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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Get Outside and Find Some Treasure

I can't believe it's been almost four years since I last did any geocaching! I started with this hobby in 2006 and then I guess I got out of the habit almost right away. I'm not entirely sure why, because it is ridiculously fun and a great excuse for getting outside and getting some exercise.

As far as green activities go, Geocaching is amongst the best. The idea is to use a GPS device and coordinates from the Geocaching website to hunt for small, hidden containers (called caches) in your area. Once you find the container, you simply sign the physical log and then later record your find on the website. In some cases, you may trade small items in the cache, such as small toys, pins, and the like. For me, it's more about the hunt and the find than the items involved.

The Geocaching community promotes a respect for the environment around caches. Searchers are encouraged to avoid disturbing the natural environment around the cache as much as possible. Cache hiders are forbidden from using National Parks in the US, and are encouraged to avoid areas where wildlife or the natural ecosystem might be harmed by the foot traffic that may result from the activity.

One of the benefits of Geocaching that I found immediately was getting to know some of your local area a bit better. You're forced to slow down and take in the nearby neighbourhood park or green space that you may only have driven by before. In fact, when I first started, I found a nice walking trail only a block from my office that I didn't know about, despite having been in the general neighbourhood for almost 20 years.

Even better, the current generation of cell phones have some fantastic GPS equipment already built in. This means you could probably start in this activity with no additional outlay of cash for new equipment. I currently use my Blackberry phone, but you could use your iPhone or HTC phone as well. I'm sure many others offer the same or similar features.

So that seems like a perfect match for Lower Footprint... a fun activity that involves feet power, gets you to know your local environment a lot better, and might not require any additional spending to get started.

You can follow my progress here (if you're already a member of geocaching.com)!

The Groundspeak Geocaching Logo is a registered trademark of Groundspeak, Inc. Used with permission.

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