A Redneck From Texas…

SUBMITTED may 2015
Not Obsessed

A Red Neck From Texas Searches for Forrest Fenn’s Treasure

Before your read about my solve, no I didn’t find the treasure but maybe it will help you find it.  I have spent a lot of time working on my solve and I still believe in it, maybe even more than before.  I worked it out from many hours of research and study of the Poem, Forrest Fenn’s books- The Thrill of the Chase and Too Far To Walk, many blogs, and interviews and articles about FF.  I researched many areas in the Rocky Mountains.  I first found out about Fenn’s Treasure on an email from Nation Parks Trips Media that cautioned visitors not to bring shovels or metal detectors in the park.  It had a copy of the poem.  Our family had been in Yellowstone a few times over the years and I knew that the Firehole River was a warm river feed by hot springs.   I have been a regular reader of Dal’s blog since Sept 2014.   Although I have found that several searchers have looked in the area during my research, I have based my solve solely on the poem and what Forrest has said himself.  Also no one has shown a picture of the blaze that I have found.   In one  searcher’s story of the Firehole, he was looking above and across road from the falls and talked about the area across the river but he didn’t say anything about looking in the area between the river and road.   I think a lot of people feel that Fenn would not pick a spot so close to the road to hide his bones forever.  I think that in his original plan, he would want his body found very quickly so that it could be returned to his wife and family for a funeral that he is worthy of.  He was considering this spot when he was fighting cancer and I think that he would have to make the trip when he was near death, therefore it had to be close to a road.

FF has said multiple times to not overthink the poem, and to have a child read it.  I have taken a simple, say what you mean, approach to the poem.  All of this seems too easy to me so I may be way off base, but I think FF meant for it to be easy so that a red neck from Texas would have a chance to find it.  Also, by making it so simple, most people will overlook it as being too easy.

The first stanza describes Forrest hiding the chest and hinting about it in the poem.  I don’t find any clues here.  Going in there alone could mean the hiding place or it could mean an area such as a nation park, ie YSNP.

Forrest is going to take us on an adventure, although you can’t actually take this journey in a canoe now due to boating rules in Yellowstone National Park.

“Begin it where warm waters halt”.  The starting point of the journey is the Firehole River bathing spot where Forrest went to in Yellowstone as a youth.  Forrest mentioned moving a few feet to get the incentive to get out, from warm to cold water.  It could also be the area where colder Nez Perce Creek meets the Firehole, This was discussed in an article about fishing in YNP.  Trout will sometimes travel up the cooler Nez Perce Creek, especially in warmer weather.  Both are in the same general area of the Firehole River and describe where warm water halts.

“And take it in the canyon down”.   Take the journey down the Firehole canyon.

“Not far, but too far to walk” is the trip from Lower Geyser Basin to Firehole Falls.

“Put in below the home of Brown”.  Mr. Brown? Brown bear? Brown Canyon?  Molly Brown?  I don’t think so.  Brown trout?  YES!  They are a real prize for a fly fisherman, they are sly and crafty and a good fighter, but they are not native to the US.  The Upper Firehole River is where brown trout were introduced to the west in 1890, thus making the upper Firehole River the “Original Home of Brown”, in the Rockies.   Anybody that knows about Forrest knows his love of fly fishing.  Put in at Lower Geyser Basin – below the Upper Firehole River – where Fenn’s bathing spot was.

“From there it’s no place for the meek”, riding down the river through the wild Firehole Canyon.

“The end is ever drawing nigh”.  Your journey will soon end when you have to stop at the falls.

“There’ll be no paddle up your creek”.   The water is too fast to go back upstream. You have to get out at the falls.  There also happens to be parking lot at the falls.   I think this is where Forrest parked when he said he made two trips to the hiding spot in one afternoon. He didn’t say it took ALL afternoon.

“Just heavy loads and water high”.   When you find the chest it will be a very heavy.  So you make two trips, like Forrest, which makes it “loads”.  The Firehole Falls is the water high.

