The following story was submitted by The Wolf.
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED april 2013
My son Jordan and I arrived in C-Springs and rented a car and drove to the TAOS area. Our plan was to search the Enchanted Circle area of TAOS. We plan to hike, fish and of course pick up the treasure at some point do to my sure fire method of solving the poem. I first learned about the poem from the Today show. It took me 3 days of pretty hard work to get all 9 clues and I had some time on my hands because I needed Jordan to get the time off work. During that time I decided to research some cool hiking and fishing areas, as well as test my spot to see if I can find any back up spots. After I finished, I had amassed a total of 10 possible areas to search, all of varying clue solutions. This article covers my number two and three spots. I was so sure it was there I was already planning what to do with it, planning press releases, drafting a poem for Forrest, etc. Just like the three stooges writing checks just because they bought a lottery ticket!
My search began with Where Warm Waters Halt (WWWH). I was searching for such waters in the Wheeler peak area because a nearby mountain is called “Bull of the Woods”. I found this very small pond on the other side of the mountain that was spring fed. It was called Blake’s Lake (near Williams Lake) at about 13000 feet elevation. The interesting thing about this lake (other than it is named after my other son) is that at some point past the pond the water just disappears underground for a while and then reappears further down the canyon. Ah, what a wonderful fulfilment of the “Halt” criteria! If you follow the canyon down 4000 meters (that fits the too far to walk criteria) it intersects Long Creek (“The Long Ride Home” from the book) in the middle of the TAOS Ski Valley. I think maybe Fenn is using his humor here to use this area by stuffing it right under everyone’s nose. That would even explain why he knows whether the treasure is still there. Further to the strength of such an area is that it is owned by the village and my research stated that anything found on municipal lands, you can keep. I am thinking, that Fenn is a genius, he even thought of that aspect. Now I had to look for the Home of Brown, so a quick search in the village directory indicated that UPS (co-located with USPS) was right at that intersection between the two creeks. I think to myself, no one would ever think of that, and if you did, it would be so hard to associate. My secondary search area is now rapidly gaining strength.
200 meters up Long creek there is a fork in the creek which meets the “no place for the meek” for this climb is quite steep. I figured heavy loads could be the bridges crossing the creek and the water high are the cascades of small waterfalls along this creek. Now I just have to find the blaze. During this search I noticed the TAOS Ski Valley has a helicopter pad and the creek running below it led to Heli-pad Falls. Forrest mentions helicopters over 10 times in his book and he used a helicopter to get to his special spot in Vietnam. This either gives more strength to my area of perhaps the “brownout” effect produced by helicopters is the home of Brown. At this point I want to re-read the book to see if any other subtle crews come up. I noticed that the streets in the village mostly have animal names. As I read the book, I kept track of the number of times the 35 streets came up. Over half of them did at least once, but I noticed he talked about getting “switched” a lot. I noticed “coyote”, “Phoenix”, “Katchina” and “bull” were mentioned more than once. I found that these street names all occurred around the right fork of the creek (does not work for the “end is drawing neigh” theme but a heavy coincidence none-the-less. One word that keep suspiciously coming up was “Chipmunk”. I was initially disappointed until I looked at a different village map and found “Chipmunk Ln” right on the middle of all those other streets. It was like a bread crumb trail leading me up that right fork. The heavy loads must be all the bridges that cross the creek and the bread crumb trail ends at the “Phoenix-Switch back” road where it turns into “Bull of the Woods trail” (“in the wood”). I had that Eureka moment! He hid it under that road (perhaps a rock tunnel) and that is why he states “in the wood” because when you are in the tunnel you would be in (or under) the wood. Also no one would think of looking there and it would be easy for a 80 year old man to stash it. The Blaze has to be in that tunnel where the creek crosses the “Bull of the Woods trail”.
Now I am getting really exited. After we searched our primary area, we headed to the Taos Ski village at about 2:30; plenty of time to just walk up to that spot and pick up the treasure and still be back before dark, right!? We arrive and verify the clues, found the UPS store, etc. I drive up to the bridge and my heart sinks when I discovered there is no bridge, just a series of culverts. I park and look inside of culvert; nothing seen so I run up the creek about 20 meters and find a small cave – could this be it!? My heart races, I pull out my flashlight (aha, that is why he said to bring that) and remove the snow and I be “brave” and climb in. The cave has a small nook and a pile of dirt where he could hide/burry the treasure too – Mayday-Mayday-Mayday! Where is the blaze? The floor was covered in clear ice – this is the perfect spot but no blaze and no treasure. I return to the car and I fight back tears as I put on my sunglasses, I don’t want to let Jordan notice my sadness. At this point we decided to walk from the base up the creek and see where else it intersects “Bull of the Woods” trail. It is definitely not a place for the meek, the altitude is 10,000 feet and a lot of snow still remains and this up hill climb requires many stops to catch our breath. Finally we come to the creek-trail intersection and HOLY COW my heart stops, is this it? I look down at an aspen tree (“brave”) and there is the blaze a perfectly carved “F” right at the base of the stream. I look all around but there is no sign of the treasure. Please don’t tell me he buried it in that stream! I look around and find another blaze nearby – this one is an “cave man”, in fact this place is a mecca for blazes. Now I am not so confident. We continue all the way up to the snow line; we stop at the cascades and drink deep the aura of moment. Beautiful, calming sound of the gently rushing water – enough searching let us enjoy this for a while.
At around 6 pm, I decide to pack up and leave but I will check out Heli-pad falls for one last search. Jordan is catching a cold so he stays at the car. It is only 400 meters but it is almost straight up, slipping and sliding up the shale rock requires many stops to plot the next path and to catch much needed breath. The waterfall is spectacular but no way is anyone in there right mind climbing up here (especially an 80 year old man) thank goodness I brought my 406 Personal Locator Beacon just incase.
I start to get really depressed as I succumb to the fact this search is over, and my dream is dead; when I realize that this experience is all a part of the “thrill of the chase”, one must ride the emotional roller coaster to truly run this adventure. I quickly snap out of it and realize that tomorrow is another day and the sun will rise. Thank goodness we planned a lot of other hiking and fishing… now I will focus on spending time with our son. The adventure continues…
Go on to Part Two by clicking here