News Sports Life Opinions Photos Video Entertainment Obituaries  

Most popular stories from USA TODAY

  1. HF Test1000.18:12:35.0750023
Geocachers leap at opportunity to check Feb. 29 off list
Updated 2/29/2012 12:17 PM ET
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. -- Chris Dickens climbs mountains to win GPS-guided treasure hunts; he crawls into caves, too.

But like thousands of others obsessed with geocaching, the 42-year-old from Watertown, Tenn., never has had the chance to find a hidden cache on a Leap Day. It matters because one of the ultimate self-imposed challenges in the world of geocaching is to complete a hunt successfully on every calendar day.

That task can take years, especially if you miss a date that rolls around only once every four years. But the rewards are twofold: bragging rights and the placement of a digital icon, known by insiders as a "souvenir," on the geocacher's online profile at Geocaching.com.

STORY: What if we didn't have leap day?

"The whole rush for the leap-year cache is that everybody's wanting to at least get one of these days filled in," Dickens said. "Four years ago, I had no idea geocaching even existed."

This leap day, only the third since geocaching came on the scene in 2000, has a chance to draw out enough hobbyists -- GPS devices in hand -- to break the record of 78,313 caches uncovered in a single day. More than 900 events, some involving multiple hidden caches, are scheduled worldwide.

Sharon Thompson, co-organizer of the Middle Tennessee Geocaching Club, compared the challenge of filling the geocache calendar to another popular one: completing hunts in all 50 states.

"It's a big day," she said. "If they miss this date it will be four years before they can do it again."

Aaron Wadzinski, 34, of Murfreesboro said social events often serve as geocaches.

Wadzinski offers online clues that lead geocachers to a 53-gallon barrel he keeps inside a wooden wishing well in his front yard. He tucks a small note inside encouraging those who find it to ring his doorbell to say "hello."

Other geocachers tap into historical clues, puzzles and multiple destinations along scenic drives.

There are so many hidden caches that a dedicated hunter could spend a year finding a different one for every calendar day -- so long as they chose a leap year to do it, Dickens said.

"It's just a day that comes and goes," he said, "for most people."

Posted 2/29/2012 11:39 AM ET
Updated 2/29/2012 12:17 PM ET
Jay Piper looks at a geocaching site as a group gathers in Murfreesboro, Tenn., on Saturday. More than 900 geocaching events are scheduled worldwide Wednesday for leap day.
By Samuel M. Simpkins, The (Nashville) Tennessean
Jay Piper looks at a geocaching site as a group gathers in Murfreesboro, Tenn., on Saturday. More than 900 geocaching events are scheduled worldwide Wednesday for leap day.

Home | Terms of Service | Privacy Policy | Contact Us | About Us | Work for Us | Subscribe

Users of this site agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy/Your California Privacy Rights