Geocachers to descend on Seattle area this weekend in search of the 'Triad'
On Saturday, Carnation will hold the largest geocaching event worldwide, called GeoWoodstock. The event is expected to draw roughly 4,000 geocachers, who seek out caches hidden in cities, parks and the woods by using GPS coordinates.
Seattle Times Eastside reporter
GeoWoodstock: GeoWoodstock will take place at Remlinger Farms, 32610 N.E. 32nd St., Carnation. Registration begins at 10 a.m. For more information, see www.geowoodstock.com.
Groundspeak's Lost & Found Celebration: Groundspeak's 10th anniversary celebration will take place Sunday from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. at N 47deg 38.949 W 122deg 21.075, also known as 501 N. 34th St., Suite 300, in Seattle's Fremont neighborhood. For more information, see www.geocaching.com.
For geocachers, logging the "Triad" is practically required on a trip to the Pacific Northwest.
The Triad — three caches hidden around the region and filled with a rotating assortment of trinkets, toys or trackable items — are not all that close to each other. One is in Seattle, another sits outside Portland, a third is tucked on a hiking trail off Interstate 90, but time and distance rarely dissuade dedicated geocachers, who use GPS coordinates to track down caches ranging in size from thimble-sized to a garbage can.
And this Fourth of July weekend, thousands of GPS-toting geocachers will be here in pursuit of the Triad.
This weekend is GeoWoodstock, the largest geocaching event worldwide, which takes place Saturday in Carnation at Remlinger Farms. Organizers estimate the event, in Carnation and the Seattle area for the first time, could draw as many as 5,000 geocachers, including people traveling from Latvia, Germany and Guam.
A big reason GeoWoodstock landed in the Seattle area is Fremont-based Groundspeak, which runs geocaching.com, the website at the center of the worldwide hobby. This year is the company's 10th anniversary.
Its headquarters also happen to be one stop on the Triad. The two others are Project Ape Cache, a storied cache off the Annette Lake trail that was originally part of a promotion for the remake of the movie "Planet of the Apes," and the Original Stash, the first geocache ever, which was planted in May 2000 outside Portland and its coordinates posted online for others to find.
"It's part of the Trifecta," said Bryan Roth, one of Groundspeak's founders. "People come to the Pacific Northwest, they want to find the Original Stash, the Ape Cache and they want to come to our office."
Groundspeak was founded by Roth, Jeremy Irish and Elias Alvord, all of whom originally worked on the website in their off hours. Eventually, the hobby — and the website, which was launched with about 75 caches — grew enough to create a company.
The website now hosts 1.1 million caches and every month records 4 million "logs," the approximate number of caches found by geocachers. The company estimates more than 5 million worldwide play the game.
Groundspeak employs about 45 "lackeys" at its Fremont headquarters, who consider themselves stewards of the game, said Roth, who has geocached in places as far away as Budapest.
"We're obviously getting to the point where if you can find one randomly in Budapest, it's come a long way in 10 years," he said. "We jokingly say geocaching is the biggest hobby in the world that nobody knows about."
Geocaching can be complex, like the geocacher who hired a guide to bushwhack in the Brazilian jungle to find the other remaining Project Ape Cache, Roth said. But it is often just local.
On a busy street in Bellevue this week, Jacquie Vaughn, who goes caching almost daily, used her GPS to find one hidden behind an art tile on busy Northeast Eighth Street in the Crossroads neighborhood. The owner of the cache had painted the Groundspeak logo on a ceramic tile and velcroed it to an art wall, which blended in with other ceramic tiles on the wall. The cache itself was a tiny plastic bag with a picture of the owner's daughter tucked inside.
Once Vaughn saw the logo, she carefully pried the tile off the wall, wrote her name on the log book tucked inside the cache, then replaced the tile. Vaughn, an organizer of GeoWoodstock, has found caches by this particular person before, who uses the handle "Albert&friends."
"She gets creative in stories, location, what she places there," Vaughn said. "She makes it fun."
And this weekend, the Seattle area is a geocaching haven. About 400 people have signed up with the Washington State Geocaching Association to hike Annette Lake Friday to log the Project Ape Cache and snag a coveted Project Ape icon for their profile page on geocaching.com, Vaughn said.
On Sunday, Groundspeak is expecting 2,000 to 3,000 geocachers for an anniversary party outside its headquarters in Fremont.
For Carnation, the imminent arrival of GeoWoodstock has been a crash course in geocaching for locals, said Will Hart, co-owner of host site Remlinger Farms. Some were initially worried where geocachers searched.
"A lot of the townspeople had to learn what geocaching was about," he said.
Vaughn, who is aiming to log her 3,000th cache on Saturday at GeoWoodstock, said geocaching has taken her to a train wreck from an old movie set, to a plane crash site and to sites in British Columbia, California, Nevada, Hawaii and Mexico.
Geocachers are motivated by different factors, said Vaughn. Some are in it for the number of caches they find, some are in it for the icons — which identify the type of caches found, such as traditional, mystery or puzzle — or for the journey to get to the cache, she said.
"You can call this a hobby, a game or a sport," she said. "In some sense, you can call it all three."
Nicole Tsong: 206-464-2150 or firstname.lastname@example.org
When vice president of Sub Pop Records Megan Jasper isn't running things at the office, she's working in her garden at her West Seattle home where she and her husband Brian spend time relaxing.