A Miracle in the Desert…

BY germanguy


The search I’m about to share (a search from September of last year), was one I had previously posted elsewhere for a brief period (about less than a week, due to an issue with the server) of time. I am releasing it now, because many people have not had a chance to read it and since I am removing myself from further searches, I felt it may give others some useful ideas. In addition, I will also reveal the actual ‘solution’ which I did not reveal in the original posting.

On September 1st, 2013 my wife and I started out from Jensen, Utah, where we had stayed the night before, to the location of where we felt the treasure trove was.

We had traveled over a thousand miles to get here and our hopes were high and the adrenaline was flowing when we made the first turn down a road that would lead us to where we would be taking the rest of the trek on foot.

The drive over the road we took was slow. The center was laden with low growing sagebrush about 6 to 8 inches high. Just high enough to hear the constant brushing up against the under carriage of the car. I remember telling my wife that we should rent a Jeep for this venture the night before, but she was certain we wouldn’t need it. Besides, she suggested that if need be, we could go back to town and get one if it was rough going. Needless to say, we traveled on. It was a short drive down this road, with the occasional prairie dog darting back and forth in front of us. The road would take us to where we would park the car.


Upon arrival, we were greeted by a small herd of mule deer (approx. 10 to 15) that were taking off to our east. I read somewhere that there was a large herd of about 500 that roamed this area. Also, that there were a number of other predatory animals that we would have to keep an eye out for, such as badgers, snakes, coyotes and others. I figured that as long as we were careful where we stepped and made enough noise while traveling to our final destination, we would be okay.

We got out and packing a back pack of bottled water, took one more look at the GPS and knew that we were about a mile away from the location.

We started walking east from our car along an old road, similar to the one we came in on, but with much taller sagebrush plants (this road hadn’t been used for quite a while).


It was a very hot day and we knew that we couldn’t spend much time in this sun, so we moved with determination down this road , looking for the side trail that would lead us to our final destination.

We traveled for some time and realized that we were not finding the side trail we were looking for, and decided that it would be a smarter move to bring the laptop with GPS to locate the trail. Mind you, this was either more or less than a half mile we had already traveled out into this desert.

We got back to the car and plugging the GPS dongle into the laptop, reloaded the map to lead us to the trail that we were missing. We were off again down the trail, but with some difficulty. The sun was so bright that it threw a glare on the screen that made it very difficult to see the GPS tracking line. My wife held the bag that we carried the computer in behind my head in hopes of creating some shade over the screen. This wasn’t perfect, but allowed me to faintly see the course. So we continued forward, repeating the procedure as we went.

Success at last. We found the last trail and moved along it. It was an even older trail than the one we had just traveled. I felt like this is what Fenn meant when he said “it wasn’t impossible, but not easy”. I’m sure he was smarter than us in using a much smaller GPS device to go this route. Later I will come to understand the meaning behind his “Your effort will be worth the cold.”

We knew that we now had another half mile to go in this blistering heat. We stop for a bit to pour a bottle of water over our heads and body. Oh, how good it felt. We then moved on. Upon arriving at our final destination, we discovered the remains of the cabin we hoped to find.


We search for about 10 to 20 minutes, looking for a nice hideaway where Fenn would stash the chest. We moved up over another knoll, where there is some old mining equipment, left over from some earlier time. This isn’t on any government land or otherwise. It is private and in the middle of nowhere. When doing a property ownership search, I found that it is surrounded by property owned by many entities. It was perfect in every sense of the word. I firmly believe that due to its remoteness and worthlessness, Fenn could have easily purchased it for a song and a dance (if need be).

Now things start to change. I begin to feel weak, as does my wife. We had already walked over 2 miles at this point in the hot sun (when considering the return trip to the car earlier). We climbed up on a rock outcrop nearby and to rest for a bit, drinking a lot of water. In addition, we pour some over our heads again. It was blistering hot and barely a breeze was blowing.

We finally get back up and after moving about for a short while, begin to feel completely exhausted. My wife is back at the outcrop and I struggle to return there as well. We realize by now that we can’t go on with the search. We decide that we would have to hurry and get back to the car and try again tomorrow. But, it’s too late. Our legs are like over stretched rubber bands. We can’t stand up. We have been in the sun too long. It has sapped all the strength from our bodies. What do we do now? Only a mile from the car and air conditioning, and we can’t even stand up. Fear creeps in upon us.

I tell my wife to lie down, at which point I join her. The outcropping is barely enough for one of us to lie on, but somehow we manage to get close enough and fit on this small island in the middle of nowhere. The heat is unbearable, but there is nowhere else for us to seek shelter. I finally reach into the backpack and get another bottle of water and pour it over our bodies.
Time had no meaning. It seemed like forever that we laid there. Weaker and weaker, each word spoken with less and less emphasis. Our bodies slowly being drained of whatever life still remained. In a last ditch effort, I pulled the case with the laptop in it and the backpack up over our heads to block the sun. What good would it do, I thought to myself. At this point, we were saying good-bye to each other, sharing our last words.

