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dal is an occasional filmmaker, writer and photographer who lives on an island in Washington State's Salish Sea.

Odds n Ends About Fenn’s Treasure Hunt…Part Thirty Two

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Please click on the comment balloon below to contribute to the discussion of  Forrest Fenn’s Treasure Hunt. Please note that many topics have their own pages. Please scroll through the blog to see all the discussion pages. There are also stories, scrapbooks, searcher’s reports general information, tips from Forrest, a rumors blog and even email responses from Forrest. So please look around and if you want to make a comment please use the most appropriate page.

Thanks…

 

dal…

A Different Way of Looking at Clues

SUBMITTED JULY 2017
by Seattle Sullivan

 

   The main thing people need to focus on is the way Forrest thinks. Remember his mind stays at about 13.  Back then life was all farts and giggles. So imagine the games Forrest and Skippy , must of played in the back seat on their way to Yellowstone . I envision them picking apart the wording on highway signs. ICY CONDITIONS MAY EXIST , ( I see why conditions may exist).

Cold Night

    What I am getting at is a whole different way of looking at the clues. It’s all a play on words. I call it  what I named my book “Well Knit Wit”.  Where is this book you ask?  It’s sitting in front of me.  Once I publish it, ” in which after reading it, Forrest hopes I do” my secrets will be told. The other reason being after consulting with Forrest at this years Fennbouree, I am holding off on a chapter I call “B- ond,  James Bond”.  It has to do with the green olive jar and and certain secrets”.  To me, and a few friends, the 20,000 word autobiography is the most valuable item in the chest. It is what drives me.  Funny as I am homeless and live on a $734 SSI check in the most expensive area in the nation. Dal, (pronounced Dale), will attest to that one.

My Front Yard in Snohomish County

      There are certain things we need to do in the solve. Forrest tells us how to play the game if you are wise. Butterfly – Flutter by for starters. And if he doesn’t see a word in the dictionary, he will make one up. Many of the answers combine Spanish and English. And spelling correctly is pointless, its all in the pronunciation.
Lets begin:
    My favorite clue is ” If you don’t know where to begin, you might as well stay home and play canasta”.  Here is why he used the word CANASTA specifically.  BE GIN.  In New Mexico, there are tanks of water in certain areas used for fire fighting. Each one is named. Since Forrest is a PET TALKER, or in slang , a pet taca, I picked the array of tanks, “Tanqueray”…..as in gin, above Petaca.  If you can, pin PETACA TANK A on google earth.  Oh ya, canasta is an anagram of  TANCS A.

 

Pet – Talka

   Next, the answer that came to me in a dream. Here is where to BEGIN.  By counting the letters in a verse of the poem .  “Not Far”has 2 words before the comma. Go down the alphabet 2 letters…A-B. The last letter is the one we will use. So remember the B. Next , “But to far to walk” . Going 5 letters down the alphabet you get E .  “Put in below the home of Brown”…   7 letters gives you the G.  “From there it is no place for the meek”…gives you the ” I “.  The next verse has no comma, so combine the 2 sentences.  “The end is drawing ever nigh- there will be no paddle up your creek”, this will give you your N.  Add it up boys and girls, it spells BEGIN.
   Ah , but that’s not all folks. We have one sentence left.  “Just heavy loads and water high”.  Now being from Texas, that southern drawl comes into play.  Yesterday when I was using my backpack, I ADJUST the heavy loads. So ,  ADD  “Just heavy loads and water high” to the next verse”.  Count up the words.  It totals 36. This is your degree. The next verse “including the question mark” makes 32. These is your minutes.  Next verse 29. Your seconds.  36 – 32 – 29  latitude.  By counting letters starting at “From there it’s ……and ending at “and waters high”, you get 106 letters. Thats your longitude. But its easier if you just look at Forrest’s last name. Fenn.  ” Santa FE N.N.” , or directly North of Santa Fe.  Get back on google earth and pin those co-ordinates. Amazingly they are 1 mile from the Tanqueray location.  This is where you BEGIN.
As the inside cover says a little resolve is needed, I’ll start resolving now at where most everyone else starts:
1)   Begin it where warm waters halt.   I believe it is the array of tanks above Petaca.  Take the story Forrest uses about the array of burned out tanks and war relics in Northern Africa. This I believe gives credence to my Tanqueray theory.
1a)   And ta-Kit (Carson) in the canyon do w. n.   (due w. x n.)
2)  Not far, but too far to walk. My spot is around 4-5 miles as the crow flies, to the h.o.B.
3)  Put in below the home of Brown.  This is what I believe is Forrest’s bluff.  But you still put in below it. Simply a brown house on a bluff, and /or the Brown in the local graveyard.
4)  From there it is no place for the Meek. The area is sketchy and the locals are watching you .  The dogs chase your car and bite at your tires. The pavement ends , and the mud begins.
5)  The End is Drawing Ever Nigh.   See the dead end ?  Nigh I hear means left. Try that
6) There will be no Paddle (ORE) up Your Creek.  As the post marked culvert shows,  go no farther up the creek. There is no gold further up.
7) AD Just Heavy Loads and watter high.  This is where you park and walk, the power lines end,
8) If You’ve (U.V.)  been Y’s and Found the B la ze, ……. I once used a Ultra Violet light looking for the Blaze.  I believed back then the treasure was in the mine tailings, hence “The end of my Rainbow”, meaning Rainbow Trout Tail”ings”.   I climbed in and under the huge pilings, and used my Woods light.   The U.V. light was invented by Robert Woods, so you literally could be in a “Wood Beam”.  I Shivered me timbers, “worth the cold”, and the light made the Pine Tar, “Tary Scan t” glow like a hundred eyes staring at me in the “pitch” black darkness.  Upset like a newbie searcher, I e-mailed Forrest saying “it’s all eyes…it’s all lies”.   Until the next day when I sat next to the tailings and noticed two things. A chute out, “Shoot Out” as on page 36, that Y’d into 2 chutes, as in Forrest’s “Pair a’ chutes, where he was shot down twice.
    I gave up on the tailings.  But it still might be the spot.  Steel Plates litter the area, which could relate to the Babe Ruth clue. The metal was “brazed”  when it was cut, and remember Forrest is a “Brazier”, a person who works with brass.
9)  Bar B Que.  Again, I believe food is the final clue.  And the poem revolves around food, drink and entertainment.
     I am confident on my solution.Forrest once said “people don’t cry anymore”, or something along those lines. Look at the stories in T.T.O.T.C.   We have Pie , Pilots, Pioneers , Pirates.  Do the Y thing.  Wipe Eye, Wipe Eye Lots , Wipe Eye on Ear , Wipe Eye Rate.
     What goes with gin?  Tonics.  White Onyx?
  And finally for those searching Lake Hebgen.  Here is one for you.  Bessies tail was a FLY SWATTER. On page 121 of T.T.O.T.C., we have FLY WATER , and the story about Skippy’s electric fly zapper, he is refered to as the “General”.  Meaning 1) General Electric ,  or 2) that would mean HE BE GEN.    So there you have it.  Butterfly or Flutter by ,  Forrest is telling us to use a play on words.  C how  that works?
   Back to word play. When Forrest said not to mess with my poem , he meant don’t eat with it , as in mess hall. But here is another story he tells us to use word play. The ball of string.  Mostly whyte string .  With mother looking for the postman..  Another word for string is twine , and being inside, it was inner twine. And another word for postman is letter carrier.   Inner twine and letter carry.
   Another thing Forrest uses are cliches’.  Starting with you can’t judge a book by its cover.  Hmmm.  Here is where it gets crazy. Look at the word “CHASE”.  Now,  look at it like this….See H as E.   By looking at that H as a E , it turns into  CEASE . You can do this in reverse too. Next is the letter C ,which can be pronounced as a S , as in Seattle, or “C”attle.
    Forrest said we need to be in tight focus on a word that is key, but he never said it in the poem .  I believe that word is “WHISKEY”. And the word that is IT ,  is WHY, or simply a Y.   Hence, Y is it, WH is key…..why is it whiskey.  The answer of course is distilling, where steam condenses , just like the rain.  But the Y is it . “If you’ve been Y’s” and  “So Y is it”.  Here is what you do.  Put Y in front of a word to create a different word .  Taos is my word of choice.  YTaos becomes white house, or in Spanish, “Casa Blanca”.  The Y Rosetta Stone becomes “wire rows set a stone”.  Y Puppy becomes….well you got the idea.

Eden

     The county I search is Rio Arriba” meaning river above. One more play on words is the Spanish word Que , pronounced “Kay”.  This is huge once you find the blaze. The reason being is the final clue is all about food . To be more precise, Bar b que.  Remember the todo over BoB wire and BarB  wire ? BB wire .Its the grates he is talking about. BB Grates.  The miss spelling of the Baby Ruth candy bar for instance is a reference to grates and grills.  And you can’t think Texas without thinking bar b que.  Remember, Forrest said it is in the poem for all to see…..”B”een wise and found the “B” laze look “Q”uickly down.  Or would that be Quigly Down?  “Put another shrimp on the bobby”. Shakespeare is mentioned by Forrest….2 B (BB) or not 2B , that is the QUEstion.   Remember Texas A&M was a all male school(Men U). But here is the kicker. It all has to do with the Last Supper Table , or as Forrest calls it, “The Great Banquet Table of History”.
Now I already feel I’ve given away the farm. But not totally.  I feel I have narrowed it down to a 1/2 acre.  And I only showed you where to BEGIN.  There is alot of looking between there and Ojo , or where ever.

Fenn’st in

But here is why I believe this small, fenced in enclosure is the Holy Grail.  The whole enclosure is the blaze.  Simply put ,  BE LAZ E. …or, since Y is it,  BE LAZ Y.    The area is Forrest Fenns Forest Fence For Rest. Along with everything required.
    1) Two Chase Lounge Chairs

Two Chase Lounge Chairs

    2) A Dart Board

Dart Board, Posts and One of the Fire Pits

    3) Two Fire pits w/ Fire Rings (Stones)

Just the way I Found it

    4) Post(s) Marked for tanning hides
    5) BBQ Grates and Grills
    6) The Last Supper Table

The Last Supper Table

Now ask yourselves as I have, WHY.  Why are these items out in the middle of no where?  There is not a single NO TRESPASSING sign anywhere. Could it relate to “title to the gold”?  Could the meaning behind “Tea with Olga” have to do with the “proper tea” or the “property”? The story combines both, along with putting  TE with OLGA and getting OL GATE . Yes my spot has an old gate, with tires….it’s a tired ole gate.

