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Modern day treasure hunting in Eagle County

Ashley Dickson
Vail CO, Colorado
Summit Daily/Eric Drummond
ALL |

SUMMIT COUNTY, Colorado ” It is easy to think of Silverthorne residents Stu and Liz Caren as modern day pirates. The two have scoured the globe in search of treasure, using only a compass as their guide, in a hunt where X no longer marks the spot.

But if you ask them, they would rather be referred to as Geocachers. Geocaching is a modern day treasure hunt in which participants search for hidden caches using coordinates and a GPS device. The caches range from small to large and the treasure found inside isn’t in the form of gold coinage, but rather small trinkets like buttons, magnets, and Matchbox cars.

“Four years ago we bought a GPS device for hiking and then stumbled on the Geocaching website and saw there were caches all around where we live,” said Stu Caren.

Only a few years later the Caren’s have hit more than 536 caches, exploring all of Summit County as well as places like Hawaii, Thailand, and the Turks and Caicos Islands.

To play, a Geocacher hides a log book and a small trinket hidden in a waterproof container, and then posts instructions and coordinates on the Geocaching website. Seekers download the hints along with the cache’s latitude and longitude and, once located, the finder can take the trinket and replace it with another, or simply sign the log book to describe how the cache was found.

“Geocaching has taken us to incredible places for hiking,” said Liz Caren, who admits they have found almost every cache in the area.

According to Geocaching.com, there are over 100 registered caches in Summit County, and the site also allows users to enter zip codes to find nearby caches.

Geocaching is an activity that appeals to individuals of all age ranges and can be a fun way to turn a regular mountain hike into an exciting quest for the unknown.

In addition to harboring little trinkets some caches include Travel Bugs, which are small metal tags registered with a tracking number through the Geocaching website.

Many Travel Bugs have a specific mission or destination and those cachers who find them have the option to go online and see where the Travel Bug has been as well as follow any specific instructions from the owner as to where it should travel.

“We found a Travel Bug with a mission to get to New Zealand and we were able to go online and see that it had already traveled 6,151 miles,” said Caren.

“So we left that Travel Bug in another cache to move it along on it’s mission, and hopefully it will make it to New Zealand.”

Matt and Nancy Wyatt are another Summit County couple who have discovered the growing popularity of Geocaching.

“It’s everywhere, and sometimes it’s a bit overwhelming how many caches there are around here,” said Matt Wyatt.

The Wyatt’s have found caches in many neighboring states and hope to someday take their hunt overseas to find a few of the estimated 552,857 active caches worldwide.

“We also like to do what we call ŒCache in, trash out.'” said Wyatt. “We will pick a cache and bring a trash bag so while we’re searching we are also doing our part to keep the area clean.”

For those who decide to hide a cache, there is a certain amount of responsibility involved. Cachers should always get permission before hiding caches in National Forest land or on private property, and caches should be clearly marked on the outside as part of Geocaching.

Geocaching is a wonderful way for individuals to enjoy all that nature has to offer, while at the same time experiencing the thrill of the hunt.

“I don’t know if it’s a sport, or a hobby, or a game, but it defiantly gets us excited,” said Caren.

Ashley Dickson can be reached at (970) 668-4629, or at adickson@summitdaily.com.


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