The Trouble With Confidence…

Iron Will


It is a dangerous, double-edged sword.  If one would truly aspire to accomplish greatness with their life, they would be required to hack and slash, with this particular blade, through all of the adversities lying in front of them.  The problem is… during this up-hill battle… a person will always cut him or herself, inflicting wounds into their own thought process, their pride, and their heart.  Each time they are cut in that push forward, a small piece of confidence is severed from the whole.  So it makes sense to me that champions are the people of this world, who ignore the pain of those lacerations.  They continue to fight and to push with unstoppable effort, despite the cuts, and in the end… their confidence and sheer determination, along with perhaps a small amount of luck and timing, come together to win the day.  That… is not my story.

Even now, as I begin to publicly unravel my secreted thought process to each of you, I still hold reservations.  I think to myself, “I had to have missed something there!” or “It just all adds up too perfect… it’s got to be at that spot!“.  I fear confidence is forcing me to cling to fleeting hopes of possible genius, or perhaps to subconsciously keep me from getting the particular closure I need…that I was wrong.  So I have decided that I am ironically willing to share my solution that has never been spoken out in the open, to my knowledge.  But if I am to reveal it, I must show all of it.  Every quote that Forrest has mentioned played a part.  Several scrapbooks, which I had sworn were hints or messages, also led me to my conclusion.  Even book entries and the unintended clue in TFTW, all played a part.  Yet, I still remain here…with only iron and no gold.   I want to apologize for two things before I start.  One, I am sorry that this article will be so lengthy, and I hope Dal can forgive me for all of the pictures and drawings I have need of him to include.  Second, I wish to apologize for the way I must have seemed to some people when I entered the chase and figured out this solution.  It was the confidence in me, coupled with excitement.  Now, for the time being… both are gone.  I’m sure there are statistically 10% of you that will not listen, cannot take to heart my actions here today, and simply still hold some sort of hidden agenda with me.  I’m O.K. with that, and I wish you good luck nonetheless.  Without further banter, let me begin…

First I would like to explore Forrest Fenn’s comments about the location being a special and dear spot.  I did ordinary geographical locations, like most of you, for the first two weeks that I attempted to decipher the poem.  Searching for Browns, and hot springs, along with waterfalls and creeks, I soon realized that there could literally be thousands of poem satisfying outcomes all over the Rocky Mountains.  I thought to myself, “Then it has to be something different, because Forrest wouldn’t just throw a scenario out in the wilderness, among thousands of others.”  Then I remembered him saying that the area of the chest was generally safe.   I began to wonder then, “The wilderness can’t be safe at all.  Too many snakes, wolves, grizzlies.”   Then it hit me, when listening to his interview at Moby Dickens when someone asked him how he enjoyed watching the searchers hunting his treasure, and he quoted some poetry which ended, “things are never what they seem“.  “What if they aren’t creeks or canyons out in the wilderness!?” I suddenly asked myself.  So I went back to the chapter Gold and More and read it again, noticing the line, “Indecision is the key to flexibility“, and remembered his statement about a butterfly being a flutterby.  That got me to thinking, “What if Indecision and Flexibility were anagrams?”  So I lined them up below according to the way the sentence read, and then worked it out.  Flexible to what end?  To the end of indecision…

Flexibility ———>Indecision

I fill by exit——->inside icon

At first I decoded indecision to mean in die icons or cemeteries or coffins, but then I remembered Forrest’s statement that icons (as a plural) would not assist one.  And I was sure anagrams were O.K., due to no known definition calling them any kind of code or cypher. So I stuck with the above and tried to make sense of it.  I looked up the meaning of Fill and found it to be…

1. To add a foreign substance to

2. To fill (a crack, hole, etc.) with some reparative substance.

That didn’t help much so I moved on to inside icon.  An icon is a smaller picturesque representation of a larger body.  I started to think about Yellowstone and then, I remembered a quote in the book about the potholes of Canyon Street in West Yellowstone.  I quickly jumped onto Google Maps and pulled up the town and started seeing all the streets named after creeks, rivers, valleys that exist in YNP.  “West Yellowstone IS the icon of YNP!” instantly came from my mouth.  And remember Forrest’s land surveying talk of 660, 66, and 66,000 links?  West Yellowstone’s elevation is 6,667 ft., which is a strange coincidence with repetitive 6’s.   So I was down to “I fill(ed) by (an) exit inside West Yellowstone“.  Still at a loss for what the “fill” meant, I decided, “O.K., let’s bring the poem into the picture and see if I can make it work without “stretching” anything.”, and that’s when everything started falling into place.

As I have gone alone in there, and with my treasures made me realize Forrest is talking about not boldly but bold mark on the word treasures to point out more than one.  Since he was alone, then the only other treasure he could have had was his memories of staying Summers in West Yellowstone and growing up there.  Just as a side note, I believe the unintended clue in Too Far To Walk, was the word that is: key.  On the chapter of the Dude Motel, look at the picture there.

Begin it where warm waters halt – Again I thought, not hot or red waters but endearing (as in memories), and what waters were warm and endearing to him?  The Madison, The Gibbons, and The Firehole rivers, where they all halt to the side of Canyon St.  Remember Forrest’s statement about WWWH?   If you don’t have that one nailed down you might as well stay home and play Canasta.f    In Canasta the winning objective is to “GO OUT“.  So if you are trying to win WWWH, it would be the opposite…” STOP IN“.  

Photo 1

And take it in the canyon down, Not far but too far to walk, put in below the home of Brown. – Forrest said if followed PRECISELY, so I did just that.  Walk south in the middle of canyon street….wait…you can’t walk in the street there.  Trust me,   I’ve seen the traffic.  Also remember the chapter on Old Biddies, where they look at Forrest and make fun of him, remarking that he’s not allowed to cross the street?   Ok so now the home of Brown, what could that be?  At first glance I immediately thought Grizzly Center near the bottom southern corner of town, but then remembered Forrest saying that a few have cracked the first two but went right past the other 7 clues.  So they got WWWH and Canyon street but didn’t get the home of Brown right.  Perhaps that is because they too thought HOB was the Grizzly Center.  So I backed up my train of thought and started thinking of the big picture, as Forrest once told a searcher to do.  And then instantly it hit me, “Wait! Ranger Brown, Alaskan Brown Bear, and Brown Trout!  They all share ONE HOME!  Yellowstone!”  Even the TFTW pointed to it.  Try to say it as a Texas redneck… Not for bout 242 walk (paces).  Strangely enough, from the lower side of the Madison/Canyon intersection to the Yellowstone avenue intersection is about 242 paces!  It even made sense with his comment on the Terri Fenn video concerning the HOB, If I told you that, you’d go right to the treasure.

