Wind River Canyon…

July 2017
by Tbug-


Hi fellow Fennatics, I’ve been lurking off/on for a few years, the search for me has not involved botg and this is NOT a complete solve, rather I wanted to see the community’s thoughts on a few things (especially in light of all the recent SBs/posts from FF – writing this as of 4/20/2017). The following is a theory, not confirmed and will definitely NOT sway any of the Blog-erati (looking at you Seeker!). The following is just my opinion, guaranteed or your money back:

My backstory: First heard the Fenn story in 2013 from a co-worker who was very enthusiastic, we discussed for several weeks and then it fell the wayside, I would occasionally hear of an article or interview and then I found Dal’s site last year and have been reading a lot and coming up with some ideas. I’m a longtime CO/WY kid (I’m 40), between the ages of 6-16 I spent summers in Wyoming, often spending several weeks with family (Grandpa and cousins in Worland, other grandparents in Sheridan WY). Those visits included the 6+ hour drive from Laramie to get there, anyone who has driven in/around the state of WY can attest, the joy is NOT in the journey, most assuredly it is that you finally got there after so many grueling hours in the car. In my younger years these trips were fun only because of the ways my dad would entertain me, often involving ‘breaking records’ like total trip time, how long he could keep the speedo over triple digits, how far could we go without stopping for food or pee breaks, etc. The route we would take would sometimes change slightly, but was basically I-80 over to Rawlins, up 287 to Sweetwater or Lander, up to Riverton and Shoshoni and up the Wind River Canyon through Thermopolis and onto Worland. The scenery of this drive was…let’s just agree to describe it as ‘98% brown’. The stretch between Rawlins to Shoshoni is my own living hell, any scientists out there working on teleportation owe it to themselves to drive that route and re-invigorate their mission. However, once you got to Shoshoni there was hope, a light at the end of the tunnel and finally something to hold your attention besides antelope and tumbleweeds.

The Wind River Canyon has always held a special place in my heart…a lighthouse along the way signifying the drive was almost over and a beautiful canyon drive with lots of twists, tunnels, pre-cambrian rock, a train and of course the river. In my pre-teen years I marvel gazed at the tall cliffs and the uplifted and tilted layers and wondered what it would have been like to live 10000 years earlier. As my engineering mind was forming I wondered how long it took to construct that road, dealing with the river and weather, building the tunnels, etc.

Thermopolis – similar to the canyon this was another milestone on the journey, it signified we were less than an hour from our destination and to a 7 year old kid the hot springs park pool had the coolest damn water slide I had ever seen. My last drive up north was in 2008 heading to Cody for a cousins wedding, and we turned nigh at Thermop heading to Meeteetse so I didn’t get to see the true landmark of the town (IMO)…there is a small ‘geyser’ (air quotes here because it was probably a pipe carrying the water nearly 100 yards from the real source) near the chamber of commerce. In my youth it spouted water and steam 5-10’ in the air, halting, then returning to the earth, another curious site and a milestone telling me we were that much closer.

I thoroughly enjoyed SB 145 about the Bullet (I’m a car guy) and to me the Fenn summer trips from Texas to YNP sparked my first real theory: with such a long drive through much of the prairie west, surely the family made stops at various places along the way over those 17 years, and surely after Forrest was on his own he made additional road trips to his Valhalla. I looked up some historical Wyoming state highway maps from the late 30s…all the way until 1939, the various highways between Cheyenne/Laramie to Cody or Jackson involved many stretches of non-asphalt roads. I wondered how slow they would have driven and what the jalopies they drove, where they stopped for food, if they camped at night or stayed in motels, etc. I find it an easy reach that the family probably chose different, less strenuous/dusty/awful roads, at least after a few years of making the trip they probably figured out a ‘preferred’ route. Looking at the historical maps it is pretty clear that going up I-25 through Casper, over to Shoshone and up the Wind River to Cody was likely the preferred path. I have deduced this because hwy 287 by way of Rawlins and Dubois is 1) awful scenery (at least until South Pass) and 2) weather (wind anyone?) and 3) Togwotee pass north of Dubois was not paved until the early 40s, so at least in the first 5-10 years the Fenns made that trip, Cody was likely the best/least terrible way to YNP. EDIT: after a little more research, my route was indeed called the ‘Road to Yellowstone’ and Thermopolis was marketed as ‘The Gateway to Yellowstone’.

So to re-cap: I have driven a lot in WY on a similar path that the Fenn’s could have travelled each year on their family trips to YNP. Much of that drive is awful (IMO) and has some significant landmarks along the way that could be ‘special’. There are warm waters halting in Thermopolis (for me it’s that cheesy chamber of commerce fountain). You can take a canyon south that is too far to walk, that is home to many a large brown trout (I know, I know). The Boysen Reservoir and dam were completed in 1952, so the Fenn’s would have seen a semi-natural river in their early trips, but the road through the canyon was there prior. I find it unlikely that the fishing Fenn’s would not have stopped at some point to fish that river. So, given Forrest’s love of fishing and fondness of his family and trips, I think it is at least plausible that this area may be special. I recall that Forrest (or was it his dad?) said that catching huge fish, while fun, the smaller ones could be more rewarding…I’m calling BS on that, because anyone who has ever landed a huge trout that takes 2 hands and all your strength to handle will tell you so…the Wind/Big Horn have always been prime habitat for large trout, catching a big ‘un is a likely scenario for an experienced fisherman especially if you learned the river over several years. My theory on the ‘special’ aspect is that Forrest and his dad may have caught some of the biggest brown trout they had ever seen on a specific section of the wind river canyon.
OK, the following is my official ‘arm chair’ solve, enjoy!

