What do you get when you take several dozen crazed Geocachers, 59 new Geocaches all released at the same time and add in a dash of sleep deprivation? You get Calgary’s Cache and Release Winter 2010, officially known this year as “10 Years! Calgary, AB”to help celebrate the tenth anniversary of geocaching as a hobby.
For the uninitiated, geocaching is a very simple hobby. At it’s most basic level it works like this:
Someone hides a container somewhere in the world and the publishes the coordinates for it on the Internet on a website such as Geocaching.com. Other people then use the coordinates and a handheld GPSr to go out and find it. Once they find the container they sign the logbook to prove they were there and then they go back online and talk about their experience.
The more experienced cachers will explain there are MANY variations on this theme and all sorts of different rules and community standards, but that is for a different post.
For the last few years the Calgary Area Cachers put on an event twice a year known as “Cache and Release”. This event builds on the initial geocaching premise by giving people a few weeks to go out and hide the best cache they can. None of the listings are made public until the day before the event. On that dayt the caches are published with the caveat that no one is allowed to look for them until the event officially gets underway.
This year the event kicked off with a brunch event on Saturday, which ran from 10:30 – 12:00. Noon marked the start of the cache seeking craziness, which ran for a full 24 hours. (The caches remain available after the event as well, but the 24 hour period ends with a wrap-up event and a vote on which caches were best in various categories.
This event is really more about the socializing than it is the caching. Since everyone is really focusing on the caches which were released for the event there is almost always a crowd of people at whatever cache you choose to seek. This gives you plenty of opportunity to catch up with old friends as well as make a bunch of new ones. The event has become very popular since being introduced to our area in 2008. Cachers often will come in from out of town to participate. There are no limits to the people in this event — young, old, families, singles. You have people who have just been introduced to the hobby as well as those who have been doing it for years and/or have thousands of cache finds under their belts.
Some people choose to team up and cache in groups while others will head out on their own and just see who they run into. This typically leads to a group of vehicles parked at random locations and a whole bunch of really confused non-cachers.
This year’s event was unique in that many of the caches were placed outside the city limits, and mostly to the north and west. This meant that we were able to accomplish 42 of the 57 new caches in about 12 hours without really rushing too much. We stopped about an hour for a meal and then pretty much quit caching after the “Crash and Relax” which is a gathering of cachers at a local truck stop at midnight.
The event officially ended with a wrap-up party at Nick’s Steakhouse which I had to miss. Votes are tabulated, prizes awarded and the event concludes. What is left are great memories and a city that has a whole bunch of new high-quality caches.
The more rural nature of the event combined with a snowfall just a couple of days before made for some interesting conditions, such as caches buried under massive snow drifts and very muddy road allowances. If the smiles in the photos are any indication, everyone had a really great time.
My Flickr Photoset from the Event