Whitman County Gazette - Serving Whitman County since 1877

By Jana Mathia
Gazette Editor 



For anyone familiar with geocaching, the May 5 lifting of the ban on outdoor recreation is like a late anniversary gift as it was May 3, 2000, when the original geocache was placed in Beavercreek, Ore. Now this union of treasure hunt and great outdoors has grown to include more than one million caches worldwide – some even in the towns and country roads of Whitman County.

With the right devise and coordinates, anyone can turn a walk into a treasure hunt, whether they are hiking Kamiak Butte or strolling around town.

The premise is simple: people hide little caches in various places for others to find using the GPS coordinates. These coordinates are logged into geocaching.com or a similar website for anyone who wants to get and try to find the cache; all you need is a smart phone or GPS device to point you the right way.

These caches are everywhere. While bigger towns and cities have dozens to hundreds, there are still some along the more remote stretches. There are about a dozen in and immediately around Colfax alone. Someone has placed geocaches in each park as part of a sort of tour using Colfax's original name, Belleville. In addition to each cache, the placer includes historical information and pictures of the town, such as how Schmuck Park came to be and how it got its name, in the cache description.

A new geocache series was placed in March with many stops along SR 26 between Washtucna and Dusty. This series is marked the "Cougar highway" and each stop is named for a WSU coach. In the description of each cache is information on a different coach from WSU's history.

Other caches can be found in remote areas of the county including Winona, Pine City, Hole in the Ground, Onecho and Ewartsville. Parks and cemeteries are common locations for caches.

Geocaches come in all sizes from water bottle or ammo box to the size of a pencil eraser.

One of the big rules of geocaching is no muggles. For those not familiar with Harry Potter lingo, a muggle is someone outside the wizard community. In this case, it means you don't let people who aren't geocaching know you're looking or especially that you've found something. So not only are you trying to find something that may be no bigger than your thumb, but you are doing it covertly if other people are around.

Geocaching is fundamentally simple, but you can get very involved and intricate. There are geocaching trails or caches that can only be opened after solving puzzles or following certain clues.

Geocacheing can also add a new dimension to travel; with caches all over, following the coordinates to find one could take a person to a petrified ginko forest, a new state park or the Dusty rest stop

The original geocache was placed May 3, 2000, by Dave Ulmer of Beavercreek, Ore., as a way to sort of commemorate the removal of Selective Availability from the GPS (Global Positioning System) the day before. The location was posted on the USENET website and within three days it had been found twice.

Those with smart phones can download the Geocaching app and start hunting right away.

Jana Mathia

Gazette Editor

Author Bio

Jana Mathia, Reporter

Jana Mathia is a reporter at the Whitman County Gazette.

Email: [email protected]
Phone: 509-397-4333
Contact Jana Mathia


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