Trevor Oxborrow heard about the Nevada Day Treasure Hunt Tuesday from his dad.
But it was Clue No. 4, with its "39 and 120" which tipped him off to where to search for the medallion.
"It was almost surreal," Oxborrow said Friday after bringing the medallion into the front lobby of the Nevada Appeal after only five clues had been revealed. "I'm pretty excited, but it was a collaboration with my mom."
The 10th annual treasure hunt, sponsored by Laurie Olson and her family through their nonprofit, Where In Nevada, led Oxborrow to the prize at a sign marking the border of Nevada and California along the Faye-Luther Trail in the mountains south of Lake Tahoe.
"He's pretty darn clever," Olson said. "It hasn't been found that fast in a long time."
Several years ago, someone discovered the medallion after only four clues, she said.
For Oxborrow, 43, who operates Nevada Trail Expeditions, it didn't seem all that easy.
"The 39 and 120 were obviously longitude and latitude, and that's the corner point of the state line, so I thought it must be along that line," said the Washoe Valley man.
Thursday, he searched at Zephyr Cove, but it wasn't public, and at Stateline but it was too congested.
Then the clue Friday was something about Illinois. His mother, Jill Oxborrow, immediately knew it was a reference to Abraham Lincoln.
"You think, who's Illinois? Duh, Lincoln," she said. "Then you go to who debated Lincoln. It was Douglas."
Jill searched online and found Douglas County is named for Steven D. Douglas, the famed debater.
When she told her son about her discovery, he knew it had to be in Douglas County, and he was pretty sure it would be along the Faye-Luther Trail. But as he walked along the trail, he didn't see anything.
"I've hiked the Faye-Luther Trail, so it was clear as a bell, and at the trailhead sign, one loop was the Grand View Loop, so I followed the state line, and I didn't see anything, so I went back," Oxborrow said.
It wasn't until he walked back to the sign marking the border of Nevada and California that he spotted a stake in the ground with the brown pouch lying face down.
"It's surreal when you find it," he said. "You don't think it can actually be it."
Since it had been raining, the pouch was frozen, so he wasn't able to confirm that it contained the medallion until he defrosted it with his car's heater.
Oxborrow receives $1,000 for finding the medallion.
Each year, the clues are rhymes which include cryptic bits of Nevada history, geography and other fun facts. They lead searchers to locations across Northern Nevada, picking up a bit of local lore along the way, and can be hidden anywhere in Carson City or the counties of Churchill, Douglas, Lyon, Storey, Mineral or Washoe.
Their mission, Olson said, is to get people interested in the history of Nevada and to help them become aware of the area they live in.
EXPLANATIONS OF CLUES FOR THE NEVADA DAY TREASURE HUNT
Clue No. 1
Leap into the great outdoors
Climb a mountain, fish a stream
Ten years of treasure clues
Will take you to your dream
(Opening clue pays tribute to the 2011 Nevada Day theme - Enjoying Nevada's Great Outdoors - and to the 10th year of the Nevada Day Treasure Hunt. It is the first hint that the treasure will be found in an outdoor recreational area.)
Clue No. 2
Copper, Grand and Kings
Just to name a few
An echo of the past
Not of something new
(Names a few well-known canyons in and outside the Treasure Hunt search area and hints that the treasure will be found in or near a canyon with some historical significance. Later in the hunt, it will become clear that the hiding spot is on a trail leading to Luther Canyon. In the late 1800s, this canyon became known as Horse Thief Canyon because John and Lute Olds stole horses from settlers, drove them through the canyon and resold them on the other side.)
Clue No. 3
A good cook was Tom
Though he was not the last
Use him as a starting point
Before opportunity has passed
(Refers to the Tom Cooke trail, one of the most popular hiking trails in Reno. The clue tells hunters to use the trail as a starting point in their quest, but it is not the only or the last trail that should be considered.)
Clue No. 4
What a grand view
On a global scale
39 and 120
Embrace the holy grail
(Refers to map coordinates 39 latitude and 120 longitude, which in Western Nevada is the point where the Nevada-California border abruptly angles toward the southeast. The treasure is hidden in one of the quadrants that these two coordinates create. The clue also includes another, more subtle hint. The name of one of the trails in the system where the treasure is hidden is Grand View Loop.)
Clue No. 5
In Illinois I debated
Kansas and Nebraska I authorized
In Nevada I'm commemorated
And Missouri was not compromised
(Narrows the search area to Douglas County by referring to Illinois Senator Stephen Douglas for whom the county was named. Douglas authored the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 and famously debated its merits with Abraham Lincoln in Peoria, Ill. The Missouri Compromise was repealed upon passage of the Act.