The Gold Country Geo-Tourism Program rolled out six new locations in the Lillooet area at a special launch ceremony July 21 during the Apricot Tsaqwem Festival.
The new locations are Burkholder Lake, Camelsfoot Peak, Horseshoe Bend Trail, Mission Ridge Trail, Seton Ridge Trail and Pavilion Lake.
Chilliwack-Fraser Canyon MP Mark Strahl and District of Lillooet Mayor Dennis Bontron spoke during the launch ceremony at Saturday morning’s Farmers Market. Strahl said the federal government, through its Western Economic Diversification Program, contributed $150,000 to the geocaching program. Strahl said the adventure program has drawn 8,000 visitors to the Gold Country region since the program began.
In his remarks, Bontron urged visitors and residents alike to try geocaching. “If you haven’t tried it, you should. It’s keen to get to the end of the rainbow and see what’s there.”
Geotourism is a modern treasure hunt with a twist that combines outdoor adventure and the exploration activities of geocaching and letterboxing with anecdotal and historical education. Participants use a GPS or traditional treasure hunt clues to locate boxes hidden throughout the Gold Country region, swap some swag and then re-hide the cache.
The Gold Country GeoTourism program was established in 2009 with 72 locations related to history, culture and natural history. The original Lillooet-area locations/attractions included the old Fraser River suspension bridge, the Xwisten fishing rocks, the Kaoham Shuttle, Red Rock, the Lower Seton spawning channel and the s7istken at T’it’q’et.
In 2012, a large team of researchers/writers and installers as well as Gold Country Communities Society staff, did their homework to provide visitors and locals with a set of 72 new sites to be announced throughout the summer. All of the Lillooet sites, with the exception of Pavilion Lake, were researched, written and photographed by Wayne Robinson.
“The new sites will take you to beautiful views with fantastic stories to make your visit even more memorable,” said Gold Country marketing manager Terri Hadwin. “We couldn’t have done it without all of the support we have received from our funders. We gratefully acknowledge the support from Western Economic Diversification, Northern Development Initiative Trust, Southern Interior Development Initiative Trust, Southern Interior Beetle Action Coalition, Thompson Nicola Regional District and our communities.”
A book with all 72 Phase 2 caches will be published in English and French in the fall of 2012. Sites can also now be logged as “found” on Geocaching.com.
Gold Country says the geocaching experience has proven to be fun, recreational and educational for people of all ages.
“This program is a great way to enjoy the outdoors and to see the different areas that make up this diverse region,” said program coordinator Marci Down. “There is something for everyone, from the train enthusiast to the rock hound, to the beginner geocacher right to the avid geocacher.”
Gold Country’s program has been featured in the Wall Street Journal in New York and the Seattle Times.
The Gold Country Communities Society represents a large area, including Lillooet, Lytton, Ashcroft, Cache Creek, Clinton, Logan Lake, Merritt and several electoral districts within the Thompson-Nicola Regional District.