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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.

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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.

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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?

Happy Holidays from Geocaching HQ!

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So far this year, we’ve had a blast celebrating 15 Years of Geocaching. We found a geocache on the anniversary of the first geocache hide, laughed at plenty of #TBT photos from geocaching’s early days, and even joined our favorite geocachers on an epic road trip.

See Geocaching in 2015: A Year in Review.

Like most geocaching streaks, however, 2015 will inevitably come to a close… But good news! 2016 will be filled with even more geocaching awesomeness.

We hope you’ll join us in bidding adieu to this year and welcoming the next by earning two new geocaching souvenirs. To receive both the Goodbye 2015 and Hello 2016 souvenirs, you’ll need to log a geocache on both December 31 and January 1. Be sure to share your favorite New Year’s photos, memories and your geo-goals with us using #geocaching.

Wishing you many geocaching happy dances to come,
Your buddies at Geocaching HQ

Hier kannst Du den Artikel auf Deutsch lesen.

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Geocaching in 2015: A Year in Review

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2015 was an epic year in the world of geocaching. 

There were many laughs, plenty of new geocaches hidden, and a lot of “Found it” logs.  As we start to plan for the new year ahead,  it’s fun to reflect on many of the amazing things that happened in 2015. Here are 15 of them.

 

1) We celebrated 15 years of geocaching!

It’s hard to believe that the hobby we all love celebrated its 15th birthday this year. During this time of nostalgia, it’s fun to look back at some of the most historic moments in geocaching history.

2) A year of events. Great events.

  • 2 Giga-Events (5,000+ geocachers)
  • 45 Mega-Events (500+ geocachers)
  • Over 28,000 geocaching events total

It’s evident from all the fun gatherings that took place that geocachers enjoyed making new friends and spending time with the old at an average of over 76 geocaching events per day!  

  • A group of kiddos search for the code word at the last ever Geocaching Block Party Mega-Event in Seattle.

3) A group of courageous geocachers journeyed to the center of the earth to log an EarthCache. Well, sort of.

Need more laughs? Check out all the past geocaching April Fools videos:

4) The geocaching community grew.

In December, the 15 millionth geocaching account was created on Geocaching.com. Considering that many geocaching accounts represent families, couples, teams, and other groups, there are well more than 15 million geocachers worldwide.

  • Geocaching in Cambodia.

5) The game’s 453 community volunteers made the game better for everyone through their contributions as reviewers, moderators, and translators.

6) Geocachers joined in the global CITO (Cache In, Trash Out) movement and gave back to our lovely planet.

Over 19,000 geocachers collected garbage, restored natural areas, and worked on community improvement projects during CITO weekend in April. If each person picked up one 5 lb (2.26 kg) bag of trash, that’s over 40 metric tons of garbage collected. That’s (approximately) 7.4 elephants, or 7 elephants and two cows. This impressive number does not include the hundreds of additional CITO events that took place throughout the rest of year.

7) 4 incredible trackable branded promotions took place, including the super cute Mountain Warehouse promo.

With nearly 500 photos entered into the Mountain Warehouse photo contest, geocachers showed clever photography skills while shooting Meryl Sheep trackable tags all over the British countryside and beyond. One particular trackable, Wooliam the Sheep, has already traveled 32,000+ miles (51,499 km).

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8) GeoTours expanded.

19 new GeoTours were launched this year, bringing the GeoTour grand total at 61 tours worldwide. The average number of geocaches per tour is 44, and their geocaches tend to have more favorite points than the average geocache.

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9) Over 52,000 geocachers around the world went on a Geocaching Road Trip.

During the summer months, geocachers had the opportunity to complete five geocaching quests, each of which earned them a special souvenir for their geocaching profile. By completing all missions, they earned an extra special 6th souvenir. The theme was “Geocaching Road Trip”, and the adventures were epic.

10) Geocachers celebrated Pi. And puzzles. And ate pie.

While some folks celebrated Pi Day on March 14 (3.14) with a slice of pi pie, we celebrated this year’s Pi Day with two new souvenirs…and pie. The first souvenir was earned by 37,000 geocachers who attended an event on that day. The second souvenir celebrated the mystery of pi—to earn it, geocachers had to log a “Found It” on a Mystery Cache. Kudos to the 50,000 geocachers who took on that head scratching challenge.

  • Yummy geocaching events all day long!

11) Five new countries received their own geocaching souvenirs.

