The intelligent bluffer will have realised the true potential that GPS offers hikers. Not only does it give them another excuse for becoming temporarily misplaced when their batteries go flat, or when a satellite that’s tracking them gets taken out by a rogue comet, it also offers them an opportunity to have some fun. And if you’re going to be temporarily misplaced, you might as well have fun doing it.
Geocaching is treasure hunting for hikers, with an element of social inclusion thrown in. Instead of wandering aimlessly with a metal detector, listening for the ever-increasing frequency of beeps that denote the discovery of yet another lost Saxon hoard, hikers programme the coordinates of the treasure, obtained from one of the many geocaching websites, into their GPS system and then follow its directions to locate the treasure, or ‘cache’ as you should refer to it. If only Saxon hoarders had logged the global positioning coordinates of their hoards on the relevant website, treasure hunters could have saved themselves many a wet Wednesday afternoon standing in a farmer’s field, hoping the beeping noise emanating from the cowpat beneath them was buried treasure and not a zip fastener dropped by a passing hiker.
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For geocaching to work properly, someone needs to hide a cache somewhere discreet, and note its coordinates on their GPS device. These coordinates are then added to a geocaching website, where other geocachers can download them to their GPS devices and go out in search of the treasure.
While these coordinates help a geocacher find the right location (which could be anywhere on the planet, hence the ‘geo’ element of the word ‘geocache’), it does not explain where the cache is hidden. And these caches can be cleverly disguised. The next time you see a hiker halfway up a tree, he might not be trying to gain altitude in an attempt to find his bearings; he could simply be looking for treasure.
Caches may be hidden in the crook of a tree, in a false stone on a pebbly beach, or even in a plastic bird set into a riverbank. They come in a variety of sizes (caches, not just plastic birds by riverbanks), and understanding the correct terminology will assist a bluffer when looking for their cache.