Did you know that modern technology can be a great way to get you connected to the outdoors?? If you answered no, then maybe you haven’t heard of geocaching – “a real-world outdoor treasure hunting game where players locate hidden containers, called geocaches, using GPS-enabled devices.” While hiking and exploring are fun, treasure hunting is REALLY fun, especially in the woods.

This is how I most recently convinced my family to go for a hike at Hillsborough River State Park. The last time I convinced them to do something outdoorsy was our canoeing trip down Fisheating Creek around New Years, so we were long overdue for an adventure. Since we are a very goal-oriented (aka competitive) bunch, I thought geocaching would be the perfect activity. The adventure began by googling “geocaching Hillsborough River State Park” and several caches came right up. I picked a cache that would take us down a trail along the river and plugged the coordinates into my iphone. And off we went!

The trail turned out to be SWARMING with mosquitoes due to all the recent rains and warm weather, forcing my dad and stepmom to head straight back to the car. My brother, husband and I persevered though, dousing ourselves with bug spray along the way. This was not for the faint of heart, but there was treasure at stake!

The hint that accompanied the coordinates we found online was “magnolia,” so once we were in the vicinity of the coordinates we found a magnolia tree just off the path, and lo and behold, there beneath a bed of dried magnolia leaves was a camouflaged box of goodies! We had found our treasure! We added a beaded necklace to the stash (I don’t normally wear crazy jewelry when hiking, duh), as it is customary to bring something new for the cache and trade with something else in there. Note that my iphone coordinates crapped out on us part way through the trip, but luckily we had another smartphone (meaning my husband takes full credit for the success of the adventure)! May be best to stick to a non-phone GPS if you have one, though the aerial imagry you can get on the phone can be a huge help.

So while it may sound silly to say you are going on a treasure hunt, geocaching is a great outdoor adventure that anyone can do (especially these days with smartphones)! Do you have any geocaching adventures or hot spots you’d like to share? I’m a big fan of Ocala National Forest – it’s PACKED with caches. Get out there!!

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