A Case for Gardiner…

SUBMITTED july 2016
by jasond


I found the “Chase” around the last week of April looking for summer adventure for the family, including the “Beale Cipher” and local rumored missing or lost treasures. Forrest’s adventurous chase caught the attention of the family (a blended family of eight) and we’ve been hooked.

I started digging around for information on the blogs, and watched the videos, and by the first week of May we had a destination and went looking all within a week. Crazy, but exciting.

We agreed that the first place to look was “Begin it where warm waters halt” and one of the most common solves for this is the Boiling River in North Yellowstone.

I found the quote Forrest made regarding how several have solved the first few clues but had walk right on past the chest “too far to walk”, and looked closer to the boiling river for clues.

I wandered around on google earth and found the various “put-ins” along the Yellowstone itself and came across one five miles away(almost exactly) below a set of ponds I found to be the Gardiner water treatment facility next to the Gardiner Airport.

I believed then, that the “Home of Brown” was that “Brown” gravy water with an awful smell, or the resting home of every well cooked Brown trout. At least my 13yo mind told me that, and my 15 &14yo boys giggled.

I then went to the next clue. “From there it’s no place for the meek” which I took as a reference to Jo Meek who crossed the Yellowstone near here escaping from the Nez Perce and was lost  and alone in the Yellowstone park till he was found by two of his companions. So, I assumed “cross here”.

The next clue, “The end is ever drawing nigh,” I took to say the creek “draw” is near, as just across the river is where Landslide Creek empties into the Yellowstone.

“No paddle up your creek” I felt that I was on the right path then because the creek is only about 2′ across at most points, and it’s name also seemed to allude to there being no paddling up it.
Here are the kiddos hiking along Landslide creek.20160508_121249_2“Just heavy loads and water high” I took to talk about the old dam, up stream, being the heavy loads creating the water high.

Here is a shot of the dam with Cinnabar Mountain behind it.


But, after following the creek up further, I found that there is also a lake upstream from the dam at a higher elevation, named, “Rainbow Lake” on the “Sepulcher Mtn.” ( I had to look up sepulcher and it means Crypt or Tomb)

image 2

I thought I had it in the bag,… but, I didn’t have a “blaze” I looked and at the end of Rainbow Lake was a circular shaped pond that seemed to stand out and looked like a gold coin!

So, we set out and looked in the “coin” pond.

image 3And what we found was mud. It was a muddy messy pond frequented by bison, deer, pronghorn, and elk. If it was once there, it would have sunk into the mud.

We searched around Rainbow lake a little more and found a hole in the ground we assumed to be an old geyser,(did you know that Iceland has a geyser named the Blaze?) but, after research and a second trip up, found it to only be a sink hole surrounded by white clay and no other signs of “blaze” in the area. (Unless random Elk antlers 8′ up in the tree is a blaze.)

While researching the area, we found some supporting history, such as:

-It’s called Paradise Valley.(ironically it’s like a desert and we had to watch out for cactus. It reminded me of Texas or New Mexico)
-The Gardiner newspaper was called the “Wonderland”
-The town of Cinnabar has interesting history
*Apparently Buffalo Bill Cody held tryouts there for his European tour
*It was the first train stop for Yellowstone (a land dispute kept the railroad from going to Gardiner till 1903.)
*Oddly, as a main hub to the park, not a lot of pictures of it because people wanted to save their film for the park from what I understand.(was it to homely?)
*most of the buildings were moved to Gardiner after the railroad moved there.(like maybe log cabins being moved together)
-Gardiner Clovis Point (found while excavating for the Post Office)
-Stephens Ranch Fire (Stephens ranch, close to the Stephens Creek Bison Capture Facility, was set on fire by the Nez Perce during the Nez Perce war)
-Brown streak on Cinnabar Mtn. next to Devil’s Slide. (apparently a couple of miners originally thought the rusty ocher to be cinnabar or mercury ore.)
-Rainbow Lake used to be stocked with fish in the 30’s and 40’s and was also known as “Middle Rainbow Lake”(Close to the 45th parallel.. middle middle)
-A branch of the Bannock trail went threw here.
-Also an old bison migration route (and current)
-Parks’ Fly Shop is in one of the original Cinnabar buildings.
-There are many other, but I’ll leave it at that.

