SUBMITTED DECEMBER 2017
by Diggin Gypsy
A while back our little Tesuque’s spirit went to a place in heaven that is reserved for special pets. Now her body rests in the little cemetery beside her sister, a brother, two cousins and a friend.
This morning a new little companion arrived on United Airlines from Dallas.
He’s a Bichon Frisee poodle mix, and weighs 3 pounds. We don’t have a name yet although my grandchildren and great grandchildren are throwing all kinds of names in the suggestion pot. I will let them decide.
With all of the ill feelings around the world the future still looks bright when an old man plants small trees and has a new little friend who rests beside him in his lounge chair – where he is now. He’s 2 ½ months old so that makes me more than 4,500 weeks his senior. And both of us seem to be very happy with that. f
On November 28th Forrest added that the pup’s name is Willie.
On November 28th Forrest added this video.
On December 4th Cynthia added this video of Willie greeting Desertphile.
Here’s the dilemma. You’ve invested your soul in the Chase… and many thousands of dollars. It has rewarded you with views, experiences, and wildlife encounters to last a lifetime. And yet it has also teased you mercilessly – pushing you to keep going with hints, revelations, and yes, even tires! So often you think that you must have reached the end, but no, there’s yet another stage to complete… and then another. Where and when do you draw the line? I confess that I still don’t know the answer to that question, but eventually, if there really is a chest full of gold, it must reveal itself to the persistent searcher. And that’s why I was out there again, clawing my way toward the end of the rainbow.
Let me remind you.
In my search, the “asterisk” marks the start point of the Chase. It lies a little way from another marker that reveals the essence of the trajectory that the searcher must take. Look above the drop-pin for the critical element; then view the wider image for something that may or may not be helpful
After failing to find the treasure at a far distant omega on a previous trip, I had assumed that the trove would therefore be found near the start. As my wife was reluctant for me to search alone following bear confrontations earlier in the year, I asked a friend to meet me there, and we went a-hunting. Here’s the center of the asterisk, which had been submerged earlier in the year, but was now revealed as a circular disc of stone.
After a couple of days fruitless searching, my partner had to leave to rejoin the real world, and I was left wondering where the heck I’d gone wrong. I spent another couple of days retracing our steps, looking down at the significant rock formations, trying to cajole my crumbling brain to make the connections. But it was only when I looked up that the penny dropped. Remember the scrapbook with the tangled telephone cable? How about the Native American “listening” by the telephone pole? Crossed wires! I raced to the nearest cafe with an internet connection and fired up Google Maps. It only took me a couple of minutes to relocate the omega.
I began to use the “measure distance” function and drew lines from point to point until… wow… I landed in a place that I would never have considered part of the Chase… until I remembered another scrapbook. And it fitted perfectly! It was a long drive, but the summer weather cooperated, and I arrived excited and ready for whatever I might find. I will draw a veil over what I actually did find – suffice for me to say that trespassing is neither necessary nor a good idea as part of the Chase, that landowners and local officialdom are not likely to view it kindly, and that, with better planning, awkward and embarrassing situations can be avoided!
My remaining time was spent trying to parse the information I’d uncovered, drawing more lines, and taking side trips to far-flung outposts of the Rockies – all of which poduced a big fat zero. As on previous trips, I ran out of time, and took the flight home more than a little puzzled. I knew I was onto something, but why wasn’t it working? It wasn’t long before I discovered my error. When Forrest talks about following the clues precisely, he’s not merely using a figure of speech. Precisely means with precision down to a few feet. I had made an error of calculation that, over the large distances involved, had amplified itself to an order of magnitude that was bound to lead me astray. I corrected the error and… wow again!
One of my perennial failings is impatience. You would think that after nearly five years of painstaking work on the poem and BOTG, I would have overcome that by now. If so, you would be wrong. I was back in the UK and tearing my hair out. How was I going to get back to search that spot? I emailed my friend in the States and asked if he was up for another adventure. He was (what a trooper)! As he prepared to fly out there, I kept working on the coordinates, coming up with three likely spots, all within a couple of hundred feet. There was the anchor:
And if that was too much of a stretch, there was also the smiling frog, which I shall keep to myself for now. And there was my friend’s frustration as he reported back that he was drawing a complete blank, trudging across the empty landscape. I felt crestfallen, and guilty for sending him on what was turning out to be a wild goose chase. And yet…
It was only later that I spotted the “lighthouse,” flashing its friendly warning like the asterisk so many miles distant. And didn’t it also resemble a keyhole?
I fired up GE and loaded the coordinates. Usually, when you use the time slider on GE, the earlier images are too low-res and blurred to discern much at high magnification. This time it was different. I could clearly see that the “lighthouse” didn’t exist in 2009 and before. I connected the images I’d found, and revealed something fascinating, apart from the fact that they aligned nearly perfectly. A year earlier I had sent Forrest certain coordinates based on something discovered in the poem. I now realized I had been prescient but premature. That was the wrong time to use that clue. Now it fitted perfectly, and it said something about “in the wood” that I would never have guessed if I hadn’t gone on a frantic Google hunt as these revelations dawned. I had to get back there!
