SUBMITTED September 2017
I began my search in August of 2016. For some reason I began by looking at a map of county names in Wyoming and my eye immediately went to the name “Hot Springs”.
And so I began with Where Warm Waters Halt being the westernmost tip of Hot Springs County Wyoming. This was also spurred by looking at Forrest’s map and following the declination lines.
Take it in the Canyon down – from the tip of the county you follow the south fork of Owl creek into one of the most remote canyons in the lower 48 (or so says the gentleman at the BLM office in Worland WY).
Not far, but too far to walk……I have, since the beginning, thought that the first two clues must be determined by looking at a map. This was confirmed for me with the discussion about the little girl in India. So you are definitely not going to be walking from the tip of Hot Springs County as that is too dang far.
Put in below the home of Brown. Hmm….must admit I poached some information here, and started researching George Brown, fellow board member of Forrest’s at the Center of the West Museum in Cody, Wyoming. I came across George’s obituary (he passed away in 2013 at the age of 83)…..(two can keep a secret if one of them is dead), and found that he was the manager of the HooDoo Ranch for 40 some years; a big operation just south of Cody. I also saw that he has a great-grandson named Forrest. Interesting! So George was a live-in manager at the Ranch. My bet was to take a bead on the ranch house and follow it due south to find where it crosses the South Fork of Owl Creek. Voila! The location is at a flat area just at the point at which the canyon starts to get scary. That must be the place to park the car, why yes, I can see tracks right near the creek from my eagle eye Google spy.
Still working out my solution from home, I see that From there it’s no place for the meek, yes, a dang scary canyon, The end is ever drawing nigh – yes, you must cross that creek to get to the other side. There’ll be no paddle up your creek – on Google Earth you can see that the creek is not one to be navigated with a boat. Just heavy loads and waters high. I determined the heavy loads to be the carrying of the treasure and the waters high as a hint that you will need waders to cross the creek. (you can also see from the cover of Forrest’s book that the shadow is wearing waders). From the start I believed that the reason Forrest made two trips from his car was because he needed one trip to pack in his waders, and then the second trip to bring in Indulgence.
If you’ve been wise and found the blaze, well hey, you are in Owl Creek after all, how much wiser could you be? I figured the blaze was just something to be found on site that would clinch the location for you. Your effort will be worth the cold – another hint that you need to wade the creek. Otherwise what on earth would be cold? We’ve been told not to search in the winter and to wait until the snow is gone. If you’ve been brave and in the wood – well, it just so happens that if you cross the south fork of Owl Creek at the longitude of the HooDoo ranch, you are on the Wind River Indian Reservation, hence “brave”. Also, on Google Earth you can see that the north side of the creek at that point is barren, and the south side is wooded.
Ok! This sounds like enough data for me to take a trip to Wyoming.
Here are some views of the trip:
Along the 50 mile drive from Thermopolis out to Owl Creek on a BLM road that crosses private property via easements.
Washakie Needles looking to the Northeast
Approaching the canyon
The parking place at the end of the two-track road where you get out and walk in ½ mile- easily doable twice in an afternoon
South fork of Owl Creek looking east. No paddle up this creek – easy to wade
This last picture was taken at the exact coordinates of the longitude of the HooDoo ranch house. Looking across the canyon from the Wind River Reservation side there is a large rectangular chunk that has fallen out of the wall. Looked like a blaze to me!
It was a grand adventure, which included:
- The realization that we absolutely had to have a four-wheel drive vehicle
- That the only place to rent a jeep in Wyoming seemed to be an outfitter in Cody; about 100 miles from the search location
- There is a locked gate on the BLM road that goes out to Owl Creek
- With a keen eye to research I was able to secure that gate code
- The jeep had a rattlesnake bite kit in it – just in case
- Getting to the parking site on the creek in fine order, if not a bit muddy
- Crossing the creek far too soon as once on the ground I became incredibly disoriented, even with a GPS, learning that Google Earth and actual earth pretty much don’t look anything alike
- Searched up and down and high and nigh
- Saw a lovely brown trout in a pool in the creek
- Decided to leave when our dog spotted a cougar on the bluff above us
My conclusions: even though this is the prettiest solve I can imagine, I don’t think this is where Forrest hid the treasure. It is just too remote and hard to get to, even though it is easy enough to park and walk ½ mile downstream once you get there. You actually have to cross private land on the way. Even though the BLM is supposed to have an easement, there are bad feelings between BLM and the local ranchers. This is why the gate is locked. According to this solution the chest would have been on tribal land, and I now think that probably this is not what Forrest is referring to by being “brave”. I also now don’t think that my George Brown solution is reasonable. It required way too much research to be plausible.
So the search goes on!