The world’s largest treasure hunt

Geocaching thrives in Norway as technology reinvents the Norwegian hiking tradition

Photo: Cathrine Løvaas When you find the cache, enter your info into the log so others can see who’s been there.

Photo: Cathrine Løvaas
When you find the cache, enter your info into the log so others can see who’s been there.

Cathrine Løvaas
Bergen, Norway

Hiking is one of the most popular everyday activities in Norway, but it is not what it used to be. Geocaching, the high-tech way of spending a day outdoors, now challenges the Norwegian hiking mentality.

Geocaching is an international activity in which posts, called caches, are placed around the globe. Information about the caches can be found at geocaching.com, or you can log in to the mobile app and look up the caches near you.

Many of the caches will be found without paying anything. You may need a GPS, but it is also possible to find the caches without it.

The high-tech orienteering is for everybody, whether you have kids or you are retired. In a wheelchair? No problem! There is a cache for everyone. Those who enjoy mountain climbing, math, history, geology, or simply socializing can all enjoy a good geocache.

What is geocaching like in Norway?
The first Norwegian cache was placed in Fyllingsdalen in Bergen on June 9, 2001, by the member “Steinar, Bergen” and received the official geocache number GCBBF and name “Norges første, i Bergen, The first cache in Norway.” By May 2016, there were 65,280 caches spread around the country.

This spring, Helge Johannesen (46) discovered geocaching. While he wasn’t usually the most active person, he is competitive. Now he’s got a competition going with his daughters about finding the caches, and through geocaching he is getting enough exercise.

“I didn’t do that just a few months ago. I did not go anywhere. On a Sunday afternoon, I either worked or watched TV. Then I was introduced to geocaching, and now I even got the app on my mobile, and I’m all in. Not only on Sundays, but several days a week,” said Johannesen.

He took his youngest daughter with him on one of these walks, and now she’s hooked too. “To get her to go out with me the first time wasn’t easy. You know kids: all in to the computer. But after the first cache, it was all right.”

But you don’t always find the caches, do you? “The first time I didn’t find one, I was a bit disappointed. After some rethinking I realized that it is the beauty of it. You do not know what is going to happen,” he replied.

We met Johannesen and his daughters in the Lysefjorden area, outside Bergen, and set out to find two caches named Lysøya – BOF70 and Pøylo.

Photo: Cathrine Løvaas Helge Johannesen will stop at nothing to find the caches he’s after.

Photo: Cathrine Løvaas
Helge Johannesen will stop at nothing to find the caches he’s after.

It is encouraged to place caches in special locations that have a certain intrinsic value, whether they are beautiful spots, monuments, or historical locations. The two places we went to were outdoor recreation areas.

Lysøen, which was the Norwegian violinist Ole Bull’s summer home and was given as a gift to the Society for Preservation of Norwegian Ancient Monuments (Fortids­minneforeningen), contains a villa that is now a museum. It’s an island, which covers approximately 650 decares (160 acres). It has 13 km of walking trails, a lookout tower, and forest lakes.

The other cache point, Pøylo, is located in the stream inside Lysefjorden, where the bridge that connects the old road between Os and Bergen crosses the stream.

Johannesen and his daughter found the cache in Lysøen, but they didn’t find the one at Pøylo. They climbed on the bridge, looked around in the bushes, and were bitten by mosquitoes.

“Are you still happy, Helge?”

“Happy? No! I’m a competitor!”

After a couple of minutes, he’s back in business. “I’ll be back—I’m going to find it!”

What to do when you find one?
Sign the log inside the cache to show you found it. Sometimes there is a little knick-knack you can swap with your own if you brought something with you. If you want to switch, you should put in something better than what you found. If you find a traceable knick-knack, you can take it with you, but preferably you will put it in to another cache within two weeks.

Photo: Cathrine Løvaas Many caches have fun trinkets inside. If you take one, leave a better one in its place.

Photo: Cathrine Løvaas
Many caches have fun trinkets inside. If you take one, leave a better one in its place.

At the end, close the box and put it back exactly where you found it.

Then log the findings on the paper when you’re at the cache and on the web page or in the app. When logging online, the person who put it there in the first place will have the pleasure of knowing that someone found it. You can even enter a greeting to this person.

How far are you willing to go?
Of the 65,280 caches spread around Norway, the highest one is on Galdøpiggen, the tallest mountain in Norway. The one farthest south is at Skjernøy, an island connected to the mainland by a bridge, and the one farthest north is placed on Knivskjelodden, a peninsula northwest of the North Cape.

Whether you want just a short trip or want to spend the whole day outside, there will always be a cache to find in Norway.

Cathrine Løvaas (41) is a Norwegian freelancer from Bergen, Norway. She has a BA in History from Nord Universitet and writes about history, culture, sports, health, safety and environment, cats, and contract law. She runs a company that takes care of pets, and she loves weightlifting, photography, and literature. Meet her at www.norwegianfreelance.no and www.pusepass.no.

This article originally appeared in the July 15, 2016, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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