Hundreds of geocachers waited in anticipation as the locations of 57 geocaches in Precinct 4 Commissioner R. Jack Cagle’s 2015 GeoChallenge went live March 7.
Despite the weather, the event started successfully with 447 finds in two days. Caches with the most visitors included Collins Park, Southwell Park and Bayer Park, with 13 finders each. The top individual geocacher found 29 the first day, and the first to complete the challenge finished in less than one week.
For local geocaching enthusiast Jack Burns, finding the cache first is part of the challenge. Burns arrived at Bayer Park seconds after the geocache’s location went live. By the end of the day, Burns was the first to find nine geocaches, including Geocache #21-Cypress Creek Greenway, the geocache with the roughest terrain.
“It’s a big deal to be the first-to-find a geocache,” said Precinct 4 geocaching expert Mike Howlett. “Our geocaches are spaced apart and all the coordinates posted first thing Saturday morning.”
Geocaching, a high-tech scavenger hunt using GPS-enabled technology, has become a popular niche activity worldwide with more than 2.5 million geocaches in over 180 countries.
For Burns, geocaching has become a lifestyle. Since 2009, Burns, known as Bubberdad online, has not missed a day of geocaching and averages about four finds per day. He has 309 active caches and has found 5,600 geocaches—all logged within 150 miles of the Houston area.
After retiring, Burns said the activity has kept him busy, social and active. Best of all, Burns said geocaching is an activity he can share with his wife, Susan, who uses a wheelchair.
“She usually spots them and I’ll go get them,” he said. “She loves it. She’ll go as far as she can in her wheelchair and then wait for me.”
The Precinct 4 GeoChallenge currently offers several handicapped-accessible geocaches and several others that can be accessed with help. All the geocaches with a terrain rating of 1 should be accessible to people with disabilities, said Howlett.
Alternatively, many geocachers enjoy more extreme forms of geocaching and often hike, bike or kayak to their destinations. Burns said he’s done all three to find caches and, as a result, has improved his health.
“This is the greatest hobby,” he said. “Nine years ago I had an irregular heartbeat. All that has disappeared. I ace my treadmill test every year. My cardiologist is impressed. And the hiking will take you places you’ve never been or would never go.”
For more information about the 2015 Precinct 4 GeoChallenge, visit www.hcp4.net/community/parks/geochallenge.