I was the 87th entry in the 77th annual Lewis Emery Treasure Hunt of Hillsdale County Michigan. Also called the Lewis Family Treasure Hunt, the scavenger hunt and puzzle solving event is held every year on the Saturday before Halloween. The most beautiful day of Fall in Southern Michigan set the mood for an excellent night of camaraderie, confusion, and competition.
10 puzzles led us around Hillsdale County in search of the next clue that would ultimately get us to the final destination. Most teams were composed of 4 or more people. I started out alone, but had a team of three by the end of the night. Previous commitments and personal engagements just couldn’t be changed just to go out and criss-cross the county for an entire evening.
I had gathered and packed many of the items that had been helpful in the past along with some additional tools that would surely be useful this year. Flashlights and maps are the basic obvious necessities–GPS is great, but sometimes a map is preferred. Scissors, tape, pencils, erasers, phone books, can openers, the Bible, and today’s newspaper have been helpful in the past. A smart phone and a cellphone plan with excellent coverage in rural Hillsdale County are must-have items for modern gamesmanship.
A combination of puzzles that included Scrabble, crossword puzzles, word search, map reading, trivial knowledge, plus cutting and pasting were some of the elements of this year’s treasure hunt. The completed puzzle leads to the next destination where a new clue is cleverly hidden in a public place.
The makers of the puzzles are notorious for mapping the routes down dirt roads that many county residents have never chosen to drive before. The clues may be hidden in the brush, behind trees, or right out in the open. They are usually contained in a large black garbage bag. Flashlights, a keen eye, and a nose for treasure are a good combination for treasure seekers.
The final destination gave everyone their prize. A token. Mine was a plastic skeleton hand. The folks who came in first place in the 77th annual Lewis Emery Treasure Hunt also got a cash prize, plus they get to host next year’s event. They will create the clues, find places to hide them, and then have to wait for everyone to finish the scavenger hunt.
A 6:00 start had the winning team complete the journey in less than 5 hours. Multiple vehicles and cell phone relay of clues must have been utilized to finish the 200 mile trip in that time frame. Our one-vehicle team drove exactly 199.8 miles, arrived at 1:51 a.m. and only finished in the top 50.
The Bible, the can opener, and the magnifying glass were not used this year, but they may be important next year. The smart phone was invaluable. Especially in converting hands, chains, rods, and furlongs to miles.
Jonesville Michigan Bed and Breakfast Innkeeper
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