Where Warm Waters Halt…

Firehole River in Yellowstone National Park

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED august 2011

I am sitting in one of Forrest’s bathing holes from when he was a kid in West Yellowstone. The Fenn family had no plumbing in their cabin. The best way to get a hot bath was to head to one of the places out here where steaming vents drain into a cold river. This one is on the Firehole River inside the park, about 20 miles from his family’s cabin. In his blog he writes that this was his secret bathing spot.

Its a noisy place with the hot springs gushing steam and boiling water out of a deep blue hole in the bank and the turbulent rush of water in the river. The Firehole is unusually high for early August.

I am sitting here for a few reasons; I am tired after ten days of tromping around in the sticks, if I position myself just right I can warm my butt and cool my heels at the same time, its pretty here…and quiet, I think that Forrest’s treasure might be hidden nearby, and I feel that if I sit here long enough maybe some of how Forrest thinks will be absorbed by my brain.

I close my eyes and feel the swirling warm water press against my sore back. I could doze off except that it takes some effort not to be pushed downstream by the charging river. My bath is a mixture of relaxation and tension. For a moment I drift away into 1942 and am watching trout rise in the water ahead of me. I see Forrest riding his bike toward the river. He is 12 years old. Skippy is with him. The current stirs me from my reverie.

Its evening and the river is reflecting the deep blue of the Wyoming sky and the brilliant orange of a California sunset. The trout are actually rising. The vent is steaming. It feels prehistoric. I close my eyes and begin to drift again into 1942.

Forrest’s favorite bathing spot when he was 12 years old

I sense that someone is staring at me. My eyes blink open and I see an attractive young woman standing on the bank. She is wearing a green ball cap that has the Sundance logo on it, a khaki fly-fishing vest with about six zippered pockets over a forest green t-shirt that might be made of silk, expensive khaki hiking shorts with lots of velcro sealed pockets, khaki colored mountaineering boots and knee socks that match her t-shirt and ball cap, and oddly, a bright pink daypack. Her clothes don’t look like they have ever seen sweat. Her hair is tied back in a fluffy ponytail sticking out of her cap that looks like it would probably bounce a lot when she walks. Other than the pack she looks like she just stepped out of an REI catalog. With the pack she looks like she just stepped out of a Hannah Montana movie. I figure her wardrobe set her back at least  $750…plus underwear. The boots alone are probably $300. They look like high end La Sportiva boots from Italy. I saw a pair in a window in Jackson once. I didn’t buy them. I am not a mountaineer.

She is standing about five feet from me. Even in the early evening light I can see that her nails are pink and match her daypack.

We stare at one another for a second. When she realizes my eyes are open she yells at me so she can be heard over the rush of water.

“What are you doing?”

“Taking a Bath”, I yell back.

“Is it nice?”

“Well…yes its refreshing. The heat from the spring against my back and the cooler water on my feet. I feel like a king. Its a natural spa.”

She didn’t look like the type to take a bath in a wild, trout ridden stream. She looked like she might be more at home shopping in LaJolla or Paris. She didn’t say anything back right away. Maybe she was thinking.

“Why are you wearing your clothes?”

“I’m doing my laundry at the same time.” In fact I’d been wearing the same clothes for ten days but I figured that was too much information. I still had my jeans and t-shirt and boots on. We were getting clean together. My wallet was on the bank next to my ice axe, near her feet. I’m not the kind of guy that feels the need to be naked very often.

Again she was quiet. I adjusted my position a little because the current had changed slightly and I wanted more hot water against my back. It felt really, really good.

“Nice boots” I said, “Where did you get them?”

“Sedona”

Bingo..I thought.

“Is it legal to be in the river?” She asked.

I never considered the legal question. My park. No sign. “I don’t see why not. This is a National Park. They have signs all over the darn place telling you what you can’t do. None here.”

She thought. I waited.

“I don’t think I’d bathe with all my clothes on.” She yelled.

“Of course not.” I said.

I waited. She thought.

“I think I should come back later when there isn’t anyone around.” She said just before she turned to go back up the trail, probably to her leased, rose Lexus.

