SUBMITTED JULY 2015
I found out about this treasure hunt while browsing different treasure related stories on the internet sometime in the summer of 2014 (I know I am a bit late to the party). I like to metal detect when I can and I live close to the Superstition Mountains in Arizona and the Lost Dutchman Gold Mine is still a big deal to many. I discovered Dal’s website and began reading over everything religiously. The thought of a real treasure lying out there waiting to be discovered has been taunting me ever since (lots of sleepless nights). And that the author of all this is alive and not just a legend that has been passed down over the ages makes this a very unique situation we find ourselves in. We are all here first to know the true facts before generations go by and everything gets convoluted. It has all been very entertaining at the very least and I have never posted anything until now. I have three kids and a job that takes up most of my time but whenever I get a free moment to myself, I check in with this site and read through it. I have read over most of the other search stories and it has provided me with a lot to think about. First off, I must say how impressed I am with everyone’s writing abilities. I do not claim to be on par with the rest and I can get pretty scatter brained if I don’t re-read every sentence I type, but I thought, “what the hell, let’s do this”, and maybe in writing my thoughts down on how my own search has gone it may open up something that I have overlooked or help someone else. It has been interesting to see all the different approaches to solving the clues in the poem and how different people think. Most of the solutions seem to be well thought out, very detailed and way beyond my problem solving abilities I am afraid. I didn’t let that discourage me however and immediately ordered “The Thrill of The Chase” and read it twice right away front to back. Treasure or no treasure, I thoroughly enjoyed the style of writing and began to take notes, I wrote down what I thought to be the “9 clues” and just tried to see if I could come up with a simple straight forward solution.
I will first write down in order what I believe to be the 9 clues in the poem, which I happen to think if solved correctly are just directions on a map. I also feel strongly that to solve any clue one must use the following clue to validate the previous clue and so on. I will write down my interpretation following each clue.
- “Begin it where warm waters halt” I have gone over all the typical ideas that many have posted on here regarding this clue and nothing seemed to take me to the next clue. It wasn’t until sometime in October of last year that I stuck with one idea in particular. I was on a flight to Denver, Co. from Phoenix and flying over the Rockies I was looking out my window at the amazing line of snowcapped peaks when it occurred to me. Warm waters halt where they freeze at the tops of the mountains. I still believe that this is the only way warm water can truly halt. By freezing. And in this case, I used that as a starting line. The Continental Divide. It made sense to me but “where to go from here” I thought. The Continental Divide is as long as the continent after all so how can this narrow anything down? I liked the idea of using it has a Y axis so naturally I needed to find and X axis. That would come later.
- “And take it in the canyon down,” When I got back home to Phoenix, I got on Google Earth and started to look at canyons that may start right off that line. Once again, “where to start”, I thought. This is where I thought that I needed to read the first three lines in the second stanza as directions relating to one another to narrow down a canyon I could use. I may have inadvertently began working backward at this point which I thought would be ok as long as it all worked and I was trying to validate previous clues anyhow. So the canyon in question comes after I put the next two clues to work.
- “Not far, but too far to walk.” I can’t recall exactly where I read or heard this but I came up with too far to walk as meaning 10 miles. I think Forrest said this in a roundabout way at some point when he was talking about his book “too far to walk”.
- “Put in below the home of Brown.” Now let me try and explain my thought process here. I have family in Denver and many there know the story of Molly Brown. I know she has been mentioned here before. She lived in Denver and before that Leadville, Co. What the significance to Forrest could be, I have no idea. I wasn’t too convinced with the whole Molly Brown thing so I thought how else could I make the state of Colorado be the home of Brown. I started to just think of the actual color “brown” and what that has to do with Colorado. The only thing I could come up with, was when I looked at the state flag, I noticed that the colors on it (Red, Yellow, and Blue) when mixed could make the color brown. Maybe this is a nod to the art approach that others have mentioned. I also thought how ironic it was that all the “welcome to colorful Colorado” signs are all just boring brown. So to cut to the chase, I decided to use the southern state line of Colorado as my “home of Brown” and therefore my X axis line. Now I thought, let’s find a canyon that starts about 10 miles up (too far to walk) from the state line and comes up to meet the Continental Divide. I found that the Chama River does just that. Was it a canyon? Well I don’t know for sure but it looked like one on Google Earth so I used it.
