X marks the cache: This ain’t your mama’s treasure hunt

Hundreds of hidden treasures are within five miles of UK’s campus.

To muggles, or non-geocachers that is, participants searching for these prizes may appear to be ordinary people wandering in circles carrying a GPS device, but to trained geocachers, they are treasure hunters.

Geocaching, a global game of hide and seek in which geocachers place a geocache in a certain location and others can find it using the item’s coordinates and a GPS device, originated in 2000.

Geocaches, or “caches,” are hidden containers that include at minimum a logbook for those who find it to sign, according to The

Official Global GPS Cache Hunt website. They can be found at different locations, including off bike trails, on street signs and even near UK’s James Patterson statue in the middle of campus.

Harrison Martin, a communications junior, began geocaching his junior year of high school in his hometown of Louisville when he heard about it from a friend. He said he and his friends hunted together all over the city.

“What we would do … is we would pick a weekend and we would just pick an area,” he said. “And I would just save [GPS coordinates] all on my computer … and we would just use my computer until it died.”

Some geocaches have items inside for finders to take and replace with another item of equal value, according to the website, and some even contain money. Martin said he has never found one with money, but he has found a geocoin.

Martin said when participants find a geocoin, they log onto the website, mark where they found it, and then they place it in the next geocache they find.

“So it’s like a travel coin,” he said.

Michael Ritchie, a chemistry sophomore also from Louisville, has been geocaching with Martin since high school. He said one of the most difficult caches they found required solving a cipher. He said they found the cache, called a “micro” because of its small size and because it contained just a log sheet, stuck inside a metal pole on a sign using magnets.

“So when they stuck it on there, it looked like it was supposed to be there,” Ritchie said.

According to the website, there are 1,250,679 active caches with an estimated four to five million geocachers worldwide, and 288 caches are listed within five miles of UK.

Dave Lowe, a management senior, began geocaching this past summer after hearing about it on a movie. Lowe said he used a GPS device to find and create a few caches.

“When there’s a place [with a geocache], you walk by everyday, and you don’t notice it,” he said. “I thought that was really cool.”

Lowe said one thing he enjoys about geocaches is that they take people to places they have never noticed before.

“They’re funny … and if they’re not funny, they will lead you to somewhere that is worth being led to … especially in urban areas, they will always highlight a unique feature of the town or the location you’re in,” he said.

Becoming a geocaching member is free with the completion of a few questions at (www.geocaching.com/).

“It’s like an Easter egg hunt, but all year round,” Ritchie said.