The British are Coming…


Back in June of 2013 I was contacted by an assistant producer from the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) in London.

Emma, was interested in creating a TV story about Forrest’s Treasure that would include a searcher as well as Forrest. The story would be part of a larger series about treasure around the world. Emma’s voice sounded young and delightfully British. We chatted on the phone for awhile and then she wanted to know when I was going to be headed out to look again for the treasure. Mid-August in the Yellowstone Region was my next planned outing. Emma thought that period and location would work for her group as well. In the next few days we struck an agreement whereby a BBC film crew would fly from London and come along for a day with me as I searched for Forrest’s hidden millions.

BearSprayAs the date approached Emma needed to know what the film crew should pack along in the wilds of Montana. I suggested long pants to protect legs from pokey underbrush. Long sleeve shirts to protect arms from intolerable bug bites. Plenty of water and oh yes, bear spray, since we would be in the finest and most bear populated grizzly habitat in the lower forty-eight.
“Bear spray”, repeated Emma. “What is that? Some sort of foul smelling scent you spray all over yourself that the bears don’t like?”
“No”, I replied. “You spray it at the bears when they get too close,. It’s like Mace.”
A quiet moment followed.
Then Emma asked, “How close do grizzly bears get before you spray them?”
“Twenty-five feet or so”, I responded.
Another quiet moment.
“I was really hoping to keep them a bit farther away than twenty-five feet.” Emma added.

Lummi Island in the Salish Sea

Lummi Island in the Salish Sea

I left Lummi Island on August 7th for a two day drive to Yellowstone Country. It was warm and blue when I left the island.

Camp where the sun wakes me in the morning

Camp where the sun wakes me in the morning

On the 10th of August my job was to make camp and have coffee ready in the morning when the BBC folks arrived at the farthest place we could bring vehicles, up the road, near my spot. My spot is located north of Hebgen Lake, near West Yellowstone, Montana. In a broader sense it’s a somewhat well searched area but I believe the precise spot I’m interested in had been passed up by many others. I felt good about the area. I could get here by following the clues…yet another spot Forrest’s poem could lead me…Number 41 in my accumulated search locations to date.



Sulfer Paintbrush

Sulfer Paintbrush



The area was resplendent with about two dozen different prairie and creekside wildflowers still in bloom. At 7am the sun was just beginning to heat up the lodgepole pine along the creek and they, in turn, were beginning to release that incredible scent of sweet pine that fills the great outside here on warm summer days.


Dallas Campbell reacting to all the grizzly bear information near the trailhead

The crew arrived after stopping in town to film Dallas Campbell, their presenter, what we would call the host or reporter in the USA, purchasing a can of bear spray at one of the local shops on Yellowstone Avenue. My cowboy coffee was boiling, the fire was hot and although no bears had been spotted near camp, there were reports of them in the area, including a sighting the previous day of a mom and cubs a mile or so below us.

A grizzly bear just outside of Yellowstone National Park

A grizzly bear just outside of Yellowstone National Park

Dallas and I chatted for awhile over black coffee about my involvement in the treasure hunt. My impressions of Forrest and my thoughts about the kind of place Forrest would have hidden his cache.

What I sensed about Dallas was that he was very enthused about the treasure hunt. For a guy who has traveled the world and been involved in some of the finest science and technology television programming ever made, Dallas is a down to earth guy. He is not stuffy or “above” the common man, like so many TV personalities in the States. He is a pleasure to be around and a joy to treasure hunt with.

Dallas getting ready to place an "X" on the BBC Treasure Map

Dallas getting ready to place an “X” on the BBC Treasure Map. Emma, Julius and Phil in the back.

This was not Dallas’ first treasure hunt by any means. He hosted the incredibly popular BBC series, Egypt’s Lost Cities, where he used satellite technology to hunt for previously undiscovered treasures among the ruins of ancient Egypt’s sphinxes and pyramids. He was also host for a number of other BBC and Discovery Channel series about science, the environment and technology before starting this new series about world treasures.

The crew sets up for a shot that will introduce Forrest to viewers

The crew sets up for a shot above camp that will introduce Forrest to viewers

Dallas likened the hunt to a fairy tale. Not unlike Little Red Riding Hood trying to get to grandma’s house along a path fraught with distractions. Or in another example, like the yellow brick road of Dorothy fame, where we all try to follow the path to find a treasure only to discover that we already had the real treasure, all the time…family and friends.

