Geocacher enthusiasts brave the wind and cold to gather in Linton
More than 30 geocacher enthusiasts braved the wind and cold temperatures Saturday afternoon to attend the meet-and-greet meeting at Linton's Park Inn ShelterHouse.
As many guests had only talked via the Internet using geocache handles such as Kite Mike or Will Find It, the afternoon meeting made it possible to actually converse person to person, learn real names and discuss cache finds over a bowl of chili.
Since many caches are found in cemeteries, Bret Hammond from Kansas, Ill., spoke on cemetery monuments explaining symbolism such as clasped hands, pointed fingers and monuments shaped like tree trunks.
An avid geocacher himself, Hammond said he began hunting caches in 2002 when caches were few and far between in his area.
"At that time, I was lucky to find one," Hammond said. "There were only about 200 in the whole state. Now there are thousands."
Mike Gentry, who goes by Will Find It, said he has been looking for caches for about six years.
"We go out on Sunday afternoons with the kids," noted Gentry. "It keeps them from becoming couch potatoes."
Gentry has found 300 caches, mostly in the Wabash Valley area. Next year he says he and his wife, Rosa, are traveling to Colombia, and he plans to look for caches while there.
Jay Banner, aka Jay Birdtrax, says he likes geocaching because it is a sport you can do with other people or by yourself.
"The farthest cache I found was in the St. Louis Arch, which was exciting," Banner explained, "but the first one I found was in a little cemetery near Jasonville."
Banner added that next year that there would be an Indiana mystery hunt called European vacation in which all finds would be in Indiana towns with European names such as Poland.
Brian Woods from Shelburn, whose cache name is 77 Woody, has only been caching for about three years.
"In my (last) job I traveled a lot and would look for caches during my time off," noted Woods. "It's a good way to see some of the state parks. A lot of people wouldn't visit this park (Humphrey Park) if it weren't for caching."
Truckdweller, who would only say his name was Tom from Terre Haute, said caching helped the boredom of driving a truck.
"I began caching with only a small handheld GPS," noted Tom. "I like it because it is good exercise and gives me a break when I'm on the road. There are a lot of caches hidden around rest areas and truck stops."
Caches can be as small as a lipstick tube, and many times are only filled with trinkets.
However, there are traceable coins and travel bugs with numbers that are hidden in caches. The person who finds them can go online and give the number and the location of the "find" and then hide it again.
Cachers say it is interesting to see how far the traceable coins and travel bugs go.
One travel bug recently found by Candace Templeton of Linton had traveled through every state except two.
At the close of the meeting, cachers braved the cold, once again, and looked for a cache hidden in Humphrey Park. It was found near the railroad caboose.