High Tech Treasure Hunters Will Find Adventure

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Artifacts should not be taken from our national forests, but there is a special exception that allows a kind of small treasure that can be appropriate to take. That is, if you are smart enough to find its location and only if you leave a treasure of your own to replace it.

The exception is the sport of geocaching.

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Geocaching involves a knowledge of hiking, following directions, using a GPS device and a sense of adventure that only treasure hunting can feed.

One person or group hides treasure in a location they think others will have fun seeking. The coordinates are entered on the Web (www.geocaching.com is just one of the sites) along with clues.

"We like to place creative containers that make people smile," said the Buxley cachers, Terry and Barbara.

They recommend airtight plastic containers.

"Size-wise they might be tiny to large (placed in) a fake bird's nest, a hollow tree limb, a fake rock and some really other devious hides," they said. "Sometimes we see a particular location just crying for a cache."

The seeker locates the area within .10 of a mile of the cache, using north longitude and west latitude coordinates obtained from a hand-held Global Positioning Satellite unit.

GPS devices have become easily available to the public, like other military equipment in the past.

Hunters and hikers use them to navigate their treks through the woods, OnStar dispatchers use it to aid lost travelers, geocachers just want to have fun.

"Clues are handy, sometimes intriguing and sometimes a dead giveaway -- called spoilers," hider and seeker P.J. Sura said.

Clues to the cache can be obtained on the Web before leaving home, or if the seeker has a PDA (personal digital assistant), scenery spoilers can be downloaded nearer the site.

The difficulty in locating a particular site is as varied as the clues, such as "If you're too far left, you ain't right" and "A Hard Day's Cache."

"Some caches are puzzles and one must decipher some sort of encryption to get to the actual location of the geocache," wrote a man who goes by AZcachemeister. "I don't like puzzles. I would rather do a 12-mile hike to the top of a mountain!"

"Sometimes you have to read the old (online) log sheets to glean any useful information," said the Buxleys. "For example, a person who found the cache two months ago may have said, ‘... located the container in its hidey hole, found myself cooling off in the shade of the old saguaro.'"

Into the inconspicuously placed box go a log sheet or small notebook, a pencil or pen and some sort of "treasure."

Some cachers are in it for the joy of the hike. Entering their name in the log book shows, "Hey! I was here!"

The object of the treasure? Well, some folks just like to find treasure.

Packets of tissues, key chains, packs of gum, marbles, just about any little trinket can become a "treasure" in geocaching.

"My niece was with me one time and she wanted the little blue glass rock," said seeker Shelly Sundra.

Participation in the treasure hunt will not make one rich in the classic sense -- it will work your brain.

In the Rim Country, it is likely to take you into the woods and seeking might make you want to hide a cache of your own.

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