March 11, 2010

Clear trash, geocache on May 2

— Geocaching -- called ''the sport where you are the search engine'' by geocaching.com -- will combine treasures and trash on May 2.

The worldwide celebration of Cache In Trash Out will feature geocaching groups everywhere holding their signature searches for caches, or treasure, along with cleanup trips -- much like Earth Day does.

In Maine, the mapping company DeLorme will host a cleanup gathering and cookout at its map store in Yarmouth after geocachers get together to hunt, clean and celebrate their merry sport.

Geocachers find the caches by getting the coordinates or clues on Web sites. On this day, geocachers will hunt -- and help clean up local communities.

While Cache In Trash Out is a formal approach to picking up litter, Chip Noble at DeLorme said geocachers are known to be environmentally minded.

''Really, we're counting on the goodwill of those who come to participate,'' said Noble, a product manager at DeLorme. ''My experience with geocaching is people who participate in the activity are very conscious of the environment. The environment is the place they geocache. It is a conservation activity.''

For novices, getting started in geocaching is easy. First, go to an international or local Web site (such as www.geocache.com or www.geocachingmaine.org).

Then, enter your town or the location of your hunt, choose the list of caches, choose a specific geocache to find, enter the coordinates into your GPS, and hunt.

Geocachers use their GPS devices to find hidden geocaches, which are often placed in safety boxes. When a cache is found, a log book inside allows them to record their successful find.

Often, geocachers will share their discoveries online with other geocachers.

The activity is a year-round pastime.

After the fall and its challenge of finding geocaches amid fallen leaves, winter offers the rigor of tracking on snowshoes. Then spring calls to warm-weather geocachers, and, of course, summer is the high season.

At events like the one on May 2, ''trackable items'' can be found as well. These are items that get passed to events, which allows for more finds.

There are apt to be a few trackable items at the CITO day at DeLorme, Noble said.

''Last year, people drove to DeLorme for the event and geocached along the way,'' he said. ''They also picked up trash. We had a trash bin outside. I had to empty it two to three times. I am confident people will come for the spirit of the event.''

DeLorme, known worldwide as a mapping company, only came out with its own GPS device in 2007. However, Noble said, the company very quickly started finding ways to make the GPS geocaching-specific. DeLorme is still perfecting it to satisfy the insatiable curiosity of geocachers.

Noble noted that all geocachers, regardless of the make of their maps or GPS, are welcome at the DeLorme CITO event. He said both DeLorme and the sport of geocaching are grounded in the business of mapping treasures.

Noble believes like-minded lovers of treasure hunts will be out in large numbers this year, although just 13 teams showed at last year's CITO event.

No matter the turnout, it will be a win-win: the community gets clean and geocachers get to hunt. And DeLorme will figure out what geocachers want.

''We listen to their feedback, to let them know DeLorme recognizes the value of the activity,'' Noble said.

Staff Writer Deirdre Fleming can be contacted at 791-6452 or at:

dfleming@pressherald.com

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