Find the article reprinted here below, or click this link: Treasure Hunting | Bay Weekly, or go to http://bayweekly.com/articles/good-living/article/treasure-hunting.
by Heather Boughey, 6/2/11, The Bay Weekly
Modern Day Treasure Hunting
Geocaches come in small as well as large, and anybody can lay one. You hide caches imaginatively — on land, in caves, along shorelines or even under water — and log their location on the Internet. The caches can range from a few ounces to pots of treasure.
Eight-year-old Mackenzie learns how to use a GPS from four-year-old Logan Delawder.
The website details the size and difficulty of the geocache and the terrain you’ll cross. Along with GPS coordinates for your target area, you get clues and a description. Some geocaches, like the Smith Geotrail, are multi-staged, with clues you find in each cache leading you to the next one.
Once you find a target cache, program the coordinates into your GPS and get going. The GPS guides you towards the cache. At the spot, you start hunting. Geocaches can be hidden, partially buried, even attached by magnets.
Some geocaches hold prizes. If you take one, it’s geocaching etiquette to replace it with an interesting item to reward the next finder.
Each geocache also holds a logbook. Sign and date it, with comments if you like. Many geocachers log their finds on the website, where they can see and compare their progress with the successes of other geocachers.
On the Smith Geotrail
As the Smith Trail geocaches were still being hidden, we practiced on the Star Spangled Banner Trail, the first geotrail in our region to be connected to a National Park trail. The Smith trail is the second.
At Darnall’s Chance in Upper Marlboro, Logan trained Mackenzie, showing her his GPS unit and geocaching backpack, packed with a magnet and trinkets for refilling discovered caches.
Then we hit the trail. A plaque describing the history of Darnall’s Chance gave us a key to the coordinates to the hidden cache — but only after we correctly answered four questions. We loaded the coordinates, and Mackenzie and Logan led us along the path they mapped into the woods.
There we looked under branches and behind trees to find an 11-by-six-inch plastic box. The kids pounced on it. Inside they found headphones, a flashlight, markers and small toys. Each chose an item — headphones for Logan and a camouflage wristband for Mackenzie — and Mackenzie helped Logan write his geocaching name, Lil’ Crab, into the logbook to mark their discovery.
In keeping with tradition, they added a fresh box of crayons to the box, resealed it and hid it again.
Four more caches were hidden within walking distance. The next one didn’t involve a puzzle; we simply loaded coordinates from the website and headed off.
With the children again leading the way, Susan and Mark described finding over 2,000 caches in seven years.
“It’s a great way to discover new things in areas you thought you already knew,” Susan explained. “One of our first geocaches was within two miles of our house. We found a small pond we never knew existed.”
Caches are now part of their vacations. On a recent trip to Maine, Susan was determined to see a moose. So in researching geocaches, she sought ones that promised moose nearby. They found the geocaches, but Susan didn’t find her moose.
Our second geocache was a bit trickier. When the GPS unit indicated we’d reached the spot, no geocache was in sight. After searching both the water’s edge and forest area, the children determined there was none to be found. Susan hinted that they might try searching very close to the ground. With squeals of delight, both children spotted the geocache at the same time, hidden securely under the base of the dock walkway.
Once again, the children took a small treasure from the box, signed their names in the logbook, added a new prize and returned the cache where they found it.
“Now I know how excited and really happy Captain John Smith must have felt when he finally found something he was looking for,” Mackenzie exclaimed.
“This geotrail is a great way to propel people to care and protect our Chesapeake,” said Cindy Chance of the National Park Service. “We have a lot to learn from the past, especially stewardship and how they took care of the Bay, even back in the 17th century.”
Be the FTF
Join the hunt by downloading a passport, and track your progress at
On the Captain John Smith Geotrail, one geocache in each of the three states rewards FTF with a replica ceramic smart-buoy, a miniature of the six smart-buoys along the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail.
When you near a real smart-buoy, call 1-877-BUOYBAY to hear a description of this point on the Chesapeake in 1608, during Smith’s exploration.
At the official trail opening, 10am to noon June 4 at Accokeek Foundation in Piscataway Park, you can learn to geocache and practice on geocaches hidden for the celebration, some just for kids. One lucky hunter will win a Magellan hand-held GPS.
See You at the Launch
Follow the geocache online at www.smithtrail.net.
First-to-find, commonly known as FTF, is a badge of honor among geocachers. Often FTF gets a reward.