“What time?” I yelled after her, but I don’t think she heard me. She kept walking away. Her bouncy ponytail sashaying over her bright pink daypack.

dal…

email me at: dal@lummifilm.com

73 thoughts on “Where Warm Waters Halt…

  1. LOL nice thoughts Dal. Ima thinking I want that gold more than you though, and Ima bettin before you go draggin that box out, you’re gonna need a new wardrobe yourself, so skiidaddle so us girls in pony tails can show you boyz how it’s done. ; )

    Nice pic’s by the way…

    • I try to be a gentleman at all times. Except when it comes to finding the loot. I will sit in this place till morning to protect that chest which I am confident is here somewhere…lol…

  2. Maybe the treasure is actually the joy of looking, of being out in the wilderness, of discovery! The discovery of oneself and of the great outdoors!
    He seems like the type of man that, leaving his mark, this treasure hunt, is all about what he did, what he experienced. Maybe this is his way of sharing, getting fat America off their asses!

    • I think you’re right…partially! Forrest seems happiest when folks write to tell him that they went out looking…and had a great time. He seems to revel in those letters. He is particularly proud when someone thanks him for getting their whole family up and off the couch and out on a family outing.
      So, yes certainly it’s about the looking…the chase…but I also believe the chest is out there. It’s not easy to find. If it were easy it would have been found by now…

  3. Why look in Yellowstone? Didn’t Forrest mention that it is more than 300 miles Southwest of Toledo? I am assuming Toledo, Ohio. Yellowstone would be Northwest by my maps. I agree it is so important to start at the right spot “where warm waters halt”? Is there any hot springs in New Mexico?

    • Yes, He also said the treasure is in the mountains north of Santa Fe…. He did NOT say, “Santa Fe, NM”… he just said, “Santa Fe”. Remember, he is from TEXAS. In fact, Santa Fe, Tx is VERY close to where he used to live. Go north from there and you are in the mountains… HOT SPRINGS, ARKANSAS is “more than 300 miles southwest of Toledo, Ohio”.

      • John-
        He also said once that the reason he said north of Santa Fe was so folks wouldn’t dig up his yard. He lives in Santa Fe, NM.
        Hot Springs, AR is not in the Rocky Mountains. I believe he has publicly stated that that it’s in the Rocky Mountains.

    • I don’t know that it’s safe to “assume” with Forrest…
      I once counted about 12 Toledo’s in the USA. In addition to cities there are also mountains and ghost towns and other places named Toledo…Since then I have decided that the “Toledo” clue is just a red herring. It’s part of Forrest’s sense of humor…not a real clue.

      There are many hot springs in New Mexico…Many are north of Santa Fe…
      I checked out a couple of them..
      See previous blogs-
      F Marks the Spot…or Not
      Janice and Ray from L.A.

  4. been thinking alot about Aunt Clara Brown, Central City, Co, close to denver, there is a hill named after here, could this be something to look into?

  5. How about “Holy Toledo!” ….I think the real treasure is in “The Chase”! This has gotten my son Michael and I working together to try to solve the clues and read the book. Hopefully one day venture on an actual hunt and explore the territories together. Great idea to get people together working towards common interest. Very good read too!

  6. I have stayed up two nights straight and came up with 3 very nice possible locations. I looked at every clue and came up with 3 theories for each. Then I cross referenced all theories till all clues fit. I hope I will find it eventually!

    • Some-
      The Firehole is about 20 miles in length. I certainly have not scoured it. I was interested in particular areas of it that seemed to be suggested by writings in the book. I have abandoned all those ideas. I then considered the place where the Firehole River ends to be the place Where Warm Waters Halt, and moved on down the Madison Canyon..etc. etc..

      I’ve gotten past that too…

      I guess what I am saying is that in 20+ miles of river the Firehole has lots of nooks and crannies that were never searched by me. Many others have looked there too..I would say that I’ve walked more than 8 miles of the river…on one side or the other. Many times in some places because there are spots I love to return to…just for the solitude..

