Starting at Agua Fria…….



Here is my solution to the poem:

Agua Fria (near Santa Fe) to Agua Fria (near Angel Fire).

Down through Cimarron Canyon.  Near Angel Fire is not far, but near Santa Fe is too far too walk (more than 92 mi.)

Put into Cimarron Canyon below Eagle’s Nest (home) in (of) Moreno (Brown) Valley.  And before you start beating me over the head with the oh that’s not Brown, it is one of the definitions, and per SB 179 Fenn doesn’t care if he uses a word wrong so long as the reader gets his point.

From there head up to Raton Pass (no place for the meek).

Climax (the end) is drawing nigh on the approach. (you can see my comments on SB 166 for a ton of hints re: this area which I was previously focused on as the location of the chest).

I sent Forrest this photo thinking I was on to something, because the star of Bethlehem (wisemen) sits on top of the hill pictured.  His next scrapbook ended with the line “The secret is not to get too excited about the little things.  One of the pictures was a smashed church bell.

Head up Raton Creek.

Morley mine at mile marker 3 (heavy loads).  St Aloysius Church bell tower is the only thing left standing in the demolished town and I see Scrapbook 172 as hinting towards this.  The doorway (portal) faces east and is a dichotomy with the rubble of the town surrounding it.  This bell tower sits approximately 9 miles (the distance Forrest’s bell can be heard) from the Climax Canyon.  It was also coincidentally built in 1917 exactly 100 years ago.

Up near Fisher’s Peak there is a Bell Tank and a Bell Spring. (Water High) SB 172 had 2 pictures of bells and 173 used bells jingled.  These are roughly east of the Gallinas (Chickens? SB 175) exit in the Raton Pass.

East from the bells, across the mountain is a giant natural amphitheater (so hear me all and listen good).

Anyone noticed the common theme of many of the recent SBs involving the army going out of their way to punish the Indians?  What about the sudden theme of the pioneers?  Well, follow this link to read about Kit Carson leading some soldiers down into the amphitheater after some Apaches.  It may shed some light on F’s post about his really great hat.

This kind of obscure place is exactly the kind of place F seeks out to hunt for his treasures.  This place is surrounded by private property and the kind of out of the way place that nobody would readily stumble upon.  It is part of the James Johns (Jimmy Johns? Bring a sandwich?) State Wildlife Area of Colorado, which by definition is also a “chase.”

To get there you have to be in New Mexico and walk from Lake Dorothey (I recall a few things being tied to the Wizard of Oz… Glinda, a photo of a “now leaving Kansas” sign I think?)  This reminded me of the lumberjack illustration.

If you reach the end of Fisher’s Peak Mesa where you head down into the bowl, you are greeted with a magnificent view.  Lake Trinidad lines up perfectly in the little gulley of the ridge that connects the upper part of the mesa to Fisher’s Peak.  In the background, you can see the Spanish Peaks and the rest of the mountainous skyline behind.  It reminded me of all those landscape paintings by Sloane and others Forrest has shared only ten thousand times better. Down below, the amphitheater looks like a giant bowl.  It felt like sitting at the top of the Coliseum.  I sat there for an hour in awe (tarry scant with marvel gaze) before I looked around a bit.

From the east of where I took that photo (the photo does not do this view justice at all), a few hundred feet, is a secret waterfall that was roaring from the melting snow. The water sheeted down through a mountain of snow and disappeared. I thought I would get a good picture of it when I climbed down but because this gorge is on the north side, the snow was waist deep and the terrain was so steep I couldn’t for the life of me get back up near the waterfall.

I followed the creek down slowly toward Second Spring on Gray Creek keeping a wary eye for something that might let me know someone had secreted a can of Dr. Pepper in the stream, but the snow was still working against me.  I found a dry hill a little way up from the spring and camped out for the night.  In the morning, I went down to second spring thinking some of his hints pointed that way and for a brief moment I got excited when I thought I saw a bell sitting in the snow.  It turned out to be the remains of a tea kettle.  I moved it onto a pointy boulder approximately 2’ in a direction away from the spring.  On the ride home, it occurred to me that maybe that’s what Tea with Olga meant in the valley down below the mountain.

