Up Near Hebgen Lake…

by Brandon


Let me start with the fact that I have never been to Yellowstone.  Although I live in Colorado, which is beautiful and has numerous lakes, rivers and amazing scenery, I was blown away at the majestic mountains and landscape that Yellowstone and the surrounding areas have to offer.  We arrived in Island Park, ID on Monday.  We had a cabin that was 30 minutes to the west entrance and I couldn’t wait to get started.  I had a couple of locations that I wanted to search and they both followed the same first few clues, from there is where I was split on what to do next.  I am not gonna pull all the exact quotes and exactly which videos I got my information from cause I don’t have the time, but I’m sure all the bloggers can check for me, so for now, I’ll stick to paraphrasing.

Begin it where warm waters halt.  Forrest what does warm mean to you?  Forrest replies “Comfortable”  What waters is Forrest most comfortable in? Fly water of course.  Which fly water, the fly waters of Yellowstone.  The Firehole, Gibbon and Madison rivers are designated flywaters only.  And where do they halt? The Yellowstone boundary line at Bakers Hole on the Madison, which all flow in one direction out of the park.  Speaking of Bakers Hole, IMO Forrest’s comments about making a cake or whatever and leaving out a few ingredients, would you achieve your goal?  Wouldn’t that be just like Forrest to be hinting about Bakers Hole?

And take it in the canyon down.  To me this meant the canyon that actually did come down.  The Madison River Canyon.  The earthquake in 1959 brought part of that canyon down, forming quake lake.

Not far, but too far to walk.  From Bakers Hole to the put in below the home of Brown is too far to walk and this simply means to drive there.

Put in below the home of Brown.  This is where I have two theory’s as to the put in, but my home of Brown is Hebgen Lake.

Forrest makes the comment that your destination is small but its location is huge.  Well in TTOTC Forrest describes Hebgen lake as huge.  My 1st theory for the put in is the boat ramp at quake lake is actually the old highway that is now submerged under quake lake.  My 2nd theory is just below Hebgen dam,

which is the 1st place you are allowed to put in with a raft, although you cannot fish from your boat in this section, just put in. Forrest says in one interview that he did not want to discuss when he found his special place because it would give too much away.  I always believed he said that because if he said 1962 or sometime similar it would let you know the earthquake of 1959 which reshaped some of the land there, had something to do with the solve.  Why not just say he found it when he was a kid or teenager?

theory 2
From there its no place for the meek.

below the dam are all kinds of warning signs.  One theory I never got to execute is this clue meaning to cross the street.  If you google the definition of meek, one of the synonyms for meek is biddable.  No place for biddies.  That whole chapter is about those biddies saying he couldn’t cross the street and he thought he could cross the street whenever he wanted too.  What do you think?

The end is ever drawing nigh.  As you put in below hebgen dam and head upstream, you are on the left and its not far in distance to walk up.

There’ll be no paddle up your creek.  Below the dam is definitely something you cannot paddle up.

Just heavy loads and water high.  Sure sounds like a dam to me.  Forrest said warm waters halt is not a dam.  He did not say Heavy loads and water high isn’t.  Which I also thought went perfectly with why your below the home of Brown.

If you’ve been wise and found the blaze

This was my blaze.  Its something permanent that would not be feasible to remove.

Well I looked quickly down and around and all over the place but did not find the treasure.  Although I did find many great memories with my family.

Back to theory 1,

Once I was standing at the boat ramp, which is the old highway and got to:
From there its no place for the meek,
the end is ever drawing nigh;
there’ll be no paddle up your creek,
just heavy loads and water high.

I thought this was referring to Beaver Creek, which enters the Madison right at the beginning of Quake Lake.  Hence the semicolon connecting the two.  In one of the videos, I think its the logging video, Forrest talks about pulling a lodgepole pine behind a 10 horsepower motor and says, “now that was a heavy load.”  So in this theory my heavy loads and water high was all the trees in the Madison and Quake lake where it forms.

Well I hiked all around that area and up Beaver creek, but didn’t find anything.  Again we had a great time and will definitely visit the area again.  But for now, back to square one.

