Winter is Tough in the Mountains…

Sometimes short messages are the best way to make a point. This AbBerrations section contains ideas that don’t precisely fit within a present discussion.



November 16th, 2014

We have a few inches of snow on the ground in Santa Fe thanks to a storm that came through last night. A couple of searchers got stuck out west of Taos but were pulled out by rescuers. Temps up and down the Rockies have dropped to single digits. Most searchers think it’s time to pack it in until we get a chinook. If you are a diehard please dress against the inevitable winter mountain discomforts. As for me – I’m sitting by my fire. f

89 thoughts on “Winter is Tough in the Mountains…

  1. Me to Forrest
    Don’t plan on getting out till June 🙂

    Searchers we all should stay near some heat , it’s just too Cold 🙂
    Be safe be smart 🙂

    • I would need to have the snow tires put on the truck before I could even make another trip out…and I don’t a date set yet to even do that. Also, it has been so cold out that I really wonder if a trip would just be wasted time. I guess I could just go to my favorite spot and just “relax” by a nice hot fire for a while…even if it is cold out. I’m really torn whether to go or not. In a way, it’s kinda like a crackhead who is really “torn” about whether he wants more crack or not. 🙂

  2. Im callin it a night, year.. What have ya..
    Time for reflection of 2014.
    Feet by the fire for me too, and a little hot toddy.
    Thanks Forrest for a great year!

  3. we are getting our first snow of the year right now. It will be a few inches when finished. So it is movie night in front of the fire for us.

  4. We may get snow at our elevation here in the Sierras a few days this winter but with the drought we have been experiencing, I wouldn’t mind if we had a winter like my home state if MN is getting! At least it would help fill up the reservoirs, although if that were to happen, it would signal another ice age. 😀

    My search area is probably under snow so we’ll be sitting at home, keeping warm by our fire too until next June.

  5. Don’t let a little cold weather keep you from searching. Last February my wife and I went on a search, and stayed overnight, sleeping on the ground in sleeping bags. It got down to 20 deg F over night, and all we had to keep us warm was the Blaze.

  6. I’m from Mississippi and been searching and researching for 2 years. My son and I are in Santa Fe tonight, but we are not currently looking this trip for the treasure. We spent the day In Santa Fe, and watching the snow from Collective Works book store. The snow was beautiful and I took some pictures thru the windows (@ Collective Works) of the snow falling. This is the first time I’ve been to Santa Fe, even thou we have searched Colorado, Montana, and Wyoming. Planning on going to Chaco Canyon tomorrow just to study some of the history. We may come back and spend another night in Santa Fe, Monday night.
    Forrest, just wanted to say it’s been a pleasure working on the poem. Wanted to wish Peggy a Happy Birthday.

  7. I certainly agree that life in the frigid boreal forests and untamed wilderness of the Rocky Mountains can be brutal this time of year – with temps so cold that it could flash freeze a polar bear!

    But I have to wonder how those ancient peoples were able to get along during all those winters………. especially in a time when things like “high-efficiency forced air heating” and a “grande triple mocha latte macchiato to go” were unheard-of luxuries?

    It is well said that bad decisions make for some GREAT stories……… And I’m reminded of those great expeditions of guys like David H Jarvis, John Colter, Sir Edmund Hillary, Richard Evelyn Byrd, and a whole bunch of others……

    I don’t want to be “gray-gowned patience” sitting at home, so I think I’ll continue with the search……. Good luck by the fire though!

    • Jason, The ancient peoples knew enough to seek protected, lower elevations during the winter inside of tepees, wickiups, or other shelter – kindling fires. If they were out in the weather they knew to wear warm waterproof buffalo robes. I read that Braves could sleep outside rolled up in a buffalo robe which kept them warm down to 20 below.

      With snow blanketing the search area, do you use a metal detector?

    • Jason,
      For one thing the ancients and the men you mentioned were not spoiled by our modern ways and conveniences. Ah, the life to wonder freely, live off the land, be one with nature…her beauty and her fury as well. I myself would love to go back in time and live as one with nature….well, not too far back…maybe just after the invention of toilet paper…

      • That’s funny, Seeker. Not too quick with your time traveling plans. You don’t have to go too far back in time before you’ll find The Wall…and oppressive government systems…were still intact. Wait! Some still are…and getting worse. May God have mercy on our souls!

