Unexpected Treasure Found…



Dear Forrest:

I decided to spend yesterday afternoon hiking along Cave Creek in the Pecos Wilderness, and search inside “the caves” where the water “halted” by disappearing beneath the soft limestone. I did not “go with confidence” since I didn’t have any good solves for most of the poem’s clues; however, I’d never been to the Pecos Wilderness in the 20 years I’ve lived in New Mexico, and I know you and your granddaughter fly-fished somewhere on the Pecos River (picture in TFTW) years ago, and it looked like a pretty place to spend a day.

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Even though I’d passed the I-25 Pecos exit many times, I’d never had a reason to go there…until now. What a lovely little village it turned out to be, with a beautiful monument to welcome those who entered…

The winding 25-mile drive along the Pecos River through Terrero and Cowles was absolutely beautiful…Granted, this is not Yellowstone National Park or the Tetons or Glacier NP, and my expectations were set accordingly. However, the scenery along the river on this narrow, twisting road with its occasional drop-offs and beautiful vistas was in itself a wonderful byway to explore, if nothing else. (Not a place for the meek!)

I had heard that the Cave Creek Trail was a popular hike, and that I would probably not be alone, which was the case yesterday. Just after parking, a “nice bus” with the words First Baptist Church emblazoned in large letters across the top and displaying Texas plates squeezed in between me and another car. While I was still sitting in my jeep messing with my GPS, cell phone, backpack, etc, a bunch of kids and adults spewed out the door, and raced to the trail head…not a good day after-all went through my mind…

As I made my way up the trail towards the caves, I encountered pockets of the church group…first the “old guys”, as they put it, who were “taking their time”, then some of the kids and a couple adult counselors at a good wading spot who were patiently waiting for the old guys to catch up and slopping in the water to pass what probably seemed like an eternity, and eventually the others who’d gone on ahead. Along the way, I also met a newly retired couple from Michigan who were bird-watching as they made their hike to the caves.

The caves were pretty neat, mostly because of the streams flowing into them and disappearing into the darkness…

Woman in photo is MJ from Michigan...she gave me permission to post this, and I needed perspective

MJ from Michigan poses near the caves for perspective

8 blog 3 river of no return (533x800)Eventually the whole church group (except the old guys–guess they went back to the bus), the couple from Michigan, and I were swarming around the caves, exploring inside and out, and chatting up a storm…it wasn’t long until it seemed like we’d all been friends for years. I asked the counselor “with the really nice beard” as one kid referred to him, if it was ok for me to take pictures of the kids and post them on my blog (I don’t have a blog but you and Dal do)…the boys liked the idea and even included MJ from Michigan and me in one of their selfies…

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A few of the kids and counselors

We all exchanged stories as to why we were there at that particular spot…at the caves…The church group from the Houston area makes an annual outing to NM each year to “get the kids away from their cell phones and video games”, the newly retired couple were exploring the Southwest and on their way to Santa Fe, and I, as you know…was searching for the treasure chest (well, only sort of since my expectations were low!) When I explained to the group that a rich man who used to own an art gallery in Santa Fe hid a treasure chest worth over a million dollars somewhere in the mountains north of Santa Fe, they all snickered but listened. I told them that when they got home, they should google “Forrest with 2 R’s Fenn with 2 N’s treasure”…then they really laughed and said just that name alone proves it’s a hoax–I was surprised at their initial response…I’d never heard anyone say that to me when explaining why I’m out in the mountains…hmmm. I let it go…

As we all “leap-frogged” each other hiking back to our cars, the husband from Michigan asked me if we were north of Santa Fe…I explained yes we were, even though the town of Pecos was south of Santa Fe, the drive past Cowles and the trail itself definitely placed us north of SF when we were at the caves. He immediately looked at his wife, and reluctantly stated, “honey, you were right…we are north of Santa Fe.” She smiled…