It was then that my wife decided that she had to get over to the States within a few weeks to deal with some pressing family business. I would have just been in the way during the visit, but what if I used the opportunity to make one more trip? We’ve reached that point in life where we dread flying – particularly across multiple timezones; it leaves us wiped out for days, and the whole security rigmarole takes any of the remaining fun away. But this was just too good an opportunity to ignore. I left Val at Salt Lake City and headed out to my spot. Two days later, I was as frustrated as my friend had been. I had found nothing… until I decided to check the two “ends” of my specific line of latitude. At one end there was a circle in the ground, and at the other end was… smashed pottery.
Wasn’t there a scrapbook about smashing pottery? I looked closer:
The Garden City Pottery Co., based in San Jose, was big in the early part of the 20th century before going into decline, finally shutting its doors in 1987. As with most of my artifact discoveries, this was found where there was little in the way of human detritus. Why would someone have taken a large and heavy pottery vase – almost an antique – out into the wilderness just to smash and discard it? And why were the pieces arranged as they were, with a few shoved in between sage brush roots, and the others in a line that pointed toward the circle? It was not a major find, but coupled with something else I had discovered out there it told me to head south. And so south I went. In fact I went so far south that I was starting to brush up on my Spanish! After a day or two of this, I turned around and retraced my steps. Sitting down near some water, I tried to think. It’s something that I find much harder to do when I’m BOTG than when I’m in the warm cocoon of my own home. But this time I made a breakthrough. What if I reversed something important? I went down to a key spot – nada. I went up – zilch. But wait… what’s that?
The frog stone set me thinking again. It was the second time a frog had entered the arena for me. Maybe I wasn’t so far off. I hoped that the weather would hold – the temperature was plummeting during the night, but there was little in the way of rain… yet. I was venturing into some territory that might be difficult to extract myself from if a storm hit. Interestingly, by now I had exhausted all of the poem’s coordinates. I used to think that it was simply a question of unlocking these numbers, and they would take you to the treasure. Now, I was beginning to realize that Mr. Fenn expects you to use logic and imagination in spades once you’ve made use of the coordinates. So that’s what I tried to do. And one October morning I alighted from my rental car, walked to the spot my thought processes had indicated, and stared in wonder at a reversed question mark. My photos are not bad, but they can’t convey the clarity with which the 3D image presented itself on site.
Looking from above the reversed question mark is probably the better way to view it:
I knew I had uncovered an important clue, but I had no idea how to use it – and as usual my time was running out. I had to rejoin Val at her sister’s place.
It was on the flight that I thought I had the answer. As soon as I could, I checked coordinates and became convinced that I’d found a potential ending location. The only trouble was that we were talking private land again. I’d learned my lesson on that front, and so I tried to re-plot my next move. Fortunately, my wife and her siblings had more work to do that didn’t involve me, and so I rented another car and drove across three states back to the spot. I checked all possible permutations, and came within a whisker of another bear encounter. I stumbled into a clearing in the trees, saw the disturbed ground and smelled the very pungent odor. I think I was lucky that I’m such a clumsy hunter that there was no way I could have surprised this particular beast. I kept that foray as short as possible, walked back to the car uttering a few choice oaths aimed at the poem’s author, and returned to the hotel to think some more.
That was when it hit. It was a real “duh” moment for me! I had not extended my line from the question mark far enough. The frog had given me the answer. And when I looked online, there it was: the second omega! (I should point out that my “discoveries” are not random, but occur within a few feet of specific coordinates that are derived in one way or another from the poem.) This time the omega was upside down. By now, I had learned to stop assuming that I’d reached the end – despite Google’s suggestions! I’d also noticed that most of the markings I’d found – and was yet to find – are clearly visible on Google Maps, but not on Bing, etc. Food for thought. So, despite this scintillating piece of evidence, I earmarked a couple more places that fit the pattern that was forming for me, before tromping out to the omega.
Of course, there was nothing there, apart from a veiled instruction. Well, that’s not quite accurate. What I did find was this:
Coincidence, quite probably, but it was conveniently pointing toward my next destination. And as I walked back to the car, I came across this interesting skull that has nothing to do with the Chase but makes an interesting photo:
It was what I found at the next destination that was the “aha!” moment for me. When I clambered up to the spot that I’d earmarked as a potential pivotal point, I was met by a pair of stones standing in formation. Bear in mind that the next two photos were taken after I had picked up the stones to examine them. I didn’t replace them as neatly as I found them, but they are roughly as they appeared to me.
Upon examination, the stones, which had a quartz-like core, had been cut to length in order to form a stable triangle, and had been very carefully positioned so that they provided a specific view when looked through. I don’t bend very easily these days, but I managed to get down there and make a mental note of what I saw.
Gradually, things were falling into place, but there was something about the shape formed by the stones that eluded me right then; the answer would arrive later.
There was still much walking to do, and calculations to make, but something was crystalizing in my mind. Exhausted from walking many, many miles in temperatures ranging from the teens to the upper sixties, I returned to my room to think some more. Once again, I thought I had the measure of what was going on, but on my final morning, I failed yet again. I couldn’t quite make the ending stick. I drove away, making it about 250 miles before stopping for the night. And of course, as I pondered my recent finds, I remembered something I’d seen on Google. It was something so obvious that I’d completely ignored it! And it occurred right where my two lines crossed.
