(BPT) - Long before people were staring at their phones trying to find where the Pokémon were hiding in their neighborhood, people were scouring the world looking for waterproof boxes containing a simple logbook to sign.

It’s called geocaching, and for the past two decades it has become something of a modern treasure hunt that has enticed millions around the globe.

There might not be any stashes of gold at the end, but adventure and exploration is the reward.

Because it’s at the edge of one of the nation’s great wilderness areas, Ely is one of the best places for geocaching.

What is geocaching?

Geocaching is simple. All you need is a GPS device or a smartphone that has GPS capabilities that allow you to enter and follow GPS coordinates. This is your treasure map or diviner’s stick, if you will.

Some sites, like Geocache.com, have an app that really streamlines the whole process.

In addition to a smartphone or GPS device, all you need to do is log into a cache listing site, such as www.geocaching.com or www.navicache.com to get the coordinates to geocaches near you. With coordinates and a GPS-enabled device in hand you’ll be all set to go out and search.

Now, some caches are easy to find. They might be in a big, obvious box in the middle of a field. Other times, they may be creatively hidden. You may have arrived at the coordinates, but whether the cache is hanging from a tree limb, hidden under rocks or buried in some other mysterious location is up to you — and your ingenuity — to figure out.

Once you find the cache, you sign your name in the log book, maybe leave a trinket, then go off to search for another one.

There are millions of caches worldwide, probably some right next to you, and searching for them is a great way to discover new parts of your city, or connect with a new place in the world.

Geocaching in Ely

While there is no shortage of things to do in Ely, sometimes you might want to steer off your itinerary and spend a few hours exploring a new place as you hunt for a geocache. There are hundreds of caches in the area, so before your next visit up here, take some time to look at the various locations and make a list of some you might want to search for.

It will show you a whole new side of the north woods, or of downtown Ely!