- “From there it’s no place for the meek,” My solution to this clue, considering I am now paying attention to the Chama River coming south 10 miles from its source, and going south below the home of Brown (Colorado), the famous saying “the meek shall inherit the earth” comes to mind. I asked myself “if the meek shall inherit the earth and earth is the dirt or ground we walk on, then no place for the meek must be the water. So to me, I must use this river and follow it to the solution of the next clue.
- “The end is ever drawing nigh;” I feel that this clue is directly linked to the next sentence/next clue because of the semicolon used. If one is facing south on the Chama and I am using nigh as meaning left and drawing as in water then I am now looking for a stream or river/creek that is drawing its water from the left.
- “There’ll be no paddle up your creek,” Going south along the Chama I find the Brazos River entering the Chama from the left. A river that can’t be paddled up. I wouldn’t try anyways. Meanwhile, so far all of this I have found just looking at Google Earth. So I follow the Brazos River to the east to its source and I find that it pours through a canyon that cuts through what are known as the Brazos cliffs.
- “Just heavy loads” Brazos in Spanish means arms. What better to carry a heavy load?
- “water high.” The tallest water fall in New Mexico just happens to pour right off the top of the Brazos cliffs in the spring time after the snow melt which just so happens to be just under 10,200’ in elevation where the falls pour down from the top. Was this all a coincidence? Probably, but I was getting excited at this point.
So to put my interpretation together in a quick summary: I began at the Continental Divide in Colorado where warm waters halt and taken it in the canyon down along where the Chama River’s headwaters begin. I have then traveled south not too far but too far to walk and at about 10 miles I have found myself just below the Colorado state line or my home of Brown. I am now using the Chama River, my water highway that is no place for the meek (keep in mind I am only following this down a map, I am not actually in the River). While traveling down the river facing south I am on the lookout for a river/creek drawing from the left or nigh that I can’t paddle up. I find it in the Brazos River. This becomes “my” creek to now follow. I follow it east and notice that there is a pretty amazing cliff face called the Brazos cliffs (Brazos means arms in Spanish or what I am using for heavy loads) and my creek happens to cut through this creating an amazing canyon. While investigating these cliffs I notice that there happens to be a huge water fall here (the one with the longest fall in New Mexico) which describes “water high” in my opinion. Now to find that blaze.
So now I felt like I had something. At least some general area to search for a blaze, all found in an afternoon while looking at Google Earth. It seemed straight forward like you would expect directions to a location to be. I thought, if this is the area, where would I find a blaze without actually being there? Was it the waterfall itself, or was there something else? Something that you had to be there to see. I began to zoom in and around the waterfall area and the surrounding cliffs trying to come up with an answer. I wanted to feel more confident in this area before I started to plan my trip. I searched daily on Google Earth for weeks trying to find some kind of blaze that would make me absolutely certain this was it. After all that time I couldn’t find anything more. But I thought that this was as good a place as any so I began to look for places I could stay maybe for a couple nights while I searched the area on foot. While searching the area on Google Earth, I found Corkin’s lodge which is located right at the base of the cliffs. Perfect. I pulled up their website, looked over their pictures, and read their history. I found out that they have recent new ownership and in the back of my mind I thought well wouldn’t it be interesting if Forrest himself was somehow a partial owner who managed to keep his name off of anything that we could find to make that connection. I thought, maybe the treasure is hidden on the grounds somewhere or within their property boundaries which includes part of the Brazos River and cliffs and him being partial owner of the land could then give title to something found on that property. It was all just a thought anyways. I then pulled up the map on their website which shows the cabin layouts amongst the grounds. I was stunned to see that there was a cabin that was named “Sloanes”. Of course after having read about Forrest’s friendship with Eric Sloane that immediately rang a bell with me. None of the other cabins have names like that. All kinds of ideas started to pop into my head. Maybe Eric was a popular guest at the lodge back in the day. Maybe it was one of his favorite spots to go and work on his art. Maybe he was such a valued guest that they named one of their cabins after him. Maybe Eric turned Forrest on to this place and they fished there together. Maybe Forrest flew his plane over the area and noticed the waterfall and had to check it out. Maybe Forrest wanted to share his discovery with his artist friend. Maybe they both knew about this spot. Then it hit me! Maybe Eric Sloane has a beautiful painting hanging there in the main office of the lodge or in Sloane’s cabin. Was this the blaze? Was there a painting by Eric Sloane of the Brazos cliffs with its waterfall pouring from the top, Forrest flying high over the clouds, and a rainbow’s end pointing the direction to the treasure’s location? I was tempted to be a weirdo, call the lodge, and ask some odd questions about paintings before I go out to visit but I thought it was better to keep all that to myself. And part of me didn’t want to know the answer. I wanted to see for myself.
