Have You Seen This Rock? Treasure Hunt Gets Chippewa Vallians Out in Search of Prize [UPDATE]
UPDATE JULY 20: The mysterious rock has been found for a second time, officially bringing to an end the Chippewa Valley Treasure Hunt. In a detailed Facebook post, hunt organizer Etrayu Fitzgerald revealed that the rock was hidden at the foot of an oak tree on the grounds of the former Hillcrest Country Club in Altoona. He added that another treasure hunt was possible in the future: “we would love for this to happen again,” he said. “While most are asking for an annual hunt, some have mentioned the possibility of an autumn or winter hunt, since COVID-19 will continue to keep people inside.” Fitzgerald also started a GoFundMe campaign to raise prize money for the next hunt. Here’s the full solution to the poetic puzzle that led to the prize:
UPDATE JULY 16: Some lucky treasure hunters have found the stone, according to a late-night post on the Chippewa Valley Treasure Hunt Facebook page. However, this doesn’t mean the hunt is over, thanks to the generosity of the folks who found it. Read on:
HERE’S THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE:
Scores of Chippewa Vallians were poring over cryptic clues and tramping through the woods this weekend as part of the Chippewa Valley Treasure Hunt, the brainchild of an Eau Claire man who has put up a $1,000 prize for the first person to find a unique rock hidden somewhere on public land in the Chippewa Valley.
The Chippewa Valley Treasure Hunt – which bills itself as a “free community adventure” – officially launched Friday, July 10, when organizer Etrayu Fitzgerald released an 18-line poem that he says will lead hunters directly to the treasure: a nondescript gray stone bearing a confirmation number that can be exchanged by the finder for $1,000 in cash.
As of Monday morning, a Facebook group devoted to the hunt had more than 1,000 members. From the looks of the comments and photos they posted, many of them had spent a good share of their weekend treasure hunting.
“Anyone else getting less sleep because they keep thinking about the rock?” posted one treasure hunter.
“I feel like I’m in a live simulation of The Da Vinci Code,” quipped another.
Those are just the kinds of feelings that Fitzgerald was trying to stir up: The 29-year-old became enamored with treasure hunting as a kid thanks to the film National Treasure and the book A Treasure’s Trove by Michael Stadther, a fictional story that contained clues to real-world treasures. Soon, he was crafting his own hunts.
When he came in second place in a treasure hunt in Ohio earlier this year, Fitzgerald decided to use the prize money (plus some of his own) as well as his wits to create a large-scale treasure hunt for the Chippewa Valley.
“In the days of the ongoing pandemic, I feel this is a great opportunity for people to get outside with their families,” he said via email. “It will be a wonder-filled adventure for all to enjoy while still maintaining proper social distancing.”
For those interested in hitting the trail toward adventure, here’s the poem:
The official rules are simple:
- This treasure hunt is a free community event. There is nothing to purchase. The poem of clues as well as possible future clues will be posted on this page.
- The stone is NOT hidden on private property. The stone is hidden in a safe, accessible location on public land. The stone is not hidden in any body of water, nor is it near any cliff edge. Tree climbing is NOT required. Again, it is hidden in a safe location. While it is not wheelchair accessible, it does not require any special equipment or gear to retrieve.
- Hunters must follow all local laws and ordinances (such as park closing times).
- Please remember to practice social distancing. Search in small groups, preferably of the same household, and keep a safe distance from others.
- Nothing needs to be disturbed or removed to retrieve the stone. The stone is NOT buried, so no digging in the ground is required either.
- The stone will be hidden within the boundaries defined by the attached photo. Again, NOT on private property.
In addition to the poem, Fitzgerald says that, beginning on July 17, he will release an additional clue every Friday at 5pm – provided, of course, some enterprising treasure-seeker hasn’t already found the prize.
Happy hunting, Chippewa Valley!