Orilla Verde…


Submitted march 2014


Orilla Verde — The Slide Trail

Begin it where warm waters halt – Manby Hot Springs. This hot springs is just north of the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge near Taos. This was the starting point of my search (Forrest always asks searchers where their WWWH is located because that is the beginning , although I do believe the previous lines contain hints). I did not physically start there because The Slide Trail that I wanted to hike was more easily accessible by road if you drove there from Pilar.

And take it in the canyon down, Not far, but too far to walk.—The Slide Trailhead is about 12 miles downstream from Manby Hot Springs via the Rio Grande River gorge. However, one can drive to the trailhead and park their car there via the Orilla Verde Recreation area.



Put in below the home of Brown. – The high, rugged hills above the confluence of the Rio Grande and Rio Pueblo de Taos (at The Slide Trailhead) is an area known for the herd of Brown bighorn sheep that usually graze in this area.


From there it’s no place for the meek, — The Slide Trail follows the old Rt 110, which was part of a spur of The Old Spanish Trail, which is described as “… the longest, crookedest, most arduous pack mule route in the history of America…”

The end is ever drawing nigh — to me, this meant two things: follow the river/stream/creek that was to the left of the confluence of the rivers (if going downstream from Manby Hot Springs) where I “put in below the home of Brown, and secondly, that The Blaze and the end of your search isn’t too far away.

There’ll be no paddle up your creek,  – The word “creek”  indicates a smaller stream than the Rio Grande, so I see it as a clue to follow the Rio Pueblo de Taos (upstream from the confluence) instead of the Rio Grande. In fact, it is so narrow and full of boulders that no one could ever paddle up this creek.


Just heavy loads and water high. – The heavy loads could mean the pack mules that used to travel this route and the area of boulders (the Slide) that covers a small section of the trail. And water high could mean the various ravines and gullies that cross the trail and what probably caused the Rock Slide.


If you’ve been wise and found the blaze – the previous clues took me to the blaze, which I think was the Slide area. It should stand the test of time and be visible hundreds of years from now. I also thought the bigger blaze could be The Old Spanish Trail itself. Then you can narrow that blaze down to the Slide, and the real blaze of all blazes was the owl (wise) petroglyph / fossil-looking mark on the big, white boulder “blaze” that stood out amongst all the other boulders along the trail in the rock-slide. At this point, my adrenalin was raging—I thought I was so close.






My owl blaze


Look quickly down, your quest to cease – I looked on the downhill side of the trail towards the river (creek). It was not too steep, and it wouldn’t have been too difficult to get to the river. Forrest should have been able to carry the chest (especially making 2 trips) from the parking area at the trailhead to this location (probably less than half a mile). Plus, it is also a bike trail which I took note of when a fellow on a bike passed me (Forrest stated in an email to Dal’s blog “what is wrong with me just riding my bike out there and throwing it in the water high when I am through with it”. This was his (Forrest’s) response about dying near the treasure chest.


But tarry scant with marvel gaze, Just take the chest and go in peace… Your effort will be worth the cold. – the word cold indicates you need to wade across the creek


If you are brave and in the wood I give you title to the gold. – The word brave indicates Indian, and this side of the creek is part of the Taos Pueblo Tract A land. In the wood refers to trees, “not in a tree but surrounded by trees.”  There was a grove of junipers or pinons along the river at this particular place. However, I didn’t see this grove of trees as being “a special place” to Forrest, so I looked near the owl blaze boulder for a more “special place”.


Nearby was a beautiful grove of aspens, nestled in a gully that often had a pool of water near the trail, with rock outcroppings and huge boulders all around.  To me, this was a special place in an area that is otherwise very arid and desolate with few trees. There were plenty of spaces beneath the outcroppings where the treasure chest could be hidden, and he could die near it, without being seen, unless you are really looking for him/it.



Is that a boulder of an owl face? Another blaze?!

Is that a boulder of an owl face? Another blaze?!

I spent an hour searching around the aspens, boulders, and rock outcroppings but could not locate the treasure chest. Not a big surprise, though, as this area has been searched by many previous ff treasure hunters over the last 3 to 4 years. However, most of us searchers know that the real treasure was my day spent outside in the beautiful weather and scenery, another day in The Thrill of the Chase.

I am done searching this particular trail and will move on to my next search area next week. (Also in NM)

I hope some of you searchers enjoyed reading about my search area as much as I do reading yours. Good luck and be safe!



28 thoughts on “Orilla Verde…

  1. Hi Cynthia, I loved reading this post. I really thought you were on to something. I haven’t been searching yet this year. Too cold for my thin AZ. blood. I’m getting a new hip put in the first week of April, so I probably won’t be able to make my next trip till sometime this Summer. I hope all is well. Best wishes, Frank

  2. I could feel your adrenalin rush, Cynthia!
    Most times it is our first trip searching, but any time we feel that we have solved each clue our hearts pound in our chest.
    Such an incredible thrill Mr. Fenn has presented all of us!
    Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  3. Great story Cynthia, thanks for sharing. I really enjoy reading other searcher’s stories and their logic. I find your owl rock really interesting. What in the world is the blaze.

