Harkayee Adventure Hunt

The Harkayee Treasure Hunt was announced in the spring of 2013 and over the following months provided untold hours of enjoyment – and head scratching – for hundreds of participants from all over the province and beyond.

Actually the Harkayee Treasure Hunt was two treasure hunts in one – a Family Hunt and an Adventure Hunt, each with a cash prize of $1000.

‘X’ marks the spot!

The Harkayee Family Hunt was designed with kids (and their parents) in mind.

The clues appeared in (the 2013 edition of) Treasure Wells Gray and invited participants to work out a set of coordinates that, if correct, would intersect a very special locality in southern Wells Gray.

At summer end the prize money was claimed by an anonymous Clearwater resident who – a paragon of generosity – promptly donated it back to the treasure hunt!

The winning coordinates – 51.9567°N × 120.1809°W – marked the main viewpoint of Helmcken Falls, which in 2013 celebrated (if one may put it that way) the hundredth year of its first recorded discovery.

The Harkayee Adventure Hunt was designed with adventure-seekers in mind.

Here the goal is to locate a replica human skull hidden (but not buried) somewhere just off trail in southern Wells Gray Park. Because this skull is painted gold, it’s usually referred to as a ‘golden’ skull.

The ‘golden’ skull was crafted by Kamloops Fine Arts student Mindy Lunzman. It’s a clay replica of a certain other skull – a bronze one – that set the Harkayee Treasure Hunt in motion many years ago. You can read the legend behind the bronze skull by linking here.

Though many went searching for the ‘golden’ skull in 2013, all came up empty-handed; the skull remains hidden to this day.

This means that the Harkayee Adventure Hunt is alive and well and will run again in 2015.

What’s more, the prize money has now doubled from $1000 to $2000, thanks to the generosity of Thompson-Nicola Regional District Director Tim Pennell.

And best of all, there’s no entry fee this time around: everything you need to know appears on the pages of this web site.

That’s the good news. The bad news is that the way is hard: to successfully complete the journey from the Helmcken Falls Viewpoint – where it all starts – to the place where the ‘golden’ skull is hidden, you’ll need complete the three tasks assigned below.

Here’s a helpful hint to get you started: Legend of Harkayee.

The way really is hard. We wish you luck!

Task 1: Calculators’ Corner

To perform this task, you’ll need the nine clues given below and the following eight numbers: 1, 8, 5, 3, 7, 9, 9, 1.

1. Start with the 8-digit number from the 2013 Family Treasure Hunt: 9, 5, 6, 7, 1, 8, 0, 9.

2. Look! Look! – Here you’re looking for a word.

3. Transform – a = 1, b = 2, c = 3, etc.

4. Reduce – Sum digits of any two-digit numbers until you get a one-digit number.

5. Sum Backwards – Sorry, this one’s for you to figure out.

6. Reduce – As above.

7. Sum Forwards – Again, this is for you to figure out.

8. Throw Away – Discard the first number of any two-digit numbers.

9. Now proceed to where the numbers lead.

Task 2: Mountain Caribou Cornered

The future of Mountain Caribou like these hangs in the balance.

Here’s what you’ll need to do if you hope to succeed in the performance of this task: (1) get yourself to the place specified at clue 9 in Task 1; (2) really look; (3) work out the pertinent word or words embedded in the 16 clues given below; and (4) add the following numbers in the following order to a subset of the sequence of numbers obtained via the reduced transformation of each letter in said word or words: 1, 0, 3, 3, 0, 1, -5, 4. What you’ll get is a set of coordinates. Now proceed to where the coordinates lead. Caution: Take no shortcuts; this is trickier than might first appear.

1. The Mountain Caribou is the most southerly reindeer in*the world and the only one that relies on tree-dwelling hair lichens as its primery winter Food.

2. Hair lIchens depend on oldgrowth forests and*(within the range of Mountain Caribou) occure most abundantly at upper foRested elevations.