I hope someone will maybe continue with something I missed.  Once you are physically there you realize how this thing could be anywhere.  Its a huge area.  Please feel free to leave your comments.  I wanted to attach the pictures as my story went along but am not much of a computer guy.  I tried subscribing to your site and just got too confused on how to post this there, so I thought I would email it to you.  Thank you Forrest, Dal and everyone else who contributes to this blog.


62 thoughts on “Up Near Hebgen Lake…

    • Jake dear,
      I agree with you, Brandon had a. Beautiful trip.
      The pictures were great Brandon.


  2. ps to my previous, if your to poor to pay attention Safeway, or Kroger will give you a pound for free

    • Are all the spelling mistakes on purpose? I’ve often wondered if misspellings like these are some sort of code or inside joke.

    • I loved reading this. The hanging point for me is home of brown.

      I have wondered if the chest is somewhere west of an alarm, like the one that sounds at a damn. Like steam engines and air horns that you can hear out of the east.

      Also, no place for the meek…the slide is no place for sheep mountain. It shouldn’t be there. I wonder if the tree Forrest sat under while he wrote a note for his wife is now under that water. It’s also interesting whwn you think about how Quake Lake will ultimately drain some day. Like maybe in 1000 years?

      The sound of the slide, or a damn might be similar to the soothing sound of afterburners. Also, the slide is a graveyard and I definitely felt the reverence if that while I was there.

      Knowing now that it isn’t underwater clears up my imaginative thought of it being under quake lake, with a swim to a Goonies style underwater cave. 🙂 Also, standing at the slide a foot or two off the bank to feel the current and to get my fly just a bit further out made it plain that this 41 year old man wasn’t going to cross that four times in an afternoon. If I made it across once I’d hike all the way down to Slide Inn and cross there before attempting the return trip.

      I also like quake because it fits the “most” in “most of the places to which the clues refer”. I absolutely love how he answered that question. I might be paraphrasing but: Did the clues exist when you were a kid? The clues didn’t exist but the places to which….

      If he was the Forrest that the media or haters would have you believe he’d jus say, “nope.” But as politely as ever he clarifies then answers the question that should have been asked.

      I’m unusually chatty tonight. I better go to bed before I share any more of my secrets. 🙂

  3. Pretty, pretty area. Good Luck on your next trip out. Looks like you found a few treasures anyway – just not Forrest’s treasure. JDA

  4. I enjoyed reading about your adventure and the photos are great. Thank you for sharing, Brandon.

  5. DG, Stephanie, Dal, Myself..and many more, I’m sure, have searched this area, but…doesn’t mean one wasn’t 200 feet away! Heading to WY, MT on July 8th,
    Be safe, all
    Donna M.

    • Donna – Right now I have a Moto G phone, where I can stay on The Chase using Republic Wireless all the time. So I will be following you and everyone else and maybe Dal and Goofy will let this post through, since it’s been a long time and I will behave myself.

  6. Nice trip report but didn’t FF say the chest is not associated with any structure? IMO this includes manmade dams. Also that is technically a river (not a creek) coming out of Hebgen Lake FWIW.

    • Technically, it’s a tailrace coming out of hebgen lake, to a tailwater. You could call it a creek or a river and people would still know what you mean. Calling it a stream would be a stretch.

      Watkins Creek is a branch of the Madison River, making it part of the Madison River, making the Madison River a part of it.

      The Madison resembles a spring creek and has been called the world’s largest chalk stream.

      I was on Bitch Creek a few weeks ago finding jade and it was running faster and even wider than the Madison was at Lyons bridge just a few weeks prior.

      You could call the Madison River a creek and not be lying.

  7. Beautiful area – some great fishing between the dam and Q lake. I’ve searched this area several times. Love the Heli rescue connection too..,rabbit hole? Not sure. Good luck in your chase! JMiles

  8. I like this trend of consensus.
    Madison Junction
    Madison River Canyon
    Hebgen lake
    Beaver Creak / Quake Lake
    People say this is too easy, but you won’t hear ff complaining… it’s really the heart of Fenn’s writings IMO

    • I couldn’t agree more. I spent a lot of my teens in the mountains of Utah. They are beautiful. I’ve lived in Eugene, OR, Denver, CO and spent time in the outdoors there, mostly spent fly fishing. I once watched a huge buck lick seeds out of the bird feeder on my back patio in Colorado.

