Two weeks ago, on a beautiful warm afternoon, Joe and I hopped in the car to go look for treasure. We arrived at the correct coordinates, but we couldn’t locate the small container that held the prize.
The clue we’d been given read “Not in or on the ground.”
That narrowed things down a bit, but not enough as we searched near the edge of the road for the hidden treasure called “Lamb Hollow Hide.”
It’s one of nine geocaches located in Highland, and finding all of them is a great excuse for visitors and residents alike to travel to every corner of the county. The one we were searching for was a “mini,” which meant it was smaller than a checkbook. We gave up after searching for fifteen minutes, but an hour later we drove back to the same spot.
Joe realized he saw something that seemed a little out of place and sure enough, when we returned and looked, the small object was an unusual container holding a scroll with tiny boxes for lucky searchers to sign. We signed in box number 23, and then moved on to hunt for the next cache on our list.
WHAT IS GEOCACHING?
Geocaching has been around since May 3, 2000 when a fellow named Matt Stumm hid a black bucket in the Oregon woods and posted the coordinates online. Two days later, after several people found his bucket full of prizes and signed the log he included, a new sport began.
There are strict rules to be followed both by hunters and hiders, but generally, a cache must be in a publicly accessible place and hiders are encouraged to “think of a good reason to bring people to that spot” and then write about it along with the coordinates and sometimes a clue they post on the Geocache website.
The one we located was hidden because the geocacher had fond memories of traveling up into the hollow as a child. Another one, the “McDowell Micro,” hidden by “Caver Rick,” included interesting information about the nearby bridge. A third, posted online by user “Bennington 200,” was an earth-cache (a place chosen because of its unique geoscience feature) where we were instructed to take and post a photo of the youngest known igneous body east of the Rockies.
So, if you have an afternoon or two and want to participate in the ultimate treasure hunt, go to www.geocaching.com and join, as a basic member, for free. From there you can find coordinates for all the caches I’ve mentioned plus six more in Highland. All you need is a phone or GPS and a car. Some caches will be road accessible, while others, like the ones in Laurel Fork, will give you a great excuse to get out and walk.
But, be careful. Don’t let any “muggles” (the term geocachers use for non-geocachers) see you when you discover the cache. The whole idea behind geocaching is to keep the caches, which range in size from a pencil eraser to an ammo box, secret so they won’t be dismantled or removed by those not in the know. And if you have the motivation to hide your own, there are instructions on the site for that as well.