This following story was submitted by The Wolf.
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED July 2013
The problem with just relying on the belief you have solved the poem, is there will be a constant subconscious questioning of whether you really have the correct solution. If one can live with that belief forever, there is no need to return to prove it. Unfortunately for me that satisfaction did not remain untested. At the end of June, I decided to take my wife Gina and my youngest son Blake out to New Mexico to experience the recovery of the treasure at “Area 6”. After all what better experience for a 13-year-old boy than to discover a million dollar treasure with his father! After school was out we headed to Taos, which would serve as a nice staging location for other vacation activities should we fail to locate the treasure. The problem with this plan is that should I fail to discover the treasure, the thrill of the chase would be over forever as that was the promise I made to my wife. I assessed the probability of my solution matching the poem this closely at 1 in 500,000 mainly because of the near flawless blaze and heavy load combination. However, I only felt our chance of finding the treasure at 66%, mostly because I placed all my bets on digging a hole at the initial spot where the blaze was visible. There was no backup plan other than to sweep the area with a metal detector should it not be at this exact “X” spot.
So our journey to Area 6 begins at the Chevron Moly mine this is where warm waters halt. I previously assumed that warm waters halted at the larger tailings pond at Questa. When I looked at the map and discovered that there were two smaller tailings ponds right at the mine itself, I realized that other hiding places to the east became a possibility. As I mentioned in my previous story, the tailings pond is 68 degrees, which is the temperature of the ore that came from the underground mine and by definition this is warm since it is the temperature in our homes. Further support to this location is the mountain at the mine site; it is completely bald and void of trees, which matches the depiction in the book where the man looks up at the bird nesting in the moon because he has chopped all the trees down. Next we take the Red River canyon down 7000 meters, (too far to walk) and “put in” on the other side of the Red River. Crossing this river has to be done on foot because there is no bridge. This serves as a natural barrier and thus very few people would be willing to cross the river at this location. Fortunately there is a fallen tree and one can get across without getting wet but, if you find the treasure, you will have to cross it on foot which of course will be “worth the cold.” The end of the tree had broken off since my last visit and someone had made a make shift bridge to the fallen tree. I had to take our equipment across the tree bridge and assisted Blake and Gina across as it is a little tricky getting onto the tree bridge. After we cross the river we walked 30 meters directly towards the mountain wall,
we then climbed a 20-foot mound of tailings and at the top was a cave.
This mine is very long and requires a flashlight to venture inside and it also serves as an excellent match for the home of Brown Bat. The fact that this cave is exactly where the trail to the canyon starts and it just happens to be immediately abeam the crossing point for the river which gives great strength for the poem phrase “put in below the home of Brown.” Then we took a left turn (drawing neigh) and followed the mountain side, it is very tough terrain (no place for the meek) as there is no natural path. The first 100 meters is tough slugging as we push through the thorny bushes. Gina repeatedly complains that no 80 year old could do this and I reassured her that Forrest is a very tough 80 year old. Finally, we turned the corner and headed up Bear Canyon. Gina is very afraid of Bears – how afraid is she you ask?
Well our mission was just about aborted that morning when we were at the breakfast table talking to some folks who mentioned that there are Black Bears in the area. My head instantly dropped and I started to slump towards the floor as I know this kind of conversation would definitely get her worked up and I might not get her or Blake to come with me. Sometimes it is best to talk about your fears in order to overcome them so Gina proceeded to tell the group that we once camped at Yellowstone and her dentist planted a huge fear of bears in her mind. The only way she was going to camp was if we booked a spot right in the middle of the largest campground in Yellowstone. I never quite felt we were really camping since we were in the midst of the hundreds of 60 foot trailers towing Hummers. None-the-less, when we were setting up the tent Gina noticed a Buffalo walking right through the next campsite. She explained to me that if a Buffalo can walk through it, certainly a bear can too! Then she returns from the bathroom where she frantically exclaimed a sign said that bears had trampled tents within the last week. It did not seem to matter when I pointed out the date on that sign was a least a month old. As a desperate measure to soothe her fear, I mixed a concoction of Javex, water and pepper, called it “bear repellent” and sprayed a circle of it around the tent. Sure enough, on the first night Gina woke me up and she was so terrified she was shaking uncontrollably. She asked what was making that sound of fur rubbing against the tent and she also wondered what is causing the metal clinking coming from the garbage container? I am too groggy to come up with a repartee as the intermittent sound continued and her concern escalated. After five minutes, I realized my oldest son’s hair was rubbing against the side of the tent whenever he breathed deeply, which proved to be the source of the noise. Well this was enough for her and she jumped out of the tent and slept in the van for the remainder of the camping trip. Even my attempts to plant seeds of guilt in her mind, by asking her as how she could live with herself after watching her entire family eaten by a Grizzly as she watched from the comforts of her fortress, were futile.
