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Upper Sioux Agency State Park plans to hold geocaching challenge this weekend

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Willmar, 56201
Willmar Minnesota 2208 Trott Ave. SW / P.O. Box 839 56201

UPPER SIOUX AGENCY -- Ask most people much older than 30 if they want to go geocaching and their confused expressions will show how much they know about the techno-treasure hunts.

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Anyone who wants to find out about geocaching or geocachers who want to test their skills in a new setting are invited to a challenge at 2:30 p.m. Saturday at the Upper Sioux Agency State Park, about eight miles from Granite Falls. The event begins at the park's main picnic area near the visitor center.

People who have hand-held Global Positioning System units may bring them. The park's GPS unit and a few others will also be available for visitors to use, said park manager Terri Dinesen.

"We have no idea how many people will show," Dinesen said of the event. She added that she hopes to send visitors in groups out on the two-mile, looped challenge course at half-hour intervals.

When they're on the course, participants' goal will be to find caches or treasures stashed at locations described by their coordinates in latitude and longitude.

When what was probably the first geocache ever was hidden in 2000, its coordinates were posted on an Internet site as "N 45 17.460 W 122 24.800," according to the Web site geocaching.com.

That cache, located near Beaver Creek, Ore., close to Portland, consisted of a black bucket containing a logbook and a pencil and items including videos, books, software, and a slingshot, it states on the Web site history page. Since then, it's been a geocaching tradition to make an entry in a cache's logbook, take an item from the cache and leave something new.

What's taken from and left in caches can be the same types of items that were in the first one in Oregon, according to geocaching.com.

Usually what's taken and left are small toys, trinkets or $1 coupons from a food place, Dinesen said.

On the course Saturday, experienced geocachers and novices will be using GPS units to locate seven water bottles painted brown, Dinesen said. Each bottle, a few feet from the path but not buried, contain paper punches that make holes with different shapes that geochachers can then use to punch the edge of brochures they will receive at the start of the event.

Returning with a brochure with all seven punches will entitle people to buy a numbered geo-coin for $3.

The final cache on the course is traditional and contains a logbook and trinkets. People are encouraged to make entries in the book and, if they want, to "take something and leave something," Dinesen said.

The course is along established park trails and is designed to be family friendly. Dinesen cautioned, however, that parents will probably need to carry young children part of the way.

She added that anyone who wants to try the geocaching course at another time and wants to use the park's GPS unit, should call ahead at 320-564-4777.

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