Photo 2

From there it’s no place for the meek, the end is drawing ever nigh; there’ll be no paddle up your creek, just heavy loads and water high. – Since you put in below …you are on the southern sidewalk, which in reality would be the banks of the Yellowstone River.  Joseph Meek and his brother were trapping along the banks of the Yellowstone River when attacked by Blackfoot Indians, barely escaping with their lives.  And if you look at the map, the street is always drawing straight to the left to its end.  There will definitely be no paddle up this creek because it is a street, with intersections at Electric Street (heavy loads) and Faithful and Geyser streets (water high).  I thought to myself, “It can’t be this simple! Can it?”

If you’ve been wise and found the blaze, look quickly down your quest to cease.  But tarry scant with marvel gaze, just take the chest and go in peace.  – This is where I got stuck.  Initially I thought it was Iris Street at the end of Yellowstone Ave.  The Bearded Iris, a popular bright yellow flower many Iris flower lovers enjoy that is dubbed the “Sun Blaze“.   Something inside of me still thought that just wasn’t Fenn’s style of the blaze.  So I sit there looking at Google maps satellite view of the end of that road and the trees on the south side, straining my mind and vision for some sort of clue to the blaze.  I remember being frustrated, tired, and restless all at once… then suddenly it became clear in a marvel gaze that brought a tear of joy to my eye and a sudden warmness to my heart.  Occasionally it’s wise for the fox to dress like the hound instantly came into focus as I looked at the road staring at a clearly visible “F F” written with a scant bit of tar on the street!  Then that stanza made sense! If you have found it then look down or to the south, but if you haven’t…then tarry (tareee) scant with marvel gaze is how you do find it! I was jumping up and down in front of my computer so completely happy with my accomplishment.  I then suddenly realized the anagram was right!  “I fill(ed) by (an) exit inside West Yellowstone“.   Fill- to fill a crack with reparative substance.  That’s exactly what the function of those tar lines are for on roads!  And that spot is right by the South Western Exit of West Yellowstone!  Also Scrapbook 119 Pottery Shards, I believe, was a hint at finding the blaze.  My confidence was there and I was ready to move.  That’s where everything started grinding to a halt.

Photo 3Photo 4

Photo 8

As of July 9th, 2010…No Blaze. September, 2011 …the blaze is there.


Before I flew out in April, I was sure it was somewhere in that clump of trees just south of the blaze, so when I got there, I was suddenly surprised with something I had not expected.  In the Collected Works Video, he said,  Let me put this in perspective, so many people have decided that they are going to take a picnic lunch out on Sunday, and look for the treasure  .   Well guess what? Right in that patch of trees are two 400 lb., 4″ galvanized steel picnic tables, which I believe are the same two tables (pigs) he mentions in the More Than Just a Pig scrapbook.  And there is also a 2.5 ft.  sand stone there which is about 500 lbs.  It is the only rock on the entire lot.   Remember Jenny’s SLICK featured question?    I found mine under the floor boards of a long-ago abandoned log cabin within walking distance of the Gallatin River in Montana. I carry it sometimes myself. f    Gallatin River runs through Bozeman, Forrest once walked from West Yellowstone 92 miles to Bozeman to prove he could do it.  Also… take special note of this…

‘Here’s my little 2.5 ” jade slick.  You can see the polish from being carried in a buckskin pocket for a few decades.  …….. Sometimes when I set out on a difficult mission that has to work for me, I stick it in my pocket.” f    Notice this block of text when showing off his rock, is in quotations.  However, he switches the quotations with the apostrophe at the beginning, in order to cleverly turn 2.5 feet into 2.5 inches.    Notice the gold patches on the rock halves just like his “polished” picture.  Being broken apart and bad angles along with weathering it is hard for a good comparison.  I wonder who could’ve possibly broken that in half.  Oh and the lot all the way across and to where the town vehicles are parked is just barely over 2 acres, eerily similar to the 2.086 acres of “public land” that he claims is his allotment.  Could this be his land that is in a private land trust to the town, to conceal his name?  The deed to the property sitting snugly in the chest for the finder, would be the perfect explanation of I give you title to the gold.   That would ensure the legality of the treasure would never be in question as it would be your land it was found on.  I was so shocked that everything was falling into place,  I even found what I thought was a half rotten onion from a picnic someone had, just south of the blaze, but when I got a closer look and tore it open it turned out to be an “onion bomb” the size of a baseball.  This is the same kind of bomb or bombette, that damaged Skippy’s face in SB 125, and Forrest once said, “I always figured the treasure chest was a bomb”.  What if it was a hint that the chest is underneath that onion bomb, something that has no business being in a picnic spot on the side of the street?   So here I was, searching to no avail.  I had followed the poem precisely and had searched all around the entire 2 acre lot.

Photo 5

I went back home with no success, and started licking my wounds from that double-edged sword.  I believed, without a doubt, that I was right and it was there.  I just needed to figure out what I was doing wrong.  Then I thought to myself, “Self, What if the blaze and looking down isn’t the 9th clue!?  What if you still have to figure out HOW to find it!?”  That was brilliant!  I quickly went back to the poem reading again and again then a theme started to appear that meshed perfectly with every quote Forrest has said about the treasure!  So why is it that I must go, and leave my trove for all to seek….I’ve done it tired and now I’m weak…..If you are brave and in the wood  –   No way! He leafed his trove!  If you are brave and in the tree.  He did it tired (in a car) and now he’s weak (from climbing the ladder twice to hide it) “Of Course!” I thought.  Forrest hid the treasure on a tree because many pine trees in the Rockies live around 500 years and even longer.  From the evidence at hand, it was most likely 20 feet up on the tree probably in a 3 branch outspread where it would sit comfortably.  It makes perfect sense and sort of ironic considering what is all over the outside of the bronze chest… men climbing ladders to claim their prize.