Sophie consulting with Julius about a shot

Sophie consulting with Julius about a shot

The rest of the crew were likewise very experienced and a delight to spend time with. Sophie, the series director, producer and writer was the producer for one of the BBC’s most popular reality TV series, Last Woman Standing. Where five British, female athletes traveled the world to compete in indigenous sports. On our location, Sophie watched every shot the camera recorded and imagined how everything would edit together. She supervised the entire crew and in the end, she is the person responsible for making sure the events of the day unpuzzle into a clever and intriguing story.

Julius with his Red Epic fitted out for documentary work

Julius with his Red Epic fitted out for documentary work

Julius is the team’s delightful and savvy cameraman and director of photography. A remarkably cheery fellow, responsible for a slew of technical gear and, in the end, coming back with world class footage for each story in the series. His Red Epic camera and support gear, batteries and monitors and tripod weighed nearly as much as me. Julius has several BBC series behind him including work with Sophie and Dallas all around the universe.

Phil and Dallas listen as Sophie describes the next set-up

Phil and Dallas listen as Sophie describes the next set-up

Phil is the sound recordist with the team. Responsible for not only all spoken words but also natural sound and ambiance. Very few TV viewers appreciate the contribution good sound recording makes to the overall loveliness of a high quality production. Even in our simple case, it’s not an easy task to get clear sound from a couple of guys walking in a stream torrent or climbing up hills and as far apart from each other as several hundred feet. It’s an art form and technological feat that most viewers just take for granted.

Emma shows off her USMC tattoo hand blazed by Dallas with a Sharpie

Emma shows off her USMC tattoo hand blazed by Dallas with a Sharpie

Emma is the series assistant producer and in the USA would probably also be called the production coordinator. It is her job to line up all the participants and locations for all the episodes. She spends almost all of her time worrying about what is going to happen next. She is the company planner. Without Emma the story ideas remain just that…ideas. She makes things happen…on time…on budget! So, for example while the crew was chasing me around in the streams and under rocks, Emma was calling Australia and London lining up what the crew would be filming in a day or two. Making sure that everything from flights to bear spray were not going to fail. Some day, Emma will be a series producer and director. Be nice to Emma!

This geographic spot was new to me. I’d never searched here before but I’d been nearby. The poem led me directly to this spot just as it had with so many others I’ve examined. The difference here was that I felt I also knew what the “blaze” was before I had even seen the spot. This was a new experience. In every other location I’ve searched I always felt I would have to identify the blaze when I got to the area, but not here.

Our "no paddle up your creek" stream

Our “no paddle up your creek” stream

This place was along the fault line of the 1959 earthquake that shook out Quake Lake and dropped most of the area south of the fault 15-20 feet. A giant snap that killed, frightened, destroyed and changed. One geologic mini-event that lasted just a few seconds but still has repercussions some 55 years later.

My sense was that the blaze could be the place where this particular creek crossed over that fault line and plummeted 15-20 feet downward. Although I had not seen the place I imagined it to be a picturesque waterfall. And below the waterfall…directly below the waterfall…. might be Forrest’s chest.

Follow the yellow brick road

Follow the yellow brick road

This was the spot I intended to go to with the BBC crew. About a quarter mile hike from where we would leave our vehicles at the end of the road, this seemed like a good place. The broader area is the setting for a story in Forrest’s book and the location is inside the Grizzly Bear Recovery Zone…no place for the meek.

Everyone was in a good mood as we headed up the trail. Six of us. The crew humping enough TV gear to finance a small war if sold at market value and armed with enough bear spray and handguns to start one.

A remote camera securely attached to a "bear tree" in order to see what the grizzly's are up too

A remote camera securely attached to a “bear tree” in order to see what the grizzly’s are up too

Within minutes we left the trail to get closer to the creek as we marched toward the fault line. Proof that we were in grizzly bear territory was evidenced by a camera attached to a “bear tree” in a small opening in the woods. I think its presence increased everyone’s awareness of the fact that we were no longer the top predators where we walked.

As we approached the line I could hear the rush of water increase. The creek was getting noisier. We were closing in on the fall, but it was a tangled mess below. Logs, stumps boulders all tossed about like toys in a child’s room. A minefield of potential ankle twisters and shin wackers. When Dallas and I finally got to the base of the fault it was not what I expected. Not a lovely fifteen foot cascade over a stone ledge surrounded by hanging mosses and a transparent pool at the bottom suitable for storing a bronze chest. Instead it was a rubble canyon through dirt and gravel. Made over fifty-five years of high water and low. It was unattractive, unappealing and not a likely resting spot for Forrest’s treasure. I was very disappointed. I could only stare at it, like an unfulfilled parent, mesmerized by what it had failed to become.