        Do you know what’s the difference between sand paper and Soviet-era toilet paper?

        Sand paper has one smooth side!

        So you see, luxury is in the eye of the beholder…or on the brown-eye of the…well…you get the point. 🙂

    • Jason said, “It is well said that bad decisions make for some GREAT stories……… And I’m reminded of those great expeditions of guys like David H Jarvis, John Colter, Sir Edmund Hillary, Richard Evelyn Byrd, and a whole bunch of others……”

      Donner also comes to mind, so bad decisions don’t always lead to unicorns when it comes to Mother Nature. 🙂

      Preparedness is a great equalizer. Great explorers such as Hillary or Byrd were prepared, or at least attempted to be. Ancient man of course was prepared as a matter of just basic survival.


    • But Seeker, just think………..

      If Richard Wetherill decided to stay inside by the fire back on December 18, 1888, those 22 turquoise beads might still be lying in the dirt at Mesa Verde…………

      So put on your stovepipe boots (the name alone should keep your feet warm…..) and let’s hit the trail!

  8. I drove up past Taos this morning on 285. From Santa Fe to Taos it was a white out. By the time I got to Colorado the sky was clear. The roads were iced all the Way to Breckenridge. The mountains and shoulders of the road were thick with powder. Sadly, it looks like I won’t be able to wander up those mountain side roads like I wanted. I guess I will just have to explore the brewery’s and sit in the jacuzzi as the snow falls and mingles with the steam.

  9. I think the location of the treasure can be gotten in the winter time as well as in the spring, summer or fall. But as with any trip during the winter, caution should be used in getting to the location.

    • I do not think it can be gotten in the winter even if one has an ice pick. Much of the area is not safe for an 80-year old man during the winter.

  10. Just a couple inches of snow? We just got our 1st dusting of snow here in SE Mi.
    I doubt it is done though, my ole arthritic bones have been preaching a tell of lots more to come. Temps up an down like a yo yo. Ahh the forced air heat fan just kicked on. Would rather listen to the crackle of a fire though.

    Please anyone who braves the cold searching for the chest go with care.
    Mother nature can be a harsh teacher at times.

    Best wishes to all

    • In NM, a couple of inches might as well be a few feet.

      We are in the desert, and therefore do not possess the knowledge, equipment, and necessary planning to deal with sudden snow storms. Also, no one here owns chains or snow shovels (except probably Forrest).

      Also, snow melts fast here – like really fast. By tomorrow, you won’t know it snowed at all. Melting snow mixed with endless amount of sand and dirt = a huge mess. Roads erode away in minutes, and sudden sinkholes appear everywhere. Driving becomes more like off roading, even on busy city streets.

      I think Forrest’s advice is the best ever. Especially when my thermometer is still reading in the low 20’s, and I am in the warm part of the state.

      • Speak for yourself…I’m an avid hiker, skier, snowboarder…I’ve lived in NM for 20 years. I drive a 4-wd vehicle and have always carried a shovel and tow strap…mud in spring and deep, loose sand can be worse than snow when it comes to getting stuck. I also have owned a snow shovel for shoveling my driveway and walk ways…apparently some of us are more prepared and more aware of mother nature than others!

    • Hi there, Chad
      It is still snowing here in the Flint area today and we don’t expect it to stop but it isn’t going to amount to much, YET….lol… BTW I have a cousin with the same name living in SE, MI. Since you don’t have a pic, I was wondering….hey cuz?

  11. I feel sorta guilty sitting here on a Monday morning, knowing the temps are going to rise to near 80 today.

    But admittedly also a little jealous, too. Sitting in front of a nice warm fire with snow falling like a pure white whisper outside sounds really nice, too.

    Don’t ever let a Florida girl drive on an icy road.

