The following story was submitted by Einstein.
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED APRIL 2013
All of the information in these stories is as true as one man can figure out considering Forrest provided me with a whifferdilly of a poem. And please don’t fret if some of the things I say don’t make sense to you or you disagree. If what I reveal is not the location, maybe parts of my wisdom or imprudence will help you in your chase. For all the hardcore Fennatics, I hope to make you smile with some familiar words. If you are already smiling then I know you are in the chase.
It was eleven o’clock on March 31st 2013 when my journey began. My innocent search for knowledge on the Internet resulted in redirection to someone’s blog titled “What’s A Blaze”. I don’t recall what I was originally searching for, but the subtitle on the blog caught my eye. I took the time to read the first blog entry and soon enough found myself at the Old Sante Fe Trading Co. website reading a poem. I had read about many treasure legends in my time, always wanting to pursue one but knowing they are just legends. Here is a living pirate, Forrest Fenn, providing his map, giving hints over time, and I think that is funny. Oh, not that the chase is funny, but it is funny that I call Forrest a pirate.
The first time I read the poem I said to myself “I know where warm waters halt and the home of Brown”. I may have a bit of an advantage because I grew up below the flight path Forrest took when he covered a million people with his left thumb. I then started thinking about other areas and reading about Native Americans, art, fur trappers, warm water fishing territories, blazes, canyons, etc. I even researched fairies dancing around a rock, if you can believe I’d come to that. I did this for hours, until 1755 (that’s 5:55 PM), and came to the conclusion my original location was a fit for me. I learned so much in those hours including that I could make the poem to fit many locations in the Rocky Mountains. My brain was under the spell of Fenn’s poem.
The next morning I awoke at 7:55AM thinking about the poem and where it brought me the day before. I dissected the poem and came to my conclusion that the second and third stanzas are the key to the location, with home of Brown the most critical clue, and the remaining stanzas telling you what to do once you are there; maybe a design deficiency on my part.
On April 20th my book arrived and I read it a multiple times scratching my head a bit at some of Fenn’s inaccuracies and interesting tales; but, he did warn me that he embellishes a little and does not have to be right all the time. My goal with the book was to find subtle hints to validate my location and how to retrieve the chest, not change or expand the poem’s directions with other clues. The poem itself brought me to my location. I am a believer that the location of the treasure is all about Fenn’s two run-ins with death Ω Ω. I feel that The War and Me , which he wrote years before the book, is the most important story.
Here is where all this brought me; some of it important and some of it insignificant yet interesting:
As I have gone alone in there
And with my treasures bold,
I can keep my secret where,
And hint of riches new and old.
My Treasures is a poem written by Robert Louis Stevenson in his A Child’s Garden of Verses collection. He is also author of the book Treasure Island. He traveled through the Rocky Mountains, as written in his book Across the Plains. His only stop in the Rocky Mountains was in Ogden Utah to change trains from the Union Pacific to the Central Pacific railway.
TTOTC: “It was our secret alone…” (In reference to the clearing and the waterfall).
Begin it where warm waters halt
And take it in the canyon down,
Not far, but too far to walk.
Put in below the home of Brown.
The Great Basin halts (to stop; suspend movement or progress) water from making it to the ocean. The Great Salt Lake is a terminal lake (has no outlets besides evaporation). It is known for its shallow, warm waters that cause lake effect snows from late fall through spring. In 1826 a group of four trappers from the Rocky Mountain Fur Company spent twenty-four days circumnavigating the lake, attempting to put to rest the idea of a river flowing from it to the Pacific Ocean
Now I tangled with this for some time and it is my belief that the canyon down is put in below the home of Brown. This defines the entrance to the location of the booty. This decision could be the end to my chase; but decisions have to be made, as indecision will get you nowhere.
So I am looking for a canyon down. For my “where warm waters halt”, I will have to apply the following definition to down: away from a place considered central. This canyon is most likely going into the Rocky Mountains; therefor, I will be taking it in. But first I need to find the Brown home.
