CBS Sunday Morning….

JULY 2015
by dal…



In early June I went out to search around Yellowstone National Park with a CBS News crew from New York. They were creating a story on the treasure hunt for CBS Sunday Morning. When I met up with them they had already followed a family from Colorado who were searching and had also been down in Santa Fe and talked with Forrest…and I believe a few other folks in the area who know Forrest.

The Producer of the story, Dustin Stephens, contacted me about a month earlier and we decided on a date and location I would be searching where they would be able to meet up with me. What follows is a Behind The Scenes look at the shoot I experienced with the CBS News crew.

The location was to be near Fountain Flats in Yellowstone National Park. The date was to be June 5th.


A lovely warm creek on the edge of Fountain Flats in Yellowstone National Park

Getting permission to film professionally in YNP is typically a simple process…unless the Chief Ranger is Tim Reid and unless you are going there to film a “searcher”. So when Dustin filled out the necessary forms and sent them in, the whole “permission” process became convoluted. The administration didn’t really want to allow a story about searchers in their our park. They tried to prevent it but could’t quite pull it off.

To begin, Ranger Reid would not allow himself to be interviewed by CBS because apparently “treasure hunting” is beneath him. The administration would only allow the crew into the park to film me if the crew, and I, agreed to a number of restrictions. For instance, I was not allowed to carry any kind of “searching tool”. So I agreed to leave my ice axe in Esmerelda. The crew had to stay within a quarter mile of any road, which meant that I could not search beyond a quarter mile of any road. There were other rules too and many were unusual restrictions for a news crew. The most interesting was that we had to have a “guide” with us. The guide would be a ranger and the ranger would only be available for half a day so we had to get all filming inside the park accomplished during that time. Of course this meant that there would be someone official from the park with us if we were to actually find the chest. No sneaking it out of the park since the guide was watching us. It also meant we would not be able to postpone due to weather or equipment problems. We had a one half-day window and that was firm, not negotiable. I am pretty certain the administration used this requirement to absolutely limit the filming to something unreasonable in the hope that CBS would cave and film somewhere else. But CBS agreed to everything and we all met on June 5th at the appointed hour in the parking lot at Madison Junction to run off and start filming.


Near Fountain Flats

But the gods were not with us. The crew had been pulled off the Searcher story and were ready to pile into their vehicles and head for Billings to do a breaking news story on Dennis Hastert. So there we were, ranger guide, searcher guy, correspondent and news crew all ready to go but CBS News wanted the team to go do another story. Of course that meant they lost all opportunity to film in the park after their hard fought battle with the administration to do so. Hung by their own brand new rope.

So that gave me a day to think about where else we could film. Film crews are used to working hard to get all the footage and sounds they need to tell a story, but no one wants to scrabble up hill, over uneven terrain carrying cameras, tripods and microphones a great distance and I didn’t want to spend hours driving up some dusty service road before we could get out and hike to a good spot.

Wild strawberries

Wild strawberries



I checked my list of 17 possible locations to check out on this trip. These are all places the clues in the poem take me right up to the blaze. My sense is that I will have to find the blaze when I get to any spot and then, if found, move on from that point in the poem. Whit’s Lake seemed like a great possibility. Short drive, unlikely to be any other humans nearby, 20 minute hike from the vehicles and possibly picturesque. The clues to that area seemed strong. But since I had not been there I wondered if there was a blaze. Certainly we could film up there as long as we wanted.


Since Whit’s Lake is on Forest Service land I wanted to check in with the USFS about filming there. The Forest Service has regulations about professional filming on their our land as well as the Park Service. The folks at the Gallatin Nat’l Forest Ranger Station on the north side of West Yellowstone were very helpful and very gracious. They were curious about the treasure hunt because they had heard about it and were interested in more detail. I shared what I could before they got busy with phone calls and daily business. They were courteous and welcoming and even offered up a suggestion for a place I might want to look. A lot different than the Park Service. They never even mentioned the legal hassles if the chest were found on Forest Service land. “Go forth and search.” the district ranger told me.