As a result, I came up with two possible hiding places and chose… the wrong one. I careened back to the spot, and spent all of 15 minutes checking – with one eye on an approaching storm. It was no good, I’d have to go. But when I Googled the second spot (and its partner), that was when I saw the evidence, as clear as anything I’ve found during the Chase. I won’t say what that evidence is, but it pulls together almost every aspect of the Chase and provides a glimpse into the motivation behind the whole saga. I was tempted to delay my return flight, but with the weather turning and commitments at home, I knew it could wait for another day – even if wild geese are involved…
We (the Geezer Team) believe that the best way to find the treasure is to take Forrest Fenn’s poem at face value and temper that with information provided by Fenn since the poem’s publication. Our approach will also include establishing segments such as A-B wherein A is WWWH and B is the HOB, the HOB and the blaze make up segment B-C, and the blaze and the treasure is segment C-D. We don’t know if our approach is any bettter than other approaches, we just like it.
The first stanza, we believe, is an introduction wherein Fenn is telling us the treasure is hidden in some kind of rock shelter at least as big as himself plus the treasure box, “As I have gone alone in there,”. We’re guessing to getÂ in there, he may have walked in upright, stuped, crawled, or wiggled in. He is also telling us that knowledge of the hiding spot is his alone and safe. Fenn said when he decided to hide a treasure he knew exactly where to do it but how would he know about such a location? We believe it was discovered during approximately 12 summer trips to and from Yellowstone when he was a youth. If you study a highway map from the 1930s you’ll see a major route from Texas to Denver. That route passes right along three of the four major river systems for that part of the Rockies. The three river systems are the Rio Grande, the Arkansas, and the Platte. (Fenn has ruled out the Rio Grande, however). On those long trips away from and back to their Texas home, we believe the Fenn family stopped along the rivers to rest, to camp over night, and to fish for trout. And, there was probably enough leisure time for two exuberant boys to explore, discover, collect artifacts, etc.
In the second stanza, we got started right away on segment A-B. We believe that “Begin it where warm waters halt” is a tributary water way, which flows into a river, and that we have found that tributary. Finding A, of course, is the key to the whole enchilada. The tributary has numerous hot springs making it a warm water source. Then we have: “And take it in the canyon down,” which means the searcher is in a water craft of some kind (canoe, kayak, raft) going with the current and into a canyon. We believe the use of a water craft is confirmed by “put in” (2nd stanza, 4th line) which is a nautical term meaning to land, esp. put in to a port. Alternatively, a 4-wheel drive vehicle with high clearance might be able to be used when this river’s water is low, typically, early spring and late autum. But we don’t know if that’s legal. Now, what about “Not far, but too far to walk.”? How can a destination be both “not far” but also “too far” at the same time? Since the searcher has to go down through a canyon he/she might think why not just walk up on top the river bank. We believe Fenn is telling us (and we observed) that the canyon has sides that are riddled with deep gulches making that kind of endeavour a long hike – up and down, up and down, up and down, etc. thus adding many more miles, and tough ones at that.
“Put in below the home of Brown.” tells us where to stop, where to “Put in”, thus determining segment A-B. It seems like there are two ways to interpret “… home of Brown.”, both require Brown to be capitalized, but for different reasons. The first is that Brown is a proper name wherein the searcher must find a person, place or thing named Brown along the river, in the river, or on top of a bank overlooking the river, etc. We call this the “proper name” scenario The second interpretation is that Brown refers to an animal species; e.g., Brown Bear, Brown Trout. I can hear many folks screaming right now; ” … but, but, but, but the rules of capitalzation …”! And, early on in our quest, we would have been screaming right along with you. However, the capitalization of common species names is now becoming a regular practice. But, this is also a special case allowing Brown to be capitalized to distinguish a common species name from a feature like color. For example, we are saying these are not just trout that are colored brown but are a species with many distiguishing features. We call this the “Brown Trout” scenario, which we will pursue if the “proper name” scenario does not produce the treasure. More discussion on this later.
In searching for point B of segement A-B, we actually found a location with an interesting proper name. The proper name we found is Brownsville! But don’t try to find it on a map because it hasn’t existed for a long time. The town of Brownsville was a ghost town when the Fenn’s visited the area and there is now a different name for that location! That Fenn sure is a sly old fox, but don’t try to baffle the old Geezer Team, buddy boy! Actually, we stumbled into that information, serendipitiously, and went to the old Brownsville cemetary but couldn’t find “any body” named Brown (ha, ha, ha). We discovered later that the Brown in question is in a different cemetary. The old Brownsville town wasn’t quite on the river, but the slope of the land from the town down to the river canyon was sufficient for us to believe that that part of the river is “below the home of Brown.” Further, if a searcher “puts in” on the opposite river bank there is a gulch that kind of fits the next part of the poem.