Time to update your bucket lists, geocachers. Cheers to Thailand, Turkey, Estonia, Lithuania, and Slovenia who were added to the growing list of country souvenirs this year!

  • Thailand Souvenir.

12) New features were added to make your geocaching world a bit better.

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13) Geocachers watched 16 creative geocaching films at GIFF Weekend.

The GIFF (Geocaching International Film Festival) Weekend 2015 souvenir was awarded to over 14,000 geocachers who attended 449 GIFF events in 46 countries. That’s amazing. But what’s even more amazing is the sheer number of special and wonderful moments that happened at all the movie nights.

14) Geocaching.com added new languages.

The Geocaching.com website is now translated into 22 different languages including English. The iPhone and Android Free apps are also available in 19 different languages. More to come!

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15) There were over 79,000,000 logged geocaches and over 588,000 new geocaches published this year.

Great job, geocachers. Great job.

  • Warm waters & lots of signatures.

From all of us at Geocaching HQ, thank you for making this year the best geocaching year to date.

 

What was your favorite geocaching moment from 2015?

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?

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ENIGMA (GC427TF) — Geocache of the Week

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Geocache Name:

ENIGMA (GC427TF) — by The Seeker League

Location:

North Canton, Ohio, USA
N 40° 52.645 W 081° 24.875

Difficulty/Terrain Rating:

D4.5/T1.5

Why this is Geocache of the Week:

Enigma is pure geocaching entertainment. It’s the kind of cache that you’ll walk away from smiling, even if you DNF. If you do manage to locate the famed yellow logbook, you’ll walk away shouting with laughter.

See for yourself. Here’s a video provided by the cache owner, The Seeker League.

What geocachers have to say about it:

“Woo hoo!!! Been wanting to get this but kept putting it off cause of the stigma with it!!! But decided we should give it a try since it may be disabled soon. Otter9 joined us and we spent almost an hour but we FOUND IT!!!! So happy! Thanks for all the time you took to put this together! It lives up to its reputation!” –MR DR

“Wow what a cache! A dozen of us teamed up to work this puzzle. Took over an hour before we finally had the yellow golden ticket log in hand!” –Heidi & Zeke Jones

“Awesome! Messed around with the whole contraption and all the areas. Dropped a trackable that needs to get moving in a race! After looking everywhere ( and making a few trips back to the car for hats, gloves, and warmer coats), we started to think our way through the device. Mommy Scout started dancing around and singing when her hand retrieved the yellow log! Very exciting moment for me. (Yes, I need to get a life, huh?) Thanks for the fun cache. Took us about 20 minutes. Gets a favorite for sure! TFTC!” –ThorScouts

What the Cache Owner, The Seeker League, has to say about it:

Where did the idea for this sort of large, mechanical multi-part field puzzle cache?
“After 3 years of looking for a place to put it, I asked my husband Iron Horse to build a kinetic art sculpture to use as camouflage for this container. Over the next year and hundreds of hours, all the loose pieces of metal and machinery within our garage found its way into his hands and onto ENIGMA.”

The cache itself looks fairly complicated — did you have a pretty clear idea of what it would look like before you started construction, or was it sort of a “flying by the seat of your pants” kind of thing?
“There was no plan, no idea what it would look like at the end. ENIGMA evolved into 500 cubic feet of contraptions, containers and fun!”

What’s been your reaction to all the wonderful logs by people who’ve found your cache?
“Reading the logs about our creation are very enjoyable.  Watching the videos from the area have given us even more hours of entertainment, as we never know what is going to be said or what reaction cachers are going to have while doing ENIGMA.  Never a dull moment that’s for sure!  Cachers are warned that at ENIGMA you might just be on camera!”

What’s your favorite creative geocache hide?
“We had the honor of doing some spectacular caches while attending our 4th GeoWoodstock at XIII in Boonsboro, Maryland 2015. One of our favorite caches is GC4W6QX ‘GBC 3 – Mechanical Drawing 101’ by WVTim in Martinsburg, WV. His caches are all so creative it was difficult to choose just one favorite.”

Is there anything else you would like to say to the Geocaching community?
“Remember Geocachers, getting lost is more than half the fun. We have lived some of our greatest moments while being lost. Turn off interstates on your GPS unit, take the long back roads and enjoy life. See you on the trail.”

Photos:

 

ENIGMA, in all of its colorful glory.

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Continue to explore some of the most amazing geocaches around the world. Check out all of the Geocaches of the Week on the Geocaching blog.

 

If you would like to nominate a Geocache of the Week, fill out this form.