WWWH – check. We all agree YNP is a special place, to me the signature feature is Old Faithful, the water literally shoots up and halts, if but for a moment, before falling to earth. In Forrest’s writings it is clear to me that he chooses Form over Function, a pretty thing is so much more than just a thing. By the nature of the poem, interpreting WWWH is fraught with pitfalls and rabbit holes, so much so that it seems probable that was the intent…many want to say that ‘warm’ means this that or the other, but looking at the poem from just the poetry perspective, ‘Where Hot Water Halts’ is just not as pretty sounding as WWWH…also alliteration…3 is clearly better than 2. Now I’m not saying it is DEFINITIVELY a geyser, I like the idea of a hot springs pool on a river, where rocks are piled up to create a mixing area that you can adjust because usually the water is too hot to just have a singular pool, you need the colder river water. I also like a water fall, but more for water high than warm. Anyway, in my mind a geyser is both a simple way to view it because of the poem and very difficult because there are so many of them north of Santa Fe. The town of Thermopolis is a significant landmark on the long dusty trip from Texas, it offers food/lodging and a public hot springs park. Additionally the area has petroglyphs, notable dinosaur archeology, the Shoshone/Arapahoe reservation to the south and a colorful outlaw cowboy history; arrowhead and other treasure searches could easily kickoff in the area around Thermopolis.

Canyon down – check. Wind River Canyon contains exposed pre-cambrian layers and is many a rockhound’s outdoor classroom. One issue with the canyon itself: it is on the reservation and a rock climbing related search suggests the tribes view the canyon as sacred, (possibly burial grounds), route climbing is off limits and many have asked. Interestingly, game and fish have overseen the reservoir/rec areas (also on the reservation) since inception, a bit of paradox in my mind, publically accessible areas and roads, but on reservation land such that many activities are off limits. I stated earlier that I think it was likely the Fenn’s fished this river there are two areas just north of the dam that are managed by the state that include camping and river access, unclear when that access may have been established, likely after the dam was finished, I’m guessing back in the ‘40s/’50s things were likely less regulated.

TFTW – check. From Thermop to the canyon mouth is about 3 miles, the canyon is about 13 miles total length from the northern mouth to the dam, certainly too far to walk with 42 lbs. This clue/hint has always bothered me, if the poem is a map and the directions lead you there, why start from a point where you move on? I know many will claim they understand, yet no chest, so hard to buy into those claims. There must be a purpose to start in a place that you will eventually leave. Is it to help confirm you’re on the right first clue? Is it to make sure you see the entire path that FF took at one time? This just seems to be an oddity, include the fact that it is the one line that doesn’t rhyme and it seems to raise more questions than it answers.

Put in below home of Brown – flimsy, thin, questionable, let’s agree ‘plausible’ check. I have been catching trout since I was 4, fishing is most certainly important to FF. I grew up with the outdoors playing a large role; camping, fishing, hunting etc. I think older generations likely did similar activities, because, yeah, no internet back then. I would also argue that Wyoming is a pretty boring place, if you didn’t do outdoorsy stuff you likely didn’t stay long, as they say, ‘there are 2 things to do in Wyoming: shoot guns and drink beer’, I would add go fishing, which should technically include beer, IMO. Anyway, the point is fishing is indeed a popular hobby in Wyoming, for me it is one of only a handful of reasons I even go back nowadays. So what of the capital ‘B’? As seen throughout the history of the west someone named Brown can be found just about everywhere. Maybe that was FF’s intention, but I’m taking the easy way out and saying it is the Brown trout due to FFs fondness for fishing (boom alliteration x5!). The entrance to the canyon from the reservoir side (but before it was built, note the river flows north, so ‘down’ here is downstream, but my canyon down is south) is another possibility for HoB given that the fishing would have likely been best just inside the canyon not on the plains, any fisherman can tell you the big fish live in the canyons with the big rocks.

So let’s say a 10 year old Forrest is with the family fishing the canyon on their way to YNP, but lo the fish are not biting. Well, we know Forrest began searching for arrowheads and other historical/cultural areas at a young age. The canyon walls command your gaze, anyone familiar with archeology would be intrigued by the area. At the entrance to the canyon (moving north from the reservoir, with the flow) you quickly encounter the tunnels, bored through the rock at the narrowest spot in the canyon and another significant landmark on the way north. Nearby is a popular picnic/camping area and fishing spot: Upper Wind River CG. Between the first 2 tunnels, and a short walk from that popular camping/fishing spot is a small creek/gully… Gold Creek drains into the Wind here. It is extremely steep, indeed NO PLACE FOR THE MEEK – check. Also it is only intermittent flow (NO PADDLE), there are back roads that go above from the east, on BLM land, so it COULD be accessed by an old man, not likely from below (but also too visible to a fairly busy highway, IMO). Also, the top of the mesa here is over 5000’, part of the gulch is as well, so 2 more possible checks.

The end is ever drawing nigh – In my solve you go ‘down’ the canyon heading south, Gold Creek is to the east (or left) of the roadway. I spent a little time on GE to see if something else to the ‘left’ fit in here and nothing definitive. There is very interesting geology all around Gold Creek, there is an interesting white band in a couple areas near the top, but they appear to be both on the reservation land and just below 5000’. To the east of the top of the gulch is Birdeye peak (the bird in the moon sketch?) and on the leeward sides is a wood, a small area with real pine trees (most of the canyon and surrounding hills are dotted with small bushes, but very few trees), also near this wood is a fairly large rock outcropping and would be my number 1 spot if I wanted to hide something valuable there.
The remaining clues: heavy loads and water high and the blaze: I will take the easy way out, the train and the reservoir will be my heavy loads and water high, as they would be visible/audible from my spot. As for the blaze, again, I will take the easy way out and say it is the sun, this is where botg may be necessary, the point on the end of birdeye peak looks W-SW and sunset could easily play a role, but time of year would change the location on the horizon so not really.