      It’s a big river..it has tributaries and geysers and flats and waterfalls and caves and all kinds of goodies..I think it’s impossible to thoroughly search by one person..so my idea was always to see how I could follow the clues, see where that would put me…on the Firehole or any other place..and then start searching…

      If the clues in the poem don’t lead me there I don’t waste time scouring an area…So I would’t walk the Firehole just because I think the treasure could be along it somewhere…that will get a person nowhere as far as I am concerned…
      But if the clues in the poem lead you to a particular place on the Firehole…I’ve got to respect that area…and start looking for a blaze..

      That being said..
      The Firehole is a fantastic place and I’ve walked along that roaring warm water for days having loads of fun…taking pictures..looking for arrowheads..investigating the geysers, the wildlife the tributaries. It’s the kind of place a person could spend a lifetime exploring and never get bored..It’s beautiful and exciting and soothing and frightening..but I can’t say I’ve scoured it…I think I could say I’m familiar with it..in a less than intimate fashion..

  7. hey dal-
    good story, coulda ended happier
    did you happen to come across old iron bridge while you were in that region? The reason I ask is that iron turns brown when it rusts and this could be “home of Brown”. F mentions he rode down a rusty iron slide next to his school and his butt would be brown from the rust. Also, have you purchased/read the book “flywater” which F mentions on pg 124 of TTOTC? Thanks.

    • Matt-
      Glad you liked the story. That was a good day..
      There is a bridge that goes across the Firehole just about a hundred feet from where I was sitting. But it’s not an old rusty bridge. It’s a fairly new bridge. No rust in sight. When he was a kid there was an older bridge at this spot. It may have been rusty. I don’t know what it looked like. But the bridge that is there now would have been there long before he actually hid the treasure in 2009 or 2010. I did purchase Flywater. I think there were two books by that guy named Flywater. I read them. Appreciated the photos and writing but didn’t feel there was anything that could help me find the treasure. Why do you ask?

  8. Yea that firehole sounds like a blast for fishing, which I have done my whole life, and for bathing, which I have never done(in a river that is). I was reading up on firehole and it said that it stays within a half mile of a road until it reaches old flats freight road and old iron bridge. In between biscuit basin and midway geyser basin…found on Wikipedia. Yeah there are 2 of those books but the one Forrest has is the one from 94′ cause the other one is more recent. I ask because he says he his thoughts drifted to new experience to be had and new ideas to be tried. Like in the people “hint of riches NEW and old”…thought it could be one of those subtle clues. Also on the bottom of that pages is a picture that says “my secret fishing hole” which could mean where he hid the treasure. Then re read pg 125, I think that is a very important page. The 3rd paragraph could be a clue to where along a river he hid it. It is a very descriptive passage.

  9. hey Dal –
    Have you been to Mammoth hot springs in north yellowstone? That could possibly be wwwh. It also could be the home of Brown because the springs leave different colors from minerals when they dry, and a common color is brown.

    • Matt-

      No. I have not looked at Mammoth. I have been following a different tact for Brown and I am hard pressed to consider a hot spring as the place WWWH because I can’t find the logic in it-
      1. There are hot springs all over the place…what would make one better than any other?
      2. I don’t see warm water halting at a hot spring..I see it slowly cooling or mixing…nothing traps it and keeps it from going somewhere…

      Lots of arguments here against my thoughts but for me it works..

      • Dal I think your ideas are flawed so tell me about all of them and I will point out the errors for you. Just if you are wondering I dont do this for everyone but you I will bend alittle.

        • DP-
          I liked that spot too. It fit pretty well. But in the end I was blazeless. At one point I saw a beautiful brass plate about 10 feet up on the trunk of a fir. I couldn’t believe it. I thought for sure that must be the blaze…why on earth else would such a shiny, new plate be attached to a tree…
          Of course it was not the blaze…and if I think about it logically it makes no sense that it would be the blaze…
          But like most searchers, when I am out looking and not seeing what I hoped for, I begin twisting what’s there to fit my needs..
          I spent quite a bit of time there. Walked from La Junta all the way up to the end of the common trail at the petroglyphs and back. Then crossed the Red and walked about a mile downstream past the trail down from Cebolla Mesa. Walked from the confluence of the Red and the Rio Grande all the way up to the fish hatchery. I hunted, searched and admired the place.
          My favorite trail down into the box is the Cebolla Mesa trail. Just a lovely walk with lots of little birds to keep you company…The walk back up is not as lovely…but still less challenging than the La Junta trail.

