I let them walk ahead of me, snapping a photo as they reached a spot where the sun broke through the trees and illuminated them. I tucked my camera back into my backpack and jogged to catch up.
"I think we're getting close," I said as I shielded the screen of the iPhone from the sun with my hand and tried to peak under at the map.
“It’s this way,” the Adventurer pointed.
I wasn’t convinced. I thought we were looking at the map on our GPS app upside down.
Obviously, I'm not an expert GPS user. I’ll claim that’s because I’m not directionally challenged and that I have an inner compass that is flawless. Truthfully, I haven't had time to play with it.
Like a little kid, I was mesmerized by the blinking dot (us) that moved closer to other dot (our destination), as we walked down the path at the .
This was our first time geocaching. Never heard of it? According to Geocaching.com:
Geocaching is a real-world, outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices. Participants navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates and then attempt to find the geocache (container) hidden at that location.
In each cache there’s a little treasure and a log book to sign or stamp. You pick a treasure (items vary from keychains and stickers to trackable geocoins), leave something new to be found by the next adventurer and return the cache to its hiding place.
"Over here, Mom!" I was wrong. She was right. We weren’t looking at the map upside down after all. We followed the GPS off the trail to search and find (with much excitement) our first geocache. And we were instantly hooked.
This popular game has at least dozen variations and geocaches can be found all over the world. There are currently 1,398,390 active caches to choose from, with many here in Brookfield. Check geocaching.com for location and pop the coordinates into your GPS or mobile phone and you are off to explore and discover. When you get back home, log on and share your adventure and photos with other players.
The geocache wasn't the only cool thing my girls discovered. The Princess examined the different types of mushrooms sprouting up along the path and under the trees. The Adventurer found a purple pinecone under a spruce tree that seemed to extend its arms and invite her to perch up high. As for me, I was given the gift of a pleasant walk through the woods and a meadow without any complaints from the young ones.
Although hiking with a GPS is fun, it takes some of the fun out of exploring (getting lost) and finding things you may have missed otherwise. The most direct route to a destination is not always the most interesting journey. After finding our next geocache, I may just switch off the GPS and follow the inner compass to the next discovery.