Some other shortcomings: last stanza I can’t find anything about my spot that might fit ‘worth the cold’. Also, FF’s comment that when we learn the real solve, we will exclaim ‘why didn’t I think of that!’, nothing with my spot seems to jump out other than it is a ‘simple’ solution that uses only the Poem clues, good maps and my knowledge of the geography.

So, as I go alone on this quest (my family, friends and random strangers all think I’m insane), I’m left to answer some questions (besides the poem clues):
Is the area special to Forrest? I think it is plausible, the fishing would have been amazing back when, the canyon and town of Thermopolis break up a long, boring journey, and the area would have been ripe for exploring; world’s largest mineral hot springs, petroglyphs, dinosaur digs, indian reservation nearby, and rich cowboy history.

Access? The top of Gold Creek is just outside the reservation boundary (note: there are no fences or obvious markings for this boundary – on satellite views at least) and is indeed private land, however, there is a patchwork of BLM land (see game and fish interactive map) that can be reached by low clearance dirt roads with a near zero likelihood that someone would see you. The area is hilly, but more mesa like, once on top the walk to the rock outcrop or gulch would not be very difficult, even for FF and his 42lbs. Also, there are few manmade trails (but definitely cattle and big horn sheep frequent the area), but the roads nearby would allow a walk of about 2 miles with only a few hundred vertical. At this point I take no responsibility if someone goes and checks it out and it is private or otherwise inaccessible, as you can see below the route and parking can be done from BLM land only, assuming you can get up Birdseye road. So for me this area is plausible and maybe worth a look for a brave soul.

So you’re probably wondering about the other clues/hints: heavy loads and water high, worth the cold, etc. For me I think throwing out any of the poem is a bad idea and the number one reason I haven’t gone to make this search. I do believe that FF’s statements about how simple it is and you just need the poem, a good map and knowledge of geography lend themselves to this as at least plausible, do I really believe this is FFs special spot, no, but then only one way to be sure! If anyone has been in the area please let us know and of course let the flaming arrows fly about what I missed, but please don’t give me some cryptic, arbitrary statement about stars or numerology or how I haven’t solved all the layers yet, you all are crazy.

Here is a 3D pic. My spot would be a few inches to the right of the Boysen Fault line, but the access road is just out of frame. Also, currently public fishing is allowed from the dam up to just below the fault line shown.




73 thoughts on “Wind River Canyon…

  1. My husband works at the dam occasionally. I will share all this with him and see what he thinks.
    Heavy loads and water high could refer to the dam. The dams in Wyoming are hydroelectric power plants and generate power for the government to sell to the local power company. Heavy loads could mean the transmission lines or the substation on the outside of the dam. It could be a reference point since the treasure is not associated with any structure.

    • i could be wrong but i believe FF said its not near a dam so i dont think dams would be one of the clues but i dont know as much as others here

      thank You for Your time

      • als if goegraphy is more important then words i think heavyloads is really heavy lodes just my opinion

      • Joe,
        Fenn’s comment was, wwwh is not a dam. Nothing about ‘near a dam’
        You also said ~ als if goegraphy is more important then words…
        Fenn stated; comprehensive knowledge of geography “might” help.
        I don’t recall the part ‘more important the words…’

        My only point is… we each can perceive or consider fenn’s comment as we like. But I think it’s important to keep is wording correct.

        • joe, are you thinking of this recent answer from ff?

          “I don’t know how Toponymy can help you at all Chris (I had to look that word up). But if you knew the geographic location of each clue it would be a map to the treasure.” f


    • Val – out of curiosity are you familiar with the Smith’s in Worland, WY? My grandfather was Paul Smith (died in 1995), and my uncle Dennis was there up until 2005 (my dad was born in Worland in 1951).
      As for your husband checking this out, please let me know if he goes, I’d be curious what a BOTG assessment would find, especially the hike off Birdseye road (steepness, too visible, etc.), as well as the BLM land vs. private etc. There is a house on Birdseye road, but at the foot of the hills, so while they might see someone drive by, they likely couldn’t see the spot I would park at (a 90 deg bend near the eastern edge of Birdeye Mt., my map didn’t come through for some reason).

  2. I like the way you think, Tbug. Your solve iclosely matches mine. The first clues differ greatly. I would assume that anyone going on your solve would have a great vacation to remember. I know that I’ve had my fair share on my solve searches. Thank you for sharing with us, your thoughts and inspirations. That was a whirlwind of a read!

  3. (Second try.) Tbug, I tried to comment, but it didn’t go through. Perhaps it’ll be found.

  4. Tbug;

    I enjoyed reading your “solve” – even if it did not result in you finding Indulgence. I agree, I am sure that when Forrest was young, that they tried several different route’s to get from YNP to Texas. The one you describe probably was one of their favorites.

    I search Wyoming, but the Thermopolis area is not my area. I had considered it, but chose a different area for a variety of reasons. Maybe some day I will disclose my area, but not yet.

