My First Geocache Hike

Geocaching is a great way to get the family together and out on the trails. Sure, there are geocaches everywhere, even in malls. Still, there’s something about being surrounded by nature and navigating to a specific location with your GPS that adds a level of fun to the whole experience. I should know, as I went on my first geocaching hike last weekend.

I hike weekly, or even more if possible, but there’s a limited number of trails near me. When I started taking the kids, I knew I had to add a new element to the hike to keep them interested. Seeing the same trees over and over can make for cranky kids, especially on a hot or rainy day. Someone suggested geocaching, so I filed that away in my brain and started making plans.

Here’s what I expected: I thought we would download the app, hit the trail, stroll for a half-mile, find a box with a tube in it, log it, and move on. No, this turned into so much more. First, the cache I had chosen wasn’t on my regular trail. It was very close to the entrance of the park. I wasn’t even aware there was a trail there, to begin with, so the excitement was tangible. New terrain for my hiking boots is always a good thing.

The best part is, I was expecting a leisurely stroll through the woods! Instead, my daughter and I spent over an hour navigating a trail with giant boulders, intense inclines, and even a stream to cross. With a river running along the ridge, we also got to see some fantastic wildlife. The mallard ducks and geese were out in full force, as were the turtles and deer. These guys tend to shy away from the more heavily traversed path at the back of the park, so it was a special treat for us.

As we got closer to the cache, we began looking for a forked tree. These caches aren’t hit often enough to leave a viable path on the ground, so you have to do a bit of searching while remaining respectful to nature and leaving no trace. The app promised this one wasn’t buried, however, so on our fifth forked tree found the lockbox tucked away from view. We opened it up, and both of us were shocked! It has been there since 2007. That’s 14 years! I had been so sure we wouldn’t find any treasure, but we were wrong.

Inside the lockbox were a wooden race car kit, a marble, a heart bracelet, a brain teaser puzzle, a pen, and a notebook. The lid reminded us that for every item we took, we needed to put another thing back in. Thankfully, we had some leather flowers in my hiking pack. We then signed the notebook and hiked back out to put our wooden race car together. It was an amazingly fun adventure, and we will go again next weekend! I’m glad I have a way to keep the kids excited while hiking now.