But let me go into detail:
1) The lounge chairs. This is where you do that “see H as E ” thing again, turning that E  back to an A.  ” Look Quickly Down Your Quest 2 CEASE.  Change Cease back to Chase.  “YOUR QUEST,  2 CHASE”….the chase lounge chairs.
2) The dart board is key.  Remember Forrest saying you have to join the Indiana Jones Club?  Diana in Spanish is Dartboard or Bulls Eye, ….a BBQ sauce.
3)  The fire pits have always been a top choice of mine for a long time. Mainly from the original draft of the poem. Only I knew the “bones” were fish, ribs and maybe chicken, but I’m not sure as the poem reads….” If you are not chicken and in the wood”…..come on people. Forrest is from Texas. Beef is whats on the menu, and maybe whats at the end of his Rainbow….trout. And a lot of stories on “firings”,  Frosty etc….

My Rainbow

4)  All though out  the book are Post Marks.  Male Scent Marked Post.  What I believe the posts with marks on them are used for, is for tanning hides.  And it ties right in with getting a spanking by father, and sliding down the fire escape. Both tanned his hide.
5)  The Grate Seal of New Mexico ,  Babe Ruth, a BB Grate, YRose set a stone,  “Brave and in the Wood”…(getting grilled in the wooden witness box”), plus a ton more. The food thing goes on forever.   So why is it that i must go And Leave my Trove F or All To Seek.  Notice the capital letters spell , “SALT FATS”,  “but tary scant with marvel gaze” …(Buttery Skin w/ Marvelous Glaze).  And see how easy it is to get TARIAKI  out of “The AnsweR I Already Know I”ve………”.   Not to mention “SO Y is it”.  So I would say there is something up with sauces, and therefor, the person saucing would be a saucer ? Hold that thought.
Finally, #6.  The Supper Table. Forrest said he would meet at the Great Banquet Table upon his death. He also said he would die “dye” and leave his bones “fish” at a certain spot, which sounds like the 1st draft version. Which is why  “Below the Stones” is a prime location for hiding his trove. But the table. A 12′ x 4′  White Table, an exact replica of the one Christ used. Sitting out there in the sun.
     And Finally, back to saucers.  I’ve asked myself,  Why is this spot so special to Forrest?
 I asked him at the Fennbouree if he believed in flying saucers. He said he did , but he may have confused what I meant, with the ones Peggy had thrown at him over the years. But could it be?  Remember he flew over Washington D.C. in 1954.  The sighting over the White House was 1952.  The Taos chamber of commerce puts out a magazine called DISCOVER TAOS……Hmmm  DiscOver YTaos.  Wow.

 

DiscOver YTaos

I never would have believed

   And so after 9 trips from Seattle in my 1986 BMW, “Bills Mechanical Wonder”,  I still don’t have the chest.

Bill’s Mechanical Wonder

   And I encourage you to use these ideas where ever your searching.  Get a THESAURUS, try anagrams,  HE’S AU RUST….(AU = Gold), “he’s gold rust”, meaning the golden cow around the time of Charlton Heston,…er…Moses.  My BE-GINers Spanish-English dictionary is my most used book. You will discover so many new pathways it will blow you away.  Like how Frosty was a big hunk of a dirty name and the smell assaulted my sensitivities. The Spanish word for sense of smell is Olfato.   Change the way you see words. ORIONS BELT.  Or rye on Be L T……Tai Chi,  Chai Tea.
   Forrest chooses his words meticulously.  He knows I play with the Y.    So after he razzed Cynthia for not inviting him on a hunt, I invited him to join me. His e-mail back read “Not Me Bill”…of course I saw right away, that placing that Y between Not  Me,  he was saying “No Tyme”.
  The whole enchilada has to do with wit. K?   Que:  which -who   what – which   than – that  . This according to my Spanglish dictionary. …Which Which ?     Witch Which….  See H as E.    whiE and wite.   Why and White.    I just can’t tell you any more. But that’s the way I have learned to play a game with no rules.     Good Luck in the Ch as E.
Seattle Sullivan-

Reading the Blaze – Part Three

SUBMITTED JULY 2017
by DWRock

 

The End is the Beginning 

I returned home 100% confident that I had identified the treasure location as Otter Creek.  I even told a few friends who inquired about my trip: “I didn’t find the treasure, but I know where it is… or where it was.”  Of course, the response was: “So when are you going back to get it?”  Whenever I speak with authority my partner, Ruthie, makes it her job to question my statements.  She claims that I must have gotten my degree at MSU, but she doesn’t mean Montana State University.  I think I have pretty good intuition and logic, and often the truth is no more than a believable hypothesis that hasn’t been proven false yet.  Isn’t this the scientific method?  Ruthie was understandably steamed that I left her with the baby for ten days only to return distracted and anxious to head back out.  When she finally sat through my full explanation of the Otter Creek solve she promptly denied its plausibility: “There is no way that any searchers got within 200 feet of that spot on accident!”  This sounded familiar.  This exact thought had driven me from the search area just when I had gotten so close!  My epiphany at the airport had finally allowed me to connect Otter Creek to the final lines of the poem like I had hoped to.  I admired the fit so well that I was ready to forget about this doubt until Ruthie slammed it back on the table.  Now I could not ignore it.  My confidence in Otter Creek began to fade.

Truth told I had no reason to be so confident.  I had a tight solve of the second and third stanzas that provided enough guidance to create the blaze mentioned at the start of the fourth stanza. After that my interpretation of the poem was spotty… and the idea that the treasure was hidden somewhere along the path of the blaze seemed to fall short of its potential… an almost unpoetic end.  The moment Otter Creek dissolved I shifted my eyes across the map to the end and beginning of the blaze at the Upper/Lower Falls. At one glance the fourth stanza was unlocked.  After mentioning “the blaze” the poem reads: “Look quickly down, your quest to cease”.  Cascade Creek is the final tribute to the Yellowstone River before it plunges into the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.  An aerial or map view of the section of waters between Upper and Lower Falls reveals the spine of a lower case letter “f”, perfect in both proportion and orientation when viewed in alignment with the cardinal directions.  Cascade Creek comes in from the west at just the right point to suggest the ideal horizontal cross bar to complete the “f”!  The word cascade could replace “quickly down” suggesting that the searcher look at Cascade Creek.  The next line, “tarry scant with marvel gaze”, may refer to Crystal Falls.  This waterfall drops Cascade Creek into the pre-canyon “f” area where it joins with the Yellowstone.  The sixth stanza of the poem begins: “Hear me all and listen good” suggesting that the searcher listen to the next words.  The next line begins with: “your effort…” which can be heard as “f” Fort.  Crystal Falls is much smaller than its neighbors but has character and mystique.  It is captivating to watch it pour out of a broken notch in a sheer wall of rock that looks like the wall of a castle or a fort. The pre-canyon gorge shaped by and containing the watery “f” is like a fortress with access limited by steep banks to the east and west and impassable waterfalls to the north and south.  What’s more, the walls of this “f” Fort are complete with perimeter walkways and observation decks, like turrets, at the brink of each of the larger falls.

I was lost on the interpretation of the remainder of the sixth stanza including “…will be worth the cold” and “brave and in the wood”… but with the “f” Fort I had something more convincing than Otter Creek that kept me feeling hot on the chase.  I recalled that Forrest signs his last name with a little dot in what would be the northwest quadrant of the “f”.  I wondered if this dot might indicate the exact spot within the “fort” that the treasure is hidden. I speculated that a searcher might have to get wet to access this quadrant giving meaning to “worth the cold”. Once there the chest might be found “in the wood”.

Five weeks after returning home from my first trip I awoke pre-dawn back at Eagles Creek campsite… I drove in the dark arriving at the Canyon by sun-up.  My first objective was to survey the “f” Fort from all of the surrounding observation points and paths.  I wanted to identify any potential hide locations in the pre-canyon gorge.  I expected the hide spot would be a wooded area that Forrest could have traveled to without being spotted by onlookers.  I began at the brink of Lower Falls.  I noted that the entire length of the “f” spine created by the Yellowstone was open to view from one point or another along the walkway ruling out the unlikely river crossing.  From those same vantages I scanned the east bank which runs steeply down about 200+ feet from Uncle Tom’s Trail to the river.  It is generally wooded but with bands of open grassy gaps between the groupings of trees.  Continuous cover might be an issue in accessing that side, and the grade of the slope was more than I thought 80 year old Forrest would have been up to.  Next I drove to the brink of Upper Falls parking area and walked out to the Crystal Falls overlook. This is where I thought the poem suggested that I “tarry scant”.  I tarried and could see trail workers starting work on the bridge that crosses Cascade Creek just above the falls.  From there I followed an old worn trail that begins to descend the end of the ridge toward the river and then switches back to a rocky drainage gully that leads down to lower Cascade Creek.  I stepped into the gully but the rocks were wet and slippery with the morning dew.  I decided to retreat and continue my perimeter surveillance which included a visit to the brink of Upper Falls and a walk along the Uncle Tom’s Trail. A sick feeling of lost inspiration set in as my doubts about this area were renewed and solidified.  It seemed unlikely that Forrest would have attempted the moderately challenging descent into the “f” Fort; unlikely that he would have chosen this highly public area as a final resting place; and unlikely that he would have been able to pull off the hide with confidence that had been unwitnessed.

With the wind out of my “f” Fort sails, I paddled quickly for Otter Creek.  The grass had died back significantly in the past month allowing for an easy walk alongside the creek all the way to the wood.  I had a 10×10 inch cardboard box folded up in my pack that I intended to assemble and photograph in the suspicious depression I had found on my first trip. I looked all around the area and was unable to relocate it.  I did see several other sunken spots in the earth near the creek and decided that the one that had caught my eye previously was common and due to the settling of earth from undercutting erosion.  I walked up and down both sides of the creek much farther into the wood than on my previous visit, but ultimately I concluded that the secret spot would be a more specific location pointed to by the poem.  Surprised by how quick the return to the car was, I almost regretted not traveling further in, but I rested on the decision that the treasure was not, nor ever had been, up Otter Creek.

