Tim Eggleston’s Geocaching Adventure

Photography by: Josh Triggs
Written by: M.T. Decker

What started as an interesting hobby, has taken Tim Eggleston to some rather unexpected places… Tim Eggleston started geocaching in 2008 because it was something he could share with his grandchildren. With a GPS and the location of a few caches, they were out of the house and on an adventure together.

Geocaching, at its most basic, is a challenge where someone hides an object (a geocache container) and then gives out the GPS coordinates where the object can be found. Other people then try to find the container using those coordinates.


Inside each container is a log for the fi nder to sign; some may also contain souvenirs or tokens. When Tim started geocaching, the majority of the cache containers were either something akin to a Tupperware container or a “bison tube,” a tube with a screw top lid that resembles a pill bottle. There were also cache containers which were designed to blend into their surroundings, looking like a rock, a piece of gum, or even a discarded soda can. These containers were designed to make the search more challenging. Another form of container meant to challenge searchers are gadget caches. These caches are usually easier to fi nd, but require the geocacher to fi gure out how to open the container so they can access the log.

Each style of cache serves a purpose and appeals to different cachers. It’s one of the things Tim loves about the hobby: each cacher decides what appeals to them and it allows them to combine their passions. As he put it, “If you like biking, there are caches you can bicycle to. If you like hiking, there are caches that involve hiking.”

For Tim, it was the gadget caches that caught his interest and helped turn him from a searcher into a maker. If you look around his workshop, you’ll see some of Tim’s other passions he’s added to the mix to create his own unique take on geocaching.

Many of his caches are designed to look like birdhouses, making them easier to find, but the real challenge comes in solving the cache’s puzzle in order to unlock it. In one case, the puzzle involves using an etch-a-sketch to find the combination.

Tim gravitated towards these types of caches because he enjoyed the challenge, not in finding the cache, but in getting inside.

More than anything, Tim wants people to enjoy his caches and walk away with a sense of satisfaction. To do this, he not only includes hints on each device, he also includes his phone number, so cachers can call if they get stuck and need a little help.

While building these gadgets brought new life and new passion to the hobby for Tim, it also caught the attention of his fellow geocachers and Laura Gassler of the Martinsburg-Berkeley County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau (CVB).

What happened next was the “perfect storm” of circumstances. Tim began receiving emails asking him about his caches and how to build them. He was answering 5-10 emails a week, explaining each gadget’s construction until one person finally suggested “why don’t you just put it on YouTube?” After some thought and misgivings, he posted his first video and, to his surprise, his video was well received.

With over 6,500 subscribers and over 750,000 views, Tim or WVTim as he is known in the geocaching community, has found a new way to share his love of geocaching. In March, 2013 geocaching.com named him geocacher of the month, in part because of his YouTube videos and his willingness to share his passion for the hobby.

Meanwhile, Laura Gassler of the CVB had noticed that visitors were coming to Berkeley County for the sole purpose of geocaching. She recognized the potential in using this unique hobby as a way to help draw more visitors into the county. Laura began working with local geocachers like Tim and created the first annual CVB (Martinsburg-Berkeley County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau) geotrail, ‘The Villages of Berkeley County.’ The final cache on the trail was one of Tim Eggleston’s gadgets. The trail received almost 600 likes at geocaching.com and brought visitors from as far away as Maine.

With the success of the trail, and overwhelming response to Tim’s gadgets, Laura Gassler and the CVB partnered up with WVTim to create two more geotrails: “The Gadgets of Berkeley County” in 2014 and “Mystery Caches of Berkeley County” in 2015.

According to Tim, local businesses who were at first wary of the geocaches are now asking for them to be placed in or around their businesses.

Tim warns them that the caches don’t guarantee that visitors will spend money with them, but the businesses have noticed that some people will come in for refreshments after solving one of the puzzles. The caches are sprouting up everywhere: rest stops, orchards, insurance offices… even local hotels have asked for them to be placed on their grounds.

In October 2015, Tim learned that businesses weren’t the only people who’d noticed what geocaching was doing for tourism in the county. At the Governor’s Conference on Tourism, Tim was awarded a “Star of the Industry” for broadcasting, marking the first time this award has ever gone to a non-standard broadcaster and rather a YouTube channel.

While Tim is very proud of the award, he prefers to focus on his hobby and creating the gadgets that he loves. He is currently working on the next generation of geocache gadgets, which he has termed “Smart Gadgets.”

These gadgets are powered by credit card sized micro computers that allow him to expand the functionality of his geocache gadgets. With the technology available, the only real limit is Tim’s imagination. Once again he is reinventing what he does, and learning new skills to keep things fresh for geocaching enthusiasts like himself.

Tim’s “smart gadgets” will be featured in the CVB’s “Smart Caches of Berkeley County,” a new geotrail for 2016. The kick-off for this trail is scheduled for Saturday, June 4th, 2016 at the Roundhouse in Martinsburg.

While it is fascinating to look back over the changes that have come to geocaching and to speculate on what it will become, what drew Tim to geocaching and what keeps him involved is the fact that geocaching is what you decide to make it. Since Tim started geocaching, he has found a passion for a hobby that keeps reinventing itself. This ever-changing hobby has already taken him to some amazing places, but he knows the adventure is just beginning and the best is yet to com.

For more information on geocaching, and to download the geocaching app, go to www.geocaching.com For information on geocaching in Berkeley County, WV or other events in the county, visit travelwv.com For more information on Tim’s gadgets, check out his YouTube channel at: https://www.youtube. com/user/gadgetcaches

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