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If someone tells you there are more than 600 hidden treasures within a 10-mile radius of Hudson, what would you think? If you're Bill and Sue Holman of Hudson, you immediately think of "geocaching" because you know the 600-plus treasures are "caches" hidden specifically for geocaching enthusiasts to find using their GPS devices.
In fact, Bill and Sue -- also known by their caching name, the Muddy Dawgs -- have personally logged more than 8,800 "finds," and currently have 37 active caches they have hidden themselves. Their finds cover all 88 counties in Ohio and 24 states. "It's a great way to see parts of Ohio you've never seen before," Bill says.
The 24-year Hudson residents took up geocaching in 2006 after reading an article about the hobby. They were already avid hikers, so they bought a GPS unit and quickly advanced from beginners to geocaching experts and evangelists.
Bill says one reason the sport is gaining popularity is because it attracts a wide variety of people. He explains, "You can customize it for what you want to do," for example, beginner versus advanced caches or easy terrain instead of more aggressive hikes. Sue notes the appeal is truly "multigenerational"-- an activity parents and grandparents can share with children. There are even caching groups with social activities that revolve around the sport.
The Muddy Dawgs' latest project is a collaboration with the Friends of Hudson Parks and the Hudson Parks Department to lend their expertise and creativity to the groups' 2014 Geocaching Adventure. Now entering its third year, Geocaching Adventure has introduced dozens of new people to the fun of geocaching. While attracting new participants to the sport is still a goal, the Holmans also want to "introduce experienced geocachers to Hudson parks." The Muddy Dawgs' touch has made this year's caches more creative and challenging than ever. For example, the first challenge is a "puzzle cache" which requires the user to solve a puzzle to determine the coordinates for the actual cache.
Bill and Sue stress the importance of reading the description of a particular cache on the geocaching.com website. Geocaching.com provides details such as difficulty level and any clues for finding the cache. Those who find the cache also can log their visits and experiences on the website. The Friends of Hudson Parks website at www.friendsofhudsonparks.org provides more details about this year's adventure as well as a link to all the Friends' caches on geocaching.com.
Six new caches will be placed throughout 2014 to highlight six different parks. Participants who successfully find all six caches and turn in their completed forms by Dec. 5, 2014 will earn a chance to win a $100 gift certificate from Vertical Runner. In addition, the first 100 participants to submit completed forms will receive a 2014 Friends of Hudson Parks "pathtag" (collectible coin). Each cache will contain unique stickers which are to be placed in the appropriate spaces on the Geocaching Adventure entry form. Entry forms may be downloaded from the Friends website. Once forms are completed with all six stickers, they may be turned in at the Parks office at Hudson Springs Park.
The Muddy Dawgs do have some tips for beginning geocachers. First, always check out the "Geocaching 101" section of geocaching.com to learn more about the game. Sue also advises beginners not to look for "micros" or miniature caches. Bill suggests, "Don't try to hide a cache before you have experience finding them." Both agree all geocachers should be respectful of park rules.
The Muddy Dawgs' passion for geocaching is illustrated by the story of the origin of their nickname. Here's a hint: it has nothing to do with canines. "We don't even own a dog," Sue says with a laugh. As the story goes, the couple was geocaching in Aurora's Sunny Lake Park when they were caught in a downpour. Soon they were slogging through deep mud. By the time they emerged from the park, their "dawgs" (feet) were covered in mud. "Our boots looked like Frankenstein feet," Sue jokes. The experience gave them the idea for the Muddy Dawgs, and the name -- like the mud -- has stuck.