Our First Geocaching Adventure

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 me. 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 one should travel with a sturdy physical map and actual compass for any serious outdoor adventure. 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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