    Thanks for your “solve” Hope you can come out west some time, and make your final solve. JDA

    • Thanks JDA, I know you’re in WYO and my dad nearly crapped himself when I talked about the Wood…I am in Denver, so I am OUT WEST! ha, but yeah, not making the trip that far north. I will be hitting the N Platte (WY border to Pickaroon) sometime this summer with my dad and I expect there will be some more discussions of Indulgence and beer and fishing…probably in that order

      • I hope that you and your dad have a GREAT time in southern WY. Best of luck to you “In the Wood(s)” of Wyoming… if you ever make it that far north…where the wood(s) are. JDA

  5. Tbug, you’ve written (well) my solve too.

    There was a noticeable earthquake in Montana last night. Rattled cupbords and shelves in Bozeman.

    If the blaze is made by rock formation that points a shaft of light, (or the opposite, an arrow of shadow), onto a waterfall location at a certain time of day on special days of the year,
    if quakes or eruptions shifts that rock formation — so that the blaze is extinguished
    thinking such thoughts possibly prompted Forrest to talk about permanance or relevance of his clues across the geologic time scale of hundreds, thousands of years.
    And he did bring that up and talk about it.

    Am I the only one who wonders about the curiousity of talking a treasure pot spot a thousand years in the future?

    As he walked that spot in his lifetime, someone else will walk it in theirs. Plus, these days, there are more than twice as many someones walking around America than in the 1940s.
    Plus, someones today know a poem of clues and real treasure that spurs more walking about, even more than would be going on by random direction, (bearing, heading, guideline). However long a random walk would take to happen upon it, now the outdoors explore is not all random.

    • Windy,
      I have been reading about the earthquake’s out west, last week there were over 450!
      I’m aware that’s not unusual.
      Sorry to hear that there was a larger one last night, I will have to check it out, ASAP !
      I follow earthquake’s throughout the world, and volcanoes at earthquake locator out of Edinburgh, that website is remarkable!
      I also have been praying that the Wild West be blessed by calm rain storms. It’s only July 7,th and it’s Hot and on fire in 12.states from what I understand!
      Tbug, enjoyed your write-up on your solve. Thanks you, Mr.Dal, I enjoy your blog,.
      Keep up the excellent work you do, in regard to Mr. Fenn’s, impressive generosity, and educational lessons he has given the world!
      Mr. Fenn is and always has been generous, he is a giver and what a gift he has given too the one or people who find his 20,000 word memoir and Bible chest, filled by the results of none the less volcanoes!
      The Great Giver,

      • Wendi,
        Just looked up the earthquake in Montana and it was a 5.8.
        That number could change.
        Largest quake in 20 year’s, I certainly don’t like that but it is a super volcano after all and that’s what they do!
        May God richly bless America with Grace, Mercy and PEACE!

  6. Bugsy~The following is a theory, not confirmed and will definitely NOT sway any of the Blog-erati (looking at you Seeker!). lol. I guess you’re correct to a point.
    Its not about swaying someone one way or another… it’s about attempting to follow fenn’s comments/ Some of which are;
    -“I warned that the path would not be direct for those who had no certainty of the location beforehand, but sure for the one who did.” f { that doesn’t say to me botg is the only way to understand what we need to do..beforehand }

    -Clues solved at home? { prior to botg } “All of them, in theory…” { seems to me that we should have a great understanding of that answer to the question we all want to know… “what took me so long? }
    If you don’t nail down the first clue “stay home”

    – If you can’t walk several miles to your “solve” don’t go. { Not “a general solve.” Does that imply knowledge of what needs to be done with a “solve” prior to putting botg? }

    LOL… you must have know I’d make a comment simply because you called me out… However, I did enjoy your write up. There is something you pointed out that I had not even considered or thought of… I’m not even sure if you know what that might be either. But anyways, thanks for that thought.

    One question though, related to your post; In your opinion, are hot springs and geysers one in the same? If not, what are the differences in your mind as to which is the likely candidate for the first clue { not the location as much as the geo- feature / activity of each }

    • Seeker, thanks for the response, I follow your comments closely as you are always very logical in presenting quotes that tend to point out things that people missed or otherwise hadn’t thought of. Some don’t like that, but I agree with you the point is to discuss, dissect, and consider other possibilities.
      That said, your comments/quotes did not ‘rip’ my idea, but do point out some possibilities for weaknesses, and that I appreciate. Again, I would not make the trip based on what I have so far, sitting at home I do not believe this is the real solution. As for something you hadn’t thought of, I think it is related to ‘no place for the meek’ and that it is possible for an area to reveal this clue but also NOT require the finder go through it to indulgence, i.e. there are other ways to get to a difficult spot…Gold Creek is only accessible from above IMO.
      As for geyser vs. hot spring, let me clarify that for me WWWH is purely the MACRO area, so the greater Yellowstone Basin or even Hot Springs County could be the starting point. For this solve I just used that small chamber of commerce geyser (which last I heard/saw doesn’t actually send water up anymore), but I could have easily used the hot springs park itself, or even YNP/old faithful/etc. as the key to my solve is the Wind River canyon and the relationship to YNP as Thermopolis was the ‘gateway to yellowstone’, so really just mashing it all together for ‘extra’ confirmation…a nice benefit, but also my gut says the general-ness of this was not what FF really intended.
      In the Odds/Ends threads you mentioned recently the problem of driving away from WWWH/Canyon due to TFTW…in mine knowing either becomes somewhat unimportant as they only point you to HOB (which again in mine is very general/weak). So I think the real solve has a better connection between those first 3 possible clues, what that is I don’t know…TFTW still seems to be the wierdo clue…doesn’t rhyme, implies another mode of travel. I don’t like the ‘get in a boat’ theory due to safety, but it does have some merits.

      • Tbug,
        Enjoyed reading your response. It felt like an actual conversation.

