09 June 2009


With spring here, and having returned to the Park twice already this spring, I have found myself wanting to be outside more, enjoying the freedom that comes from being outside. June is not the best month to be in the Park, as bugs are king supreme, and so I have been spending my free time exploring some of the local outdoor spaces that surround my neighborhood.

Being a techno geek, and the proud owner of an iPhone 3G, I wanted to incorporate these two loves of mine, and discovered a fantastic application for the iPhone called Geocaching, by Groundspeak. Wow, for $9.99, I have entered a global treasure hunting community that has literally hundreds of thousands of hidden “treasures” and “hide and seek” type games scattered around the world, all based on a now widely available and highly accurate tool, GPS (of which my iPhone has built in). Fortunately for me, my neighborhood seems to have a thriving Geocaching community, as there are literally hundreds of spots to hunt out within but a few kilometers from my home (the closest was a short 10 minute walk away from my front door!)

There are many types of caches. Some caches are of a “multi-stage” nature, as they are part of a “series” where you find one cashe which contains a clue to the next, and inevitably the “treasure” (sort of like a mini Dan Brown “The Da Vinci Code”, or “ANGELS & DEMONS” hunt, only with out all the branding.) Others are single stage ones where treasures can be exchanged after a single find (hence never leaving an empty “treasure chest.”) In either case, once found participants can sign a physical log book found with the cache as well as a vertual one online at Geocaching - The Official Global GPS Cache Hunt Site.

To date my kids and I have found two caches out of four attempts (one hint in a “multi-stage cache, and one cache in a single stage trek), and have ended up enjoying the “hunt” probably more then the “treasure.”

What’s really fantastic about the sport is that it brings people to places that they might never have seen otherwise. I hadn’t really noticed all the green space in my area outside the obvious Credit River Conservation Area (a few short blocks from my home and containing over 20 cashes yet to find,) and so now “nature” seems to have moved closer to home!

What is also interesting about the pass time is that anyone can create their own cache for others to participate in, something my kids are eager to create this summer. As well, participants can track special objects called “Travelers” or “Geocions” that participants can pick up and drop off at caches they visit, recording their movements on the web, for all to see. After a quick scan of some of the travelers in my area, I was amazed by the distances some of these objects have covered, and will likely get a few for me and the kids to track as well.

Like I said earlier, Caches are located all over the world, including Algonquin Park, and so during our next visit to the park and or cottage, the boys and I have decided to hunt a few out, as several are located along the various hiking trails off the highway 60 corridor; talk about adding suspense to a hike! A map of Algonquin Geocaches can be found here.

For anyone who has not tried Geocaching, I would highly recommend it! It gives you yet another reason to get out and enjoy the outdoors is engaging to adults and kids alike, and to be honest is simply lots of fun!

For those already partaking in Geocaching, I'd love to hear about some of the hunts you have taken; especially ones in Algonquin.

Happy hunting!

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