    • One of Butch Cassidy’s gang in a letter wrote that one of the Pinkerton agents chasing him was “so slow he couldn’t catch a cold in a Montana blizzard.” Now if he was smart he would stay near the blazing fire.

  12. Thats what they make snowmobiles for! We travel 70 miles round trip to find out our area was under 5 foot of snow, at that point we felt stupid for thinking other wise

    • Good advice Michael,
      Many years ago in Wyoming I was stuck in the snow with a guy who didn’t have a four-wheel-drive or snow tires. We finally pulled the floor mats and trunk mat out placing them under the tires for traction, inching our way back onto the road. It was my idea after he 30 minutes spinning his wheels. He wasn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer.

      • S.N.O.W. is a four letter word…where the hell is Dal and goofy moderating?

        The question is, does winter have anything to do with understanding part of the solution? and not so much when to search.

        • Seeker, I guess you could turn your 4 letter S.N.O.W. into “search now” and make it appropriate for cold weather, and whether to search in the cold discussions.

          • Clever 42, The point is, why search in the winter? if the poem has anything to do with cold – tempt, or snow and ice. is it necessary to be out in winter to solve it? or just necessary to the understanding solution or does cold mean something else all together?

            Cold has many meanings and can refer to many things. The cold feeling when touching metal. The feeling of a cold chill when scared. Cold as in sickness. Cold as of a seeker. Cold as in dead cold. etc.

            Maybe, your effort will be worthy of the gold.

          • Seeker,

            During the winter, I’ve found visibility to be greatly enhanced absent the obstruction of dense tree foliage……

            Plus, it’s naptime for many of the forest’s apex predators!

            Also, the herd of govt wait staff at various parks is thinned…… making my elude and evade tactics more effective!

          • Jason,

            Any part of searching that gives one and upper-hand to be the one to find the chest,is find by me.

            Gotta question for you and your talent of re-search. Parent, sibling, child…what do they reference to Mountains?

          • Looks like someone has been reading their “Comprehensive knowledge of geography” book!!

            I’m not that good…… and really I don’t know…….

            Probably something to do with topographic prominence?? But I don’t know

          • Honestly I just found some of this information myself…But it deals with Mountain ranges. If you like, I can send you the page site that made me go Hmmmm. it was not unlike your find of child and Mountain men lingo… just different.

            I would need your email again, had to get a new computer and lost most my info.

          • Well….. I’m gonna stand down for now…… I don’t want to be distracted by new material!!

            I’m planning a trip out west…… I’ll make (and take a pic of) a tree ornament at the site; and if it’s a bust, then we’ll reconvene this discussion at a later time……

            You always come up with some good ideas…….. and I THINK I can see where you’re going with this…….

            But it’ll have to wait til I get back!

          • No problems. Good luck on the trip.

            And just a word of caution…Try not to get into my head [think]. It’s a cold, secret place and not for the meek….lol

          • LOL….. I’m gonna put a little yellow thingy on my ornament! Just for you……. ya know, for old times sake!!! Ha!

        • My 4 month old puppy jumped in bed with me last night and slept against my leg. I took her outside during the snow last night and she was trying to catch snowflakes.

  13. I spent last Tuesday with Cynthia searching about 15 miles SE of Taos at an elevation above 9000 ft.. It was sunny & cool. The forest service roads had snow is spots, and you could tell Winter wasn’t far behind. When I rose early on Wednesday to start another day of searching the weather had turned really cold.
    With a temp of 20 & wind chill of 5, I decided that it was time to drive back to Phoenix & start planning the first search for Spring of 2015. After an 8 hr. drive home I found much friendlier temps in the 70’s.

  14. Well it looks like there is just one weather window left this week for another trip. Might be dodging some rain on the way back and hope the snow on the summits aren’t too bad and the roadways are clear. Cold is cold and you just have to deal with it. Be prepared.

  15. I was at Collected Book Works purchasing a copy of The Thrill Of The Chase on Nov 15 and admiring the snow that could already be seen in the mountains.