At that moment, something strange happened. Clouds blocked out the sun that was beating down on us and a stronger breeze came across the desert. I dragged the back pack off our heads and reaching inside, pulled 2 of the last 3 bottles of water out and poured them over our bodies, returning the back pack to cover our heads. Then I told my wife to lie completely dormant, not expending any energy and pray that the breeze will cool us down.

We laid there for about 20 minutes; it seemed endless before I could feel some strength returning to my body. I asked my wife if she was feeling any better and she replied she was. I told her that we should continue laying there for a little while longer, as long as the breeze was blowing and the sun was blocked before we attempt at getting up and heading back.

We finally felt strong enough to sit up. We drank half of the last bottle of water and decided that it was now or never. So we began our trek back to the car, a mile away. It was a struggle walking, constantly stopping and bending over and putting our hands on our knees for support. We avoided sitting down because it would probably bring on dizziness when climbing back on our feet, so we avoided that.

Along the trail back, I saw evidence of animals that had recently passed over the trail we arrive on. There were 2 freshly scratched holes with droppings in them that most probably were possibly from a couple of badgers or coyotes. We continued forward.

As we moved along the trail, I would look back to see how far we had gone from the location. As the distance got greater, so did our determination to get out of there. It seemed like forever, but eventually we could see the top of the car on the horizon. That meant that we were only half a mile away. Half a mile that seemed like an eternity. With the thought of air conditioning waiting for us and additional water, we were not going to give up nor die, in this place, at this time.

We finally got back to the car. Opening the doors and dragging ourselves into the front and back seats, we collapsed and after turning the air conditioning on, counted the blessings that were bestowed upon us that day.
The lesson learned is simple. When it comes to gold, Life has the greater value, especially when you risk it for a dream.
My wife and I have definitely decided that we will not be returning to this place. Is the chest here? I honestly can’t say. We never spent enough time searching.

The Solution

“As I have gone alone in there
And with my treasures bold,î
Tells me Fenn has selected a very remote spot to hide his chest, where he wouldn’t be observed.

“I can keep my secret where,
And hint of riches new and old.”
This was an interesting 2 lines. Further down towards the end I will explain this in detail.

“Begin it where warm waters halt”
The journey begins along the Continental Divide, in the White River National Forest along route 8, headed west.
We decided that given Forrest’s many years of flying; he would possibly use a pilot’s perspective in the creation of his poem.

“And take it in the canyon down”.
Route 8 is in the canyon going west towards Meeker. Following Route 8, we connect to Route 18, still headed west.
Shortly after connecting with 18, we next take Route 64 west. We surmised that since there were 6 stanzas with 4 lines, that very well was a clue for taking 64.

“Not far, but too far to walk”.
Since we are looking at this from a pilotís point of view and remembering Forrest’s story of covering up Philadelphia with his thumb, he could be speaking in relative terms with this line. From over 10,000 feet, he could very well see across the state of Colorado, into Utah.

“Put in below the home of Brown”.
Following Route 64, we enter Rangely, Colorado. At this point 64 turns going northwest, which is below Browns Park (aka Browns Hole), which is to the north. Remember, it is a distance to Browns Park, but we’re still using his pilots’ perspective.

“From there it’s no place for the meek”.
We are over high barren (with the exception of scattered oil wells and sagebrush) desert land.

“The end is ever drawing nigh”.
He’s telling us that it is both near and on the left. We are getting close to the Utah border soon, so it can’t be much further now.

“There’ll be no paddle up your creek”.
While following 64, we come across Dripping Rock Creek. Turning left onto Road 21 headed southwest. This is a seasonal creek, drys up.
We are getting close to the Utah border, so we turn onto County Road 99 going northwest before we’re out of Colorado State.

“Just heavy loads and water high”.
This area is part of the Rangely Oil Fields. The heavy loads could mean the oil that is under groud, or it could apply to the high voltage lines that feed the electrical well pumps. The “water high” would refer to the “High pressure water injector” used in the oil field.

“If you’ve been wise and found the blaze, look quickly down your quest to cease”.
Refering back to the first stanza, I note Fenn’s use of the pronouns “I” and “my”. Realizing the blaze has got to be found in the above stanzas, I uncover “me” in the word “meek”, which tells me that Fenn is the blaze (as in trail blazer). Looking down from “me”, I uncover “ni”, “cr” and “hi”. Combined with “me” and unscrambled, I have “rich mine”, which fulfills the “Look quickly…” line.

“But tarry scant with marvel gaze,
Just take the chest and go in peace.”
The “tarry scant” led me to a coal mine located in this area. It is located on the perimeter of the oil field. Its actual name is “Rich Mine”. In researching through Google, you will find all kinds of “rich mines”, but none in Colorado that is actually named the “Rich Mine”. I discovered that the USGS Mapper was a “good map” as Fenn suggested we use. Coal is “tarry” in appearance, as well as having a “glaze” to it.