Lessons learned,

1-Bring food from home if you have a big family(It cost $100 to feed 8 at the burger joint in Gardiner.)
2-The chest isn’t in a muddy area.(or on a shore line frequented by large animals, they would step on it to get a drink.)
3-The chest wouldn’t be in a sink hole because they collapse and I’m not digging unless I have solid proof(it still may be in a hole, a native to Yellowstone is the Burrowing Owl that finds holes to raise its family and lines it with bison dung.)
4-Bison like to walk down the middle of the road at night, and are difficult to see until you are about 12′ away.
5-Bear spray costs $50 or more. (supply and demand right?)
6-There is little to no service in the area.(stay safe and prepared)
7-Water is a heavy load, (but necessary to pack if you wish to get back.)
8-Two miles in, is a long hike for 6 kids and two out of shape parents.
9-Research all of the clues before heading out, or expect to return after taking lots of pictures of the area for reference later.(Even if all signs point to the area, there are still billions of places you can hide a 10″x10″x5” box)

10-Adventure was found. (even if we didn’t find the chest, we had a fun family adventure and I believe that making memories with my children is the best treasure I can give them.)

Well, that is what I have for solve #1. I still think we are in the right area, just off target. We will still hunt in the area and if you are in the hills by Gardiner and see a clan of 8, stop by and say hi. Maybe we can share adventures over a granola bar.



55 thoughts on “A Case for Gardiner…

  1. JasonD, FF has said something to the effect of (paraphrasing,) If you can’t figure out the first clue, you don’t have anything.

    I take this to mean that if you start your search at the wrong place, you don’t have any significant chance of finding the TC.

    While I have never tried to specifically determine what was a clue — or how
    many clues were actually in the poem, I did analyze the entire poem, word by
    word, for a long time.

    I think you may want to revisit your thinking about “where warm waters halt” . Although many folks apparently think that “halt” means “changes temperature” ,
    I never defined it that way.

    Good luck. Please stay safe.

    • Thanks, for the pointer, I will take it into consideration the next time we develop a solve.

    • Andrew and Jason – Mammoth Hot Springs is outside the Yellowstone Caldera Boundary,…and when travertine is deposited as terraces,…it effectively creates a “halt” to the “warm waters”,…doesn’t it?:


      “Thermal activity here is extensive both over time and distance. Terrace Mountain, northwest of Golden Gate, has a thick cap of travertine. The Mammoth Terraces extend all the way from the hillside where we see them today, across the Parade Ground, and down to Boiling River.”

      Also,…this home being threatened by the growth of Opal Terrace is where the Browns live (is that the “home of Brown, then? I’ll post that link separately below.):


      “In 1947, a tennis court was removed to allow natural expansion of the terrace. Further growth threatens the historic home next to Opal Terrace. Designed by Robert Reamer and built in 1908, the house is an example of Prairie Style architecture. Among Reamer’s other designs are the Old Faithful Inn and the Roosevelt Arch at Yellowstone’s North Entrance. Today sandbags and an earthen wall protect the house.”

      Jason – Thank you for sharing all that great info. in your solve,…as well as the great time had by all in your family. It was so enjoyable to read! 🙂

  2. Excellent read, glad your family had a good time! I ate a buffalo burger at that joint… Cost about $15 for that, fries, and a drink. But at least it was tasty. So many ideas, so little time (and money in my pockets)

  3. Nice article with lots of good ideas. Will definitely put some of thought process into my future answers.

  4. Jason you are a brave man taking a truck load of teenagers into the wilderness. The force must be strong in you. 🙂

    Good job………and good hunting to you and your clan.

  5. That was a marvelous adventure Jason! Such a beautiful place. Thanks for sharing it. I hope you kept the treasure of the antlers. Stay safe.

    • I couldn’t keep the antlers they were on the park side of things. We left them in the tree.

  6. Sounds like a really fun adventure. I have always liked Cinnabar and Cinnamon based on the story Forrest told in his book of skipping school, sliding down the handrail and getting a rusty stain on his paints. It seems like a hint since I have trouble believing he would play hooky while his father was principal.
    Lots of good reasons to like the Madison area.

    • i tried to locate his old school and lookfor the fire escape, but it looks like it was tore down. Same with his fathers old house.