      • dal-
        thanks for the response. the hot springs idea seems like a common idea among the searchers. I just looked at them in yellowstone and Mammoth is the largest I believe. Home of Brown is probably something your going to have to be out searching to realize it. I dont think it is something that can found through research, with this being said I do like to skip ahead and look at home of Brown because that seems like the biggest clue. Anyway it does not matter until you have the correct wwwh so lets try and figure that out first

      • I’m with Dal warm waters don’t halt at hot springs. Unless were talking there vertical movement but that stops. We need something that acts more like a stop light.

      • No? Not even the Black Rock or Manby Hot Springs that flow directly in the cold Rio Grande? Which just so happens gets “taken down” the Rio Grande Gorge (canyon)?

        Not even THOSE hot springs Dal?

        • djj-
          I looked around Manby Springs..but not because I thought it was WWWH. I was looking there for a blaze. I was using the Rio Hondo as the stream I couldn’t paddle up. In that possible solution I started at roughly the Colorado/New Mexico border on the Rio Grande. The place where the Gorge begins. I read a lovely description of that area where the author (a fly fisherman) spoke at length about how this was the place that the Rio Grande changed from a slow moving warm and sediment carrying stream to a fast moving, cold water, trout bearing river. I also felt that the Rio Grande was the most likely river for Forrest to hide his chest near simply because of the Rio Grande’s importance to the history, culture and economy of the regions inhabitants. It is arguably the lifestream of New Mexico.
          From there..the Gorge was the canyon down…Then I was looking at the trout streams that join the Rio as the potential HOB…the Red and the Hondo..So I examined both of those extensively looking for other possible alignments with the clues…but everything gets murky and after spending a great deal of time searching around the confluences as well as all the way up to the heads of those streams I decided I was barking up the wrong streams and moved on..

          • I know. Both you and Stephanie have looked around Manby Springs.

            Perhaps this is where ya’ll solved the first two clues? Could be? Nobody knows for sure yet.

            But as far as Rio Hondo as the “no paddle” I think you should of tried “Rio Pueblo de Taos”

            Impossible to paddle due to the rocks and it’s even mentioned as “not for the faint of heart” – no place for the meek?

            Rio Pueblo de Taos too far from Manby Spring to be a solution? Yes I say so, def too far to walk if that’s your starting point.

          • Dal-
            Did Forrest ever say there was an error in TTOTC? I though he did and I think I found it. He spells caddis with one d one page 125. Did you happen to catch this also?

          • But say you don’t like Hot Springs being the solution for WWWH.

            Rio Pueblo de Taos starts in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. And it flows through the Pueblo Canyon. Not far – it’s a pretty good distance from Blue Lake to the city of Taos (which I’m calling home of Brown, for many reasons)

            That still brings you to the same location. Between Taos and the Rio and a creek you can’t paddle on and is considered “not for the faint of heart”

          • Matt-
            I think someone mentioned the caddis vs cadis question earlier…
            There are typos in both books and many folks have mentioned them to him. I don’t know that he has ever said there was any kind of a mistake that was also a clue in TTOTC…
            Look at the gone fishing videos and the video titled “mistakes not errors”. In that video he explains in the beginning how mistakes happen…and then goes on to say that not all the mistakes are actually errors in some of his books…
            I’m neutral but leaning toward disbelief on the idea of typos being clues…
            But lets say it is a hint…what kind of hint could it be?
            It just seems much more like a common typo to me. I mak them all the time.

          • well the word is spelled with two d’s, but yeah it could just be a typo not a clue. I do not believe he would leave a clue such as that so obvious. But on the other hand, the location of the chest could be close to a river/stream that has caddis hatches and not some other kind of fly?

          • Stan-
            I do know that I am affected by anything more than 7,000 feet. That’s because I live at about 42 feet above sea level. Plenty of oxygen down here. My body is used to it.
            Even when I go to Taos or West Yellowstone I can feel the difference. I have to take more breaks to let my lungs catch-up and I really want to sleep a lot more. I could never be one of those guys that climb the 10 highest peaks…lol…
            I think I read once that air at sea level contains about 20% oxygen. While at 7,000ft there is only about 16% oxygen. Two more thousand feet and were probably down to 15%…
            Some people are totally unaffected by the difference. Reactions vary….
            But if the chest turns out to be too much for me I am certain I can call on someone to help me carry it out…lol…

          • No worries mate I got your back.