Approaching Whit's Lake

Approaching Whit’s Lake

Whit's Lake

Whit’s Lake

We did. Dustin, Mike, Barry, Andre and I proceeded up to the lake the next day. We filmed an interview followed by my search of the area around the lake looking for a lovely blaze.


Mike and Dustin talk about the filming on the tree shrouded trail to the lake


Barry, Andre and Mike setting up for my interview as a string of dudes on pony’s ambles by.

I found a potential blaze in a solitary rock on the side of the lake and another potential blaze in a waterfall from  the feeder stream heading into the lake…Neither very strong blazes but I would be foolish to walk away without checking them out…

Once again I found no chest. But I had a great walk, the day was beautiful. The company was great. The wildflowers were lovely…



My search along with all the other elements of this CBS News story aired on July 12th…

You can watch the story HERE. Look around on that page and you should find some additional footage including a clip of Forrest reading his poem..

Check out their Facebook page and Twitter feed too..


62 thoughts on “CBS Sunday Morning….

  1. Oh Dal, what a day you had! And a second day as well. But you came across very intelligent in the segment and I loved you sharing the back story. If anyone is to ever find this treasure, I sure hope it will be YOU! You SO have earned it.

  2. Interesting additional web content on ownership issues on CBS Sunday morning Facebook page. First time I’ve heard Forrest say he sought legal advice about ownership issues under a variety of scenarios before hiding the chest.

  3. Thanks for the back story Dal. You relayed the feelings of the searchers well – it’s fun even if we don’t find it! 🙂 You would think Yellowstone Park would be happy with all the extra revenue they get from all the searchers who go there either actually searching in the Park or visiting the Park while searching in other parts of WY or MT. It’s nice to know the USFS is a good agency to work with if the treasure is ever found in their forest.

  4. hello hunch here…..why in the heck does anybody, i mean anybody need to get permission to film in YNP? makes absolutely no sense to me. whos on the take?

  5. hunch here again, not happy….
    dal, you gotta make some corrections to this story.
    from the 4th paragraph…”The administration didn’t really want to allow a story about searchers in THEIR(?) park”…. whose park???

    from the 9th paragraph…..”The Forest Service has regulations about professional filming on THEIR(?) land as well as the Park Service”….
    whose land???

    my indian blood is boiling right now. change it dal, change it. please.

      • hello Dal, hunch here. thanks man couldnt have corrected it better myself. sorry to sound so demanding, was typed in a fit of rage. next time ill count to ten.

  6. Did anyone else get the feeling after listening to Forrest re: legal consultation that the treasure is likely not in a National Park?

    • Sherri-
      I walked away with just the opposite feeling…why bother checking into it if it’s not there?? So I think it’s just as likely to be on one type of public land as another.

    • I got the sense that if it is in a national park there is a defined pathway for ownership that would allow the finder to ultimately become the owner.

  7. If you experienced difficulty getting onto the blog this morning that was due to the huge amount of traffic the CBS story generated. Goofy changed the oil and lubed the site last night in preparation for the crowds at the door. But the crush this morning was nearly overwhelming.

    In the days leading up to Sunday we’ve been experiencing about 600 hits an hour but at just about 9am Pacific time the server was registering a peak load of nearly 3,000 hits per hour and turning away many, many, many more. The server never shut down though…so nice job server and goofy…thanks much!!!

    Things have subsided lately. We are still registering about 2,500 hits per hour but it’s not slamming the door on very many folks.

  8. So what pages on the blog are all these folks interested in looking at? We can tell from the site statistics what pages are being read. So most are hitting the home page first…which makes sense since they are typically coming from either a Google search or from Forrest’s site.
    After that, the most popular pages to read are, in order of popularity:
    Goofy’s Cheat Sheet
    The Bronze Chest
    Santa Fe Interviews
    Gone Fishing Interviews
    Part Two—Interpreting the Clues
    Odds n Ends about Fenn’s Treasure Hunt
    Most Important Info
    Dal’s Note Pad
    The Nine Clues
    Photos From Searchers

  9. I always enjoy behind-the-scene stories. Great photos Dal……..What’s amazing to me is how much money the networks spend just to get a few minutes of on-air footage.