“If you been wise and found the blaze”.  This was the hardest part. (The finding the blaze part, not the being smart part, there are a lot of smart people searching for the treasure!)  What is THE blaze?  A mark on a tree seems to be what a lot of people are looking for. I don’t think that a mark on a tree would last as long as Fenn might want.  It could be destroyed by fire or lighting hitting the tree. Lots of people are looking for a “white” mark on a cliff or rock formation.  In his interview at Moby Dickens Book store, Forrest said to look for every little ABSTRACT THING (not word or thought), in TTOTC.  That is what really got me to thinking.  The picture of “Skippy holding a rock” struck me as a very odd caption to a picture when I first saw it, he was leaning on the rock not holding it!   That’s when I had an ah-ha moment.  That’s the abstract thing Fenn was hinting about.  At first I found a picture of the waterfall and rocks, that matched the ones behind Skippy in a picture on Google maps that was inserted at Firehole Falls.  Something wasn’t right, the water was not as rocky as the rest of the Firehole Falls pics.   I did a little more searching and found that Skippy’s picture was taken at the Upper Falls of the Yellowstone River.   Dang it – what a disappointment, WRONG river. The rock that Skippy was holding couldn’t be the blaze and meet the other parts of the poem.  Back to Google maps and web photos.   That’s when I found the stone with the big red flame on it, right next to the road in a picture of Firehole Falls.  That’s the real BLAZE.  You can see it in the picture.  Thanks for the help Skippy!

“Look quickly down, you quest to cease”.  The chest is in the area between the road and the river below the falls, close to the blaze.   I’ll have to put FEET ON THE GROUND to actually find out which bush it is under .

“But tarry scant….”  Don’t worry, I’ll get out of there fast, before anyone sees me and tries to steal the chest.

In the sixth stanza I think Forrest Fenn is feeling his age.  He is getting older and was tired after hiding the chest and it’s contents.  He knows that he had to leave his trove there to get us out into the great outdoors.

“So hear me all and listen good,…..”   Well I have listened good!  I think my feet will be wet and cold before I find the chest, maybe wading near the bottom or the cliff.  Todd Lovato  with “SantaFe .com” asked FF “Would you have liked to hunt for the chest?”.  FF’s reply was that he “would search under every bush in America”.  “Toys Are Forever” tells why one has to be “Brave in the wood”, with all the dragons and scorpions and black widow spiders” in the juniper bushes next to his porch.  Hiding it under a juniper bush would also explain why “someone could walk within ten feet of it and not find it if they weren’t looking” (under the bush).  The waterfall in “My War for Me” was “innocent” and “How peaceful it seemed”.  Waterfalls have a special effect on most people.   Forrest even tells Lorene Mills in “Report from Santa Fe” in November 2012 that he has a waterfall in his backyard that has a 1000 gallons of water per minute flowing over it.  What better spot to leave you bones than where you could enjoy the falls forever?   Yes, I have been listening very closely.  I would almost bet that there is a very special Scrap Book story about Firehole Falls that he can’t wait to tell.

This is a picture off the web of Firehole Falls and the rock that I believe is the Blaze, which can be seen better from the right side of the Rock.

This is a picture off the web of Firehole Falls and the rock that I believe is the Blaze, which can be seen better from the right side of the Rock.

A juniper bush, the very sticky type, and the perfect hiding spot just below my blaze.

A juniper bush, the very sticky type, and the perfect hiding spot just below my blaze.

So much for my solve.  Now for my search and the “gold” I found.  The following is just for those who want to know about the trip I took with my 14 year old grandson, Caleb.  He is just one of my 15 grand kids.

My original plan was for my wife and me to go to Yellowstone for our 40th anniversary in June 2015.  I worked for weeks getting all the days in one cabin for the week.  As it tuned out, my grandson’s work schedule made his wedding fall on the Friday that we were going to be gone.  My wife had promised to make the cake and help with the decorations.  (this is a small wedding for family and close friends)  So that ruled out my trip plans.   We looked at different times that we could go.  My wife is the director and teacher at a private Christian school, so most of May was ruled out.  Flights and rooms get a lot more expensive closer to the summer so she suggested that I take one of my grandsons with me so that I would not be alone.  He’s 14 and fairly physically fit.  He could do a better job of searching than me.  So on Saturday April 25th in the afternoon, I booked a trip for the next morning, giving us a day and a half of time in the park.  That was a feat in itself.