    Even though it’s a popular spot, and your search didn’t turn up anything, it could still be there……..500 feet one way or the other apparently makes a big difference.

  4. Wonderful story Cynthia and it sure did seem to fit the clues well! I bet you were really excited to see how every line of the poem seemed to work with the area where you were searching! It convinced me that it could be the right place, especially after seeing the owls! 🙂 Good luck to you in your next search.

  5. Cynthia, loved the story! Have to admit, I was holding my breath there for a few moments! The special thing about F’s poem, is the secret way he secretly built it to secretly say the clues so they secretly fit everyone’s secret spot, almost. Too bad it wasn’t this spot. To me, his “secret spot” is something that…meant a lot to him, has been in his heart along time, and where he has created a lot of fond memories. Keep up the faith! Good luck in New Mexico!


  6. Frank, Email me later if you still want to hook up this summer to do a search together. Good luck with your surgery.

    • Cynthia, so sorry it took so long to reply to you. I’ve been involved in a project here & am behind in everything. Yes I would like to do a search with you this Summer. Somehow I have managed to misplace your e-mail address. Hopefully you still have my card with mine. I look forward to hearing from you so we can start planning. Happy Monday.

  7. Cynthia great story when you said “is that another picture of an Owl” look close at the rock it looks like a MAN SLEEPING OR A DEAD MAN, could ff had found this and pictured himself dead and that could be the blaze ? To me it looks like A DEAD MAN most likely from the rock slide. You could be on something. The woods look sick to me thought,unlike the woods in Massachusetts.

  8. Incredible journey, Cynthia. Love how you detailed your adventure as well as your uncanny matches to the poem. Thanks for sharing!

  9. Good to see people actually listened to my solve I posted here. Followed ALMOST exactly. So close…

  10. Thank you Cynthia. Nicely done. Glad to know others are moving with confidence in their searches. Sorry you did not find the treasure, but your photos show that you clearly had a glorious day. Unfortunately, solving this poem does not mean you found the solution. As all of us can attest.

  11. Thanks to you all for your kind words and encouragement. Stay tuned for my next story of last week’s search in the Jemez Mts, NM. It was a 2-dayer due to unexpected discoveries during my first day at the primary search area. Whereas the Orilla Verde search was in an arid area in part of the Rio Grande Gorge, this adventure took place in actual mountains. Forrest said in TTOTC pg 4, “My church is in the mountains and along the river bottoms where dreams and fantasies alike go to play.”

  12. Cynthia,
    Thank you for posting your wonderful story. I always thought the Mamby Hot Springs fit the perfect definition of the WWWH. That part of NM is really cool! And many know I am partial to owl blazes so I must admit I love your blaze!
    The Wolf

  13. Cynthia I too had thought you found it so close and yet so far. My dream is to find it, leave some use some and take a bunch of my students that are following my progress backto rediscover the Thrill of the chase. Your writing style was perfect. But the pictures help others see what we see as we search. Too bad they can’t smell the desert or feel the air or hear the sounds of the spirits watching over us as we search. I think this is what pilgrimage means. Thank you. I’m sorry you did not have the joy of the find but thrilled in the effort. Karen Ruth kschnuellruth@yahoo.com

  14. Another wonderfully laid out search. Thanks for the great pics. I feel like I’m traveling on the trip by just reading about it. I wonder who will be compiling everyone’s adventures and publishing a book. That would be as fascinating as the the mystery of the poem itself. I can hardly wait to go on my adventure and report on it.

  15. I personally think the WWH is referring to the water coming into the Rio Grand gorge down from Colorado where it goes from cold to warm. Its too spectacular, whereas a lot of other places seem to obscure. Hi there, have you considered the home of Brown to be the brown pueblos from the Indians (not the indians themselves) as they are homes and have stood the test of time? To me that seems so obvious. They have been there for centuries and they aren’t going anywhere. Despite the fact that your house of Brown was different, you still seem to be in the exact right area. I can’t come to NM and search around, so I have to live vicariously through others. I find the next stanza after the house of brown tricky. My first thought of not being for the meek, was that meek people are humble and bowed down, so you have to go up, another interpretation would be the rapids. The end is drawing nigh, seemed to be a way of saying take the path to the end. The idea of no paddle high up your creek, sounds like a dry creek bed, which may follow the old road you took up the mountains. Heavy loads (packhorses) and water high (my first thought is a lake on the mountain, but its hard to tell from here, where everything is situated. Anyway, I think you found the blaze with the petroglyph, its perfect. I mean “if you are wise and found the blaze” absolutely fits. I am convinced the blaze can’t be anything that is not going to stand the test of time, like trees, signs, an animal. I think a blaze is a marker, and petroglyphs will be there for the ages. I think a lightning strike on rock would also do, but your owl fits better. I really think you were on to something with going down to the trees on the Taos Indian side of the land. The word said, if you be “brave” which is another word for Indian, and has a double meaning…because you have to be brave to go on that land. I know the area has been searched, but I think the treasure has been missed. I was disappointed that you moved on so quickly to a new location, and didn’t seem to investigate things further. I’m really thinking this is some little cavern in the ground, perhaps a cave with beautiful stallactites or something, that you can just see down into. I like the idea of a waterfall but Forrest says you can’t cheat and just go to the end and find this thing, and my bet is that every waterfall in this area, or Yellowstone has been searched. So unless you find a hidden waterfall, I’m thinking a cave or cavern. Anyway, I think you were almost there, I think you found the blaze, maybe others have to. I think you should go back and keep looking for the next part in the poem. People in this search seem to either be looking at extremely obscure things that won’t stand the test of time, or give up as soon as they hit a road block. I think you could find it!

