Editorial: Geocaching for treasure

By Michelle Samson – Business Manager

Geocaching — a relatively new and unknown activity in which people use GPS to map out and find hidden treasures in their vicinity with coordinates — has inexplicably possessed the city of Lawrenceville and the greater Atlanta area. The geocaching app relays coordinates of hidden objects, mostly medicine bottles and bison tubes, that contain paper logs on which an adventurer can sign their name and date their arrival to legitimize the endeavor.

The map of Lawrenceville is littered with green, blue and orange dots (the colors indicate traditional, multicache and mystery caches, respectively) hidden by geocache aficionados — one of those can even be found right here on campus. I admit to using my down time in between classes to hunt for these items. I take the pursuit too seriously; the handy compass app on my phone accompanies me to the exact coordinates where I will often times crawl through untrimmed bushes and unclutter piles of leaves to find unwanted ant piles. There have been times where I have almost resorted to some kind of made-up geocache summoning of licking bark on trees and dancing a sort of geocache dance during bouts of frustration. Finding small items in the wilderness can be hard. I am left completely bereft when I spend a halfhour digging through the dirt to no avail. The obsession that keeps me fueled comes from the moment I capture the prize.

The on-campus cache is a mere pill bottle wrapped in duct tape. The logbook inside is damp and scribbled entirely with names spanning from 2010 to September of this year. This does not sound the least bit fanciful and I probably look suspect holding up a pill bottle by a lamppost but the exhilaration from the find is real. I recently took a trip to downtown Lawrenceville to fulfill an agenda to seek out a few geocaches. The course from my friend’s parked car to our first find was riddled with fast cars travelling down Luckie Street and sublime window-shopping views. We reached the fire station downtown and paced around in circles until our compass indicated that we had arrived at our destination.

I found yet another pill bottle containing a neon alien figurine nestled into a tree. Fittingly, both of us had forgotten writing utensils so we asked the firemen working nearby on a truck for a pen. One of the men peered over at us and asked if we had “found it”. Another jokingly inquired if we had found money in the container. No, we had not. The touching aspect of this particular geocache is its name. The person who hid the bottle called it “343” in remembrance of his “fellow brother firefighters that were killed on 9/11”. I always marvel over the stories behind the geocaches. A location may serve narrative purpose such as with “343” or a container may be an odd kitsch item and I will render an image of the hider, an image worthy of a character from a Wes Anderson film. Ultimately, geocaching enables a kind of empathy to be felt and enables moments of introspection. These outdoor talismans are an extension of the people who hid them, allowing others to experience a rare and otherworldly perspective. Whether interested in outdoor misadventures or fascinated with little trinkets, I highly recommend spending time searching for geocaches

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