SUBMITTED JULY 2017
by Dave from KC, MO
I think Forrest Fenn might have hidden his treasure somewhere within a small stand of cottonwood trees located just to the east of “Seidel’s Suck Hole” (class IV rapid) and the railroad tracks located on the Arkansas River in Brown’s Canyon in Colorado. Below is my dissection of the poem, clues, hints and comments from Forrest.
As I have gone alone in there – Unsolved, possibly not a clue or hint. I am concerned that this is actually the first clue and that ‘alone’ is the most important word. If the treasure is buried in a special place that Forrest often went alone, I am not sure that my location is one of those places for Forrest…maybe it is, but the evidence is not as strong in this regard for my location as opposed to other theories that would have better hints from TTOTC. With that said, please continue reading because I think the other solutions below are fairly strong…especially the blaze.
And with my treasures bold, Unsolved, possibly not a clue or hint. ‘Bold’ could be a hint to a short trek that I took which required me to go through two unlocked gates.
I can keep my secret where, – Unsolved, possibly not a clue or hint
And hint of riches new and old. – Unsolved, possibly not a clue or hint. The new treasure could be his autobiography and everything else is old treasure. Or, the ‘new’ riches could be the rafting and good times had by families and friends at this location.
Begin it where warm waters halt and take it in the canyon down, Clue #1 – many hot / warm springs above Brown’s Canyon and some are tributaries to creeks that run into the Arkansas River above Brown’s canyon (e.g. Chalk Creek, etc.). Other hint – Forrest Fenn has stated that several people have gotten the first two clues…meaning it is a somewhat popular / obvious solution / place and not one of the more obscure theories. Brown’s Canyon is definitely not an obscure solution location and many people are searching for the treasure in Brown’s canyon. Extra affirmation – Forrest said that when he buried his treasure he could smell pinyon nuts in the air…pinyon nuts are common in the Brown’s canyon area but I do not think these are not located in Montana or Wyoming…during that interview, Forrest mentioned that he regretted one of the things he said…I believe the pinyon nut clue was that regret (basically shrunk the search area to New Mexico and Colorado). This area is at about 7300 feet (Forrest said it is above 5000 and below 10200 feet).
Not far, but too far to walk. Clue #2 – From Chalk Creek to the ‘put in’ at Stone Bridge is is approx. 10-11 miles which is not far but it would be a long walk to the starting point for a 79-80-year-old man.
Put in below the home of Brown. Clue #3 – ‘Brown’s Grotto Warm Spring’ is located a couple of miles north of Stone Bridge ‘put in’ (place to launch boats, rafts, kayaks, etc.). Stone Bridge is the first public ‘put in’ below Brown’s Grotto warm spring. The closer public ‘put in’ to this warm spring would be ‘Hecla’ but it is north of Brown’s Grotto (not south). Extra affirmation hint – Forrest has indicated that several people solved the first two clues and then essentially ignored, or flew right past, the rest of the clues…this could be a reference to the multiple people that indicated (on blog sites) that they started at the Hecla ‘put in’ which is ‘above’ (north) and not ‘below’ (south) of the potential home of Brown (i.e. Brown’s Grotto Warm Spring).
From there it’s no place for the meek, Clue #4 – Class III and Class IV rapids are not for the meek. Seidel’s Suck hole is the only class IV rapid in the canyon.
The end is ever drawing nigh; Hint – as you walk up the east side of the Arkansas River using the abandoned railroad tracks (because the west side is private) the river is ‘drawing’ (i.e. pulling towards you) on the left hand (nigh) side. The end is Seidel’s suck hole which will be on the left if you are on the east side of the Arkansas. Extra hint / affirmation – Forrest was asked if he used any other mode of transportation besides walking and his car…. Forrest replied (paraphrasing to follow…not a quote) that he did not know if he could answer that question with a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ properly (i.e. maybe this means some might consider the railroad tracks a ‘mode of transportation’ whereas others would not? – this was a big affirmation for me about the railroad tracks being used by Forrest).
There’ll be no paddle up your creek, Clue #5 – since you are walking up stream there is no need for a paddle. There is a creek between you and the Arkansas River as you walk along the railroad tracks on the east side. You are heading north (‘up’).
Just heavy loads and water high. Clue #6 – Heavy loads (note this is plural) has multiple meanings
· Railroad tracks used for heavy loads
· Forrest Fenn’s heavy loads carrying the 42 lbs. treasure (two trips)
Water high could also have multiple meanings
· The water at Seidel’s suck hole is deep and there is a drop off at its beginning.
· The creek that runs between the Arkansas river and railroad tracks is at a higher elevation than the Arkansas River
If you’ve been wise and found the blaze, Clue #7 – I believe the blaze is the diamond shaped yellow ‘Dip’ road sign that is located in the rocks between the river and railroad tracks on the east side of the river just north (upstream) from Seidel’s suck hole. Extra later affirmation hint from Forrest – he said he walked ‘less than a few’ miles to hide the treasure. The ‘Dip’ sign potential blaze is located approx. 2.5-2.75 miles north from the Stone Bridge ‘put in’ meaning it is less than a few (3) mile hike. Forrest said he made the two trips in one afternoon and two trips to this location including hiding the treasure would probably take about 4-5 hours which is a full afternoon. Extra affirmation – Forrest said some searchers have been within 200 feet of the treasure and that some people have walked right past the treasure and had no idea. Multiple searchers have written in blogs that they searched along the west side of the river at Seidel’s suck hole (those who started a Hecla). The distance across the Arkansas river from the west side to the blaze is approx. 200 feet. Also, people rafting on the Arkansas river sometimes get out of the raft on the east side before Seidel’s to inspect it and watch others go through before going through themselves…these people would walk right past the treasure without knowing it. Extra affirmation – Forrest has said the place is safe and a place you would want to take your kids. Many families with kids on vacation go to raft these rapids on the Arkansas river. For a ‘wise’ stretch hint, please see below for ‘in the wood’ clue.
