Utah Stories

Babs in the City – Tiny Treasures

Forget Pokemon and try geocaching.


image002There are over 20,000 treasures in the State just waiting for you to find them. You don’t need a shovel and a headlamp, but a smart phone or pad with GPS and a downloaded geocaching app. You probably have geeky friends and family members who are into this nerd-sport. Perhaps you want to hunt for treasures but are afraid to admit to the world that you don’t know the first thing about playing the game. Here is what you need to know: 

Go to a good geocaching site like www.geocaching.com. Registration should be free. Put in the town or zip code where you want to hunt, put the GPS coordinates in your phone or pad, search, find, sign the log, put the treasure back and share with others on the site and/or your social network. Easy peasy.

Geocaches are tucked in public places all around you – behind a loose brick, in a knot in a tree, on a ledge in a sea water cave you can only reach from low tide, under a heart-shaped rock on the tallest mountain, at a bus stop, in a park, or in several locations on a college campus so as to allow you to see different areas of the school in your searches.

Once you figure out the clues to the puzzle or the location you’ll generally find a waterproof container with the prize and sometimes a logbook. You might find a tiny super hero or a piece of gum, or a take away token.

The game was created by an Oregonian named Dave Ulmer in 2000. It was based after a 160-year-old game called ‘letterbox’.  He hid a black plastic bucket that was partially buried in the ground filled with software, videos, books, money and a slingshot. Today there’s a cache and a plaque there called ‘The Original Stash Tribute Plaque’ that sits at 45°17.460’N 122°24.800’W in Oregon.

The game has grown like crazy and there are stashes in Mantua, Pinnacle Peak, on the Pony Express Trail, Snow College, and along the trailhead at 4600 ft. elevation to Zion National Park as well as all major cities in Utah. Sometimes you have to encrypt hints to get the clue to find the treasure, like this in Zion:  Pebff gur Ivetva Evire ba n oevqtr. Fbba gur ebnq vf vzcnffnoyr jura jrg. Vs gel xrrc bg gur uvtu ebnq ng whapgvbaf. Ybbx sbe “Rntyr Pent Genvyurnq ng A 37 qrterrf, 8.887’, 113 qrterrf, 1.865’.  Don’t worry, the decryption key is on the geocaching.com website with the satellite coordinates.

The game has morphed into many versions around the world but the simple fun of getting hints and finding tiny treasures will always allure nerds like me. Come on, try it. Just once?

Babs De Lay is a Broker with Urban Utah Homes & Estates

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