Fun for all ages: Geocaching has something for everyone

Mining Gazette/Kurt Hauglie One of the hidden containers for the Fort Wilkins State Park geocaching event is seen here. The park will conduct its 11th Geocaching Event Sept. 9.

COPPER HARBOR — Naomi Haycock has been geocaching for 11 years, now, ever since she and her husband, Elliot, started organizing a geocaching event at Fort Wilkins State Park in Copper Harbor.

Geocaching could be called a high-tech scavenger hunt. It involves placing geographic “points” into a portable global positioning system (GPS) unit. The points are locations where the cache is hidden.

The Fort Wilkins event takes place Sept. 9. Registration is from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m., which is when participants will be given the GPS points. The geocaching ends at 2 p.m., with a luncheon and drawing for prizes at 2:30 p.m. in the picnic pavilion.

Haycock said she and Elliot started the Fort Wilkins event after the then-manager of the park suggested it would be a good event to bring people to the park. There is no cell phone service at Fort Wilkins, so the GPS feature on cell phones won’t work.

Haycock says she still enjoys geocaching.

“It’s just fun to figure where the cache is,” she said.

According to Haycock, even after the point set into the GPS unit is found, it may still be necessary to search for the cache.

“It doesn’t give you the exact location,” she said. “It gets you within 10 feet.”

The container that is the goal of the search is well hidden, so some effort is needed to find it.

Art Brabbs, who is also involved with the organizing of the Fort Wilkins event, said he’s been doing geocaching about seven years, and it’s a very popular activity.

“This is a game played around the world,” he said.

According to the website geocaching.com, there are currently 322 geocaching sites in the Houghton area.

Wayne Burnett, Fort Wilkins State Park manager, said there are no prizes for taking part in the geocaching event there.

“It’s a family-friendly fun day,” he said. “There’s no competition.”

Burnett said at each of the points on the geocaching trail, there are water tight canisters, which are the goal of the activity. In the canisters, there may be a gift, but most people will take it only if they have something to exchange.

“You always leave a gift,” he said.

Participants don’t have to wander far to find the points where the canisters are located, Burnett said.

“They’re all close by in walking distance,” he said.

Some of the points may be about one mile away, Burnett said.

Burnett said the Fort Wilkins event is sanctioned by the Michigan Geocaching Association. The organization can be found online at mi-geocaching.org.

David Wickliffe, park ranger at Keweenaw National Historical Park, said some of the park’s 21 Heritage Site partners have been involved with the Copper Country Geo-Trail. Some partners aren’t interested, and some are physically unable to take part.

Information about the park’s geocaching program can be found online at geocaching.com and on the park’s website at nps.gov/kewe/geocache.htm.

At the Heritage Sites, Wickliffe said there are tri-fold “rack cards,” which provide information about geocaching at the Heritage Sites.

The first KNHP geocaching event took place on July 29, 2015, Burnett said. The site at the park’s Calumet Unit is still active. The first year, 73 groups successfully found the site.

Burnett said geocaching locally is still very popular.

“We’ve had a strong community up here for sometime,” he said.

Brabbs, who is from the Marquette area, says geocaching is popular there. People of all ages from children to people in their 80s take part.

“A youngster can do it as a family event,” he said.

Brabbs says he gets a great deal of joy from geocaching.

“It’s getting out, moving around, and seeing some places differently,” he said.

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