You’re not going to just get out of the car, walk over into the woods, and walk to the treasure.

No one is going to accidentally stumble onto the treasure.

“I think kids may have an advantage…they’re more agile.” (They love to climb trees)

You should grab every banana off the banana tree

Well Andrew, I’m not sure “admire” is the right word but if we twist it a little maybe we can make it work. The word means approval or high regard

I don’t think earth can hurt it, under the right conditions wind might affect it,

So I needed to be looking up instead of on the ground!  Then I saw something from SB 123, I lost all desire to take their picture or rub their bellies, and a statement Forrest made on Scrapbook 78, there has been talk about some searchers receiving under-the-table clues that will help them find the treasure.   What if there is a clue written on the bottom side of the picnic table to final spot?  My mind was trying to stay open to all angles, since my scheduled June 8th trip would be the last I could afford for a while.  While hashing through all available scrapbooks I happened upon three scrapbooks that grabbed my attention…128, 130, and 121.5.   SB 128 in a Tuck tells a story of Forrest and “Sammy Myers” jumping off the Tower at the rarefied no.1 position, which was about 20 to 25 feet up at the top of the tower.  In that recollection, Forrest climbed the ladder TWICE to the top of the tower (or maybe tree), and hasn’t been back since.  It took him TWO trips from his vehicle to the spot to hide the treasure.  But what could this Rarefied no. 1 position be?  1st place I guess.  The Winner’s spot.  Then I remembered 121.5 the Pet contest winner announced with Tesuque sitting on a brown square tile with black borders all around and a “1st” place ribbon on the neck.  That’s when I saw something strange.  The picture is at least 5 years old!  Look at Tesuque in Scrapbook 130 Not Tired Yet.  He has the white fur on his face which is symbolic of an old animal.  Yet the picture from month before… no white.  This picture was deliberately taken at least 5 years ago and placed in that scrapbook for a reason. That’s when I thought to myself the “1” gold ribbon and the rarefied no. 1 position where he climbed twice.  What if Tesuque’s positioning in the picture put the gold medal on top of the specific tree where the chest is.  I was off to Google Earth in a heartbeat to line the imagery of that area up with the picture.  You need Google Earth in order to get the angle right with the angle the picture was taken.  What I found was astounding as I will show to you now.

Photo 6

Ok I was set; I touched down June 8th, drove up to West Yellowstone, and searched like mad for day and a half.  I looked on all four sides of every tree there on that 2 acre lot and could see about 20 to 25 feet up with some confidence.  I looked underneath the picnic table tops with normal and U.V. flashlights… same with the trees.  DAY and NIGHT I searched.  Yet I could not find it.  I must admit that I had come to a point where my confidence was completely shattered.  I couldn’t understand.  If it’s in a tree I should’ve found it.  I could not see all the way up in that no. 1 position tree, and since I could not see the poem pointing to it I didn’t get an extension ladder to climb it and find out.  The funny thing about that specific tree… if you count the distance up in it to the chest, it would be approximately 200 feet from the blaze.  I had hoped I would be at Forrest’s home on the 13th of June celebrating my victory and my 46th birthday with him and his family… but here I am, at work, writing about my failure.  I made that man a promise to try and get his bracelet back to him and protect his legacy that his family will have to bare after his passing.  Now I have serious doubts I will be able to accomplish that alone.  So I turn to all of you with my solution and some of what I think is good advice in hopes that someone can make use of it all.   I had a revelation over the past couple of days that perhaps Forrest painted the chest with bark and pine needles to camouflage it up on the tree.  Maybe that was the final clue… Your effort will be worth the cold.  Maybe that’s how you find it….in the cold of night.  Forrest even talked in The Thrill of the Chase about being courageous (brave) to be in the graveyard at night.  Think about it for a moment.  You have a bronze chest full of gold up on a tree.  I say ON, because IN would be an ambiguous word that could be construed as “inside” the actual wood of the tree.  Something Forrest could use to misdirect.  Anyway, at around 10pm or Midnight, the trees would have all cooled off.  However, the chest would still be hot, just like a hot rock from a campfire.  The metal would absorb heat all day and then hold it for a few hours.  If one had a Thermal Imaging unit (FLIR), they could easily discern if the chest is in a tree.  For your consideration, I will place a satellite overview of the area with all areas the treasure possibly COULD be if it is there.  Maybe someone out there, who has the resources can actually do what I couldn’t and find it.

Photo 7

As I sit here, I realize my confidence is fully depleted.  I am sure it will come back over time, but today is not that day.  On both trips, I thought about digging at two or three spots there, but it is not my property, therefore it’s not the right thing to do.  If it turns out that the treasure was buried in one of those highlighted spots, and I lost out because of my principles, so be it.  I will not abandon morals for greed.  I believe the chest to be placed up on a tree.  I also believe there are picnic tables near it.  So it is my wish that one of you can help me in protecting Forrest Fenn’s legacy from being that of a hoax in the eyes of most around the world, by finding what I could not.  Go look at this location, or possibly use my ideas in your own solutions to close the gap on completing the puzzle.  Maybe, just maybe… you can be the champion that I referred to at the beginning.  That is…if you can take the cuts.


145 thoughts on “The Trouble With Confidence…

    • Great details. Very detailed and informative. We know it was hard to share your ideas. We feel your pain. One day i am so sure we are right then i will read something and doubt creeps in.

    • Great solve, Iron. I wish I had a solve with that many answers. I’ll admit I still have at least one question…okay, maybe two. I reckon I’ll keep working on it just like everybody here and maybe try a different location the next time I make it out. I don’t know exactly when that will be. p.s The Treasure is in New Mexico …IMNVHAYHO. That’s Navajo for “In my not very humble and yet humble opinion”. 🙂

    • My solve too started on that “canyon down” Mainly because of his having to rest from carrying the 80lb of newspapers down Canyon with potholes filled with water. My ending spot was different than yours though. That was my idea about a month ago, but I have since diverged. Maybe I will swing that way when I visit next month, and if I find it from your solve I will share some eagles with you!

