Jiggs event to mix heritage, technology

nwalter@bradenton.comMarch 10, 2009 

EAST MANATEE — Geocaching is a sport held in outdoor parks, along rivers and in wilderness areas worldwide, and challenges participants to find a small box using a GPS coordinate.

It is basically a high-tech, adult-style treasure chest hunt.

Haven’t heard of geocaching? You’re not alone.

Denise Kleiner, founder of Old Braden River Historical Society, admits that the sport is new to the area.

On Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. the adventurous can give it a try at Jiggs Landing, where the Society will hold “Super Saturday.”

In addition to geocaching, other activities include wildlife exhibits, live music, face painting, a plant sale, fossil hunt, kayak race and Gyotaku painting.

Proceeds from the first Super Saturday will go toward funding to preserve the Nocatee Cabin, a historic cabin just off Lake Evers.

Participants in the geocaching events will be given a GPS coordinate and three clues before taking off on an adventure to find a geocache. A geocache is a small box that contains a cache which is usually a small, unique item.

There are 743,828 geocaches worldwide, according to www.geocaching.com. The majority of geocaches are found on land. But on Saturday, the weighted box will be hidden below the surface of the Braden River. Geocachers will have to be at Jiggs Landing by 10 a.m.

The kayak race will be run by Manatee County and will consist of male and female races.

The county will provide a limited number of kayaks for the kayak race, but participants are encouraged to bring kayaks of their own to participate in some of the other events.

The fossil hunt will be run by biologist Mark “Wildman” Burrow. “He started teaching people how to be survivors in the wild,” Kleiner said. “He guarantees he’ll show you a fossil. No matter where he goes he will pull a fossil.”

“The Super Saturday event and events like them at these preserves are a wonderful show of support from residents who share the vision that the board of county commissioners carries for these special properties,” said Charlie Hunsicker, director of Conservation Lands Management. “That includes their value for the natural environment, and in many instances, the values for Manatee County’s history.”

Kleiner said the main event of Super Saturday no doubt is the geocaching event.

Kleiner, for one, will always remember the fall of 2007 when she and a friends went looking for a geocache in Big Bear, Calif. There were still flames in the area from a wild fire, but they went anyway.

Their GPS coordinate led them to a bench just off a trail. The first clue said “sit awhile,” the second “go behind and forward three steps,” and the last instructed to “look up.” So Kleiner took three steps from behind the bench and looked up, where she saw a box attached to a branch. Inside the box was a small, hand-carved bear, its details, such as nose and feet, blackened by some sort of burning tool.

“I ended up pitching it into another cache,” Kleiner said. “I was so upset. I really wanted to keep it.”

All events and parking are free and open to the public.

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