This is where I could barely contain my excitement. I thought there are too many coincidences now and that this is it. I need to get there before someone else does. And up to this point I hadn’t heard anyone mention this exact area or at least not put it together the way that I had. I was sure many had already searched the waterfall but the Sloane connection was there and I hadn’t heard anyone mention that. The soonest I could get out there was the weekend of April 24th through the 26th 2015 and I booked it a month in advance. That month of waiting was excruciating. The thought of hearing about someone else walking out from that area with the treasure almost did me in. I joked with my coworkers about how I wasn’t coming back to my job when I find it and part of me may have actually believed that. I booked the only cabin that was available, the Ponderosa. Of course I asked about Sloanes cabin but they were doing some work on it that weekend. That wasn’t gonna stop me. I planned the trip so I could pick up my 16 year old boy on the way. He lives in Show Low, Arizona with his mother about 3 hours drive from me so I don’t get to spend as much time as I would like with him. So this trip was gonna be a perfect time for us to spend together on a treasure hunt.
I loaded up my car with my gear on the 22nd, and drove up to Show Low the next morning to get my son. We were both very excited. We took turns reading the Thrill of The Chase along the way (by now my third time reading it). I knew we had all day Thursday and half of Friday before check-in at our cabin so we needed to find somewhere to camp the first night. I didn’t plan an exact spot and that is usually how I like it. My son would ask “dad, where are we gonna camp?” I told him we would know when we were there. On the way we stopped off near Navajo, New Mexico south of the four corners area and collected beautiful anthill garnets (I am a bit of a rockhound by the way). I usually plan my outings and camping around areas that offer good rock collecting. My original plan was to get a permit from the Navajo Nation Parks website and just camp somewhere near the garnet collecting location but I got a whole lot of run around and eventually gave up on the idea of camping on the reservation. At that point I knew I would just have to wing it and find a suitable area somewhere in the woods off the highway along the way. After fending off the ants for a couple hours and taking their treasure of beautiful red garnets I felt it only right that I leave something in place of the garnets, so I left them several pieces of pork rind as a sort of peace offering. I then placed a large pinch of tobacco on a nearby rock as an offering to the spirits that may or may not occupy that land, then said my thank you’s and got back on the road. I figured that I now had something decent to leave in place of the bigger treasure I was in search of.
After a quick lunch shared with the gas station pack of dogs we befriended, we pushed on to Farmington, NM. Where we loaded up with some food, fishing licenses, and other supplies in the Walmart there. At this point the sun was starting to go down and I began to look for areas to camp (on my phone, Google Earth of course). It was harder than I thought it may be since that whole area is covered with natural gas wells or whatever they are called. Just before sundown, we ended up just north of the state line in Colorado somewhere. I am pretty sure we were somewhere we shouldn’t have been but no one else knew and we got out of there at first light.
Off to Corkin’s lodge we went. My son was excited cause I let him drive the whole way from there. I was excited cause I got to be a passenger for once and take in the scenery a little better along the way. I must say, New Mexico is a beautiful state. I have had the opportunity to drive through there on a few different occasions and I have never been disappointed.
So we finally arrive and pull up to the gate of the lodge grounds. Right about now, I am a little tired and had to remind myself what I was looking for. We had already had such a good time along the way and are just now arriving at our destination. I had to refocus. I was about to walk into the lodge office and this was the moment of truth. I am looking for an Eric Sloane painting. I walked through the lodge office door to check in and get my cabin key and immediately began scanning the walls looking for that painting. Nothing. I thought I would be more disappointed than I was but I was just excited to be there and there were still other places I had in mind to look. I got the key to my cabin and we drove over to it. Wow, what an awesome place! I recommend this place to anyone. You cannot beat the scenery.