My next move was to examine Cascade Creek on either side of the road upstream from Crystal Falls.  The “f” Fort seemed ever unlikely but I still considered the possible interpretation of the line: “look quickly down” as “look Cascade Creek”.  As I descended to where the creek passes under the road I could smell and then see a large culvert tunnel constructed of creosote infused timbers…”in the wood”?  I donned a cheap pair of hip waders and a headlamp and walked a short way into the tunnel before reason caught up and let me know how ridiculous this was.  By the time I made it out one of the plastic waders was filling up and I removed it just before the water reached the top of my boot.  I then followed the creek down to within sight of the bridge and work crew upon it.  Uninspired I returned to the car.  I briefly dropped down the other side of the road to gaze further up Cascade Creek, but I had already lost interest in the direction.

It was only mid-day so I made a return trip to the rock wall on Wolf Lake Trail. Walking in along the meandering meadow-banked Gibbon River I was reminded of how ideal this setting seemed for Forrest’s purposes.  The obvious issue was its close proximity to the trail.  The rock wall appears like the wall of a fortress, and I noted that it bends approximately into the shape of an “f”!  If “the cold” in the poem was a reference to nearby Ice Lake, then this could be the “f” Fort.  I walked along the bank of the river viewing the full length of the rock wall. My assessment was that this place was too close to an established trail, and I saw nothing in the wall that drew my interest enough to warrant closer inspection.

The next loose end I checked was Silver Cord Cascade Overlook. The trailhead is marked by the large and solitary Glacial Boulder that sits along the road leading from North Rim Drive out to Inspiration Point.  The word “cascade” in Silver Cord Cascade had caught my attention for the same reason that Cascade Creek interested me: “look quickly down”.  It seemed like a long shot, but I was in long shot mode.  As I walked the trail toward the best viewing area for Silver Cord Cascade I spotted an arrowhead shape that had been intentionally cut in the bark of pine tree on the west side of the trail. It looked like it could be about the age of the treasure hunt so I quickly broke off trail in the direction it pointed.  I looked for another similar marking but finding nothing I returned to the trail and continued to the overlook. I stood gazing at the thin line of falling water.  I didn’t know where to go next.  I had done most of what I had planned to do and it was still the first day!

I returned to the Crystal Falls overlook about 5 pm and watched the work crew walk off the job.  It was time to penetrate into the Fort!  I descended the rocky gully that was now dry and safely navigable.  I followed the last thirty or so feet of Cascade Creek to its terminus into the Yellowstone River. I found a human boot print, bear paw print, and deer hoof print all heading in different directions in a solitary small patch of wet sand!  I peered into some rock alcoves and gazed across the Yellowstone to at a flat grassy area on a large boulder at the base of the steep wooded bank below Uncle Tom’s Trail.  I darted my way back up creek toward the base of Crystal Falls.  It was easy to rock-hop over Cascade Creek without getting wet or “cold”.  I was now in the northwest quadrant of the “f”.  I continued toward the base of the falls creeping into a small grouping of mature trees.  There within I found a pyramidal stone cairn that stood about knee high. Was this it!  “Brave and in the wood”!!  I promptly dismantled the cairn and scraped at the surface of the earth underneath.  Due to my firm assumption that the treasure is not buried I felt no need to dig.  It was difficult to be sure from down there at a time when no one was on the surrounding trails, but it felt like I was almost constantly exposed to view.  I stalked around the northwest quadrant a bit more taking a close look at the base of Crystal Falls and then climbed up a forty foot rise to an overlook of the Cascade Creek – Yellowstone River juncture.  I returned up the rocky gully to the trail and headed back toward the parking area but could not leave without a quick walk out to the bridge over Crystal Falls.  I stared into the dark cavernous recess in which the water pools before the brink.  If it were warmer I would have been tempted to dip in there to explore, but not for search reasons.  The whole of the “f” Fort now felt verified as irrelevant to the search due to exposure from the surrounding popular walking paths and overlooks.  My long day was done, and it seemed my chase was done, too.

My body was tired and my mind in gridlock.  I decided to start the next day on a road trip away from Yellowstone to allow my thoughts to unravel.  My original arrowhead trajectory distantly crossed over MacDonald Pass on the Continental Divide Trail (quest two seas) near Helena, MT.  The extended axis of my current version would miss by ten miles to the east, but I had heard good things about the pass so I decided: “why not?”  Three hours on the road and I pulled into a small parking area on a grassy bald with a couple of communication towers nearby.  The cold wind was blowing so hard I had to hold strongly to the door as I stepped out to prevent damage to the rental car.  I had no other plan but to look around the pass and walk at least a couple hundred feet down the CDT.  The trail quickly entered the woods where the air was still and I was able to relax and enjoy my surroundings.  I spotted wildlife, found old trees covered in green moss, walked past impressive boulder fields alongside the trail, and admired groves of aspens with yellow leaves.  The tall pines rubbed together, creaking and chirping as the wind blew their tops.  It felt like the first day of fall, everything was crisp and clear. I walked about four or five miles, much further than I had anticipated, until I came to a large bald that rose slightly higher than the parking area on the pass.  I admired the long range views.  The wind had lightened up and the sun warmed the air.  It was a beautiful hike and a good break.

On the drive home my thoughts returned to the search.  I reviewed my interpretation of the poem: the first clue “begin it where warm waters halt” provides the general direction to go to Yellowstone; the second clue indicates more specifically to go to “the canyon”… The following lines drive the creation of the arrowhead blaze overlaying the park map to be used as a treasure map.  The “blaze” begins and ends at “the canyon down”.  Immediately after mentioning the blaze the poem indicates “look quickly down your quest to cease, but tarry scant with marvel gaze, just take the chest and go in peace”.  At the Canyon area, the North Rim Trail offers a series of overlooks which in order are named: Lookout Point, Grand View, and Inspiration Point.  I realized that these might correlate to the poem’s lines: Lookout = “look quickly down”; Grand View = “marvel gaze”; and Inspiration = to breathe in or “take the chest”.  This interpretation seemed to direct the searcher down the North Rim Trail past Grand View to Inspiration Point. I knew that Inspiration Point was closed for construction, and that the North Rim Trail was barricaded after Grand View, but I could access the surrounding woods from the available road to Glacial Boulder.  I had a plan for the next morning!

I was almost back to Gardiner with some daylight left, so I decided to check out an old loose end: a third “home of Brown” I had once considered for the arrowhead’s tip.  The process of subduction and upheaval that created the Rocky Mountains resulted in the interesting feature that is Devil’s Slide. This steep swooping vertical swath of exposed red iron oxide looks like a giant slide. It is easy to perceive a connection to Forrest’s “old iron fire escape” story in the TTOTC book.  Adding to the intrigue of this feature are a couple of fortress-like walls to the left of the slide which are hard bands of rock that were once horizontal and now are turned vertical. To get a closer look I drove off the main road and over the bridge at Corwin Springs. The boundary of the old Royal Teton Ranch barred access to the slide with NO TRESSPASSING signs posted on the intermittent fence posts. The RTR seemed long out of business… Much of the barbed wire was missing or lying on the ground beside the posts. Vacated buildings nearby bearing the RTR name include a large hacienda by the main road that has the appearance of a ghost town or an old forgotten movie set.  I could have easily walked past the old fence, but I decided to stay on my side as I did not know who or what entity was current custodian of the property.  I spent the hour before dusk walking close to the road below Cinnabar Mountain and watching the setting sun illuminate Dome Mountain and the other mountains and cliffs enclosing this beautiful Yellowstone River valley.

I was up again before dawn and quickly broke camp tossing the tent in a loose heap in the back of the car.  I figured that after an hour drive to the Canyon area I had two or three hours search time before I needed to pack it in for the airport.  I parked on North Rim Drive as near to Inspiration Point as possible and walked along the access road making intermittent forays into the woods toward the North Rim Trail. I mainly sought high points hoping to find an attractive vista or some compelling connection to the final lines of the poem.  I thought more about the sixth stanza of the poem and realized that I may have underestimated its complexity.  From “Your effort will be worth the cold” I had extracted the identity of the “f” Fort which served to validate my recent interpretation of the fourth stanza, but had no idea what to do with the rest of the line.  Now it struck me that “worth” could mean “equal to” or “even with” or “level with”, and “the cold” could refer to the Glacial Boulder near Inspiration Point!  I walked around the large solitary boulder and expanded my circling to the nearby woods with focused interest in the tops of the small rises that were more or less level with the top of the boulder. I had had a good idea, but it was underdeveloped and the searching felt loosely directed.  I soon tired and returned to the car.  I was running low on inspiration but still had over an hour left to play with.

It was hard for me to feel convinced that the “f” Fort was not part of the solution. When I was down in the “f” Fort I had looked across the river to a flat grassy area on top of a large boulder. This inviting platform and the steep slope above it were loosely wooded and I believed it could be descended under fairly continuous cover.  I drove to the Uncle Tom’s parking area, walked along the path, and dropped carefully down some two or three hundred feet of slope to the river.  I enjoyed a needed break on the flat topped boulder, and did briefly contemplate a square patch of de-vegetated brown earth right there in the middle of the grass, about 10 x 10 inches square, but I had learned my lesson in that kind of silly fantasy!  By the time I returned to the car I had less than an hour to burn. I began to feel the loss of my part in the chase.  I had a nagging thought and drove to the Wapiti Lake Trailhead.  I wanted to look at the kiosk map.  By coincidence I would end both my search trips at the same exact place!  My greatest fear going into this second trip was that I would end it in the same way as the first: with some sense of epiphany bringing a new variation to my solution that would lure me back again to this place and compel my family and friends to believe that I had become obsessed or insane or both.  This fear was realized as I studied the map at the kiosk.  The loose ends I that I had spent the morning toying with seemed to tie together into a final compelling “what-if?”, and I didn’t have time to investigate it!

