We all know biking is great, and when you’re as big on alone time and pointless thinking as me, you can enjoy it as something more than just an exercise, and see it as an opportunity to spend some quality time with your thoughts. But last year, sometime in mid-August, so during the third month of pretty much constant biking I started to feel the need to get something more from this particular way of spending time. As my duties prevented me from embarking on a longer, few days long trips, I looked for something that would make biking more exciting, something that would add to it. And so, I have discovered Geocaching, one of humanity’s greatest inventions.
For those few people left who still don’t know what Geocaching is, a short explanation. Basically, it’s a game, in which participants attempt to locate caches, using (depending on a cache) GPS coordinates, written clues, maps or photos. Caches are hidden by other players, who inform about the new caches on one of many websites dedicated to the game. Once you find the cache, you write your name in a notebook or other piece of paper that’s usually provided, to signal your victory. It’s customary to leave a small token in the cache if the cache is big enough, it could be a coin from your country, a photo, etc.
My experience with Geocaching isn’t that big just yet. There are only so many caches around my home, I’ve visited only some of the locations, and not all trips ended with a success. But let me tell you, everytime you find the cache, well, the child-like excitement is overwhelming.
From what I can tell, Geocaching is a kind of a big deal. The only cache in my village of summer home had visitors from three continents, apparently. Clearly, they didn’t come all the way to the middle of nowhere to find just this single cache. No, instead it was, from what I can tell, a road trip across what I can only assume was the entire region or even country, and locating these caches for days. This only shows how seriously people treat it. Maybe “seriously” is a wrong word. But how dedicated people are, you know.
Maybe “seriously” is a wrong word. But how dedicated people are, you know.
My very first cache was actually not the one in my village, but in the village next. I found the area very quickly, but locating the cache itself took some time. I wasn’t entirely sure what to look for precisely, I wasn’t sure how big it was, how thoroughly it was hidden. But eventually, I was victorious. It actually required taking off some old bricks, borderline vandalism, but it was worth it. Immediate satisfaction and sense of accomplishment like I haven’t felt for some time. Inside, I found a piece of paper and a pencil, an old Swedish krona coin, and a few stickers. Unfortunately, being new to the game I didn’t have anything on me that could fit inside and which I wouldn’t miss, so I just wrote my name on the paper and put everything as I found it.
That was the moment I realized how little I need to feel like a proper adventurer. This is as close to treasure hunting as you can get. And the probability of actually finding the “treasure” is much higher, so it’s even better. And if you don’t live in the backwater part of a province like me, there are probably tons of caches nearby. And it’s a worldwide game too. So many potential adventurers.
As a matter of fact, I’ll be setting off on a journey, maybe even this week. There’s a cache, located in what I understand is a very beautiful area some 35 kilometers away. It’s not the closest one of those I haven’t checked out yet and which are within my reach, but as I mentioned before, I’m trying to connect three of my hobbies: finding treasures, biking and visiting beautiful albeit common places. And I selected the cache that best fits the requirements of each of these hobbies. That’s how I choose all the caches I visit.
From what I can tell, most of the caches are located in cities, rather than in a countryside. On one hand, it makes sense: since caches are placed by players, the more players the more caches. On the other, however, part of the experience, for me at least, is exploring the area, finding the location, as well as getting there. I mean, finding treasures shouldn’t be a bus stop away from your apartment. It can’t be that easy. We owe that much to the pirates.
So while I could theoretically visit the closest city and spend a day on digging out a cache after a cache, that’s not the point of the game. Not in my book.
So one of the most concrete plans I have for this summer is to visit as many caches as I can. For the biking it requires, the thinking I can do, the sightseeing and the treasure hunting. I already started.
Unfortunately, as the caches don’t appear very fast, I have to consider the possibility of running out of caches. Sooner or later, a day may come when bike won’t be good enough. I am a biking enthusiast, but I’m not crazy. I won’t cover 50 kilometers for a cache that might not be there anymore. And that happens, the caches disappearing.
Then I’ll have two options. Either I’ll be getting around by the means of my car, which isn’t a bad option really, or I’ll start making my own caches. I think I’ll be good at it. I have the passion, I have the skills, and once I get the experience, I’ll put the geocaching on a whole new level. Mark my words.
For now, though, I have a few places to visit. And I surely will, because I have nothing better to do anyway. Well, there’s one activity that rivals geocaching, and which I’ll discuss later. For now, though, I’m going to lay down on my bed, because my legs are killing me, you know, after all the biking. Enjoy the photos.