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Family explores Richmond through geocaching

The Glens decided to start the city of Richmond’s GeoTour at the start of the pandemic. Two years later, they’ve finally completed it.

Treasures are hidden all around Richmond — and all you need to find them is a phone, some GPS coordinates and cryptic clues.

Sarah and Edward Glen and daughters Lyndsey and Carys have been geocaching for around eight years, and they recently completed the City of Richmond’s GeoTour by finding all 50 caches.

For the uninitiated, geocaching is essentially a scavenger hunt. Using just their phones, or GPS devices for the old-fashioned, geocachers can search for hidden containers based on GPS coordinates and clues.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit two years ago, the Glens decided it was time to embark on Richmond’s GeoTour.

“We felt like we had (more) time. And when we had the chance to go out and do it as a family, it was the perfect opportunity,” explained Lyndsey.

The GeoTour has two quests — the Geo-Quest and Canada 150. Each cache container has a logbook and a secret keyword.

Once the participant collects all 50 keywords, they can redeem a medallion from Richmond Nature Park.

Caching in on nature

According to Richard Kenny, community facilities programmer of Richmond Nature Park, the challenge was introduced in December 2014 to engage Richmondites who were already on their phones and encourage them to connect with nature.

It is also the perfect way to discover hidden gems,  which is exactly what happened when the Glens took on the challenge.

“It’s in a lot of parks and trails around Richmond — places that we had actually never been before. And I’ve lived here since I was four years old,” said Sarah.

Another aspect of geocaching is the treasure trove of tradable items one might find in a cache container.

“You get motivated because you can exchange and find things,” said Lindsey, referring to the tradable items that geocachers sometimes leave in caches.

“Sometimes there are really cool toys you can get,” said Carys.

Creative cache design

One of Carys’ most memorable cache was one that was in a water bottle on top of a branch.

“You can untie the rope and then the water bottle will go down and you can push out the container and then look inside and see if there’s toys,” she said.

The pulley-system cache is one of the many creative caches designed by volunteer geocachers who collaborated with the city for the challenge, said Kenny.

And after two quest-filled years, the Glens have finally found them all.

Don’t let the ‘muggles’ see

The Glens are not the only ones bitten by the geocaching bug.

Data from the city of Richmond shows that more than 3,000 accounts were created to participate in the GeoTour between 2014 and 2020, and participants came from 44 countries. By June of 2020, 178 accounts had managed to complete the challenge.

According to Kenny, enthusiasts have hidden “hundreds and hundreds” more geocaches all over the city, waiting for other geocachers to discover them.

In order for others in the community to enjoy these caches and prevent the uninitiated from messing with them, there’s one rule that’s especially important:

“You don’t let the ‘muggles’ see when you’re discovering the cache. Just keep it kind of hidden and safe for everybody to find,” said Sarah.

Richmondites who want to get started in geocaching can visit Kenny and his team at Richmond Nature Park, or the City of Richmond’s booth at the 18th GeoWoodstock, the world’s largest geocache event, in Abbotsford this weekend.

And you might just run into the Glens during your quests, as they are already planning their next adventure.

“We’ll get our geocaches up and running hopefully this fall,” said Sarah. “And everywhere we go, Carys is usually one to say, ‘Is there a geocache here?’ And so Edward will get out his phone and look it up, and sure enough, there usually is.”