I made two trips to Montana this summer, in July and August.  I did not find the treasure chest.  Therefore everything I believe and know is suspect.

I did find a location which I believe fits the poem and other information from Mr. Fenn so well that I sent him two emails containing photos of the blaze (see below) and a third email with my complete solution (complete except for the chest, of course).  Two hours after sending my solution on August 9, 2016, this appeared on Jenny Kile’s website Mysterious Writings (

Surprise words from Forrest:

“It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.”  ~Mark Twain

I don’t know if this was in response to my solution or not.  But taking it at face value would seem to indicate that this is not the correct location.   I’m not sure what to believe.


As I have gone alone in there

And with my treasures bold,

I can keep my secret where,

And hint of riches new and old.

Begin it where warm waters halt

Madison Junction, where the Firehole and Gibbon rivers

Madison Junction

Excerpts from Fly Fishing the Madison River, Craig Mathews, (

It was in National Park Meadows where the Gibbon and Firehole come together to form the Madison that the Langford-Washburn-Doane (August-September 1870) expedition conceived the idea of making the area a national park.

Formerly, this stretch held many three- to five-pound trout, but though some are still there, they are fewer due to warming of the water.

This warmth is due to the warming of the Firehole, which provides over 70 percent of the volume of the Madison at this point.

And take it in the canyon down,

Down Madison Canyon.

Not far, but too far to walk.

About 40 miles by road to…

Put in below the home of Brown.

Hebgen Lake.

Hebgen Lake

An informational display at Baker’s Hole Campground describes how brown trout spawn at Baker’s Hole in the fall, and then grow for several months before moving down to Hebgen Lake, their “permanent home.”

From there it’s no place for the meek,

Ghost Village Road.

Ghost Village Road

On August 17, 1959 a magnitude 7.3 earthquake struck the Hebgen Lake area, causing a landslide downstream of Hebgen dam ( and causing at least 28 fatalities.  This slide formed Earthquake Lake, also known as Quake Lake.  It filled in three weeks and inundated Halford’s Camp (  Log cabins from the camp floated among the trees until the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers cut a channel into the slide to prevent a collapse and the water level retreated.  This left the Ghost Village along the shore of the lake, and ghost trees in the lake itself.

The end is ever drawing nigh;

Drive to the end of Ghost Village Road.

There’ll be no paddle up your creek,

Beaver Creek, which meets the Madison where it enters Earthquake Lake.

Beaver Creek

Just heavy loads and water high.

You’ll be standing in the creek to retrieve the treasure.

If you’ve been wise and found the blaze,

An owl-shaped rock formation with an opening that faces the creek and is big enough for a treasure chest and the person who left it (44.853983, -111.365765).


Blaze Location

Look quickly down, your quest to cease,

I searched the area for three hours on three separate days and did not locate the treasure.  Other writings indicate that it should not be hard to find once the blaze is found.

Blaze Interior 1
Blaze Interior 2

Blaze Water

But tarry scant with marvel gaze,

Don’t delay as other people may be in the area.

Just take the chest and go in peace.

So why is it that I must go

And leave my trove for all to seek?

The answers I already know,

I’ve done it tired, and now I’m weak.

Should not require great effort to locate and recover the treasure.

So hear me all and listen good,

Your effort will be worth the cold.

You must stand in the creek to recover the treasure.

If you are brave and in the wood

Ghost Wood at Earthquake Lake.

I give you title to the gold.


When I first studied Mr. Fenn’s poem in detail I decided that there were probably many reasonable solutions that fit the clues.  On my first trip in July I concentrated on the Madison River around Nine Mile Hole and Baker’s Hole.  These places fit the first few clues but I never found anything that I believed was the blaze.  On my second trip I found this rock formation but did not immediately recognize it.  I thought it was very interesting and it had the right characteristics and I thought at the time “why is this not the place?”  I continued on up Beaver Creek most of the way to Highway 287 before turning back.  When passing the area on the way downstream, I thought “I should look at this from the other side of the creek.”  When I did I immediately recognized the owl’s head formed by the center rock, and its body and wing formed by the rock on the right.  If you’ve been wise and found the blaze.  This is it.

