Meek, Major Powell, and Maybe Escalante…

by Golden Horse


A recurring issue I have with many of my solutions is that I tend to make things fit the puzzle. As a result I find that there are several interpretations of the clues in any of my broad locations. I will use an asterisks to identify the correlations I believe make the best fit. The location this solution leads to has been searched by me twice, thoroughly, so I do not believe this area to be the resting place of Fenn’s gold. I am sharing my solutions on Dal’s page because I have used many of its members as a resource. A couple of my interruptions of the clues in this solve are nearly identical to other solves I have read here. That was in some cases by coincidence and in other cases intentional because some of you are just too darn smart. If you have read the Flaming Gorge/Brown’s Park/Joe Meek solve before feel free to skip to clue #6. From there I hope it is original.

#1. Begin it where warm waters halt

Forrest said that WWWH was not associated with a dam. I believe he did this in an effort to keep people as safe as possible. At the time of the release of this clue several searchers were putting themselves in danger around the base of large dams. I believe WWWH represents where a lake/reservoir meets a river. I have two/three reasons for this.



The first image (above) is located somewhere on the New Mexico parks webpage and the second is a photo from my Colorado Benchmark map opposite the map page of this solutions general search area. The third reason is that it fitsthis particular solution.




My grandfather and I started investigating this area because of its proximity to Butch Cassidy’s hideout.


#2. and take it in the canyon down,

Flaming Gorge flows into the Green River by way of the Red Canyon. In his book Forrest dedicates a chapter to a childhood adventure he took up Red Canyon near Hebgen Lake in Montana. (I have been there too. It is beautiful.)


#3. Not far, but too far to walk.

My interpretation of this clue is that the canyon is long and you shouldn’t get out of your car yet. Having driven red canyon myself I can assure you that walking it wouldn’t be fun. This could actually be part of clue #2 depending on how you interpret the 9 nine clues. The distance from the edge of the lake to our next destination, also the distance of the canyon, is 20.4 miles as the crow flies.



#4. Put in below the home of Brown.

Forrest said that all you need to solve his puzzle is the poem and a good map. When he published “Too Far To Walk” he partnered with Benchmark Maps which might mean that Forrest believes Benchmark Maps are good maps. There happens to be a “Put-in below” Browns Park National Wildlife Refuge just after Red Canyon.

These are notes I found attempting to identify where Browns Park got its name: “Janet Lecompte of Colorado Springs argues convincingly that Brown was a fictional character invented by Colonel Henry Inman in his book The Old Santa Fe Trail originally published in 1897. Still others feel that Baptiste Brown was actually an alias for Jean-Baptiste Chalifoux. Chalifoux was a French Canadian trapper who operated out of Taos. He led a horse stealing party to California in 1837, operated a trading post in Embudo, New Mexico, in the 1840s, and built the first house in Trinidad, Colorado, in 1869. He visited the Brown’s Hole area in 1835 and left his name carved on a cliffside in the Willow Creek drainage…”




#5. From there it’s no place for the meek, The end is ever drawing nigh;

There are two trains of thought here and I subscribe to both of them. One train will tell you that the rapids after the put-in are no place for the meek. In fact two historic shipwrecks occurred about six miles south of the put-in at Disaster Falls. The first was General Ashley’s expedition and the second was Major Powell’s expedition. The natives warned Powell of the dangers inside the canyons of Ladore. The second train of thought refers to Joe Meek a fur trader and mountain man that was living at Fort Davy Crockett. Some of you have seen the journal passage mentioned on this blog, I attached an image of it below. In the passage Robert Newell tells Meek that the green river is not place for them now because the fur trade is dead. So where is no place for the Meek? The green river and Ladore canyon is no place for the Meek so that is where we should be looking. I am also including a couple extra images that indicate the location of Fort Davy Crockett. (J. Meek Pictured on the bottom right)















#6. There’ll be no paddle up your creek,

To this point several of you must be saying I have read this solution before. Hopefully what follows is something most of you haven’t seen. I mentioned Major Powell earlier but his story really picks up over the next several clues. “The Exploration of the Colorado River and Its Canyons” by J.W. Powell and Dover Publications documents several of Major Powell’s adventures. The cover of this book has an illustration of one of Powell’s boats at disaster falls. If you recall I said that disaster falls could be considered no place for the meek. (Powell pictured to the right)









Powell begins his journey through the Gates of Ladore and down the Canyon of Ladore in chapter seven of his book. (Left: Powell’s Illustration of gates. Right a photo I took at the gates)











In the same chapter on the next page Major Powell chronicles the loss of their first ship the “No-Name.” Before the vessel is destroyed the No-Name loses their oars. Another word for paddle is oar. I have highlighted the passage below. (Bottom photo of Upper Disaster Falls)




#7. Just heavy loads and water high.

