4 Comments

Geocaching Along El Camino de Santiago, Spain

By Jenn Seva

Geocaching Along El Camino de Santiago, Spain

Have you ever wanted to go on a pilgrimage?

Just as summer turned into autumn, I was fortunate enough to walk across Spain. Literally. Those 1,043 km took me over 3 mountains, flat through 7 days of the exquisite meseta (plateau), and across more than a thousand years of Spanish Catholic history. Those kilometers also brought me conveniently near several remarkable geocaches. And bonus: two new country souvenirs! This pilgrimage is called El Camino de Santiago.

I began my 38-day walk in the misty French town of Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, nestled in the foothills of the Pyrenees. Although I had gotten a late start that morning, I still walked against the pilgrim traffic towards the cache at La citadelle to earn my France souvenir: magnifique! Later that day, I walked from France into Spain, over the Pyrenees.

Clockwise from left: Karin and Milene find a cache together, Amber finds her 1st geocache.
Clockwise from left: Karin and Milene find a cache together. Amber finds her 1st geocache.

On the second day, my new friend Amber asked me what this game is all about. The best way to explain geocaching is to show it, of course! At first, we DNF’d at Caminante No Hay Camino… which is ironic given what that cache title means. We found success at Brujeria – Sorginkeriamaravilloso! – and only because this Dutch woman also speaks Spanish and helped me understand that the hint (pío, pío) is about birds: something not immediately obvious to a non-native Spanish speaker like me. Amber’s first find had a very creative container, and we secured that additional country souvenir.

Walking farther west, we stumbled upon a German-style T5 experience at Casa Paderborn, Pamplona: märchenhaft! I estimated the cache height to be some 21 feet or so off the ground, well beyond the 14-foot ladder I borrowed (a ’14-foot ladder’ is probably called something different in a place where they don’t measure things in feet.) My pilgrim friends and 10 cyclists who happened to be resting below the tree did not understand what was happening. Even I was pretty amazed that WAY UP THERE is where my day went, in a dress, no less. They asked me from the ground: ¿Qué encontraste en el contenidor? What did I find in that container? Adventure and a great story to tell, that’s what.

The Casa Paderborn, Pamplona cache brought me additional joy because I had helped to develop the Paderborner Land GeoTour in Germany. This pilgrim hostel and this geocache both represent a sisterhood between the city where I was and a city that hosts a GeoTour! My worlds were coming together in delightful, mathematically unlikely ways.

Camino2
German-style T5 experience at Casa Paderborn, Pamplona.

By the time I got to La Cruz de Hierro, I was in my 4th week of walking. One of the most significant and powerful moments along the pilgrimage route, I had every intention of finding this geocache as a personal milestone. As it turned out, the significance and power of the moment itself caused me to forget about all about geocaching; instead my thoughts went to so many other far-off places. I recorded that as a memorable DNF since I had intended to find it and once within a few meters of the cache, I simply forgot to look. Has that ever happened to you?

Right outside the cathedral at Santiago de Compostela is a shadowy geocache called A sombra da Quintana de Mortos. Finding it at night when the lights are on makes for the best experience: architectural factors at the location combine, creating the magical illusion of a pilgrim forever tethered to the cathedral walls. It’s quite an improbable combination: the bumps on the cathedral walls were built independently of the simple pillar that creates the shadow. Further, the electric lights were added hundreds of years later. This is not something included in a typical guidebook. This is something I found only because of geocaching.

Camino3
Clockwise from left: Sombra with Hans photo by Suzanne, MissJenn walking to the Cruz de Ferro, Walking the Camino, At the finish.

Signing each of those geocache logs reminded me how geocachers have more than just geocaching in common. My stories intertwined with other pilgrims’ narratives as they each made their way one step at a time towards the city of Santiago de Compostela just like I did, but differently than I did. For example, the logs show that Dauby had started in Prague while I started walking just over Spain’s border with France. I read that the Canadian 3 Bearss were pawing through caches, always just a few days ahead of me. I actually met Maltese superprizz in person in Burgos (at a cache owned by my friend and Community Volunteer Stitch81) and we must have had very different paces since we didn’t run into one another again. Stitch81 himself had walked his own Camino many years ago, and he gave me sound advice and helped me with critical provisions.

