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GPS Mapping Online

GPS Mapping Online

GPS mapping and geocaching.

GPS mapping is a godsend to directionally challenged motorists and hikers. Day to day navigation aside however, GPS mapping has now also found a far more entertaining purpose in the form of geocaching.

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Geocaching is described by many as a technologically advanced treasure hunt. The concept behind the game is simple in that it involves the hiding and finding of treasure. Someone hides a stash of treasure consisting of a little box of miscellaneous items in an interesting location. The treasure hider records the exact coordinates of where the treasure is hidden on a GPS receiver. Basic positional information is then posted on the Internet along with a map of the area surrounding the spot where the treasure is hidden.

'Geocachers' retrieve treasure coordinates from the Internet and put their GPS mapping abilities to the test. Using a handheld GPS system, they map the coordinates of where the treasure is hidden and set off to try and find the precise location of the stash. The first person to successfully map a route and navigate their way to the treasure is the winner of that leg of the game. As a reward for their efforts they are allowed to remove an item of their choice from the stash. They are then required to put an item of their own into the stash and hide the treasure in a new place, thereby signaling the beginning of the next leg of the game.

Geocaching took off at the turn of the century when the Selective Availability of GPS satellite signals came to an end. The concept of a treasure game however, began long before the development of GPS mapping and navigational devices. The British developed a treasure game called letterboxing early in the 19 th century. The game involved the treasure hider burying a unique rubber stamp and then offering cryptic clues as to the location of the stash. Treasure hunters would then need to search for the stamp with the aid of a compass. Without the luxury of GPS mapping equipment, searching for treasure could often take days and in some cases even weeks.

There are numerous GPS devices available that can be used for geocaching. Lightweight, waterproof handheld or watch units are the best because they are easily portable and you do not need to worry about them in adverse weather conditions. GPS systems with mapping screens are advisable as you can download maps straight onto them and plot your route from there. Basic tracking units might be cheaper but they require that you take along your own additional map which is just one more thing to carry. Popular and economical mapping GPS units to look out for include the Magellan eXplorist 600, the Lowrance iFinder Pro and the Garmin eTrex Legend.