For segment B-C, Fenn cautions that the going will be tough (“From there it’s no place for the meek,”) and searchers will be in a non-navigable creek (“there’ll be no paddle up your creek,”). We are puzzled, however, by the words “your creek”, why not just say “the creek”. One reason we could think of was that maybe we should be looking for a creek with a name like “Treasure Creek” or “Gold Creek” or “Searchers Creek”, etc. But there are no creeks with names that fit that category in our search area. We are more puzzled by the next line, however: “Just heavy loads and water high.”! Some searchers say the heavy loads could be big boulders and rocks but I hope no one is trying to carry them around! Some searchers say the heavy loads are the treasure box contents, but it hasn’t been found yet since we’re following the poem sequently, as Fenn suggests. Does “water high” mean there’s water further up the gulch, does it mean the water found will be deep, or is it a water feature like a water fall? We know for a fact that this gulch has a wet lands seven miles up from the river and has some small springs along the way but for the most part the gulch is seasonal – intermittent wet and dry. Like a tree that’s been cut down, we’re stumped, so we will move on to the next stanza.
Discovering point C requires finding the blaze, a major element to finding the treasure. Fenn offers little help in the poem simply saying “If you’ve been wise and found the blaze,” which tells us nothing because we already know that the Geezer Team is wise! He has told us, however, that the treasure is not in close proximity to a human trail and that searchers have been within 500 feet! So at .5 miles we got out of the gulch and went 500 feet left and right. Some searchers believe “nigh” means left, so why not just do the left side? Well, we’re having a hard time finding that definition. No matter, if you go one side and don’t find the treasure, you’ll be wise and go on the other side, or go home empty handed. But, when a searcher leaves the gulch what should he/she be looking for as a location? Look for a place that satisfies Fenn’s sensory experience as if he were standing near the treasure hiding spot. Fenn wants to able to see his beloved Rocky Mountains, a river valley, the river, pine trees, and indiginous animals (deer, elk, prong horn, big horn sheep). He wants to smell sage brush, pines, and most of all Pinon Pine, especially when the sap runs thick! To date, we have searched an area approximately .5 mile from the river and 1 mile up, on both sides of the gulch, with no results. Winter is coming on so we will wait until spring 2018 to do the next mile up.
Since the blaze must last 10,000 plus years it can’t be a tree notch, a carving, a cairn, or any thing like that. It can’t rot, rust, or be prone to erosion or being moved in any way. So we are left with something like a natural rock formation or discoloration. But we don’t buy that either. As mentined earlier, Fenn said he knew exactly where to hide the treasure. It is highly improbable, though, that a natural blaze would be in exactly the right place too. We’re guessing that the blaze is something he made, brought in and placed himself. Something meaningful to show the way. Something like, like … Well, figure it out yourself, we can’t have all the fun. The meaning of “If you’ve been wise and found the blaze.” is that since the blaze is man-made, you will know it when you see it, else you are not wise! So now we have a way ahead for segment B-C.
Segment C-D is from the blaze to the treasure and Fenn gives searchers instructions. He says “Look quickly down, your quest to cease.” We believe he means, when a searcher sees the blaze, stop! Moving forward toward the blaze (a natural tendency) will put the searcher out of position to see the chest! Looking down has several interpretations such as look down at your feet, or look south, or look down the trail, or if the blaze is high, just bring your gaze down. We believe it doesn’t matter at this point. When we find the blaze we’ll try anything and everything to find the treasure, even bring in bull dozers, back hoes, construction cranes, jack hammers, etc.!
In the final stanza first line, Fenn urges searchers to listen up with: “So hear me all and listen good,” then: “Your effort will be worth the cold.” and “If you are brave and in the wood”. We believe that the “cold” means that the hiding place is on the north side of some feature, a cliff, rock out-cropping, boulder pile, etc., where the sun never shines. And/or the river and creek waters are always cold! The last sentence of the poem is puzzling. Why does one have to be brave, unless its just a general trait expected of searchers? For “in the wood” we’re guessing Fenn means in the chest, which is lined with Lebanon cedar! For the rest of that sentence and the last line of the poem, “I give you title to the gold.” Fenn has gone weird on us. If we have the chest and its contents we don’t need title from him or anyone else. Unless, unless, … unless all the intended treasure is not in the chest and we have to collect the rest from him or his estate!
A bit about the “Broun Trout” scenario, which we believe is actually a “Brown Trout spawning” scenario. First we have to find a new WWWH for segment A-B, either on this river or another. Next we go down a canyon as before but this time we’re looking for a Brown Trout spawning tributary to begin segment B-C. Once we find the tributary, we are “… below the home of Brown.” and can head up that creek and then explore 500 feet on either side to find the blaze. The phrase “… no place for the meek.” now takes on a new meaning as it refers to the trout swimming up stream to spawn! Females carry approximately 10,000 – 20,000 eggs (Just heavy loads …) which are laid and fertilized in the autum but don’t hatch until the spring when the waters start warming up. The hatch becomes thosands of fry and those that survive become fingerlings which stay in the creek at least a year. Thus, although still non-navigable, the creek must have water all year and be deep enough for spawning (… water high.).
We imagined spawning to go something like this: After swimming up stream, a male trout approaches a female and she says “Wow, you look buff, what’s up big boy!” He says “Yeah, been working out for the spawn. I’m wondering if you’d be interested in a little romance?.” ”I am! I just laid a few thousand eggs over by those rocks in a nest I made. Go knock yourself out, then come back for a cigy-pooh! (Jack Kerouac beatnik slang for cigarette). After which I’ll cover the fertilized eggs with sand and gravel, then we’ll get back to the river. You won’t tell any body about this, will you? I mean, we just met and now we’re having all these kids! A girl has to worry about her reputation.” “Nah, what happens in this creek, stays in this creek.”
