Isaac Canales, mass communication sophomore, Patrick Freeman, sociology junior, Kelsey Rose sociology junior, are friends who participate in geocaching around San Marcos on their spare time.
While scanning through the free applications on her phone, Kelsey Rose came across something unusual—an app that claimed to be comparable to an authentic treasure hunt.
The official geocaching website describes the activity as “a free real-world treasure hunt where players try to locate hidden containers called geocaches, using a smartphone or GPS, and then share them online.” The game was created in May of 2000 when GPS enthusiast Dave Ulmer wanted to test GPS accuracy by hiding a navigational target in the woods.
Today, Rose and Patrick Freeman, sociology juniors, take groups of friends to find the geocaches hidden around the San Marcos area. They both explained that all one has to do to get started is download the app, locate nearby caches and follow the clues.
“It is just about finding an adventure,” Rose said. “It is a break from school to find something cool that no one has foundzin a couple of months.”
Clues given on the app can contain the mileage away from the next clue or cache, a riddle picture or even word puzzle. Information on the app also indicates how the treasure is buried and stars rating the difficulty of the terrain leading to the treasure.
Geocache prizes can consist of a notebook or paper to sign and date or trinkets that treasure hunters can take as long as they leave something else of equal value for the next explorer to find. There are at least 20 geocaches hidden in San Marcos alone, but they exist all over the country.
On one of his excursions, Freeman found the prize was much harder to attain than he imagined. As if geocaching at 3 a.m. wasn’t already difficult, his 6-feet-6-inch frame had to scramble up a large tree in the dark. Freeman climbed the 25-foot tree and attempted to get the paper for him and his friends to sign. It was located on one the branches in a waterproof container.
“I couldn’t see, and I couldn’t bring the flashlight or another person, but I finally figured it out,” Freeman said. “I didn’t hurt myself, so I was actually pretty proud.”