DWRock-

Reading the Blaze – Part Two

SUBMITTED JULY 2017
by DWRock

 

A thought struck me as I lay awake in the tent before dawn on the seventh of my nine day search.  Maybe in my excitement in discovering the arrowhead I had been too quick to read it as a pointer.  The poem had defined over three quarters of the arrowhead through Solfatara Creek Trail.  “If you’ve been wise”…you can infer the remainder by symmetry bringing the drawing back the Canyon area where it began.  I had previously discarded the Canyon area as a treasure locale because I saw it as having too much tourist pressure for Forrest’s purpose… but what if the Canyon was where boots hit ground, and the blaze and the remaining lines of the poem served to direct the journey from there to a more appropriate area peripheral to the sightseeing main?  The thought that flashed into my mind was that “the wood” of the poem might refer to the part of an arrowhead that is wedged into a wooden arrow shaft!  This interpretation would figuratively and literally “tie-in” the arrowhead blaze to the final treasure location.

Once the sun was up I made a quick study of my National Geographic Trails Illustrated map on which my arrowhead and axis were delineated.  I continued to consider two different “home of Brown” locations which indicated very different tip locations but had little influence on the location of the center of the base of the arrowhead.  What caught my eye was a labeled peak (8,052 feet) near the south rim of the canyon that fell exactly on my axis line.  I was so glad for new direction that I packed up and headed out without a further thought.  I parked at Artist Point and walked the easy trail to Ribbon Lake and continued off into the woods beyond the lake.  I wandered the obtusely rounded terrain stepping over and traversing downed pine logs in what seemed an unending pursuit of the illusive peak.  Each subtle rise would taper down and then build into another subtle rise. Finally, I was standing on the intended peak but found no treasure and no survey marker.  Just to be thorough I walked an additional mile to bag the next nearest labeled peak (8,343 feet) before giving up and following the canyon rim back.  I stopped to ponder Silver Cord Falls as a potential representation of the string of a bow that might be drawn back to fire an arrow.  As I sighted the draw line into the tall grass and muck that leads toward Ribbon Lake I realized that I was grasping… I sat down on a log to think.  My lumbering thought train moved with slow but unstoppable inertia to the next logical station… Maybe the line “in the wood” still indicated the wood of an arrow’s shaft but at a point distant to the arrowhead.  Maybe I should project the axis line backwards on the map to determine where “in the wood” is referring to.  On the map I discovered that the shaft of the arrow conveniently skirts by the Fishing Bridge area where Forrest had his first Yellowstone experiences!

The line I extended on the map is reasonably accessible by only three routes within the park before it is lost into remote portions of southeast Yellowstone and northern Grand Teton National Park.  The intersections occur on Pelican Valley Trail, Turbid Lake Trail, and on the East Entrance road.  I found the latter compelling due to the fact that Forrest’s first impressions of Yellowstone would have come while driving in the East Entrance Road to camp at Fishing Bridge.  I checked the south side of the road finding a lot of mud and some thermal features that I didn’t want to step in, and the north side of the road offered nothing to catch my eye.  I concluded that there was little chance that the Fenn family, or Forrest on his own, would have stopped to explore this bleak peripheral area when they were so close to their camping destination and the many splendors just around the bend.  I’m not sure now why I decided not to walk up Turbid Lake Trail, but the Pelican Valley Trail had my attention because it crosses perpendicular to the axis line and is the closest intersect to Fishing Bridge.  The trail enters a “Bear Management Area” so I was happy that a tour group was following behind me… but I didn’t want them to see me wandering off trail… so I overshot the axis line and pretended to take interest in a distant buffalo.  They took such a long time that I watched a thermal pot boil… and then watched a cowboy with a pack mule trainee slowly clump by… Finally they passed and I doubled back to investigate some narrow bands of woods that paralleled (conveniently) about 200 feet to the north and south of the trail at my mark.  I found no human leavings or markings.

I had some daylight left so I drove up to the Canyon area to scratch a mental itch. It bothered me a little that I hadn’t spent more time in the exact area where the drawing of the arrowhead begins and ends. The Yellowstone River drops 100 feet at Upper Falls, travels a short distance, and then plummets 300 more feet at Lower Falls.  The smaller Crystal Falls pours through a breach in the west flank of the pre-canyon gorge delivering Cascade Creek into the Yellowstone River between Upper and Lower Falls.  Something had perked my interest in Crystal Falls long before my trip to Yellowstone in my early stages of developing a solution that would begin in the Canyon area.  I’m not sure what originally triggered my sense of its mystique, but when someone hinted at a potential connection to the poems words “marvel gaze” my attraction to it strengthened. The reference on the blog hinted at a connection to the classic movie, The Wizard of Oz, in which Professor Marvel gazes into a crystal ball.  I parked in the Upper Falls lot and walked in the rain to the Crystal Falls observation point. The waters of Cascade Creek travel through a mini slot canyon, then pool in a dark cavernous recess before pouring out of a face of rock that resembles a broken castle wall.  I longed to take a closer look into the dark recess but the trail leading to the top of the falls was closed for construction.

I had a limited budget of time for my last day of the trip, and what started as a simple plan became a bit of a frenzy.  I had previously scouted the Wolf Lake Trail up to its juncture with the Gibbon River.  The Gibbon is a small but wise and charismatic river that snakes beautifully through scenic meadows along the road between Norris and Madison Junction.  The Gibbon had a draw on me and I had already made one side excursion parking at Iron Springs Picnic Area to walk along one of the few sections of the river that deviates briefly away from the rumble of the road.  I had slated the remainder of my final morning to making a few slow passes of the small section of the Gibbon that cuts between Ice Lake and Wolf Lake Trails.  I had been toying with the idea that after the mention of the blaze in the poem the remaining clues continued to define its path back to the Canyon.  This idea ruled the day.  After Solfatara Creek Trail the arrowhead seemed to want to follow the Howard Eaton Trail to Ice Lake which I considered could be indicated by “worth the cold”.  Ice Lake leads to the little semi-remote section of the Gibbon that I would explore and hopefully find “brave and in the wood”.

I began to complicate things by adding one quick search stop before driving into the park.  To explain this stop I need to mention a few more events from day eight…  The previous day I was forced to upgrade my week park pass to a year park pass.  The ranger at the gate handed me my new pass and asked if I needed a map.  Finally I understood!  Forrest has stated over and again that “all you need is the poem”.  The first clue indicates: Go to Yellowstone.  Once you get there a map is provided to you at the entrance gate.  This simple map is one of the easiest to initially identify the outline of an arrowhead as it is formed by the Yellowstone River from the Canyon to its juncture with the Gardiner River, and from there roughly following the Grand Loop Road past Norris back to the Canyon.  My old favorite “put in below the home of Brown” was off this map… Joe Brown Creek was the wrong home of Brown!  My second choice turned out to be the best choice.  This was further confirmed when I proceeded to drive into the park and noticed a rare phenomenon: empty spaces in the Boiling River parking area.  I stopped in and read some of the interpretive signs.  One described the Gardiner River as a winter spawning ground for Brown Trout.  Again, all you need is the poem!  The Gardiner River is home of Brown.  In the last light of day eight I poked around above a quarry near Eagle’s Creek Campground that lay in the path directed by the revised arrowhead blaze. I didn’t find anything compelling, but I enjoyed a view of the Yellowstone -Gardiner junction from above.  The remarkable land feature defined by the two rivers is unquestionably the tip of the arrowhead.

Before entering the park on my ninth and final search day I made a stop at the “new” proper arrowhead tip where the Yellowstone and Gardiner rivers meet.  The tip of land pointed directly toward a smooth boulder in the river that was naturally sculpted out hollow giving it the appearance of a giant heart shaped goblet.  I couldn’t help but climb inside and dig around the stagnant water and silt until I was sure that no chest was buried within.  I then waded across the Gardiner and climbed about 50 feet up the sloped bank to survey the area.  The surroundings seemed unlikely for Forrest’s trove. Downtown Gardiner was just a few hundred feet away, immediately across the Yellowstone were homes and private properties, and all around the banks I saw the litter of human recreants.

I moved on to Wolf Lake Trail… The trail offers views of the Gibbon bending into omega shapes in the grassy meadows to the right.  An interesting rock wall of at least 100 feet long and 20 to 40 feet high emerges below the trail near to the river crossing.  The wall has a curvy ribbed profile with folds and vacant slots creating many potential secret spots.  I had planned to spend some up close time in the rock, but gnawing doubts about my current search area caused me to hurry past.  Leaving the trail I stepped into the Gibbon and steadily waded through the water and trotted along the downed pines that crisscrossed it.  In about 45 minutes I crossed Ice Lake Trail and continued up the river for about 300 feet before retreating.  This is a wonderful area, but I could appreciate it little because I was watching the minutes tick away and was sure that the treasure lay elsewhere.

The arrowhead drawing on the map is guided by the clues and corresponding waterways, roads, and trails.  After passing along the Solfatara – Howard Eaton – Ice Lake link up the drawing must jump a brief featureless gap before it is confidently received and surely channeled back to its source. Otter Creek perfectly provides the compliment to the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone needed to complete the base of the arrowhead.  Over the past evenings I had spent some time browsing the internet at Tumbleweeds Café trying to make a connection between Otter Creek and what I believed was the final clue(s) of the poem: “brave and in the wood”.  I considered animal stereotyping, like “hungry as a wolf” and “proud as a lion”, and hoped to find some reference to “brave as an otter”.  I could only find the stereotype “playful as an otter”, but I did read that the otter will fiercely defend its home and young against any adversary.  As I walked the Gibbon on the morning of my last day I kept feeling like I needed to be searching closer to the “end” of the arrowhead drawing.  I decided that the Otter might be brave, and with my remaining time I would do my best to find out.