The Geezer Team-
Earlier this year ABC Nightline contacted Forrest, Cynthia and me about a story the network news folks wanted to produce on Forrest’s treasure and the searchers who go after it.
Forrest agreed, Cynthia agreed and so did I. The logistical problem of a story like this for the producers includes the fact that the search covers four mountain states and searchers are widespread in their opinion about which of those states the chest actually resides in. So if you, as a producer are covering this chase with two searchers and an interview with Forrest you could end up sending camera crews and reporters to New Mexico for an interview with Forrest and two other states to cover the search by two searchers. If I decide to look in Montana in fall and Cynthia decides to look in Colorado in spring and Forrest wants to do the interview when his new book comes out…that’s a lot of trips for one 15 minute story. It takes time and money to cover at least three different locations at differing times of the year with a three or 4 person crew each time. The big networks have the resources to take that kind of story in stride. Independent filmmakers would rather film a single searcher and Forrest both in New Mexico and within a few days of one another. One trip, one crew…get ‘er done.
If a producer should be so unlucky as to plan on filming a searcher who thinks the chest is located inside Yellowstone National Park…a whole new level of problems presents itself. For instance, Yellowstone National Park doesn’t want to encourage searchers inside the park and they will send staff to oversee the film crew and searcher, much like a prison guard at Alcatraz. You have to search within a quarter mile of a road…and many more restrictions for searchers being filmed.
On the other hand an independent filmmaker and searcher might just slip into the park unnoticed and “get er done”. As illegal as that might be, the story gets shot and the park is unlikely to notice. BUT…if the producer does get caught it can lead to arrest and fines…even permanent banishment from entering a national park. So folks who know the rules usually choose not to break them. The cost is too severe if things go awry.
The plan was for us to meet the ABC crew on September 18th for filming in or around the park. Esmerelda, Kathy and I left for Yellowstone on September 14th. It was beautiful the day we packed up. I heard some hooting in the woods and knew one of the critters that inhabit our woods was wondering what was going on.
BARRED OWL IN OUR WOODS
Along the way we stopped near Arco, Idaho at Craters of the Moon National Monument for a walk and a look/see. This was a good time to visit. Dead of summer this place can be uncomfortably (miserably) hot and walking around on black lava rock when it’s 96 degrees is not my characterization of “a good time”. But it’s a unique micro environment and terribly interesting.
CRATERS OF THE MOON
I like getting down on my hands and knees to look for small things. I ran directly into this guy:
I’m not superstitious but I have to tell you…between the Barred Owl and the Horned Lizard I was beginning to feel like we were favored. If this was the way we were starting out, the rest of the trip could be fortunate indeed!
Since starting her search, Cynthia had been looking in New Mexico. She has written some great stories about her searches there and I highly recommend you read them on this very blog. She is a riveting writer and a fantastic searcher. Her stories will entertain and inform you. But, for a variety of reasons Cynthia wanted to search up near Yellowstone. She had never been there before, not even as a tourist and there were things she wanted to check out. So Cynthia, her partner Michelle and their dog Molly packed up and headed north. Tom and Coreda and their dog Ming, who were visiting Cynthia and Michelle also headed toward the park. That was great. I had not seen Tom and Coreda since Fennboree.
We were a big contingent. Including the 3 crew from Nightline and my wife Kathy, we would be nine people and two bronze-sniffing dogs. That chest was not going to escape this time!
As it turned out, only Cynthia, Molly and myself would be searching on camera. The question was whether we should search together in one place to make it easier on the Nightline crew or should we each search in a different location? AND…should we search inside the park or outside the park? I had ideas for both…where to search???
Another concern was snow. Winter was moving in and nobody wanted to get caught in a snowstorm while searching. It would send the wrong message to other searchers and anyway nobody looks dignified on camera while slipping and sliding around. As Kathy and I drove the loop road in Yellowstone we saw snow in the hills:
SNOW IN THE PARK
ELK IN SNOW
By the next morning the snow was gone. On the 17th of September Cynthia and I met up for some looking around West Yellowstone, finding a few Forrest Fenn memorable locations and planning our search.
BISON IN THE PARK
We decided to search together but outside the park. I was particularly interested in an area around Grayling Creek I had not been able to examine. So we made plans to look there.
Grayling Creek has interested me for several years. The clues can take me to a number of places on that lovely creek and I know Forrest fished here.
I wrote earlier about searching on Grayling Creek in Grayling Creek Part One and Part Two on this blog. They can be found HERE
The creek starts in the park and winds its way west down to Hebgen Lake. It is one of many creeks I was investigating along the line of “There’ll be no paddle up your creek”
So here are the major points of the solution we were following:
WWWH = Madison Junction
Canyon Down = Madison Canyon
HOB = Baker’s Hole Campground
WAIT!!! Stop there…Why is Baker’s Hole the Home of Brown…?
That might be the worst fishing hole on the Madison. I’ve never seen anyone lift a fish from that spot. So it can’t be because of Brown trout.
Wellllll….We were using some old information that has been around this blog and others for many years. Namely that Baker’s Hole has not always been known by that name. You can see this for yourself on a 1912 Map of Gallatin County which is easily found on the internet.
Click HERE to go to the 1912 map.
