This following story was submitted by The Wolf.
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED June 2013
It is our last night and we have searched nine of the ten locations. I am starting to feel that my imagination was too active and to be honest – unrealistic. Forrest said that all you need is a little imagination, a logical mind and a lot of hard work. One of the key principles I used was to try and get into his mind. I have a similar background and I feel there is a connection there and thinking exactly like him is critical. I felt I followed this criteria, but perhaps I let my imagination get away from me. Is it possible my initial instincts were correct and I abandoned my concept too early? If so, where did I go wrong? Had reading blogs and listening to all those entertaining poem solutions, somehow subconsciously corrupted my natural cognitive thought process? Of course all those wild concepts of anagrams and warm waters halting at the continental divide, clouds, trains, Dr. Pepper cans, etc were entertaining but could they have altered my inherent natural connection to Forrest’s mind – LOL? I need to review how I got here in the first place…
So how did I chose this area to begin with, after all there are many places in the Rocky Mountains that are north of Santa Fe? First, logic would indicate north to be north – not northwest. Also, even though Forrest is a pilot, he stopped flying several years before he hid the treasure, thus to fly the trove out to any destination would be a herculean feat and it would bring too much attention to himself. I know that he went through a lot of effort to keep his family and close friends from figuring out his time line; like hiding the treasure under a handkerchief and then replacing it with a set of books. This logic leads me to believe that the trove has to be within a few hours drive and solo over-nighters are out of the question. I think it is possible to for it be near a small airport if this is a special place that he may have frequented in the past. He must also choose a place that is easy to walk to for an 80-year-old man, but difficult enough that only a few would want to access it. I believe the logical distance to be approximately 500 meters from his parked car and that distance also depends on the ruggedness of the terrain. The clues have to be cleaver, consistent and make logical sense in the end, yet they cannot be too obvious. One other very important fact that I may have fallen victim to is that the entire solution is all in the poem. One does not need the book and if one relies entirely on the book to solve the poem, then the solution is likely wrong. The book should only confirm the solution through subtle unintentional hints. One final important note; I believe the solution to be in the Rocky Mountains (obvious, but), that eliminates a lot of territory such as Jemez Mountains (they were formed volcanically) and the Rio Grande River valley, if you stay within 3 hours of Santa Fe. That doesn’t mean we can’t start outside as long as one finishes in the Rocky Mountains. That pretty much leaves only the Sangre de Cristo (or Blood of Christ) Mountains.
So with that in mind, my logical solution starts within the poem at Questa after all this is mentioned in the poem with the word “quest.” Questa is a two hour drive north of Santa Fe which is the sweet-spot distance for an out and back. There are double omegas in the colophon, and on the map in the book there is a “W”, which is omega in the Greek alphabet. If you do not believe those gold nuggets look like a “W”, then maybe it is a man looking down at a rock and the inscription within that rock is a set of twin mountains. Those double omegas resemble two mountains and there is a set of twin mountains – North and South Guadalupe Mountains just west of Questa. Also, if you look upstream into the Red River Canyon from Questa, the mountains take the shape of a “W” with the Chevron Molybdenum mine being the Apex of the “W.” Maybe Forrest cleverly substitutes the “X” marks the spot with a “W” that marks the spot. It would be just like Forrest to use a “W” since it is only one letter away from “X”. All of these coincidences give strong support to Questa but where do warm waters halt? The Chevron Moly mine has some tailings ponds (note plural as in plural waters) that nest right at the base of those twin mountains. The interesting fact about tailings ponds is their temperature is about 68 degrees F. Some may feel that is not warm, but wait a minute, is that not what room temperature is and is room temperature not warm? After all, “hot springs” are hot – not warm, n’est-ce pas? Remember Forrest’s story about the school children who touched the statue and thought it was cold and he said it only felt cold to our touch because our body temperature is warmer? Coal powered power plants that use recirculating cooling ponds also fit the warm water description but they are non-existent around northern New Mexico. Either way, this temperature is 20-30 degrees warmer than any other natural source in the area. Finally, “where warm waters halt” must be unique and cannot be obvious because Forrest said only two different parties have correctly identified it, which logically factors out obvious reservoir dams like Eagle’s Nest.
So now that I am convinced that I have identified where warm waters halt, I follow the canyon down to about 2.6 km which is too far to walk to the Red River Fish Hatchery to the home of Brown. This state hatchery is the largest in New Mexico and once produced Brown trout. A home by definition is where one is born and raised, thus a hatchery fits that logical definition perfectly. So I now need to find “no place for the meek” that one cannot “paddle up”. There is a very small dry creek that follows the southern border of the hatchery and wouldn’t you know it, electrical power lines (“heavy loads”) cross right over that creek. As you climb the dry creek, the hatchery has several ponds bordering the creek that are “water high”. Just above that creek is a hatchery service road that Forrest could have used to park and then walk a few hundred meters up the creek to hide the trove. That leaves the blaze, what can that be? I refer to the photo in the book that has no trees and the bird is nesting on the moon. The Questa (Chevron) Moly mine and the entire mountain has all of the trees removed and it looks like a bright white scar (blaze by definition) seen from miles away. I ran a simulation in Google Earth and I could see that from the hatchery from a very prominent location. So with that convincing set of 9 clues, Jordan and I packed our bags, flew out to Colorado Springs and drove three hours to Questa.
