Submitted June 2014
by THE CHIPMUNK
Late February I figured out what seemed to be the perfect interpretation of the poem. The solve aligns nicely with the clues in a rather straightforward way and led me to a Yellowstone waterfall. No messing with the poem, no hidden numbers and no cryptic hidden codes. I hope you will enjoy reading my interpretation and search story.
Begin it by Yellowstone lake. The water from numerous hot springs, some along the beach, some submerged, halt here. I even got confirmation from a nine year old that warm waters halt here. Then take it in the Grand Canyon down. It is possible to walk into the Grand Canyon to the Sevenmile Hole. It might be possible to crawl, tumble, wriggle or abseil further down the canyon, but you certainly cannot walk due to the steep and often unstable canyon sides. A little downstream from the Sevenmile Hole is the confluence of Glade Creek and the Yellowstone River. The Authors of the book “The Guide to Yellowstone Waterfalls and Their Discovery” calls the side canyon containing Glade Creek for Valhalla. Valhalla is a giant hall which is the home of the Norse god Odin. This Norse god was referred to by over 200 names, one of which were Bruní, which means Brown. Most of Odin’s 200 names would point searchers in the direction of Valhalla after a quick google search. Brown, however, would be difficult, but not impossible, to associate with this place. A man with an alligator named Beowulf could certainly use North European mythology at other instances as well. So put in below Valhalla, the home of Brown.
In Norse mythology, the bravest warriors would be selected by female figures called valkyries and taken to Valhalla after falling in combat. This was the only way for humans to get there. Valhalla is no place for the meek.
The end is ever drawing nigh, so turn left and head up along Glade Creek into Valhalla. The first feature to be met along the creek is the Realms of the Dead Falls. This gives the statement about the end drawing nigh a second, confidence building meaning. As we move through Valhalla, Glade Creek splits into several Forks, some of them unmapped. The poem tells us that there are heavy loads and water high up our creek. Heavier loads than those of a citadel are rarely found, with respect to both walls and ammunition. The Citadel of Asgard Falls combines these heavy loads with water high. According to the aforementioned book, this world class waterfall was first documented in the late nineties. In my hypothesis, a Texan fighter pilot might have discovered it earlier…
The introduction to the poem says it will lead us to the end of Forrest’s rainbow. Again according to Norse mythology, the rainbow ends in Asgard. I laughed when this last piece of the puzzle fell in to place. I also laughed when I parked by the Glacial Boulder/Inspiration Point to walk alone in there.
It’s a 5.5 mile hike from the trailhead to the Citadel of Asgard Falls. Most of it is along the Washburn Spur Trail, but the last half mile is off-trail. Bringing a map, compass, GPS and a sandwich was obvious. Accidentally there was also a flashlight in my backpack. It had been there since last time I went on a multi-day hike and the batteries were flat, but I kept it in the backpack as an amulet. After all, Forrest told us to bring one. I also packed some warm clothes and a rain jacket – although the sun was shining – and a can of bear spray was put in a holster attached to my belt. I’d love to see a bear on the hike, but I wouldn’t like to meet one.
Comfortable temperatures and partially clouded skies made the first part of the hike a pleasant experience. But as I approached the Washburn Hot Springs a drizzle of rain made its appearance, forcing me to put on the rain jacket. This evolved into violent showers of sleet and snow when I crossed the Washburn Meadows. “Your effort will
be worth the cold”, I said to myself as ice cold water soaked my feet, immediately laughing at this treasure hunt cliché. I guess any treasure hunter with the slightest feeling of something not warm gets exactly the same thought.
After leaving the Washburn spur trail I followed a narrow meadow leading to a small waterfall called the Fall of the Valkyries. The meadow was welcome, because it provided an easy walk to this waterfall which I wanted to see. I also liked the symbolism in going there before I proceeded to Valhalla. The valkyries should take me there. This turned out to be a good route choice because I could follow some animal trails from here towards and along the brink of the Valhalla side canyon.
The valkyries used flying horses to bring the brave warriors to their afterlife in Valhalla. One of the things I’ve learned after following blogs and discussion forums is that “in the wood” is old western slang for being in the saddle. “If you are brave and in the wood”, yep, another strong confirmation of my solve. This must be it!
To explain how confidence in my solve grew I’d also like to mention the quote from the bible stating that the meek shall inherit the earth. After putting in below the home of Brown, the poem leads you past the Realms of the Dead and through Asgard (The hall Valhalla is situated in the world Asgard). These are two of the nine worlds found in Norse mythology, but neither of the two are earthly worlds, and thus no place for the meek.
The first glimpse of the Citadel of Asgard falls was a creek abruptly disappearing as the water threw itself over the brink of the canyon. Moving over to the brink you get an astonishing view over the Grand Canyon at its widest point. The bottom of the waterfall can’t be seen from the brink, you only see the water elegantly dancing through the air and hear the roaring sound when it hits the rocks below. It’s a marvel
gaze absolutely worth a detour for hikers walking the Washburn Spur Trail.
Since the chase potentially can last for hundreds of years, the blaze better be something lasting that can withstand the test of time. My guess was some sort of symbol carved into a rock. Not “FF”, that would be too obvious and people familiar with the chase could stumble upon it. Something more neutral would be more likely. All rocks in the vicinity of the falls where quickly examined, but there was no blaze
to be found. So I started checking all the trees surrounding the falls. Nothing resembled a blaze.
How could this not be Forrest Fenn’s secret where? Desperation started to fill my mind. What would be a better place to rest eternally for a brave fighter pilot than in Valhalla, next to a beautiful waterfall in the heart of his beloved Yellowstone that he discovered before any other man and kept a secret? How could the treasure not be in this spot where the similarities to the waterfall in “My war for me” can be seen so clearly? What about the fact that this spot is exactly west (270 degrees) of Toledo, Ontario? The chest had to be here. I just couldn’t find the blaze. The searching went on for more than an hour. A couple of logs were pulled carefully over and put back in place. The small pools in the creek were searched. Nothing to be found.
Finding yourself a two hour hike into the wilderness with soaked legs and feet, freezing your butt of, desperately looking for some treasure hidden by an old art dealer is something I warmly recommend. Provided you have a desire to feel stupid. Reluctantly I had to realize that there was no blaze to be found around the waterfall. The weather improved and I got a nice hike back to the trailhead, but the disappointment was a heavy load to carry.
I don’t think I’ll ever be able to find a better solve, so the chase is probably over for my part. Despite the disappointment it has been fun and educational. On my trip to Yellowstone I saw 14 bears and 3 wolves. That’s something I will never forget. After returning home I realize that I have some very nice photos of Citadel of Asgard Falls. This truly is a special place. I will probably publish one or two of them on Google Earth. Maybe more people will visit this astounding waterfall if they are aware of its existence. The pictures also remind me of the uprooted trees by the creek that had recently been tipped over by the wind. I wasn’t able to search under them, because there were too much debris and the logs were way too heavy to move. Now I can’t help wondering if the blaze is below those trees. It probably isn’t, but if someone else wants to go there and look for the blaze, let me know. I might have a few pictures to share with you. Not many have been to the Citadel of Asgard Falls and I can safely recommend this hike to anyone who wants to wants to escape the crowds and explore Yellowstone off the beaten path.