You can see on that map where Baker’s Hole is today was once known as Brown’s Camp. Not too far below Baker’s Hole is Hebgen Lake…Hebgen Lake has a number of Creeks flowing into it and I have been checking them out as potential “No paddle up you creek” type places. By the way that map was also drawn by Fred Brown. I have not been able to find out if he was the Brown of Brown’s Camp…Maybe someone smarter than me can look into that…
In earlier years I had looked at the lower portion of Grayling downstream of the old Culligan Ranch to the lake. I have also looked upstream at the stretch between the Culligan Ranch and the waterfall. Much of this stretch is on private land and I had obtained permission before venturing in. Now, Cynthia and I were hoping to search the stretch between Hwy 191 downstream to somewhere above the waterfall. Our emphasis would be on the high elevation meadow along the north side of Grayling Creek. This stretch is completely on public land.
In particular there is a large open meadow on level ground where animals (In my mind) would congregate for grazing and watering. It looked to be a pretty place…somewhere maybe Forrest might choose to be his final resting place. Isolated, but not remote.
We met the ABC crew on the evening of the 17th around a campfire at Cynthia’s cabin, down the road from the park. The crew staged Cynthia and me at a picnic table looking over maps and discussing our search plans for the next day. It was here that they interviewed us prior to the search.
PLANNING THE NEXT DAY’S SEARCH
The next morning the crew and Cynthia met at my cabin in West Yellowstone. From there we headed up 191 about five miles to where Grayling Creek goes under the highway. The day was overcast but still and comfortable. Perfect hiking weather. Cynthia and I watched as the crew prepped their film gear and armed us with wireless microphones. Then we headed out, five humans and one ambitious dog.
Cynthia always searches with her dog Molly, who seems to really enjoy snuffling around in the sage and wildflowers. She also has no problem wading in hypothermic trout streams.
MOLLY & CYNTHIA WALKING THE CREEK
The weather was spectacular and the meadow was beautiful. A perfect place to come and enjoy animals, the smells of pine, peace, and a beautiful trout stream. I had high hopes…EXCEPT…what Blaze????
This is almost always my dilemma. I get to a spot but cannot identify the next clue…in this case, the mysterious blaze. If I had been by myself I would have explored the place and then left…blazeless.
But Cynthia saw it right away. She was not coy about it at all. “There is the blaze”, she shouted, and five humans and one dog marched quickly toward her large, bold blaze, high on a cliff at the end of the meadow.
THE BLAZE IN THE DISTANCE HIGH ON A CLIFF FACE
As we were parading toward the blaze Cynthia stopped to investigate a willow thicket mid-meadow. To our surprise, inside was a partly camouflaged and very recently killed deer. Frighteningly fresh. That morning perhaps. It made what’s left of the hair on my head bristle. I knew exactly what we were looking at. I had seen a hidden type of cache like this about forty years ago while filming a documentary with the Craighead brothers.
The Craigheads were considered the crowned princes of Grizzly bear research and in the process of filming with them over several days they had taken me to a number of bear “locations” during the fall and winter. In addition to a bear den we had also visited a bear food cache. It looked uncomfortably like what we were now staring at. What I didn’t know and what concerned me most was where the owner was. The bear could be very close by. If the griz saw us messing with his food there would be hell to pay. I stepped back from the cache. I quickly glanced around 360 degrees. My nervous system was on high alert. I thought that if I were a bear I would have headed to high ground to keep an eye out for anything approaching my food.
The best we could hope for was a napping bear. I did not want to alarm anyone. We were having too much fun. I moved away from the cache and quietly mentioned tp Cynthia what I figured we were looking at. No bear revealed itself. I held tightly onto my thoughts and moved toward the blaze while keeping my eyes peeled for anything large and furry.
CYNTHIA’S WILLOW THICKET IN THE BACKGROUND
As we crossed the meadow to the blaze and ventured into Lodgepole Pine thickets near the creek I yelled out “HEY BEAR!”, just so we wouldn’t surprise any napping or foraging grizzly.
Finally, we stood underneath the blaze and looked quickly down. Cynthia saw the perfect hiding spot for Indulgence. A boulder that had peeled off the rock cliff hundreds, or perhaps thousands of years ago. It was trenched under at one end. Possibly as a shelter for some previous dweller…a badger or weasel or coyote. Molly was interested in the hiding place too. It was an exciting moment. Cynthia encouraged Molly to get into that den…Molly sniffing and getting excited…Cynthia and the crew adrenalized with the possibilities in front of us…me swiveling my head watching for bears…
A GOOD HIDEY PLACE
After both Molly and Cynthia had explored the den and found nothing of significance we gave the area a thorough walk through, looking for any other possible hidey spots or smaller blazes while the crew filmed our every consideration. We noticed that there were no trails in the area and we saw no others in our luscious meadow the whole day. Not even a fisher on Grayling Creek. It seemed like such a perfect place. I thought about spreading my tarp here and spending the night anyway.
After spending a further hour scouring the edges and creekside…nothing was discovered and we reluctantly headed back to the highway and our vehicles.
I have to say that I really enjoyed searching with Cynthia. She is very respectful of the landscape and very appreciative of a beautiful meadow and trout stream. We had a great time. Cynthia is enthusiastic, agile and walks fast…so be warned if you have the opportunity to keep up with her…and Molly is a hoot…Always quiet and always observing as much as possible whatever is around her. Great hiking buddies.