I wish I hadn’t been so overly eager and gone in May like I had originally planned, maybe the snow would be gone and I could search the waterfall and the creek more thoroughly.  As it was, I had to trespass North to Trinidad to escape the mountain.

FYI, the hike is not for the faint of heart it took most of the day the second trip (bedroll?).  My first attempt was so insane it will likely become a book.  I believe F may have used a horse to get there.  Many of the latest SB mention horses, and that could be why he refused to answer the question about using any other form of transportation.  It was definitely an awe-inspiring place and to me has all of the qualities he would look for in his special place.  These peaks are part of the Raton Mesa formation which also contain the Folsom Archaeological site.

Fisher’s peak by name would seem like the kind of place a searcher would go and come close to the chest but have no logical reason for being there.  Plus, his family passed through Raton Pass on the way to Yellowstone; these mountains would be the closest Rockies for that Texas Redneck with no job and whole lot of kids.

Just for I plotted the points out like a flight plan from Santa Fe Municipal Airport (in Agua Fria) to the waterfall and they seem to line up.  As you can see from the photo the first clue gets you more than half way to the treasure.

Hopefully someone else gets a chance to get up there when the snow melts the rest of the way and do a thorough search.  Maybe you will be the one to get out there and find it, but even if you don’t, I can assure you it will be well worth the trip.

One last thing… I know that F said no special knowledge was required.  All of these things could be solved as clues without having any special knowledge, but that doesn’t mean special knowledge won’t make you more successful.  The key word is required. Two hands aren’t required to be a drummer, ask that guy from Def Leppard; but that doesn’t mean you tie one behind your back.

Here is a picture of the range I took from the back of a pickup as I hitched a ride back to Sugarite.  You can see my consolation prize (elk shed) I carried from the mountain north into Trinidad.




29 thoughts on “Starting at Agua Fria…….

  1. Nice HumblePi, I had an Agua Fria solution as well that I never really looked at. I’m sure many have thought alot about Agua Fria 🙂

  2. Humble, Very nice story…good ideas for the solutions to the poem. I loved your pictures. It sounds like it was an amazing experience and quite the adventure. I think you found the treasure that is the thrill of the chase. Awesome…thanks for sharing.

  3. Nice layout & descrip.
    NM is so overdone.
    Yea, maybe the treasure lies in a crook there where someone overlooked but I don’t think so.

    Hope to live to know where it really is.
    Thanks for the entertainment.

    • Not trying to be rude, but if you followed along, this is Colorado not NM. It just so happens the only way to get there lies in NM.

  4. Congratulations
    Another solve and an eager trek and
    Excitement and the solid match of clues to the
    Boots on the ground evidence.

    Yep Google Earth is so clear at 3 AM in the comfort of your home.
    7 pm in the mountains with dark closing in and forcing you to leave the area is frustrating.
    Imam glad you have a treasure, a story and pictures to help find your way back for another look see. Karen the teacher from Detroit

  5. Enjoyed your story, HumblePi. It sounded like you had a great adventure, and a bit of treasure to remember it by. I enjoyed the great photos, too.

  6. Humble, all solutions read teach us something inspirational, the fact that yours is easy to follow and has a logical starting place is a plus. You did not over think it , we’ll said.

    Tom T

  7. Humblepi ….I like your solve! I drove past that church last year on my way to Montana and wanted so bad to stop. My problem is that I like to see how fast i can drive 2300 miles so i pushed on!
    Maybe this year ill make myself stop and look. I love Raton Pass, esp the song “Snowing on Raton”
    Again, super cool solve but i dont see Forrest on horseback with a box of gold, but who knows!

    • Well technically though you are not supposed to drive up there, the pipeline road that goes across the mesa appeared to be passable in a sedan most of the way.

      • Well I def want to visit the area in May-June mostly due to the history. If you would like I can video while im there and send to ya?

