CHRIS HOFF AND SETH SHORT
Armed only with a flashlight and a GPS device that we are just beginning to figure out, Seth Short and I set out to find something called the Double Cross cache, somewhere in the West Hills.
It’s nearly 5:30 p.m. on Day One when we realize that A) it’s totally going to be too dark to find the cache once we figure out its approximate location and B) the coordinates that we’ve printed off www.geocaching.com are much more difficult to follow than we’d originally thought. (For more geocaching history and alternate GPS-based games, see www.gpsgames.org.)
The light wanes as the sun goes down, and we park in some gravel off the road. Neither of us can figure out how to get the light on the GPS thingy to work, and we agree that we need its manual. Day One ends with the agreement that we will find the GPS maker’s Web site, print the manual and start earlier the next time we meet. We figure that we’re close to a trailhead that we can’t see in the dark.
This brings us to Day Two of my maiden voyage with the sport.
After downloading and printing the PDF manual for Short’s GPS device, I spend the better part of a day figuring out how to turn on the thing’s light, place “flags” (or way points) on a tiny map on the display and various other things that I’m sure will impress.
I call Short and we agree on a day and time to meet. We also agree to bring along two extra explorers in the form of Chris Hoff and my wife, Natoscia (aka Tosh).
Not only has Short figured out, without the manual, how to turn the GPS thing’s light on and all of my other surprises, but by now he knows how to have it plant markers, order pizza, and travel through time back to 1983.
It only takes the group a few minutes to realize that the place where Short and I left off was quite a bit off the mark, so we spend some time in the car trying to close the gap between where the streets end and the trail begins.