so it was a nice start to what could potentially become a time-consuming hobby! The caches was a clip-lid box with a few goodies in it and a notepad/pencil to record our find. Mini-MaFt got a sliding puzzle from here which he swapped for a toy bear he had brought with him. I logged the find on the geocaching website via the iPhone app and we decided to try and find more ‘treasure’.
A bit of a walk through some more fields back to a road I drive on most days a week. Following the clue took me to a wall where we were looking for a ‘micro-cache’ – i.e. something far smaller and with no room for swaps. This one took a lot longer to find mainly due to the fact that there was a car parked right by it!! I did feel a bit dodgy though routing around next to someone’s car but I figured with iPhone app in hand and son in tow it would be proof enough that I wasn’t doing anything dodgy! I found it in the end though, added our details and fired up the app to see which one to go to next!
Our next cache involved a short walk along a narrow road – thankfully with Mini-MaFt in tow there was a path! Although as we were pretty exposed it was hard not to be blown off the path and into the road! Down a short public footpath through a field with a fantastic view (I love living in Thornton!) and we got to our destination. This time I missed it and it was Mini-MaFt who located the ‘treasure’. Again, this one was a box with a lid so room for some swaps. Mini-MaFt got another little toy which we exchanged for a Pocket GPS World keyring and business card. While we were filling out the log book Mini-MaFt spotted a nasty pirate trying to find our treasure; technically he was a farmer checking a bit of fence that had been wind-damaged but that’s not so much fun to a 4 year old! We quickly hopped over the stile and sat on the other side to get the cache all packed away safely without it being seen.
By this point our hands were numb and the next nearest cache was half a mile away down a steep hill going away from home. So we headed home to warm up, waited for Mrs-MaFt to get home and then let Mini-MaFt let-rip telling her all about the treasure hunt! He was still talking about it on his way to bed later on too. I can see this becoming a new hobby and maybe soon we will place our own cache for you all to find!