We flew out of DFW at about 8 am, landing in Denver.  We made a mad dash for our next flight to Idaho Falls.  We got to the gate at the opposite end of Denver Airport just about 5 minutes before they started boarding.  I was breathing heavy by that point.   After a short flight, we landed just after 1 pm and headed to the rental car desk.   We opted to upgrade from a small sedan to a SUV.  That was a good decision.  I wasn’t a Jeep fan before, but the Grand Cherokee was nice, even a heated steering wheel. A nice extra with the low 40’s temperature.  There was some rough road construction in the park later and I was glad to have the road clearance.  Our 500 mile trip averaged over 24MPG, somewhat better than expected.

We passed some snow next to the road as we started getting into the higher elevations.  Caleb wanted to stop and get a picture so we snapped a few on the cell phone and sent them to the family at home.  He took a lot a of pictures on all of the trip.  We drove though some clouds/fog on the top of some of the mountains and some areas of snow.  Got to the hotel in West Yellowstone and checked in.  We arrived at the park entrance and used the year pass that we bought last summer, so that was free.   Made a few side trips along the Madison to look for wildlife where we found some buffalo and two elk.  The temperature was in the mid 30’s when we turned onto the Firehole Canyon drive only to find that it was CLOSED.  How could they do that, this is what we came 1300 miles for?  Oh well, we turned around and headed down toward Old Faithfull.   We stopped at the pull out point next to the exit of the canyon drive.  Sure was temping to drive the wrong way in to the Falls but I didn’t want to end up in in jail, you know how the park rangers frown on breaking the rules.   We walked a few hundred feet in a light sprinkle mixed with sleet and snow.  The weather Monday was supposed to be nicer so I decided not to risk hypothermia and continued our drive to Old Faithful.   Stopped at a few thermal features and saw a few more buffalos and another elk.  Got to Old Faithful about a quarter till six, just before the eruption.   Really cold wind blowing, about 33 degrees.  Called Caleb’s dad and he connected to the live web cam feed.  His brothers and sisters got a kick out of seeing us on the computer.

Got back in the car, turned up the heater, and headed toward Norris to try to find some bears that were reported in that area.  We weren’t disappointed when we found several cars on the side of the road.  There was a mother Grizzly with one cub about a hundred yards away, across the river.   I think it was the first time Caleb saw a live grizzly in the wild.  We then went to the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone.  Caleb and his family had been to YSNP a few years ago but he didn’t remember seeing the Grand Canyon.  I had to get a picture of me “holding a rock” where Skippy’s picture was taken at the Upper falls.   It was getting dark by that time and it didn’t take well.    So it was back to West Yellow and we hit the McDonalds.  (We are cheap travelers)  So we took it back to the hotel and ate.  It was nice to be in warm room.

Monday morning we headed back to the park.   Someone had told me the canyon road was closed due to falling rock.  I decided that begging the park ranger with a special request to go down the closed road  would not be fruitful.  We decided to walk.  It’s a two mile drive and the Falls are about in the middle.  Figured that it would be easier to walk UP hill to the falls and make the return trip down hill, a wise move for a 61 year old man not used to the altitude.

My heart was really pumping when we finally turned the corner and saw the Falls.  We went straight to the rock that I had picked as my blaze and started looking down.  After I caught my breathe we made our way to the bottom of the hill.   Kind of tricky but I made it fine.  I figure that FF was in as good of shape at 80 as I am now.  All the work at his ruins is sure to have kept him in good shape.

IMG_0451We looked around all of the pine trees and under a few rocks when I found the “gold” down next to the water, an old flip flop, LOL.
Next I found exactly what I was looking for, a juniper bush.  It was about 6 or 7 feet across and I am sure that it is at least 10 years old, so it probably was there before FF hid his treasure.   We lifted up some of the limbs and looked underneath without luck.  I didn’t want to destroy the bush by breaking off the limbs, the chest isn’t worth destroying the very thing that I came to look under.