I searched pretty thoroughly for about three hours total over three days.  Three hours doesn’t sound like much when sitting at a computer at home, but in the real world with your feet in cold water and sitting on a rock hunched over hoping an earthquake doesn’t strike right now, it’s a long time.  I searched in the water in front of the opening, within the banks on either side, and across the creek on the other side.  Inside the rock formation itself I turned over all of the rocks I could move and poked around using only a rock and a stick.  I decided that everything I’d read indicated that if you find the blaze it should not be hard to find the chest.  So I did not do any excavation other than turning over the first layer of rocks, and pushing on others to verify that they probably could not be moved by an 80 year old man with limited time.

This location is a 25 minute walk from the parking lot at the end of Ghost Village Road.  It is on level ground and does not require entry into the water until right at the formation.  It’s a beautiful setting with a view of Earthquake lake where the Madison River and Beaver Creek enter.  And what better place to rest your bones than Ghost Village, in the Ghost Wood.

After spending three days at this location I have a hard time believing it’s not the right place.  But I did not find the chest, and so this may be own confirmation bias speaking.  I suspect others have felt the same way about their solutions, but I have never seen photos of a site like this that are consistent with everything I’ve read about the treasure location.  I know of nothing about this site that contradicts Mr. Fenn’s words.

My first two emails to Mr. Fenn contained photos of the blaze and an indication that I had not found the chest.  I got no reply.  In my third email containing the full solution, I said I believed that the chest had been previously found and not reported to him.  Two hours later I found the Surprise Words From Forrest quoted above on Mysterious Writings.  So I don’t know what to believe.

To me the relevant news to listen for is whether he says that more clues have been solved, or if he continues to maintain that no one has found the chest.


I had two fabulous trips to Montana and hiked places I otherwise never would have gone.  I found that West Yellowstone has an excellent selection of ice cream shops (I recommend the huckleberry honey lavender from City Creamery).  I found that there is no substitute for boots on the ground when deciphering clues.

Thank you Mr. Fenn.


47 thoughts on “Ghosts…

  1. Jackal – good work – I agree, this area has had me perplexed for four years now. At first, I thought it would be across the Madison inside the “horseshoe” of the river. I thought I was close when I found a few beer cans and pie tins.

    BOTG hunting in this locale seems perfect – I’ve many stories and memories of searching this place: tick infestations, broken ankles, grizz and goat sights, and even some awesome time catching some Browns on a San Juan worm.

    I’ve even considered Tom Miner Basin – there is s small section where you can catch Cutts – love that area. The Pet Forest is a fun interpretive hike too…but, like Quake, no luck there either.


  2. Very nice search Jackal, thanks for sharing. This spot has been on my radar ever since college days. A very practical solution. Careful of that confirmation bias stuff, you’ll be left wondering which way reality went.:)

  3. I searched the first week of August, so maybe I don’t have to worry about that quote from Forrest. Lol ha ha.
    You put together a very nice adventure. Glad u had a safe journey. 🙂
    Don’t feel bad I can’t find it either. 🙂

  4. Very nice solve. I’ve been sharing with someone at work about this (I work at a desk and they’ve been shadowing me, getting to know how I work), and have mentioned several times how the Firehole seems to match WWWH, so I’m sure they will be interested in seeing this.

    Looks like you spent a good amount of time researching and physically searvhing. Congrats on a well written solution.

  5. Nice read… Im sorry you couldn’t find it….but that happens. You seem like you saw a ghost. I’ve found a ghost…. and he’s one who can keep a secret 😉

    • Michael– because it is an animal that constantly asks questions. Tank God all it can ask is “who”?

    • Michael;

      For my solve, I have to view my blaze from above in order to see it…My blaze has to be viewed from a tall boulder.

      If you’ve been wise (Like an owl that views its prey from a lofty perch, or from aloft – and have found the blaze…” (sic)

      That’s how I see it (my blaze) anyway….pun intended. JDA

  6. My earliest solve, right there at the mouth of Beaver creek, walked up to the bridge with the beaver pond just beyond.
    But you have to ask yourself if the quake which happened in 1959 would affect ff as a boy. He said it was a place he found in his boyhood. I don’t think the 59 quake qualifies, altho the area could coincidentally coincide.

    • Can you refresh my memory. I do not recall Forrest ever saying that it was a place that he found in his boyhood.
      Can you give a source for this statement? Just wonderin’


  7. Jacob, I enjoyed your story and pictures; that is a very popular area to search. I sat on that very rock a few years ago, it’s not as comfortable as it looks. 🙂 I didn’t see the owl in the rocks (still don’t honestly), but I thought it looked like a natural cairn.