  1. Excellent story! I will be the victor as narrated in the first paragraph of your story very soon as I have found the key and all of the answers of Fenn’s poem. I had them all along but was putting to much thought into it and I too had drove right past it overlooking the solution… I now can confidently proclaim that I have found the exact location of the trove within 2-4 miles along the exact???not gonna say… I will be returning to the area very soon though! I’m so excited I can’t sleep! And I just hope that no one else finds it before me!

  2. Just watch and see if nobody gets there before me my third trip will be the charm, you’ll see, maybe, if I decide to boast, and display proudly…what I will see as I gaze happily down on the trove that was meant for me!

    • Oh Jerry, if you haven’t figured out the significance of red, there will be a lot of people giving you recipes for crow..

          • I look back at my solves and Red played a part of a few solves. I cannot find the reason why I had it as taking part but I used the story of little Red Riding Hood.

            If only I had a good memory….. maybe I have it saved in another file I haven’t found on my computer. If I find it I will share it. It also led me to places that had berries connected with it.

  3. Wow Will –

    That is the kind of heroic effort that will find the chest. Good for you. I really cannot address the solve as it is not in the same state as mine. Some of the things you wrote about are a stretch – but I’d like to know one searcher who does not do that.

    I do agree that the disappointment of not finding the trove – cuts. After this last search of mine – I needed time to heal and it’s nice to know – I am not alone in that aspect.

    Thanks for posting this amazing solve.

  4. Iron Will,
    I’m impressed. That was a completely well thought out, and VIABLE solve. It COULD be there. You might have been looking up without realizing the chest is down. Take the Hidatsa Indians, who buried their valuables in jars underground near a landmark before they left their summer home for the winter. So what you need to look for is a rock or something to lift up.

    And I won’t even go into fill. You hit that nail on the head. Think of fill and read TTOTC just once more. Think of fill that isn’t reparative…

  5. By the way this new hobby is only 2 months young to me…but I just can’t wait to sleep at night debt and care free. I’ve done it tired but now I’m weak and I don’t think I have the patience to wait just 1 more week

        • I agree with you Old Miner. It takes a lot of tough skin to put your solution up here for everyone to pick apart. Many of the most condemning and worthless comments seem to come from folks who have never posted a solution of their own. I’m no saint and I’m not the smartest guy on this blog but I can certainly appreciate when someone takes the time and cares enough to share their ideas for all of us to see. If it wasn’t for sharing this blog would be meaningless. I appreciate the legitimate much as I do the solutions..But no one puts themselves up here just to be slapped around. If comment is not useful and thoughtful than folks will stop sharing all together.

    • Impatience is a double edged sword. If waiting a week is hard try deal with 58 days that started at over 80.

  6. Great reasoning, detecting and associating, Will. Some of the dots seem well connected (like the street names), but some seem a little iffy to me (like those tarry FF’s). I do like your final location however you got there. I’ve also thought that final TITLE in the poem might be a title to the land the TC is on, or a title such as a name or rank that suddenly made sense at the end. I never considered the TC to be up in a tree though… but if it is, perhaps it is held somewhat higher up by some cable suspension method (the sheriffs new rope) , and from below, might look like a nest (bird in the moon- -light). Rest up & regain confidence. I don’t think you are done with it yet.

  7. A nobel effort. I too am overconfident and if wrong, a probable outcome I will post my try as embarassing at it might be to add to the collective

  8. Too many human trails nearby. I like cold being to search at night. It is always colder at night. Makes sense to have courage to look then. Wrong state for me. Blaze being the Sun and you look up is a new twist. Like it.

  9. Yes, last year after searching all around in Yellowstone, as we were leaving I saw the street name “Canyon” and it hit me like a ton of bricks. It is not a natural canyon but the street. You need to start at Yellowstone entrance and go OUT, not in. We have not been back yet, but hope to this summer. I did think you went the other direction towards the lake, but that could be wrong. If only it is as near as right outside Yellowstone near the motel his family had. That would really be something!

  10. IMO the chest is not in nor near Yellowstone Nat. Park. FF stated that if YS super volcano went of, it would most likely not disturb the chest…so to me that weeds out MT and WY.

          • I doubt that a volcanic eruption under Yellowstone Lake would blow the treasure chest to bits, no matter the odds, but it might spread a lot of beautiful cutthroat and lake trout around the country side. f

            And i went to models guestimating the fallout and ash is the big worry with the super volcano by scientific models. so To me its just out of most likely possible range. Could be up GNP go around thoss lakes like Hebgen and lake yellow stone by a 100 miles. Wow…still doesnt narrow it down to much IMO.

      • Hey, Michael… “FF stated that if YS super volcano went off, it would most likely not disturb the chest…so to me that weeds out MT and WY.” If FF did say this, then I would (fully) agree with you. However, before I change direction re: my search, I’d appreciate a solid source note, and actual quote. THX!

  11. Well Iron that certainly is imaginative. Regardless of whether I agree or not with your solution and method of arriving at that solution I want to commend you for what you have done.

    You obviously worked hard to develop your solution and you had the guts and fortitude to put your money where your mouth is and go search twice. Then you post your solution and order up the Deluxe Double Crow Burger with all the trimmings and tell us the solution you’ve been so proud of for so long is wrong. That may have taken more guts than going to look for the treasure. You have earned the respect that is due a warrior.

    Well done.

  12. Will, I am impressed with and admire your solution. It is very sensible. I too think we have something in a tree bow to look for, though my idea is even crazier than yours! I applaud you for your confidence, perseverance, intelligence and humility. You write very well, and process your thoughts quite efficiently. Thank you for sharing, will.