      My first trip to Hebgen and Quake was about a month ago. The skies were overcast with the sun peeking through the clouds from time to time. After throwing a couple of nymphs out about 30 times, and catching 30 fish at the Rainbow Point Campground boat dock (they were all chubs), I drove back to 191, drove north then turned west on 287. I had spent so much time staring at the area via Google Earth that I didn’t need a map, or my phone.

      When I passed Graylings Arm and followed 287 as it curved to the north west, I looked to my left and the view of the snow capped mountains, with the greys and blues in the overcast sky were so beautiful that I tried to call my wife to tell her that I’d just found heaven. Maybe it’s that Forrest has taught me to look at things in a fuller, better way but the places I had seen previous were pale in comparison.

      I stopped to fish the spillway where the slide begins. What an experience that was for me. I’m pretty sure I was standing near the area where Osborne wrote about in his journal. There was nobody there trying to fish the fast moving muddy water so I had the entire place to myself. It was raining but I had my raincoat over my waders so only my feet and face got wet. The smell was wonderful, but I am not yet able to identify most things that I smell in the mountains. I would say that it smelled like the freshly cut wood that I lived when I worked at a Weyerhaeuser paper mill in Springfield Oregon for a few years.

      I thought about how my wife’s grandmother was there that night, camping with her husband and my father-in-law. She threw a full blown fit that same day because she did not like the campground they were in. Her husband gave in and they moved to a different campground. It saved their lives.

      Next I drove further down the 287 and took a side road hoping to find the West Fork of the Madison. I found a spot where I could drive down by the river which ended up being about 20 miles north of Henry’s Lake. I had my fly rod but ended up balancing about 20 pounds of some beautiful blue agate back to the car. I would have stayed longer but the mosquitos were so thick I later counted 15 bytes on each of my forearms the next morning.

      I ended my day at Lyons bridge where I caught a small cutthroat and later had a nice one on but once it got downstream it was too much for my 10ft 4wt Euro-nymphing rig. It was getting dark and rather than let him take me into my backing and spending 20 minutes getting him in, I held my line hoping to persuade (horse) him back upstream. Instead he snapped my 4x tippet and stole my extremely heavy bead head rubber legs.

      During the 2 hour drive home to Idaho Falls in the dark I thought about how funny it was that once I finally got to the spots I’ve been looking at for so long related to the chase, I completely forgot the reason that brought me there and fell under that beautiful country’s spell. I’m a very religious man but Forrest has reminded me of what it’s like to be just as spiritual. Lately it’s all starting to blend together and my life seems so much richer…

      Except for tonight when I slipped while wading in Box Canyon on the Henry’s Fork and scraped a 3 inch long, deep gash in my left shin. I was more disappointed that I had torn a nickel sized hole in my waders.

      Speaking if living a fuller life, am I the only one who’s mind starts saying, “As I have gone alone in there,” every night when they go to bed?

      • Bytes was a spell check change but is kind of funny. Mosquito Bytes. That’s somethingbill have to use in my own book if I ever find the treasure and want to pay it forward. 🙂

      • Enjoyed reading your post, Ryan D. Hope the gash heals quickly for you. Whether anyone else will admit it, you’re not alone in regards to repeating the poem in your mind, no matter the time of day.

