Geocaching enthusiasts will have dozens more sites to search for in Merritt and the surrounding area by this fall, thanks to the efforts of the Gold Country Communities Society.
Gold Country marketing manager Terri Hadwin said her organization would add 72 new geocaches in the region over the summer during a geocaching workshop at the Baillie House on May 3.
Hadwin said Gold Country plans to “launch” the caches from mid-June to September, listing them online at www.goldtrail.com.
Gold Country will continue to list and maintain the 72 geocaches that it introduced in 2009. Gold Country covers communities as far west as Lillooet, north to Green Lake, east to Lac Le Jeune, and south to the Nicola Valley.
Geocaching involves using a GPS device to find geocache sites based on their latitude and longitude co-ordinates.
At the Baillie House workshop, Kamloops geocaching enthusiast Doug Smith discussed the activity in detail.
The sites generally fall into four categories and reflect the global reach of the GPS system, he explained. They may be historically significant points; places of natural beauty; hard-to-reach places, like a mountain peak; or caches hidden in plain sight, like a bus station.
“There’s over a million geocaches in the world now,” said Smith.
“It takes you to interesting places.”
The caches can range in size from “nano” finds, as small as a pill container, to large, the size of an ammunition box.
Inside the containers, there is usually “swag”, small items that the finder can exchange for an item of their own, and a logbook to record the visit, said Smith.
The Gold Country caches consist entirely of either ammunition boxes measuring 25 to 18 centimetres or fake rocks that are even larger. The caches are relatively easy to find in order to encourage people to make the effort, Smith explained.
Depending on the equipment quality, a GPS device can narrow the search area to a diameter of between three and 10 metres, he said. Signals from satellites overhead also affect accuracy.
Gold Country’s website includes co-ordinates for its geocaches, along with other useful information, such as where to find parking nearby and the difficulty level of the geocache. That information is also available in a printed field guide.
However, many others have planted geocaches in the Nicola Valley as well, Smith said.
“There’s about six or seven in the Merritt area in this book,” he said, pointing to Gold Country’s field guide, “but it’s probably more like 60 or 70.”
A Taste of the Valley, a locally produced book, lists the co-ordinates and history for over 30 geocaches as well.
Geocaches around the world, including in Merritt, can be found on www.geocaching.com.