SUBMITTED JULY 2015
Following the art angle a bit further, a member of the team located what seemed to be significance in Moran’s watercolor “Great Springs of the Firehole River”.
Warm waters have also halted in time in this painting. Closely looking at this watercolor, (which coincidentally is said to be housed at the Buffalo Bill Center in Cody where Fenn sat on the board and graciously donated all kinds of money and things, including a whole cabin of significance) …
… the capitalized word “Brown” is written by Moran at the top of the painting where he has made notes on the gradations of the Excelsior Geyser.
We were very excited to also learn that the promontory on the left side of the painting was previously named Bluff Point and is now named Midway Bluff. It seemed to us to suggest the first page in f’s book, the “Life is a game of poker” poem, might now be a key to his clues poem, as in maybe canyon down could be bluff up. It also conveniently fit the “Me in the Middle” chapter as a hint, Excellsior is a brand of playing cards, and f has used “Canasta” and “folly” in his sound bites. We took the path less traveled up the bluff.
Marvel gaze was easy.
I didn’t want to put my West Thumb over this, because it was too pretty.
But we found this at the top of Midway Bluff…
… and THIS…
… a bronze blaze… and became super excited! The chest wasn’t under or in the owl tree. We KNEW we were close. But quickly down was over the cliff’s ledge. If this was the solution, it had to be at the bottom of the cliff, maybe where the steep slope meets the cliff wall.
I looked for ways down the cliff to its base.
Nothing looked easy. We retreated back down the footpath to the bottom of the slope, back to the street. I then approached the cliff’s base and the spot below the blaze by climbing directly up the slope. This was completely stupid. The ground is very soft. Not only did I have to worry about maintaining my balance all the way up, but I also had to worry about not rolling rocks onto the cars and people below. That was super tricky. PLEASE do not try this.
Once at the cliff’s base, I started to look around for hiding places. The base seemed to be dry and flaking lava rock, a terrible climbing material. Anywhere I touched, chunks came off in my hands and were splintering.
But then I saw this hole to the left, under the cliff and the bronze bench mark…
… and my heart jumped. The crevice was unnaturally packed with sticks and stones and broken animal bones. Someone and something did this intentionally. It wasn’t deep, but it was big enough to fit a small person and a 10×10 chest. And it faced the marvel gaze. After climbing up onto the ledge (which was difficult and also super stupid) and looking into the hole, I guessed it was probably packed this way by a ranger to discourage wildlife from living there. There certainly isn’t a chest under the wood or the rocks or the bones. Following the base of the cliff to the left revealed a much easier way back to the footpath. I’d missed this approach during my retreat to the street.
We spent more time searching the rest of the cliff base and found nothing but nests, an old rusted Bic ballpoint pen, and lots of smelly animal dung. I kept looking to see if I’d soiled my own pants from the stupid risks I was taking.
We then followed the joker / bluffing concept a bit more around the park. Harlequin Lake, behind the burnt hill of trees, had nothing but lily pads, not even a bronze frog bell that we could notice.
Angler’s Bluff on West Thumb seemed a curious fit.
We didn’t make it to Bluff Point on West Thumb because it was raining buckets. I was also reminded by Dal and other searchers that f said the poem is straight forward with no trickery, so no bluffing. I now imagine f to be very annoyed with my sending him update pics and using the word “dude” like a kid. Time to rethink.