BY TAMARA BELKOV
Treasure hunts are taking on a high-tech twist with the help of Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) tracking units. Called geocaching, the activity is growing in popularity as an outdoor sport, according to Ted Keenan of the Rainbow Routes Association.
"Geocaching is the thing for you if you're tired of hiking
the same trails or visiting the same parks," Keenan says.
The object of Geocaching (pronounced geo-cashing) is to hike
the outdoors and seek out a treasure box, hidden from sight,
using only the GPS data. GPS units are computerized satellite
tracking devices that let the user know exactly where they are
anywhere in the world.
When the owner first stashes their cache, they take note of
the co-ordinates and leave a watertight box behind with a few
little gifts and a log book. They then list the GPS
co-ordinates for the cache on various websites like
Would-be treasure hunters can search the web for cache
locations in their area. There are at least 65 in the Sudbury
region alone stashed by individuals like Keenan and
organizations like the Rainbow Routes Association.
Having located a cache, a geocacher opens it up and makes a
notation in the log book and exchanges one of the gifts in the
box for one they brought with them. Part of the experience is
reading the log to see who else has been to the cache and to
discover what token gifts have been exchanged.
On a recent scenic hike, along Kelly Lake trail at Fielding Park, Keenan visited his own cache to see who had been by. There were entries from Sudbury to Slovakia and the token gifts ranged from American coins, key chains, candles, silly putty, beads, tiny dolls and even dog biscuits.
Keenan, along with Brian Ramakko from Ramakko's Tackle World, have organized the first annual Hide and Seek geocache event, scheduled to take place June 3, at Fielding Park.
Money raised from the event will be used by Rainbow Routes
for the building and marking of hiking trails in the city.
"We are expecting over 30 teams of four to participate. In
the morning the event will be like a poker run. The geocaches
will hold sealed envelopes with playing cards in them. When the
team returns to the pavilion, we'll open the envelopes to see
who has the best hand."
There are all kinds of prizes, including cash and T-shirts.
Sponsors M&M Meat Shops will be barbecuing and Big Daddy
103.9 will be on-site with Rainbow Bear for the children. For
the hardcore enthusiasts, a more strenuous event will be held
in the afternoon where the prizes will be stashed in the
caches. For families with children a guided nature walk will
also be offered.
Rainbow Routes works with the city and government funding agencies to build local non-motorized trails.
"We just finished making the first half of the Kelly Lake
trail at Fielding Park wheelchair accessible," Keenan says.
"The bush was cut back to make the trail four feet wide and
it's made up of several inches of fine crushed gravel. By June,
we should have free maps showing all the trails in the city."
Anyone interested in participating in Hide and Seek geocache event can register in advance at Ramakko's on Loach's Road or at Fielding Park at 9 am on June 3.