The home of Brown University is Providence Rhode Island. Providence Utah is just along the border of the Rocky Mountains in northeast Utah. This area is known as Cache Valley, Cache County UT, in Cache National Forest. How appropriate an area to possibly hide a treasure?
A group from Ogden Utah who thought Ogden was becoming overcrowded founded Providence Utah. Originally the settlement was named Spring Creek after a small creek the provided water from the Bear River Range.
Forrest is always questioning not having a college degree; here is a little interesting information on a possible Brown University connection:
The Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology at Brown University has one of the largest Native North American teaching museums. The museum’s goal is to inspire creative and critical thinking by fostering understanding of the material world. It provides opportunities for students to work with collections and the public, teaching through objects. These collections include nearly 60,000 objects privately collected by Rudolf F. Haffenreffer Jr. before his death.
HaFFENreffer – interesting in the least but still interesting.
Haffenreffer left Boston and his father’s Haffenreffer Brewery in the early 1900’s and eventually became president of the Narragansett Brewing Company in Rhode Island. One of Haffenreffer’s passions was to collect cigar store Indian totems. He hired a local artist, Theodore Geisel, to design a new icon for the company named “Chief Gansett” the Indian. Theodore would soon after become known as Dr. Seuss. Narragansett Brewery sells a variety of stout beers and is known for its red, green, and black logos/beer labels.
Haffenreffer bought “the throne of King Phillip” land in Rhode Island and turned it into a dairy farm with choice Guernsey cattle. A short time later, Haffenreffer became president of a Utah mining company known as the Utah-Apex mining company. This purchase sparked his interest in anthropology and Native American artifacts. For decades, as he traveled to the mine each year, he would stop in Sante Fe and send trunk loads of Native American artifacts back to Rhode Island to expand his collection. Heffenreffer, unlike other Native American collectors of his time, was more interested in the people themselves and how their lives had shaped than the objects themselves.
In 1921 a fire destroyed his farm and Haffenreffer decided at that time to follow his Native American interests by expanding his collection and building the King Phillip museum on the property. Upon his death in 1954, at the age of eighty, the museum and his collection was donated to Brown University. The book Passionate Hobby is a great read if you are interested in the Haffenreffer history.
Another interesting note: Haffenreffer was investigated by the National Park Service regarding the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) for 180 artifacts that were supposedly found near graves. Forrest is very familiar with NAGPRA (enough said).
TTOTC: “… across a blur of lights that never slept: Boston, Providence, Hartford, …”
TTOTC: “If Robert Redford had ever written …”. Robert Redford received an honorary degree from Brown University in 2008.
Just below Providence is Canyon Road that leads up into Providence Canyon (found my Canyon Down). Look! The treasure is right there on the map below!
From there it’s no place for the meek,
The end is ever drawing nigh;
There’ll be no paddle up your creek,
Just heavy loads and water high.
Joseph Meek was a famous fur trapper that worked for the Rocky Mountain Fur Company. Cache County/Valley was named ‘Cache’ for fur stashed made by many of the Rocky Mountain Fur Company trappers. In 1840 Meek admitted “the fur trade is dead in the Rocky Mountains, and it is no place for us, if it ever was.” It is here the chase enters the Rocky Mountains. This line is confirmation you are in the correct mountains. Remember, Forrest added the Rocky Mountain clue well after the book was published.
Providence Canyon, traversed by Canyon Road and Spring Creek, is approximately 3 miles long to its end. Spring Creek runs the whole length of the canyon then straight up the nigh side of the canyon for about 500 feet. Spring Creek is shallow and rocky and goes up the steep canyon wall. There is no way to paddle up this creek.
The Canyon Road and Spring Creek end at Providence Quarry. Heavy loads of limestone were pulled out of the quarry in the early/mid 1900’s. There are five high waterfalls that come into the valley that you can see from anywhere in the quarry. Elevation at this location is 6,500+ feet.
