Intrepid seekers of the Pioneer Press Treasure Hunt medallion are hoping for good conditions in which to pursue their quarry - and that means plenty of snow.
It is mid-January, and “Mr. Med Hunter” anxiously scans the daily weather forecasts. He is cheered somewhat by the 2 to 3 inches of snow St. Paul got last Sunday, but the hints from the Pioneer Press weather page of “light snow,” “some snow” and “flurries” may not be enough.
“We need 8 incles of snow cover at least,” said Hunter, a draftsman known the rest of the year as Jesse Anibas of White Bear Lake. He talks animatedly in a telephone interview about his favorite winter pastime, almost an obsession: hunting the elusive Pioneer Press Treasure Hunt medallion.
“Some wanderer might just find it out there on bare ground,” Hunter said, lamenting the lack of snow depth so far this year.
By wanderer, he means someone just out walking about minding his or her own business, instead of a true hunter, that class of people like him who look forward every year to spending at least a week roaming around public spaces in Ramsey County, guided by daily clues in the Pioneer Press, searching for the medallion.
This year, the medallion is worth up to $10,000 and a year’s worth of groceries from Cub Foods (if the finder has a Winter Carnival Button registered by today, when the first clue appears in the newspaper. See the Local News cover). Official rules are published here and are on www.twincities.com, the official Web site for the Treasure Hunt. The official site for all carnival events is www.winter-carnival.com.
“I’ve been looking for the medallion since 1989. Last year I was within 300 yards of it,” Hunter said.
Like many others, he pores over the daily clues. His Web site, www.wintercarnival.8m.com, offers analysis of past clues and links to other sites where fans can ponder the meaning of life and the clue of the day.
“if we have no snow cover, then the clue writers better be good or the hunt won’t last,” Hunter said.
He recalls 1989 and 1990, his first and second hunts. The first started with little snow but ended with 12 to 14 inches and a 3-below wind chill – “which was probably what got me hooked” – and the hunt went through all dozen clues. The next year, the medallion was found after eight clues.
“That’s not enough for us true hunters,” Hunter said.
Greg Sax is another true hunter. He operates a Web site – www.coolercrew.com – about the hunt and how to interpret the clues.
“I’m looking forward to another year of noodling clues with the hunt faithful, although I’ll be strictly cyber this year as I (have to work) in San Francisco through the medallion hunting season,” Sax said in an e-mail.
Hunter, a.k.a. Anibas, said he would love to find the medallion, but much of the attraction is being outdoors with thousands of others, digging in the snow and having a good time. “I’m not sure how much fun it would be if it turns into mucking about in mud,” he said.
He often takes vacation for the hunt. This year, however, he may not be able to because of work.
“Let it snow!” he said, hoping that ground cover will prolong the search until the last clue, giving him more of a chance to find the medallion.
The Pioneer Press will have a telephone hot line, (651) 228-5547, in operation during the hunt so people can call to learn if the medallion has been found.