3. Mountain Caribou alone of all ungulates pass the winter iN the subalpine and alpine,*padding about on snowshoe-lixe hooves on snowpacks two to three metres deEp.

4. Sometimes, however, soft snow and/or inacccessible forage force wintering Mountain Caribou Down to valley elevations,*where again they seek out lichen-rich oldgrowth forests, here usually in the vicinity of wetlanDs.

5. Up until the late 19th century, the Clearwater Valley, two hours north of Kamloops, supported large numburs of*Mountain Caribou, possibly as many as 700 animals.

6. This changed, however, in the*first decades of the 20TH century, when wildfire destroyed about 90,000 ha of forrests here – most at lower elevations and much of it oldgrowth.

7. The loss of so much old forest was devastating to Mountain Caribou: first because it greatly diminished their low-elevation “plan B” winter Habitat; and second because it exposed them to more intense predation, especialy by wolves and particularly in summEr.*

8. (Though devastating to Mountain Caribou, wildfire favours dEEEr and moose, which in turn promote greater numbers of predators, and so*secondarily increase predation on Mountain CaRibou).

9. By 1935, the Mountain Caribou herds had collapsed*- a fact that certainly contributed a few years later to a decision by the B.C. governent to establish a vast wilderness preserve here: Wells Gray Provincial Park.

10. Since then, the B.C. government*has twice extended Wells Gray southward in order to capture prime wintering habitat for the Mountain Caribou: once in the mid 50s and agAIne in the mid 90s.

11. Wells Grey’s Mountain Caribou herds gradually recovered until about the late 90s, when once again they went into decline – an alarming trend which coNtiNues to this day.*

12. More alarming still, these Animals now seem to have abandonned the prime winter habitat available to them in the*south, retreating instead onto steep, isolated, ultimately precarious winter ranGes in northern portions of the park as well as outside the park boundaries on the east.

13. While several factors no doubt contribute to this decline and nortward retreat, the most important one is certainly increased predation*by wolves whose numbers have lately been bolstered by intense loGging just outside the park.

14. (Like*wildfire, clearcut logging benefits deer and moose populations, and hence also their predators, especially wolves, which when numerous sometimes move into adjaycent protected aReas).

15. One bright spot is that 90,000 ha of lowland forests which burned in the Clearwater Valley A century*ago no longer support large populations of moose and deer, and will soon begin to support heavy hair licken loadings instead: a promise of improved habitat conditions unique to Wells Gray Park.

16. Given that Mountain Caribou are declining across most of their range, it seems fair to say that land use*decisions now being Made by the B.C. government will determine whether these iconick animals persist in protected areas like Wells Gray Provincial Park, or whether they continue to blink out one herd at a time.

Task 3: Cornering the ‘Golden’ Skull

To perform this task, you’ll need to get yourself to the place specified in Task 2, and then solve the 12 clues given below. What you’re looking for here is a real place: the place where the ‘golden’ skull is hidden – but not buried.

Here’s the third-generation ‘golden skull’: a clay replica of the bronze replica of the original golden skull. Confused? Read all about it in the Legend of Harkayee! Artwork by Mindy Lunzman.

1. horSEGrEELy2smIRKell

2. What you get when an Earnest Novice takes up with a Teathered Rooster.


4. eIDErNEAUShip

5. Ask KArl MArx, “Where now?”, and this is whAt he’ll sAy.

6. Where next? A wal KAL on gwalls TREat, obviously.

7. NOWfolLOWlongfelLOWSaPPlennysm2

8. Now to the place where hAngovernAtAcAmAmeet.

9. And where Jimmy STewartnPauleTte met.

10. Don’t forget: knoTHERbuyN1EWsN3EW3oldboy:8

11. Harkayee, says Bob Quaker, had one of these. So did Kurtz, may he rest in peace.

12. The title of the 1971 song by Vince Hill gets you where you need to go.

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Copyright ©2015 by Trevor Goward and Jason Hollinger