Looking for Treasure with Help from a Satellite

Does anyone geocache anymore?

More than a decade ago I bought myself a little handheld GPS unit. The Garmin took a pair of AA batteries, warmed up for at least five minutes, and hung on a little lanyard. I would connect it to the computer after downloading a small selection of local cache coordinates, send them into the little device, and then trek out into the local river valley to hunt down the hidden containers.

The game required that I bring along some trinkets to trade, and a pencil to record my username. If after pinning down the location tracked to by my GPS I was able to find the box or capsule or plastic container hidden under a rock or between some cleverly placed natural camouflage, it was important to record that I had found it.

Eventually I ditched the GPS for a geocaching app on my phone. Convenient, yes, though it took some of the fun out of preparing to go out on a treasure-hunting adventure when I could just spontaneously load up the app and see if something happened to be nearby.

Then ultimately I got serious about distance running, traded my lanyard GPS for a wrist-watch version and couldn’t be bothered slow down to hunt for caches anymore.

Yet today I found myself thinking about this global hide-and-seek game.

Are people still fascinated by hiding mysterious containers in their local wilderness for others to find?

Do people feel safe during a pandemic opening boxes and canisters left in the woods by strangers?

Is there still a place for simple treasure hunting in an era of Pokémon-type GPS games that reward you a hundred times a day, rather than just once or twice?

I’m sure I’ve got my old Garmin in a drawer somewhere. And probably even some AA batteries. Maybe I should play again.