    Mindy, u too should know there is another firehole…

    happy birthday will! You are 4 days my junior! 🙂

  13. Will, your solve was an interesting one, especially the picnic on a Sunday part. Your thinking on the whole solution was grand. With that much thought going into the solve, I’d have thought you were on the right path. Maybe it would be easier to find when you’re tired. Do you think that maybe it’s time to head back out there. Don’t give yourself time to rest up. Do it tired. Maybe while your mind is in going in circles from sleep deprevation, you will see things clearly. Maybe the loopiness would be from the side effects of the elevation of the area. Did you have elevation sickness? What is the elevation there anyway? You didn’t say you are going to drop out of the search. Are you still in it? Never stop searching, it’s out there in the wood. Thank you for telling us your solve. Maybe I’ll go make a sandwich and think about your solve. Or… maybe I should start preparing for my own search next weekend… Hmmm, what should I do? I think I’ll do both.

  14. Iron,

    I am not in the 10% camp and appreciate your willingness to share your story now. I am in the process of reading your story.

    I ‘was’ in that 10% camp ( which may have actually been 50% or more at that time), In other words, I was but am not. I even wished you good luck…once earlier ;^)

    Best of luck to you

  15. Good try Will! While my interpretation of some of the quotes of Forrest’s and interpretation of the clues is entirely different from yours, I still admire your attempt to solve the riddle/puzzle and write your adventure up into an interesting and logical story. Good luck with your next search!

  16. IronWill,

    I’ll give credit were credit is due, You seem to have worked hard on collecting information and placing that info into your search. But with that said… I would like to discuss some, not all, aspect of your theories. Call it dissecting if you will, but now downing. My whole point, is if a theory can show inconstancy to what we have been told… it may help to fine tune that theory.

    Fenn has made comments that the chest is not n close proximity to a human trail. Yet your solve is just that.
    Fenn as made comments of not tools needed. Yet in part you have to “dig” in your solve.
    Fenn as stated, Comprehensive knowledge of geography would help. Yet your in a township of man made construction area that has change the geography completely. [ and yes, part of geography is the study of the inhabitants]
    Your quotes, such as “Let me put this in perspective, so many people have decided that they are going to take a picnic lunch out on Sunday, and look for the treasure . ” Is unfinished, as this Full comment said it would not be found this way.

    It also seems to me that { IMO } you rely or have to use too many after the fact comments as “need information” to solve the clues. At least that s what I see. What I don’t see is how the poem actually help, directed, was used, or relied on to solve the clues.

    Look… I’m not knocking your or anyone’s solve. I think it is important to have others review ones solution for possible inaccuracies to help fine tune and correct a plausible solve.

    So I hope you take this as [ truly ] constructive criticism and not and not “just” criticizing. Of course there will be some who will respond to my post as downing your theory or come back with the usual… any theory is plausible til the chest is found… But I for one would lie if others gave me pause to reevaluate my own theories or method……… Which some have done in the past for me and help a great deal.

    Anyways… Just my thoughts.

    • I’ll try to answer your points to the best of my knowledge…

      1- A road is not a Human Trail- please see the full scope of the description of a trail at
      And it was actually very close proximity that he mentioned, which by “pickles” standard is about 1 inch.

      2- Pretty sure it was no special tools needed. A spade is a basic tool. Tell me this…why would he be so “dodgy” on the buried or not buried comment, if no tools at all are needed? And better get rid of that flashlight too.

      3- the comment about the people going out on Sunday to take a picnic, he at no time said what you are trying to imply. You pull me up proof on that video where he said it would not be found this way. You cannot. What you are doing there is trying to create your own meaning out of something entirely different from what he actually stated, and then “selling” it as fact.

      and for your entertainment, here is the entire statement…
      “Let me put this in perspective, so many people have decided that they are going to take a picnic lunch out on Sunday, and look for the treasure … or something to do over spring break. I’m looking at a 100 years down the road, a 1,000 years, maybe 10,000 years down the road. It took me 15 years to write the poem.” — Where better to hide it than right in a spot where someone like you would dismiss it’s location?

      Here’s the thing about constructive criticism… it usually is implemented with researched and factual comments in the effort of correcting mistakes made by the person your criticism is directed at. But this critique seems to be your own made up facts. I’m not trying to knock you, but you could at least use actual facts the next time you are choosing to tell me I’m wrong.

      …just my thoughts as well.

      • Ok Will,

        Just a fast response as I’m heading out the door.

        1. if you don’t see a man made road as a human trail… well. what can i say….
        2. A flashlight is just a means to help see in the dark, a wood stick with a rag wrapped around it will work just as well for a short time… no real tool here.
        3. no need to create anything at all… there was more than just a single video / comment. But I no longer do others home work for them.
        The rest I won’t bother with, as it is more sour apples than discussion.

      • Iron Will,
        I remember back when you said this to me: “I’ll send two attachments when I email you at that time… it will be a dead crow, and a fork”
        I am glad you are man enough to eat that very crow you reserved for me in front of the thousands of searchers.

        About your solution, as I said to you many times, I believe one has to fail first before they can learn what the clues mean. Perhaps all the new searchers can learn from you and the Kevins of the world.

        You should listen to Seeker for I use him as my logic tester to avoid confirmation bias.

        I agree with some of the quotes and reasoning you used but you too have fallen victim to your own demise. You stated early on that many solves published seemed to be stretched and I believe that is what the chase does to searchers. They produce some very sound logic to some of the clues (but at the wrong starting place) and then gold fever and the “I want to believe I have it right” emotion clouds all common sense. It forces them to stretch the rest to make it fit and use the “Fenn is a genius to come up with that kind of solution” to rationalize their very own solution. It is very common and I found myself in the same predicament. When using Tesuque’s photo as a triangulation to locate the exact location of the treasure should have recognized the boot in the butt and opened your eyes.

        When I sense those lures are in play, I need an unbiased person to take an objective view. That is where you need to listen to the Seekers for they will expose your flawed logic.

        Again congratulations on owning up and an I accept your apology. If you can put this solution behind you and learn from it (as Fenn intended) you will become dangerous. The choice is yours.

