Our First Geocaching Adventure

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After owning my outstanding Garmin eTrex Vista HCx GPS for a few years now, I got it out of my car, off of my motorcycle, off of my bicycle, and back into my hands for geocaching. (It should be obvious that I have a Garmin dashboard mount and two Garmin handlebar mounts!)

This first adventure was to be my son and myself. I picked our first geocache location to explore something hidden in the woods, rather than in some urban location. We will ultimately explore both types, but a hiking adventure is where I wanted to start us off.

Now with a target in the woods picked, I thought about maps. Do we need a topographical GPS map? My eTrex does have an optional (paid) street map loaded, but I have never loaded any topo maps (paid or otherwise). I figured that with the Vista HCx high sensitivity and WAAS support, it was fine to go into the woods with. It turned out to be a good choice, as it tracked us fine. We observed an accuracy as good as 9 feet for most of our adventure – outstanding! Not bad when you are looking in the woods for something.

Please remember that for any serious outdoors adventure, one should travel with a sturdy physical map and actual compass. And you should also know how to use a map and compass. The GPS is just a fine supplement to the “real thing”.

Remember, our geocache hunt would ultimately put us “off the trail”, so we needed a way, old school or high-tech, to get back on the trail again after finding the cache! The breadcrumbs feature on the eTrex would at least serve the minimum purpose of retracing our steps. Believe me, we used it.

NOTE: The Garmin eTrex Vista HCx GPS has been effectively replaced with the Garmin Trex 30, their new top-of-the-line small GPS.

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