So Caleb found a good heavy  stick and I prodded every square inch.  I hit a couple of hollow spots and anxiously reached my hand in only to find roots or sticks.  One good thing, going this early in the year, I wasn’t afraid of finding any snakes with the 34 degree temp.  This is exactly where I thought Forrest would hide the chest.   We spent enough  time to feel comfortable that the chest isn’t under the bush any more.  This is where you need a good metal detector, if it wasn’t against the law.  We reached the top of the hill about the time a park employee came driving up.   He asked if we saw any bears on the way up and I told him no.  He explained that the road was closed because a mother Grizzly with a cub had been seen in the area several times.  He asked if we had bear spray and I said no.  (My daughter gave me a can for my birthday in November, but I couldn’t take it on the plane.)  Of course I asked if he could give us a ride to the car, but it is against park rules and he didn’t want to get fired.   He also said there were some more people walking up.  Maybe the bear would be full before we got back to her.   After a few more minutes, we headed back to the car.  About a quarter male down I spotted a small black thing next to the road about a hundred yards away.  I grabbed Caleb and told him to freeze.  It looked like it could be a cub, so we waited a few minutes and it didn’t move.  Keeping a watchful eye looking all around while keeping the other eye fixed on the “cub”,  we moved slowly.   When we got a little closer we found that the “cub” was actually the black end of a log about 12 inches in diameter.


IMG_0482At a distance the “cub” behind the rock was much more realistic.

By the time we got back to the car my stomach was telling me it was lunch time.  Caleb had his heart set on seeing a wolf about as much as I wanting to find the chest.  I figured his hopes would be easier to fulfill than mine.  So we headed up to the north part of the park, to Mammoth.  We ate a burger and fries at the café, and found a stuffed wolf in the gift store which I gladly bought for him.  He was really excited and kept it in his lap most of the rest of the trip.  Several miles east of Mammoth we spotted some antelope and took a few pictures.  He was looking out the right side window when a wolf crossed the road in front of us about a 200 feet ahead and I called out  “wolf,  wolf”.  It was over the edge of the road before he saw it so we stopped, got out, and looked over the valley.  Caleb spotted the gray wolf just as it was crossing a ridge before it went out of sight.  It think seeing it was the high spot of his trip.  We traveled down to Tower-Roosevelt and saw some more elk and a lot of buffalos.  We made a stop at the petrified tree.  Then we continued down to where the road to Canyon was closed.  Turned around and decide to go back to Old Faithfull one more time.  We stopped by the area where we saw the wolf earlier but couldn’t find any signs of it.   We followed a trail up a hill on the other side of  the road to look for footprints.  We found a skull and some bones of an elk but no wolf prints.  We went down and crossed a road as two large buffalos were butting heads, trying to find out who’s the boss.

We continued back to Old Faithful, this time it was not as windy and felt a lot warmer, about 43 and sunny.  His mother had not been home the day before so we called her up and they got online.   While she was waiting for the connection, Caleb found a chipmunk that put on a show for him.  She asked if that was him kneeling down and I told her that he was taking a picture of a chipmunk.  We started waving, doing that stupid tourist bit, when my daughter said that the camera operator was zooming in on us.  Wow, I guess I finally got my 2 minutes of fame.  I pointed to the chipmunk and the operator zoomed in on it.  I could hear his brothers and sisters yelling in the background, all 8 of them.  She wished she could have saved a video.

It was about 6:30 pm after Old Faithfull did it’s thing again.   Saying goodbye to YS, we headed back to Idaho Falls for an early flight to Salt Lake City on the way to Dallas.  No Gold Chest, but we had a great time, one that neither of us will forget.   By the time we got home, we had put or feet on the ground in Texas, Colorado, Idaho, Utah, Wyoming, and Montana.  We had been in the fog, rain, sleet, snow and sunshine, driven over 650 miles, and flew unknown number of miles, all in the about 55 hours.

