my boys to stay on the path. I knew that I was allowed both on-trail and off-trail access to the area, but I’d spent so much time at parks that I had to give myself permission to break the “rules” in my own head. As silly as it seemed, it was exciting to treat this area as the wild space it was.
Most conservation lands are fully accessible, but check your location’s regulations before you head out. The two Rockwoods areas are a good example of why this is important—though close to one another, Rockwoods Range allows visitors to leave the trail system, whereas Rockwoods Reservation does not. Regardless of official rules, always be respectful of an area’s flora and fauna.
I gave my husband a mock “bail me out if I get busted” look and headed into the woods. That was all the encouragement my boys needed. They were giddy; not only were they being allowed to go off the trail, Mom was leading the way. We were truly on an adventure now.
We came through the woods and into a clearing, and we soon reached the geocache coordinates. I was certain we were in the right spot. The boys eagerly looked for the prize, even though none of us had any clue what the cache might look like if we found it. While they bounded around the clearing, I experimented with moving in different directions to make sure that the animated car that represented me on the GPS lined up exactly with the “finish line” on the screen. (I had just borrowed a basic vehicle-type GPS for our first adventure. While more than sufficient for our level of adventuring, practicing with the unit beforehand would have been a good idea. There is a range of GPS systems available, but most geocaching requires only a basic system. Don’t be put off because you think you’ll need pricey equipment to play.)
When I moved around, I found the GPS leading me closer to a gnarly old tree with roots that just seemed to be made for hiding treasure. Unfortunately, there was nothing there; someone had removed the prize. While it is poor form in geocaching etiquette not to maintain caches, or to remove them without posting a notice, these things do occasionally happen. Luckily, it doesn’t take away from a good day on the trail, and there’s always another prize