I parked at the nearest pull-off, walked down the bank into the shallows of the Yellowstone River, and waded under the road into Otter Creek.  I moved slowly at first, examining the juncture area and walking the first hundred feet or so in the water, then weaving back through the wooded area near the south bank of the creek. A park service road runs adjacent to the creek along its north bank for a few hundred feet before crossing over and diverging to the south.  The terminal section of the creek was shallow, gravelly, and exposed.  The water was slow and tinged in a way that suggests backwashing from the bigger river. I decided that the creek area within 200 feet of the main road didn’t feel like a treasure hiding area so I continued upstream.  Without any other agenda I decided to budget the balance of time for walking as far as possible up Otter Creek.  I stepped out of the water, knocked the gravel out of my sandals, and hastened up the service road. Above the second bridge the creek narrowed to less than two feet wide and all but disappeared in tall grass as a little valley opened up.  I was surprised that such a bold blue line on the map turned out to be such a meager trickle!  It became difficult to walk in the grass next to the creek so I moved to higher ground along the edge of a wooded area to the south. I was able to keep an eye on the Otter from a distance by watching the crease it formed in the floor of the grassy valley.  Before long I could see ahead where upper Otter Creek exits the woods and enters the valley.  I reasoned that the treasure would lie at the point where the Otter is first encountered from this direction “in the wood”.  I closed in toward this point.  A few thoughts and events converged here that were pivotal, but I wouldn’t fully grasp their importance until later.  I had begun to doubt this search because with no nearby roads or trails it seemed unlikely that any, much less several, searchers would have accidentally or unknowingly come within 200 feet of the remote area I was travelling in.  I was already mentally preparing to turn back as I met the creek and entered the wood.  Then something at my feet caught my eye.  Just inside the wood on the north bank of Otter Creek was a perfectly square depression in the earth that seemed to fit the dimensions of the treasure chest: about 10 inches by 10 inches, and with a depth of about 4 inches.  I snapped a couple of quick pictures and walked a short way further up creek into the wood.  Soon I glanced at my watch and double-timed it back to the car to spare a few minutes for another last-ditch effort.

The rationale that the end of the hunt should coincide with the end of the arrowhead drawing continued to draw me toward the falls, but I couldn’t be convinced that the proper falls area could contain the treasure.  It would have to be somewhere peripheral to the main tourism center.  My thoughts lingered on the arrowhead’s path along Otter Creek that completes the journey to the starting point…  Maybe the wooded area across the Yellowstone River from the Otter Creek outlet would be worth a look?  I moved the car to the Wapiti parking area on the other side of the river and set off through the picnic area into the wood. Eventually I reached the viewpoint opposite Otter Creek. There is a fantastic old fallen tree there with a dried and weather-worn maze of roots covered in bright green moss. The trunk pointed exactly away from the creek. I looked around the edge of the eroding bank finding nothing else of interest, so I followed the direction of the old tree up into the woods.  I lost sight of the tree as I climbed, but I tried to maintain its trajectory rising about one hundred feet in elevation before reaching a ridgetop. I looked around the immediate area and then walked along the ridge back toward the parking area. I had passed below some rock outcroppings when traversing to the Otter Creek viewpoint.  I took some time on my return to climb around them and look into mailbox-like slots underneath several of the rocks that seemed to be eager for the insertion of a 10x10x6 inch treasure box.  There was no rationale in this kind of searching… as humbling as it is to recount I mention it because it illustrates the futility of searching without a completed solution to the poem.  There were so many moments like this during the nine days – peering into slots and crevices or overturning logs and old stumps in a manner that lacked specific direction or precision… just fruitless hopefulness.  The active treasure hunt seems to demand the full attention of two sides of the mind that don’t work at the same time: the creative/imaginative mind and the logical/rational mind.  Enacting this struggle with my “boots on the ground”, however, later proved to be a necessary process to learning and understanding the completed solution.

I gifted my bear spray and air horn to some young hikers standing at the Wapiti Trail kiosk. The anxious pace of the day continued as I had spared no extra time, but my actions were now all pre-planned and mechanical.  Luckily I arrived at the airport with some minutes to rest and reflect before my flight boarded.  My thoughts began to catch up.  I was still grappling with the question of the Otter.  I pulled out my tablet and resumed searches about otters and the various definitions of the word brave.  As my brain sorted and filed the various images and thoughts from the day I suddenly had the answer!  I knew where the treasure chest was!  I was there just a few hours earlier!  The little creek I walked along was less than two feet wide and covered up for much of its journey by tall grasses, but it persisted, coursing a straight line, bold blue on the map, four miles alone, the main waterway draining the valley, before offering itself into the larger Yellowstone River as the final tribute before the plunge over Upper Falls.  It didn’t matter that it was named “Otter”… the creek was by its character “brave”.  I knew then that with another short visit to Otter Creek I could more carefully analyze and document the depression I saw, as well as, walk further up and down the banks in the wooded area. To that end I was confident that I would find the treasure or know that someone else had.  As the plane delivered my body homeward an anxious undercurrent began to draw my mind back in the direction of Yellowstone.

DWRock-

Has it Been Found?..

SUBMITTED JULY, 2017

 

In July of 2017 Perry Stone pushed out a video on YouTube claiming he had found Forrest Fenn’s treasure hiding spot…not the treasure mind you…just the spot where the treasure was hidden. The chest was not there. So of course Mr. Stone believes that the chest had been found and removed.

These are not unusual claims. I would say there have been a few dozen such claims that I am aware of since Forrest hid Indulgence. A minority have become videos that still float around on YouTube giving the impression that the chest has been found and the chase is finished.

It seems these folks have a difficult time admitting that their solution was wrong and led them to a place where the treasure chest is NOT, instead of where it is. So, rather than admit defeat they often decide that they were correct, but someone else got to the location before them and removed the chest. What is so interesting to me about these claims is that as far as I can tell no two of them are in the same location.

Today, Forrest was asked by a reporter in Denver if Mr. Stone’s claim was true. This is Forrest’s generous response:

I enjoyed Mr. Stone’s well-presented video. He is a far thinker and has a knack for analyzing. There are half a dozen other videos that were made similarly. The treasure remains where I hid it about 7 years ago. It is interesting that the film makers are so positive while leading their viewers to where the treasure chest never was. I compliment all of them and am reminded that it’s all about the thrill of the chase. f

By the way you can view Mr. Stone’s video here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jQ5fWkYb708&amp

Finding the Blaze – Prequel

SUBMITTED JULY 2017
by DWRock

 

I began my armchair sleuthing much like everyone else probably does… a word or a phrase in the poem caught my attention and I linked it to a place or a natural feature in the Rocky Mountains and attempted to build a sequence from there.  I immediately had a hunch that Yellowstone was the general venue for the hunt.  Phrases like “look quickly down” and “tarry scant” had me thinking about geysers.  Embarrassingly, my first inception of a solve had the treasure chest tucked into a crevice of Lone Star Geyser’s orifice!  Don’t stop reading now… I’ve come a long way since then!  As I learned more about and the features and history of the area, and about Forrest’s life experiences, I began to see certain tracts in nature and circumstance that appeared to link nicely with several of the lines of the poem.  One such tract has been common to many searchers: Madison Junction down Madison Canyon to below Hebgen Dam… from there I considered heading up Beaver Creek and toward Avalanche Lake or, as an alternative, heading further down the Madison River and up the West Madison and Lake Creek toward Wade and Cliff Lakes.  These areas could be made to fit much of the poem, and as Forrest’s old stomping grounds they seemed a likely setting for his secret spot.  The problem I sensed was that Hebgen Lake is too obviously a link to home of Brown… anyone could come up with that and skip the previous clues to start there. This is a problem because the poem has been carefully crafted and all of the clues are important and need to be followed in sequence.

Then I directed my attention to the blaze.  I saw the blaze as an opportunity to instrumentally link distant features on the map that are “too far to walk” between.  The blaze would be a symbol drawn over a conventional map to indicate the treasure location.  All of the clues would be needed to create and use the blaze.  I tried to see a blaze that would fit the previously mentioned sequence and the best I came up with was a rough lightning bolt that started at MJ and ended at Avalanche Lake. This didn’t seem right…it didn’t reveal anything new to me.  I moved on and began looking for blazes that I imagined might be a circle with a center marking the treasure location; or a spiral that trended inward ever to the left; or a big “X” to mark the spot.

My attention gravitated toward The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone because YNP was my best interpretation of WWWH and The Grand Canyon, of course, is the natural “canyon down”.  I noticed on the map that the left trending arc created by the Yellowstone River roughly complements part of the Grand Loop Road to form much of a circle.  I recognized that the center of this circle would be way too remote to be a feasible treasure location, but I continued studying the perimeter for locations that might link to the poem and support the form.  Sheepeater Cliffs is a stop along the section of Grand Loop Road that aligns with the circle… “no place for the meek”, I thought.  I had learned about old Joe Brown, the miner who struck gold on Bear Creek just up river from Gardiner, MT, and the north entrance of YNP.  My map showed Joe Brown Creek (I assumed his home site) just above the boaters access on the Yellowstone used to “put in” or “take out” just before dropping the rapids of Yankee Jim Canyon.  This was well off of the circle, but I became fond of the spot as an interpretation of “put in below the home of Brown”, and many times my eyes traced the Yellowstone from the Canyon to this “put in”.  I noted that this section of the Yellowstone bent into a decent spine of a lower case letter “f”.  Crevice Creek as “heavy loads and water high” seemed the best feature to define the cross bar.  A line drawn ever left from Sheepeater Cliffs completes the horizontal perfectly.  I had my primo solve completed up to the blaze: “f” marks the spot!!

I had a nagging doubt about my solve before boots hit the ground in August 2016… the shortest trail to the crosshairs of the “f” at the base of Crevice Creek was every bit of two miles and steep!  When I drove out through Jardine and found that access to the trail head required driving into private land with foreboding signage I knew my primo solve was no bueno.  I had to see the “f” spot, though, so I walked the five mile route down Deer Creek Trail to the Yellowstone River Trail to access the base of Crevice Creek. It was worth it! You should go there.

I had several days left to my trip but was uninspired by my other solve fragments so I went “Fenn touring”.  I went to West Yellowstone and checked out The Dude Motel, walked along the Madison off of the Down River Loop Trail, swam in Firehole Canyon, waded in the waters of Ojo Caliente, and even drove out to the old Fishing Bridge.  The highlight, my personal Fenn tourism stop, was a visit to Lone Star Geyser.  I promise I didn’t try to look in it!

My thoughts were still gravitating around my spoiled “f” solve, but the day’s activities had helped my mind relax a little.  Suddenly I had it!  I had become fixated on the “f” formed by the arcing Yellowstone River whilst attempting to draw a circle out of part of its curve and a complementary section Grand Loop Road.  This region of the map was burned into my mind from hours of study at home and while I was driving out to Fishing Bridge the image of the blaze emerged and I instantly knew I was on the right track…

I had found an arrowhead!

Take a look at the park map:

https://s3.amazonaws.com/static-yellowstonepark/public/Yellowstone-official-road-map_2016-2.pdf

Can you see it?