Forrest many times has said there is an appropriate quote in the Joseph Duveen (JD) biography: ‘they never knew that it was the chase they sought and not the quarry”. Hmm… Einstein found a quarry.
More interesting Providence Canyon facts: Big Baldy Mountain is the south side of the Canyon and one of the uses for the limestone mined from the canyon was whitewashing. Sounds like an old man’s head as it was described to me.
TTOTC: “Suddenly, something wonderfully innocent occurred. A small clearing appeared at eleven o’clock on … It was magical because a small waterfall in… It was our secret alone”. Providence Quarry is at eleven o’clock from Sante Fe New Mexico.
TTOTC: “After that mission, it was time to pay my debt to the waterfall and the magic clearing to which I felt so obligated.”
TTOTC: “… strangely insidious something began to gnaw on me. This could not be the end of it. There was no feeling of closure at all, no sense of completeness. It was disappointing.”
TTOTC: “… except for the occasion flashes of that insinuating something unfinished.”
TTOTC: “… only to be drawn to that place? What kind of fool would take a defenseless helicopter to that waterfall?”
I believe the War and Me story is the most important part of the book. This story was written long before he wrote The Thrill of the Chase. He knew exactly where to put the treasure long before the book was written. It is my belief that Forrest found another waterfall to make a deal with when he was diagnosed with cancer. It worked in Vietnam, why not here? Only Forrest knows.
Hear me all and listen good! Now that I am at my location, the rest of the poem seems to direct me how to retrieve the chest. You would think this would be the easiest part; but for me it is the hardest. I have struggled on these words. Maybe I need to be at the location to figure this out. I need to be wise and at least have a set of ideas!
If you’ve been wise and found the blaze,
Look quickly down, your quest to cease,
But tarry scant with marvel gaze,
Just take the chest and go in peace.
So why is it that I must go
And leave my trove for all to seek?
The answer I already know,
I’ve done it tired, and now I’m weak.
So hear me all and listen good,
Your effort will be worth the cold.
If you are brave and in the wood
I give you title to the gold.
There are 5 waterfalls in Providence Quarry. I have a suspicion that the blaze is the east most waterfall on the south side of the canyon that is referred to as blaze falls. Maples and quaking aspen that light up like a blaze in the fall surround the waterfall. Also, the water splits off of a rock about 15 feet up making it look like a flickering blaze in the sunlight. There are no pictures of this here since I don’t want to infringe on anyone’s copyrights. This waterfall is about 500 feet up so I am sure I will be tired and weak when I get to it.
When I get to the waterfall I will look quickly down and hope the waterfall exhibits undercut erosion as most soft stone waterfalls do. I will marvel and gaze at it for a while and then feel the water temperature before I quickly reach under to find the chest; but, I will be brave and it will be worth the cold. Maybe this is why Forrest laughed on his way back to the car? Maybe he was soaking wet?
Here are some other thoughts I might apply when I get there:
One side of Providence Canyon (North sunny side – south facing) is covered in Utah Juniper Trees/Maples/Aspen and the other side (South – north facing) covered in Lodgepole Pines.
TTOTC: “So I applied more mountain man wisdom to the situation. The sun comes up in the east and…”
Is the sun the blaze? Do I watch the sunset then look quickly down? Which side of the canyon do I stand on to watch the sunset? Maybe I stand or search the tarry scant side (the trees with less pitch) in the wood?
Will I be cold because the sun will have set? Will I be brave being there in the dark after sunset? Is this why someone might need a flashlight? Will I be hungry since I am there through sunset and I should bring a sandwich?
Do I climb up Spring Creek? Is that why you are tired and weak?
Scant is also a sheet or block of stone sawn on both sides usually pulled from quarries. Do I look for a tar/pitch block of stone? Or, is the quarry full of white limestone so anything tarry is scant?
