Celebrating the 15th Anniversary of Geocaching
Fifteen years ago, on May 3, computer consultant Dave Ulmer placed the first geocache in the woods near Beavercreek, Oregon. He stashed a black bucket that contained a logbook and pencil, plus other odds and ends, including books, videos, software and a slingshot. With his global positioning system, he noted the location (N 45° 17.460 W 122° 24.800) and shared the waypoint with the online community sci.geo.satellite-nav.
Ulmer’s goal was to test the accuracy of Global Positioning System waypoints because the U.S. government had just ended its policy of scrambling satellite signals. Originally, the Global Positioning System was developed for military use, and the signals for 24 satellites around the Earth were scrambled—a process called “selective availability.” Due to the scrambling, civilian GPS units were accurate to only about 100 meters. When selective availability was disabled on May 2, 2000, a GPS unit could be accurate to 10 meters.
When Ulmer placed his black bucket in the woods, he called his project the Great American GPS Stash Hunt. Within days, people had established websites and online groups for this new hobby of planting and searching for navigational targets, and the activity was eventually dubbed “geocaching.”
For us, geocaching has become a favorite way to explore our local trails, and this past weekend we celebrated geocaching’s anniversary by getting out on a beautiful spring day to hunt for a Jolly Green Giant cache. In our area, there’s a series of caches that involve oversized objects that represent a giant’s belongings, such as a massive shoelace (pictured above). It was a fantastic day and a perfect way to commemorate the beginning of something that has brought us such good times outdoors.
To learn more about geocaching, click here to read our earlier post, “Geocaching: Tracking ‘Treasure’ Around the World”