The book is broken up by chapters and by (almost) daily journal entries. Some days something significant happens and there is a lot to read and other days there are only a few lines. The crew spends a couple days carrying the remaining boats around disaster falls. On the third day (June 12th) the men discover supplies and wreckage from the lost boat. They carry them above the HIGH WATER mark and leave them, because their cargo is already too HEAVY.



#8. If you’ve been wise and found the blaze,

Over the next few days Powell’s crew encounters several more rapids but nothing exciting happens. They name the stretch of the canyon they just encountered, Hells Half Mile. On June 16th something unexpected happens… There is a fire in the camp. Read the passage I have highlighted below if you want the details.


When I read it the first time I believed I had solved the poem. I assumed I had found the blaze. Many people believe this blaze occurred at rippling brook. In fact I have heard river guides tell the story that way. However after careful reading you will find the historic blaze actually occurred at alcove brook. Alcove brook has been searched thoroughly by my group with a metal detector.


I found the blaze but, was I wise? If I was wise and searching for a fire where would I go or what would I do? I pondered this question as I scoured the map and the book. Then I realized if I was wise and looking for a fire I would go to a fire lookout tower and low and behold one of the oldest towers still in operation overlooks the entire search area from Dinosaur National Monuments highest point, Zenobia Peak.


My thought was that I needed to look in the direction of the historic blaze from the lookout tower. So we drove to the peak!




Above is the view from the tower in the general direction of the blaze. (Technically this photo is a little off center, but I chose it because it is more appealing to the eye.)


#9. Look quickly down, your quest to cease, (marvel gaze? Trust me… it is a marvel)
Look down…




I searched for hours and didn’t find the chest here. I figured I was still on the right track but had messed up somewhere along the way. So I developed a couple alternatives. I consider myself a math hobbyist but I attempted to calculate the odds of Powell’s book fitting so well after finding the first set of clues, it seem unlikely to be a coincidence. Later I consulted a mathematician who reassured me that it was unlikely that a book written over 200 years ago could so closely and sequentially match three clues from the poem. And so I flipped a few more pages in the book. It had occurred to me that some of the clues I outline above could be considered one clue instead of two. Thus leaving room for additional clues. For example WWWH and “take it in the canyon down” or the latter of the two and “not far, but too far to walk.” After the fire Powell finds himself in Pat’s Hole, now Echo Park. Echo Park is home to a monstrous rock appropriately named Steamboat Rock.


In his journal; Powell, who only has one arm, claims he climbed this behemoth. Of course he almost falls to his death in the process. It is said that he holds on with the only arm he has. I imagine hanging there and taking a QUICK peak at the canyon floor below. If Powell fell his quest would have undoubtedly CEASED. This calamity happens just two days after the blaze.


I have several interruptions of the clues from this point. For example Powell climbs Mt. Dawes (now Zenobia) a few days after his near miss with death. When on top of Zenobia he describes looking in all directions from the highest peak. He marvels at the beauty of his surroundings.

“So hear me all and listen good,” could be a way of describing Echo Park or Jenny Lind rock. The park is named after the great echoes that can be heard there. Jenny Lind Rock rest at the upper edge of the canyon near the confluence. Jenny was an opera singer, perhaps if you holler from there you can be heard by everyone in the canyon if they are listening good.

The illustration opposite page 169 is of Echo Park looking from a large rock across the Yampa/Green Confluence.

… What if… “the end is ever drawing nigh;” actually means the END is NIGH (near) an EVER DRAWING (or a drawing that lasts forever aka a petroglyph)? Inside Echo Park you will find the Pool Creek Petroglyphs.

