By Veronica Sandate Craker
The Tri-Cities will attract a new kind of hunter to the area in June when the 2012 Geocoin Challenge begins.The modern day treasure hunters — armed with GPS units — will scavenge around the Tri-Cities June 22-24 in hopes of finding the three puzzle pieces that will earn them a genuine Tri-Cities Geocoin.
Jenny Wheeler, City of Richland park ranger, coordinated the first geocache challenge in 2010.
“This year the theme is Trekking the Trails,” Wheeler said. “So all the caches will be placed near some kind of trail whether it’s a walking trail or hiking trail.”
Geocaching is like a high-tech game of hide and seek. Participants use a Global Positioning System, or GPS receiver, to find caches hidden all over the world. A typical cache is a small waterproof container or box that has a logbook inside. It may also contain a toy or trinket for trading. When a person finds it, they take the trinket and replace it with another. According to Wikipedia, there are more than a million active geocaches currently in more than 100 countries and on all seven continents, including Antarctica. Avid geocachers are well-connected through websites and online groups and willing to travel long distances for a good event.
The Tri-Cities’ 2012 Geocoin challenge is a three-day event that begins at 5:30 p.m. June 22 at Columbia Point Marina with a dinner catered by Country Gentlemen. Pre-registration is required for the dinner, tickets are $15 and includes a hotdog, hamburger and three sides. There will also be vendors and activities for kids.
The geocache search starts Saturday at 9 a.m.
“We are placing 10 new geocaches in each city and people will have to find all 10 in each city,” Wheeler said. “Our coin consists of three pieces so it’s three puzzle pieces. One represents Kennewick, one is Richland and one Pasco.”
Coins will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis and the challenge continues until all the coins have been given away.
“Once someone finds 10 in Richland they’ll get one piece of the puzzle,” Wheeler said.
Wheeler said there will also be two ‘Kayaking the Waterways’ for people those interested in kayaking to find the geocoins on the area’s islands.
Kayaks will be available to rent for $30. Guides will take trackers to the islands at 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. Saturday.
In addition, there will also be two new night caches placed in Richland, Wheeler said.
Participants will use reflectors to locate the caches after dark.
The event wraps up with a free breakfast sponsored by the Washington State Geocache Association at 9 a.m. Sunday. At 11 a.m. there will be a CITO (Cache In Trash Out) even, where visitors will clean up Columbia Point Marina Park.
The extreme geocache adventure is attracting visitors from all over the Northwest.
“We’ve had people all over the United States even as far as Canada and Alaska have come to our events the past couple of years,” Wheeler said.
She said she’s already received confirmation of visitors from Alaska coming to this year’s event.
“We also have hotels who have been willing to give geocachers a discount,” Wheeler said. “We have a few hotels in the city as well as the Moon River RV who will give a discount to geocachers coming into town.”
“The first year I had maybe 75 people and last year I had close to 200 and that was just me doing it by myself,” Wheeler said. “So I have no clue what’s going to happen that weekend. I’m hoping for a decent turnout.”
For more information and to register for the event visit http://coord.info/GC39WBH.