        While i have given thought to a larger area the clues could refer to… such as my post on ‘unpopular attempt to solve’ In that type of thought or your line of thinking… is it necessary to travel a clue reference [ such as the CD ] or just knowing that the clues is referring to it, which leads to the next clue… which might be a clue need to be at to continue. {in that theory, the attempt was to read the poem and clues as not being physically traveled and still place a searcher at the location very near the chest.}

        Yep, I know It’s confusing for some who read my post, because i can think about all different [many] perspectives and interpretation and their possible linking to solve the poem. Some of those same ideas, contradict each my other idea as well.
        Call it a process of elimination of analyzing the poem… for lack of a better term.

        I just don’t see fenn suggesting us to drive the solve. I can see that maybe a clue or two might be separated with distance between… but not so much the need to travel to them.
        I also have to wonder if Not far, but to far too walk relates to physical travel at all, as far as needing to travel it.
        The concept seems to imply that; at one point in time it wasn’t far because of youth, and now too far because of time passing with age. So Yes, another words… find what wwwh is and follow by map to where the next clue end and the clue after that start… is plausible. But it doesn’t really match the ATF comments.

        Maybe we just don’t know what NFBTFTW really implies? One of my suggestions was, we don’t travel the ‘to far too walk’.. the waters travel it.. which bring us to hoB? Yet, we have to wonder if that can be found on a map or GE. Or only seen / found from the locations, the prior clues refer to.

        People say you have to commit to one or the other… I just don’t understand the reasoning, without attempting to understand the why of it all. Is the reason to nail down the first clue to mean; only a starting point or maybe it means a viewing point, or could it be just an understanding of that location… there are many WhatIF’s involved… I’d like to think we need to narrow down some of those whatIF’s before committing to anything.

        ~if you ‘know’ what hoB means, why be concerned about wwwh ~
        Can we? Can we know what hoB means ‘without’ wwwh? that critical first clue to nail or stay home without it. Adding ~ if you knew what hoB means, you could go right to the chest.
        That’s a question I would like fenn to respond

        So why can’t “Put In” below hoB to mean… that is where wwh puts in located, and not so much we need to find hoB later… that is not subterfuge, as misleading… just simple possible deduction.
        A clue that tell us where wwh is… and we need to know why or what wwh means to solve the poem correct.

        I guess I’m more committed to understanding the poem, than the lure itself.

  7. I’ll take a guess, your a lot more of a Co, than a Wy kid. . by your ugh, boring, etc coments
    I’ll guess Denver metro. or I 70 corridor.
    I think your close, give or take 40 to 600 mi.
    FF was right, a 10 in brook on 2lb – leader is just as much fun as 5 to 8 lb Browns, or Bows or Cutts on 8lb line.

    • Joe – Yes Denver metro (quick joke for you…you know how to tell it is summertime in Wyoming? Because all the license plates turn green!), but the part I didn’t say was that while I have fished my whole life (mostly in WY), my dad raised me on spin casting gear and the thomas colorado lure (gold). Blasphemy! the Fenn Community shouted! Every time I fish I see the same thing…a fly fisherman standing in the same spot for hours beating the water. While I can’t deny the difficulty of fly fishing, spinning w a lure also requires a good understanding of currents, holes, casting and what the fish want, but you can fish a set of holes quicker and move on…aka the scenery changes. My favorite spot is N Platte near CO/WY boarder, we can hit 3 different sections that all require several miles of walking, both getting there and actual time on the water, the pay off is you can get to the less visited areas while all the fly fishers are stuck on those same, well visited holes. Don’t get me wrong either, I’ve had some of my best fish be in the 10-16″ range in terms of ‘fun’, but nothing compares to pulling out a whopper, but yes, pulling small fish on light gear can be just as satisfying. Also, I am catch n release only, before you get on that horse, I hate the too fishy flavor of trout, but just IMO!

  8. Tbug –

    I too have a Thermopolis solve heading down to Gold Creek. When Dal was down in Tmop last year I asked him to check out Gold Creek but it was too late when he got the msg.

    There have been two BIG issues with Wind River solves. Reservation land, private land and Park land.

    If you are not aware you might be interested to know that WE named that river Wind. The Shoshone have always called it Warm Water Creek.

    If you are looking at the whole Reservation Lander is the original site of Camp Brown and Fenn specifically mentions flying to Lander and then heading out to the Little Popo Agie River.

    There’s more, much more.


    • “WE named that river Wind. The Shoshone have always called it Warm Water Creek”.
      Interesting. But I’m sure you’ll agree, Lugnutz, that to know that the Shoshone called it WW Creek would be specialized knowledge which searchers supposedly do not need. It would further mean that area locals might have an advantage over all other searchers. Part of the reason the poem is so vague is to preclude locals from having any kind of advantage, in my opinion.

      So despite how interesting the name may be, I would be surprised if WWH refers to Wind River, as a result of the name (or label) that Native Americans attached to it.

      Wind River could still fit into the correct solution but not, in my opinion, because of the “Warm Water” name.

      Ken (in Texas) 🙂

        • I disagree. Geography says that it is the Wind River. No map that I am aware of calls it “Warm Water Creek”. THAT is specialized knowledge.