As I arrived at the wading spot on Cave Creek where a group of the church kids had been splashing around earlier, there were now at least as many boys playing in the creek. Just as I approached, a kid about 13 was doing a head-stand on a slippery-looking rock mid-creek, and about the time he extended his legs up into the air for what I thought would be a pretty good head-stand, he slipped off the rock and went head first into the creek, smashing his face on the boulder…I made sure he was ok…no blood…I asked him if it hurt, and he said YES!. We all laughed…I thought of you and Skippy and Donny and June, and wondered if Skippy (or you) had ever done anything so silly…and guessed that you had. The boys were just being boys and having such a good time…without their electronic devices. I asked if they cared if I took pictures–they didn’t mind…in fact, they all took turns entertaining the camera…

Post head-stand…no blood

Post head-stand…no blood

Eventually the counselors and all the church kids caught up…I chatted briefly with them, telling them how refreshing it was to meet a group of kids that were so nice and polite…I seldom experience this “youth niceness and politeness” when I go to the store or out to eat…watching this group of kids play and hanging out with them for a couple hours was a treasure in itself…totally unexpected.

I left them all at this spot…and continued my journey back to the car. All of a sudden one of the boys went running past me on the trail…he looked ok and didn’t say anything so I figured he/they were all ok. Several minutes later as I approached one of the most beautiful meadows along the trail, there he sat, gazing off into the meadow, surrounded by wildflowers. I asked if I could take his picture…he said yes. I asked if I could post it…he said yes. I asked him his name…he replied Gustavo. This kid had one of the most beautiful smiles I’d ever seen…if I knew an ad or model agency, I’d give them his name…maybe someday someone will discover him…and he was one of the really nice, polite kids…his parents should be proud.

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Gustavo enjoying the serenity and scenery

I made it back to my car just as it started to sprinkle. As I drove away from the parking lot, I began contemplating what a great day it was after all… because of the “church group”, not in spite of them.

My wonderful day was still not over. I stopped at the little store in Terrero to take a picture of the vintage gas pump proudly standing tall above the weeds. Then I thought I’d go into the store to buy a soda, only to find it was closed despite the “open” sign…but once again, the treasure found here were the dozens of hummingbirds dancing about my head as I stealthily moved closer to their feeders to get a better shot with my camera…

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Then, back in the car, stopping shortly again to photograph the old bridge and the little church near this same little village of Terrero…which I probably would never have seen if it hadn’t been for The Thrill of Your Chase…

The final treasure of my day was gazing at the Eric Sloane sky…knowing who he is and was…and often thinking of him and you and Nicolai and JH Sharp…and realizing that saying “thanks” for introducing me to these artists and places will never seem like enough…

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Still searching, and remembering the good times…


18 thoughts on “Unexpected Treasure Found…

  1. Lovely, I think I enjoyed your story as much as you did your day. These stories are especially appreciated by those of us who can no longer get out.

  2. What a nice trip you had and very well written. Good luck with your next adventure. Treasure is where you find it. 🙂

  3. You really captured the moments with your words and photos! Thank you for capturing my kindred spirits at the feeder.

  4. Beautiful day and very nicely told. Loved the photos of the “church kids” particularly how serene Gustavo looked and he is a nice looking young man. I also loved the hummingbird photo. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Beautiful pictures Cynthia! I wish I had gone too. Did you look at the rocks in the streams that went into the caves? This is what I like most about the posts of stories and adventures is it is like you got to go along too. Thanks everybody for letting me go along!

  6. Wow, Cynthia, looks like you had some fun. Meeting new friends is fun. Your great perrsonality shines through in the story you told. I hope to one day make it out to the caves. Maybe you can lead the way as I am a slow hiker. Never stop searching… as says f.

  7. Awesome story. I was just there in the middle of June. We stayed in a wonderful little cabin.
    Did you notice the sign on the store about the hummingbirds and the one about the Rott?

    scott W

  8. Oh my goodness! My dad was researching Pecos and came across this blog. My husband and father in law are in one of the pictures. And Gustavo is one of our teenagers that we work with. Such a fun surprise!

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