Pioneer Palooza

Geocaching is described as a “real-world, outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices” on the official website for this unique sport. A quick search of www.geocaching.com also shows that there are dozens of geocaches going on in the 45750 zip code at any given time.

This weekend families are invited to East Muskingum Park to participate in Pioneer Palooza, a kick-off event and unveiling of the county’s first geocaching trail.

“We based the model off of the success that the Athens County CVB has had,” said Casey Knowlton with the Marietta-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau. “Their success has allowed them to be part of a national geocaching event, to be held in 2014, and we are hoping to piggyback on their success and filter the audience into Marietta and Washington County, creating a great geotrail network.”

The local geotrail will consist of 18 locations in and around Marietta and Harmar Village. The first 225 participants to finish the trail will be rewarded with a commemorative coin, celebrating Marietta’s birthday.

“This is really a big scavenger hunt that leads to a prize,” said Callie Lyons, the project manager of Pioneer Palooza. “People of all ages will have fun with it and hopefully it will lead to bigger events in the future.”

Lyons said that every cache will contain prizes from different sponsors and the first person to find each cache will get an “even better prize.” While the locations are all within the city of Marietta, it is recommended to travel by automobile as opposed to, say, bicycle, because of the distance traveled.

“We are estimating that this is about a four to six hour trail,” she said, adding that while there is no terrain that is inaccessible, she would advise against wearing flip flops.

The caches will be hidden enough that the general public won’t stumble upon them but not so well-hidden that they will never be found.

“We want everyone to be able to participate … there are some spots that will surprise people and others that many will know,” she said.

This is a family-friendly event and people are invited to participate as individuals or in groups. Participants will sign up on geocaching.com and are encouraged to leave feedback about the trail and their experiences to hopefully help the CVB with any future events.

Entertainment will be provided by the Ohio Valley Opry on Friday evening and on Saturday at 10 a.m., a group of travelers retracing the 926-mile journey of Rufus Putnam by bicycle and kayak will return for a welcome home ceremony. Their excursion can be followed at westwardhome225.com.

Several area businesses have donated prizes for the event, including the Cook’s Shop, where owner Ken Kupsche said he in not a geocacher himself, but has educated himself a little about it since learning of this Pioneer Palooza.

“It sounds like a fun event and there are a lot of folks who are interested in geocaching who may also be interested in history and this would bring them to town,” he said.

As an avid mountain biker, Kupsche said he has come across geocachers in the woods.

“I always thought they were looking for mushrooms but now I know what they were doing,” he laughed.