  8. Jackal, very nice adventure…thanks for sharing. The pictures are beautiful. I love ice cream. I believe those Surprise Words were directed at you. And I’m still a believer that Fenn hid the treasure chest in NM… But someday I will still go explore YNP and the surrounding area for its beauty.

  9. Jackal
    Very well put together. The pics where nice and I do see the owl’s head but I see ” if you’ve been wise” in another and all together different angle. But I did get into the story. Better luck in the future with all solves


  10. Thanks for the share Jackal. Glad you enjoyed your adventures. I love the way that you and Dals solve included some imagination. From owls to dragons I strongly feel this is part of the key to unlocking Forrests complex puzzle. Understand and know the magnificent way Forrest sees things as adult and 13 year old. Blend those to views together and may have the winning formula. Then begin it with the when, where, and why.

  11. Thanks for sharing, Jackal. My solution is the same as yours for the first few clues (up to and including putting in below Lake Hebgen), but I’ve got a different interpretation for “no place for the meek” and so on.

    This is not the first time I’ve seen these first four clues (warm waters, canyon down, to far to walk, home of Brown) interpreted this way, which gives me confidence that that part of the solution is solid.

    Good luck in your search!

  12. Yep, been there , done that in 2014, and again last year! That’s where I go under my soda bottle, in a buried trash pile by Beaver Creek! Camped right next to Ghost Village, hiked hill, got a ride across the river to check the valley/buildings, and a neat owl rock E gave me directions to. No avail. I’ve since moved to a diff area, just returned from there, but will return later this month to check another fall on other side of mountain lake.
    Good luck to all.
    And, JD, I don’t ever remember F saying it was a spot from his boyhood either! Scoured my notes, no luck!
    ¥Peace ¥

  13. Jackal,
    Sorry to say, that solve has been done over and over. In fact my neice actually climbed down in that exact rock, 2014.
    Look up forrest fenn dateline on you tube.
    We were not the first to track that path either, I think Dal was or maybe Forrest’s Nephew, I think he lives near there. Also I know Stephanie searched there some in 2013.
    Could be out there but I think we all have kicked through every blade of grass from Campfire lodge to refuge point to beaver creek and all through the campground and even crossed the river to be under the five promitories.
    That being said, the place is gorgeous and its worth the visit.

  14. A prime example of people not doing there research before they spend there money to go search A great solve but the Rock has been searched several times Who ever is new to the search needs to go read all the scrapbooks posted and all the interviews with Forrest on you tube Was a good read tho :/) love this area let’s start placing flags where we search then we all will know hahaha

    • Flags. Great idea for a contest. Design a Fenn “treasure’s not here” flag and see where they get planted (and how many decorate the mountains north of Santa Fe.)

      First prize? Rights to sell the cute little things? Money to pay the littering fines?

  15. I agree water high. Then we all could narrow down the search areas hahah Even a scrapbook called Flagged areas Flag this rock for sure we looked in it in the winter on the dateline show haha and in spring Even if we don’t use flags just rock cairns or something for other searchers to know we been there

  16. I’m making a little flag with a picture of Forrest wearing a red and white striped hat with a red ball on top that says “Fenn wasn’t here”. 1.00 each. 25 for 20 dollars. Consider it a service for other treasure seekers, and a way for us to find you, if you are lost on the trail, too. Order at lol!

    • Wish I new I would of got
      Some before I head out Friday I’ll
      Make rock cairns and mark the top rock with a red magic marker X for now haha

    • Maybe you should make some that don’t have his face just a FF or one that has a X Only us trail blazers would no what they are other people might think we’re littering and start crap about searchers just a thought :/)

  17. I think you were on the right track with this solution. More so than any other I have read. I think though the treasure chest would be far enough away from the riverbank to not be affected by potential flooding. And I am also certain the chest is under a log or part of a log, based on comments Mr. Fenn has made.

  18. I have seen the man on the stairs.
    I know where he goes,
    when he is not there.
    It’s made out of wood but it isn’t a log.
    It’s underneath the top of the bog.
    I have seen the man on the stairs.
    I know where he goes,
    when he is not there.

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