Monday, June 26, 2017

Exploring The Victor Valley: Geocaching 101

(VVNEWS.com)- Geocaching is a treasure hunting game and can be a good way to explore the desert areas of the Victor Valley. There are thousands of what are called “caches” hidden around the area.

It’s an activity that involves finding these caches by use of Global Positioning System (GPS) device. These caches can be found by hiking, walking or riding to where the GPS coordinate location is. Usually hidden there, in a typical cache, is a small waterproof container containing a logbook and other items.

The geocacher enters the date they found it and signs it. After signing the log, the cache must be placed back exactly where the person found it. Larger containers such as plastic storage containers (Tupperware or similar) or metal ammo boxes can also contain items for trading, such as toys, jewelry or trinkets. The geocacher can also follow tips or clues that lead to other caches.

A Cache containing several items and a logbook.
A Cache containing several items and a logbook.

I decided to try my hand at geocaching with local treasure hunters Amy and Christian Diede who have been hunting in the area for several years.

They explained there are some basic ground rules for geocaching.

  1. Keep safe

  2. Respect the Environment

  3. Don’t trespass on marked Private Property without the owner’s consent.

I also learned geocaching etiquette: items are there for fun or for trade; try to leave something of equal value to what you take for yourself. Always carry a trash bag to remove litter on your route and abide by a no-trace guideline in the natural desert environment.

The Victor Valley has a rich history of the pioneering and adventure spirit. So with this in mind, we set out to find our first location. We drive toward a coordinate or ‘waypoint’ that Amy had downloaded into her handheld hiking GPS “Garmin Dakota 20”. “I usually download (coordinates) from the computer because they add clues and cache site information on,” says Amy. “You can get a lot more information regarding particular sites, or you can manually put coordinates in too.”

The Hunt

We found ourselves in a remote area of the edge of the Victor Valley. We had plenty of water and each had flashlights in case it got dark out; and had dressed for the 70 degree fall weather. We also had trekking poles along with some essential gear, snacks ,and a map. We parked and the hike was on!

The air was crisp in the fall wind as we walked along a dry wash past the creosote bushes and Mormon tea. The recent rain had wiped out all traces of humanity, and we soon found ourselves alone with the jackrabbits and gamble quail. The GPS waypoint said that we were one half mile from the first treasure. What would we find there?

Christian Diede looks for “clues” indicating a nearby Cache
Christian Diede looks for “clues” indicating a nearby Cache

Trackables.

Amy explained that trackables were small coin or dog tag type items that have serial numbers. They are placed in a cashe and can end up all over the world. Christian said that one of his trackables is in Germany via London right now. There are other types of games as well like using a “Travel Bug / Trackable” This is an item placed on the side of the road by people who are traveling. Once placed, they end up going from city to city and from state to state.

The GPS read 20 feet and we began looking for clues. After a bout 2 minutes of searching for the cache, at the base of an old sage bush, Christian reached down and said “Found it!” It was a log sheet and note from another geocacher who had previously found it. Christian explained that this was a general cashe and that we could have expected to find anything.

Christian gave me the GPS unit and we used the geocache function on it to locate the next nearest cache. It showed about .12 miles away, just a little more than a tenth of a mile. Through the hilly terrain and brush we reached the next waypoint called “Mushroom Tip”. It was a micro cache and was hidden well under a rock, but I found it. It was my first find. It was a small capsule that contained a small logbook. “Each cache usually has a particular name,” said Christian.

Cache hidden in a tree, Can you spot it?
Cache hidden in a tree, Can you spot it?

I filled out today’s date and placed it back inside the mushroom looking capsule. On to the next. We covered 3 miles in quite a short amount of time and came up with some serious booty –Treasure galore!

All in all, the day went pretty swell and I think Geocaching is a great way to get out and be active. Ya never quite know what you will come across. The most important thing is safety first. Plus, It’s a good way to go hiking and test your skill in modern treasure hunting. The sun slowly sank behind the mountains out of the clear blue Victor Valley sky once again. One more adventure in the logbooks of exploring the High Desert. For more information visit Geocaching.com

geo-caching-in-the-victor-valley-3

About Kevin Buchanan

For 45 years Kevin has lived and worked in the High Desert of California. He is a singer-songwriter with two albums to his name and resides in Hesperia.

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