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Geocaching in the Southland

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For the past several years, Geocaching has become more and more popular around the world. With the popularity of the internet, and the affordability of gadgets like handheld GPS units, this game is managing to reach a wider audience every day. We stumbled across this outdoor "treasure hunt" last year when we managed to find (after a lot of looking in the wrong places) our very first geocache near the Chess Park in Glendale.

What is Geocaching you ask? Well, for an easy answer we turn to the FAQ section of Geocaching.com.

"Geocaching is an entertaining adventure game for gps users. Participating in a cache hunt is a good way to take advantage of the wonderful features and capability of a gps unit. The basic idea is to have individuals and organizations set up caches all over the world and share the locations of these caches on the internet. GPS users can then use the location coordinates to find the caches. Once found, a cache may provide the visitor with a wide variety of rewards. All the visitor is asked to do is if they get something they should try to leave something for the cache."

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According to their stats, as of today, there are 227853 active caches in 220 countries. That's a LOT of caches. Keep in mind these can be as big as a breadbox, or as small as a box of matches. The first one we found contained a small waterproof logbook and a pencil so you could leave messages for other cache finders. It may sound simple but the thrill of it hit us the first time we successfully found a cache. We've since found several others around Los Angeles (one easy one is near El Coyote on Beverly, yummy), ranging in different size and contents. A lot of times the cache will contain small items, like toys and such. Bring along a handul of your own, and you can trade 'em out.

Now, as cheap as we are at LAist, we've never bought a GPS unit. You can figure out most of the cache locations on the site with the clever hints they provide. Some of the harder ones to find (Angeles Crest National Park, etc.) probably make extensive use of one of those newfangled gizmos, but the ones here in the city just require a keen head and a sharp eye. Watch out for "Muggles" (non-geocaching normal folk) who might be lingering around as you remove or replace the cache. Of course, it's bound to make some folks nervous, people traipsing about with a GPS unit, looking for clues and things around buildings and landmarks, as this article at CNN reflects. But we say, the day you can't get out there, find a hidden box containing a cool bunch of loot, and switch out a 1961 quarter for a tiny rubber dinosaur, then the terrorists have already won.