SUBMITTED NOVEMBER 2017
The sound of chirping crickets awakened me as my iPhone announced it was time to rise and shine. It was still dark but I knew I had to hustle to get ready to join Dal and the ABC Nightline crew at Dal’s place in West Yellowstone where we’d planned to meet to start the filming of what I hoped would be an outstanding piece of Fenn treasure hunting.
It was Monday, September 18th, 2017. I’d been thinking about visiting Yellowstone National Park ever since I moved to New Mexico 25 years ago. I’ve been searching for Forrest’s elusive treasure chest for almost 5 years, and now I felt like I’d run out of places where warm waters halt, at least in New Mexico. It was time to broaden my search area, and West Yellowstone and the National Park was my new destination. I was ecstatic!
Lucky for me, Dal had agreed to meet me and my friends in West Yellowstone when we were still in the planning stages of synchronizing our itinerary way back in August. Soon after, ABC Nightline asked if they could film us on one of our searches… we both said yes.
Since Dal has searched this region repeatedly over the last several years, I let him decide where we should take them. I prefered a place outside the National Park boundary so that Molly could tag along. He agreed and knew the perfect spot…. at the bend in the road where Hwy191 crosses Grayling Creek. He knew Forrest had fished from the bridge downstream along Grayling Creek to the canyon.
Dal had the solves for the first 4 clues… all I needed to do was find the BLAZE. It sounded simple at first but the previous night I laid in bed worrying about my ability or lack of knowledge in finding one that made sense for the film crew.
It was starting to get light outside when I grabbed my camera and backpack and lifted Molly into the pickup truck. The temperature was chilly and the sky overcast and gloomy… thank goodness I’d brought a raincoat. Thank goodness I’d brought warm clothing…
The film crew took some departing shots of Dal, Molly, and me as we packed our gear into Esmerelda and drove towards Hwy191 where we turned north and headed to the bridge ten miles up the road. There was a wide enough area along the highway on the south side of the bridge where we could get both vehicles off the road. On the map that follows, the red arrow at the bottom is the town of West Yellowstone, and the red arrow near the top is where the road bends and crosses Grayling Creek, our destination for the day.
In the picture below, the small bridge crossing the creek in the grassy area is for snow mobiles to use in the wintertime. This is where the crew staged their cameras for our intial interviews that morning.
While the crew transported their gear from their SUV to the bridge, Dal headed across to scout a place where we all could safely get down the bank to the creek and forest.
The ABC crew was comprised of Michelle Kessel producer, Clayton Sandell correspondent, and Connor Burton producer and drone operator.
After the interviews, Dal and Molly took the lead as we scurried down the embankment and bushwhacked our way through the trees into the grassy meadow.
Dal had explained that the trees and brush were too thick along the creek downstream from the bridge so we’d walk through the woods into a large meadow and from there we could make our way to Grayling Creek. We could see trees, we could see mountains, and we could tell there’d been animals. We could smell the sweet smells of pine needles and sage brush…
And holy moly, off in the distance at the far end of the meadow, I could see a BLAZE… a rock face looking towards us.
As the film crew and Molly and I made our way through the sage brush, Dal walked up the hillside a bit to get a better view of the area.
Dal took some pictures from his vantage point, then came back down to the meadow and joined us. I had dropped Molly’s leash for a minute to take some pictures as well, only to lose her momentarily. She had wandered off to the thicket of willows behind the folks in the picture below.
Her nose led her to this… a dead mule deer with its front legs dismembered, and brush covering her body to hide her… Dal said it looked like a recent bear kill. Hmmm, were we being watched?
Instead of continuing straight to the BLAZE, we moved to our left and walked down to Grayling Creek. The pictures make the water look brown but it wasn’t… it was clean and clear and did not look deep.
At this bend in the creek, we left the shoreline and walked back through the trees to the base of my Blaze…
There, surrounded by trees, was a perfect hiding spot… beneath the end of this large boulder. I got down on my hands and knees and peered in… I didn’t see anything glistening nor anything that looked like the bronze chest with the loot… so I crawled in even farther. Just rocks… no treasure chest. But it looked like a great place where Forrest could have pushed the chest in a hole in the rocks… but he didn’t.
The crew asked us to walk back to the large meadow. They went to the far end as we stayed put. Then they launched their drone.
Before we knew it, hours had flown by. The crew told us they had enough footage and we could head back to the bridge and our cars. In the picture above, Dal is trying to find the game trail we used to get from the meadow through the forest and back to the road.
Eventually, we all made the short climb up the embankment and back to the bridge. Clayton asked us a few more questions on camera, and asked both Dal and me to read the poem for the final footage of the morning.
Our mission was over… we provided ABC with a damn good search story and an awesome half-day adventure. They were happy… I was happy… I found a good BLAZE. Were Dal and I disappointed because we didn’t find Fenn’s loot? Not at all… despite it being after noon, our day was just beginning.
He cranked up Esmerelda and off we went… into Yellowstone National Park and Forrest Fenn’s childhood special places.
To be continued… 2018! Cynthia and Molly and Dal
You can read Dal’s version of this search HERE