  10. Thanks so much, Dal, for keeping us in the know on everything happening and setting up links for us, sharing photos with us, sharing your adventures with us … you’re the best!

  11. Thanks Dal for sharing your insight. You are brave dealing with the stuffed shirts in charge.

  12. Great back-story, Dal. Thank you for unwhittingly checking out Whit’s Lake for me. Had been on my list for a couple years. Pretty enough to be a worthwhile search anyway. Where’s your next stop?

  13. Although I have left the chase scene currently and for the foreseeable future, I did happen to turn on the tv Sunday morning, and what do you know…there you are mugging for the camera. A few seconds more and f is reading his poem. Good piece. Good luck to everyone this summer. We too found some good hiking paths on our recent trip to YNP and TNF. cheers

  14. Dal – That CBS Sunday Morning piece was a nice reminder of the magic of the chase. I hope a family with kids finds it in my lifetime!

      • Today is your lucky day Dal, for the right price I would be willing to put myself and my family up for adoption


      • OK……everyone that wants to be in Dal’s family show up at his house on Saturday. If you can’t make it by Saturday that’s OK get there when you can.

        If you need gas money, or a bus ticket, or a moving van Dal will furnish it for you. Hey, that’s what families do. And of course room and board are furnished.

        You get to ride around in Esmeralda and go with Dal to work, and everyone can sit around the computer at night and drink hot chocolate and work on solving the poem. How great would that be.

        There you go buddy……need anything else?

    • Can I borrow the keys to Esmeralda, Daol? 🙂 That’s Dad and Dal together. Just push the O in Daol to the right until it touches the L…(o -> l = d) and Voila!…you’ve got Dad! I always knew you had it in you…Dad.

      Just curious… Do you still have the hottub and the champagne cooler in the back of Esmeralda? 🙂

      • Funny JC… Dale… Daol… I always call him Dal in my head though 🙂

        Da ol, day-o
        Daylight come and me wan’ go home
        Day, me say day, me say day, me say day
        Me say day, me say day-o
        Daylight come and me wan’ go home


        • Thanks, Spallies! The Banana Boat Song. I love that one. I take it they prefer to grab the bananas during the night when it’s cold…or cool, anyway. I tried to find an old Chiquita banana commercial but couldn’t find it. The commercial shows a little boy peeling and eating a banana. His mother can’t see what he’s doing and yells from another room, “What are you doing, son?” To which he yells back, “Eating a Chiquita!” Does anyone else remember that commercial?

          Anyway, I found this one instead…

          I never knew that’s how you flute a banana. I always imagined something else entirely.

  15. Petersen asked, “In your mind, who would be the best person or family to find this treasure?”

    “A family that is joined together and gone out lookin’ for the treasure four or five or ten or 50 times,” he replied. “Take a tent and sleeping bags and your fishing pole and go out looking. That was my primary motive.”

    What I found interesting is f’s perspective of how many times they would go out looking… and camping and fishing.

    • Exactly JCM,

      Could it be the poem is cleverly written to do just that. People see what they want to see… travel from this location to that location and then follow this and that till we discover something that will lead us here.

      Was that not the intent to get folks out and explore? And as fenn stated the poem has done it’s job. But the poem will / could be solved by the one who analyze and thinks.

      Most “ignore the first clue” … surprise that no one has considered an “important possibility” to winning the trove.

      Wolf stated many times, something that made me think… [ paraphrasing ]. The poem is set up for searchers to fail…

      An Architect wrote the poem. What was the intention of the design to be? Could the design be an Illusion? and the actual structure be just the opposite?

      • Seeker – Structure, design, and cleverly written; analyze think, plan (go camping and fishing)… About right, IMO.

