June 4, 2016
Geocaching in the Hood River Valley and the Mt Hood National Forest and Beyond
By: Mary Pellegrini
A search for caches within a 10 mile radius of the Old Parkdale Inn, zip 97041, will show 688 hides! Did you know that Geocaching started right here in Oregon? On May 1 this game, once known as the “Great American GPS Stash Hunt’, will celebrate it’s 14th birthday with over 2 million hides world wide. A little history lesson here, the full version can be read on the Geocaching.com website where I pulled this information.
“Geocaching is a high-tech treasure hunting game played throughout the world by adventure seekers equipped with GPS devices. The basic idea is to locate hidden containers, called geocaches, outdoors and then share your experiences online. Geocaching is enjoyed by people from all age groups, with a strong sense of community and support for the environment. Geocaching.com is the headquarters for the activity” On this site you can read the history of Geocaching.
* On May 2, 2000, at approximately midnight, eastern savings time, the great blue switch* controlling selective availability was pressed. Twenty-four satellites around the globe processed their new orders, and instantly the accuracy of GPS technology improved tenfold. Tens of thousands of GPS receivers around the world had an instant upgrade. Now, anyone could “precisely pinpoint their location or the location of items (such as game) left behind for later recovery.” How right they were.
* On May 3 a GPS enthusiast, Dave Ulmer, computer consultant, wanted to test the accuracy by hiding a navigational target in the woods. He called the idea the “Great American GPS Stash Hunt” and posted it in an internet GPS users’ group. The idea was simple: Hide a container out in the woods and note the coordinates with a GPS unit. On May 3rd he placed his own container, a black bucket, in the woods near Beavercreek, Oregon, near Portland.
* Within three days, two different readers read about his stash on the Internet, used their own GPS receivers to find the container, and shared their experiences online. Like many new and innovative ideas on the Internet, the concept spread quickly – but this one required leaving your computer to participate.
* Within the first month, Mike Teague, the first person to find Ulmer’s stash, began gathering the online posts of coordinates around the world and documenting them on his personal home page. The “GPS Stash Hunt” mailing list was created to discuss the emerging activity.
* Geocaching.com was released to the stash-hunting community on September 2, 2000. At the time the site was launched there were 75 known caches in the world. There are now over 2 million caches around the world, in only 13 years.’
This is certainly the condensed version. Visit Geocaching.com history for the full story. I checked to see if the Original Cache was still available, but alas, it has been archived and the Un-Original Stash placed in it’s honor. The links will take you to their listing on Geocaching.com but if you aren’t logged as a member I’m not sure if you will be able to view.
When I first moved to Parkdale in ’03 there were only about 20 geocaches in the Hood River Valley. Now there are well over 600, and counting, taking you up into the Mt Hood National Forest, to heights above the Hood River Valley, into the Valley itself and into the Columbia River Gorge.