It will take me ages to process all my many stories about this awe-inspiring, multi-faceted experience called El Camino de Santiago. At least I have now told you about some of the caches that helped make it an even better adventure.

What is the longest distance you have walked while geocaching?

Geocaching with Love in Alaska

Written by Annie Love, a Geocaching HQ Employee

This article was originally published in the Portuguese “GeoMagazine.”

Not many people would choose to visit Alaska in December. But that didn’t stop a group of nine Geocaching HQ Lackeys and friends from spending 24 hours visiting the capital city of Juneau. I feel fortunate to work with such amazing people who don’t think twice about spending their own money and giving up their weekend for a fun geocaching adventure.

Cute group

With a cheap flight and our sense of adventure, we took off early on a Saturday morning for a 24-hour geocaching journey. The only way to reach Juneau is by plane or boat, as there are no roads that lead to this isolated part of Southern Alaska. Our plane descended into Juneau at sunrise treating us to a spectacular view of seemingly endless white capped mountains.

Moody Mountain

Upon arrival we picked up our two SUVs and took off on our adventure. Within minutes we were stopping at our first geocache. The setting: a lifting fog on a beautiful wildlife refuge surrounded by mountains. We couldn’t have asked for a better introduction to Alaska. After a tasty breakfast, we set off for one of Juneau’s top tourist attractions: Mendenhall Glacier (a 13 mile long river of ice). This place is unreal. If you ever get a chance to travel to Alaska it’s well worth the visit. It’s also a great place to log several EarthCaches and learn about the interesting geology and history of the area.

Posing like a band cover

Local geocacher Avroair (Mark Clemens) was hosting an event at the Visitor’s Center to celebrate his accomplishment of finding caches in all 50 states. Our group of nine met up with a handful of local geocachers and enjoyed talking about our hobby while taking in the amazing view of the glacier.

Pointing

We then took off on the one-mile nature walk to Nugget Falls – an impressive nearly 400-foot tall waterfall. We posed for some silly pictures in front of the glacier.

Waterfall

Lucky for us, one of the local geocachers is a long time employee at Alaskan Brewing Co. We got our own behind-the-scenes tour of the brewery while sampling the local beer. Naturally, there was a geocache in front of the brewery that we had to find before starting our tour.

Arms out

Our very long day ended with a dinner event with even more local geocachers. Since it was a nice small group, we were able to have some great conversations and really learn a lot about the area and the local geocaches. We barely scratched the surface of the great geocaching Juneau has to offer and I was inspired to return someday – hopefully next time in the warmer summer months!

Group jumping

See Annie Love’s Geocaching journey atop Mt. Fuji. Where do you want to take a Geocaching journey?

1 Comment

The Quest for the Oldest Unfound Geocache in Washington

Mailer_07222015_OldestWAUnfoundVideo_vFINAL_blog

Watch a Geocaching HQ’er Take On a 5/5 FTF Challenge

About 4 hours from Geocaching HQ in Seattle, sitting atop Liberty Bell Mountain is Tensegrity on Liberty (GC1G5BY), the oldest unfound geocache in Washington State. The reason it remains unfound? It’s a Difficulty 5, Terrain 5 geocache that requires a long hike, a scramble and 400 feet of fifth-class technical climbing.

In our new video, Geocaching HQ’er Derek, along with a muggle friend, attempts to be the FTF and earn the new Geocaching Road Trip ‘15 Let’s Get Extreme souvenir. You’ll probably recognize him from some of our other videos, but outside of (trying to) act and writing things for Geocaching.com, Derek is an avid rock climber. Watch the new video to see if they make it.

[vimeo https://vimeo.com/134247543]

Inspired to find a T5/D5 geocache? Visit the new geocache search page to find one near you.

