If you are like me, geocaching is a pastime that is kind of off the radar. But it can be a fun and engaging hobby and it is easy to get started.
If you have a hand-held GPS unit you can do it. They aren’t that expensive compared to what you can spend on some other hobbies. You can get one for around $200.
Dewayne Parfitt has been a fan for quite a number of years. He says that the local geocachers are a quiet bunch that does their thing behind the scenes. They are not easily recognized because each has their own “handle” and don’t use their own names. However, in the past there have been events where the local enthusiasts have met.
For those who may never have heard of geocaching, it’s basically a high tech scavenger hunt. One geocacher goes out somewhere and hides a small parcel somewhere and then registers it on the Geocaching.com website.
“These parcels are anywhere from the size of a fingernail to size of a truck,” Parfitt says.
Later if you want to find a cache, you would to Geocaching.com and pick it. You would either print out the latitude and longitude or download the info to your GPS unit. Then you’d use your unit to get close to the cache and start looking.
Around the Port Alberni area Parfitt estimates that there are 400 or so caches. Each one of them is rated in two ways from one to five on the Geocaching website. It is it easy to find and easy to get to, it is rated one and one. If it is very hard to find and very hard to get to, it is rated five and five. And then there is every combination in between. See the map of many of the caches around here.
When you find a cache, you can open it and see what is in it. Generally it is a little note or a trinket that you can keep and trade for one you brought with you. Sometimes there is a log of everyone who has found it. If or when you find a cache you can also visit the website afterwards and write a little note on the page for the cache. You can write whatever you like about whatever you like, saying things like where you are from, what you think of the hiding place, who you were with, or anything else that occurs to you.
To use the Geocaching website, you need to sign up. But membership is free. In signing up you give your name and email address and choose a handle you will be known as. Parfitt’s is “banker48”. Stats are kept on each member. So you can see how you progress. If you visit another part of the world and find geocaches it will be recorded in your stats too.
Geocaching is world-wide in scope, from Sri Lanka to Bolivia. It is a wonderful way to explore the Alberni Valley and anywhere you go on holiday.