 

DWRock-

Reading the Blaze – Part One

SUBMITTED JULY 2017
by DWRock

 

I had pictured an arrowhead outline that would naturally correspond to the shape of the Yellowstone River from the Canyon Area to the put in below my chosen home of Brown, and then follow the complimentary section of Grand Loop Roadway mirroring the river and leading back to the Canyon. When I excitedly unfolded the map my confidence was not shaken, but I realized that the arrowhead would need a little more work than imagined.  One issue was that to include my home of Brown (actually well outside the park boundary at Joe Brown Creek) would require some deviation from the river to form a natural looking arrowhead tip.  I recognized that I could solve this problem if I changed the “put in below the home of Brown” to the North Entrance of the park (in this case the home of Brown would be either the Gardiner River as winter spawning grounds for Brown Trout or a reference to Joe Brown’s mining claim on Bear Creek just upriver from the North Entrance…For the time being I was still attached to my original HoB and I proceeded to trace my arrowhead with a straight line from about Hellroaring Creek to the boating put in.  From there I drew straight to the turn off for Sheepeater Cliffs forming a symmetrical arrowhead tip.  The next literal bump in the road came just a couple miles south of Sheepeater.  The poem indicates that “the end is ever drawing nigh” (which it should when drawing the outline of an arrowhead counterclockwise) but the road turns right to bend around Roaring Mountain creating an aberrant bump in the arrowhead’s edge.  I quickly recognized how perfectly the Solfatara Creek Trail would fit into the poem and shave off the bump.  From Solfatara North Trailhead there is no creek for three miles as the trail follows a straight path within a transmission line cut: “no paddle up your creek, just heavy loads…”  I had seen the trailhead while driving by, and glancing up the cut I wondered why anyone would want to hike under those transmission lines when surrounded by so many other pristine options.  The answer gave me “water high”. The trail provides near access to the beautiful Lake of the Woods.  The chase was on!!  Unfortunately, the blaze was huge and I wasn’t sure how to “look quickly down” and “take the chest”.

My first instinct was to treat the arrowhead blaze as a pointer indicating a precise treasure location either somewhere near its tip or some location distant to the tip that could be found by extending the axis of the arrowhead.  My gut told me I should focus on the short game and search the proper tip area, but I had camped at Baker’s Hole and decided that while in the area I would explore the arrowhead’s path through the Gallatin. Only two secondary gravel roadways in the Gallatin offered reasonably close access to the trajectory I had drawn.  My line passed straight through a small feature named Timber Butte adjacent to the first access road.  I thought of the line: “if you’re brave and in the wood”.  Timber Butte sits about 11 miles down a gravel road that follows Storm Castle Creek. The drive is abundant with steep cliff walls and towering spires of rock. The final section of road enters a burned area of steep moss green colored hills covered in charred matchstick trees as far as you can see.  The mountains denuded and showing their verdant undercoat made me feel like I had been magically transported to New Zealand.  The road climbs up above and behind some rock spires that you can easily walk out onto for dizzying views.  Timber Butte is relatively small and sits beside the road.  I quickly walked up, over, and around it finding nothing but scratchy vegetation and gritty-rocky terrain.  It didn’t feel like a potential final resting place for Forrest, and I was at a loss for more specific direction from the poem here.

The next day I relocated to Eagles Creek Campground and investigated the arrowhead’s tip.  I poked around the put-in below Joe Brown Creek for a bit and then headed down the road into Yankee Jim Canyon. I pulled off in the canyon and read a sign that provided a brief history of this area as a travel corridor through the ages with evidence of use dating back 7000 years. This evidence was in the form of arrowheads! Apparently Indians would travel through here on their way to obtain obsidian from Yellowstone. The sign suggested checking out the Yankee Jim Interpretive Trail which shared parking with the Sphinx Creek Trailhead across the river. I had some intuitive curiosity in the Sphinx so I spent quite a while trying to get over there: first driving down from Tom Miner and turning back all the way to Corwin Springs when I found the road closed.  When I finally arrived I found a barricade barring the trail: TRAIL CLOSED: GRIZZLIES FEEDING ON CARCASS AHEAD.  I looked up at the rock visage of the Sphinx looming above the trailhead. The sphinx was gazing down at the tip of the arrowhead!  I was spellbound by this sight and decided that this was a likely location to have secreted the treasure.  I could see lots of pockets and crevices in the rock below the face of the sphinx and thought of the lines “just take the chest”… maybe the treasure is in the chest of the sphinx?!  I planned to visit the ranger station in Gardiner to inquire about the grizzly closure.  I checked out the interpretive trail which contained five signs offering more interesting details on the history of travel through the corridor. Wagon toll roads were created and manned by old Yankee Jim himself.  Jim fought, but could not stop, the literal railroading of his business.  Before long the railcars were replaced by motorcars bringing us up to the current standard of transport through the corridor. Some rock work from the old roads remains visible, and an old advertisement painted on a boulder is partially preserved. That evening I sat in Tumbleweeds Café in Gardiner and read sphinx facts online: a sphinx often guards a royal tomb with a riddle. Perfect!!!

First thing in the morning I headed to the Forest Service Ranger Station in Gardiner and learned that a ranger had already left to remove the bear closure. Great!  When I arrived at the trailhead the ranger’s car was there, but the barricade was still up, and no sight or sound of anyone nearby. I waited around and did a little exploring in the rock-fall below the sphinx. It was clear that a direct route to the sphinx feature would be too rocky and steep. The immediate rock-fall area was abundant with boulders creating enclosed areas, shelters, and caves. A central flat enclosed area had served as an unofficial campsite junked up by careless users. The trash degraded the mystique of the Sphinx so I soon retreated to the parking lot. Two rangers returned to the trailhead and gave me their blessing to enjoy the hike with an approving nod to the bear spray in my hip pocket. They told me that six bears had been sighted eating on the carcass as of one week ago, but had evidently cleared out some days past.  It took about 45 minutes to top out the trail, and at least that long to navigate off-trail to the Sphinx feature.  I had already pretty much written off this site due to the distance and difficulty to access, but I couldn’t stop myself from scrambling down, around, under, and up into the feature to investigate.  Don’t try this!  It’s not there.

It took over an hour to make it back to the car. I promptly drove around to the put-in on the other side of the river. With my compass aligned to the arrowhead axis angle I sighted up the slope of Dome Mountain to what seemed like a rock overhang not 200 feet up from the road. I advanced the car to a pull off below the overhang and scrambled around on the rock for an hour or so.  At the end of the day I felt a little down. The tip of the arrowhead seemed a bust, I didn’t know what to do with my perfect blaze, and I had only three days left to my trip.

DWRock-

Wind River Canyon…

July 2017
by Tbug-

 

Hi fellow Fennatics, I’ve been lurking off/on for a few years, the search for me has not involved botg and this is NOT a complete solve, rather I wanted to see the community’s thoughts on a few things (especially in light of all the recent SBs/posts from FF – writing this as of 4/20/2017). The following is a theory, not confirmed and will definitely NOT sway any of the Blog-erati (looking at you Seeker!). The following is just my opinion, guaranteed or your money back:

My backstory: First heard the Fenn story in 2013 from a co-worker who was very enthusiastic, we discussed for several weeks and then it fell the wayside, I would occasionally hear of an article or interview and then I found Dal’s site last year and have been reading a lot and coming up with some ideas. I’m a longtime CO/WY kid (I’m 40), between the ages of 6-16 I spent summers in Wyoming, often spending several weeks with family (Grandpa and cousins in Worland, other grandparents in Sheridan WY). Those visits included the 6+ hour drive from Laramie to get there, anyone who has driven in/around the state of WY can attest, the joy is NOT in the journey, most assuredly it is that you finally got there after so many grueling hours in the car. In my younger years these trips were fun only because of the ways my dad would entertain me, often involving ‘breaking records’ like total trip time, how long he could keep the speedo over triple digits, how far could we go without stopping for food or pee breaks, etc. The route we would take would sometimes change slightly, but was basically I-80 over to Rawlins, up 287 to Sweetwater or Lander, up to Riverton and Shoshoni and up the Wind River Canyon through Thermopolis and onto Worland. The scenery of this drive was…let’s just agree to describe it as ‘98% brown’. The stretch between Rawlins to Shoshoni is my own living hell, any scientists out there working on teleportation owe it to themselves to drive that route and re-invigorate their mission. However, once you got to Shoshoni there was hope, a light at the end of the tunnel and finally something to hold your attention besides antelope and tumbleweeds.

The Wind River Canyon has always held a special place in my heart…a lighthouse along the way signifying the drive was almost over and a beautiful canyon drive with lots of twists, tunnels, pre-cambrian rock, a train and of course the river. In my pre-teen years I marvel gazed at the tall cliffs and the uplifted and tilted layers and wondered what it would have been like to live 10000 years earlier. As my engineering mind was forming I wondered how long it took to construct that road, dealing with the river and weather, building the tunnels, etc.

Thermopolis – similar to the canyon this was another milestone on the journey, it signified we were less than an hour from our destination and to a 7 year old kid the hot springs park pool had the coolest damn water slide I had ever seen. My last drive up north was in 2008 heading to Cody for a cousins wedding, and we turned nigh at Thermop heading to Meeteetse so I didn’t get to see the true landmark of the town (IMO)…there is a small ‘geyser’ (air quotes here because it was probably a pipe carrying the water nearly 100 yards from the real source) near the chamber of commerce. In my youth it spouted water and steam 5-10’ in the air, halting, then returning to the earth, another curious site and a milestone telling me we were that much closer.

I thoroughly enjoyed SB 145 about the Bullet (I’m a car guy) and to me the Fenn summer trips from Texas to YNP sparked my first real theory: with such a long drive through much of the prairie west, surely the family made stops at various places along the way over those 17 years, and surely after Forrest was on his own he made additional road trips to his Valhalla. I looked up some historical Wyoming state highway maps from the late 30s…all the way until 1939, the various highways between Cheyenne/Laramie to Cody or Jackson involved many stretches of non-asphalt roads. I wondered how slow they would have driven and what the jalopies they drove, where they stopped for food, if they camped at night or stayed in motels, etc. I find it an easy reach that the family probably chose different, less strenuous/dusty/awful roads, at least after a few years of making the trip they probably figured out a ‘preferred’ route. Looking at the historical maps it is pretty clear that going up I-25 through Casper, over to Shoshone and up the Wind River to Cody was likely the preferred path. I have deduced this because hwy 287 by way of Rawlins and Dubois is 1) awful scenery (at least until South Pass) and 2) weather (wind anyone?) and 3) Togwotee pass north of Dubois was not paved until the early 40s, so at least in the first 5-10 years the Fenns made that trip, Cody was likely the best/least terrible way to YNP. EDIT: after a little more research, my route was indeed called the ‘Road to Yellowstone’ and Thermopolis was marketed as ‘The Gateway to Yellowstone’.

