Playing Pokemon GO in the Wilderness

in the Wilderness

Everyone in my Facebook feed between the ages of 24 and 32 this week have been ALL OVER this new game. (Well, at least the nerd-inclined friends, which is a sizable majority of my friend group). I mean, obsessed. People are making real-life plans around this game on a scale I’ve never seen. I had FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out), so I polled my social media audience to see what the deal was and if it would work in the middle of nowhere.

I haven’t figured it all out yet, but basically, Pokemon GO is an evolution of the game we would play with trading cards in 5th grade.

Pokemon cards, by Daniel Lee (CC)

The game developed through the years on various Gameboy platforms. I didn’t play any of these because I thought they were lame (sorry, not sorry).

Now the game is one of the first augmented reality games. It’s a free download on your smartphone. It uses your camera and a GPS map to make Pokemon virtually “appear” around you. You then walk around town and “catch” as many as you can.

Pokemon GO Screenshots, by Darren Mark Domirez (CC)

After all this hype, I decided I really didn’t have much to lose, so I gave it a shot. After all, you sometimes have to be a little creative to entertain yourself out in the boonies, as anyone who grew up in a rural area will attest. Here is what happened.

We are currently very much in the middle of nowhere. I have seen more deer than people in the past few days. We have internet thanks to our rockin’ cell signal booster, and I get cell signal on my phone about a mile down the road. You need cell signal to play, so I decided to get everything set up, and then take the game with me on my run.

Getting everything set up took quite some time because the game is so popular. It took a long time to sign in, and then a long time for the servers to not be overloaded. Once I finally got in, I caught a Pikachu right inside our hallway! Neat!

Next the game tells you to go out into the real world and walk around. It’s all based on “public locations,” so in urban areas, like the screenshots I’ve seen from friends in New York City, there are LOTS of Pokemon and “Poke-stops,” or whatever. I don’t really know what that is yet. You can find goodies around landmarks, statues, public offices, and stuff like that. Since that’s the basis, I knew that the Lolo National Forest might not have much in the way of “public locations.” It’s all one big public location, but unless they count fishing access signs, there aren’t a lot of landmarks. (There is a 350-year-old ponderosa pine tree beside us, though!)

So, I knew going in that cell service and a possible lack of anything to do in the game might make things challenging. But, it was something new and different to try, and a fun motivator for my run.


Well, I spent most of my time logging in over and over. It uses Google to log in, and I have my google account locked down tight. Since it was so secure (on my end), it took quite a bit of time to log in every time. Then it kept crashing and I would have to do it again. Then I’d finally get in… and the servers would be overloaded. :-/

Time playing Pokemon GO

I did finally get in to see the game itself, about 2.5 miles into my run (my run had a lot of stop and go). After all this, there were NO POKEMON. I actually had to RUN and look at NATURE.

This is probably a one square mile area. There is nothing around. 😦

At any rate, it was still a new, fun thing to try. I’m looking forward to trying it out when we are in Missoula (which is about 20 minutes away from where we are parked this week), since it should be a lot more exciting there. For now, I’ll settle for playing with my real life monster, Cheat, who spent the afternoon yesterday literally eating mud. I’m pretty sure he’s turning feral.

Cheat the sorta-feral dog

2 thoughts on “Playing Pokemon GO in the Wilderness

  1. I don’t know anything about it either. My kids collected those cards long ago. It almost sounds like a version of geocaching. If you don’t know what that is, try it. LOTS of fun and they are everywhere. Even in the boonies!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s