      • Thanks for your vote of confidence. I gave up searching this area because I couldn’t figure out why it would be his “special place”.

        I do agree with you that the search area should include pine trees, pinon trees, and sagebrush. I think he did mean to say PINON nuts, but then realized later that eliminates some of the search areas on the highlighted map in TFTW. My search area still includes all three…just in a different area of NM. I’ve been searching my new area since January and have done many searches after the snow melted. Forrest has been telling me I should post my stories on this blog but I didn’t want to give away my solves at the time. So now I’m making a movie that includes my search area and solutions…and the whole world can see it come middle of August. It will be free to view somewhere. (Don’t want people to get upset thinking I’m doing this to make money.)


  16. Also Forrest accidently seemed to let it slip that if you were where the treasure is then you would see Pinion pines, and a whole bunch of other things. Later on in that interview he said he regretted saying something but didn’t say what. Pinion pines are in this area of the rockies, and up into CO, but not in yellowstone at all.

    • I was there this week, the plant life is much more lush than shown. Especially at the confluence of the river. I believe that every tree and bush mentioned by ff was there. I am more intereste in the group of trees just across the Rio Pueblo near the Sunset rapids. It is a portion of land that may be owned by the BLM as part of the Orilla Verde Recreational Area. Right now the water is flowing fast, so it may be impassable for now to cross the Rio Pueblo.

    • Amy,
      Actually he did say what he regretted in a later interview. The phrase was something about smelling pine needles and pinion “nuts”. He later retracted and said that made no sense because you can’t “smell” nuts.

      Even if this was a clue (not IMO) it doesn’t really narrow the search area significantly.

    • Pinion Pines are found in between the elevations of 4500 – 9300 feet. But generally below 7500 ft bordering the mountain pines and others.

      Apparently the Pinion Pine was the giveaway of something that eliminated a certain area?.

      I think it really only gave a max peak altitude for him to give away.

      I have found numerous maps that all show the same tree growing almost through the entire search map, but according to some they are more sparcely mixed with other foliage in different areas.

      I will stick to the demographics and altitude being above 5000, and below 7500 with the new info

  17. But doesn’t pinion nuts indicate pinion pines (I’m from Canada, so I know nothing about pinion anything), which would narrow the search area down significantly to NM and a bit of Colorado? Again, I don’t know much about Pinion pines but someone posted a map showing that they only grew in those places. Also Cynthia, did you really not look in that grouping of trees down from your owl blaze? Even if you don’t think that is FF’s secret place, you should check it out to be sure. Sometimes you can’t see things until you are right up close to them. Yours is the best blaze I’ve seen so far, you should go back and really check it out. Perhaps there is something hidden there you might not expect from a distance. I’ve heard of openings to underground caverns that you can’t see at all until you are nearly on top of them, they just look like a bunch of rocks. Who knows whats near those trees!

  18. Cynthia; you are so close: Riches new and old, Bold, and Peace! Pinon Nuts within the elevation- View of the Mountains, and an abundance of animals. However; ff writes and responds; “What surprises me a little is that nobody to my uncertain knowledge has analyzed one important possibility related to the winning solve.” I am leaning towards the Public Land abbreviations on his map: BLM USFS, NPS, FWS, and Tribal. Where within or on what property line would his treasure be secure for years? Once you see the Blaze Marker, “Entering tribal lands.” A treasure at this marker would be in “high regards.” Find your “put in;” a navigational place for rafting kayaking … and this will lead you up the creek with no paddle.

  19. “What surprises me a little is that nobody to my uncertain knowledge has analyzed one important possibility related to the winning solve.” FF

    Here is my suggestion, in regards to the line in the poem – “The end is ever drawing nigh; There’ll be no paddle up your creek, Just heavy loads and water high.”

    I am believing this might tell us don’t explore up the creek. Don’t go any any further. So, right before the creek, “‘If you’ve been wise and found the blaze’

    The creek would be a landmark, and if you arrived there the Blaze was passed by.

    Somewhere, FF did say, that someone was within the search area. (sic)

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