In retrospect, my adrenaline was flowing and my oxygen level was probably low when I was in my search area.  The thought of bears may have hastened my leaving the area before every nook and cranny was searched thoroughly.   Its too late for me to go back.  There could be a different rock or blaze in the area, a different bush.  Anyone is welcomed to use any of this info and go search for yourself.   All of this is just my personal thoughts and experiences.  Good luck and may God be with you and keep you safe in all your journeys.

I have to thank God for a wonderful and safe trip, and my wife for letting me experience “the thrill of the chase”.

Gary,   who is now truly “Not Obsessed”


The Chipmunk posing for Caleb, and the world.



33 thoughts on “A Redneck From Texas…

  1. Thanks for sharing your adventure with all of us.
    I would say that you and your grandson had a trip of a life time. Caleb will never forget it.
    To me the adventure is what it’s all about.

    One of my favorite sayings is “To be alive at all involves some risk!”


  2. Nice one.

    One thing many of us now have in common is a knowledge and fondness for YNP. I look forward to seeing it again soon. One can never get tired of a summer stint in the wilderness.

  3. Sounds like a great trip! Thank you for sharing and bringing back my own memories of YP. Glad y’all were safe.

  4. Great story, Not Obsessed. I think you and others have solved Mr. Fenn’s poem. Building wonderful memories and writing them down for others to share. Others can be too cynical and negative to enjoy the thrill of the chase and will not get to expierence the real treasure. Contentment.

    Ritt Jordan

  5. I am glad you both went to Jellystone Park. I am sorry you didn’t get the Treasure. I wish you would of…I am glad you had such a nice time. I went in May too of last year. So much of the park was closed, even in late May! I think there was more snow last year. Yellowstone Lake was totally still Frozen. I went again late fall. I have been now 3 times to Yellowstone searching near there, I have never searched Firehole, but I would like to go sometime. I went to Firehole 10 years ago, with kids. Good times.

    I Love the Park, too so much. Especially when not to many tourists are there. It can be nuts in July! I was there 10 years ago in July, I decided to go off season. Early or Late….When its raining or snowing is OK, too.

    Best wishes too and Thanks for Your Story…..

    Lou Lee, from Whoville

  6. Not obsessed who still is 🙂 ha ha

    I like your solve very interesting kinda reminds me of mine thanks for sharing some of your thoughts I will remember them when I go search in June 🙂

    You did well 🙂

  7. What a great adventure you and Caleb had and I really enjoyed reading about it! YNP is great and your solve sounds very logical and well thought out. Thanks for sharing it with us. 🙂

  8. Great story Gary, your grandson is lucky to have a grand dad like you. I’m sure he’ll remember that trip all his life.

    That area is a favorite amongst the searchers……Who knows you may have been within 200 feet of it……Start planning the next trip.

  9. I hope to check YNP off my bucket list in the near future. Sounds like you and your grandson had a fabulous time. Grandad,grandson bonding!!! Glad you had a good time .

  10. you sound like you stuck gold just being with grand kid. wow you have a neat family. i didnt realize you are from TX. where are you in tx.

  11. That is a beautiful area, the Firehole. That was my story about up on that knoll and across the road. The road was closed when I first got there on May24th 2013 due to part of the road washing away. That was my first time there, and its nice enuff for me to rest my bones there. I went for a swim in Ojo Caliente . Even thou I looked there a lot, I will visit that spot again maybe even search it again one day.

  12. hi sir its 12:30 and we cant sleep so i read the whole of your tail. we really enjoy hearing about your trip but near fainted when we read you did it in 55 HRS! WOW!!!!!! i never thought about the blaze being a juniper brush but now you mention it and i remember he talks about using it for his fire and smelling them. we plan to take walking sticks to look under plants. we are discussing adding a metal tip so we could hear the metal on metal sound better. i agree with you that going with simple works better. your search was well planned out. i am looking forward to sharing ours after aug. if you decide to leave the blogg please email me at wildbirder ntx @gmail.com no spaces please. take care hope the wedding was nice.