        Don’t worry about the Fenn legacy – it is well in tact and you may have your wish sooner than you think.
        Good luck – hold your head high!
        The Wolf

      • IMO Iron Will is correct on some key issues. Folks should look carefully at definitions from several sources. Roads are not defined as human trails, horse trails are not human trails. Furthermore, ff spelled proximity as “proximaty” which is not an actual word; and can either be discredited or interpretted differently.

        Regarding the YNP supervolcano statement which deserves careful consideration if looking in Wyo/Mt..
        1. if tc is hidden close to YP, the chest would be melted by intense heat rather than blow to pieces.
        2. ff may have fabricated an identical bronze chest to hide but the actual one is inside his vault waiting to be claimed
        3. if tc w/in 100 miles of YP then ff may have placed the chest inside a heat safe container that would sail through the air in an explosion. Sounds far fetched, but tin can is referenced in ttotc and poem several times.
        4. in YP volcano comment ff may have been referring to his dearest treasure (Peggy) who is in NM and would not be affected by the explosion physically.

        • The definition of a trail is a marked, paved or beaten path or course. I doubt he would deceive.

          Same with eruption. He says in same answer fish would be scattered over countryside. So being as literal as you were wasn’t the same for him in my opinion.

          Best bet is walk through the rye grass.

  17. Thanks all. Nah I’m not finished with the Chase, just done beating a dead horse there. The change in elevation from VA to there didn’t bother me. When I looked for the right solution that made sense I was also looking for clues that would all definitely remain past 100 years, and these are pretty much guaranteed to since they’re street signs.

    • Will,

      You stated; “When I looked for the right solution that made sense I was also looking for clues that would all definitely remain past 100 years, and these are pretty much guaranteed to since they’re street signs.”

      In my life span, I have seen in many cities, towns, villages etc. the changing of street names many times. Especially those of Broadyway, 1st street, main-street, river street etc. in many states as well. City and town Parks / recreational areas changed and even moved, or re-designed or improved. There is no ‘definite’ reason why they would last 100 years.

      The question here is, Did the Author use “places” to be defined as names or man made?

  18. Just a correction for those of you who keep getting them confused….

    A Paved Road is NOT a Trail.

    In the interest of not beating THAT dead horse, I’ll leave it at that.

    • Think you’re reaching to make it fit. It sure is a trail in my opinion. It wasn’t there. So maybe you should agree with that for your next solution. Just read he said he would walk out to the desert with the chest. Someone said place never changed. My money has sand and sage.

  19. What a great effort Will !!! Thank You for sharing ! Maybe when TC is found the real solve (if this is not it) will be held back for a while to let others post their solves in Dal’s blog for comparison purposes !!!

  20. Will, thanks so much for sharing. I completely agree with a lot of your feelings. I still keep reading but I don’t consider going out any time soon. As with most people I still think my solve was a good one but I don’t have the chest. I keep trying to figure out what is wrong. Its hard to get “solid” thoughts out of my head and start in a complete different location. I like you approach, using names instead of “actual things”.
    I seem to remember reading that some where Forrest stated that it was not hidden “up in a tree”, not sure where, so it may not be factual. If any body knows where FF said this let me know if I’m right.
    Keep in touch and good luck in what ever you do. .

    I was looking up treasure hunts and there are tons of treasure out there, every where. One site listed “lost treasures” by states. They show 5 in Texas alone. A lot closer than YS. LOL. maybe I try some of them.

    I still believe that FF actually hid the chest, but a search area that covers most of four states doesn’t make finding it very likely. If it were so easy that a kid could find it, why hasn’t it been found.

    Hey FF, how about another clue???

  21. Will, thank you for having the fortitude to post your “solve”. You have brought to my attention the solve could be right in front of our face. Do not be discouraged, you are among the elite who have believed in the solve they have enough to check it out in the field. O, one more thing, I believe (in my opinion) crow is the breakfast of champions. Happy birthday, your still a young pup.

  22. Iron will: Very interesting thinking and search! One statement really stood out to me. You said “I fear confidence is forcing me to cling to fleeting hopes of possible genius or perhaps to subconsciously keep me from getting the particular closure I need…that I was wrong”.

    I wonder if maybe you along with some other folks may be looking for “confidence” but mistaking it for something else. It seems that some think that confidence is a “feeling” when in my view, it is not a feeling at all but rather, a personality trait or a part of ones character. Self confidence is NOT a feeling or even a belief that success is inevitable. That’s a sense of entitlement that’s usually born out of arrogance. A confident person doesn’t necessarily believe that they are “right” or will “succeed” all the time BUT they do have the strength to face the possibility that they may be wrong or may not achieve their goal–this time . A confident person may know a lot, but they are also willing and even eager to learn more. Confidence helps motivate one to achieve excellence and/or success but also allows one to be secure enough to admit when they are wrong. Someone who can not face that they are or could be wrong is not showing confidence, they are only showing their conceit.

    Confidence breeds curiosity and challenges one to test their abilities without over estimating them. I read somewhere that the Lakota always choose a leader with humility because humility provides clarity in judgment and actions where arrogance only makes a cloud. Confidence is born out of humility whereas arrogance is born out of conceit.

    You have shown confidence: you made a good search without letting fear of failure dissuade you, you have revealed your solve without being overly concerned about what others may think, you have admitted that it didn’t result in finding the chest. Call on your confidence to stay curious even when you feel the need to be defensive in response to others comments. Listening to others may help you with your search going forward—Good luck!

    • Very well stated Raven. Only through humility can one navigate their way to through the quagmire and on to victory.
      At the end of the day a solution has to explain without fault why this place is so special…
      The Wolf

  23. So W.Y is it? Maybe those 3 streets, Geyser/Faithful/Electric art the points of a triangle in YSNP?

    IMP LIT always whispered MATH to me, specifically geometry. There’s three big figures and words like COMPLIMENTARY, CONFIDENCE, DOWN at the BOTTOM, tell it STRAIGHT, 85% RIGHT, 6 bucks 50 per per hour, etc. The triangle: Hem was plain / Norris Geyser plain? Fitz / Old Faithful? Sal & his vault / Electric Peak & volts (or those powerful falls).

    Electric peak? Ω means ohms. Ohm of Brown? Brown sound? Like a waterfall’s roar.