I know this canyon well. I have searched it top to bottom. I have swam in all its waters, crossed all its creeks and ventured into the depths of all its caves (Pat’s included). I have even stepped over recently devoured deer or elk carcasses near Pool creek in search of the chest. Echo Park is MASSIVE and beautiful but the chest isn’t there. Feel free to message me if you are planning on taking the trip I would be happy to answer almost any questions. I have a couple other obscure solves for this area that I didn’t mention because the chest wasn’t there either and this post is already over 2000 words and nearly 18 pages.

I almost forgot to mention the possible Escalante Solution. While Powell was coming back down from the peak of Mt. Dawes he discovered a man-made monument which he believed might have been built by the Spanish Priest Escalante. I couldn’t find it. This isn’t at Escalante Overlook either. I think it is on limestone ridge. This is the last passage before Powell enters what is now Utah, which we know is outside the search area. Good Luck.


-Golden Horse

50 thoughts on “Meek, Major Powell, and Maybe Escalante…

  1. Golden Horse … great diagrams, maps, and photos. And your presentation is very good as well. I enjoyed reading your solution.

    As apparently many others have, I too have looked at this general location (Browns Park / Green River area); it looks pretty good on paper. And it may turn out that this is indeed the “general” location of the treasure chest. However, in regards to your specific solution, I see a couple of significant problems.

    In the very first line of your write-up, you say: “I tend to make things fit the puzzle”. Bingo!

    As the searcher who wrote up his solution in the recently published “A Work Of Art” thread used an online map (Google Earth) as a crutch to find answers to the puzzle, you have done the same thing, except you have used J. W. Powell’s book about the exploration of the Colorado River and its canyons, to fit the puzzle. So the critique that I applied to “A Work of Art” applies also to your solution here, with the same result … Rorschach test, confirmation bias, we see what we wanna see, blah blah blah, math professor notwithstanding.

    Further, use of that book or any book really makes the reader privy to specialized knowledge. And FF has said that searchers do not need specialized knowledge.

    The second major problem I see is that your solution is yet another “water” solution. The searcher is required to actually get into water, either via a boat or on foot. And the Canyon of Ladore … oh my goodness. Can you imagine some mommy telling her ten year old kid … “now Johnny, put on your life jacket and helmet in case we hit a big rock”. Under no circumstances would I take a child down that river, or would I subject a child to any solution that required drifting, rafting, boating in, or diving or scuba diving into, water to find a bronze box. Way too dangerous.

    There are a few other minor problems, but I’ll skip them. I will say that your interpretation of the line “so here me all and listen good” matches my interpretation precisely, but of course I apply the line to a completely different geographic area.

    Thanks Golden Horse for the enjoyable read. Clearly, you have put in a lot of time and thought into this puzzle.

    Ken 🙂

    • Finding a historical document, map, or book wouldn’t qualify as special knowledge. I think it would be valid research material and explain why someone can’t get past clue#2 with only a map and the poem. At some point we need to do research and if I can’t use a history book, encyclopedia, dictionary, or other reference material because it’s specialized knowledge then I’m done and won’t be able to solve it.

      • I disagree.

        “…we need to do research and if I can’t use a history book, encyclopedia, dictionary, or other reference material … ”

        The point is that secondary research (the sources you describe) is a crutch that gives searchers an excuse not to have to go into the field.

        Solve the first 2 clues using research; fine. Then go to the general area and drive/hike around ’till you find clues 3 through 9.

        I would be very, very disappointed with Forrest Fenn if all this search takes is internet research. And I’ll go a bit further. It gets tiresome reading all the word coincidences posters come up with from the comfort of their own computer.


        • I can’t agree with that Ken.
          I believe that what we learn from that secondary research is what gives us the excitement and confidence to go outside our comfort zone and for some, travel long distances to to experience the TTOTC.
          IMO of course.

          • Secondary research can indeed build excitement and confidence. But to me, such research yields unwarranted excitement and false confidence. Invariably, there will be a letdown when those secondary sources fail to find the chest. A better approach, in my opinion, is to read TTOTC, then use one’s imagination to apply its content to some specific area identified by your interpretation of your first 2 clues. You may still not find the chest, but at least you will have followed FF’s instructions. 🙂

        • Ken;

          You say, “Solve the first 2 clues using research; fine. Then go to the general area and drive/hike around ’till you find clues 3 through 9.”

          I could NOT DIS-agree more. It is my opinion that if you can not solve everything up to finding the blaze, at home, stay at home until you can.

