A secret world hidden in plain sight

Tuesday April 30, 2013

DOVER -- The 2013 Green Mountain Adventure Challenge requires hiking, figuring out puzzles and finding clues that may lead to a hidden treasure, and an even bigger cash prize may be waiting.

"The comparison we’re getting a lot is the movie ‘National Treasure’ with Nicholas Cage or ‘Amazing Race,’" said Green Mountain Vermont Founder Phil Gilpin Jr, who organizes the event.

The second annual Adventure Challenge will have a historical theme. It takes place in the early 1800s, when Dover was originally founded. Those who are interested may register and start on May 5.

The story begins with a letter that has been dug up in a garden, which takes the adventurer on an excursion to find a long lost treasure somewhere in the woods.

The clues are guides to different locations where more clues are hidden. Then eventually, if all the clues are figured out, the treasure can be found.

"It’s semi-based in actual Dover history," said Gilpin. "So we are encouraging people to not only hike trails and be outside in the summer but also give them a little bit of the history of the town."

Some of the clues are based on people who lived in Dover during the days of early settlement. The trails on which the clues are located will coordinate with places where old neighborhoods and graveyards had been.

"It’s like a whole hidden world in plain sight -- in Dover," said Gilpin.

Most people who participate in the Adventure Challenge usually work in teams of two to four.

"The length of time it’s going to take you is going to depend on how accurately you find all the hints," he added. "And how fast you crack the codes and find the keys. It’s very physical and mental."

Participants may show up at anytime after May 1 and have until Sept. 15 to find the hidden treasure. People can do it at their own pace.

"It’s open all season," said Gilpin. "You don’t have to do it on a weekend. You can do it on a Tuesday and can pick it up a month later if you want."

He told the Reformer that it is about 12 hours of hiking time. It can take somewhere between two to an infinite amount of hours to figure out clues.

"There is the potential you can’t figure out all the clues," Gilpin said. "We don’t hold your hand through it. Not everyone’s guaranteed to find the treasure."

He compared the event’s atmosphere to video games such as Zelda or Final Fantasy because participants may receive helpful hints from local business owners or residents who see people wearing Adventure Challenge shirts.

The Adventure Pass costs $75 and $10 of it goes to the Jimmy Fund in Boston. Last year, the event raised $7,200 for the charity.

Another $10 goes to an overall cash pot. Out of all the people who finish the challenge, three of them are selected to win the cash. It will be distributed equally. Last year, each winner took home $530 out of $1,600.

The Adventure Challenge is an "extreme vacation ... not a relaxing one," Gilpin said.

The event is marketed on the premise that participants will get to see scenic views, play fun games and figure out tough puzzles.

For more information and to register for the Adventure Challenge, visit greenmountainvermont.com.

Chris Mays can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or cmays@reformer.com. Follow Chris on Twitter @CMaysReformer.


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