Geocaching is a great basis for your explorations. The sport gives you a goal (a known latitude and longitude) and a treasure to find (the cache). See our background article about geocaching for some history of the sport. Key to this activity is a GPS unit. It’s a tool that, like compass and sextant of years ago, helps you navigate the wilderness.
We got our GPS unit ten years ago and it’s still going strong. It is the Garmen eTrex Personal Navigator. This is not the eTrex Venture or any other eTrex model. In fact, it doesn’t really have a model name, being the first in the series. Our model is no longer manufactured. It’s replacement is the eTrex H Handheld GPS Navigator.
The unit does not contain maps or other features of more modern units, but it does let you enter a destination and direct you to it. First you need a destination. Go to www.geocaching.com and sign up for free access to the website. Click “Hide & Seek a Cache” in the menu to the left and use one of the methods to find a cache near you. Next you will need to get the location of the cache into your GPS unit.
Lots of people had trouble entering their destination with the eTrex unit because the instructions didn’t mention the capability and the process isn’t at all intuitive. Here’s a step by step guide to entering your destination into the eTrex Personal Navigator:
The above process can be simplified if you have the software and connect your unit to your computer. The ‘plug’ that allows you to connect your unit to your computer is under a flap of rubber on the top, rear of the unit. We don’t have the software or the connection cord so we can’t help you there.
When you are ready to start your trek, start your GPS unit, let it find the satellites, use the Page button to move to the Menu, choose “Waypoints”, find the waypoint you just entered and choose “Go To”. Then you can follow the arrow.
As an explorer, however, it’s the journey that counts most. To get the most out of your journey, you will want some notion of what to look for as you look for the cache. We find Google Earth (earth.google.com) to be a great place to get aerial photos and maps of the area you will be traversing. You simply enter the coordinates of your cache and Google Earth will zoom in on that point. Zoom out until you recognize the roads and trails that you’ll be using to get to the cache and print a copy of the aerial photo or the map. Often you’ll spot unusual rock formations or other things you may not recognize. Those are often great places to explore on your journey. Be sure to take a camera to record your journey and something to put in the cache. Have fun!!
Author: Jerry Haugen
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