On our first day we will search this convincing area, but as I mentioned in my earlier stories the logic is breaking down. I am loosing confidence in this area because the “water high” is not that high and I believe the book supports better sources, 2.6 km really is not “too far to walk”; and the Taos Ski Valley seems much more convincing.
During this initial search, we had the most enjoyable hike to the top of the ridge overlooking the Red River Fish Hatchery, we took several pictures and dined on our our Forrest recommended sandwich. We also followed the creek up to a dead end where there were several interesting places to hide the trove; but no blaze. Finally we followed the power lines up the steep hill until we could see the cup in the fore ground mountain frame the Chevron Moly Mine blaze just like Forrest’s gun sight from his BB gun that he used to shoot meadow larks. Upon arrival we looked quickly down but could not see any sign of the treasure. I think this very imaginative solution has Indiana Jones type potential, since it also has a link to the T.S. Eliot poem where he explains why we explore and how we end up returning to the beginning. Using the moly mine scar (where the warm waters start) as the blaze does not produce a precise enough solution to pinpoint an exact hiding place. It does however, produce an intriguing story! The interesting part of this solution is that it was in this general area that I found of the Centurion statue blaze while fishing nearby (part 3), but that blaze is not in the wood and doesn’t explain the cold.
As I said this is our last night, I once again surrender to my fate and I continue to wonder where exactly I went wrong. Is the poem that random that it will take luck to find it? Sometimes it is hard to admit when you are wrong, even though you feel so convinced that you will travel across the continent with utmost confidence. I feel that the only way the treasure can be where a 80 year man could walk to, is that there has to be something that all the previous searchers are missing. Why are we not “wise” enough to see the blaze? Do we have to witness the sun strike the blaze at an exact time and on an exact date to see it?
Since this trip was such a wonderful adventure, I can’t help but to reminisce as I peer through our photos one last time before I hit the sack. I flip through the photos that I took at 8 am in the morning in search area 6, when I came across this one that sends shivers down my back. It’s the blaze! All of a sudden the word “wise” makes total sense – the solution is in the poem! In my mind there is no doubt about it, but I think there is no way I can find a blaze with only five clues, I frantically grab the map and search for where warm waters halt. Now the hair stands up on the back of my neck… here we go again!
I have considered this source before but I guess listening to too many alternatives may have “clouded” my judgement. Now I have seven clues but no home of Brown and heavy loads. A few more pictures reveals heavy loads and now the clue that everyone dreads – home of Brown. I fight with all my might to avoid rationalizing a solution. I acknowledge that I have, in my opinion, a suitable home of Brown, but logically it just doesn’t feel right. All of the other clues are Fennienly perfect but this home of Brown seems ordinary and a bit of a stretch. I realize Forrest says imagination is more important than knowledge but I am not totally convinced to the point of moving with conviction. What I am convinced of, is that I have found the blaze and because of that I stare at the ceiling until 3 a.m. trying to fall asleep – not again!. In a way I am not happy that I have jumped back onto the emotional roller coaster, because I wanted to leave with closure – which I had. On the other hand the thrill of the chase adrenalin flows at full force through my veins and it feels, oh so good!
In the morning, we wake up and pack our stuff. We will only have a few hours to search and I still plan to visit the Rio Grande-Red River confluence. We have a great time trekking to the blaze and I am pleased to see Jordan gain confidence as he tackles the challenging journey to the blaze. Upon arrival we verify the blaze and start searching. We look under every nook and cranny near the blaze. There are only a few places to search and after two hours we sit back and enjoy our sandwich and breath the clean fresh mountain air. I want to see Jordan fish one last time but before we do, I must depart convinced the trove is not here. Finally, I force myself to leave but not without turning back several times to recheck one last time. We then drive all the way over to the Rio-Red Confluence and my oh my what a spectacular view. I wish I could have spent the whole week up there overlooking the grandeur. The feeling of defeat easily leaves my sole as I once again remind myself why I am here.
That night I felt satisfied we lived this adventure the best we could and I will leave knowing that I gave it 99%, yet I can’t quite totally let it go. I guess I should have given it 100% and I don’t want to quit but I promised that I would only have one shot at this. During the plane ride home I once again pull out my camera and flip through the photos as I reflect on this once in a life time adventure. I again start to relax and understand what this was about, as each photo tells its own story. I anxiously, but reluctantly, flip through the area 6 photos and that I took during my first visit. With a smile, I enjoy reflecting back until I view this one photo; I suddenly had that epiphany moment. I look at Jordan with a huge grin of satisfaction and a high five – this is the home of Brown. I can’t believe I did not realize it during my initial trek, since this logical concept was on my original list of possibilities when I initially began my research. This is, without a doubt, the missing link and it matches the cleverness and consistency of the other clues. With immense satisfaction I took a deep breath and exhaled slowly, as I realized I had finally solved all nine clues. I cannot express in words how gratifying that feeling is and to realize I have just lived the ultimate thrill of the chase. After a few moments, I again flipped though the photos to see why I could not find the treasure and I again, looked at Jordan with complete confidence and stated, “We stood on Forrest’s treasure!” What an awesome feeling that was and I understand this is hard to believe – I just sat back and relaxed, as I realized that treasure isn’t going anywhere. Live life to the fullest!