GeoWoodstock X: 10th Anniversary back where it all began

May 30, 2012 at 5:46 am (Geocaching) (, , , )

Us with Signal

I began geocaching on August 6, 2010. My misadventure started in a wooded area just a few blocks from our house. We were looking for the ubiquitous “ammo can in the woods”.  Little did I know at the time how difficult that would prove to be to a total newcomer to the game.  I won’t bore you with all the details, except to say that I chose badly for my first attempt.  I spent about an hour in a dense wooded area, trees so thick it seemed to be nearing sunset by mid-afternoon. Also, if you know anything about the South, you’ll know that August in the woods is not exactly a pleasant walk in the park. There were several contributing factors: actual temperature greater than 100ºF, humidity greater than 65%, no trails, mosquitoes so thick, they looked like dark, hovering clouds, a few sightings of slithery things, and too many spiders to mention.  Then, there were the souvenirs: the ticks. There were dozens of ticks. Even three days later, I was still finding a wayward tick that had climbed from my hiking shoes or my cap or somewhere. Oh, and I didn’t find the cache. Yet.

I deepened my resolve, did a little bit of reading about searching for ones first cache, then set my sights on more realistic beginning caches. My first find was at the site of a small electrical transformer. There was a fence around the transformer, and the corners of the fence had those silver dome-shaped caps like you see on playgrounds and athletic fields. I lifted one of the caps, looked under it, and found my first cache: a film canister had been attached to the cap with velcro. Inside the canister was the cache log. I signed it, then logged my find online when I got home.  I was hooked.  Incidentally, ten days after my initial attempt, I went back to the woods and found the ammo can.

For a bit of background, geocaching began on May 3, 2000, when a cache was hidden in the hills outside Portland, Oregon.  This occurred the day after selective availability was turned off, which allowed civilians to make use of satellites that had previously only been used by the military, NASA, and others with specific needs. In one day, GPS devices were suddenly ten times more accurate.  A paint bucket filled with rewards was hidden and those finding it signed the log.  Within a few days, several people had found it, and geocaching was born. Fast-forward a decade, and after hearing about the sport for some time, decided to give it a go myself. 

I’m happy to report that, after my first minor misstep, the rest of my caching attempts were much more successful. I’ve found some incredibly creative caches over the past couple of years.  Some of the more memorable ones include a tiny tube glued to a penny and buried into the ground (so unless you picked up the penny, you would miss the cache), a tiny canister the size of an acorn, stuffed into one of a bunch of grapes and hidden in wisteria covering an arbor, and a large rectangular box that appeared to be a university study of a bat house — it was pure genius!

After going to an Earth Day event at a local park, we found out about an upcoming event, GeoWoodstock X.  It was to be a celebration of the tenth anniversary of the sport of geocaching. The event was to be held in Louisville, Kentucky, where the first GeoWoodstock event was held ten years prior. This day-long event cache, with workshops, music, and other caching-related activities, has become the world’s largest geocaching-related event.  We decided to go, and, in spite of the over-100ºF temperatures while we were there, we had a great time.  We saw a large number of creative caches, learned a lot about the sport, and met some great folks.

If you’ve never gone geocaching, try it.  The really great thing about it is that it can be done anywhere, city or country, urban or rural. All you need is a GPS unit, either a standalone version or a smartphone with a GPS using a geocaching app. I generally use my iPhone 4S running the official Geocaching app, but I also have a Magellan Explorist GC that I’m learning to use.  We came home energized, ready to put into practice all we had learned at the event. I have even started making some creative caches of my own that I plan to hide soon, but that is another story. To learn more about geocaching, go to


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