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Geocaching

February 15 2001, 

Out of one idea, another is born. So we at BCN had the idea to provide our index of Belgian crags with GPS-coordinates. But not as you would think on first sight, GPS is not the Magic Box that simplifies orientation! In fact, you need to know a whole bunch of things even the better (classic) map and compas expert has never heard of. To shorten a long introduction, I was browsing the Web for GPS information, and what I found was this Site of the Month...

Contents

Geocaching is a new "sport" involving the search for "treasures" someone else has hidden in the field and published the coordinates of, eventually together with a brief description and some tips. Published -you bet- on the Geocaching website, of course. So get your GPS unit, maps, compass, SUV, metal detector and everything else you could use, and leave to ge "treasure hunting". You don't have to do this for the valuable treasures, but even while I yet haven't done it myself, I can imagine a day of cach hunt can be big fun. There comes more with it than peering at the screen of your GPS unit: you will have to prepare your search, study the map to find out where the stash is hidden and how to get there, maybe make a detailed roadbook, and prepare the proper equipment to get there. A geocache only reachable by climbing, someone just has to thinkk about it... When you found the cache, you may exchange the present "treasure" with one of your own, and fill in the logbook.

For all of us non-Americans thinking there won't be any stashes nearby, relax: there are already some "caches" in Belgium, and this number is growing. By the way, Everybody is invited to set up his own caches. This way, you contribute to the geocaching project, and you can test how others geocachers can trace your "treasure". Looking at the history of the geocaching sport, we see a word of thanks to Bill Clinton and his government, because they are responsible for turning of the selective availability of the GPS satellite signal, what made geocaching adventures possible for everybody (not only the military and landmeters)

Lay-out

The Geocaching website looks very professional, maybe because it's done by a professional during his free time. All information is easy to find through a simple menu, and there's plenty of information. Plenty, however, is not a worth I would use to describe the illustrations, because there's not much of them. You won't find much information about GPS itself, and the link collection can use some improvements too. Apparently, GPS is such a complex subject I still didn't find a decent webpage providing an overviewable overview. With the emphasis on overviewable.

Conclusion

In my opinion geocaching is invented by some outdoor-technologyfreaks who wanted to use their toys in a real situation. You've got to get the idea, but then you have to do something with it, too! Only because the concept of geocaching is so clever, and because those guys have introduced it to the whole world without big money being involved, www.geocaching.com deserves to be Site of the Month. I think it's a good suggestion for a rainy climbing day to go and look for a "cache". Maybe the BCN team should hide a little crag somewhere, and whoever finds it, may climb it. All reactions are welcome in the BCN-cafe...

You can find Geocaching at http://www.geocaching.com

Jo
(after insisting very long, the author admits to be an outdoor-technologyfreak a little bit too)


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