Jul 19, 2012 - By Emily Etheredge, Staff WriterThe requirements are simple: a pair of keen eyes, an adventurous spirit and a GPS. Geocaching, a virtual scavenger hunt, is gaining popularity with residents in Fremont County.
"This is the new wave of scavenger hunts," said Ciley Andreen to a group of eager participants who attended a geocache dash from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at Boysen State Park. Residents from Shoshoni, Riverton, Lander and Hot Springs climbed large hills and searched through tree limbs with hopes of finding the "treasure" with their GPS devices.
Riverton residents Miranda and Randy Townsend and their son Hunter heard about geocaching from friends who lived in Florida.
"We thought it sounded neat and wanted to give it a try," Miranda Townsend said. "It seems like a fun activity for the whole family to be able to participate in."
Geocaching is an outdoor scavenger hunt where participants follow coordinates that will lead them to hidden geocaches.
Andreen said she geocaches with her family of six, and she explained the hobby's basics to the group, including what a geocache looks like.
"A cache can be as small as the tip of your finger or some as large as a tool box," Andreen said. "When you find a cache, the rule is you must trade up, equal or don't trade at all. Your trade of treasure must equal the treasure you have found."
Andreen said geocaches around the country have clues called attributes that will help the pursuant know what to expect when searching.
"There are some clues that will tell you to watch out for snakes, falling rocks or hints that you will have to climb a really large hill," Andreen said.
As the hunt began, Hunter Townsend was given a GPS to hold and was told to watch the numbers on the screen.
"If the numbers on the screen go down, you are getting closer to your hidden treasure," Ciley Andreen said.
Hunter watched the digital screen while leading his parents to a tree with an old coffee can hidden it its branches. Inside the can they found a notepad, a pencil and instructions to write their names to indicate that they had found the cache.
Boysen State Park assistant superintendent Rick Helm said geocaching has grown in popularity throughout the state of Wyoming.
"This is the first time we have had the virtual scavenger hunt at Boysen, but people are really catching on to this activity," Helm said.
Encana donated 16 GPS units in an effort to promote geocaches at Wyoming state parks.
Andreen said geocaching is what people make of it, and it can be addicting.
"When you are hunting make sure you have fun," Andreen said. "If there is a cache hidden on the side of the highway and you have to dig for it, wave to the cars going by."
Brother and sister Shayla Babits, 6, and Nolan Babits, 8, located a geocache tucked in a tiny crevice of a tree.
The minuscule cache was inside the bottom of a whistle, and the two struggled to recover the piece of paper.
"This is really fun," Shayla Babits said. "I like finding treasure that is so small."
For more information on geocaching, visit www.geocaching.com.