Details for DAILY JOURNAL / RETAIL - Ad from 2020-09-17
Lineup Geocaching regains popularity during COVID Victoria Kemper email@example.com The year of 2020 has been a challenge but one thing it has given us is a new appreciation for our outdoor areas. Families are spending more time together exploring local parks and utilizing conservation areas. Geocaching, which according to Geocaching. com has been around since 2000, has regained some popularity recently as families search for fun activities to do outside. Local Geocaching Enthusiast Michael Sletten, of Fredericktown, said geocaching is kind of like a large scavenger hunt in which you utilize GPS, global positioning system, to find hidden items otherwise known as a “cache” in the geocaching world. “There are caches hidden worldwide,” Sletten said. “Some joke and say we use multi-million dollar satellites to find hidden Tupperware in the woods.” Sletten said the goal of geocaching, other than locating a cache, can be different everyone. “There are different types of caches you can find,” Sletten said. “For example, you can make your goal to find a cache in each state or each county in Missouri or make it a goal to find x number of caches in a day, week, month, etc.” Sletten said a cache can be any size. He said some may hold just a log of names who found it and others may hold treasures. “Some caches are fairly small about the size of a gumdrop,” Sletten said. “Then there are some caches that are the size of a shed, which I have yet to find, but I have seen them on YouTube, and those have a log and can have a container inside that hold swag that you can trade with other geocachers.” Sletten said the rule is “take a treasure, leave a treasurer of equal or greater value.” He said swag is usually a small item like a key chain or toy. The geocaching community is family friendly, meaning any adult items such as alcohol, tobacco or anything perishable cannot be placed inside a cache. “This is definitely something you can do as a family,” Sletten said. “There are some caches that not all members of the family would be able to get to because of the difficulty level and danger involved. There are also some locations you have to climb up to and the terrain is unstable.” Sletten said he has taken his kids a few times and his youngest enjoys finding the bigger containers because they have toys. “But remember, if you take a treasure, leave a treasure,” Sletten said. “Not all geocachers have honored that ruled of thumb. I have found several caches that have been emptied out and that’s always a disappointment.” Caches are ranked by difficulty in the Geocaching App. The app is a great place to start your adventure as it will show you how many are in your area and give hints to help you locate the cache. Sletten said the first step is deciding which area you want to go to. “You look at a satellite map of the area and the map shows you the type and location of the cache,” Sletten said. “Then you have to choose what type of cache you want to find. Like, a mystery cache, a multi-cache, a traditional cache, etc. You can choose the size of the traditional cache, like a regular, small, micro or nano.” Sletten said once you make your selection you navigate to that cache. “Upon arrival at ‘ground zero’, geocacher term for at the final coordinates, you read the description and detail of the cache,” Sletten said. “Then search for the cache and upon finding it you sign the enclosed log and also on the app.” Sletten said if the cache is large enough for swag you can trade treasures. “There is also something called ‘travel bugs’ or ‘trackables’ which have a tracking number on them,” Sletten said. “If you find one of those you log it on the app that you found it and place it into your inventory in the app. Once you do that, you move it along to another cache and log it into the cache on the app. So that other cachers can see that there is a travel bug in that cache and also so that the travel bug owner can view where their trackable has been and how far it has traveled.” Sletten said he has had a few favorites but the one that sticks out most is the Popeye Character Trail multi-cache in Chester, Illinois. “You are given the final GPS location, but it is missing some of the digits in the coordinates,” Sletten said. “You have to solve the missing digits and are given clues as you visit the Popeye character statues. It was fun to visit the various statues as you visited the town.” So far, Sletten has placed five caches or “hides.” He said he likes to create “field puzzles” and give the geocacher some history about the area. One of Sletten’s hides, located in Madison County, is titled Cahoon’s Generous Gift. In the description of the cache Sletten gives a history of Benjamin Cahoon. “Welcome to Memorial Park,” Sletten’s description reads. “This land was donated to the citizens of Fredericktown on Thanksgiving Day in the year 1919 by Hon. Benjamin B. Cahoon.” Sletten goes on to explain Cahoon’s life and family up until his passing in 1923 at the age of 77. “I enjoy where some of the caches take you that I never knew existed,” Sletten said. “Some take you to historic sites that are pretty cool, like the Fort Belle Fontaine in St. Louis County and if you know me, I like historical places.” Sletten said there are a few caches in Madison County and the surrounding counties to locate but there tends to be more in the higher populated counties.