Most people, if they have heard of muggles, would think they are purely fictional. In the very popular Harry Potter books, the non-magical people are known as muggles. Not so many people know that geocachers (people who enjoy geocaching as a hobby) refer to non-geocachers as muggles.
Geocaching is like a global, high-tech treasure hunt. This is certainly the best explanation if a muggle spots you trying to retrieve a geocache from a tricky hiding place. The hunt is to find individual geocaches – of which there are millions worldwide. The locations of geocaches are listed on websites, the most popular is geocaching.com. Each listing provides the co-ordinates for each cache and typically a description of the container and an extra clue to pinpoint the location. The co-ordinates can be entered into a GPS receiver then the hunt is on!
Families can enjoy geocaching to give purpose to a walk, geocaches are usually hidden in areas of interest (notes on each geocache listing may give historical or geographic details) where exploring would be a pleasure. Children (and adults) find a sense of satisfaction in finding each cache, then later on one can log that your find on the cache’s listing page.
Better still; many caches also contain swapsies, little trinkets like the toys you find in Christmas crackers that are there free for the taking. The rule is that if you take something then you put in something else of similar or greater value. Every cache has a log book, which you sign to prove that you find it. Some caches are so tiny that you can only put your initials, and you’d better remember to bring your own pen.
Geocaches are rated for the kind of terrain you have to negotiate and also for the difficulties of discovering and retrieving the cache itself. A 1 star terrain means that a wheelchair user should be able to reach the cache, a maximum 5 star means that you will probably need some kind of equipment (like a canoe, or climbing routes) to cope with the terrain. Geocaches with high star ratings are known as ‘extreme caches’ and like all geocaches are attempted at one’s own discretion. Reading the log entries for extreme caches can be very entertaining as individuals describe their various mishaps and encounters with quizzical muggles.
So to get started you just need internet access to search for a cache near you, and some kind of device with GPS capability. You can either buy a portable GPS receiver, or you may find your mobile phone has GPS. Be sure to have a quick look at the general guidelines for geocaching etiquette, such as ‘put the container back exactly as you found it’ then get out there and happy hunting!