Grayling Creek 2017: Cynthia’s Version…

SUBMITTED NOVEMBER 2017
by CYNTHIA

 

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

Cynthia-

 

You can read Dal’s version of this search HERE

New Book Order Page…

CLICK ON THE IMAGE TO GO TO THE ORDER PAGE

As Cynthia has pointed out…to get a signed copy you MUST check the “signed copy” button on the order form.

You can also order by calling the bookstore 505 988-4226 and of course you can pick one up in person if you are at the book store.

 

 

Book Review for Once Upon A While…

Submitted October 2017
By cynthia

A few days ago I had the opportunity to meet Forrest at the Collected Works Book Store in Santa Fe. He popped into the store occasionally, unannounced, this week so he could pre-sign all the new books before they were shipped out to the readers. I sat at the table quietly watching as Forrest signed book after book after book. It was a truly organized event between him and the guy who worked there. A carton of 20 books would be carried to the chair beside Forrest where the guy would open the box, set a stack of books on the table to Forrest’s rightside where he could easily slide them one at a time in front of him. Then the signed books would be placed neatly inside the same carton and moved to the back of the store to get ready to be shipped out. Before I knew it, Forrest looked at me and said he was done. I was impressed… he had signed 80 books in what seemed like just a few minutes.

He asked me if I’d like to chat over cups of hot chocolate… yes, I said. From there we drove to Downtown Subscription where they serve the best mugs of hot chocolate in Santa Fe. It was crowded but we found a small empty table in the midst of the mob. During the course of our conversation Forrest suggested I write a review of his new book and send it to Dal to post. I was flattered he asked me and I agreed to do it.

Remember this story, originally titled “Eunice, LA” and posted on Dal’s blog as Scrapbook One Hundred Sixty Nine in March 2017? Many of us know it as the Bingo story. Like many other stories in this new book, slight changes have been made between the original scrapbooks posted on the blog and the revised stories in Once Upon A While. This one really caught my eye…

If you notice, the text / title on this page says RAINY NIGHT BLESSINGS but the chapter title at the top of each page of this chapter says RAINY DAY BLESSINGS. Is this difference in words (between NIGHT and DAY) an accidental mistake or an intentional hint to us searchers? Is this why Forrest told me to mention this picture? I don’t know…

I am not the naturally gifted writer that Forrest is, or Douglas Preston, or Jenny Kile, or Dal. My review of this book is the way I talk… fragmented thoughts along the line of Fenn treasure searchers, not like the prose of the literary masters. There are 184 scrapbooks, 27 Vignettes, and 3 Passages written by Forrest and posted on Dal’s blog. 39 of these were included in this new book Once Upon A While. Even if you’ve read and memorized most of these, I highly recommend you buy or borrow a copy of this book and revisit each of these 39 stories. Forrest added “MY TWO SENSE” at the end of each chapter (with a post mark stamp), often punctuating the story with his wit, humor, and anecdotes, as well as a few updates.

One of those updates is on page 171 in The Bullet Comes Home. I don’t want to spoil the ending so won’t reveal the additional text included in this chapter. But it made me sad… I had the privilege of sitting in The Bullet a couple years ago while Forrest sat in the driver’s seat and explained the details of the mechanics of the car, or lack of mechanics, I should say. Now it’s just a bittersweet moment in my memory. As Forrest so wisely puts it “Once you leave home you can never move back.”

If I still haven’t piqued your interest in this new book, I gotta mention the drawings… all by Forrest and mostly stick figures. He thinks he’s not a good artist.. I think he’s exceptional and each drawing adds to the stories. Notice his turquoise belt buckle on each of the stick figures that are him throughout the book. I thought that alone was clever..

And lastly, in my opinion, this book is visually stunning. I love color… color pictures, color stick drawings, and color backgrounds with the bleeds to the edges. Just leafing through the pages should make a person want to look at each page and eventually read the text. And whoever came up with the idea of putting the page numbers in large font in the center of the margins? For any of you who have ever written a book, or magazine, or maybe a yearbook years ago, you have to appreciate the creative style Susan, Lou, and Forrest captured here. This is one of his best!

cynthia meachum