          If you Google “Warm Water Creek” – The Wind River is not mentioned at all, because that is “Specialized Knowledge” – don’t you agree? JDA

          • JDA you ignored the key word from Fenn, comprehensive.

            adjective: comprehensive
            complete; including all or nearly all elements or aspects of something.
            “a comprehensive list of sources”
            of large content or scope; wide-ranging.
            “a comprehensive collection of photographs”
            synonyms: inclusive, all-inclusive, complete; More
            thorough, full, extensive, all-embracing, exhaustive, detailed, in-depth, encyclopedic, universal, catholic;
            far-reaching, radical, sweeping, across the board, wholesale;
            broad, wide-ranging;
            “a comprehensive review of our defense policy”

          • Anon;

            I guess that Forrest is the only person that can answer your question. re: a “comprehensive knowledge of geography” Remember that he said something to the effect that he hopes that it is found by an out-of-work guy with a pick-up truck and twelve kids. This does not sound like the kind of guy that will have researched the history of a river, and found out that at one time, the Shoshonee Indians called it “Warm Water Creek” – but what do I know? NADA – JDA

          • JDA
            Perhaps you should envision this out of work redneck from TX as Fenn.
            He’s talking about himself, more specifically wanting to give back to a younger self like him who isn’t a good student like he was.

            That’s the romantic version,
            The more probably is that he is just doing what Fenn does best, promoting his product.

            Remember; improvise, adapt, overcome will get you far.

    • Thanks Lug, good to know others saw Gold Creek as well, to me hiding there could possibly hit the ‘why didn’t I think of that’ quote. But also, it is just fun/funny. You might want to re-read my story…while the canyon itself is on reservation land, just to the east much of that area is NOT on the reservation. Further, my ‘good maps’ show that Birdeye Mt is both not on the reservation and also sections of it are BLM land, in fact walking from my parking spot would not cross any property lines. If you were looking at the Gold Creek area on the res (directly up from the highway), you can cross that off, no way an 80 yr old could go up it, besides being very dangerous it also would be illegal (no ‘climbing’ in the canyon).
      As for the name of the Wind River, I was aware that the area was Shoshone land long before the white man, but thank you, I am not sure I would link WWWH to a river just because of the old name…bit of stretch imo.
      As for Camp Brown/Ft Washakie, yes I was well aware of that as a possible HOB, and I’m aware of the Lil Popo and FF flying into Lander to go fishing. For me this area is interesting (I like the log flume/natural bridge solve that others had done, posted here), but I hadn’t gotten anywhere on my own with it. There is a tar pit north east of Lander, an interesting link, but is waaaay out from the mountains, so highly unlikely. Care to share thoughts on Lander/Lil Popo? I’m curious where you’re located, I don’t remember seeing that, but I do appreciate your ideas, thanks and good luck

    • Hi Lug,
      I was wondering where you came to learn that the Shoshone called the Wind River – Warm Water Creek. Would you mind sharing? Thanks!

      • JBL –

        Good question. That’s one of the thousands of facts I have read over the years. I do not have the original page that I read that on. I have read that many times. The Shoshone called Wind River Valley Warm Valley. When whites were settled there at Fort Brown the Shoshone were using Warm Valley and Warm Water. I suppose one could argue that they didn’t say Warm Water Creek, they just referred to the Wind river as Warm Water. They also referred to it as a creek and not a river.

        I will provide one link and then you can find more.

        Let me add that I do not think that the treasure is on reservation land. Your quest for it may begin there.


        • Hi Lug,
          I never saw your response until now. When you recently posted about the area, I came back to this post by TBug and just saw this. So, thank you for responding and sorry this is so late.

  9. TBug, I like your solutions to some of the clues in the poem. However, using a geyser as wwwh makes me wonder if you know ff’s words on MW Aug 12, 2014 when he answered Phil and said “…There are many places in the Rocky Mountains where warm waters halt, and nearly all of them are north of Santa Fe. Look at the big picture, there are no short cuts. F” Fenn’s use of the word “nearly” implies to me that there has to be at least one of these wwwh features that is not north of Santa Fe. As far as I know there are no geysers south of SF. Just wondering. Thanks for sharing your ideas. cynthia

    • Thanks Cynthia for that question, I think the link from pdenver (thanks!) also illustrates the greyed lines in definitions…think about it like this: any hole in the ground that has hot water coming out of it could at anytime become a geyser…ask a geologist…typically a geyser (shooting water up) involves simply a pressure build up of some kind followed by a release of that pressure. A hot spring is simply not a high enough pressure to shoot the water out. Also, a geyser may involve water re-filling the hole, until enough pressure is built below (either steam or other gasses), such as old faithful. I would say FFs comment ‘nearly’ is not really a hint, but his classic double speak…do you think EVERY spring/geyser is known, mapped? I would say no simply due to the nature of change, a mild earthquake or other changes within an aquifer could easily result in a new spring or geyser forming overnight, I think FF was just covering his bases saying nearly such that the vast majority of known thermal activity is indeed north of Santa Fe. Given FF spent so much time (and writings) about Yellowstone, I think it is interesting that so close to his home also are several well known thermal areas. I know you’re in NM, and wish you luck, as I said, no BOTG yet for me, and certainly not with this solve, but thank you for your insights.

  10. Hey there tbug. Enjoyed reading your proposed solution. I especially liked the way you have inserted humor into your write-up: “shoot guns and drink beer” (haha, Wyoming sounds a lot like Texas) 🙂 You said: “I wanted to see the community’s thoughts”. I can’t speak for the community, but here are my thoughts.

    First, it’s always nice reading a Wyoming solution that does not involve Yellowstone, in this case Wind River / Gold Creek. Clearly, you know your Wyoming geography. And I think that’s what it is going to take to find FF’s treasure chest >>> geographic knowledge. Now if you could just know the geography of western Montana, plus the geography of Colorado and northern New Mexico, as well as you know the geography of Wyoming, you could pick and choose which area seems to best fit the poem’s clues.

    I once had a darn good Wyoming solution not far from Dubois, a place called “Bomber Falls” (get it? as in FF’s experience as a pilot in war). Then I learned something distressing. That location, near Lake Louise, was saturated with trails, and so I had to abandon the solution, despite the spot’s proximity to ancient archeological ruins (on Whiskey Mountain) that would have been astounding even to Forrest Fenn.

