Geocaching: International EarthCache Day is Oct. 14

For those of you who, like Innkeeper Brigette, are addicted to geocaching, you may have seen that Sunday, October 14, is the 6th annual International EarthCache Day. There are more than 23,000 EarthCaches and some of them are located close to the Inn on Mill Creek!

View from the summit of Mt. Mitchell, an EarthCache

Most geocaches are containers hidden by people who hide and seek geocaches. The “cache” can be big, or small…or really, really small…and it usually has a log and possible some items for trade. You, the geocacher, find the cache using GPS with latitude and longitude coordinates, sign the physical log (and log your find online at, trade items if you wish, and then rehide the cache.

An EarthCache is little bit different from your usual geocache in that it directs you to a place where you can learn more about the Earth from a geological sciences standpoint. The Geological Society of America oversees the global EarthCache program and explains EarthCaches this way:

EarthCache sites can see how our planet has been shaped by geological
processes, how we manage the resources and how scientists gather
evidence to learn about the Earth.

Although you can search and find EarthCaches anytime, International EarthCache Day is set aside as a celebration of EarthCaches and geocachers all over the globe will be on the hunt for those special caches on Sunday, October 14. This year’s International EarthCache Day will also be part of the kick-off celebration of Earth Science Week 2012, organized by the American Geosciences Institute.

If you’ll be in our neck of the woods on October 14, and want to get in on the fun, here are just a few of the EarthCaches near the Inn on Mill Creek:

  • Mt. Mitchell Summit: This cache explains how Mt. Mitchell and the Black Mountains were formed. To log this find, you must take different elevation readings with your GPS unit at Mt. Mitchell, take a photo of yourself in the area of the summit, and answer questions from information on display at Mt. Mitchell State Park. This cache is about a 60-minute drive from the Inn, mostly along the Blue Ridge Parkway.
  • The Garnets of Craggy Gardens: Craggy Gardens on the Blue Ridge Parkway northeast of Asheville is a section of the Black Mountains that is awash with bright pink rhododendron in the spring and this cache talks about the geology of the Craggies, in particular, the garnets that can be found in the rock formations. To log this cache, you must answer some questions based on your observations at Craggy Gardens, which is about 45 minutes from the Inn.
  • Catawba Falls: The headwaters of the Catawba River are in Old Fort, and a beautiful hiking trail about 20 minutes from the Inn leads you to Catawba Falls. The cache explains the unique geological features of the rocks around the falls. To log the Catawba Falls cache, you need to answer questions about the waterfall and take a photo of yourself at the falls.

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