    After strolling around Santa’s Village (Santa Fe Village) it was time to head into the mountains north of Santa Fe and snuggle in for the night to awake to a winter wonderland.
    I still was able to complete the search and video I had planned.
    Even with about 16″ of snow propped up by the former green grass of the canyon down.
    A person can really understand how the evidence of a bicycle could disappear in that “water high”

  16. I was given a job out of the Farmington school district to teach art in three of their six elementaries. My husband bought me amy own coffee pot and packed dishes. silverware and am alarm clock for me and a big emergency flashlight for my planned weekend searches. He and the dog would stay in Michigan.We packed the car. then I got a call on the weekend they decided to rework the program . So no job after all Bill kept the box by the door Finally I told him to take the stuff back and get his money back. I was so looking forward to sharing the search and teaching art again. It broke my heart. I’m glad the people were OK. At least I would have had experience coming from the snowy north to the Land of Enchantment and Sunny warm days. Stay warm Mr Fenn by the home fires. Toss some sage in for me perhaps a job will open for me somewhere and the dream of bringing kids on a bus. will be a reality. Dal pug your feet up until spring and sun return.

  17. Sorry how things worked out for you Karen… I am not really religious but love the saying “where God shuts a door he opens a window” of course I usually stumble around in the dark forever before I find the window but thats probably just me 🙂

    • That’s better than me sometimes, Spallies. I just wander around in the dark until God gets frustrated enough to grab my hand and drag me where I’m supposed to go. Lol

  18. chi·nook



    noun: chinook wind; plural noun: chinook winds; noun: chinook salmon; plural noun: chinook salmon; noun: chinook; plural noun: chinooks; plural noun: chinook salmons


    a warm dry wind that blows down the east side of the Rocky Mountains at the end of winter.

  19. I shall sit by the fire and keep warm too. its cold in Colorado,warmed up alittle now.its,12:11 A.M. and is 32 degrees.I sure hated it when the storm passed thru and the temp. went day it can be 70 degrees and the next snowing during this time of I’m reading the book again and go back to the poem.good luck forrest hope ms. peggy had a good birthday,shes still beautiful.take care and stay out of the cold.not a good time to be in mountains in winter,due to avalanches,mud slides, careful.

  20. Seems winter has decided to come indoors for me, as my furnace quit last night. Sending the family over to friends whilst I await the repairman.

  21. I will pass my intrepid searcher crown to someone else this winter. Not worth risking your life people . Stay home till spring . I wrecked twice last year in Montana .

    • Yes, deep snow is no fun. I even heard about one searcher needing a ride on a helicopter because the snow was so deep. Who ever that person is, hope they got a little more sense to stay in this year 🙂

  22. November

    searching for treasure
    placed there with measure
    by the wisest of men
    known as Forrest Fenn

    it wasn’t so much
    finding the treasure
    the thrill of the chase
    was her pleasure

    born with a pioneers grit
    she hoped to outwit
    With her heart on her sleeve
    she left the next eve
    heading Southwest
    to begin her quest

    why so late this season?
    what was her reason?

    to see the lay of the land
    to get some Chimayo sand
    to meet the architect
    and to pay him respect

    she found her hero
    up there with nero
    thinkers and know it’s
    painters and poets

    with gifts of milagros
    she headed to Taos
    was there for first snow
    off the pines it did blow

    through the tundra she drove
    thinking where is that trove

    to the top of the mountains
    and bottom of streams
    looking for fountains
    found only in dreams

    then back to Santa Fe
    and home the next day
    but not empty handed
    after nearly being stranded
    she made her trip bold
    and brought home fools gold

    when heading back to Boston
    from roads she was lost on
    there were clouds on the mountain
    blocking her view
    yet she could remember
    a day in November
    colors of red, yellow and blue……

  23. I was just on a conference call for almost 6 hours. One guy fell asleep. We are not sure who it was as there was about a dozen of us in remote locations on the call. His snoring was quite the distraction.

    After that, I would like to see some snow in the mountains.

  24. Lynn,
    I loved your poem. I can tell you wrote it with emotion, and it sounds like you had a memorable time. All the way from Boston…wow! What an adventure!
    I loved how you traveled “with your heart on your sleeve.” 🙂

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