By Nancy De Courcey and Nancy Greenlee
The Presidential Rail Trail is a popular place for geocachers. Since 2008 more than 114 sites have been hidden along the PRT from Jefferson to Gorham—ten more were added just recently! Geocachers from many states and countries have commented on our amazing, wonderful trail—some in languages other than English!
To find a geocache, you will need a GPS-enabled device (hand-held receiver or mobile phone with a GPS app) and a set of coordinates (latitude and longitude) of the cache’s location. There are over two million caches hidden worldwide. The official website, www.geocaching.com, will guide you through the steps of becoming a member (free), choosing a caching name to use when signing logs, and logging your finds. You can read logs for each cache to see how often and when they have been found, and read comments by other cachers. The website offers the ability to search for caches in the area you wish to explore by town, address or other filters.
For the traditional geocache, a geocacher hides a waterproof container with a logbook and then records the cache’s coordinates. The next step is to post these coordinates, along with other details of the location, on the geocaching.com website. Other cachers obtain the coordinates from that listing and look for the cache using their GPS receivers.
Some caches are easy to find and some are devilishly hard. Nancy Greenlee of Jefferson reported last fall that from three different locations on the trail:
“a cache hidden in 2008 has been found by 233 people;
a cache hidden in 2010 has been found by 239 people;
a cache hidden in 2012 has been found by 90 people.”
There was also a cache that had yet to be found.
Caches vary in size, shape, terrain where they are hidden, and how difficult they are to find. After signing the log, the cacher must return the cache to the same location so that other geocachers may find it. Some caches are large enough to contain “swag” or items for trade. Some are tiny. Because they are hidden high and low, it is fun to cache with a partner or group. The more eyes, the better!
Searching geocachers record their “find” in the logbook and then online. Depending on the size of the cache’s container, the cache owner may place items for trading, usually toys or trinkets of little financial value. Should one decide to take an item, geocaching etiquette suggests leaving an item of similar appeal.
In late April 2016, as Nancy De Courcey posted on our Friends Facebook page, “Local geocachers hosted a “CITO” (cache in, trash out) event with sign-in at the Appalachia trailhead parking lot. We collected over fifteen large bags of trailside and roadside trash in 1-1/2 hours. Also a small contingent picked up the Randolph East trailhead area. We had folks from Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts and New Hampshire…People came early and stayed late, enjoying this wonderful resource. One small group was thrilled to share all the animals they had seen and heard on the section near Cherry Pond. It was a first visit to the area for many attendees—they were very impressed with this wonderful resource and plan to return with family and friends to do more exploring and caching on foot as well as on mountain bikes.”
Geocaching is a great family activity, and can be done on foot or on a bicycle. What could be better than a treasure hunt while exploring the scenic Presidential Rail Trail?