What the 2017 Pioneer Press Treasure Hunt clues mean

Rebecca Gibson and her triplets, from left, Maxwell, Ben and Audrey, march along a path in Keller Regional park in Maplewood, Minn., in search of the medallion in the annual Pioneer Press Treasure Hunt Monday, Jan. 30, 2017. (Pioneer Press: Dave Orrick)

Rebecca Gibson and her triplets, from left, Maxwell, Ben and Audrey, march along a path in Keller Regional park in Maplewood, Minn., in search of the medallion in the annual Pioneer Press Treasure Hunt Monday, Jan. 30, 2017. (Pioneer Press: Dave Orrick)



By hack or by hex Vulcanus Rex

Has usurped the cool cold king

By trick or by tweet, it will be sweet

The breaks for some he’ll bring

Explainer: Change is coming across the land as the king of fire reigns ascendant over King Boreas. Good times could be returning, at least for some, such as the finder of the medallion. Trick and tweet refers to the significant role social media has taken in the treasure hunt.

Leave your lair, the puck’s out there

You won’t read fake news here

Veer off course, avoid the gorse

If you hope to find what’s dear.

Explainer: “Veer off course” and “avoid the gorse” refer to the golf courses – at Phalen and Keller – are in the area where the medallion is hidden, but we remind you they are off-limits as stated in Treasure Hunt rules.


Picking a park can be a lark.

East or west, choose your grounds.

Look for clues, they’re next to news,

Just make sure to stay in bounds.

Explainer: Part of the fun of the Treasure Hunt is cavorting in a park with hundreds of other like-minded hunters. With big parks like Como, Keller and Phalen having so many common landmarks — lakes, bridges and golf courses — it’s usually easier just to pick a park early in the hunt and start searching. But you’ll need the daily clues, which are printed in the newspaper, and remember to keep your hunt confined to the public spaces of Ramsey County.


On historic land this ancient band

Will play all day among you

Out for a spin, bring your kin,

Or bid them toodle loo.

Explainer: Four new tuj lub courts were opened last year by the Ramsey County Parks & Recreation at Keller Regional Park, the county’s oldest park and the site of the medallion. Tuj lub, which is pronounced “too-loo,” is a traditional Hmong (“ancient band” and “among”) top-spinning game played on a grass field about the size of a tennis court.


Off the track is your hunting pack

If it gets caught below the tire.

It’ll be in hand, just as you planned

When you find the dome by the mire.

Explainer: A boundary for hunters early in the hunt warning them not to sleuth south of, or below, Wheelock Parkway; otherwise, their search will be going in the wrong direction. Better to look north for the medallion, which this year features an etching of the glass-domed Marjorie McNeely Conservatory and is planted on dry land between wet, swampy ground.


If it’s closed for the season that’s pretty good reason

to find another spot.

When nature calls, but without any stalls,

go around for the prized pot.

Explainer: A clue to tuck away for later in the hunt — at Spoon Lake, the main bathrooms are “Closed for the season,” according to signs. That’s no problem, because you’ll want to go around back to a choice patch of woods to find where the medallion is hidden.


Any fool can find a pool

When it’s treasure that we dangle.

But a lucky devil gets to revel

By sleuthing the perfect angle

Explainer: With pools, ponds and lakes stretching across St. Paul and Ramsey County, there’s plenty of water to waylay half-boiled noodlers. “Dangle” and “angle” are meant to help hunters focus on the waters that allow fishing, and crafty hunters will piece together the golf course references from Clue 1 and start searching Como, Keller or Phalen, all with golf courses and fishing access.


Stop your pondering and start wandering

From the crowd you must rebel

Look for a track beneath the pack

And please ignore no bell

Explainer: “Wandering” “track” “rebel” and “no bell” all refer to our state’s Nobel Prize in literature winner Bob Dylan. Dylan wrote “wait only for my boot heels to be wanderin,” which along with “track” and “pack” suggest that the medallion is packed in icy bootprint. Bonus points to Dylan scholars who remember his song “Highway 61 Revisited” – the highway that runs by parts of Phalen-Keller Park.


The young boy’s amusement, to his elders’ bemusement,

Is casting his luck to the skies

His supple wrist flicks with a twist

Hoping to catch a silvery prize

Explainer: The clue could refer to a boy fishing, which points to the lakes of the Phalen-Keller Regional Park, including Spoon Lake, near which the medallion is hidden; or to a boy playing pinball that combined with “amusement” (the crux of this clue) points to Arcade Street, which cuts between Gervais Lake and Spoon Lake. Master clue solvers will note that “young boy” “supple wrist” “twist” and “amusement” come out of lyrics of The Who’s song about the deaf and blind Pinball Wizard (the subject of the Who’s “rock opera” album), who leads both to Arcade Street and to Helen Keller, whose surname identifies the relevant park (and who will become more prominent in a later clue).


Do not fear if you cannot hear

Clues that are unsound

Do not flee if you cannot see —

You must feel it on the ground

Explainer: Cannot hear and see refer to Helen Keller, whose last name is shared with the target park. Feel it on the ground tells you the medallion is hidden on the ground, and cannot be seen because it is frozen in an icy boot print.


If you’re bored and never scored

Ponder over Jesus saves

You’ll be right with your sight

If you’ve left the land of taves. (tave, dialectal, British:  to thrash or toss wildly :  struggle)

Explainer: A landmark clue here for those who are desperate for some direction (and a find): On the boardwalk from Keller to Spoon lake is a spot to cast a line, where some bored soul wrote “Lord Jesus Saves.” By looking over the graffiti, a hunter can see the area where the medallion is hidden — the site is off to the right, not to the left, where only a wild struggle awaits hunters.


You can be masters of avoiding disasters

By taking the fork in the road

Step not in the goop or the watery soup

And you’ll feast on dessert ala mode.

Explainer: Fork, soup, and dessert ala mode all refer to eating utensils, the last two with a spoon, which refers to the Spoon Lake area, where the medallion is hidden. In goop and watery soup, we tell you to stay away from marshy areas. “Masters” is the last name of the author of the classic book of short poems in which a body of water is named “Spoon” — the “Spoon River Anthology.”


If you’re reading this, you’re close to bliss

And digging in Spoon Lake Park.

Head to the lot for the fishing spot,

And look for a bunch of bark.


Move southeast so you won’t be fleeced,

And look through all the brush.

When you see a sign (last two numbers = nine)

You’ve passed the puck in your rush.


Find the nearest green box and quick as a fox

Head west 25 paces

You’ll find the loot in the iced print of a boot

And leave Spoon feeling aces.

Explainer: Here it is — Clue 12 and hunters should be in Spoon Lake Park for the scramble. To get to the medallion, folks need to congregate on the east side of the park, where there’s a sign for the designated fishing area. To the southeast, a stand of trees contains the prize. The land peters out between Keller Parkway and a service road, near a sign that reads “2345.” If they see this, they need to turn around and head 75 feet to the west and scratch through the brush for a frozen boot print containing the medallion.

Copyright 2017 Pioneer Press.