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Geocaching 101

Written by Andrea Abel. Photographs by Michael Amador.

The January 2014 issue includes Andrea Abel’s feature on the popular sport of geocaching. Below find more tips from Andrea on pursuing your own high-tech treasure hunt.

The Texas Challenge XII will be held March 22, 2014, in Bastrop (GC1BA88); www.texasgeocaching.com.

Getting Started is Easy:

Get the basics and watch introductory videos at the official geocaching website, www.geocaching.com, managed by Groundspeak, Inc. Scroll through the Geocaching 101 information page, and create a free geocaching handle—the name used to identify you as a geocacher—and account. Caches are identified by their Geocaching Coordinate, or GC.

Texas Geocaching Association (TXGA) is a terrific source for upcoming Texas events and the TXGA Cache of the Week. Register online for access to online forums and blogs or to become a member of this all-volunteer organization. The site includes a calendar of upcoming classes, and you can contact TXGA at to schedule a group geocaching class.

Learn how to use a GPS receiver unit and geocaching basics at a one- to two-hour Geocaching 101 workshop taught at Texas state parks. Equipment provided. Find upcoming workshops at www.tpwd.state.tx.us/geocaching.

Not ready to invest in a GPS receiver unit but have a smart phone? Download a free introductory app or the full app for $9.99. There is more than one app out there. Look for the official Geocaching icon.

Hooked and ready to learn more? Subscribe to Texas-based FTF Geocacher magazine, www.ftfgeocacher.com.

Decide Your Caching Style

Park and Grab: Plenty of caches can be found nearly within arm's reach of a parking spot, making geocaching a terrific activity for people of all physical abilities. Be mindful of private property.

The History Buffs: The Ghosts of Texas series, accessed through Geocaching.com Premium Membership, offers glimpses of Texas' past via cemetery caches. Try Ghosts of Texas: Oddfellows Cemetery (GC4AETY) southeast of College Station with graves predating the Republic of Texas, including an Army private from the War of 1812.

Themed Hunts: Filled with riddles, anagrams, and local history, Austin's award-winning Necropolis of Britannia Manor III (GC2B034) leads cachers on a day-long excursion linked to game developer Richard Garriott, aka “LordBritish.”

Texas State Parks Geocaching Challenge: Download the Texas State Parks Geocache Passport to log more than 150 caches hidden specifically for the ongoing geocache challenge in about 90 parks throughout the state. Earn prizes after finding 10, 20, 30 caches or more in this self-paced contest. Texas State Parks are a great place to being your geocaching adventure with more than 1,400 geocaches of all sizes and skill levels hidden within their borders. Visit Brazos Bend State Park near Houston to find 92 active caches – the most in any park included in the challenge, the two units of Ray Roberts Lake State Park north of Dallas with 72 caches, and Franklin Mountains State Park in El Paso for nearly 50 caches.

Geoscience and other factoids: Try an EarthCache, a virtual cache containing information about our planet, like the one found at the impressive Caverns of Sonora (GC18ZA9) in West Texas. For most EarthCaches, the required questions can be answered without paying fees or purchasing tickets.

Group events: Geocaching creates an instant community and the chance to be as social as you like. Find upcoming events nearby or in far-flung locales on local, state, and international geocaching websites.

From the December 2013 issue.

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