            Although I live at 27 feet above sea level, the higher altitude doesn’t bother me.

  10. I searched there. It is a magical place. Some things really make sense about it. I am planning on going back to this area too. Read my story on Ladies Only. about sinks.

  11. It seems to fit the poem quite well but I know it has to have been searched quite a bit. I was curious where people get stuck on the clues with this place?

  12. I agree with Matt T…WTWWH…Fire River Hole, like flutterby. Pg 125, last paragraph deffinately points to his resting place. Time for everyone to get together and do a military style grid search and find the chest in the woods!

    • I am in! I think once you have found the correct wwwh that the rest will come together. But if you do not have the right wwwh your search is over before it began :(

      • I hope you are right but I have a feeling with all the different interpretations for HOB and Blaze, we could still go right by it!

        • yeah I do not think you can figure out HOB or the blaze on the internet/through research. I believe you have to be out in the wild looking to figure it out. And if you do go right by it, you were not wise but still had the fun of the thrill of the chase.

          • halogetter-
            He writes caddis with one d two times on page 125. I dont believe this is a typo. He has to know that it contains 2 d’s, he was a fly fisherman his whole life.

    • Donna-
      I also believe that the last paragraph is where the chest is located. Also, didn’t FF mention that he made an error in the TTOTC? Well I think I found it. In the last paragraph he says “and the last cadis hatch is gone” I think caddis is spelled with 2 d’s. Anyone else find this error?

          • Caddis is indeed spelled with two d’s, as all fly fishers who know their stream entomology would know. And the word caddisfly or caddisflies, like mayfly or mayflies, is the more generally accepted term rather than two words. Caddisflies are the primary food source for trout in many streams.

            But there are a number of other glitches or deliberate spelling oddities in TTOTC, such as “because he said he said he” and “Romanesque Lock Box”, to mention a few.

            He published it himself, so he had final say in the content. You need to judge if it’s a mistake, just messin’, deliberate, or other. And the deliberate or other categories are large…

            Halogetter

  13. Yes,Donna, the last paragraph, and the last ‘cadis hatch’ is gone…. Brown Mayflys….. (great trout bait) trouble is there are thousands of places that they like to hatch on a river, but there are certain definate features they perfer.

  14. There are multiple Brown cadis as wells Mayflies. I was hoping I was on to something too with this train of thought, but alas, there are many Browns in reference to bait as well as everything else.

  15. i tink the book is the clues to warm. wut is warm. is wut feels warm by ur body temp thaz y the bronse fel cold to there hands. the body tem is 37 degres n so poem say start their n tkae it down, so tat tak you to 36 degres wher mexico n arizana is at

  16. Forrest say’s, You have to know were to start, or it wont work. How are we suppose to know to start, if you begin it were the warm waters halt. There are hundreds of these is the Rockies. That is why people are running all over the place. If he would just give us another sentence in there. Another clue to the beginning would be nice. a hint. So after that you need a canyon. Than you need a creek. So well I think I have about 20 on that, now I need about 20 grand to go look and pay a few bills in the meantime….LOL

  17. Ok ya’ll. I’ve kept quiet about this, and prob still should, but… I lived in TX all my life till 18 years ago and got transplanted to KC, MO (work). My daddy used to yell at my brother to keep his “bold jewels” covered after he got out of the shower and ran to his room. “As I have gone in there alone, with my treasures bold” sounds like a skinny dip definition, like when Mr. Fenn swam nude and moved down stream at the edge of the warm water to cool off. Dal wrote about his swimming experience too. Just saying…¥Peace¥

  18. Ocean Fish Riches New & Old
    I have Listen with all my Might
    I am wise and Worth Cold
    You will hear me whistle
    knowing I am Coming,
    to be giving title to the Gold.
    So Hear me all and listen good
    Commence as all you want
    I have done it and now I am strong.

Please Comment Here