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Two New Trails Challenge Geocachers

Cecelia Mason
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Two new geocache trails geared toward tourists open this weekend in West Virginia.

The Cabell County/Huntington Geotrail will take visitors on a treasure hunt through Cabell County looking for 15 caches. The Cabell-Huntington Convention and Visitors Bureau web site says the trail will include various types of geocaches including traditionals, unknowns and multis. This is the first time Cabell County is offering a geocache trail.

Meanwhile, the Martinsburg-Berkeley County Convention and Visitors Bureau kicks off its second annual geocache trail.

Goecaching, for the uninitiated, is a treasure hunt. Participates place a box, usually something waterproof and made of plastic, somewhere then they enter the GPS coordinates on a web site. Other people can hunt for the box using the coordinates. The boxes have a log that people sign when they find it, and often contain trinkets that geocachers can trade for something they bring.

Berkeley County designed a trail last year called The Villages of Berkeley County which took geocachers to various communities. Convention and Visitors Bureau Executive Director Laura Gassler said this year’s event is called Gadgets of Berkeley County.

“It’s not so much the difficulty in finding it (the cache) it’s the difficulty in opening it,” Gassler said. “So it’s a very challenging trail, very different from the last one.”

To design the gadget caches the visitors bureau enlisted the help of the March 2013 Geocacher of the Month, WVTim, a.k.a. Tim Eggleston of Berkeley County. Eggleston is a retired Verizon executive who’s been geocaching for about five years now. He designed a Boy Scout themed cache for last year’s Jamboree, as well as those for the Villages of Berkeley County trail. Eggleston also created all 13 gadget caches along this year’s trail.

“For example I have a gadget cache right now at a local fire department and it’s painted like a fire department, its bright red, and you open a drawer and it gives you a balloon. You have to take that balloon and open the geocache.”

Another Cache Eggleston designed gives participants a musical instrument. They have to play a tune to figure out how to open the cache.

“And it’s a real fun children’s song and as you start playing it, it stops and you have to finish the song,” he said.

This year’s offerings include a night cache, where visitors will go to a state-managed property and follow reflective trail markers to find the cache. Another uses the sense of smell.

“You’re going to pull up to it and you’re going to open a drawer and there’s going to be numbers associated with different smells,” Eggleston said. “And that sounds real easy until you smell clove and you get clove on the end of your nose and then you open the next container over its wintergreen and you mix the smells.”

Credit Cecelia Mason / West Virginia Public Broadcasting
West Virginia Public Broadcasting
This looks like a bird house but it's really a gadget cache on this year's geocache trail in Berkeley County. Could you figure out how to open it?

Eggleston says gadget caches are not the norm. Most caches are in easy to open plastic containers. Geocachers who take up the challenge in Berkeley County must find and open 12 of the 13 caches on the trail. The first 300 to do so will receive a commemorative coin.

Gassler said last year about 120 people participated in the trail’s opening day and throughout the year the Visitors Bureau awarded at least 200 coins. Gassler said it’s been a successful tourist draw.

“The local people absolutely love it, from a tourism standpoint it’s working well,” she said.

One goal of the Convention and Visitors Bureau is to entice people to spend more time and eat while they’re in the county.  Gassler said judging from the comment cards geocachers filled out last year, they are staying longer.

Gassler and Eggleston expect this year’s promotion to be just as successful, with visitors expected from as far away as New York, Florida and Michigan.

The Berkeley County gadget cache trail will be open starting at 2 p.m. Saturday. In Cabell County geocachers can begin hunting at 11 a.m. Saturday.

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