        • Thanks pdenver. The other day I just about answered a question that my wife had asked with a line I was thinking about from the poem. It was touch and go there for a bit. 🙂

        • Ryan D – Next time you’re headed to Hebgen Lake Area pick me up on the way in Sun Valley from your home in Idaho Falls. I need a buddy to hike the Cabin Creek Trail. Do you have a Savage 300 rifle? My Grizz is still looming there, I hear. And I can tell you where all the great places that Craig Matthews, local guide and author, has recommended to fish

  9. I really like the picture of the water gushing out over the river. It looks really dangerous though and I dont know if I could be saved but I am sure I will be cleansed well. I prefer calm rivers because they are easier to watch a leaf float by. I was on the Wind River today and the energy it produced was really something and I didn’t even want to get close.
    Enjoyed your story. Thanks

    An Indian Scout and A Saint

    • The first time I stepped into a river was last year. It was the Yellowstone to do some fly fishing in waders. It was the middle of July, and I’ve read it was a drier than usual winter. I was surprised of the force from the water. I only went about knee deep to just below my knee, and I’m a short person.

      • No, no, no pd!! You must not say you are a short person.

        You must refer to yourself as a vertically challenged individual. Be careful, the PC police are always watching!!

        Good Luck to Ya (and stay out of those dang rivers, little one! 🙂

      • Pd, you can be blessed being short. I ended up too short this weekend. I was off by a least a foot.

        • GEYDELKON, hard to tell someone they’ll blessed being short when one stands in a grocery isle and needs something from the top shelf and no one is around. 🙂 I’ve had to ask plenty for their assistance. 🙂

          You were off by at least a foot, but not knowing the full distance from that point to where Indulgence is?

          • Pd, I usually go to the dog toy section and get me one of those ball tossers to pull something off the top shelf.

            I dont understand your question.

          • You mentioned you were off by at least a foot. I’m guessing from where you thought the treasure chest is. Wherever you were at would be “Point A,” and Indulgence would be “Point B.” If you were off by “at least a foot,” then it would be from that point to the treasure chest, and the currently unknown distance between said points. Maybe I misunderstood when you said, ‘I ended up too short this weekend. I was off by a least a foot.’

          • The grocery store I go to doesn’t offer things like that. If no one is around, I usually try to stand on the bottom shelf and hope for the best.

          • Pd, I shop at Wal-mart because I have no other choice from were I live.

            To answer your question; all I know is I took 1 step at a time. It was a lot of fun and I laughed.

  10. pdenver- being short myself, I always got a kick out of Randy Newmans’ song- Short People_

  11. Your warm Brandon keep your family searching. Next time take them down into ghost village so many cool things to see down there My favorite search spot And below hebgan dam is where we saw the moose give birth. That Was so cool . Eagles galore it was a great story and I also have used that sign as my reference to Home of Brown

  12. The water coming out of the pipe reminds me of the hair ball in ff s hand (maybe not)

  13. Brandon your description and solutions to the 9 clues make perfect sense to me, and I’ll bet Forrest knows you were very close….I just feel it. It truly is about the Thrill of the Chase, can’t wait to join in on the adventure….

  14. Hey Brandon – I have done a lot of searching online and in-person in that general area and wondered if you’ve checked around the Quake Lake in the areas of the submerged trees, like the one with the nest, that appears in this photo. Or in the older edition of Flywater there was a stump on a spit of land near one of the shores pictured. DDid you by chance go out and check it? I am just real curious…


    • Me and my team have checked that whole area Dozens of times Fun spot to search tho

          • pdenver – Thank you so much! I really enjoy going on hikes and taking my phone along to take pictures, and then processing them when I return. It’s a very meditative experience. And I love it when people love what I do. And I love bringing people along with me in this way on my hikes.

  15. Paraphrasing

    And if I said who, she’d be real upset and run out and retrace her steps on all her searches.

    Just sayin

  16. Hey Brandon,
    Nice solve, except for the ending of course! I have only just heard of Fenn and his treasure and from my research you are so close! I believe I have the solution. I wish we could have a beer and a chat. Heading to USA September 2018 and only have 1 spot to check. I think you have the wrong Blaze, happy to split it with you. all the best!

  17. Google Earth. From Rock Creek follow up…above Waters High. Head North / Northeast to a ridge. Scan the ridge until you come to just below 10,200ft. See the white outcropping? Zoom in… see an “F” on it?

    (Blaze?) 😉

    That wasn’t made by mother nature.

    Box found. Fun search. THANKS ff!!!

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