10 Country: Ricky's high-tech treasure hunt - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

10 Country: Ricky's high-tech treasure hunt

Hahira-- A new, high tech game of chance for families, uses satellites and determination to find a modest reward.

You probably have never heard of Geocaching, but more and more people do it, and they can't wait to match wits with people who love the game, too.

A family outing for the Jarrells frequently includes a walk on the wild side as high tech thrill seekers. "The thrill of the hunt," says Ricky Jarrell, as he walks through a wooded area hunting for a box, an illusive container, called a cache.

"Saying it's behind me," says Ricky as he looks at his handheld Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver. It takes more than an electronic box. They must use their collective wisdom. "Sometimes I go one way and he goes another," says Sandy Jarrell, Ricky wife and veteran Geocacher herself. "Often it was between us."

"Some are easy. Some are hard, very hard," adds Ricky as he walked as far as three miles to find a special container. They have help, notes from a web site about the treasure's location and their GPS receiver. The modern day treasure hunters, like the Jarrells, use the military's global positioning system, that group of satellites, always in operation."

They walk and look for something they have never seen. "About 89 feet from it," says Ricky looking at the GPS screen, in a place they have never been.

Their hunt started 40 miles away to find a specific hiding place in Hahira that could be almost anywhere. "It could be sitting anywhere or out in the open," says Ricky who found more than a hundred caches.

The GPS receiver does only so much, getting them to within about 20 feet of the stash. "It's pretty close," says Ricky. Then, keen eyesight and luck take over.

"Found the cache," says Ricky with a smile. There it sat a plastic box in the fork of a tree, filled with inexpensive items. "All kinds of goodies," says Ricky as he opened it. Complete with a logbook to document his find. R

Rickey doesn't know the Fraher family that put the box of knick-knacks in the tree, put the latitude and longitude information on a special web site that he saw that lists all the caches worldwide.

In essence, Geocachers try and match wits with people they don't know, like Amy Fraher who spends hours devising a cache for people like the Jarrell's to find. "It's a hobby, maybe an obsession," says Amy Fraher. "I like to put the whole concept together."

Ricky Jarrell is the 47th person to find the Fraher's box of goodies. "I make it easy so it's fun for the kids," says Alan Fraher.

Geocachers observe a strict code- if you take something, leave something of equal or greater value. Ricky's daughter, Cheyenne, takes the Mardi Gras beads and leaves toys.

The cache gets new life, with Ricky leaving the plastic box where he found it, with a little pine straw to make it a bit more challenging for someone else to find. "Camouflage," says Ricky. With the fun coming from the thrill of the hunt, where high tech and low tech go hand-in-hand.

A GPS receiver costs as little as a hundred dollars, and you can spend much more if you like for more advanced features. To find out about caches in your area, go to www.geocaching.com.

Put your zip code in the block, press enter and see a list of hidden treasures.

posted by dave.miller@walb.com