The sport of geocaching challenges people with a GPS (or the right app on their smartphones) to get out and explore places they may never go otherwise. Geocachers hide "treasures" or caches at specific coordinates in untracked areas of the woods or in obvious urban locations like the Deschutes Public Library. Using a mix of clues and GPS coordinates, people search for small, waterproof boxes containing a log book to sign, and perhaps a small toy that can be traded out for another souvenir.
- Settergren, Pixabay
- There are hundreds of geocaches in Bend and the surrounding wilderness containing tiny treasures and a log book to sign and prove you were there.
The website geocaching.com lists hundreds of geocaches in Central Oregon. The sport is popular around the world as a way for both travelers and locals to get off the trail, discover new places and connect with other geocachers who have fun setting up clues and challenges. There is a geocache in Bend that can be found only at night by following a series of reflective cougar eyes posted at different points leading to the cache, for example.
Courtney Braun, who's been leading the "GPS Eco-Challenge" for Wanderlust Tours for the past eight years, understands why some wilderness purists may see the sport as not adhering to "leave no trace" principles, since a typical recreational cache is a Tupperware container or ammunition can permanently hidden under a bush or a tree. But tour guides for Wanderlust place their treasures or clues in the woods directly before their tours and pick them up after, so there is less impact, she said.
"It's a popular way to get outside and come together as a group. You can investigate an area that you probably wouldn't have decided to just go hike around because there are no trails," Braun said. "The groups are navigating through amazing places to get to the way point."