          Sure Forrest wants us to get out into the wilds of the Rockies, but I just can not see trying to find EVERYTHING with BOTG after clue #2.

          I have had a total of six “Solves” since I started. Three failed attempts in Montana, and now three “Solves in Wyoming.” Solve #1 in wyoming ended on private land. This solve took me to the point of BOTG to find the blaze.

          Solve #2 in Wyoming kept the same wwwh and was a continuation of where I was to find the blaze. In this solve I HAD a blaze already, and just needed to find the correct “end” – Gave up on this solve after a thorough search did not produce the TC.

          Solve #3 – I have again extended my “END”, and am confident that this time, I am in the right place. I have a new blaze that I found with BOTG, and now have a new END.

          So – six solves only three required BOTG to find the blaze and the “end”. At 74, I can not expend the kind of energy it would take to solve everything from clue #3 on – on the ground.

          I think that Forrest took into consideration guys and gals like me – MINIMAL BOTG are required.

          Just my opinion. I guess I will know Friday or Saturday.

          Good luck with your strategy. Hope you have a lot of Dr. Scholes foot pads! 🙂


          • “At 74, I can not expend the kind of energy it would take to solve everything from clue #3 on – on the ground.”
            JD … Maybe the area covered by clues 3 thru 9 is not as big and expansive as you assume.

            There’s certainly no prohibition on interpreting the clues using lots of secondary sources. But Forrest has already told us that “imagination is more important than knowledge”

            When searchers use secondary sources, they are, by definition, using “knowledge” that FF implies we don’t need.

        • I never said we didn’t need to go find the items we research. I visit just about every place in the country looking for ideas and have visited museums in 26 states looking for clues. I have also done research in Libraries, Archives, National Parks, Monuments, etc… Most of my trips have been for research and not for looking for the chest. It’s been a lot of fun traveling with my kids visiting all those awesome places.

          And I too would be disappointed if you could find all the the clues by sitting at home and surfing the internet. But that doesn’t mean some research, whether online or not, isn’t needed for solving all the clues. I posses no inherent knowledge of so many subjects that I need to read up on them and understand what I’m doing and why it might relate to the chase.

          Only once I understand what I’m looking for can I find it.

  2. You certainly did your homework Golden Horse.
    I am not sure I would rely so heavily on history.
    Either way I enjoyed reading & understanding your solve & you have an analytical mind.

  3. Golden Horse I applaud your investigative efforts. Incredible research. But I keep getting stuck on Forrest saying that the poem and his TTOTC book is enough to lead an average person to the treasure. I would assume only an expert researcher in history would go to these efforts. It makes me give pause to this idea, even though I was stunned by the wording you found and highlighted 🙂

  4. Great research – a bit more than I feel is necessary, but what do I know? NADA. Thanks for putting it out there.

    Hope you find it in the future and TRY to STAY SAFE


  5. Golden Horse,

    By any chance did we pass each other in Echo Park this summer? Our solves cross paths here and it would be interesting to compare additional notes…

    ~ Wisconsin Mike

    • We searched Echo Park mid to late June. We also search a couple other locations that I will be posting here. Dal and I are trying to find a good spot to add my additional notes to this post. I hate leaving things out but the post was already getting so long. A few of my favorite notes are:

      Brown’s Cabin directly below the fire lookout
      Gardner’s Cabin just up the Yampa at Warm Springs
      The old Outlaw trail head that crosses the river at the confluence

      shoot me an email gilmorejd at g mail.

      -Golden Horse

  6. Golden Horse,
    This was my first solve. And your research is strikingly similar to mine!
    I searched that area back in April 2013. I felt the Fremont Pool Creek petroglyph was the blaze and I had to go check it out.
    When I got there and read the sign about the petroglyph, it described it as a necklace… “A necklace?” To me it looked like an owl taking flight… A Wise Owl.
    So the search started beneath the petroglyph and along the creek just below. Nothing. Then searched the surrounding areas, Whispering Cave and Steamboat Rock. After not being able to find the treasure, I didn’t feel very wise at all… Just very disappointed.
    On the 26+ hour drive back home I read on the blog that there were two avid treasure hunters that had figured out the clues and were going to get the TC. That was on a Tuesday, but they wanted to hear forrest’s next clue that was being aired on The Today Show on Thursday. I panicked and felt as if they were going to MY spot and going to find it! As soon as I got home, I didn’t even unpack my bags. I got online and booked airline tickets to fly back out, this time with a metal detector. I was back out there Thursday morning before those two guys were to arrive. I was feeling confident. We scoured the area again… Nothing. No TC. A sick feeling began to settle in. I began to realize the TC wasn’t there. I had failed again and I certainly wasn’t feeling very wise.
    It’s been a few years since then and I’ve wised up a bit… So I think… Ha!
    The Thrill of The Chase…
    Anyway, thanks or sharing. I enjoyed reading your post. Good luck to you on your next search. 🙂

