Geocaching, sometimes referred to as a High Tech Easter Egg Hunt is a great activity for those interested in exploring the Buffalo area. It combines the joy of being outside, use of a Global Positioning System (GPS), a treasure hunt, and sharing through a web-based community.
What is Geocaching
A Geocacher posts the latitude and longitude coordinates and a description of their hidden cache on a geocaching community website, such as Geocaching.com. Other geocachers use the information and their GPS unit in an attempt to locate the cache. Upon finding the cache, the geocacher may take certain actions at the cache and report the finding back at the community website.
The caches usually contain some form of reward or incentive to help entice people to discover them. Most commonly the caches will feature a small gift exchange, allowing you to feel free to take something so long as you leave something behind. Almost all caches contain logbooks to serve as a record of who has visited that site, and some even have disposable cameras to allow visitors to document their visit. Sometimes caches may contain Travel Bugs (photo at right) which may be moved from cache to cache by the participants.
Knowing the exact coordinates might sound like it destroys any challenge, but this couldn't be further from the truth. First of all, GPS units are relatively imprecise when you're searching for a small item hidden in an unfamiliar area. After arriving at the listed coordinates, expect to spend an extended amount time trying to find the cache. Some coordinates do not even lead you to the cache, but instead only to clues regarding its location. For instance the dates on a gravestone at the listed coordinates might need to be added to the original latitude or longitude numbers you were supplied with. An indication of the location's difficulty is generally given by the site that supplies the coordinates.
Geocaching in Buffalo
Buffalo News Video on Youtube Describing Geocachers of the Buffalo .
Geocaching thrives in the Buffalo area, with caches found in under bridges, in parks, cemeteries, and possibly even in your own neighborhood. There is a strong emphasis on history in local caches. Seeking them out is also a great way to find things you never knew existed before. Geocaching is a unique and fun way to get out and enjoy our parks and urban landscape, as it gives you a great excuse to get outside and explore some areas outside your usual rotation.
At last check ( November 24, 2008) there were over 2500 active caches withi 50 miles in the GeoCaching.com Search of Buffalo, Ny, and several hundred within 4 miles of its centerpoint.
"Letterboxing" is another, low-tech and related sport, as reported in the Nov 18th Buffalo News Life Section. In Letterboxing, the clues are descriptive directions from known places and do not require a GPS or coordinates to play.
Geocaching.com is setup to allow you to search its database for cache locations by coordinates or area code. It also allows you to create an account which will allow you to communicate with others active in the local Geocaching community, post your own caches, and log your finds.
Notes and References
- Geocaching in Buffalo - 2002 Article in Buffalo News
- More Buffalo Geocache info on Brilling.com
- Buffalo Geocaching - Treasure Hunting in WNY
- Meetup.com -folks interested in GeoCaching for a meeting
- Geohashing is a similar activity with no cache, just a timed meetup of people at the geo-location.
- Getting Started - GeoCaching.com guide.
- Guide to Buying GPS also from GeoCaching.com
- Beginners Guide on FastFacts.com
- Warning - Bridgeport, Ohio March 17, 2008 - Geocaching Prize Prompted Local Police To Summon Bomb Squad
- Groundspeak - multi system access to geocaches
- For Kids - GeoScouting.com and Eduscanpes
- Waymarking.com interesting things listed by their Coordinates
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