Presidio of San Francisco (August 11, 2011)
-- “I found it!” exclaimed Alex, his face beaming with pride and the excitement only a 7-year old can muster. With a little help from his mom’s smartphone and a lot of perseverance, Alex had located his first geocache, discreetly hidden near a trail in the Presidio’s Lobos Creek Valley.
The Trust, in conjunction with the National Wildlife Federation, has brought Ranger Rick’s Geocache Trails
—a new wildlife-themed, outdoor treasure hunt—to the Presidio.
Sometimes referred to as a game of “high-tech hide and seek,” geocaching is relatively new to national parks, but the phenomenon has been around for more than a decade. Using a smartphone or handheld GPS device, people hunt for “caches” (typically small boxes) hidden in public places around the world.
“Geocaching in the Presidio combines the excitement of a treasure hunt with the reward of discovering lesser known parts of the park,” says Damien Raffa, education and volunteer program manager for the Presidio Trust. “Offering this kind of adventure helps us bring new people into the park and expose them to some of the Presidio’s hidden gems.”
The Presidio offers two ways to play. Visitors can go to www.presidio.gov
and download GPS co-ordinates, while those without a GPS device can download a map for a self-guided experience. Then simply follow the co-ordinates to uncover the geocache. The cache will never be buried but could be tucked inside a log or tree stump, under a bush or behind a wall. Inside the cache, searchers will find a logbook to sign and a unique stamp depicting a member of the Presidio’s wildlife community.
“It was a nice easy walk with beautiful views that we would never have seen if it were not for this great cache,” said one visitor who signed the logbook after finding the Lobos Creek Valley cache. Another adventurer having just solved the Mountain Lake Mystery, declared “I never knew such a lake existed in the Presidio.”
Geocaching grew out of the emergence of GPS technology in early 2000. In its infancy, geocaching was largely the domain of experienced GPS users, people who used the technology for activities such as backpacking and boating. But its popularity surged as the technology became more widespread. As GPS-enabled smartphones became commonplace, geocaching’s ranks swelled to include couples, families and groups from all walks of life. When www.geocaching.com
launched in September of 2000, there were only 75 known caches in the world. Today, geocaches are hidden in 100 countries and on all seven continents. There are hundreds in San Francisco alone and more than four million people hunt for more than 1.2 million geocaches worldwide.
GPS Coordinates for three hidden stamp boxes in the southwest corner of the Presidio: