Geocaching Free With a Smartphone
If you're more than a little handy with a smartphone and willing to pay for and learn an app it's a much more convenient way to do it. The most popular app is Geocaching which has a free version for both iPhone & Android. The most popular app for iPhone only is Cachly and most popular for the Android only is C:Geo. I've only used Cachly so I can't give an opinion on them.
If you intend to get seriously into geocaching on your smartphone go here for a version of my original [more detailed] article tailored for smartphone users.
To get started you have to create an account, but it's free. Click here to go to the Geocaching webpage. At the bottom of the screen is a place to create an account.
Then Click here (you may have to sign in along the way) and put your address or zipcode in the search box near the top of the page, then click the magnifying glass.
You will get a listing of geocaches that looks something like this:
I chose the cache beetle brain freeze from the list to illustrate the process because it should be very easy. Scroll down and tap on it. This is called the "cache page."
At the top of the cache page you will see the things in the picture above. As a beginner, stick with Difficulty 1 & 1 1/2 for now. Terrain of 1 is supposed to be reserved for "Wheelchair Accessible" but new cachers don't know this. You can go up to 2 in Terrain and 3 if you are a little athletic. All kinds of people make up these numbers so take them with a grain of salt.
Read the description and decrypt the hint if it has one, then scroll down on the page until you see this list of links and click on Google Maps.
As a result of a flaw at the Geocaching website you first come to this screen. Tap OK.
Now tap in the white bar at the top. [We're still correcting for the flaw. Hopefully it will be fixed some day]
Your should arrive at this screen. The inverted teardrop is the cache location.
NOTE: The navigation will
not work unless the caches is near you. Instead it will show
Tap the blue button bar Directions.
The inverted teardrop is the cache location. Your phone will direct you to the cache. Coordinates aren't perfect so it won't be exactly there but hopefully it's nearby.
At the bottom of many parking lot light poles is a cover called a skirt. Today too many caches are in/under these skirts. They're called LPCs (light pole caches) or skirt lifters. See picture on the right. Normally the cache is lying between the bolts but sometimes people attach them magnetically to the inside of the skirt itself.
The cache is probably either in the skirt or the bush, hope it's not the bush.
Back on the cache page, a little further down is the Gallery of images. Tap on this link and review all the pictures, they often contain "spoilers" -- pictures that give away where the cache is. Here's one of the pictures associated with this cache. It goes a long way toward confirming it's a skirt lifter.
Now read the recent logs. Logs are the reports of people who found or didn't find the cache. They sometimes contain spoilers. If the last people have reported DNFs (did not find -- blue/purple faces) pass this cache by. It may not be there and if it's there chances are it's too difficult for a beginner.
The cache container should have a piece of paper also called a log. Carry a pen or pencil with you to sign your caching name on the log proving you found it, in case the owner checks.
Then go back to the cache page on the geocaching website. There's a place on the upper right that says Log geocache. Tap that and write a note about your experience.
If you found this guide helpful or have questions drop me a line