You can read Cynthia’s version of this search HERE
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
I am sure that this theory or process has been brought to light before; none-the-less, I am putting it out there with my own insight and reasoning.
This entire post is IMO and I will endeavor to back up any FF quotes, assertions, etc. where/when possible.
As the title line states, I will be breaking FF’s poem down into 9 sentences based solely upon the punctuation that FF himself has provided us with.
That being said, this is how the poem looks as 9 sentences:
As I have gone alone in there and with my treasures bold, I can keep it where, and hint of riches new and old.
Begin it where warm waters halt, and take it in the canyon down, not far, but too far to walk.
Put in below the home of Brown.
From there it’s no place for the meek, the end is ever drawing nigh; there’ll be no paddle up your creek, just heavy loads and water high.
If you’ve been wise and found the blaze, look quickly down, your quest to cease but tarry scant with marvel gaze, just take the chest and go in peace.
So why is it that I must go and leave my trove for all to seek?
The answers I already know I’ve done it tired and now I am weak.
So listen all and hear me good, your effort will be worth the cold.
If you are brave and in the wood I give you title to the gold.
*I must add that with the exception of the word “Brown”, which FF himself capitalized in his poem, I have only capitalized the first word in each of the sentences derived from FF’s poem.
For those who are new to TTOTC, I will be using abbreviations and terms that have evolved within this treasure hunting community (and, in hindsight, I have already used some above) and will attempt to define those for you below or when such are first used within my post. This list is not exhaustive and so far includes the following:
FF = Forrest Fenn (the master wordsmith who has set us all to the task of finding his hidden treasure)
TTOTC = The Thrill of the Chase (a book by FF in which he includes an untitled poem which leads to a treasure he hid somewhere) (Also the “feelings” which we searches experience while looking for the treasure)
Indulgence = the name given to the treasure hidden by FF
BOTG = Boots on the Ground (the act of physically going to a location and actively searching for Indulgence)
Stanza = a group of lines forming the basic recurring metrical unit in a poem (FF’s poem is said to have 6 stanzas consisting of 4 lines per stanza)
IMO = In My Opinion
ATF = Unknown to this writer so including it more as a question (I think it means After the Fact)
Sometimes as I am breaking down FF’s poem, I will be referencing lines in his stanzas by capitalizing the first letter of each word in said line. For example, if the line I am about to reference/dissect reads “begin it where warm waters halt” I will refer to it as BIWWWH, and further refer to subsections by similar means (for example, WWWH is simply Where Warm Waters Halt, a subsection of the line currently being discussed).
I have primarily used the 1828 online version of Webster’s Dictionary to identify each word’s part of speech and associated definition, as well as other various internet dictionaries to further identify and define words as needed (for example, some words were not defined in the 1828 version so I had to look elsewhere). I have not further researched word origins and/or translated them to/from any other language as to do such may be, IMO, going against the spirit of FF’s quote that “…Knowing about head pressures, foot pounds, …” (Tarry Scant website ID# 2775) et al. Also, to do such is an undertaking I am not yet prepared to embark upon at this time as my current work (this document) consumes a lot of my time & mental resources. 🙂
At the end of each breakdown I will have a TRANSLATION from “Fenn-ese” (Fenn-ese = The written and/or expressed word or words as used and understood by Forrest Fenn) to “Bowmarc-ese” (Bowmarc-ese = Bowmarc’s interpretation(s) of Fenn-ese). 🙂
Before I begin, I wanted to state that I am not an English professor, and confess that the subject was one I was loath to conform to (perhaps much like FF?) and one of my worst subjects throughout my entire educational endeavors. That being said, my use of grammar, punctuation, spelling, terminology, etc. are just to the best of my ability and understanding and not intended to flaunt my education level (or lack thereof) and are intended to convey meaning, provide food for thought, articulate a point, beat a dead horse, etc. and not intended as a platform to belittle or talk down to anyone and I hereby apologize to anyone who takes offense to anything I have written and/or to how it is written. In other words, I am just trying to be thorough, logical, etc. and apologize if any reader takes offense for how I am doing so.
With all that being said, here goes:
Sentence #1 is “As I have gone alone in there and with my treasures bold, I can keep it where, and hint of riches new and old.” = All hints and an opening statement about what is being done and what must be done. FF has to provide his reader with an introduction to his poem as well as giving his reader some information regarding the poem’s purpose, which sentence #1 does.
As = an adverb meaning that or while.
I = a pronoun for myself. NOTES: marks a distinction between the speaker (or writer in this case) and another person
Have = transitive verb meaning to possess/Marry/regard/maintain (maintain meaning affirm). NOTES: is this the past tense and does that really matter?
Gone = passive participle meaning departed/advanced/ruined; (abstractly) departed from life. NOTES: As FF is currently not deceased, I don’t feel the abstract definition is applicable.
Alone = adjective meaning single/without company/only NOTES: FF as affirmed on several occasions that he was by himself when he hid the treasure and that he is the only one who knows where it is hidden so I won’t reference a specific quote at this time, but perhaps a little ATF. 🙂
In = preposition meaning surrounded by limits.
