The first Scavenger Hunt of the season is in the books and my legs and brains are tired (see picture at left). I want to take today and share some high points and pictures of this awesome event with you. We have five more Hunts coming up and I want to build your excitement. I want to get you to one of the upcoming hills on the appropriate date for a Hunt, because this event is world class and super fun, and you should totally do it.
Let me give you the generalities about New Belgium Scavenger Hunts before I hit you on the Taos details. This is an all out scavenger hunt on a ski mountain. There are 25 clues placed all over the ski area and teams of 1 to 4 people have 5 hours to find/solve as many as they can. Each clue has a different point value dictated by difficulty and the team with the most points at the end of the day wins. Oh yeah, most participants wear costumes.
On to the Taos details:
Friday morning, bright and early, we headed up to the Taos Ski Valley to shred some ski turns and look for the runs where the goods would be placed the following day. Skiing on the clock, yeah I know, life is tough. Anyway, we found all the spots by noon or 1 o'clock. We were not placing the clues on Friday, just skiing around and planning for the next day. We had to scout the day before because the next morning was going to be busy setting up the registration/after party area, dressing up volunteers, grabbing the boxes of clues and getting them into place by the start of the hunt at 10am. Saturday was going to be a crazy, so a plan was mandatory. After a few hours of skiing and planning and looking and discussing we retreated to the Bavarian lodge for soft pretzels paired with delicious German beer. We also took these moments to talk about time frames and finalize the scavenger hunt details for the following morning. After these details were laid down, and a few more ounces of beer were consumed, a few of us took back off for more ski shredding. We had to make sure the run plans for the next day were sound, and we felt the best way to figure that was more research (that means skiing).
That Friday night we took it easy, very easy. And then the big day rolled up and we were off towards the mountain. We backed our trailer in to the base area Saturday morning and started unloading, setting up jockey boxes (fancy beer faucets), organizing costumes and the like. A few minutes after we arrived the fine folks of FIT walked up and started helping. The Scavenger Hunt isn't free. A participant must buy a lift ticket and pay a $10 registration fee. This $10 gets you access to the clue sheet, a cape to wear on the hill and two free beers aprés event. The money goes directly to the affiliated non-profit in the community that hosts the Scavenger Hunt. In the case of Taos, the NPO is the Field Institute of Taos. The FIT folks had to sign people up in the morning, give out the clue sheets, act as the moving clues on the hill and then get ready pour the beer at the after party. It's busy for them and a big commitment. But it paid off in the end, because they got all the money, almost $2,500!
But back to the event. As the set up at the base finished all the clues had to be dispersed on the mountain. I took off with my lap top towards a mountain lodge that was four lift rides away. This was great because I got some turns in before the sitting. I got to park it in the Phoenix Lodge and talk to hunters about social media. I was only 1 of 25 clues all over the mountain. Some of the other clues were trivia about Taos, trivia about NBB, chasing costumed skiers, finding props in the woods, etc. The Hunt started at 10am and the participants had until 3pm to complete the list, and the clues were all over the mountain. A large percent of the clues could be found on the beginner to intermediate terrain, but some expert level skiing was required for a couple answers.
As the 3 o'clock bell tolled everybody started making their way back to the base of Taos to get their scores tallied and to get the party underway. We are a beer company, so we brought beer, a couple kegs to get the fun ripping. As teams came back, and turned in their clue sheets for scoring, everybody picked up their New Belgium/ Taos/FIT Scavenger Hunt commemorative pint glass and then got in line to fill it up. We had tunes cranking and people hanging out. After some hanging out happened and all the scores were tallied we got to announcing the winners. There was celebration as the winners collected their prizes and did a small (read: large) amount of gloating. Then they finally got off stage to get the raffle going.
In with your $10 donation for event participation you get a raffle ticket. The raffle starts out small, some t-shirts and such. But it progresses quickly. The grand raffle prize at Taos (and every other Hunt) is a pair of custom Fat Tire skis from Rocky Mountain Underground. So if the one raffle ticket isn't enough you can buy more. Each additional raffle ticket is another $5 towards the local non-profit (a big part of the fund raising). We gave the skis away to a woman that bought $100 worth of extra raffle tickets, I guess she really wanted those skis. The skis were gawked at, and high fives were slapped, then the party moved in to the base lodge. As we were outside cleaning up a band fired up inside and the party went on for hours. The day was a major success, everyone in the Taos area had a really fun time.
And then the event was over. We had Scavenger Hunt winners, we had raffle winners, we had some tired-out people, then we went home.
Sounds great, huh? Well there is another Scavenger Hunt this weekend in Telluride, CO, then Eldora, then Loveland, then Snolqualmie, WA, then the hunting season finishes in Squaw Valley, CA. An event every weekend for the rest of the spring skiing season (see the link at the top of the page for all the details). Do yourself a favor, go to one of these hunts, and bring your friends (and a costume). You will not regret it.