By Diann Darnall
For Senior Voice 

Geocaching keeps Fairbanks couple active year-round


July 1, 2021 | View PDF

Courtesy Phil Heine

Geocaching in November off the trail at Creamer's Field in Fairbanks.

Alaska International Senior Games bowlers Phil and Lois Heine continue to encourage each other to expand their activities. This past year the Fairbanks couple have stepped up their personal geocaching challenge, which sends them out of the house exploring and creating new adventures.

Some of you may be wondering, what is geocaching? Geocaching is a worldwide treasure hunt. Founded in 2000, there are now over 3 million geocaches in 191 countries on all seven continents. GPS coordinates are utilized for establishing and finding caches, which span a variety of sizes and difficulties to locate. For more specific information on participating, check out

Phil and Lois' personal challenge to go out and find a new cache daily started on September 28, 2020. When October rolled around, they decided to log a cache a day, everyday, before it snowed. Their thinking expanded when the snow arrived: "Well, we've got this far, let's keep going." As of May 26, 2021, they had logged cache finds on 241 consecutive days.

Utilizing a shared account, the adventurous couple have located and logged over 1,755 caches. One of their long-term goals is to find 10 caches in every U.S. state and

Canadian province. Thus far they have 10 or more caches in 11 Canadian provinces and 39 states, with over 550 caches in Alaska. Pre-COVID they even found caches in the United Kingdom, Mexico and Norway.

In addition to geocaching getting them out and active, they cherish the way it slows them down enough to stop and smell the roses along the way.

While there are many types of caches, EarthCaches are one of their favorites. At these destinations, they continue to learn new things about nature as well as benefiting from science lessons, which could be geological or an ecosystem.

History lessons also continue to delight the Heines. A recent local cache search stepped them into a piece of local history in Goldstream Valley dating back to 1905. Here they found a historic railroad bridge originally built by the Tanana Mines Railway from Fairbanks to Fox to accommodate gold mining activity.

A memorable experience this past winter included one outing with a two-day find. By heading out to a nearby dome late at night, they were able to find a cache, enjoy a spectacular display of dancing northern lights, and find another cache after midnight on the way home.

Courtesy Phil Heine

The Heines found this cache on Dec. 10, 2020 and Phil noticed he'd lost his glove. They searched, but no luck. A return trip on May 13, 2021, and luck abounds, with the glove found in great shape.

Occasionally they stumbled upon an outing that included both a scientific and history lesson, like the one they encountered on Kodiak Island. After Lois participated in the Alaska State Women's Bowling Tournament held in Kodiak, they extended a few extra days to explore geocaches on the Island. On a southern beach they found a cliff full of ancient fossils and on a nearby ridge a camouflage bunker known as a pillbox. Pillboxes were built in the 1940s by the military as part of the Alaska Coastal Defense Project during World War II.

What adventures are Lois and Phil working on now? They are planning to expand their cache finds to one every day for a year. In addition to continuing to encourage others and share hints, they will be setting out new caches for others to find. Whether traveling Alaska or the world, this adventurous couple is choosing to keep active and smell the roses along the way.What's on your list to keep active?

Diann Darnall is the President of the Alaska International Senior Games. AISG is hosting the 2021 Games August 7-15 in Fairbanks and North Pole. Online registration and other information can be found at


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