“So why is it that I must go
And leave my trove for all to seek?
The answer I already know,
I’ve done it tired, and now I’m weak.”
In this stanza, he says that in the final stage of hiding the chest, he drove (tired) and that in 1 mile (I’m) done (weak). It turned out that County Road 99 is 1 mile by foot to the mine.

“So hear me all and listen good,
Your effort will be worth the cold.”
“If you are brave and in the wood
I give you title to the gold.”
Doing exactly that, Listening as I read it out loud, I pick up the word “Raven”. On the border line for Colorado and Utah where I was standing, is the Raven Ridge.
Regarding “cold”, after my experience in this desert, I would recommend cooler time of year. The “wood” referenced here was more than likely the sagebrush. The Native American Indians (which Forrest is very knowledgeable about) used sagebrush in camp fires (which burned very well), ceremonies and medicinal purposes to name a few.

Now, to wrap this all up I want to refer back to the “riches new and old” from the first stanza.
In Texas, Forrest would remember the days when Coal was called “Black Gold”. Later the term “Black Gold” was used for oil. So, we have our “riches”.
Also, from the air, it reminded me of the waterfall and the French soldierís grave. That, plus Fenn had originally stated that he would go off into the desert with his chest. Iíve often wondered, being a man of his word, if he wouldnít still have done that.

rich mine-omegasHOBelevationhigh_pressure_water_pump_634595067899713422_1


28 thoughts on “A Miracle in the Desert…

  1. Very interesting, but I’m one of the group that is convinced that that the promised land is in New Mexico. Glad you got home OK.

  2. The solve is interesting. Too bad you felt you were near death. You should have been better prepared. I enjoyed the story. Thank you for sharing.

  3. I remember reading your story before GG and thinking how scary that must have been for the two of you. I’m so glad you and your wife made it back OK!

  4. Happy to know GG that you and the missus are both ok after your ordeal…

    Remember the story when previously posted…

    A lesson learned when challenging a desert at the wrong time of day and should be heeded by others attempting a similar venture…

    Good story… 🙂

    • I’m sure there will be many more adventures similar to ours, but as you pointed out, it’s good to show the hazards that can come as a result of unforeseen circumstances.

  5. Thanks GG, mad dogs and Englishmen? Early morning or late evening. Lots of water and you might also consider an ice vest. Ice chest in trunk is a good idea too.

  6. German Guy, I remember when you had the story up. Your “adventure” is a good reminder for all those heading out to take a moment and think about what lies ahead. That could have very easily had a different ending. Lucky for you and the misses it had a good ending. That brings to mind how Forrest would have disposed of his vehicle if that was the actual location. What is your theory on that?

    • Ken,

      Given the condition of the remnants of the mining equipment left behind at that spot, along with the remoteness, I would venture to say that the only people that could see it would be aircraft flying over. But, because this is part of the oil field, I doubt many would think much of an abandoned vehicle. The road that leads to the mine is obscured by sagebrush that has reclaimed it. It is invisible from even the established road we came in on. We couldn’t even see our car until we traveled at least a half mile back. Any established oil wells were too far from this spot.

  7. German Guy: glad to read the two of you are safe & sound. I also have thought a great deal about the Brown’s Park area, beginning from Flaming Gorge where I thought WWWH. About 35 years ago, I actually drove a route from there that took me to Dinosaur NM crossing into Colorado. I remember then the vast expanses of remoteness and it being very, very hot. Although last year I searched in the Hegben Lake area, I most often head to Utah for my travel / hiking destinations. Also, first Dal and now you announce you are no longer “chasing”? Something in the water? Take care and froliche reisen…

  8. German Guy has said he is done searching before, like a slew of others. The “Thrill” keeps beckoning and to truly put it away means that the answers may never be revealed. Inquisitive minds have the need to know ! Dal may have said he is not searching any more, but my gut tells me that the “devil dog” in him will never give up. Tenacity is something that does not go away….

    • Ken- You missed my mea culpa. I already stopped stopping my search. lol..
      “Tenacity”….thanks I like that and won’t mention “weak”.

      • Dal, I miss very little, and saw your attempt to stop the stopping. I was wrong once, in ’69 or ’70 I think, but as I learned much later in life, I was merely mistaken. You will be around for some time in this little adventure, and I am quite glad to say I appreciate all you do !! Carry on …

  9. GG, This is the first of read of your “near death” experience. Having been close to terminal heat stroke myself in both Vietnam and the Sonoran Desert, I recognize the thin and tenuous thread that tied you to recovery. Your story has reignited my awareness of this extreme danger and as I chase alone I will respect it much more acutely. So happy you shared this earned wisdom.

  10. GG – before reading your above search I had just looked up Hypothermia and Hyperthermia! Glad you are both ok! Its funny that the body is made up of 50-75% water and warm at that, but we feel heat and cold rather quickly. Its a fine balance.

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