Once we unloaded our stuff into the cabin I hopped into the shower (much needed at this point) and right from the shower window was an amazing view of the cliffs. How awesome is that? I don’t have views like that in my bathroom at home, trust me. So we settle in, have lunch and decide what to do next. This was only Friday afternoon and I knew we had all day Saturday so I said “let’s go fishing!” There is a nice little private trout pond on the grounds. I am not the best fisherman, I didn’t get one bite that afternoon. My son caught one and that was all I cared about anyways. I just wanted one more to keep his fish company in the frying pan, but I couldn’t take my eyes off that amazing cliff behind the pond and that is probably why I couldn’t catch anything. It is beyond words. You could see the waterfall pouring from the top, the clouds where moving swiftly by, casting shadow and light, and as the sun began to slowly die in the west the cliffs began to glow a bright orange. I couldn’t help but feel like I was inside an actual painting. Who wouldn’t be inspired to just sit and paint this view? I knew we were gonna search as much of that waterfall area as we could the next day.
The next day arrives, my son and I get up, eat, pack our backpacks and head over towards the falls. Once I got to what I guess was the base, we found the trail that takes you all the way up to a certain point where it is just basically wet and misty from the water falling from so high up. From there we had to do a lot of rock scrambling to get up to where the actual bottom of the falls were. The thought then popped into my mind that these slippery rocks were difficult for us, would an almost 80 year old attempt this? Well I wasn’t about to start doubting Forrest’s abilities now. Maybe there was an easier way up to this spot hidden somewhere out of view anyways. I was hoping there may be some way to get behind the falls or find some hidden cave or something. Once we got up to the bottom of the falls area, we found that it was frozen with a huge chunk of snow covered ice spanning from one side to the other. I wasn’t about to try and walk out on that chunk of ice and end up on the news. It was however an amazing sight from that vantage point and the views were beautiful. I searched what I could. Along the way up there were several other hikers here and there, and I began to think that it was entirely possible that if this chest was located around these falls that it could be found “accidentally” by someone. Not to mention how implausible it began to feel that Forrest would make this area his final resting place. This location was too popular. However, I still searched under every ledge and behind every log I could. Nothing. We went back to our cabin to regroup. I began to feel like I had totally lost focus and I hate to say it but I guess I didn’t care. I was happy to be doing this with my son. I was taken aback by the beauty all around. It was hard to concentrate on where to find a blaze. But I knew I had to get it together and check the only other place I could think of. Sloanes cabin.
So I got up the nerve and went into the lodge office and asked the lady that runs the place if I could just peek my head in and see the layout. I made up some story of how I had friends that may be interested in renting out a few of the cabins on a future weekend or something like that. I couldn’t think of anything else to say. But I probably didn’t have to cause she was very nice and said “no problem, just be careful of the fumes”. I wasn’t sure what she meant by that till I actually opened the door to Sloane’s cabin. They were lacquering everything in there I guess. Whatever, I had to find the painting I was looking for. There were paintings in each room. I investigated them carefully while deeply breathing in the fumes. If I was in there any longer I would have surely found what I was looking for. After investigating all the paintings I don’t believe any of them where works by Eric Sloane himself and I can say this because the names at the bottoms said otherwise.
Well, that was it. I had nowhere else to look. If I had an extra day I may have entered that canyon where the Brazos River cuts through if possible but the lady at the office said the water was too high from the snow melt and access was probably too difficult. It all seemed so easy back at home, so straight forward, and it all made so much sense, and it just had to be there somewhere. But it wasn’t or I missed something very important along the way. One thing I learned is how easily I can get sidetracked by just being in nature and trying to take it all in. This is probably because I live in a big hot city in the desert and all that clean air up there was too intoxicating for me. My son and I woke up Sunday morning the 26th and packed our stuff for the long drive back to Arizona. As we finished loading the car it began to snow. Huge flakes. I thought to myself “oh, this is what snow looks like”. By the time we got from the cabin out to the highway which was just about 7 miles, there was about half a foot of snow on the ground. If we had shown up a day or two later I probably wouldn’t have been able to search anything. The weather up to that point was great, so it all worked out.
Not to sound too cliché here, but I have to say, the moments on the road, looking for a random camping spot, watching my son gloat with fish in hand, and spending all that one on one time searching with my son was all well worth its weight in gold and I can’t wait to do it next time with my daughters. Therefore I would like to notify everyone out there that I have two younger daughters that are not old enough to go out on a trip like this yet so please stop searching until they are old enough, thank you. Just kidding. But seriously.
I have a nice picture of the Brazos cliffs from the trout pond on my computer background. I stare at it often when I am zoning out at work (don’t tell my boss), dreaming of places far away and sometimes I think I can see that treasure chest sitting just beyond the shadow of the trees. It’s driving me nuts.