June 22nd, 2022

Adventures For Your Soul: Geocaching

As the first day of summer being June 21st, many in Michigan where I reside are already out and about enjoying a snow free environment. I’m not any exception to this, I am already googling trails in Michigan and making a wish list for this summer and dreaming of how magical it is during the fall when the autumn foliage change into bursts of oranges, fiery reds, and yellows. I feel lucky to live in such a state, because we have over 2,000 such trails to get out and enjoy sunshine and fresh air.

I’m always a fan of finding little adventures that bring joy. Remember the Pokémon game phenomenon of 2016? How crazy was that? But really, that game had a huge impact on technology blending in with social interactions. It got kids and adults alike out and away from the tv and computer, speaking with others in public, getting exercise, and resulted in families spending time together. Let me just say, I. Was. Here. For. It! I was out with my boys, high school age at the time, and finding small joys, even if it was one squirtle or eevee at a time.

Geocaching is the old school version of Pokémon Go, having been in existence since the year 2000 when it was known as “geostashing”. The biggest difference is that instead of collecting digital animals- your dealing with actual treasure items! Back during creation, users of Geocaching used GPS and the internet to update an even earlier version of this called “letterboxing”.

In 2022, Geocaching is done by an app on your smartphone.

What does a membership include?

The free basic membership includes worldwide searches of caches. These include traditional and event caches with easy and difficulty descriptions as well as terrain ratings. You can also send and receive messages from other geocachers.

Got some pocket change set aside? Premium plans really are not that expensive and you have two different ways to join. You can pay a 1 time yearly fee of $29.99 or subscribe for $5.99 a month.

With the premium membership, it unlocks advanced geocaches on mobile with premium only listed geocaches. I especially liked the offline maps feature which gave me access to trail maps for off-road adventures. It also included features that abled me too award “favorite points” to my favorite geocaches that I found and receive notifications for newly published geocaches in my area.

I was also able to sort and filter geocaches in advanced searches along routes. Super helpful since gas here in Michigan is currently at $5.21 a gallon. Also helpful is the ability to download geocaches from your computer to your Garmin GPS.

Not sure if you want to commit? They have a basic Quick Start Kit for $19.99 that includes a two week trial with essential Geocaching items.

Want to gift a membership and add friends and family to your adventure? You can do that too with buying a year membership gift card for $30.00.

Preparing For Your Geocaching Adventure

My oldest son and I went online to Geocaching’s website, https://www.geocaching.com/account/join and created an account. After this we purchased a Basic Quick Start Kit that was $19.99 at https://shop.geocaching.com/.

The kit includes:

  • 14 day free trail premium membership on geocaching.com
  • Geocaching Quick Start Guide
  • Geocaching Woven Lanyard
  • Power Tank Pen
  • Rot 13 Geocoin
  • Geocaching Travel Bug ®

We also added on the “Pirate Courage Geocoin” because why go treasure hunting without pirate treasure?

From the time we ordered this until it came in was around 3 days with Priority Select. (Washington to Michigan ship time) From there, we went into our smart phone and downloaded the Geocaching app.

Using the computer, we cross listed our favorite hiking trails with routes where geocaches were located at and came up with our adventure route. Kal-Haven Trail Sesquicentennial State Park has an estimated 150 geocaches, and is very popular for hiking and mountain biking. It’s free to use and dog friendly, as long as your dog is leased. This trail originally ran 33.5 miles between South Haven, Michigan, to a point just west of the city of Kalamazoo, Michigan, where there is a trailhead. Currently the trail is 34.5 miles (56 km).

Since we are not planning on hiking the entire 34.5 mile trail, we are planning on hiking just 7 miles in from South Haven to Lacota and 7 miles back to South Haven for a total of 14 miles / 4 hours average. I wish we could do more, but we have to factor in a 2 hour, 42 minute drive there.

We didn’t pack anything out of what we ordinarily pack for a short hike, except of course we added our Geocaching items. We normally pack bottled water (2 per person), beef jerky, cliff bars, and trail mix. Of course sunscreen….. because what kind of skin care professional would I be?

We always have a small emergency kit as well which includes items for treatment of injury.