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Just one cache can be challenging

NEW LONDON -- Just by chance, moments after attending a Geocaching 101 program at Sibley State Park did I find out just how popular the activity of Geocaching really is.

It started with finding the first waypoint -- a marker, sign or hidden object -- that had the next set of coordinates needed to eventually find the park's treasure.

I'm standing in the middle of the beach area's picnic tables, in front of the little Sibley Store that quenches your thirst or satisfies your sweet tooth with a long list of ice cream treats.

With my GPS in hand, I start the aimless wander I have become accustomed to, following the direction my GPS tells me and looking at it blankly when it shows I've gone too far.

It seemed the location of my first clue was the information kiosk, but all those walls held were the typical state park history of the area and some program flyers.

So I wandered some more.

Then I noticed something. There were others wandering, too. And in the same manner: head down, looking at some rectangular thing and every so often muttering incoherently.

Since I only had six cache finds to my credit, this was something new.

So we traded greetings and ideas of where this first clue was hidden. I could swear I was right and it was right under our noses.

A minute later, another family started making the circle around this kiosk. Once more, a few traded comments and more searching.

I'm not going to tell you if I was right or not. The only thing I will say is that I wasn't the first of the nine other people I met to find it first.

Once I had the new coordinates, it was off to the next location. I knew I'd be going in the right direction, because two other families had a head start.

But having a head start didn't mean much as I quickly caught up to them, only to find that they were reinacting the scene in the picnic area. Lots of walking around and looking down, but no quick finds.

To make matters worse, we were party crashers of a sort. Others were enjoying a nice afternoon picnic in the area where we were searching. I noticed a few bewildered looks being cast our way.

If you really want to find something, bring along some children. They are usually the first to find something, as was the case here.

Finally, the last waypoint was in sight, figuratively, of course.

It was rather straightforward, but in the end the feeling of accomplishment outweighed any goofy-looking things we were doing.

I got my Critter Card, which is the main reward for geocaching at a Minnesota state park. It's my second this summer.

Hopefully, I'll get a few more before fall.