Adirondack Journal — Geocaching in the Adirondacks
An abundance of outdoor activities is one of the many reasons people love the Adirondacks. A new pastime that has gained appeal regionally and worldwide is geocaching, a high-tech treasure hunt game that gets people outside and exploring, guided by a GPS device.
The idea behind geocaching ("geo" for geography and "cache" a secure place of storage) is to locate hidden containers or "caches" using GPS coordinates. The caches come in many shapes and sizes, but are usually weatherproof containers created and hidden by fellow geocachers. The cache has something for the finder to record his or her name on, and sometimes a small trinket to collect. In order to access the coordinates, the new geocacher must first sign up on www.geocaching.com. After completing this step you can enter your geographic location to find nearby caches.
The first logged geocache was found on May 3, 2000 in Oregon. Now there are over one million caches hidden throughout the world, in over 200 countries. The great part about this activity is that you don't have to be an avid hiker or outdoorsman to participate. Anyone can do it; there are handicapped accessible caches and treasures for those of all ability levels to find. There are caches hidden in urban environments as well as wilderness settings. You do, however, need access to a GPS device.
Geocaches can be educational, leading people to historical or geologically significant places. People are very creative with their caches: some you have to solve a puzzle to find, some consist of multiple caches — each containing a clue. There are underwater caches, night caches, and traveling caches.
With so many interesting hikes and hidden natural wonders in the Adirondacks, it is no surprise that geocaching has become a popular activity here. It is a fun way to get people out to explore their surroundings; there is also a focus on environmental awareness. There are nearly 1,050 caches listed within a fifty-mile radius of Blue Mountain Lake, New York.
There are two caches hidden on the Adirondack Museum's property. One is handicap accessible. The other takes you to Prentice Falls; the description of this cache includes a brief history of how the falls got their name. The falls are located near the museum. In 1877, painter Levi Wells Prentice (1851-1935) painted what was previously known as Princess Falls during his stay at Merwin's Blue Mountain House, now the Adirondack Museum. The falls were renamed Prentice that year.
There is a group known as the Blueline Geocachers, taking their name from the blue line that designates the Adirondack Park, that works to promote safe, responsible, and environmentally friendly geocaching. The group organizes regional activities and events, bringing together a community of geocachers.
The Blueline Geocashers organize an annual winter event in Long Lake, N.Y. to bring people together to enjoy outdoor winter activities. New caches are hidden for the event, and participants set out on snowshoes, cross country skis, or snowmobiles to experience winter in the Adirondacks. Geocachers from around New York State and adjacent areas including Vermont, New Hampshire, and Canada come for a weekend with friends and outdoor fun.
Geocachers also focus on cleaning up the environment around them, following a model of "cache in, trash out." It is recommended that when you are out finding a cache, if you see trash along the way you pick it up on your way out. Around Earth Day on April 22 groups of Geocachers get together to clean up a park.
Geocaching is just one of many ways to enjoy the Adirondacks. You can visit the Blueline Geocacher's website to learn more about this group of outdoor enthusiasts, and the various ways they are active in the Adirondacks.