So to re-cap: I have driven a lot in WY on a similar path that the Fenn’s could have travelled each year on their family trips to YNP. Much of that drive is awful (IMO) and has some significant landmarks along the way that could be ‘special’. There are warm waters halting in Thermopolis (for me it’s that cheesy chamber of commerce fountain). You can take a canyon south that is too far to walk, that is home to many a large brown trout (I know, I know). The Boysen Reservoir and dam were completed in 1952, so the Fenn’s would have seen a semi-natural river in their early trips, but the road through the canyon was there prior. I find it unlikely that the fishing Fenn’s would not have stopped at some point to fish that river. So, given Forrest’s love of fishing and fondness of his family and trips, I think it is at least plausible that this area may be special. I recall that Forrest (or was it his dad?) said that catching huge fish, while fun, the smaller ones could be more rewarding…I’m calling BS on that, because anyone who has ever landed a huge trout that takes 2 hands and all your strength to handle will tell you so…the Wind/Big Horn have always been prime habitat for large trout, catching a big ‘un is a likely scenario for an experienced fisherman especially if you learned the river over several years. My theory on the ‘special’ aspect is that Forrest and his dad may have caught some of the biggest brown trout they had ever seen on a specific section of the wind river canyon.
OK, the following is my official ‘arm chair’ solve, enjoy!

WWWH – check. We all agree YNP is a special place, to me the signature feature is Old Faithful, the water literally shoots up and halts, if but for a moment, before falling to earth. In Forrest’s writings it is clear to me that he chooses Form over Function, a pretty thing is so much more than just a thing. By the nature of the poem, interpreting WWWH is fraught with pitfalls and rabbit holes, so much so that it seems probable that was the intent…many want to say that ‘warm’ means this that or the other, but looking at the poem from just the poetry perspective, ‘Where Hot Water Halts’ is just not as pretty sounding as WWWH…also alliteration…3 is clearly better than 2. Now I’m not saying it is DEFINITIVELY a geyser, I like the idea of a hot springs pool on a river, where rocks are piled up to create a mixing area that you can adjust because usually the water is too hot to just have a singular pool, you need the colder river water. I also like a water fall, but more for water high than warm. Anyway, in my mind a geyser is both a simple way to view it because of the poem and very difficult because there are so many of them north of Santa Fe. The town of Thermopolis is a significant landmark on the long dusty trip from Texas, it offers food/lodging and a public hot springs park. Additionally the area has petroglyphs, notable dinosaur archeology, the Shoshone/Arapahoe reservation to the south and a colorful outlaw cowboy history; arrowhead and other treasure searches could easily kickoff in the area around Thermopolis.

Canyon down – check. Wind River Canyon contains exposed pre-cambrian layers and is many a rockhound’s outdoor classroom. One issue with the canyon itself: it is on the reservation and a rock climbing related search suggests the tribes view the canyon as sacred, (possibly burial grounds), route climbing is off limits and many have asked. Interestingly, game and fish have overseen the reservoir/rec areas (also on the reservation) since inception, a bit of paradox in my mind, publically accessible areas and roads, but on reservation land such that many activities are off limits. I stated earlier that I think it was likely the Fenn’s fished this river there are two areas just north of the dam that are managed by the state that include camping and river access, unclear when that access may have been established, likely after the dam was finished, I’m guessing back in the ‘40s/’50s things were likely less regulated.

TFTW – check. From Thermop to the canyon mouth is about 3 miles, the canyon is about 13 miles total length from the northern mouth to the dam, certainly too far to walk with 42 lbs. This clue/hint has always bothered me, if the poem is a map and the directions lead you there, why start from a point where you move on? I know many will claim they understand, yet no chest, so hard to buy into those claims. There must be a purpose to start in a place that you will eventually leave. Is it to help confirm you’re on the right first clue? Is it to make sure you see the entire path that FF took at one time? This just seems to be an oddity, include the fact that it is the one line that doesn’t rhyme and it seems to raise more questions than it answers.

Put in below home of Brown – flimsy, thin, questionable, let’s agree ‘plausible’ check. I have been catching trout since I was 4, fishing is most certainly important to FF. I grew up with the outdoors playing a large role; camping, fishing, hunting etc. I think older generations likely did similar activities, because, yeah, no internet back then. I would also argue that Wyoming is a pretty boring place, if you didn’t do outdoorsy stuff you likely didn’t stay long, as they say, ‘there are 2 things to do in Wyoming: shoot guns and drink beer’, I would add go fishing, which should technically include beer, IMO. Anyway, the point is fishing is indeed a popular hobby in Wyoming, for me it is one of only a handful of reasons I even go back nowadays. So what of the capital ‘B’? As seen throughout the history of the west someone named Brown can be found just about everywhere. Maybe that was FF’s intention, but I’m taking the easy way out and saying it is the Brown trout due to FFs fondness for fishing (boom alliteration x5!). The entrance to the canyon from the reservoir side (but before it was built, note the river flows north, so ‘down’ here is downstream, but my canyon down is south) is another possibility for HoB given that the fishing would have likely been best just inside the canyon not on the plains, any fisherman can tell you the big fish live in the canyons with the big rocks.

WARNING: ENTERING CONFIRMATION BIAS WORK ZONE
So let’s say a 10 year old Forrest is with the family fishing the canyon on their way to YNP, but lo the fish are not biting. Well, we know Forrest began searching for arrowheads and other historical/cultural areas at a young age. The canyon walls command your gaze, anyone familiar with archeology would be intrigued by the area. At the entrance to the canyon (moving north from the reservoir, with the flow) you quickly encounter the tunnels, bored through the rock at the narrowest spot in the canyon and another significant landmark on the way north. Nearby is a popular picnic/camping area and fishing spot: Upper Wind River CG. Between the first 2 tunnels, and a short walk from that popular camping/fishing spot is a small creek/gully… Gold Creek drains into the Wind here. It is extremely steep, indeed NO PLACE FOR THE MEEK – check. Also it is only intermittent flow (NO PADDLE), there are back roads that go above from the east, on BLM land, so it COULD be accessed by an old man, not likely from below (but also too visible to a fairly busy highway, IMO). Also, the top of the mesa here is over 5000’, part of the gulch is as well, so 2 more possible checks.

The end is ever drawing nigh – In my solve you go ‘down’ the canyon heading south, Gold Creek is to the east (or left) of the roadway. I spent a little time on GE to see if something else to the ‘left’ fit in here and nothing definitive. There is very interesting geology all around Gold Creek, there is an interesting white band in a couple areas near the top, but they appear to be both on the reservation land and just below 5000’. To the east of the top of the gulch is Birdeye peak (the bird in the moon sketch?) and on the leeward sides is a wood, a small area with real pine trees (most of the canyon and surrounding hills are dotted with small bushes, but very few trees), also near this wood is a fairly large rock outcropping and would be my number 1 spot if I wanted to hide something valuable there.
The remaining clues: heavy loads and water high and the blaze: I will take the easy way out, the train and the reservoir will be my heavy loads and water high, as they would be visible/audible from my spot. As for the blaze, again, I will take the easy way out and say it is the sun, this is where botg may be necessary, the point on the end of birdeye peak looks W-SW and sunset could easily play a role, but time of year would change the location on the horizon so not really.

Some other shortcomings: last stanza I can’t find anything about my spot that might fit ‘worth the cold’. Also, FF’s comment that when we learn the real solve, we will exclaim ‘why didn’t I think of that!’, nothing with my spot seems to jump out other than it is a ‘simple’ solution that uses only the Poem clues, good maps and my knowledge of the geography.

So, as I go alone on this quest (my family, friends and random strangers all think I’m insane), I’m left to answer some questions (besides the poem clues):
Is the area special to Forrest? I think it is plausible, the fishing would have been amazing back when, the canyon and town of Thermopolis break up a long, boring journey, and the area would have been ripe for exploring; world’s largest mineral hot springs, petroglyphs, dinosaur digs, indian reservation nearby, and rich cowboy history.

Access? The top of Gold Creek is just outside the reservation boundary (note: there are no fences or obvious markings for this boundary – on satellite views at least) and is indeed private land, however, there is a patchwork of BLM land (see game and fish interactive map) that can be reached by low clearance dirt roads with a near zero likelihood that someone would see you. The area is hilly, but more mesa like, once on top the walk to the rock outcrop or gulch would not be very difficult, even for FF and his 42lbs. Also, there are few manmade trails (but definitely cattle and big horn sheep frequent the area), but the roads nearby would allow a walk of about 2 miles with only a few hundred vertical. At this point I take no responsibility if someone goes and checks it out and it is private or otherwise inaccessible, as you can see below the route and parking can be done from BLM land only, assuming you can get up Birdseye road. So for me this area is plausible and maybe worth a look for a brave soul.

So you’re probably wondering about the other clues/hints: heavy loads and water high, worth the cold, etc. For me I think throwing out any of the poem is a bad idea and the number one reason I haven’t gone to make this search. I do believe that FF’s statements about how simple it is and you just need the poem, a good map and knowledge of geography lend themselves to this as at least plausible, do I really believe this is FFs special spot, no, but then only one way to be sure! If anyone has been in the area please let us know and of course let the flaming arrows fly about what I missed, but please don’t give me some cryptic, arbitrary statement about stars or numerology or how I haven’t solved all the layers yet, you all are crazy.

Here is a 3D pic. My spot would be a few inches to the right of the Boysen Fault line, but the access road is just out of frame. Also, currently public fishing is allowed from the dam up to just below the fault line shown.

Tbug-

 

 

Tale of Two Solves – Part Two

SUBMITTED JULY 2017
by DUSTIN IN ARKANSAS

 

After the first solve failed I went back to the hotel room and started working on coordinates. I had a general area of where I wanted to go, but did it match up to the poem?  I worked on coordinates for about four IPA beers long and then stepped away.  Granted I drink very slowly, it took me about 5 hours.  I’m on to something now, but it can wait.  Let’s go back and base my Solve on absolutely nothing….like before.

