Tracking the Thunderbird

Scavenger hunt in Kitsap parks educates players about water cycle

“The name of the place has no point, you say?

I disagree, it’s all a word play!

In a park just south of the flashing eyes,

Is where Thunderbird’s first track lies.”

So reads the first clue in Kitsap County Parks and Recreation’s Tracking the Thunderbird game, a family-friendly, county-wide scavenger hunt for Thunderbird tracks, hidden in various parks throughout Kitsap County.

“It’s a game that people play, and it’s kind of like geocaching, but before we had GPS units,” said Lori Raymaker, volunteer coordinator for the Parks and Recreation department.

Nine clues are provided on the department website, leading Thunderbird trackers to nine different locations where they should be able to find bronze castings of unique tracks.

“It was started back in 1993,” Raymaker said. “We reenacted it in 2013 for the 20-year anniversary.”

When it originally started, it was a collaborative project between the parks and recreation department and local organizations, public and private. The parks department decided to revamp it in 2013.

That year, the department released a new clue each month to lead people to the tracks. Participants were encouraged to bring paper and do a rubbing of each bronze-cast track because “each track … has different things in the track embedded in it that have to do with the site,” Raymaker said.

“All the tracks are completely different, designed by different people.”

But the game isn’t just a fun scavenger hunt, it’s an opportunity to educate.

“The appeal was to teach,” Raymaker said. “To have a family activity for families to do, and also teach people about the water cycle, and why water is so crucial and important in Kitsap County.

Each clue includes information about various aspects of the water cycle, with facts about local examples and information on why it’s integral to the Kitsap County water cycle. The clues include information about glaciers, clouds, rain, groundwater, streams, lakes, wind, estuaries and Puget Sound, respectively.

Raymaker said she thinks the clues are “pretty easy” to decipher, though she admitted that she might be saying that because she already knows the location of each site. But recalling the game’s height of popularity in 2013, she said, “a couple times I got calls asking for (more) clues,” but generally people didn’t need much help.

Now, in 2017, people can still play the game, but they won’t find two of the seven tracks.

“Unfortunately, there are two clues that are missing,” Raymaker said. “Clue No. 3 (rain) was stolen. Somebody chipped out the concrete and actually stole the track.

“Clue No. 5 (streams), we’re not sure what happened to that. The last time that was seen was before the big storm in 2007 … we think possibly the track got buried or washed away.”

As far as Raymaker knows, the third track was stolen in 2013, some time after she checked the track sites to ensure they were all still there and maintained before revamping the game. A few months after that, she said someone reported that they couldn’t find the track, but saw “what looked like remnants.”

The game is old — now in its 24th year — but the option to hunt down most of the Thunderbird’s tracks remains. If you want to hunt down the legendary creature’s tracks, visit

Michelle Beahm is a reporter for the Central Kitsap Reporter and Bremerton Patriot. She can be reached at