26-JAN-2005 Mission Entry 1:
Corporal Stevens joined Advance Agent mrmnmikey for an early morning rendezvous with three members of the C.C.C. It was the Corporal's first day in the field. Excellent work by the Advance Agent convinced them to join forces with the C.C.C The Force of Five covered several locations in the park, searching for areas of possible treasure. Other areas were investigated out of curiosity, one of which was later discovered to be the Lair of the Three-Headed Woman.
27-JAN-2005 Mission Entry 2:
Return visits occurred over the next several days, with multiple near misses. While success was not achieved, great experience in the field and comradery around the bonfire will surely help future endeavors.
02-FEB-2005 Mission Entry 3-8:
This condensed report will be expanded if the need develops.
03-NOV-2005 Mission Entry 9:
Against established policy, Corporal Stevens made a solo expedition to the area visited in February. The Force of Five has now ceased all restrictions. The area is open for exploration, if you dare. It is not an easy journey.
11-NOV-2005 Mission Entry 10:
Corporal Stevens returned to the area, in an attempt to verify coordinates. No communication was received from the satellites. An ammo box of supplies was left for future explorers. It is well concealed.
15-NOV-2005 Mission Entry 11:
Reconnaisance activity was detected by location sensors.
21-NOV-2005 Mission Entry 12:
The task appears challenging, but not overwhelming. Several independent explorers have been assisting with the site. The validity of the Yeti appearance is unknown.
15-DEC-2005 Mission Entry 13:
Activity has slowed, and a lengthy lull is expected. Winter is upon us. The walls of ice will grow. Snow depths will grow. Difficulty will grow.
22-DEC-2005 Mission Entry 14:
DEEP THREAT, the rumored "brains" behind the Force Of Five, has been identified as dfduck , a recluse in Northern California. Mr. Duck was the first to positively identify the creature.
Buzz Net Broadcasting obtained audio in Chicago, and licensed its use.
07-JAN-2006 Mission Entry 15:
Video surveillance has ceased. Recent warm weather may be melting the walls of ice. Extreme conditions possible. Notify base prior to entry.
22-FEB-2006 Mission Entry 16:
Many creatures roam in the dark. Be afraid. Be very afraid.
31-MAR-2006 Mission Entry 17:
Extreme conditions exist, reported by previous expedition member.
21-APR-2006 Mission Entry 18:
Rescue unit located the supply box. All is well.
9-AUG-2006 Mission Entry 19:
Details currently classified.
19-OCT-2006 Mission Entry 20:
Details currently classified.
Private journal entry, Advance Agent mrmnmikey, permission granted:
The weather was very nice that day at Crosby Farm Nature Area. The sun shining against my skin seemed really warm. Armed with my pitchfork, I trudged through the deep snow. Ice crystals dangled from my mustache as I broke a sweat during the 20- degree day. It was very nice indeed, considering it was January in Minnesota. I had come out early the day before as well, ahead of the rest of the crew, to look around and get a feel for the park. When I arrived, the fresh snowfall blanketed the rocks and fallen trees about eight inches thick. The snow was undisturbed, except for the occasional squirrel trail, as I plunged through leaving a path of destruction behind from my boots. Alone in the park, I felt hopeful. I was certain it was here somewhere. Disturbing the peacefulness of the morning, I searched under large, heavy, fallen trees, under bushes, inside hollow logs, and anything that remotely looked like it would stand out as a hiding spot. Clearing snow as I worked, I searched this new area thoroughly. I was determined to locate and be rewarded with something of value that day. Although it was not the $10,000 cash I had hoped for, what I found that frosty morning was fit for a king, and I would treasure it always. I was searching for the St Paul Winter Carnival Medallion.
The hunt for the medallion is a tradition in this city. Every winter, the St. Paul Pioneer Press newspaper sponsors a treasure hunt worth $10,000 as part of a larger Winter Carnival. The treasure is hidden on public property, somewhere in Ramsey County. The first person to decipher the daily clues and find the hidden, coin-like treasure can exchange it for ten grand in cash and other prizes. There are a total of 12 clues.
The Winter Carnival legend explains how the mythical figure King Boreas, who represents ice and snow, takes over St. Paul in the winter in his battle with the Fire King, Vulcanus Rex, who represents warmth and summer. Crosby Farm Regional Park is huge! Trying to find the three-inch diameter King Boreas treasure was not going to be easy in the 106 acres of natural wilderness. Most people were not even out hunting yet, since it was only the third day. The clues were rather vague. The park is one of the largest and longest running in the West End of the Highland Park area of St. Paul. If the medallion was here, we were going to be searching for a long time. With nearly seven miles of walking paths, two lakes, and several miles of cliffs in the way, this was going to be a challenge!