    • I felt the same way about the petroglyphs. I agree the chest isn’t at Echo Park. However, If the poem leads you to Echo Park or if FF said the chest is at Echo Park. I believe it still might never be found because of how huge everything is in the Rockies. The spot must be more precise or it will never be located.

      • Loved your search story, Golden Horse. I was thinking the same as you just wrote, the hiding spot is somehow given to us in a precise manner so we don’t have to search vast areas.

        Awesome solve, maps, history and pictures. I’ll shoot you an email sometime.

      • Brilliant!
        I love the pictures. I have very fond memories in that very special place!
        Have plans to make more the weekend of 29th!
        I love hiking the area, but, always, BE PREPARED! Lots of water, and don’t venture off into the wilderness without letting the Rangers know. It’s for safety reasons.
        Great mind you have, Golden Horse! 🙂

  7. Ha ha ha…Good Ol Joe Meek! There needs to be an updated movie about this guy because he pops up everywhere. I think meek is a description of the area you are in. I take it as a secondary clue and not specific. The last two large post with alot of illustrations and rhetoric is exactly what Forrest knows you are going to run with. So what is funny…lets create a new horror movie here..Forrest Fenn vs. Hannibal Lecter……

    First principles, Clarice. Simplicity. Read Marcus Aurelius. Of each particular thing ask: what is it in itself? What is its nature? What does he do, this man you seek?

    A) I think the treasure is close to the chest…
    B) I think it is in an area that Forrest visited during his collecting years
    C) His memoirs take you away from where the treasure is but gives you clues to guide you when you get close.
    D) Mr. Fenn is going to toy with you…says he is having fun! I notice a particular picture on this website where Mr. Fenn states “Are you calling me for a clue?” and makes a c-like hook with his hand particularly resembling an omega sign like his colophon…I think that carries more weight than meek!

  8. That was an amazing adventure, and your research was outstanding. I personally believe that because of past failures by other searchers, many have began over thinking. The poem and the other peramitures have to be used in any solve. If it is too difficult for an 80 year old and if there is no access road within a short distance, it doesn’t fit the clues. For me I’m forcing myself to keep it simple.

  9. nice….glad to hear others have ventured into this wilderness. It’s vast. A searcher could spend two lifetimes in Moffat County alone and never come closer than 200′ to the chest.

    • I have considered it a clue on other solves. I do have trouble with the fact that it comes after, “and leave my bones in peace” line. I tend to lean in the direction that the clues end there. But it could be a clue.

  10. GoldenH. I have been there years ago with a possible solve. I thought the direction from Brown”s park was too obvious and evident from reading a map. I used a solve starting from the Yampa River, where there is some warm water. My area for the TC was a spot that may be what you have chosen to withhold, through no fault of yours, but a damn shame that it involved crossing the Green River, a spot which I later thought too unsafe to reach for our 80 y.o. athlete.
    I DID get to spend the night alone at the prow of the ship and play with the deer and elk herds that habit the area when no one else is around.

    Strong work on your park.

  11. Nice presentation of your work Golden Horse! Don’t give up on this solve – you could be onto something… I wish I had left time in my upcoming trip to check out, CO. I’ve looked at that book at some point in trying to learn about the Green, Lodore Canyon, etc, and I know the draw of the writing, but I am making an effort to anything that could be interpreted as “obscure knowledge”. I also don’t think Fenn would want the solve to be so unraveled by a single publication of another author. The general Powell stuff aside there are some stand outs on your path here:

    to Swallow = take it in (the Canyon, of course)…. Not far from your WWWH and I’ve tried a bit to work this trajectory.