Over the past month I have been monitoring the Utah Avalanche Observation Center. Those fine young lads have been posting pictures and trip reports for Providence Canyon. The snow has melted and the waterfalls rush…
Now I sit here with an insinuating something unfinished. This cannot be the end of it. There is no feeling of closure at all, no sense of completeness. I must at least search the quarry before I can put all of this behind me.
7:55 AM: Weather forecast for Providence Utah looks great; sunny and mid seventies all week, mid forties at night.
4:50 PM: Boarding the plane in San Diego for Salt Lake City.
8:40 PM: As the plane makes its final descent into Salt Lake City, I can see the Rocky Mountains out my window on the right. An overwhelming feeling has come over me. Mr. Fenn, what have you gotten me into here? Trying to find a 10” x 10” treasure chest in 382,894 square miles of mountains? I see snow covered peaks rolling on to eternity laughing at my puny presence. The reality starts to set in. These Rockies look so much bigger than they do on my computer screen under Google Maps. Honestly, I knew what I was getting into and here I am… Thoughts of what those Fur Trappers experienced over a hundred years ago; spending years in these mountains, in the elements, Indians protecting their home from outsiders, etc. I have it easy!
Being an engineer I had to do the math. There are 63,360 inches in a mile. The Rocky Mountains cover 1,537,123,980,902,400 square inches. The chest itself is 100 square inches. I guess you could say there are in approximately 15 trillion unique locations for the chest since most of the Rocky Mountains are over 5,000 feet in elevation. And I am really attempting to find this?
8:55 PM: The Eagle has landed.
11:25 PM: Arrive at the Home of Brown, Providence Utah. How many of you Fennatics can say you slept in the Home of Brown? Interesting yet insignificant fact: to get from my Warm Waters Halt to my Home of Brown I took the 89 to the 91.
12:30 PM: Good Night Moon.
9:15 AM: I enter the mouth of the canyon and the first sign I see is titled “Are You Beeping? – Know Before You Go”. Well I am not beeping but my cell phone works all the way in the quarry.
The canyon walls here are covered with purple and yellow flowers indicating spring is here. Not sure what they are but here is a picture of the purple flowers:
You would never get a sense for the elevation changes here from Google 3D Maps. On the way in I see the Spring Creek waterfall but I will leave that for last. My goal today is to rule out everything else. I have two days here and that is my plan as backwards as it sounds. The chest or my misery can wait one more day.
9:30 AM: I start my voyage around the quarry looking for anything that might match the final three stanzas. Many of the trails here are extremely challenging and half way up a few I felt like I was experiencing cardiac arrest. If Forrest climbed these trails then he is my hero and his treasure can stay here until eternity for all I care. It is possible to get up to the higher points with a real 4×4 but the Ford Escape that Thrifty rented me is not going up those trails. Maybe Forrest was driving a Humvee.
11:00 AM: I have ruled out, at least for me, four of the waterfalls here due to the trail difficulty and makeup of the waterfall. Forrest did say he did it tired but I am way too tired and he has 30+ years on me.
11:05 AM: I head up, about 500 feet, to the blazing waterfall on the south canyon. It is a bit tiring but not overwhelming like the others and I did it after attempting all of those. I get to the base of the falls and slip on a wet log I am traversing for some unknown reason. I could have just walked around it. Saving my very expensive digital SLR camera from the agony, my right hand takes the impact. I don’t even know why I am carrying that camera as I am using my iPhone to take the pictures. Now I have to finish this chase injured but I have had worse so I will Keep Calm and Carry On.
Here is a picture of the blazing waterfall. The wood around it is maples and quaking aspen but they are green this time of year so I did not take a larger picture. They say pictures are worth a thousand words but, as I sit back in the hotel room looking at this, it looks so small compared to real life.
