Treasure Hunt Your Way Through Texas State Parks MAY 13 2015
By: Enchanted Rock Park Ranger Scott Whitener
The first time I heard the word Geocache, I had NO clue what it meant. Take the word apart and in my terms it means “a stash of stuff in the world”. When I found out what it was, it sounded ridiculously “nerdy”. Who in the world wants to walk around with some fancy GPS gadget that tells you the latitude and longitude of some box full of trinkets? Not me! I avoided this activity like the plague! I’m a purist! I do not want to go to one of our beautiful state parks to plug into some piece of technology to look for someone else’s junk! I want silence! No cell phones! I want to enjoy nature in its finest form!
Well a few months back, I went to a conference with a number of my “grown-up” colleagues. During this conference, we had a team-building activity that required seven groups of five to do a treasure hunt. That treasure hunt was called…….Geocaching! I thought, “Great! My nemesis was going to be forced into my otherwise quiet, tech free, flip phone world. I’m ruined!” As I sat there pouting and disgusted with my fate, the leader of the activity walked us through the “how-to” with the GPS unit, showed us “what” we would be looking for, and did a quick practice “race” with other teams to find our first “cache”. When he added the term “race” to the activity, my ears perked up, my heart began to beat a little faster, and after my team successfully beat the pants off of the other teams, we were off to find six more of the hidden treasures.
I would like to mention that my wife likes to tell me that I am “secretly competitive” and usually I just tell her, “No, I’m just really good at it”. This particular event proved the latter. I’m just really good at Geocaching! My team literally left the others in the dust! I was hooked!
I came back home, borrowed a GPS unit from the park and went to hunt for one of the 20 Geocaches found here at Enchanted Rock State Natural Area. The first box I found was out by the scenic overlook, and it had a Texas Parks and Wildlife bumper sticker. I took the sticker and left a patch in exchange. You ALWAYS want to bring something inexpensive to trade with others that might be out there doing the same thing you are. Next, I signed in on the logbook in the box to make sure EVERYONE knew that I had been there. Then…..on to the next one and the next one and the next one!
If you can’t tell, I really like Geocaching now. Especially now that I know what these other people are doing walking around in circles with their heads buried in a GPS unit. There are a couple million Geocaches found around the world in parks, rest areas, neighborhoods, and roadsides. They’re everywhere!
This is an incredibly great way to get families out into the park to discover new places that others might not think about. The caches at Enchanted Rock can be found in crawlspaces, scenic overlooks, and even at the top of Enchanted Rock in the form of the environmentally friendly “EarthCache”.
If this sounds like fun to you, download a Geocaching app, grab a GPS unit from your local outdoor store, or simply look for a Geocaching program going on at your local state park. Click here for all of the information you would need to get out there today and enjoy this fun activity.
LIFE WILL ALWAYS BE BETTER OUTSIDE!