  7. Sometimes I wish I lived out there. I hear all these cool adventure stories and here I sit in VA, waiting for my next 12 hour work shift 🙁

    I’m glad you guys had such an incredible adventure.

  8. Great story. One frustrating thing is that there are so many places named Rainbow.
    Down west of there is a place called Slide lake. It makes me wonder. But maybe I should not look so much for place names, and just stay with the poem.

  9. Nice. That was a great start!

    My avatar is a photo looking up to the top of the Devil’s Slide as I ascended it on my first search. I think you are in the correct general area for the first few clues..

      • It’s true. The Devil’s Slide is owned by the big church. I figured they wouldn’t shoot people for small indiscretions… even if they are a survivalist cult..

        My avatar has changed.. btw..

  10. Jason, thanks for sharing your family adventure and glad that it was a safe trip..your kids will always cherish the family outing and beautiful scenery..just for fun start WWWH at Madison Junction and see were the clues take you..Good luck and be safe on future adventures

    • Thanks Jenny!
      I didn’t catch your comment! Thank you for your efforts in the spirit of the chas as well! I always enjoy reading your blog!

    • Seems like a neat place to check out but also was wondering if my three-year-old will be able to make the hike or if it was too far and hard.

      • My 6 year old did fine, my wife has bad knees and made it with the aid of a walking stick. Watch out for mud near the base of the dam.

        • Good news! How long did it take y’all to go up and down and was there anything else worth trying to see besides the lake and antlers? Were the antlers near the lake?

          • The antlers were by the lake actually, and there was a cool cliff you can see by the lake that has tons of hiddey holes.

          • If you head towards the cemetery you can find the old Gardiner dump with some interesting things along the ground. It took us most of the day searching the area, but we didn’t make it to the cliff. Higher up the mountain either. There is some more ponds up there and old lava flumes that look cool.

      • We made it up there. It was beautiful but I think someone stole the antlers or we just didn’t look in the right place. We didn’t see them around the lake. Didn’t have a lot of time to look around though because weather was getting bad.

        • It is a nice hike up there. I’m sorry the weather got bad. It’s like a hidden lake tucked away on the mountain.

          The antlers were close, but you do have to hike around for them.

          • Well we are passing back through Gardiner this weekend and my son said the one thing he wants to do there is try to see the antlers one more time. If you can point us in the general direction from rainbow lake that’d be great.

          • Sure! We found the antlers on the northeast side of middle Rainbow lake.

            From the north edge of middle rainbow, go up to the top of the hill to the north and walk along the ridge heading east. North of the ridge is a small draw that has a few trees in it. That is where we found the antler.

          • We also found an entire skull with antlers attached at the base of the dam if you want to check that out.

  11. Jason, a searcher should carry a 22 pound load, so they can see if they
    have gone too far, for a 80 year old man, to carry the contents of the chest. See if you can carry the 20 pound chest, a mile, by putting 20 pounds in your back pa

    • What having 6 kids has taught me is the ability to pack around dead weight. a 35lb child falling asleep at the amusement park or even a piggy back rides builds your stamina to hall around wiggly weight so, I believe my ability should be fine. and if not I’m sure the 3 teens wouldn’t mind sharing the burden of some of it.

  12. I was looking at this area online and think it is a good possibility. Are you going back? If you decide to I will give you my clues. I will not go there too far.

  13. Hi Jason D. I know this is an old post but wanted to say that my reason for that area was because of the 45th parallel and FF map in TFTW book. I got the 45th from the formula FF gave us about the measurement of a horseshoe. I took two significant numbers referring to cancer and the other referring to warmer and added the two. Divided by two. On FF’s map there are two places to look at along that area. One is further east. What’s interesting is the airport on Rt. 89. (possible FF flew and rented the car). The first stanza possibly in my opinion contains the 9 = I and the preceding letter H = 8 (definition in the dictionary for “I”). The “I” is a pronoun and FF says to pay attention to the nouns because they are placed strategically for a reason. Maybe this message could help. Good luck to all.

  14. Hi JasonD,

    I am going to put BOTG in the next couple weeks, in a similar area. I was curious if you were travelling from Wyoming or Montana with your wiley crew? And awesome write up. However, I wish you named the burger place because I’m an AVID delicious burger hunter.

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