n the 1989 action-adventure movie, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Professor Jones tells his archeology students, "We do not follow maps to buried treasure, and ‘X’ never, ever marks the spot."
Professor Jones would have been an excellent geocacher.
Geocaching is a modern-day treasure hunt that can be a fun outdoor activity to do on your own or with a group of friends.
The goal of geocaching is to find hidden geocaches using information from the Internet and a Global Positioning Satellite or "GPS" receiver.
The term "geocache" is a derivative of the preface "geo," meaning the earth and "cache," a term describing a place where things are hidden.
The traditional geocache is great for first-time geocachers because of its simplicity. A traditional geocache is a weatherproof box or container hidden at a specific set of coordinates.
It generally contains simple toys, pins or stickers. If you take a trinket from the geocache, it is proper to leave something in its place. The geocache also contains a logbook and pen for geocachers to log their discovery.
The fun of geocaching is not necessarily in the contents of the geocache itself but in the challenge of finding it.
To find a geocache you must first obtain its GPS coordinates from a geocaching Web site like www.geocaching.com
Coordinates come in a variety of forms, but one of the most common forms is in degrees and minutes. An example of this coordinate form is N 40° 16.770 W 111° 43.185. These are the coordinates for one of six geocaches located on or near UVSC campus.
After obtaining the GPS coordinates, you must use a GPS receiver to guide you to the exact location of the geocache. Most GPS receivers will allow you to enter the coordinates, and it will then guide you to the location.
If you know anyone that enjoys the outdoors, there is a good chance that they might have a GPS receiver that you can borrow. Otherwise, a GPS receiver can be purchased from a sporting goods store.
When geocaching, be prepared to drive, walk and possibly climb to find the geocache. Once you have found it, return it for other geocachers to find later.
Hundreds of geocaches are cleverly hidden along the Wasatch Front, and most people walk right by them. Geocaches are hidden in parks, neighborhoods, parking lots, campsites and at trailheads. There is no limit to where they may be hidden.
So, if you can’t wait for the summer 2008 release of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, grab a GPS receiver and go geocaching.
But remember, in geocaching, just like archeology, there is no such thing as a faded map with a dashed line to mark the path and "’X’ never, ever marks the spot."
Ray Cheatham is a UVSC student majoring in Outdoor Recreation Management.