2012 Hunt for the Golden Spike winners Ken Ng of St. Paul and Alex Valen of North Oaks will split the prize of up to $1,000 after locating Spike in Clearwater Creek Preserve last Sunday. — Photo by Deb Barnes

HUGO – The winners of the 2012 Hunt for the Golden Spike treasure hunt held during Hugo Good Neighbor Days enjoy looking for things.

Treasure, that is.

Alex Valen of North Oaks and Ken Ng of St. Paul found the elusive plastic spike hiding in Clearwater Creek Preserve at about 8:30 a.m. Sunday morning. It was their first year looking for Spike, although Valen said he had been aware of the hunt in previous years.


Valen, who actually found Spike beneath a small sapling in a grassy area, said he planned to share the prize with his hunting partner.

Valen and Ng, 43, became acquainted through their association with the loosely organized Cooler Club, a group whose members participate regularly in the St. Paul Winter Treasure Hunt and in other such hunts.

“We’re just a group of people who enjoy hunting,” Valen, 27, said. “We have a passion for (it).”

Valen does paralegal work for a personal injury firm. Ng works in drafting and design for a South St. Paul company and is a technical writer.

Friday morning’s Clue #6 led the veteran treasure hunter to the correct park. That clue contained three hidden references to Clearwater Creek Preserve: the mentioned of walking trails meant it could be either Clearwater Creek with its wood-chipped walking trails or 125-acre Irish Avenue Park, which has mowed walking trails; “pickle” and “jam” are foods commonly referred to as “preserves” (Clearwater Creek Preserve); and “chase your tails” could be construed to refer to dogs, which are permitted off-leash in both of those parks.

Clue #7 (“crystal clear”) referred to Clearwater Creek, which runs through the middle of the park, and “bird nests accrue” referenced the bird houses found there.

Clue #8 hinted that Spike would be found in a grassy area, not in the woods, along the gas line that passes through the 96-acre park.

Clue #9’s “Near half-past two” referred to the mile marker on the pipeline that marked the general area where Spike was hidden.

Saturday’s 90-degree temperatures challenged hunt participants, judging by the phone calls that came in from thirsty hunters actively pursuing the search. There were as many as 60 people searching in the park at any given time last weekend, The Citizen was told.


This year, buttons cost $1 each and were registered. Additional prizes, including Chanhassen Dinner Theater tickets and area restaurant gift cards, were awarded to button holders in a drawing held Sunday afternoon during the Lions awards ceremony.

“Thank you for a fun hunt during great weather with fellow avid hunters,” Ng wrote in an email last weekend.

Hugo resident Lorraine Parenteau, whose son Chris found Spike in 2007, says she wouldn’t dream of missing out. “Looking is just fun in and of itself,” she said, “going on the hunt and getting to know your neighbors.

“We have met so many interesting people.”

The 2012 Hunt for the Golden Spike was sponsored by WSB & Associates, Johnson/Turner Attorneys at Law, Oneka Ridge Golf Course, Postal Credit Union, Verizon Wireless, Hugo Feed Mill & Hardware, and the Hugo Parks Commission. Thanks also to Galen Carlson of North Country Auto Body for carefully painting Spike, as he has done every year since the hunt began.

Proceeds from button sales will again be donated to the Hugo Good Neighbors Food Shelf this year.

In January, Valen was involved in a controversy with the Pioneer Press Winter Carnival Treasure Hunt where a clue’s song version was accessed prior to the time it was set to be released. The Citizen does not upload its clues ahead of time to its website server; its clues are uploaded the instant before they are posted.

Copyright 2012 Hugo Citizen.