        For me, I have found that the poem is self confirming and nails down the starting place without question. What I believe to be subtle hints in the book that I have identified so far have also corroborated a number of the clues in the poem, including the place to start. More often than not, it is the subtle hints in the book that have framed the thought process that has made the various lines in the poem understandable, with the aid of the self confirming mechanism of the poem.

        I take f at his word that every clue is difficult to figure out and takes a lot of thinking and effort. What I have found is that once you understand the mechanics of the poem in providing a solution, you must work through the process of figuring out what each clue is in the poem in conjunction with the location; this is where the subtle book hints come in very helpful (but arguably not necessary, just add more field time), otherwise the wiles of nature and circumstance will quickly take you in the wrong direction.

        One step at a time. Many people want this found soon; they have no patience. Society tells us that we should have everything right now, and this is no exception for them. This will be won by a person who has the cunning and perseverance to endure the frustration and difficulty of the process.

          • Not sure what JCM meant by the mechanics of the poem; however, in the study of poetry, mechanics means meter, rhyme and other musical characteristics. The poem is clearly in iambic tetrameter with an occasional trochee. It uses traditional ABAB rhyme schematics. The poem also makes good use of alliteration, an obvious example being WWW but there are several sprinkled through the poem.

          • Thanks for the info Poetreasurefish. I will have to look a lot of those things up because I don’t know what they are, but your explanation did help.

        • JCM,
          Insightful post, IMO. I tend to not heed Forrest’s words in TTOTC, or elsewhere, beyond the first stanza. I believe you must rely on his words outside of the poem to ascertain the general start area. Beyond that, I believe listening to, or reading, his words/thoughts for hints to subsequent clues adds too much noise – just my opinion based on empirics.

          One other thing I would add to your thoughts above, regarding frustration and perseverance, is due to the openness of the poem and how well it lends itself to various interpretations, the general area containing the chest may have multiple locations that could be construed to coincide with the various interpretations; thus, a process of elimination may be required.

          Perhaps there are geographic features that are more obvious that would lead a searcher to incorrect interpretations and conclusions, while a less obvious interpretation is overlooked, or never sought, out of frustration and the searcher gives up on the area and moves on. Sounds like a ploy Forrest might use. Just thinkin’ out loud.

  16. This isn’t significant in any way whatsoever but if I were to imagine where Forrest hid that treasure from his descriptions, it would be in a vast meadow deep within the mountains that is simple enough if you know it, yet extremely complex if you don’t. The beauty in this meadow is so great that this is where Forrest wanted to be for his final hours with his treasure. This meadow has a small stream in it that gets deeper when spring comes and all of the snow melts. In this stream the chest lies, waiting for someone to find it.

  17. I always find it ridiculous that the US Forest Service doesn’t want anyone searching for Fenn’s Chest and think of his awesome idea as a nuisance… They think thousands of searchers are going to go off trails, get swept down rivers, etc. Yes, there are crazy searchers out there that will put their lives in Danger and some may need to get rescued. Don’t worry, most search and rescue guys love their jobs, I would too. The majority of searchers are responsible family oriented people that have common sense and are law abiding. It would be nice if the Government could trust us just a little.

    All of us know the US Forrest Service personnel are looking for IT! I know I would be if I was stationed in God’s country of Yellowstone National Park… what a dream job!

    It would be just nice if the National Park told us searchers to just be Safe… and use common sense.. Carry Bear Spray and if you are a responsible qualified individual carry a firearm to protect yourself and family in a worst case scenario, just as the old fur trappers and indians did… Can you imagine that!?!

    Happy Holidays to all Dal, Fenn, and all of us “crazy” searchers… Gold Bless us All..

    • If i’m in Grizzly country I always carry my .41 mag. If you read the statement the Forest Service puts out it say’s you are responsible for your own safety. Although bear spray may be suitable for some folks I just feel better with my Ruger and there is no expiration date on it nor do you have to worry about wind direction.

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