Did you like playing treasure hunt games when you were a kid? The kind where one of your friends drew a crude map of the neighborhood with an X marking the spot and you had to find your way there to see what your friend stashed away? Geocaching is a high tech version of the old treasure hunt game, where players use a GPS (global positioning system) instead of a map to find caches hidden by other players who have uploaded the coordinates to the geocaching website www.geocaching.com.
Cache Creek, a small community in British Columbia’s southern Interior, has taken a leading role in developing geotourism – bringing tourists and geocachers to the area to find a series of hidden caches. Many people from the Gold Country Communities Society were involved in creating the Gold Trail geocaching adventure, and although the town of Cache Creek is the hub, other communities in the Southern Interior and Cariboo are taking part in this event. Phase 1 and phase 2 of the Gold Trail each have 72 caches hidden around Merritt, Ashcroft, Logan Lake, Lytton, 70 Mile House, and other communities stretching across the South Thompson, Southern Interior, and Cariboo. Hunting for caches on the Gold Trail becomes part history lesson and part discovering that this part of British Columbia is much more than cattle country.
The rules of geocaching are easy and more details and helpful hints on playing can be found on their website:
- Sign up for a free account at http://www.geocaching.com/
- Learn to play by searching the geocaching website for caches near your home using either your postal code or the GPS coordinates of your house.
- Enter the coordinates of the cache into your GPS.
- Use the GPS to find the hidden cache – normally a plastic sandwich box type container.
- If you take an item from inside the cache (usually dollar store type trinkets) leave an item in return.
- Sign the logbook inside the cache and hide it again.
- Record your visit on the geocaching website.
In a little twist to the geocaching game, for the Gold Trail cache series each cache box contains stickers and the finder takes one. There’s a sheet to be downloaded from the Gold Trail website with spaces for 24 stickers and once full, the geocacher sends it back to the society to redeem for a small prize.
One of the favourite stops on the Gold Trail is a cache called The Painted Chasm, located inside Chasm Provincial Park, about 20 km north from Clinton, off Highway 97. The “Grand Canyon” of British Columbia was formed by glacier ice melting and is 300 metres deep, 8 kilometres long, and 600 metres wide. The chasm was turned into a provincial park to protect its beauty, wildlife, and geological formations. Many geocachers have left comments describing the stunning backdrop of colours in the chasm.
Geocaching on the Cache Creek Gold Trail is much more than discovering hidden caches. The real treasure is discovering beautiful scenery, stories of settlers, and captivating geological sites of British Columbia that you’d never know existed if the geocaching game didn’t take you to them.
Gold Country is in the southern Interior of British Columbia, about a 4 hour drive from Vancouver taking the scenic Fraser Canyon route of Highway 1 north of Hope until arriving at Cache Creek. More information on geocaching the Gold Trail can be found on their website. http://www.goldtrail.com/