Did you know that Maya is a Geodog? No, well let me tell you all about Geocaching – and the fun you can have with your pooch discovering new walks and trails taking part in this fantastic hobby. Geocaching is really a kind of treasure hunt and there are nearly 3 million caches hidden worldwide. You will be amazed at the close proximity of some to you, I had walked Maya right by a couple in my local park on a daily basis totally unaware of their exisitence before being bitten by the bug! Geocaching was originally developed to take people to places they wouldn’t normally go, such as areas of specific interest or natural beauty and it certainly lives up to that. We have learnt so much about the city we live in – Hull – since we took up caching and it’s also given an extra dimension to holidays and days out.
Maya really enjoys it – I mean what dog wouldn’t love to discover new walks and sniff new smells! Wherever you live, you and your dog can enjoy caching, but one thing I really love about it is that the fun is as accessible to those of us that live in urban areas as those lucky countryside dwellers!
A cache can be any type of water proof container, typically a tupperware box, but be prepared for anything – an empty snail shell with a magnet attached or an “artificial grass” one! Your find may contain items such as keyrings, marbles, hair grips etc – (if you take something out you must remember to replace it with something of equal or greater value) ….. or it may be a micro cache and just contain a little log book (piece of paper) to sign. Always take a pen with you and a pair of tweezers can come in handy to remove the little logs from the micro caches too!!! Another handy bit of kit is a pair of gardening gloves (no laughing from those who follow our adventures on IG!!!) in case you have to move back nettles etc. Obviously take some water and snacks for your geopooch – some cachers even buy a dog pack so their canine can carry their own supplies!
Want to try it?? The first thing to do is register on Geocaching.com – there is a free trial and straight away you will be able to see which caches are near to you. Then download the app which will show you the wherabouts of neaby caches and, once you select your chosen quarry you can plan your route to the corodinates. Once you are close to the cache the app will bleep – it will still be a challenge to locate the cache though but it’s quite exciting when you find it! There is often an encrypted clue on the site and reading the comments of previous finders can provide invaluable insight as to what you are looking for. Occasionally you will find that a cache has not been found for ages and you don’t want to go on a wild goose chase!!
On the site the caches are graded according to difficulty of finding and type of terrain. I advise you to try an easy one close to home first. Make sure there are no muggles (non-geocachers!!) around when you access the cache to protect it from theft/damage. Then after signing the log book and swopping something if you want to, replace it carefully. I always give Maya a treat when we find one while I am signing the log to sit still and stay – that way I know if her tail starts enthusiastically thumping some muggles are approaching!! (Maya is the most useless guard dog ever – even the postmen laugh if she barks!!!) One thing to note is that no cache is ever buried – but some are very ingeniously hidden indeed! Remember to log your find on the site as some of the thrill of hiding one is knowing others have found it.
Some caches contain trackable items too – these are chips or coins with a codes on. The idea of a trackable is that it should journey to a designated destination and if you wish, you can take this, and enter the code on the geocache website and see where the originator wants the coin to go. You then move it on to your next cache. You can also start your own trackable – (there are many online stores selling Geocaching equipment if you get into it.) and you can even get a Log My Dog Collar!
For us though we enjoy the thrill of the chase and the variety of walks that have opened up to us. Hull (as I’m sure I have mentioned on this blog before) is City of Culture this year – in honour of this there is a Hull Culture Cache series which takes folk on a whistle-stop tour of some of the locations that will host events and art installations throughout 2017. Once we find them all I will do a blog post featuring these locations which i hope you will come back and read – it’s never dull in Hull!
As with any new hobby there are a few acronyms and terms that are handy to know to – below are some of the the most common.
- BYOP –: Bring Your Own Pen
- FTF –: First to Find.
- Geo- Coin – : A trackable item
- Muggle – A non geocacher.
- Puzzle Caches – Caches with puzzles to be solved to determine the coordinates.
- TFTC –: Thanks For The Cache
- TNLN –: Took Nothing. Left Nothing
Once you have found quite a few caches and understand the game more you can hide your own cache! We haven’t done this yet but when we do one will be a dog friendly one filled with scented poop bags, dog tags etc and I will post a link here so that one day I might get a TFTC message from one of you – wouldn’t that be fun! Oh and one final tip from me – if you are out in the countryside and don’t know the area, make a note of the coordinates where your car is parked – somebody and their dog walked an extra 8 miles when they forgot to do this!!
I know Maya really enjoys this pastime, she really seems to relish her role as watch dog and it might be my imagination but I swear she seems to know where to search when we reach the given coordinates!! Have you or will you and your pooch give geocaching a go?? Please leave a comment and let me know.
Love Sal & Maya xxx