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gps, delorme, earthmate

Are you tired of the same old trails? Are you ready to explore new areas? Using your mountain bike and a GPS, you can hunt down thousands of hidden caches throughout the world while discovering new trails and parks!

Geocaching is an adventure game played by individuals with a GPSr (Global Positioning System Receiver). It uses many features of a GPSr to facilitate finding a cache hidden by another player. Caches come in all shapes and sizes, and their content varies as well. Usually a cache consists of some type of waterproof container, i.e. an ammo can or a Rubbermaid container discreetly placed/hidden in the local terrain. The contents of the cache will contain items of varied value, creating a kind of treasure hunt. Several Geocaching enthusiasts have combined Geocaching with another great adventure sport, mountain biking. With a minimal investment, you can outfit your mountain bike for Geocaching.

A mountain bike is not a requirement to Geocache. However, Geocaching can add a new adventurous element to your trail riding, assist you in finding new areas to ride, not to mention another excuse to break out the bike and hit the trail. The only thing you will need to include Geocaching in your mountain biking is a computer with internet access, a GPSr and a willingness to explore new places.

Choosing a GPSr will be different for everyone depending on how much you want to spend and what you’re going to use it for. To be successfully mounted to my bike, I chose a smaller, lighter, mid-price range Garmin eTrex Legend. Garmin has many eTrex models available, all the same size with different capabilities. Garmin also has a very dependable handlebar mounting system for the eTrex models. If you have difficulty choosing a GPSr, checkout the message boards at groundspeak.com, there is lots of advice there.

So, you want to find a new area to mountain bike and Geocaching sounds interesting. The next thing you need to do is go to Geocaching.com. It’s free, and easy to use. Click on ‚ÄúFind/Seek a Cache‚Äù. Use this search engine to find the caches nearest the area your interested in. It will come up with a list of the closest caches within 100 miles. Something to keep in mind is that Geocaching is a sport/game for everyone. From handicapped accessible to the top of Mount Rainier, both children and families enjoy the sport. You may have to search a bit to find a cache that meets your mountain biking desires.

There are several maps available through the Geocaching website. The most useful maps for mountain biking are the topographic maps provided with trails and primitive roads on them. When you pick a cache you are interested in finding, you click on the topo map link, and a topographic map of the area will load, with the GPS coordinates marked on the map.

With the coordinates, cache page, topo map, GPSr and your bike, you’re ready to go! The rules of the Geocaching game are simple. When you find a cache, log your visit in the log book. If you choose to take something from the cache, leave something for the next player to find. That’s it! Well, almost it. There are some other, common sense rules that should be followed. Don’t put food items in caches, animals can find caches too. Don’t re-hide the cache in a different location; re-hide it as you found it. Don’t put dangerous items, like flammables and weapons in a cache, kids play too. Don’t put illegal things in caches, we don’t want any run ins with the law. Okay, that about covers it.

Much more information is available on the Geocaching website. You are not required to, but can open an account with the website and track the caches you find. You can elect to subscribe for a very small fee that allows you to download packets that can be uploaded to your GPSr or PDA. The premium membership also allows you some extra features on the mapping software the website provides. The premium membership does give you some useful features, however they are not necessary for one to experiment with or use the website.

Mountain bike Geocaching is a fun and exciting sport that requires a desire for exploring new places, a sense of adventure and a dash of patience. Geocaching players enjoy placing caches in places that are unique. There are caches for rock climbers and scuba divers. Some very beautiful places and new trail systems were within thirty miles of my house, and I probably would never have found them before I tried Geocaching. Take the time to try it and you may discover another source for finding new trails and awesome places to enjoy that you would have never thought to visit, or even knew existed.

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