I digress, now back to our adventure; we soon came across a near dry stream bed that is only a foot wide which is an excellent fit for “no paddle up your creek” and we followed it up the tight mountain valley. The mountain wall on our right is probably 800 feet straight up and its beauty and grandeur is another reason it drew me here on my initial search. This helped build my case as to why I felt this could be a private and special place to Forrest. Shortly after hiking along this new path, Gina discovered fresh bear scat. I tried to tell her it was Elk dung but she won’t hear it and started to freak out. Finally she gathered her composure and agreed to press on (that’s my sweetie!) but she insisted on singing Christmas carols all the way up, since that is what the folks at the breakfast table recommended – a small price to pay! Three hundred meters up the hill, we started to see a couple of really large eight foot boulders (heavy loads) followed by the sound of the cascades and small waterfalls (water high).
Finally, we crossed the stream and went around this ten foot high boulder where we could first see the blaze. The blaze is 30 meters away and it is a large boulder that looks exactly like an owl.
This blaze is absolutely perfect as it explains why Forrest uses the word “wise” and it also explains why the poem is all you need since “wise” describes the blaze as an owl. It is here that if you look “quickly down” there is a small mound where I believe the treasure is buried.
We fired up the metal detector, held are breaths and swung it across the mound. Nothing! My heart sinks and Gina said “ok lets head back” and I replied “not so fast – we still need to cover the path to the blaze”. I get a couple of hits which makes me excited only to find a couple of empty tin can lids – I guess humans do pass through here after all. After scanning the path, I am ready to finally admit the treasure is not here, when I notice ten feet below the blaze is a small crevasse under the vertical mountain shear wall. I place the metal detector in the hole and to my surprise it squeals. I remove a few rocks and try again and this time it goes berserk . Now our hearts race, this has to be it and I pull out my flashlight and I am “brave” and I crawl in and grab on to something metal (oh this is a good sign) and give it a tug. My heart sinks again as it is only a foot long piece of iron. How the heck did that get there? We spent a total of three hours searching every square foot between the heavy load and the blaze. Finally time is up and we head back down the trail and once we reach the river, fire ants climb up Gina’s pants and start biting her butt; she is so anxious to end this adventure, she scampers across that tree bridge like she is one of the Great Wallendas. I am elated they endured this adventure and I am very happy that Gina faced and over came her bear fear – or so to speak.
During the drive back, we decided to finish the Enchanted Circle via Red River. On the way, we stopped at the Red River Cemetery and I sat on some dead guy’s tombstone. A searcher really has time to think in a graveyard! The light bulb goes on as I realize, that tree that protrudes out of the ground from that pile has to go somewhere and then I realize the other side of that enormous boulder is six feet lower than the blaze side and the water cascades around it. Look “quickly” down means to look down under the “heavy load” boulder. I will have to return the next day alone to check this one spot out because my support group are all “funned out!”
My family’s commitment of this infatuation only goes so far, so the next morning I return alone and the day is beautiful with ultra clear blue skies. At an altitude of 8000 feet the blue in the sky is much clearer and brighter than at sea level. When I arrived at the huge boulder I noticed a very small opening between it and the canyon wall.
It almost looked too small for me to fit in, but I then think about first line in the poem which says, “I went alone in there,” so I guess I must too, and yes, only one person can fit in there which certainly explains the “alone” part. I pull out my flashlight and it all makes sense as to why he says to bring one as it is quite dark in this cramped cavity and I must be “brave” to crawl in this very slim opening.
