Governor Dick Adventure: Raiders of the Lost Ark

Raiders of the Lost Cache

Difficulty: ūü§†ūü§†ūü§†
Distance: 1.4 miles round trip.
What to bring: Appropriate footwear, an internet-connected device with GPS, and this downloadable PDF Governor Dick Trail Map

Overview

In 1936, Dr. Henry “Indiana” Jones was charged by Army Intelligence to discover the final resting place of the Ark of the Covenant before the Nazis. After Indiana Jones secured the Ark, the U.S. Government confiscated it and hid it away. Twenty learns later a break-in at the government facility storing the ark was comprised. As a result, it was again moved to another undisclosed location. The current location of the Ark has been leaked on the Internet through recently declassified files.¬†It is now your mission to find the Ark before it gets moved again.

Moses and Joshua bowing before the Ark, painting by James Tissot, c. 1900
Moses and Joshua bowing before the Ark, painting by James Tissot, c. 1900.

What is the Ark of the Covenant?

The¬†Ark of the Covenant, also known as the¬†Ark of the Testimony or the¬†Ark of God, is a gold-covered wooden chest with lid cover described in the¬†Book of Exodus¬†as containing the two¬†stone tablets¬†of the¬†Ten Commandments. According to passages in the¬†Torah, the Ark is said to contain a pot of manna and Aaron’s rod.

Aaron’s rod¬†is the staff carried by¬†Moses’s brother,¬†Aaron. The Bible tells how, along with¬†Moses’s rod, Aaron’s rod was endowed with miraculous power during the¬†Plagues of Egypt¬†that preceded the¬†Exodus. The¬†Bible,¬†on two occasions, details the rod’s power.

James Tissot, The Rod of Aaron Devours the Other Rods
The Rod of Aaron Devours the Other Rods.

The most famous example is from the Book of Exodus.¬†God¬†sends Moses and Aaron to the¬†Pharaoh¬†once more, instructing Aaron that when the Pharaoh demands to see a miracle, he is to “cast down his rod,” and it will become a¬†serpent. When he does so, the Pharaoh’s¬†sorcerers¬†counter by similarly casting down their own rods, which also become serpents, but Aaron’s rod swallows them all.

The Book of Exodus gives detailed instructions on how the Ark was to be constructed. It was 2‚Äč.5 cubits¬†in length, 1.5¬†in width, and 1.5¬†in height (approximately 52″ √ó 31″ √ó 31″). Then it was to be gilded entirely with¬†gold and decorated with gold molding around the top edge. Four rings of gold were attached to its four corners, two on each side‚ÄĒand through these rings, staves of shittim wood overlaid with gold for carrying the Ark. A golden lid, the¬†kapporet¬†(translated as “mercy seat” or “cover”), was placed above the Ark. The top was adorned with two golden¬†cherubim. The cherubim form the space where God would appear. The Ark was finally to be placed under a covering veil.

“The Ark and the Mercy Seat,” 1894 illustration by Henry Davenport Northrop.

A Brief History of the Ark of the Covenant

After the Ten Commandments were smashed by Moses, the pieces were placed in the Ark of the Covenant. The Ark was carried before the Hebrews on their march towards the Promised Land.

In the¬†Battle of Jericho, the Ark was carried round the city once a day for six days, preceded by the armed men and seven priests sounding seven¬†trumpets of rams’ horns.¬†On the seventh day, the seven priests sounding the seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the Ark compassed the city seven times and, with a great shout, Jericho’s wall fell down flat, and the people took the city.

indiana_arkpic_frommoviebook
“Lightning. Fire. Power of God or something.”

When the Hebrews settled in Canaan, they placed the Ark in¬†the¬†Temple¬†of Solomon where¬†it stayed until around¬†980 BC¬†when the Egyptian Pharaoh¬†Shishak¬†raided the Temple and took the Ark with him to the city of¬†Tanis. Following a series of dreams in which he was visited by¬†Osiris¬†urging him to hide it from the eyes of the sun god¬†Amun-Ra, Shishak had the Ark placed inside the¬†Well of the Souls. A¬†Map Room¬†was built so that¬†only Ra could know the Ark’s whereabouts, but a year later, the¬†Israelites’ God saw to it that Tanis itself was buried in a sandstorm and the Ark was lost to the passage of time.

Adolf Hitler¬†became interested in acquiring the Ark and its fabled powers to achieve world domination. In¬†1936, when US agents¬†Colonel Musgrove¬†and¬†Major Eaton¬†discovered Hitler’s plan through an intercepted German communique sent from Cairo, they consulted¬†Indiana Jones¬†and his friend¬†Marcus Brody¬†about the artifact.

Western Union Telegram Headpiece Staff of Ra

Jones explained some of the Ark’s history to the government men, showing them a depiction of the Ark’s destructive power, after which Brody noted that any army which carried the Ark before it would be invincible. Eaton and Musgrove subsequently hired Jones to find the Ark before the¬†Nazis.¬†

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Afterward, instead of giving the Ark to the National Museum as agreed, the US government took possession of it. Though Jones and Brody were told by Major Eaton that it was to be studied by higher authorities, the relic was simply nailed inside a wooden crate numbered 9906753 and placed inside a gigantic warehouse among hundreds of similar containers.

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Over two decades later, in 1957, Jones was taken to the warehouse when captured by the Soviets looking for a different crate. The box containing the Ark was broken during the subsequent action, but the preoccupied Jones and his pursuers did not notice it.

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After the Area 51 location was comprised, the Ark as again moved. This time to the most unlikely of places‚ÄĒsouthcentral Pennsylvania deep inside Governor Dick Park. That’s where your adventure begins!

Finding the Ark of the Covenant

Start your adventure by parking at the Governor Dick Environmental Center. Click here for directions. Once there, find the White Diamond trail. The Ark is hidden about .7 miles up the path from the parking lot at the environmental center. Here’s a downloadable trail map with the final resting place of the Ark marked with an X.¬†This time ‚ĚĆ does mark the spot. ūüėČmapToTheArk1

The Ark is located about 100 feet off the main trail on the left. There is a foot beaten path leading to it. Look for this sign that says, “Please don’t cut trail.” There’s several of them so don’t just stop at the first one you see.

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Follow the path up the hill. The large pile of boulders in the photo’s upper left-hand corner is where you are headed.

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The Ark is inside a massive pile of boulders on a steep slope. Look for an entrance to the rock shelter. There’s more than one. Although this might be the hardest part of the adventure‚ÄĒfinding the entrance. The Ark is hidden inside but you will have to climb through more than one chamber to reach it.

Although climbing gear is not required, bringing more than one person and rope for support is helpful. Here’s the GPS location of the Ark.¬†Depending on the season and foliage, the GPS signal can be a bit fuzzy, but this should get your close.

The current resting place for the Ark of the Covenant.
The current resting place for the Ark of the Covenant.

Disclaimer:¬†I did not develop this adventure. It was created by Mike Hoffman for Geocaching.com, but it’s too good not to share. I did fill the cache with 20¬†Headpieces to the Staff of Ra for fellow adventurers to keep. I’ll add more on future visits.¬†

Resources

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