  13. Not Obsessed,
    Pat your on the back, one of the best written stories I have seen to date. I enjoyed reading your “Thrill of the chase”, and above all your generosity in sharing this information.

    Although I don’t believe the chest is in the YP area, Have you considered Glacier NAT. Park, Montana? If my current solve does not show any colors in the pan, I’m thinking of turning my eyes towards that direction.

  14. i am sorry i didnt finish my post. i sneezed and then i had a blank screen? my next was does anyone know how tall forrest fenn is? he appears to be tall

  15. Not Ob well i don’t see my other post. its not here so if i do this twice i am sorry.
    after rereading your story out loud to hubby we agree you are very right about the heavy loads and SIMPLE solve to the clues. that is the way we are going about it. they are HARD to find but are simple. we had something for heavy loads but yours also works and makes more sense.

  16. I would like to thank everyone for all the positive comments! 🙂
    Now I am just waiting for FF to ask why I didn’t look ????? and pick up the chest. After I got back Amy asked if I had looked into the hole in rock above the bush. LOL I was so focused on it being under the bush that I didn’t even notice the hole. I probably overlooked it somewhere in the area. That would be a real heart breaker. So if someone will please look in the hole I be glade to share with you 🙂
    Even if you don’t look for the treasure, go see YSNP if you can. It is one of the most fascinating places that I have been. Be sure to take bear spray, especially if you are going to do any hiking off the main trails.
    If you have family or friend back home when you go, be sure to have them look up the live webcam on YSNP web site and wave to them, It is a brown ball camera in a tree, on the left side of the walkway that is to the left of the walkway going to the visitor center.
    Also the picture of the chipmunk that I sent to Dal was not the one I thought it was. I have one that it is facing us. The one above is when it was looking at the video camera and smiling at the folks back home.

    Good luck to all and safe hunting.

  17. Not obsessed

    Yep should have looked in that hole, lol I promise u its not there. So don’t sweat that one 🙂 I promise

  18. Hey Not Obsessed, I was convinced until the end you were going to find the chest. Great work on Home of Brown, that’s the kind of research ideas I (we) need! I thank you for that. Here is my two cents – I would like to leave right now and search around that rock (blaze) with my metal detector. This why I am in no hurry – Although I have never been to that exact spot personally, from your description and pictures It doesn’t seem to me like a spot where Forest (nor I) would ” throw myself down on and my bones bleach in the sun”. Or ” there is no trail by the TC” ( FF email response – my interpretation). No I think TC is somewhere much more secluded and off the beaten path.

  19. Neat read, sounds like great fun. Well, I got shipped off to ND for a few days of fun. Looking forward to our family fenn trip soon. I’ll be looking in a hole today, but it’ll be nowhere near PNSY….unfortunate downturn in the weather has me glad I’m waiting a couple more weeks to venture into the hardened Rockies.

  20. From one redneck from Texas to another, I like the way you think… It is amazing how vast the search area is once you narrow it down to a certain area…

  21. @NO you said under 9 Clues on this date: ” I invite you to see my answers and how I came to them. Tell me where I’m wrong, I would really like to know.”

    Okay here goes with all due respect and nice vibes! Maybe not ‘personal and private’ enough….for a finale resting place….IMO But great story/adventure and how wonderful to be with a grandchild. If I were a YSNP searcher I’d rely on The Firehole for a WWWH as well but I’d look for a finale spot where 100 years or more would pass undetected, I do like your hoB too and generally read what you post! Thanks!

    • Cholly, Thanks for the comments, I have to agree with being too close to the road. I can see Forrest sitting on the rock above the bush as a youth. A perfect bench to watch the water falls. As far as being too close, I’m not real sure that FF would really want his bones to rot in the wilderness, nor his wife. In reality, I think his bones would not be on the chest but spreed out by all the wild animals. I found elk bones but they were not in a neat pile, spread out over about 50 feet. I’m sure that FF took this in consideration. There are several places that I wish I had spent more time searching, near the area. In perticular, a small bluff across the road from the falls, or on the other side of the river from the road, (worth the cold, from wading through the river) Good luck in your searches.

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