Geocaching has come a long way and is far more accessible than its early days as a hobby of a small group of GPS junkies in the early 2000s. It’s evolved from internet message boards and expensive devices to smartphones with built-in GPS capabilities and apps with countless caches.
Berkley County, W.Va., already has a widespread reputation as a prime destination for geocachers of all abilities. Now, they’ve added the Berkley Gadgets GeoTour consisting of 50 caches in the county and a new trail of 18 caches.
Perhaps the greatest geocaching asset to Berkley County — and West Virginia as a whole — is not any one geocaching trail or area, but a man known to the geocaching world as WVTim. Tim Eggleston is a well-known geocaching advocate and cache builder, offering advice online for how to build gadget caches, which are special caches that require the user to perform a task in order to get at the logbook inside.
The official kickoff for the geotour was June 8 at the historic Harlan Spring House in Hedgesville in partnership between the Martinsburg-Berkley County Convention and Visitors Burea and Eggleston.
“I just love building caches,” Eggleston said during a YouTube interview at the kickoff. “I like finding gadget caches. They say you put out what you like to find.”
He went on to explain that about two years ago he switched from smart caches — caches with electronic components — to gadget caches since they are far more durable. With 25,000 “favorites” on the official Geocaching app for Berkley County caches, Eggleston knows he needs to build with durability in mind.
The Berkley Gadgets geotour adds to the two already-existing geotrails in the county: Smart Caches of Berkley County and Mystery Caches of Berkley County.
Aside from the more advanced smart and gadget caches, geocachers can be looking for anything from plastic food containers to fancy, decorated boxes. Usually a logbook is located inside for people to sign.
Apps such as the one supported by geocaching.com make it easy to get into the hobby. After signing up (free for basic functions), users can search on a map and by zip code. Putting in 25401 for Martinsburg, W.Va., bring up the caches in the area. Clicking on one of the caches brings up its title, difficulty, terrain, size, the name of the user who placed it, latest activity and hints for those having trouble locating it. You can then log it and favorite it.
Tip: Beginners should note that it’s bad etiquette to move a cache, and if you take an item from the cache you should replace it with something of roughly equal value.
On his YouTube channel, WVTim demonstrated one of his more difficult gadget caches from 2013 that has now been decommissioned. The box was covered with numbers, as well as multiple numbered keyholes. An iron skeleton key was hidden underneath and geocachers are told “the key is the key.” They had to figure out that the iron key is magnetic and will be drawn to magnets placed under the correct numbers. Cachers also had to figure out the correct order for the four numbers, then enter those into a padlock.
Scenic and historic Berkley County has enough caches to keep hunters busy for days. Some caches are located in the heart of Martinsburg. Others are hidden all around the surrounding rural areas. Visit travelwv.com for plenty of other ideas to keep you busy during your stay, including a calendar of events for the month of September. Also check out their dedicated geocaching page.