Esquimalt is now home to some hidden treasure with the opening of Canada’s first geocaching store recently.
In June, Chris and Helen Edley opened the Sharkz Store (1245 Esquimalt Rd.), a business that sells equipment a geocacher would need including cache boxes, logbooks, dog leashes, reflective markers, trade items, maps and clothing.
“We had been running a website selling geocaching supplies online for nine years. We had been running it out of our house and it was just getting too busy,” said Chris.
The Edleys have been geocaching for the past decade and have found more than 4,000 caches around North America and the UK.
“The first time we went out, we thought it was awesome. It’s treasure hunting and hiking. It was the perfect activity for us because we could combine it with kayaking, sailing, all the outdoor things we like to do,” said Helen.
“There are geocaches all around the world. It’s a good way to see the local area because often the locals will hide geocaches in really cool places like tourist spots, nice viewpoints, great places to pull over during a road trip.”
Not to be confused with a hunt with the end goal of finding treasure, geocaching focuses more on the challenge and adventure of finding geocaches that are well hidden all over the world. Caches can take the form of almost anything, from a fake pinecone hidden on the ground to a screw installed on a light post in a neighbourhood or a simple camouflaged box tucked away in a tree.
Hidden inside the object is a logbook where people who discover the cache can sign their name. Occasionally there will be trade items as well.
“What you find is the location,” said Chris. “It’s about the adventure, the exploring, not so much about finding treasure. We use it as a travel guide.”
Geocaching has led the Edleys to numerous unique sites such as the set where they filmed the TV show MASH, an island in Scotland where they had to blow up an air mattress to get to it, caves and an old gold mining town.
In Greater Victoria alone, there are more than 1,500 geocaches with several hidden in local parks, churches, recreation centres and many in downtown Victoria.
Land Sharkz has also become a centre for geocachers.
“People come to Victoria for geocaching year round because it’s such a great climate and you don’t have to worry about rattlesnakes and things like that,” said Helen, adding that people from Calgary, Edmonton and the Okanagan have visited the store.
“People that we didn’t even know were geocachers in town, and I know there’s lots of people in Victoria that we have no clue were geocachers, are finding our store.”
Adrian Andrew, executive director with the Esquimalt Chamber of Commerce, said the unique business will help bring new people to the area.
“They have some very interesting items there,” said Andrew. “It brings employees to our neighbourhood, it brings traffic from CFB [Esquimalt] where they sell a lot of their coins and plaques and it will start to bring people from the geocaching crowd.”
But there is one cache in the Esquimalt Lagoon that has the couple stumped.
“There’s one where you have to climb a tree and out a branch and we haven’t done it yet because neither of us are comfortable doing that,” laughed Helen.