Battle Ground treasure hunt targets geocachers

Event linked to the centennial of Washington State Parks

By Tom Vogt, Columbian science, military & history reporter

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The local portion of a statewide high-tech treasure hunt kicks off Saturday at Battle Ground Lake State Park.

It is among more than 100 sites participating in a geocaching tour linked to the centennial of Washington State Parks.

From 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Vancouver organizers will roll out the centennial challenge to local geocachers and also will introduce newcomers to the activity.

Geocaching participants use GPS coordinates to navigate their way to caches, or hidden containers.

Battle Ground Lake State Park, 18002 N.E. 249th St., is one of 103 recreational sites in Washington with a special centennial cache. Each cache contains an ink stamp for that particular park.

Ray and Brenda Harrison, who represent this area in the Washington State Geocaching Association, have already planted the cache. Its GPS coordinates won't be available online yet, and it's unlikely that somebody will stumble across it.

"Where we have it hidden, it's pretty hard to spot," Ray Harrison said.

However, the cache is accessible. The Harrisons know what it's like to find a cache you can't reach.

"On Sunday, we found a cache in a tree. We could see it, but it was just too far up" to reach, he said.

The Harrisons also hid Southwest Washington centennial caches at Beacon Rock State Park and the Spring Creek fish hatchery, near Underwood.

Geocachers are being challenged to fill a GeoTour "passport" that lists 103 participating sites across the state. The first 180 geocachers to stamp 50 of the park sites will receive a commemorative coin. Another commemorative coin will go the first 30 people to find 100 caches.

No parking fees will be charged at Battle Ground Lake on Saturday or Sunday in observance of National Get Outdoors Day. However, anybody interested in participating in the GeoTour will need a state Discover Pass to visit the participating park sites.

Tom Vogt: 360-735-4558; http://www.twitter.com/col_history; tom.vogt@columbian.com.