It is very cramped inside and I can’t see much initially, so I removed some rocks, I scanned the entire cavity and realized that this is the perfect place to hide the treasure but I just can’t find it. That dead tree that I was sticking out from the mound on the other side of this enormous boulder, juts right through the opening and I felt that it must have something to do with the phrase in the poem: “in the wood,” even though we were clearly in the woods at this location
With the time remaining, I spent hiking up to the top of the falls and onto the other side of the creek where I had the best vantage point to view the canyon wall. This is really a beautiful place and I wonder how could I get nine clues so perfectly matched. I am in awe that my warm waters are in fact unique (only two others have correctly identified it before), these waters are 20-30 degrees warmer than any spring or river in the rockies. The distance from there to the home of Brown is right at the sweet spot for too far to walk. Then to find a cave on the river bank that leads to a waterfall is extremely rare, and to top it off, to find a pareidolia that looks exactly like an owl alone is one in a million. This type of blaze is the ultimate, it will last 1000 years, it is easy to miss because you must use your imagination (which we all agree is more important than knowledge). Further, to have that perfect blaze sit right beside a waterfall and to have another waterfall exist exactly at the place where you can first see the blaze, which then allows one to pinpoint the precise location, is extremely remote. Finally, the odds of being able to look down from this spot and find a small dark cavern which is perfect to hide a treasure and then to have this all be the wrong location, is in my opinion astronomical.
That is just the clues in the poem, what about supporting evidence in the book? There are several references that support this location, the primary one is the cartoon of the trees that are chopped down with the bird nesting on the moon. The mountain where the Moly mine exists is entirely cleared of trees. I have never seen a whole mountain without trees and thus it has a very strong resemblance to the meaning behind the cartoon. The apex of the “W,” which is omega in the Greek alphabet, formed by two mountains framing the entrance (which also could be considered the two omegas) to the Red River Valley, is the start of this mine where the warm waters halt. Using a “W” instead of an “X” is not obvious but provides excellent support to this location. The most powerful and convincing book reference is the latitude of this blaze (36 degrees 41 minutes N. ) is exactly the latitude described in the story where Forrest’s father trades the 36 Chev for a 41 Plymouth. The longitude is not as obvious as I would not expect Forrest to make it that easy. Forrest says in the book that the real heros in the Vietnam war were the F105 pilots and on page 129 he says “there is no hero anywhere in me”. He says his “body is tired” in the story where he blankets the whole city of Philadelphia with his thumb in his T-33 jet similar to stanza 5 where he says – “I’ve done it tired”. These hero/tired reference numbers form the exact same longitude of this blaze location – 105 33 W. The odds of this coincidence matching all of the possible locations in the rocky mountains is 1 in 12 million. None-the-less, I have to conclude that either the treasure is either: really well hidden, I interpreted the final part of the poem incorrectly, the treasure has been found, or that the poem is so vague that almost any solution is valid. If the latter is the case, it is impossible for any one to move with conviction to retrieve the trove and I believe I have certainly demonstrated the most convincing case of conviction and yet I still sit here empty handed. If I have solved the poem and somehow made an error then I congratulate anyone who can correctly guide this quest back on course.
After contemplating this solemn reality while enjoying the majestic beauty of this place, I finally must leave and I realize I must retire from searching since I truly believe I am not capable of finding a better fit to the poem. I am incapable of shifting my paradigm and I just cannot envision Forrest providing a better solution to the poem, unless he somehow over the past 40 years, snuck off and carved a Mount Rushmore style image of himself on the side of some mountain. Einstein once said, repeating the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity; thus I will not return to this site in search of the treasure. However, I have since transformed this magical spot to “The Wolf’s Treasure Cache.” I am so convinced this is the best solution to the poem, that I hid a small treasure in a secret spot near the blaze for the next person to find and hopefully they will add to this cache. Perhaps some day, if enough people add to it, we will have a treasure as valuable as the one we seek.
Over the next few days, we visited the John Dunn bridge, Ojo Caliente and Los Alamos.
Not to search but to just enjoy the beauty and history of these magnificent places. I even talked to a searcher at the John Dunn bridge who was staring at a trail blaze and some flowers down hill from it; he wondered if it was a possible hiding place. I just smiled as I realized in my mind nothing could ever compare! This experience served to confirm my satisfaction with our effort and for the remainder of the trip, we just relaxed and enjoyed our vacation and took pictures of this unique landscape. With every trip comes compromise and this one was no exception and since I was unable to produce the goods it was payback time for me; so trust me did I ever have to pay back at Ojo Caliente as you can see by this photo!
So what have I learned? I learned that 13 year old boys likes treasure hunting only IF you find the treasure! I learned that a person can move with absolute conviction and still not find the treasure. Finally, I learned that the pure randomness of this poem will generate a false sense of conviction, so it is wise to always have a plan “B” and make sure your enjoy the experience.