3 Comments

Komm mit auf die Reise zum Mittelpunkt des EarthCaches

[vsw id=”wMjrQOqg9PU” source=”youtube” width=”853″ height=”480″ autoplay=”no”]

Werde Teil des harten Kerns der EarthCacher

Anfang dieses Jahres folgte das Videoteam des Geocaching-Hauptquartiers einer Gruppe von mutigen Geocachern bei einem bisher einmaligen Unterfangen. Ihr ultimatives Ziel: den schwierigsten EarthCache der Welt zu finden. Das Video ihrer Reise ist jetzt fertig. Schau es Dir hier an.

EarthCaches sind aus einer Partnerschaft zwischen Geocaching.com und der Geologischen Gesellschaft der USA entstanden. Es gibt dabei keinen gegenständlichen Behälter. Dafür vermittelt der EarthCache Dir eine geowissenschaftliche Lektion. An den angegebenen Koordinaten müssen Fragen beantwortet werden, um einen Fund zu loggen.

Schau das Video an und folge diesen begeisterten Geocachern auf ihrer Reise zum Mittelpunkt des EarthCaches.

MailerImage_CITO_vFINAL_blog

CITO-Wochenende verlängert

Du hast jetzt zwei weitere Tage Zeit, um das CITO-Souvenir für 2015 zu erhalten. Zwischen Freitag, 24. April, und  Montag, 27. April, bekommst Du das Souvenir für die Teilnahme an einem CITO-Event.

Durch CITO (Cache In Trash Out) [Cache rein, Müll raus] erhalten Geocacher ihr Spielfeld, also die Erde, in einem großartigen Zustand. CITO-Events sind Treffen, bei denen Geocacher Müll und eingewanderte Arten entfernen, Wege bauen und Gebiete restaurieren.

Finde ein CITO-Event in Deiner Umgebung und logge Deine Teilnahmeabsicht.

13 Comments

Want a Reward for Finding Geocaches? Keep Reading…

Chris 1
Geocaching HQ Staffer: Chris Ronan, Rock Chalk

My name is Rock Chalk and I’m addicted to GeoTours and geotrails which offer rewards.

Whew. That feels better. Now that I’ve admitted my problem, perhaps I can persuade you to follow me into a realm where one can earn geocoins and other prizes, just for finding geocaches. (As if finding geocaches isn’t rewarding enough!) I currently work at Geocaching HQ in Seattle. But long before joining the team here, I discovered my passion for GeoTours and geotrails.

GeoTours and reward geotrails are collections of geocaches that take cachers on a tour of a specific area. They’re often sponsored by local tourism boards, historical associations, and even the National Park Service. In most cases, players find a certain number of geocaches to qualify for geocoins and other prizes.

Chris 2
A bunch of GeoTour and reward GeoTrail Geocoins
GeoTours and geotrails map
Click the GeoTours and geotrails map to explore

I first became hooked when we happened upon the Washington County GeoTrail while planning a vacation to Maryland a couple years ago. We spent a day visiting some amazing historical spots, finding geocaches, and capping it off by claiming a geocoin. Since then, I’ve enjoyed nearly 20 similar experiences throughout the United States.

Official GeoTours, which are organized through Geocaching HQ, have introduced me to the beauty of the riverwalk in Columbus, GA, the incredible learning opportunities at the National Museum of Natural History, and more than 50 of Washington’s amazing state parks. I grew up in Kansas, but had little knowledge of the Santa Fe Trail until their new GeoTour inspired me to follow the Santa Fe Trail through Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, Oklahoma and New Mexico last summer.

Chris 3
Clinton County Barn Trail (Ohio)

 

We’ve recently created a list of GeoTours and reward geotrails, so you can easily find them and learn about the cool rewards that await. We’ve also added a new forum where geocachers can discuss their adventures and ask questions about GeoTours and reward geotrails.

We hope these new resources can help your travel and geocaching become more rewarding than ever!

Check out the map and if a geotrail with a reward is missing, let us know in comments.

Chris 4
Washington State Parks GeoTour (Deception Pass)

 

Washington State Parks GeoTour (10,000th find at Deception Pass)
Washington State Parks GeoTour (10,000th find at Deception Pass)