There = adverb meaning in that place/thither/to that point or ends.
And = conjunction meaning further.
With = preposition meaning in connection.
My = pronoun and/or adjective meaning belonging to me.
Treasures = noun meaning wealth accumulated/particularly a stock or store of money in reserve/a great quantity of anything collected for future use; transitive verb meaning to hoard/collect/reposit. NOTES: an “s” is added to either make plural nouns or to form the 3rd person singular of the present simple tense (I work, you work, he works)—treasures, IMO, is not a 3rd person singular therefore the noun definition/usage is more favorable than the transitive verb definition/usage, therefore the “s” makes the noun treasure plural.
Bold = adjective meaning forward/prominent/daring/executed with spirit/without fear; transitive verb meaning to make daring. NOTES: the transitive verb definition is archaic. As an adjective we need to determine what noun bold is referring to—since there is a conjunction (and) earlier in this sentence, everything before the “and” is a separate clause from everything after the “and”, therefore bold has to refer to something in the second clause, leaving treasures as the subject of the adjective bold. (*However, see translation #2 later on)
, (Comma) = punctuation mark that indicates a pause in a sentence, denotes a slight break between different parts of a sentence, or separates items in a list. Used properly, commas make the meaning of a sentence clear by grouping and separating words, phrases, and clauses.
I = pronoun meaning myself.
Can = noun meaning cup or vessel; transitive verb meaning to be able to / to have means. NOTES: pretty sure it is not meaning a cup or vessel.
Keep = transitive verb meaning to hold / to have in custody for security / to preserve (from falling or damage) / to tend / to maintain
My = pronoun and/or adjective meaning belonging to me.
Secret = an adjective meaning properly, separate, hence hid/concealed from notice or knowledge of all persons except the individual(s) concerned/removed from sight/not proper, hence ought to be kept from observation; a noun meaning something studiously concealed/a mystery; a verb meaning to keep private. NOTES: KMSW could mean I, FF, am going to keep my private place to myself (more loosely “translated” FF is saying I can keep my secret place secret)(While I dislike defining a word/phrase using a word that is to be defined, I feel “I can keep my secret place secret” translates FF’s line fairly well and may be the first time I have translated said line thusly and/or read of it being translated thusly). In other words, “secret where” is a thing (his secret someplace), not a reference to the treasure being someplace. In more other words, the line can be read “I can keep my secret where.” as in I have the resolve to not reveal my private spot under any circumstances (well, except I can and did hint of it).
Where = an adverb meaning at which place or places/whither (whither = absolutely/to what point or degree); a pronoun meaning what place/the place in which; a noun meaning a place.
, (Comma) = punctuation mark that indicates a pause in a sentence, denotes a slight break between different parts of a sentence, or separates items in a list. Used properly, commas make the meaning of a sentence clear by grouping and separating words, phrases, and clauses.
And = conjunction meaning further.
Hint = a transitive verb meaning to bring to mind by slight mention or remote allusion/to allude to; intransitive verb meaning to mention slightly; a noun meaning a word or two intended to give notice, or remind one of something without a full declaration or explanation.
Of = a preposition meaning proceeding from (proceeding = participle present tense meaning moving forward/passing on/issuing/transacting/carrying on).
Riches = a noun meaning wealth/possession of land, good, or money in abundance/a splendid, sumptuous appearance; a plural noun meaning abundant and valuable possessions
New = adjective meaning lately made/modern, not ancient; not familiar with
And = conjunction meaning further.
Old = adjective meaning having been long made/ancient; in vulgar language, crafty or cunning
. (Period) = punctuation mark indication a full stop/expresses the finality of what is being said (written).
TRANSLATION 1 = While I (FF) affirm that I once departed into a place with limits in no one’s company but indeed with a prominent collection of items of value belonging to me, I myself am able to maintain private knowledge of a place known as such to me, while also (herein) being able to make slight mention of an abundance of valuable possessions that are lately made or ancient.
NOTES REGARDING TRANSLATION 1 = FF has been quoted as responding to a question about the rules of capitalization being properly followed in his poem with “Whose Rules, ChicagoDave?” (Tarry Scant website ID #3216) so one may also assume that the proper rules of punctuation, etc. are equally questioned by FF in whole or in part. That being said, and for that reason, I give you Translation #2 below.
TRANSLATION 2 = While I (FF) affirm that I once departed with strength of resolve and purpose into a place with limits in no one’s company but indeed with a prominent collection of items of value belonging to me, I myself am able to maintain private knowledge of a place known as such to me, while also (herein) being able to make slight mention of an abundance of valuable possessions that are lately made or ancient.
NOTES REGARDING TRANSLATION 2 = In this version I allude to FF possibly using bold to refer back to himself in the clause before the “and” as well as, in the interest of space, also still alluding to the treasure as bold (prominent). A lot of chatter online about double meanings and this is an example of such (albeit obscurely) i.e. using the word bold to describe himself and the treasure with one usage of the word.
That’s about the end of my current line of thinking regarding line one of FF’s poem when such is broken down into 9 sentences. My plans are to post my thoughts on each of the 9 sentences at a pace of about 1 sentence a week, give or take a few days. I am well into completing my take on BIWWWH so it may be forthcoming sooner than later.
Thanks for reading and commenting.