Nathalie LeBlanc works out, socializes and goes on a treasure hunt’all at the same time. About six years ago, the Fredericton resident got hooked on geocaching, which refers to looking for a hidden ‘cache’ (usually a small waterproof box that contains a logbook), using GPS or a smartphone. ‘The first time, I found six caches in a city park, and I absolutely loved it!’ says LeBlanc, 30, a project manager with the New Brunswick government. ‘I’ve always loved the outdoors, and looking for a cache adds extra purpose. Since I’ve been geocaching, I’ve explored more of my province than I had ever seen before.’
LeBlanc soon got involved with a local geocaching group, and met two women, Lori Gray and Carrie Handrahan, both from Tracy, N.B., who have become her close friends. The trio regularly goes hiking, cycling or snowshoeing in search of caches, sometimes for just a few hours, and sometimes for multi-day group trips within New Brunswick, as well as Prince Edward Island and Maine.
‘I used to be a couch potato, but now I would rather call friends and go for a hike or bike ride,’ says Handrahan, 43, a print-shop operator. ‘I’ve never enjoyed the outdoors more!’ LeBlanc agrees: ‘I’m way more active now and my endurance is so much better,’ she says. Planning and anticipating trips is a fun mental-health boost, too, she says’not to mention the thrill of the hunt.
How does it work?
Geocaching.com archives millions of caches across Canada and around the world, as well as a list of GPS coordinates. Once you’ve found a cache’whether in a hollow log, under a rock or hanging from a branch’you can usually sign a logbook and take or trade a small trinket, such as a provincial pin. Many caches are hidden in municipal and provincial parks, but others are in urban areas; for example, a city harbourfront.
For a 160-lb. person, hiking burns about 310 calories per hour, while snowshoeing and moderate cycling each burn about 440.