    As I have gone alone in there… I + one + one in three… sounds like a triangle to me.

    Catcher was retrieved from the trash…. old trash piles are dear to archeologists.

    Just some quick thoughts. I still like NM.

  24. Iron Will – there is much to learn from your solution and logic. Thanks for your bravery to post it.

    Raven – Well stated truths about confidence and humility. The wise continue learning and searching for answers in the company of sound advisors.

    • Iron Will, I salute you on excellent work even without the cigar. It’s interesting to me because early in the search one of my criteria to “weed-out” elements was the ability of said to endure perhaps a thousand years or more. I’ve since come to realize in this “information age” that anything that is a matter of record (i.e. street names) will endure, if if changed, and therefore are traceable and eligible.
      I have trouble with ff doing the tree climb but if he did, he would surely laugh on the way back to his car!

      • Thank you Rad…

        This is not a 15 yr old’s solution. I spent a total of 6 months refining and retrieving overwhelming support information. ALL of the streets in W.Y. would endure the same names for 1,000 years. Pine Trees in Montana last 500+ years. Forrest said how simple it would be yet imagination would win the day(paraphrasing). The time line of the “F F” fits perfectly. The Iris street would still count as the blaze due to the “Sunblaze” iris, so all the clues up to the blaze point would remain 1,000 years.

        And as far as the tree climbing….I can tell you my dad is 74 and he can climb up 16 feet on a extension ladder with a chain saw and trim limbs off the trees around our family home. I’ve seen him do it. And he isn’t HALF the adventurer Forrest was. I guarantee you he could do it.

  25. Correction; I mean to write “even if change.” Also in celebration of those who have worked so hard and can’t believe the tc is not at their “X”. I am going to take time off from searching my special place to return to Wolf’s Red River owl blaze, find his cache, and place an authentic (facimile) spanish gold dablune in there. p.s. to Hell with spellcheck.

  26. Thanks for sharing your solve. I appreciate it when people actually share their ideas instead of dancing around the subject.

    I have a thought about the following comment:

    ” I soon realized that there could literally be thousands of poem satisfying outcomes all over the Rocky Mountains. I thought to myself, Then it has to be something different, because Forrest wouldn’t just throw a scenario out in the wilderness, among thousands of others.”

    In my opinion I don’t think that FF wants it to be easy to find. If it takes 100 years to check the thousands of potential locations before some one finds it, the longer the better. I think he would love it if his treasure became as famous as the lost Dutchman mine.

  27. Iron Will, Double Eagle coin from the treasure from me when I find the treasure. Thanks for sharing … interesting stuff.

    • LOL thanks MM, but you keep it. The treasure, even without ONE ITEM, loses great value if you try to sell the whole.

  28. Will, thank you for your story and your solve was interesting and I wish you all the best. I don’t share the same feelings as you about the chest being in a tree. I also don’t feel that it is in that area. I think the area is too public. The place should be where no one goes. I appreciate your hard work, but I think you should simplify your thinking a little, or not. This is simply my views and I don’t have the chest so really your guess is as good as mine. Don’t give up; try, try, try.

  29. How bout this

    If UV been wise and found the blaze look quickly down (vertical) your quest to (2ft) under cease.

  30. Iron Will…Hunch here. hey, your thought train is clicking down the rails quite nicely. turn it around and head East. literally! in the words of Homer Greely “head East young man!” out the east entrance. but where? im not sure yet.

  31. Nice effort. It seems you have almost as much imagination as you have arrogance. Mr. Fenn’s legacy will survive. Apology accepted.

    Enjoy your crow, then get off your sorry arse and figure out where you are wrong.

    Really? Tarry FF in the street? Did you bother to check with the city officials to see when that tar was poured? A bit of a stretch I think.

    Best of luck with your next go’round.

    Thanks for the write-up. I’m sure your biggest fan loved it.


    • AH CRAP!!! I forgot to INCLUDE THAT! as of July 9th 2010, there was NO “F F” on the road, but there was a construction truck with trailer parked on the side of the road there.
      The next available imagery (that can be seen) is June 25th, 2012…..and the “F F” is clearly visible. I can try to post pics if you need, but it’s under the Historical Imagery on Google Earth.

      Thank you for bringing that back to my attention, that was one of the FIRST things I checked before emotionally accepting this solution.

  32. just a side note on it not being in a tree.

    I remember from early in the hunt a searcher was convinced that the chest was hidden in a tree… I think in YNP and he sent Mr. Fenn his solution along with photographs, stating that someone must have previously found the chest. He wanted Mr. Fenn to acknowledge his correct solution.

    I think Mr. Fenn was credited with saying that it wasn’t in a tree. I don’t remember if it was a direct quote (I doubt it) or paraphrase or someone else’s conclusion. I didn’t pay it much attention at the time.

    This may be what others are remembering… or not… I could still be in that TTOTC dream/nightmare I fell in a few years ago.


    • Oh the comment was third person on this site, that Forrest told a searcher in an email that the chest was not hidden in a tree, but surrounded by trees. That is why I use the term…”ON a tree”, because IN gives wiggle room for the chest to be actually inside the wood of the tree. I believe that is why Forrest said it is surrounded by trees instead of ON (if he even said that statement at all). Other that that 3rd person account, NO ONE has seen him quote that, that I know of.

      • Iron Will

        The statement i heard about trees was on Stephanies blog. It has been about a year ago, as I remember it Stephanie said Forrest told her to look in the trees.

        Ps, I salute you for all the thought and hard work you put into your solve and you had the backbone to drive out and put boots on the ground,

        My first solve , I drove out from Arkansas ,I searched in NM 9 days. When i got home tired and empty handed I was so dissapointed in my self that i didnt even post my solve. I did see some beautiful country and was out in Nature so that was a Plus.

        I decided then i would do a lot more studying before i make that long trip again

        Get some rest ,regroup, you mite have lost a battle but it doesnt mean you lost the war.Good Luck in future searches


    • Iron Will, I think that was a very creative solve. I would have gone with it as well, except for the tarry Blaze. Just can’t convince myself that he would use that as the blaze. Was curious how you worked in “your effort will be worth the cold”? Great job pulling it together and thank you for sharing.

