Treasure Hunting in British Columbia’s Gold Country
The thrill of a modern treasure hunt comes alive with Geocaching in Gold Country – an area of BC’s interior rich in cultural and geographic diversity. Geocaching combines outdoor recreation, technology, and a good old-fashioned treasure hunt. Location coordinates can be entered into a GPS, or a smartphone app can set you on your way, or you can explore with a lower-tech version of Geocaching called Letterboxing. Your purpose? To visit places of historical, cultural, and geographic significance and bring BC’s past to life.
Gold Country started a Geo-Tourism initiative in 2008, and in 2010 launched a more ambitious project with the publication of their first book, Gold Country GeoTourism Adventures: Field Guide Volume 1. This book details 72 caches – hidden containers containing a log book, some trade items, and collectable stickers unique to each cache – hidden throughout Gold Country. In 2012, a second book, Gold Country GeoTourism Adventures: Field Guide Volume 2 was published, providing another 72 opportunities for exploration.
Gold Country provides a wide variety of terrain to explore and Geocaching helps provide inspiration – whether it is a day trip, a weekend away, or a more extended visit. Each Geocache listed in the Field Guides (or on the Geocaching website www.geocaching.com) is given a score between one and five for both overall difficulty (how challenging it is to find the cache) and terrain difficulty (how challenging it is to access the cache site – think length of hike, steepness, exposure, etc.). Each geocache is also given a unique code, making it easy to search and plan your route.
Gold Country Geocaches range in difficulty from what are referred to as simple “park and grab” style caches to ones that require significant off-road driving and extended uphill hikes. One of the benefits of geocaching in Gold Country is that each cache is located at a point of significance to the area. In fact, in Volume 1, each geocache is sorted into one of five categories: Pioneers & Early Settlers, Geological Wonders, Views & Vistas, Gravesites & Mystical Places, and Historic Churches. In Volume 2, the caches are categorized as Settlers & Pioneers, Geological & Views, Rails & Trails, Feature Film, or Agriculture.
As you travel from cache to cache in Gold Country you can consult your Field Guide, which provides information about the nearest community, parking, and any access information and restrictions. The Field Guides also provide an excellent background description of the cache’s significance. I have learned some truly fascinating history and geology through Gold Country’s caches.
I have had many excellent experiences in Gold Country, but a few of my favourite geocache discoveries are:
- The Cache Creek Mélange: A site of geological wonder that I first visited as part of a university Geology trip. The Cache Creek Mélange exposes the movement of tectonic plates in a way not often visible, accessible, or understood by the average person.
- Lytton Reaction Ferry: This Pioneers & Early Settlers site is fascinating as it provides a great view and history of the Lytton Reaction Ferry. This free ferry (yes, you should definitely take it across the river!) has no motor and instead uses a rudder, a fixed cable, and the current of the river to cross the mighty Fraser with up to two cars and twelve passengers per trip.
- Marble Canyon: Marble Canyon, on Highway 99 between Cache Creek and Lillooet, is a spectacular destination. A provincial park campsite offers a great place to spend the night, the towering limestone and dolomite cliffs are uncommon in BC and offer excellent rock climbing, and the hunt for this geocache takes you on a short hike to the base of an impressive waterfall.
- Logan Lake Shovel: This one is not hard to find, as the Logan Lake Shovel is also the home of the Logan Lake Visitor Centre! The impressive thing about hunting for this cache; however, is the sheer size of the 235-ton ore hauling truck and the enormous bucket on the mining shovel, from which the cache takes its name. Make sure you climb the steps and sit in the shovel’s cab!
- Cornwall Hills Park & Lookout: This is one of my absolute favourite Gold Country geocaches! The Cornwall Hills Park & Lookout requires a 4×4 to get to it, but it is so worth it to make the trek up the gravel road to the 2036 metre summit where an old fire tower provides 360-degree views stretching as far as Mount Baker in Washington state.
Geocaching in Gold Country offers something for everyone, from history buffs to adventure seekers. The Gold Country GeoTourism website offers detailed information for each cache, helping you to plan your journey before setting foot out the door. Just keep in mind that once you are there, a whole new world of possibilities will be opened to you, and you will likely find yourself wishing you had planned to spend more time in Gold Country.
Published: March 16th, 2017
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