    With your insertion of “shortcomings”, you seem to be more flexible than some searchers, in that you can judge a solution objectively, and abandon it if you eventually find it untenable for whatever reason. I admire that.

    Toward an objective solution then, I would agree with Cynthia (above) about the apparent absence of “geysers” south of Santa Fe. And I have always found the “brown trout” interpretation of HOB to be a bit … fishy; it’s just too obvious, in my opinion.

    There are tons of places in the Rockies, from Santa Fe all the way north to Canadian border, that have petroglyphs and other ancient artifacts.

    However, my main problem with the solution you have described above relates to one overriding assumption you have made. And that is that Forrest’s special place came about as a result of childhood memories. It’s the same assumption that searchers have been working with for years; hence … the Yellowstone/Gallatin area. The difference between your solution and YNP solutions is that you seem to have a better knowledge of Wyoming geography than Yellowstone searchers. My impression is that the sum total of searchers’ knowledge of the Rocky Mountains is what they learned from TTOTC. That’s why I said above that if only you knew as much about the geography of northern New Mexico and other states in play, you could pick and choose your spot.

    It’s entirely possible, and I think likely, that FF’s special place came about as a result of his discoveries after childhood. As an adult, he has spent many years in Santa Fe, plenty of time to jet off to Montana or to drive a few miles north of town, looking for special places.

    Since you apparently live in northern Colorado, I would encourage you to turn your attention to Colorado, instead of Wyoming. In your lengthy description, you inserted one word that describes specifically the area of Colorado where I think the chest may be hidden. But to render any Colorado solution viable, you would need to learn as much about the geography of that state as you already seem to know about the geography of Wyoming.

    In closing I would say that if the chest is in Wyoming, your solution of Gold Creek is as good as any Wyoming solution I have read about. Just keep pluggin’ away.


    Ken (in Texas) 🙂

    • Ken,
      Your thought of searcher picking locations have been the same as mine, as to how we almost pick our point of interest first, then match clues from the poem to those area.
      It must be in the north because fenn spent 20 visiting the region or it must be south because fenn lives there and had opportunity etc, etc.
      Which seems to be to be nothing more than the biggest hunch there is.. IMO.. there needs to be an answer that take the guess work out of it all. I mean, before the map from the second book Canada was still in the running, right?

      What is your take on fenn’s comment.. ?…I could have written the poem before I hid the treasure chest, but I didn’t.

    • I don’t think ruling out geysers as WWWH just because there are none near Santa Fe. He said nearly all WWWH are north of it but he could be talking about a number of different versions of WWWH. Why does the same type of WWWH need to be in or south of Santa Fe? Just like billions of blazes there are a number of WWWH.

      • Aaron you raise a good point for thought.

        Let me add from the answer of that Q&A…you oversimplified the clues…and… Look at the big picture, there are no shortcuts.

        With that said I can see what your saying. But when we add the words prior and after, don’t they seem to relate to the clue?

        Although your argument about how fenn talked about billions of blazes… Does give pause for thought.

        LOL…but what IF the blaze we are looking represent the same as billions of blazes… a stone marker.. a carvings on stone or rock wall, even a shadow affect as a pointer…etc.
        Ouch! I just hurt my own head.
        I like to believe when Fenn answers question the he allowed to be posted for a reason, there is the thought it relates to the question and not so much a general aspect… Such as a pop up question during an interview.

        But that’s​ just me.. but you did give me pause to think more about it.

        • The words prior and after could conceivably relate to a clue. I like to think that I do not over-complicate his statements rather than not oversimplifying the clues. The blaze could indeed one of the billions out there. Can’t wait to find out.

    • Thanks Ken, just fyi I have lived in Colorado (few intermittent years during college) since 1982. I’ve read many of the CO solves (since I live here would be much easier to get to!), part of why I haven’t done my own solve in CO is that it seems all the good ones have been done already, with no result. The green river/brown park one, steamboat/pagosa, durango/ouray, the arkansas river, leadville (molly brown), raton pass and my favorite, uncompagre/sitting bull. Those are all great possibilities that have turned up very little (maybe I just haven’t seen a complete 9 clue solve, seems most are just a few clues). I am not saying Colorado is out, just that beyond those solves I do not see many areas that are more compelling. I feel I know much of CO geography, but I admit I may not know as much of the history of some of the places.
      You note my assumption that FF’s special spot came from childhood memories, and yes that was a big assumption, in my solve I was relating my own childhood experiences of visiting the same places, but by no means was this meant to be a definitive link, rather, a fairly obvious and easy one to go on.
      OK, so you like Colorado…how do explain the lack of ANY significant stories from FF (I am not aware at least, care to educate me?). I know there is good fishing in colorado and he likely had art deals (Aspen anyone?), but the lack of anything even remote about CO from Fenn himself seems odd. Also, his family would have driven through Colorado for every one of his trips to YNP, yet not one passing comment…I could see many mountain possibilities (Sangre De Cristos, Pikes Peak/Manitou Springs, Denver), yet no mention (again, that I’m aware of). I agree that certainly the southern part of CO would present easy travel from Santa Fe, and I assume he did a fair amount of fishing down south, but again, no obvious links. What would make anything in CO special to FF if he didn’t tell us so?

  11. Tbug,

    I find your solve very encouraging because that is where I had planned to start when I put botg the second week in August. Wind River, or as Lugnutz pointed out, Warm Waters. Sorry Ken from Texas, I don’t think you have to be a local to know that. I will video my search and share upon my find, or return home treasureless.

