It’s Like a Pirate Treasure on Land, Without the Scurvy

by Josh Williams

photography by Jeremy Rodgers

Geocaching is a real-world, outdoor treasure hunting game using only Global Positioning System(GPS)-enabled devices. Participants navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates anywhere on the globe and then attempt to find the “geocache” hidden at that location. This game became a reality on May 2, 2000, at approximately midnight eastern savings time, when the great blue switch controlling selective availability was pressed, and GPS technology became more accessible to civil and commercial users worldwide. Twenty-four satellites around the globe processed their new orders with their robot brains and instantly the accuracy of GPS technology improved exponentially. Tens of thousands of GPS receivers around the world obtained an instant upgrade. This was a huge moment for GPS, and hide – and- seek enthusiasts alike. They now had new, easier ways to utilize this technology. The reality of GPS technology is actually pretty creepy: A person being able to type in some coordinates or a physical address and then immediately look inside someone’s garage or living room is unnerving, to say the least. But, that is a different story entirely. Fear not fellow Americans, GPS technology can be used for good, or at least for good clean fun anyway, hence the adventurous phenomenon that is Geocaching.

Geocaching (a term coined through the combination of “earth” and “hiding place”) is one of the fastest-growing hobbies with outdoor enthusiasts around the globe. It combines technology with nature to produce an exciting new form of entertainment for those who like to be adventurous in their leisure time. Each hunt and the terrain around it vary in difficulty: Most caches will be located on a mountain, in a cave, in the middle of a forest or along waterways or bike trails. Some caches contain only logbooks nestled inside small tins or film canisters, while other vessels, such as ammunition boxes,
hold personal treasures left behind by previous visitors. Standard geocaching protocol is for one to leave something if one takes something. Remember, nobody likes a cheapskate. Think of it as an adventurer’s time capsule; kind of like carving one’s name into mother earth’s veritable picnic table, saying “(blank) wuz here,” only classier.

The Ouachita region is one of the newest additions to succumb to the geocaching trend. This autumn, if one happens to be in the Ouachita high country, take out that GPS device and be on the lookout for some freshly placed geocaches with who knows what inside.