Now that we can all roam freely, maskless and socially close once again, why not take part in a worldwide scavenger hunt that features treasures of all sizes hidden across the Capital Region and even Saratoga Springs?
Start your hunt off by downloading the Geocaching app. The app will then figure out your location—or you can search another one—and it shows you on a map where all the “geocaches” are hidden in your area. (Basically, they’re boxes full of goodies.) You simply need to GPS to that specific location, rummage around and grab the hidden treasure, which is known as a “find.” According to my app, there are more than 2,000 geocaches hidden all over Troy, where I live; and there are a number spread out over my hometown of Saratoga. One appears to be hidden somewhere in Congress Park, there are several in the Saratoga Spa State Park and a cluster near the Excelsior Ave area.
To make the game even more dynamic, you can swap what you find in a cache with another item—maybe a keepsake that defines your city or town. (For Trojans, that could be an “Enjoy Troy” T-shirt or a gift certificate to Ted’s Fish Fry.) To it, you can affix a “trackable,” which you can purchase from the Geocaching website for about $5-$25, and it will allow another hunter to find it at some point in the future. To keep the game going forward, worldwide players log “goals” on each trackable on Geocaching’s website, as well as every time an item/trackable is picked up. (Each trackable has a specific code on it.) Trackables come in three different types: Travel Bugs, or a trackable tag attached to an item (or “hitchhiker” in Geocaching lingo); Other Trackables, which are similar to Travel Bugs but come in the form of patches and key rings; and Geocoins, which look like coins and are customizable and harder to come by than most trackables (they’re highly coveted within the Geocaching community and often kept and collected).
To make things even more interesting, the New York State Parks system will be in on the fun this summer. According to a post on its blog, volunteers and park workers have hidden more than 200 geocaches, with items like stickers, toy cars and figurines in them, in 56 state parks and historic sites around Central New York, the Capital Region and the Hudson Valley. Geocachers who find at least 45 caches—at least 35 in a specific region, and up to 10 in either of the other two regions—will receive a free Geocoin representing that primary region.
Why should you be playing this game? Well, for one, why the hell not? You’ve been cooped up in your house for well over a year, and now you can go wherever you damn well choose (within reason). Also, as is evidenced by the New York State Parks system getting involved, Geocaching promotes getting outdoors, exercising and enjoying the natural wonders in our region. And, hey, some generous Geocacher could be enjoying a Ted’s fish fry and onion rings on a perfect stranger at some point soon. If that isn’t an incentive, I don’t know what one is.