    Home of Brown…Well Brown’s Park is an obvious choice, but I am very interested in those notes you’ve posted about Mr. Brown… I think if the man carved his name in some rock somewhere (and used the “Brown” name) that is where I would drop the pin!

    End is Ever Drawing Nigh…. I’ve noticed on various CO maps and on your map posted coming down from the Diamond Mtns there are lots of named “draws” near the river…. Another separate thought related to your area: I believe in Echo Park around that Steamboat Mtn there is some epic bend in the river (omega) where it comes around almost into itself and can be viewed from the spine of the mountain in between the close part to be the same river running in both directions beside itself. This could be “ever drawing nigh”?

  12. I think the thing that has me rethinking every past solution I’ve had are ff’s following paraphrased comments…

    Can be retrieved in any weather and
    He drove a sedan

    Assuming these statements mean they say, my search areas become less rural and move closer to town.

    I adjusted accordingly but feel no closer or confident.

  13. Very interesting solve! Ladore Canyon is definitely no place for the meek. A woman lost her life rafting there a couple of weeks ago. Very tragic when you are just out to have some fun and adventure!

  14. Great solve! I looked for a long time on maps and google earth to try and make sense of that area, and I thought that Whispering cave would be the best area to look. But getting there seemed beyond me. I am glad that you found a way.

    When you mentioned that Jean Baptist Brown operated out of the Taos area and mentioned Embudo I had to do a double take. That area is one of the most popular New Mexico solves. My own solve is up the Rio Grande from there at the confluence of the Rio Pueblo de Taos. But the terrain is too difficult for me there. So I poke around a small patch of land and look for petroglyphs and cairnes. IMO, if you can find the location of browns place around Embudo you would have a better chance of locating TC.
    Look up the various Embudo solves by Katya, Sancho, Cynthia, Radcad, and me.

  15. You say you searched all of Echo Park, but what does that mean? From where to where? Can you show the search area on a map?

    • The entire park. If there is a spot in particular you are curious about just ask. I know what you are thinking… Your solve is unique. I have taken several trips to Echo Park. Over the last several years I have searched with 10 adults with one mission, finding the chest. If you are already convinced than there is nothing I could do, say or show you that will stop you from making the trip. A trip to this location is not free. I published an 18 page solve with a lot of photographs and maps. I am not going to Echo Park ever again unless it is on a raft with my son (who isn’t born yet), dad, brother and grandfather looking for adventure and not the chest. Give me a broad idea of your search area and I will answer as honestly as possible. I hope this saves you the expense. Search Echo if you want a beautiful view. Find another location if you want a chance at the secret.

      • You said, ” a trip to this location is not free”, I disagree. Had you come the direct route, it would have been free.
        I am also curious as to what you consider the “whole” park. I think you may have missed a very important clue.
        IMO of course. Did your group only search the immediate park? You said you went to Pat’s cave, was that on the Yampa side? Not many know where he slept. I would appreciate it if you could talk me out of a 3rd trip.

      • Awesome. I went on a search there and after one look told myself to drive away. There are so many cliffs and places to hide a chest that you could spend 20 years looking and not cover it all. It’s a great place to camp and enjoy all the sights, but a difficult place to search.

      • As Eaglesabound said, I just don’t know what you mean by the entire park. You have been rigorous to your satisfaction to prove that it wasn’t there. However, I haven’t been rigorous to my satisfaction to cross it off my list unless I know what your search covered. Did you go down the Green River to the Utah border? How far up the Green did you look? How far up the Yampa? How far up Pool Creek? Did you go up Trail Draw, if so, how far? Did you go up to the Harper’s Corner Overlook? I’d appreciate any of these specifics you’d be willing to share.

  16. Hello JoshuaGilmore, is there a link to the 18 page solve that you published? I would like to read it, but I can’t find it. I too have thoroughly searched this area without success, but had some beautiful trips

  17. Golden Horse – I have a couple of questions for you regarding Echo Park and your searches there. I’m very impressed with the work you’ve done and I’d love the chance to bounce some ideas off of you. I believe I might have some thoughts that you might find interesting as well. If you’d be willing, please contact me at

  18. Beautiful solve, and a wonderful adventure. The parts about Baptiste Browns house below where the fire had been is particularly interesting. Did you look more there?

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