Geocaching On Penn State’s Campus: An Expedition
I’ve attended Penn State for almost three-and-a-half years. During those seven-odd semesters, I like to think that I’ve seen most of the University Park campus. I’ve strolled past Old Main more times than I can count, I’ve trekked all the way out to the Law Building, and even ridden the Red Link a time or two over to Innovation Park. Though I can’t say I’ve crawled through every cow field by Beaver Stadium or am able to name every building on campus, I think I know the place I call home pretty well.
But, as with most things, Penn State’s campus is more than meets the eye. Even something as simple as a stop sign, a bench, or a pile of rocks may be hiding something amazing just below the surface!
Now, I’m not saying that Penn State functions on some sort of mythical level. You’re not going to find Narnia behind that one door in Willard that always seems to be locked shut. No, I’m talking about something much smaller, but quite possibly just as cool: geocaching.
I geocached for the first time ever for Onward State last year. It was a such a cool experience that I had to write about my experiences again. If you don’t recall what geocaching is, let me remind you. Basically, geocaching is a modern twist on a treasure hunt. Using GPS coordinates (or sometimes riddles to uncover said coordinates) provided by the geocache’s owner, you navigate to the site of the cache, along the lines of “x marks the spot,” if you will. Then, the real work begins. Geocaches are incredibly well camouflaged and hidden from sight. They’re supposed to be hard to find, mainly so “muggles,” or people who don’t know what geocaching is, don’t find the caches by accident.
When you find the geocache, it’s typically comprised of a few different items. There’s a log for the cache, where each geocacher can note the date they located the cache. Sometimes there’s also a small box of little trinkets tucked inside the cache. Geocachers can pick out a treasure that fits their fancy, and replace it with something of their own. Then, you simply return the geocache to its home and go along your merry way.
To give you an idea of the amount of geocaches there are in State College, here’s an updated map of the selection in the area, courtesy of geocaching.com:
That’s a lot of geocaches to discover, right? Well for this installation of geocaching in State College, OS photographer Sean Gregory and I decided to uncover just one cache. Don’t worry, we’re planning on finding more throughout the year and blogging about each experience. But for this first geocaching post of the year, we started small: with a microcache.
One last note before I get to describing the cache: the most fun part of geocaching is the mystery of where exactly a cache is located. So in this post, I’m not going to tell you exactly where Sean and I uncovered the geocache. If the curiosity is just killing you, grab your trusty GPS and find it for yourself!
This geocache was located in what the owner described as “the most common cache location.” In all honesty, there really is no one go-to place to hide a geocache. After all, the very nature of caching is to hide things in unexpected places. So as Sean and I approached the given coordinates, we didn’t know exactly what we were looking for.
Luckily, Sean is much better at uncovering geocaches than I am. While I was fiddling with Google Maps on my phone, Sean had already found the cache!
Now I called this particular cache a microcache; let me explain. A microcache is the smallest variety of a geocache. Since it’s so small, the only thing that can fit inside is a log of the people who have discovered the cache. So while Sean and I didn’t get any cool trinkets out of this cache, our names still get to join the ranks of other successful geocachers. We soon discovered that this particular geocache is a popular one at Penn State — someone had uncovered it less than a week ago!
This expedition was my first time geocaching during the fall, and I would highly recommend partaking while the season is still here. The cool air and the crunchy leaves practically beg you to enjoy the weather. Why not do so with a little treasure hunt? So what are you waiting for, Penn State? Grab your GPS and sense of adventure! Happy caching!