The Ultimate Scavenger Hunt: DC’s 8th Annual Post Hunt

You may think scavenger hunts are a thing of the past, but doesn’t the past have an uncanny way of repeating itself? For me, scavenger hunts were always the main event at any birthday party I didn’t want to go to. I would be there, shuffling to hide my socially awkward tendencies, while some over-eager, Brownie troop leading, PTA queen mom was outlining all of the embarrassingly daft things we were about to do to try and win the equivalent of $0.85 worth of chocolate. Coincidentally, enough – those were always the birthday parties that I wanted to relive. There is something about making a fool of yourself that forges unbreakable bonds and friendships…

As a distant cousin of the scavenger hunt, brainteasers lend themselves to some of the same feelings. Mostly though, when I think of brainteasers, I think of my little brother staring at me impatiently, while asking for seemingly the 1000th time if I have the answer yet. Almost always, my answer: Not yet, weirdo.


Luckily for the hopeless brainteaser solver in us all, the Washington Post is putting on its annual brainteaser, scavenger hunt, reckless shenanigans hybrid called the “Post Hunt”. One of their latest articles muses about the upcoming event, saying,

“Move aside, Game of Thrones. We’ll show you a real game – a game of thorns. Thorny puzzles. And we have funny costumes, too.”

And with an intro like that, I can only assume that the Washington Post plans on delivering something truly special. This year marks the eighth annual Post Hunt, which is taking place on Sunday, May 31st.

The Hunt, for those of you who are not familiar, is an annual “puzzlehunt” that was originally created by Dave Barry, Gene Weingarten and Tom Shroder. Each year, the Hunt is attended by roughly 5,000 people, acting as a time for gathering, fun and lots of head scratching.

PostHunt3 posthunt2

As described by a trustworthy source none other than Wikipedia,

“The Hunt consists of three parts. Answering the “opening questions” directs Hunters to five puzzle sites scattered throughout the Hunt area. Solving the five Hunt puzzles – the answer is always a number ­–­ indicates the five authentic clues on a list of dozens of numbered bogus clues. Hunters have three hours to solve the puzzles, then at 6PM, a sixth and final clue is announced from the main stage. This begins the “endgame”, which is by far the most difficult puzzle of the day. Solving the endgame often leads to a phone number, or directs Hunters to go to a certain out-of-the-way location and give a password to someone identified in a cryptic way.”

The Hunt is taken on by a collection of eager teams as well as brave solo participants. Last year, veteran Post Hunt champions took the number one spot yet again. The group that one previously, self-named as “The Boneless Chicken Cabaret” got their first Post Hunt win at the 2008 Hunt (the Hunt’s first year in Washington DC), as well as taking second and third place in two other yearly hunts.

The team consisted of founding members such as Todd Etter from Alexandria, VA; David Forrest from Woodbridge, VA; and Chris Guthrie and Charlie Scarborough of Arlington, VA. The team’s 20-year long friendship has led them to hunt together, and even include some of their children.


Last year, the team took the win with leaps and bounds that included figuring out that the clues they had been told to circle were purposefully misleading, and coming up with a clue’s solution before the clue was even read (talk about foresight).

After the impressive show they put on, they slid into first place with a smile, claiming the $2,000 dollar prize. According to a Washington Post article, the team debated donating the money right back to the Post Hunt. However, they were torn when they considered how much Chipotle their winnings could buy (fair enough).

So, if you’re looking for someplace to satisfy your scavenger hunt loving, brainteaser enticed adult self, this is it. Although solo participants have, in fact, won before, lots of past Hunters agree that teamwork makes the dream work. It’s a lot easier to get stuck on one clue when you don’t have nine different perspectives to consult with.

The forecast for this year’s Hunt (Sunday, May 31st) is 76 degrees, making it the perfect temperature to stomp around town in a ridiculous puzzle-filled race. Coincidentally, it is also the perfect temperature for margaritas on the nearest restaurant patio if your team just can’t seem to solve the clues. Giving up doesn’t seem nearly as dreary when there is a salted rim. In case any of you reading this do go on to win big things this year, though, let it be known – I love Chipotle.


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