      • worth the cold? I was going off the possibility that he painted the chest with a UV substance or wrapped the chest around two times creating an “X” on it with reflective tape, so that you’d see it at night with either UV or normal flashlight up in a tree.

  33. Just for everyone’s knowledge, I got Dal to ADD IN my satellite imagery of the “F F” blaze with time stamps from google earth….just below the bird pottery photos. I checked on the book, and it was published in January, 2010 from what I can see. Can anyone confirm that? I honestly can’t see Forrest putting a tarry blaze down on the road AFTER he wrote and published the book if that’s the case.

    • WOW, I just found the release date of the book…
      The Thrill of the Chase: A Memoir
      by Forrest Fenn
      Release date: October 25, 2010

      This falls perfectly in line with the satellite imagery of the “F F” tarry scant on the road.

  34. Hey Iron will,

    I can say with confidence that I too would run with a solve as comprehensive as that, probably even one that had far fewer ‘confirmation’ statements from forrest.

    I hope that you do indeed follow the advice of the other blog posters who suggest going back to the drawing board and carrying on.
    I can see how it would be very mentally tiring to try and stop thinking over and over again where you may have diverted from the clues.

    I wish you much success in future solves.


  35. We all know that F said his original plan was to leave his body with the chest. Seems like that would be a good question to ask yourself about an intended solution. Why would he want to be buried/leave his body at this particular place?

    IMO I just don’t know why he’d want to throw himself into a tree in a public picnic ground in the middle of town….. Might scare the kiddies. Unless he coated himself with bark and pine needles for camouflage first….just sayin.

    • That’s actually a great point and not something I thought of while reading this solution, but does pretty much disprove this entirely as a possible solution.

    • Well, if you look at the No. 1 Rarefied position tree on my sat. pic, that would be out of the way of people… and remember he said “with my last dying gasp, I would fling myself onto the treasure.” if he was on a ladder that high up…that’s exactly what he would have to do.

      • OH! and if he hid it up 30 feet(which may be from 5 years of growth), where I couldn’t see it, in that tree…. it’s 190 feet(including 30 feet up) from the blaze. WITHIN 200ft

        • Sure Will, I can see a guy’s bones 30ft up in a tree. How long would that last before they showered down on the rainforest below. And the vultures would pick him clean (way to much attention) I think not, too much drama. He probably would go quietly on a straw bed staring at fluffy clouds.

      • You can stretch anything you want to try and make a solution work, but if you are realistic, you would know “flinging” his body 30 feet up a tree isn’t what he meant.

        • What the heck is he going to do with that latter? Pretty hard to throw it in the “water high” with the bike. I mean it would look pretty odd just sitting there. And how does a dead person balance themselves on a tree limb anyway? Sure hope some unsuspecting child wasn’t playing ball in that park under that tree after a hot day. That would be pretty tramatic…

    • I think he would want to rest his bones there because the place has a beautiful view with an amazing sunset every evening 🙂

      • Romantically, I’d want to be found sitting up, back against a wall, my treasure in my lap & eyeholes gazing at a horizon beyond a valley that that I loved. Realistically, I’d like to not have to make that choice.

  36. Thank you, IronWill. If the chest could be found based on writing skill, it would be yours for sure. I like your quote, “. . . champions are the people of this world, who ignore the pain of those lacerations . . . their confidence and sheer determination, along with perhaps a small amount of luck and timing, come together to win the day.” I am not sure if I can ignore the “pain” but I learn to accept it and move on. Perhaps, I am just not “walking up” with enough confidence. Your quote should be stored with all of ff’s notable sayings for some day it could prove to be profound!

  37. With each new theory that is released I often wonder how searchers would react to the correct solution.

    Would they recognize the truth when they see it?

  38. Just getting back here to read the rest of this…Awesome! Thanks for sharing. I find it so interesting how we all work and see things uniquely. It’s the same for all treasure hunts/exploring. They ignite something deep inside each of us! Love the Thrill of the Chase – in everything!

  39. Frost heaves in Winter cause the road to split at right angles. Look at the square block patterns in S Iris Street. That’s where the “FF”‘s came from. And you need to ignore that the 1st “F” is really an “H” if you look at all the lines. Streets get paved and repaved over. Picnic tables get moved and stored for the Winter and put somewhere else next year. Pine trees get struck by lightning – – especially with a big bronze electricity attracter in them — or blown over by winds or weakened by the pine bark beetle, or burn up due to all that pitch in them. Just look at all the dead trees blown down as you drive along in YNP.
    Man, I wanted to see something here but nothing to last 100 or 1000 years. The road surface alone will change in 10 – 20 years.
    Sorry, just can’t buy a thrill here. Sorry.

  40. There isn’t any trouble with confidence you gotta know when to flip the switch. Good luck in the chase, and good attempt I might add.

  41. Yellowstone once again. I heard cash and treasures were found. Not “the treasure” and not me but $500.00 lost or found by the right person. Iron Will, legit solve, I know the effort you put into it, keep your head up. F.Y.I . Somebody must have thought you were close I seen in a certain FB group that somebody ran thermal scans. That was quick!! GL in the hunt…

  42. While I think the treasure is in the Mt/Wy area, I don’t think it is in or very near to West Yellowstone proper. Kids go exploring, little grassy areas and clumps of trees in the village are going to be explored by everyone, not even thinking of treasure hunters, just regular folks. I must admit, my first solve included this same idea, but to me, it just doesnt seem plausible. Maybe he wants to “draw the map” in West Yellowstone, and you take the “map” to the real WWWH and start there… IMO

    • Maybe he wants to “draw the map” in West Yellowstone, and you take the “map” to the real WWWH and start there… IMO

      —- I thought about that but couldn’t make it work.

  43. Wow , I like it . Well done Sir.

    I do also have had those same feelings in West Yellow Stone. My son Zack and I just visited there and we has a blast looking for the chest. Interesting we were also feeling the same way about the tree idea. Love it. And Im glad I’m not the only one who felt that way.
    Great job !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!=)

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