Like good soldiers we poked and prodded in shallow pools and surveyed the rubble as best we could looking for hidey places. None were discovered.

We decided to push onward, up the creek without a paddle and see if we could locate a better place not far from where we were. Above the fault the creek was a series of small cascades and pools as it weaved it’s way through walls of lighter colored granite. If it was to be up here we would have to locate a suitable blaze.


Further up the creek less traveled

Further up the creek less traveled

All told, Dallas, Sophia, Emma, Phil, Julius and I spent several hours above the fault examining the creekside. Imagining blazes. At one point things got particularly exciting as we discovered a neat cavern behind a small cascade with rocks that appeared piled by hand to conceal what might be behind.

In the end, my dear friends, the chest, if here, is still wild and free, available for any of you to better my location and discover. But I must warn you. The Brits and I scoured the creek and it’s neighborhood relentlessly.

The crew and subject after a long day of humping gear and framing shots and standing in obnoxiously cold water

The crew and subject after a long day of humping gear and framing shots and standing in obnoxiously cold water

There is another creek, older and lovlier…not far away, where I spent the very next day searching with relatives of Forrest and a charming journalist and novelist by the name of Porochista Khakpour in a location dictated by Forrest himself in a whimsical moment of teasing his kin into taking up the splendid chase.

More to come…





71 thoughts on “The British are Coming…

  1. Dal, you are a gifted writer and spinner of tales. You make me want to go searching for the treasure with you. If a griz got whif of us I would not worry because I can out run you.

    • Thanks Forrest-
      If you lead us to the treasure I would give you half…
      The only thing a griz is missing in addition to his claws, teeth and bad breath is a stinger. Then he would be truly formidable.

      • Ohhh man…
        Mark, I’ve been to some real dumps…
        Some places where I didn’t even spend any time searching.
        I just turned around and got back in the truck knowing full well that Forrest would not have left his chest there….
        The right bank of the Chama below Abiquiu Dam for instance..trashed out…beat to heck dust bowl.
        The Jemez area is overused and beat-up…

    • Forrest,I seen your Native American Collection online.
      Is your Egyptian Collection going to be available to view online also ?

      And If I find treasure and sell you the silver bracelet,can I also go to San Lazaro on one of your trips there ?

  2. Beautifully told and illustrated. Thanks for sharing the specifics. And you ended with a cliffhanger: “a location dictated by Forrest himself”. Can’t wait to hear about that search!

  3. OMG! I think you trod my exact footsteps from late May 2012! I’ll send pix separately to confirm…are we getting warmer?

    • Melanie-
      Do you have little feet ? I think I saw your prints on the trail.
      I think I am..I think I am..I think I am…
      Send those pics…please!!

  4. Still struggling to see how the treasure is in Yellowstone. I believe Clue #1 gives you the state and it is not Wyoming or Montana.

  5. Forrest said that several parties have correctly solved the first two clues and came within 500 feet of the treasure. But then they went right past the other clues, never knowing how close they were. The reason they went right past WWWH is because their solution took them near Clue#2, but they never actually solved Clue#2. That’s why they went right past it. If they knew they correctly solved WWWH they would have proceeded with the other clues.

    • Sun-
      I’m confused. Didn’t you just say that WWWH was clue #2?
      So if they got the first two clues correct wouldn’t they have gotten WWWH correct if it’s clue #2?

  6. I believe the searchers’ solutions took them right by WWWH. They were within 500 feet at that point. So, Forrest is technically correct in that by arriving at WWWH they had correctly solved the first two clues in the poem. But did the searchers know it? They went right by WWWH and I firmly believe it’s because they didn’t actually solve the poem’s second clue correctly. They didn’t recognize WWWH when they bypassed it. And once they bypassed it, they bypassed the remaining 7 clues.

    • Sun-
      But Forrest said they got the first two correct and you said WWWH is clue by my reckoning they got #2 right.. It would be #s 3-9 that they missed…or am I using old math?

  7. Sunland I agree with you bout not being in Wyoming or Montana but idk about if u solve the first 2 clues makes your 500 feet and I think clue 1 is begin as I’m beginning is wwwh

  8. Let me try to illustrate my point. Let’s say I think the treasure is in Colorado Springs. From Santa Fe I get in my car and travel up I25. En route I pass through Pueblo, CO. If Clue#2 = WWWH = Pueblo, I had been within 500 ft of the treasure. Of course I went right past Pueblo because my solve took me elsewhere. HOWEVER, in passing Pueblo I had landed (or rather stumbled) on the correct solution. So Forrest is “technically” right: I had correctly solved the first two clues by having landed on the answer to WWWH. It’s a semantics thing. I think that’s why Forrest is pretty cagey on this topic. My theory is that you can stumble on WWWH, but you cannot stumble on the treasure itself.
    If the searchers had correctly solved WWWH from the poem (i.e., not stumbling on it) they would have moved with confidence to clues 3-9 and this hunt would be done.