I was keeping myself occupied until my treasure hunting friends arrived to help search. My friends are what are known to some as Cooler Crew. They are a loose knit group of friends who get together on internet chat boards and gather in real life to talk about and go out and search for the medallion. I met them through an internet site years earlier. Ian, Me2, Mucluck, and L.A. Mommy were eager to get out after the new snow to help me search. Being an internet based group, some of our nicknames are not always proper. My internet name happens to be Mrmnmikey. We all enjoy the fresh air and outdoor atmosphere of the area parks in the winter. We especially like the beauty of the frozen trees after a fresh snowfall. We enjoy scouting out the potential hiding spots early, before the masses of people show up, in search of “the med,” as we call it.
After scouring the area in silence for what seemed to be a long time, I heard the clomping of boots approaching. I heard my friends laughing nearby, just before I saw them. After the initial hugs and hellos we got down to the business of figuring out where this thing could be. The three clues seemed to be referencing some street names and the park name vaguely. We figured the hints were telling us it would be in an area that was intersected by the three points. My friend Ian happened to have a map and a global positioning system receiver known as a GPSr. In addition to being a member of the Cooler Crew, he also participates in a hobby called geocaching. Ironically his online persona is King Boreas. Geocaching involves the use of a GPSr to navigate terrain and plot out courses on a map. Users of the geocaching website generally look up locations on an online database to find “treasures” better known to geocachers as “caches.” By using an online database, made public on the internet, people who want to engage in the sport may look up locations of hidden geocaches and obtain map co-ordinates of the hiding places. The website can also be used to hide cache treasures and log the locations so that others may go out and find them.
Being as logical as we are, we decided to plot the intersection of the three locations on a map. We wanted to go to the spot where they intersected and see if there was anything to be found at that location. With the expanse of the whole park ahead of us, and nowhere better to look, off we went. As we trekked along the two-and-a-half mile route that we had laid out, I began a discussion with Ian about geocaching. I learned that part of his strategy for the day, besides looking for the elusive med, was to look for possible areas to hide a geocache. I learned that Ian is the world leader in geocache hides, with over 1000 hides to his credit. His online name of King Boreas suddenly seemed fitting, since he was the king of cache hides.
Soon we were at our destination. After a quick glance, we decided that it may not have been as good a spot as we had hoped. So instead of looking for the med, we decided to check out the terrain. The path we took led us along a lengthy cliff on one side and a lake on the other. Along the bottom of this cliff, we saw what appeared to be a big crack in the face of the cliff. We decided to check it out. The crack was about two feet wide and seemed to go as high as 30 feet up the cliff wall. The wall went up about 100 feet. As we came closer, we noticed that we could actually get inside the crack by straddling the sides, about three feet above the bottom, and placing our feet against the walls of the sandstone fracture. The walls were very slippery, and the bottom was covered in slick ice. We had to keep our feet against the walls in order to maneuver or we would break through the icy bottom and get our feet wet.
We proceeded into this crevice in a gradual uphill fashion for about 85 feet and climbed a slope of about 10 feet. We all continued in until we saw a very beautiful site. Inside the cavern appeared to be a small round room about 20 feet in diameter. On the floor of the room was ice covered debris that had fallen from the boulevard of Shepard Road, which was about 150 feet above and behind us. The grass and weeds that had fallen down the open ceiling were encircled in ice and created beautiful, honeycombed ice patterns that had washed down from the sinkhole above. The walls went straight up. There was only one way in or out, unless one could repel with a rope from above. Every wall was covered in a thick layer of ice that looked as though it had melted and refroze several times over. It seemed as if we were in a crystallized winter wonderland befitting the legendary King Boreas himself. The spectacle of the frozen realm was an amazing sight to behold.
Ian decided, right then and there, that he was going to place a geocache into that location as soon as possible. Ian took pictures of the frost-and-ice-filled cave. Me2, Mucluck and L.A. Mommy posed like the women on the TV show Charlie’s Angels. L.A. Mommy stood in front of the camera with Me2 and Mucluck directly behind her so that only the head and shoulders of the back two appeared to be sticking out of L.A. Mommy’s body from the front view. The picture looked like a three headed woman standing in an ice-covered cave. Days later, when the cache hide was listed on the geocaching website, the web page for the cache carried the name “Lair of the Three-Headed Woman” and proclaimed it was hidden by King Boreas. Described in the listing for the cache, it was stated that “Corporal Stevens joined Advance Agent Mrmnmikey for an early morning rendezvous.” The picture taken that day was prominently displayed.
That day in January, I realized geocaching was an extremely interesting sport. It closely resembled the hobby I was enjoying that winter day in many aspects. I also found the location to be quite unusual and wondered how many more places were out there awaiting discovery. The next spring, and after a few conversations with Ian, I decided to buy my own GPSr and give the sport a try. I was hooked on geocaching. Since then I have found over 80 different geocaches in separate locations around the Twin Cities metro area. Some of my finds were located as far away as Hayward, Wisconsin.
While out looking for one King Boreas treasure, I discovered a different treasure- personal riches of friendship, an amazing scene, and what I hope to be a lifelong hobby. The beautiful landscapes I get to explore, the friendships I’ve cultivated, and new hobby I enjoy are all fit for a king, and could never be bought for any amount of money. The King Boreas cache I discovered that day was worth more than the $10,000 King Boreas cash that I originally set out to find that day.