Skip to content

Winona Code Mystery Cache

This cache has been archived.

Team Mumu: We enjoyed making this puzzle and had fun searching ebay for items to make up the initial cache contents. For those who didn't notice our original stash included items similar to those shoplifted by Winona Ryder from Saks Fifth Avenue. Ms. Ryder's incident had been in the news not long before the cache was placed, and with the similarity in sound between the names Venona and Winona, we couldn't resist the fun play on the name. Also, the Pasadena Saks Fifth Avenue store was still in business, so we chose it for the initial coordinates. Ms. Ryder actually hit the Bev Hills branch, but we wanted to be closer to the final cache location.

Things change with time. The Saks store is no longer there, and the shoplifting incident is a distant memory. Plus what used to be an obscure trail near our house has had 2 other caches placed within 0.1 mile of our final location. Thus it's time for this cache to be put to rest.

For those interested, here's a rundown of the items Ryder was accused of stealing from Saks arranged from the most expensive overpriced item to the least expensive overpriced item:

Gucci dress (white): $1,595
Marc Jacobs thermal top: $760
Yves Saint Laurent blouse: $750
Natori handbag: $540
Dolce & Gabbana handbag: $525
Eric Javitz hat: $350
Eric Javitz hat: $225
Rhinestone hair band (black): $140
Rhinestone ponytail holder (black): $120
Rhinestone hair clip (black): $110
Rhinestone hair bow (black): $110
Cashmere blend socks (beige): $80
Beaded purse, two (black): $55 each
Saks socks, two pair (cream): $38 each
Donna Karan socks, one pair (brown): $20
Calvin Klein socks, two pair (gray): $16.50 each
Calvin Klein socks, one pair (purple): $16.50

Hidden : 09/15/2003
5 out of 5
3.5 out of 5

Size: Size:   regular (regular)

Join now to view geocache location details. It's free!


How Geocaching Works

Related Web Page

Please note Use of services is subject to the terms and conditions in our disclaimer.

Geocache Description:

This is a puzzle cache. The given coordinates point to what used to be the Saks Fifth Avenue in Pasadena and do not lead to the final cache location. However, you might need to use them before your final find.

The Puzzle:

We have been tracking a gang of thieves, code named Winona. Intercepted messages strongly suggest that a cache of valuable items has been hidden in deep cover in the forests of Los Angeles County.

As described below, the Winona gang communicates the coordinates of secret locations using a code book and a one-time pad. Although one-time pad ciphers are normally unbreakable, in this case the same one-time pad was used to send two messages, giving us an opportunity to crack the code. In addition, we have recovered a copy of the Winona code book. Your job is to crack the code and find the treasure.

Here is the first cipher text:

59966 79680 65792 49098 87321 65383 32435 30271 56560 09185

Here is the second cipher text:

11475 48137 94512 65131 32696 23075 72715 72289 11495 52547

Here is the code book:

UTM 20778
WGS84 68269
degrees 11110
east 58357
easting 47456
eight 08452
eighteen 56803
eighty 56546
eleven 85037
fifteen 09196
fifty 61748
five 39526
forty 85323
four 21313
fourteen 66797
hundred 69032
latitude 26374
longitude 70801
million 40076
minutes 46054
nine 55090
nineteen 41126
ninety 94111
north 75158
northing 20844
one 33285
point 54772
seconds 04718
seven 07846
seventeen 51482
six 94052
sixteen 26383
sixty 12544
south 43346
ten 60800
thirteen 42177
thirty 56217
thousand 10930
three 66485
twelve 97308
twenty 11425
two 36060
west 98859
zero 42911
zone 44605

The decrypted coordinates will lead you to a large ammo box. There is no need to leave the trail until you reach the 4 trunked oak tree. Cache is located approximately 25 feet, bearing 330 degrees from the oak tree. Initial contents include: a Marc Jacobs Thermal shirt, black beaded purse, pair of Calvin Klein socks (gray), a hair band and hair clip.


The Winona code is a double-encrypted system in which words are first converted into numbers by using a code book and then the numbers are scrambled using a one-time pad. Code systems that use a one-time pad are theoretically unbreakable if they are used correctly.

The first step in the Winona code is to look up the words of the message in a code book that maps words to numbers. For example, if the code book contains:

agency 91348
anything 63165
never 51076
no 11641
say 61089
such 14902

then the phrase "no such agency" would be converted to:

  no   such  agency
11641 14902  91348

The second step is to apply the one-time pad. The one-time pad should be a completely random and unpredictable string of bits. Suppose the one-time pad contains the following "random" blocks:

61723 61135 45799

To complete the Winona encryption, write the encoded number above the one-time pad and add the digits one by one, without carrying. Thus, the final output would be:

encoded message   11641 14902 91348
one-time pad      61723 61135 45799
final cipher text 72364 75037 36037

To decrypt the message, the recipient must also have the same one-time pad. Simply write the cipher text above the one-time pad and subtract, again without carrying:

final cipher text 72364 75037 36037
one-time pad      61723 61135 45799
coded message     11641 14902 91348

The coded message blocks are looked up in the code book and the original message is reconstructed.

Crypto systems that employ one-time pads are theoretically unbreakable if they are used properly. But if the one-time pad is re-used, and the code breaker has access to two cipher texts created with the same one-time pad, then he or she can exploit the difference between those two cipher texts to reconstruct the original messages (plain texts).

You can check your answers for this puzzle on

Additional Hints (Decrypt)

Ernq nobhg ubj gur erny-yvsr Iraban pbqr jnf oebxra ol gur cerqrprffbe bs gur AFN.

Decryption Key


(letter above equals below, and vice versa)