    • Sunland-
      Not to belabor the point..or maybe just to belabor it…
      It seems to me you are talking apples and peas here..
      At one point Forrest said searchers solved the first two clues but went on to miss the other seven..
      I agree with you that exactly what the first two clues are can be argued..

      At a completely different moment in the time/space continuum he stated that folks have passed within 500 feet of the chest.

      These two statements are not related…
      Being 500 feet from the treasure has nothing to do with solving the first two clues..
      And he never said that the folks who solved the first two clues were anywhere near the chest..
      Neither did he ever say that the folks within 500 feet of it had solved any clues…
      These are two completely unrelated incidents…

      My first take-away from those statements has always been that the chest is at a place where people pass within 500 feet. These are not necessarily searchers. These people do not have to be looking for the chest. His point was simply that the chest is in a location where people get very near it but don’t even know it’s there.

      My second take-away is that it is possible to figure out the first two clues and then miss on the next ones. Forrest knows this because people send him their solutions. He can see what they are guessing. He did not say that others have gotten the first three clues correct and then missed on the fourth…but I would bet that has happened. I would bet that some have even gotten all nine correct and were standing inches away from it but did not see it. Partly because they did not have “confidence” that they got all nine correct and partly because Forrest concealed it very cleverly.

  9. A wonderful account, with beautiful photos, and a perfectly useful search as it rules out a contender search area for me, and I’m sure for others as well. Your efforts of searching and posting are keeping active “The Thrill of the Chase” and providing motivation for us poor “hunt and peck” typists to continue in this quest. Now, if only Forrest would contribute a comment to your search saying something to the extent that you were within _x_feet or miles of the treasure………………..

  10. What a great story Dal! Terrific writing and beautiful pictures. It sounds like you had a good interpretation of the poem. Sorry you weren’t successful on your 41st try but if anyone deserves the treasure it would be you, for your perseverance if for no other reason. 🙂

  11. As always I do enjoy reading your stories Dal. My reaction was the same as Dallas Campbell after reading the “This is Bear Country” board. My kids and I did not find the treasure, but we trekked through some beautiful country and can’t wait to go back. Montana and Wyoming have gotten into my blood and I kinda like it!

    • Sheryl-
      It’s a good thing we are more nervous (alert) in griz country. They do appear to be irrational creatures sometimes..
      On the other hand…don’t we all?

  12. Sam, re: “Not far but too far to walk.” Keep in mind that if you take that line very literally, even distances fo 5ft can be too far to walk if they require you to jump or hop.

  13. Thanks for the advice Dal. But I do believe you have to work hard at the poem. Forrest said “The person who finds the treasure will have studied the poem over and over, and thought, and analyzed and moved with confidence.” Without this prework on the poem you’d spend significant time and $$$ out and about with nearly impossible odds of finding the treasure. You build confidence by analyzing the poem. (not sure why my replies aren’t being nested under the parent thread 🙂

    • I also believe you have to study Forrest’s and Dal’s blogs, read the book and carefully study the poem. I have studied the poem, book and blogs almost every night since March 2013.
      I have taken a whirlwind 4 day trip out West in April and did my exploratory search of my prospective area. I believe I will walk with confidence to the treasure on my next adventure. My next trip will hopefully be in a couple of weeks. I had planned to be back in July but a family illness had me postpone it until later. One other thing…..The book has several very important clues if you look at them from another viewpoint!

  14. You sure know how to tell a good story, Dal. And you certainly showed the Brits a good time (complete with bear scares). You’ll post a link to the BBC show in due time?

  15. Thanks guys for all your help. I followed all the clues and what did I find? A BLAZE about 20 feet high in the sky and 10 feet wide; in the middle of a clearing. I looked quickly down (you can be sure of that) and in the wood. A great resting place for a treasure was found. Trouble is. Indiana Jones like, it is in rattlesnake country and was a great place for non-golden rattles to hide. I poked in there with a quickly found stick to a depth to where a solid, heavy box might be found. Only soft tuft. Head high grass in bear and mountain lion country along with the aforementioned rattlesnakes was no place for a person alone to spent too much time. I may have to rethink this.