I look at the waterfall and look quickly down. I marvel gaze as I notice the bottom back left of the waterfall is undercut as I had expected, hidden by the dangling moss that covers it. I remove some of the moss and notice it is about 4 feet wide and 1 foot high with a rainbow ending at the opening. The picture below does not do the rainbow justice. I quickly reach in and feel around a bit. I quickly pull back soaked from cold raging waters and marvel gaze at it some more, looking in as to see a bronze chest. I think back to those two guys I saw on a video wading in the freezing creek trying to find the chest and wonder did Mr. Fenn really just get me to do that?
Maybe I need a flashlight to look in there before I take a cold waterfall bath? I’ll come back to this spot later as stupid as that sounds. I must admit, part of me just wants to dive in there but then I will be more a soggy mess and I did not come prepared for that today.
12:30 PM: I head out of the canyon for to eat, rest, and ice my hand.
3:30 PM: I head back up to the blazing waterfall and the sun has gone down a bit allowing a better marveling gaze in. I feel in a bit with a stick. It goes quite deep, at least 3 or 4 feet. I’ll save this for tomorrow equipped with water poncho and backup clothes.
4:00 PM: The rest of the day I walk around the whole quarry looking for anything new. I find lots of cattle dung and up high on the north side I find what resembles bear dung. I hope dung is not all I will find on this trip.
6:30 PM: I stop on the upper north canyon wall next to the bear dung, sit down, and marvel at everything. I think about how Old Ephraim, an 1100-pound Grizzly Bear walked this area in the early 1900’s, how Joseph Meek most likely walked Spring Creek that is 100 feet away from me, and how hard it must have been for the workers in this quarry over a hundred years ago. It is so peaceful and tranquil here. Occasionally a 4×4, mountain biker, or runner goes by and I just wave like nothing is happening.
7:00 PM: I leave the canyon and bail out on the possibility of the sunset being the blaze based on my observations. I hope this is not a fatal mistake. It is time for some rest and relaxation.
10:00 PM: Watching Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom while I sit in the Jacuzzi tub to heal my old tired muscles.
10:00 AM: Today is the day my chase for the Fenn Treasure ends. I head to Big 5 sports and pick up a disposable rain parker and a camping waterproof Ziploc bag. It is a big bit colder today, 50 degrees to be exact; 75 degrees yesterday at this time.
10:30 AM: I stop at First Waterfall Hollow and take a quick look around since I have been ignoring its presence. Two old men sit on a small footbridge that crosses Spring Creek. A small conversation takes place and I learn that one is 82 years old and the other 79 years old. They walked 2 miles into the canyon this morning! They played in these canyons as kids. I ask them if there is a blaze around here and they tell me what I want to hear.
10:45 AM: I arrive at the quarry and there is a car parked with Colorado plates. I wonder if it is a fellow Fennatic. I start my way up the 500’ trail to the blazing falls.
11:00 AM: I throw on the rain poncho and empty my pockets. Did Mr. Fenn really convince me to do this? I think to myself “surrender your hand to the heart of the warrior” except I will be surrendering my head also. The water dumps on my head like I am at Typhoon Lagoon and man it is cold. I stick my head in for about 5 seconds and feel around. Why did I not bring a flashlight? This is a perfect spot to leave a treasure chest. The cavern goes back about 4 feet. I quickly pull back and sit on a nearby rock feeling hypothermic. What did I just see? Was it there? I convince myself it was not there. It was so cold I am not exactly sure I looked close enough. As I sit here in my warm hotel room writing this I question myself and wonder if I should go back and brave the cold again. I guess I did not truly brave the cold; but I am done.
11:20 AM: I place my copy of the book with a note of how I got there in a large Ziploc bag and place it in the blazing waterfall undercut held down by a small scant of limestone. My chase for the treasure has ended. I am at peace with it all now.
11:25 AM: As I walk to my car I cannot stop laughing. My shoes are making a squeaking noise as the water slushes inside them. I now realize it was the thrill of the chase I sought and not the quarry. Thank you Mr. Fenn.