    Teal from Texas

    • Teal, please post back here how it turns out! Be sure to check out the Dubois area, also very pretty/unique as the headwaters of the Wind. Good luck and stay safe. If you/anyone wants to chat, feel free to email me at, I’m interested in trips in/around CO/WY or just discussing things.

  12. I wish there was something That’s reads these stories outloud to us my eye balls go crossed after about the third paragraph Lol

    • haha, sorry DG for the length…I wanted to relay my thought process more, as I think that can be more informative for others than just ‘here is my final spot, it wasn’t there’ type of stories. Thanks for reading, if you’re on a computer you can ‘zoom’ within your browser and it will increase font size as much as you need.

      • Good thinking on zooming the font I think I just have ADD I start reading and skip to the end lol

  13. I had similar thoughts about wind river. Consider this line, “There’ll be no paddle up your creek”. As I understand it traveling south through the canyon, the river appears to be flowing uphill. A simple optical illusion. I have not been to the canyon personally, this was sourced from the Wind River Canyon wiki page.

  14. Thug.
    This is something I’ve been seeking to do away with confirmation bias. My best guess fits it so well as far as the poem goes. The problem I encountered is that it’s below the 5000 feet mark. Unless the comment of searchers had been within 200 feet would allow to go below the 5k mark. Otherwise Ill post what my thoughts are in 10 days.

    • looking forward to it Anon – not sure if you’re within the general area I described, but imo, the clues might be above/below the elevations, but ultimately I think the chest has to be above 5000 and below 10,200, just mho. Do you think the 10,200 comment implies use of a Topo map? I do, as it is very specific and most USGS topos show that number often.

      • TBug;

        You say, “I think the chest has to be above 5000 and below 10,200, just mho.” Forrest has stated as FACT that it is above 5,000′ and below 10,200′ so you should KNOW that as a fact. This one is not an opinion, it is a stated fact – period.

        You ask, “Do you think the 10,200 comment implies use of a Topo map? ” or Google Earth or any other map from which you can figure out an elevation.

        Forrest also says something to the effect of it is not at the top of a mountain, but near one. This can be a BIG clue. Would you go looking near a 14,000′ mountain in Colorado? Probably not. Near a 10,500′ peak – maybe. Just my humble opinion – JDA

      • PS, the area is known to Forrest and was a route they took when he was a kid. Is it the area that he’s dying to be at? IDK.

      • I don’t think 10,200 is necessarily where treeline is, most of CO I see it closer to 11,000 but you said ‘rough average’ so I can give some leeway on your comment, but you can’t claim f said anything to that effect about his choice of 10,200.

        Thanks anon for your thoughts on my wwwh, I don’t feel that strong about it, rather it is convenient to the canyon, Seeker made a good point above about how many of us ‘choose’ a spot with those kind of obvious bias’ then try to force the rest. Not sure how far away you’re alluding to for another wwwh, upriver some near dubois, not aware of many near my canyon besides thermop, care to actually share something meaningful? why comment if not for the chance for 2 way conversation?

        • Tree line increase the farther you go south. Roughly 10000 from the north to 13000 into Mexico. It’s not hard to see why but whatever.

          I was thinking to put it all out at one time.
          This article has lots of great information to start.

      • Here is your “Spoon Fed” answer. Under “Rules” – found at the top of every thread is the following:
        6) Don’t confuse readers. There is a difference between fact and opinion. No one knows where the chest is located until they have it in their hands. So, until the chest is in your hands, you cannot say that you know where the chest is located or that you have solved the poem…Saying these things will lead casual readers to believe the hunt is over and someone has found the chest… which is not the case. You cannot claim you have found it or know where it is or have solved the poem unless the chest is in your possession…until then it’s only your opinion. Making unsubstantiated claims will result in banishment from our community….

        INAPPROPRIATE: I know where the chest is located.
        APPROPRIATE: I think I know where the chest is located.

        INAPPROPRIATE: I have solved the poem.
        APPROPRIATE: I think I may have solved the poem.

        INAPPROPRIATE: The chest is hidden in Colorado.
        APPROPRIATE: In my opinion, the chest is hidden in Colorado.

        Treat others as you would like to be treated.

        Please abide by these simple rules and have fun while you are here.


        Since you asked….JDA

  15. The Wind River Mountain Range is known to be a scenic and popular , glacier-filled, gateway to Yellowstone. I tried a letter selection strategy for WWWH that corresponds with Morse Code, and got Hear A. The Sounds of the “A”s in WWH are similar to the sounds in Fort Washakie, formerly Fort Brown, and the place of Sacajaweah Cemetary, overlooking Wind River Range. Also, Fort and warm may correspond, as may water and wash, and akie and halt. I think this area may has potential.

  16. I did my own math and figured out it will be 651.75 miles north of Santa Fe. That also works out with one of my solves that puts me in South Pass City, WY. It is 656 miles north of Santa Fe! I’ll try to ask Fenn if my math is at all correct.

    • Or would it be 651.75 + 8.25 miles? Interestingly enough that makes 660 exactly. Which also is the distance from Old Faithful to Sante Fe Regional Airport. Makes me a little curious about your calculations Obsessed.

  17. Over a year late but here’s a fun fact, Wyoming is on a tourism kick trying to revenue. With this, the tribe has also stepped forward trying to do the same. A certain group of climbers in the area have been approached about how to best open the area up while keeping it as sacred as possible. They finally realized the $$$ that canyon could bring in.

    • Thanks Cody, that is interesting. I think they should open the river up beyond just the single company in thermop allowed to float it, the fishing is probably great.

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