      • The Magic of CinEmma?

        “Chumming for Bear With Dal” ( I smell a series )

        — and I would have slept IN the van – if pictures don’t lie.

        Your storytelling & movies are greatly appreciated by we who wait here & can but vicariously chase.

        Much Gras amigo for your mind’s eye.

          • Nope. Been waiting like a good son. I’m going to try to sneak off this Fall. Go back home where the west was won. Kick over a few logs. Lord Nose.

  16. I received a couple of emails from folks wanting to know where I stole that grizzly bear photo. Actually, it is one of several taken by my stepson Tom, as we were filming a grizzly just outside YNP on the road to Cody a few years ago.

    We were working on a documentary about grizzly bears and ranchers and had all the interviews completed but we needed more grizzly bear footage to compliment the story. For whatever reason no one was seeing grizzly bears at that particular moment. We started out in Glacier National Park and went from one end of the park to the other. We checked with rangers and wildlife biologists in and outside of the park. Bears were scarce. They couldn’t point to any sightings. We hung out there chasing every rumor we heard. I think we saw one bear on a mountainside about half a mile from us…not exactly the kind of footage we were after.

    So we decided to head down to Yellowstone. There are always bears out in Yellowstone. But the story was the same there. No bears!

    We went round and round the park. We hung out for a couple of days near Lamar…no bears. We checked with authorities in and out of the bears…

    Then one day, while we were filming a coyote that appeared to be suffering from mange, a park visitor told us about a bear that was hanging out by the Cody entrance. So we hustled over there and rented a room at one of the resorts and started looking for bear sign. A short distance from the road we found fresh bear prints along the creek and rub trees and a lot of general sign that the area had been visited by bears on a regular schedule.

    That evening just about 7pm while we were coming back empty handed we saw this bear on the side of the road. He was just walking along the side trying to claw up something worth eating out of the dry grass. We moved about a half mile down the road in the direction he was moving and set up cameras. I had the video camera and Tom had the still camera. We just started filming that bear as he walked toward us. He never changed direction. He never moved away.

    I had my eye stuck in the viewfinder and was slowly zooming out and rolling the focus as he walked toward us, trying to keep him full frame. All of a sudden I was fully zoomed out and that bear was full frame and it occurred to me that he must be very close. It was about that moment when Tom said, “He’s awful close.” and I looked up to see this guy no more than 6 feet in front of us. I kept filming. Tom kept taking stills and this guy walked right past us..just a few feet in front of the camera and kept on going…The only recognition he gave us at all was just as he passed directly in front, a couple of feet from the lens he swung his head toward us and snorted… That was it..we had some wonderful close-up footage and stills of this bear.

    We continued shooting for a few days more but that was the closest I have ever been to a wild griz…

  17. Dal, What a great story and the photos are fantastic. I am eager to hear the rest. My husband is from London and those Brits can be a lot of fun! There area where you were describing is the next area we want to search. Thanks for letting us know it probably is not up that creek! However, there are other creeks and a river in that area and I still think this is the next best place. When we go, we will send you photos again.

    I have been thinking a lot about how Forrest would know if someone found the chest if they don’t report it. (maybe because of the IRS?) I think he has devised a way so that he will know. Now if we find it, we will tell the world!!!
    What is fun if you can’t share it!

    Sharron and Lennard

  18. Dal,as usual you have shared way above and beyond! Great story and great footage.Your blog always keeps the juices flowing.I look forward(and backward) to more of your great adventures!

    • Danny- aired back in April. It was episode two of a two episode series called The Treasure Hunters. This episode was called Man Made Treasure. It did not air on BBC America. If you are in Britain you may be able to watch it on their website. In the USA we can’t watch a lot of video on the BBC website…I suppose that’s because our taxes don’t go to support the BBC 🙂
      In my opinion it was a really fantastic show. It opened with a magnificent segment on the amber palace in Russia…which I’d never heard about before…and another segment on the Atocha…which everyone knows about, I suppose..

      There is a short clip from the Forrest Fenn segment on their website…but I’ve never been able to watch it..I think it too is not available in the USA….but it’s called Bear Spray and is available here..

      I do have a DVD of the show that they were kind enough to send me…
      But since I don’t have enough money to fight the BBC in a copyright battle I have not posted it on the website…

      • Ha!!
        The real kicker is that I actually watched 3-4 of these episodes, including the Amber room one…..I didn’t catch the Fenn one obviously, and only just made the connection it was the same
        Also the series is unavailable to anyone on iplayer so far, UK or USA as far as I can tell.

Leave a comment here...