Last week I received my first introduction to Geocaching. Geocaching is a form of digital orienteering, where participants armed with a GPS and a set of coordinates, traipse all over the countryside in search of capsules called Caches. Sounds a bit computerised boy-scout otaku über geek, right? This is what I thought initially also. However Diglett, one of my workmates who goes Geocaching regularly, invited me along, so I thought I'd give it a go.
I had so much fun.
The Cache trail we were following lead us all through the Shigizan and TakaYasu mountains of Yao City and neighbouring Nara. Which means technically we walked all the way from Osaka into the next prefecture. This sounds a little bit more impressive than it was but we were trekking for over 5 hours. The hiking track meandered through some very beautiful country and afforded me my first real appreciation of the changing leaves of Autumn. The colours are fabulous ranging from a deep carmine, to rich amber, to orange orange, right up to bright canary gold. It was beautiful, and I did manage to value it regardless of my heaving and panting up the mountains.
The coordinates you follow take you within about a 2 metre radius of the Cache, after that it is up to you to locate the capsule. They are carefully hidden, so as not to be muggled (accidentally stolen by non magic folk). Sometimes you have simple clues to aid you. Sometimes the clues don't help at all. It really is like an adult Easter egg hunt.
Each Cache contains a slip of paper on which you write your User Name to confirm the find, and many also hold little treasures. The rule of treasure is that you can only take treasure, if you leave treasure, but as Diglett and I did not have any that day we took nothing but photographs, and left nothing but foot prints.
Darkness fell on our adventure just as we were locating the second last capsule, we stumbled down the hill to the cable-car that would return us to the trains and city, quickly laying hands on the last Cache just outside the station.
We had had a very successful day locating 12 of a possible 14 Caches on the trail, (one of which is believed to have been muggled, so really only one eluded us) and seeing a large part of Japan which I otherwise probably wouldn't have visited. Beginners luck most likely, but I'm definitely willing to give Geocaching another crack to find out.