        • Absolutely. The waterfall I believe is only seasonal during snow melt, but you’ll be able to tell where it spilled over the edge of the mesa. While you’re there I suggest visiting the Raton Museum. Roger Sanchez is a wealth of knowledge for the area. They even have a casting of a T Rex footprint found on Philmont by Chuck Pillmore who actually was one of the leaders in identifying the KT Boundary that can be seen several places in the area.

  8. Thanks for sharing. Very nice photos and lay-out. It was very intriguing indeed. I really think you might be on to someth…….OWWWW! Geez! OWWW! That really hurt man! The other shin…. OK OK. Wyoming. I gotcha. Geez. No more kicking!”

    Billy: “The Merthiolate is right over there Sparrow. Please try to keep focused my friend”.

  9. A few things I forgot to mention:

    If you google Raton 25, (think of the Scrapbook about bingo) the first search result is webcams for Raton Pass.

    Also of significance related to the importance of a quarter, at Willow Springs Ranch, the original stage coach stop they charged .25 for a bucket of water in the 1890s. Makes Fs .50 shower sound cheap.

    Another reference to the quarter is an old short story in Santa Fe magazine about the Cruz-Torres grave. A soldier who was shot on the pass and buried where he fell.

    The two recent SBs also could hint at the Morley Mine. It was once called Kachinas, and there was at some point a logo of 3 Devils (Tua Hoy – Three Horns).

    • HumblePi, I owe both you and f a huge apology. I was too hasty to “comment” without first reading the post. Should have just subscribed instead.

      Obviously I thought it was f, hence the comment. I blame the misspelled word on autocorrect though. Should have been “month” of course.

      Wiping that huge AA egg of my face, I’d like to say that you’ve obviously spent a lot of time on your solve and the pictures are great. Having worked around areospce systems engineers before retiring, they always were looking for lessons learned for improvement when we had a failure or something didn’t work as expected.

      So I’m curious, what did you take away from your hunt and is there anything you’ll do differently next time?

      Again, sorry for my faux pas to all.


      • Well, I definitely learned that I need to learn to plan better. If the internet says its a day trip hiking, that probably means for experienced hikers under ideal conditions. And just because it looks like all the snow is melted from below, doesn’t mean anything when you reach the top. Also, be flexible. I was heading to second spring all the way until I saw the waterfall. It just felt right. I only wish I could have gotten there to search.

  10. HumblePi, Thanks for shedding, sounds like an adventure. That country has always intrigued me with its pioneer spirits still scented in the winds. You gave it a good shot and thats the best part.

  11. Wow look at that horn u have, poor elk.
    Glad u had a safe adventure and great solution. 😉

  12. Thanks Humblepi!

    That overlook with Spanish Peaks on the far horizon looks like a fantastic spot to go painting.


  13. Nice solve Mr. Pi…love the secret waterfall and hitching a ride with an elk shed at the end. I like your start point as well. When you go to Eagles Nest region you will nearly always see Golden Eagles. That observation led to that area as my home of Brown…Golden Eagles are a deep brown color. Good work marrying hints and clues to a map. IMO, as long as Cynthia continues to search in New Mexico, that state is far from “overdone”.

  14. Where your treasures are your Heart is also been spending time with my treasure ,Now back to the chest , God will let me know when the time is right to retrieve it, Stumbled over a pointy rock might as well have a cup of tea and let my toe quit hurting before I head into the Woods . My Faith has never been stronger. I will be there with all my guardian Angels. I give the glory to God

  15. Thanks for posting this Humb. It is nice to see read about peoples quest in such detail. You did a good job marrying a lot of clues to actual spots. The amphitheater one seems like a perfect fit. The only pause I have on this though is it seems like it would be quite the trek for an 80 year old to do twice in a day.

    Thanks again, and good luck!

  16. Pi, Thanks for sharing! I LOVE solves involving the Raton area! In fact probably: 40% of my solves involve the Raton-Maxwell-Springer area. I never thought of going North of Raton. I love it when people introduce new ideas – and this one is a WONDERFUL new idea to me. What a great solve. Thanks again for sharing a piece of the Pi.

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