Where would warm waters halt? Puddles in West Yellowstone? Big Sky, Montana?  Let’s put that together.

“Begin it where warm waters halt and take it in the canyon down”.  This to me was leaving West Yellowstone towards Big Sky, Montana in Gallatin Canyon.  By the way, I’m 100000% confident it’s in the Gallatin National Forrest during this time.  Of course, I’ve been wrong all along.

“Not far but too far to walk.  Put in below the home of Brown.”  This partially meant I needed to put in the water as soon as I left West Yellowstone and follow it north. I’d rather not say what I believe is the home of Brown.

“From there, it’s no place for the meek, the end is ever drawing nigh;”.  Well wouldn’t you know it?  Next up the road was this little gem –

It made me think of the gypsy story where they partied and played music until late into the night.

Since “nigh” means left, I should take a left here.  So I did.  The road is called Taylor Fork Road.  This made me remember Forrest talking about taking a fork in the road.  Hmm.

Next down the road I went over a creek and pulled off after it.

“There’ll be no paddle up your creek, just heavy loads and water high.”  There is a lake up there.  What if “no” means don’t go?  Let’s try that.

Up from the creek on the right is Lincoln Mountain!

“If you’ve been wise and found the blaze”.  Well, he said the best education he ever got was in five minutes with his dad.  One of which was about honesty.  Honest Abe.  Looking at the mountain, I’m wondering if this section is the blaze or it is around the area.  It’s terrible when you start making the blaze what you want it to be.  I believe you’ll know it when you see it.  Looking at the side facing south, it looks like lightening marks.  I’ll get to that in a moment.

“Look quickly down your quest to cease.”  Looking down from what I thought was the blaze, there was an odd dead tree towards the top in the middle of the lightening marks.  Picture coming.  Even if I had taken the creek around and then went south “been wise”, I would have ended up at the same location and looking down at the same tree.

“But tarry scant with marvel gaze, just take the chest and go in peace.”  This to me meant I needed to follow the horse trail along the mountain to get to the blaze.  By the way, he said it wasn’t in close proximity to a human trail. He never said it wasn’t in close proximity to a horse trail. This to me was the marvel (Thor/lightening) gaze that I needed to stay within while searching:

Did you see how the side of the mountain looks like lightening bolts above?  I know a lot of mountains have this feature, but here we are.  Along the horse trail I was able to walk to the tree (in the wood) and check it out

I immediately looked under it, inside of it, and around it.  There was a HUGE opening on the side of the wood, but no treasure. It could have held several 10×10 chests.

The best part to me was the view.  “If I were standing where the treasure chest is, I’d see trees, I’d see mountains, I’d see animals, and I know the chest is wet.”  I wondered how you’d plan to always see animals if you were where the chest was. Well, across the way is a ranch with horses.  Crazy.

With the Gallatin River below me, and yes it’s in the Flywater book, I was sure it’s the right mountain.  It’s within the elevation remark.

I’m just in the wrong spot and in the wrong wood.  I should go back up the creek to the water high.  We made it a little over a mile until it started to rain and lightening. We had to head back.  Plus, a grizzly was growling at us from the other side of the creek.  If you haven’t ever been in that scenario, let’s just hope you don’t have to be.  We left.  Yes, we looked in the trees between the river and the mountain, along the river, and in a few other places.

Oh, and when I got below the mountainside, I checked the coordinates of where I was and my stomach turned. Those numbers looked familiar to what I was working on yesterday! 44…111… and I don’t remember the others.  44 West Yellowstone section.  Pot holes of water?  111 no place for the meek? “DO NOT TOUCH!!” Is the physical solve an alternate to the coordinate solve? Yet they both lead you to the same location?  Lewis and Clark cipher?  Why does the identification card on the front of the book have a picture of him as a kid?  Why does the ID card have certain letters on the left highlighted section in a darker tape color? Why do these letters highlighted say N A CIPHER…? Yes I know it technically says “N A CIPHEM” but the “M” is cut off to make an “R”.  This is now part of my final solve I’m working on….only to give it away to someone else once I’m done.  Let me know if you’re interested in having it.

I can’t do this any longer.  I’m going to be a dad in two months and my time will now be spent working on her room and reading books on how to be a great father.  That excites me more than The Chase.

Even though Solve #2 was a little messy, especially being done within 24 hours, I really liked it.  It had more heart, came together better with the book, and had a better location IMO.  I know I executed it poorly and I didn’t allot enough time for it.  Darn storm!

Fenn is a new four letter between my wife and I. It’s kind of funny.

Good luck to you all and as Forrest said to me, “Be safe in the mountains. Take no risks. F”

Fin,
Dustin in Arkansas-

The Totem Cafe……

July 2017

by JR Richardson

 

I thought with the discussion I see from time to time on the Totem Café in West Yellowstone when hunting the treasure, it may be of interest to seekers to know a bit more history on this business – many people have walked through its doors and perhaps something about it does hold a clue to the blaze… ☺

The Totem Café is no more, but the building still stands and parts of the original building are still in place. It is now Bullwinkle’s at 115 Canyon Street. The metal sign at the apex of the roof is the original sign from the Totem, it has just been repainted to say Bullwinkle’s. Jackie and Dennis LaFever purchased the building from Jim and Marcia Gray in 2006, it had been with the Grays since about 1976. Marcia originally acquired the Totem in 1972, when she was married to Jack Tremaine. Jack was killed in an accident in 1974 on Denny Creek Road and Marcia married Jim Gray a few years later.

When purchased in 1972, there were cabins next to the cafe’ that lined the alley (known as “B Pkwy” on maps) but Marcia used those for crew housing instead of rentals. They were eventually sold or torn down, with the exception of one that became a Rock Shop for Ken and Ione Guyse on the Totem property. The original Totem building at that time had attached living quarters behind it. Around 1973 or ’74 the living room of those quarters was turned into a game room for playing live poker and an entryway was cut out to allow access to it from the Totem Lounge at the rear of the building. Jack and Marcia had poker chips made with “Totem Club” embossed above the denominations. The rear outside access was changed also, with entry from the parking lot into the “Game room” via what used to be the entry to the living quarters. Because this door was not easily visible to the bartender in the lounge, a set of ‘jingle bells’ was attached so people entering the building could be heard. If you visited the Totem anytime from the mid-70’s for the next 30 years, and you came in through the back door, you probably came in through the “Jingle Bell door”.

Prior to 1972, the owners were Bill and Eulah Gray. Jim Gray, who married Marcia after Jack’s death, was their son. So it was still ‘in the Gray family’ so to speak after 1976.

Now I will do my best to recall what I can, but this history was before my time so might have some errors; I believe Bill and Eulah bought the Totem from Frosty and Ramona (Jochimsen) Tornes (maybe the same Frosty in Forrest story). I don’t know who they bought it from, or if they were the original builders. I understand the original building was constructed in 1937.

At some point in the late 40’s or early 50’s the building was moved to its current location from further South on Canyon St., I believe south of Madison Avenue. I have always thought it was located about mid-block on the same side of the street as it is now, in the vicinity of alley “A Pkwy” on West Yellowstone maps (that’s a guess).

Totem Cafe circa 1940- Photo by Chris Schlechten from the Museum of the Rockies Collection

There are 2 old photographs posted with Museum of the Rockies Photo Archive Online http://www.morphotoarchive.org/), you can do a search by location (on the left under Image Database Searches, By Location), select West Yellowstone and find the photographs there. The cabins, which I assumed moved with the building, can be made out in these photos. My hunch is this is how the Totem looked, and this was the location, that Forrest worked at, although I do not know that for sure.

I lived in West Yellowstone from the 1960’s to 1983, my mother was Marcia Gray. We lived for years behind the Totem, it was my second home literally. I went back in 2002 to 2005 and ran the business when my mother was living in Helena, MT. When TTOTC was published, I was stunned that Forrest had worked at the Totem, but so many of the stories Forrest told were up close and personal to me having lived in West Yellowstone for so many years.

The Totem changed names from time to time (not necessarily officially) over the years as new areas were added to the business. It started as Totem Café, had a game room later as the Totem Club. Then was known as Totem Restaurant and Lounge. You will also see Totem Restaurant and Deli, sometimes with “Liquor Store” added in. Later it was Totem Restaurant and Casino Bar. I have noted there are matchbook covers for sale from time to time on the internet from the Totem. While they all look very similar (my mother kept the original cover design pretty much the same as it was when she purchased the business), I can tell what “Totem era” the book was printed in by the words on the cover. If it says “Cabins” or has a 4 digit phone number, it’s old.

I have read some stories sent to Dal from searchers who feel the Totem is a key in the hunt for the treasure. Indeed, the streets of West Yellowstone have mystery names – there is a Canyon, a Madison, a Firehole, and other names that may lead a seeker to find a path to the blaze. If you are in West Yellowstone, and are curious about the Totem, stop in at Bullwinkle’s and have a beer or coke in the small lounge at the back of the restaurant in the original ‘A’ frame building. The wooden bar is one of the original parts left from the Totem. There is also a salad bar made of white rock against one wall – this was built by Jack around 1973 and hasn’t changed from its original construction that I know of. I haven’t been in there recently but would like to go this summer and see what a wonderful refurbishing that Jackie has done.

If you want some fun, tell Jackie you are curious about the ‘Spiderman room’. When I was living in the attached quarters around 1975, my room was a windowless square that adjoined the bathroom. I loved Spiderman (what teenager doesn’t), and to dispel the gloom of no window, I painted a life-sized caricature of him on my cinderblock wall. Every day was a good day to wake up and see Spidey slinging a web across the room. This picture was still remaining when Jackie bought the Totem. Sometime, (I am thinking about 2011), he had to be covered up finally to make way for renovations. She sent a picture to my mother just before he was painted over, with the painters hanging out next to him. He had been slinging the same web for over 35 years. His presence is only known to a few, as he was tucked away in a secret spot, like the treasure we all seek.

Good hunting, hope this was interesting for a few readers!

JR Richardson

 

Jonsey sent along these images from an early Totem Cafe menu in her vast collection of Forrest related artifacts.

Thanks Jonsey-