Look quickly down, your quest to cease, Clue #8 – I believe this has double meaning. First, I believe it is a confirmation of the correct Blaze (i.e. if a sign is warning you of a ‘dip’ ahead, you should probably heed the warning and ‘look quickly down!’ (this is the clue that sunk its teeth into to me the most…I was ‘going in confidence’ after thinking I solved this clue). This clue was also telling me that I should look a short distance (i.e. ‘quickly’) south (i.e. ‘down’stream) for the chest.
But tarry scant with marvel gaze, – Unsolved, possibly not a clue – possibly telling the finder of the treasure to be quick with taking the treasure since this location is full of tourists. It might be a reference to all of the tar covered railroad materials located in the area (this tar would not be on the treasure and thus scant).
Just take the chest and go in peace. Unsolved, possibly not a clue– I could not find anything related to a peace symbol (except maybe the cottonwoods that had trunks that branched out from the base of the tree creating a peace symbol…but that is a major stretch). It could simply mean that the finder should just leave this public place quietly since he/she is now carrying 1-2 million dollars worth of treasure.
So why is it that I must go – Unsolved, possibly not a clue or hint
And leave my trove for all to seek? Unsolved, possibly not a clue or hint
The answers I already know, Unsolved, possibly not a clue or hint
I’ve done it tired, and now I’m weak. More of a hint than a clue, I think this should tell the solver that the distance travelled was significant and not short…. Even though Forrest was 79 or 80 he was a fit lifelong treasure hunter…the walk made him tired and weak and he was forced to make two trips to carry the heavy load. After Forrest hiked to Seidel’s suck hole and back to his car twice, he would certainly be tired and weak at age 79 or 80 (approx. 10-11 miles total for the two round trips). Some might have underestimated the distance he could have travelled. The elevation change on those railroad tracks between Stone Bridge and Seidel’s is slight and not significant, which makes this possible. I have done it…I am not very fit…I think he could have done this even at age 79-80.
So hear me all and listen good, Unsolved, possibly not a clue or hint
Your effort will be worth the cold. Unsolved, possibly not a clue. Hint – all of the potential locations have the potential to be warm and cold depending on the season since Forrest has indicated the location is between 5,000 and 10,200 feet in elevation. The mulch-like soil in the small wooded area to the east of Seidel’s suck hole would be cold and moist so if Forrest put the chest into the mulch then the finder would probably get cold moisture on his/her hands or gloves. Forrest also said to bring gloves hinting the hands might get cold when digging in the cold moist mulch.
If you are brave and in the wood – Clue #9 – There is a small stand of cottonwood trees (maybe a dozen or two dozen) just south of the blaze and directly east of Seidel’s suck hole and the railroad tracks. The ground around the stand of cottonwood trees is soft and covered with leaf litter. Under the leaf litter is a layer of rotting wood, roots, mulch, and rotting leaves…it was slightly moist when I was there in the summer and would be wet in the spring thaw or after a rain. Extra hint – Forrest has stated that he knows the chest is wet but not underwater. If it is covered with that mulch like leaf litter it would be moist and wet after a thaw/rain (also, the cottonwood was known to Native Americans and pioneers as a ‘water’ tree (often pointing them to the location of water)). I am not sure why the word ‘Brave’ was used…the area is not scary. Digging through the mulch was not fun, but I was not really scared. I did not see any rattlesnakes. I did not see any native American rock drawings (i.e Brave as in Native American reference). Possibly you need to be brave to just be searching for treasure on public ground (or maybe more specifically doing some ‘digging’ (i.e. with your hands) on public grounds). Digging with a shovel might be frowned upon?. Forrest has not confirmed nor denied the treasure is buried. If the treasure is under the leaf litter / mulch / rotting ground, would that be considered buried? Forrest has indicated that a metal detector would only help if ‘you are on exactly the right spot’ (yes, that is how metal detectors generally work…I think a metal detector would help if you are in the wood). Stretch hint, the scientific name for this Rio Grande Cottonwood tree is Populus deltoides wislezenii (maybe the ‘Wise’ reference above is an abbreviation of the scientific name?). Extra affirmation – again, Forrest suggested taking gloves…gloves would definitely help protect your hands and keep them warm when moving around the cold, wet, heavy leaf litter/mulch surface in this area…you might not need a shovel, just some gloves.
I give you title to the gold. Unsolved, possibly not a clue
Other hints that help ‘rule in’ this location/solution. It is safe and not dangerous (Forrest has said this about the location). There are no human trails (not many access that side of the river along the tracks…and Forrest might not consider the railroad tracks a human trail). Although he would likely not admit it, Forrest Fenn seems to want to leave a legacy that would immortalize him in some ways (i.e. writing memoirs, books, autobiography, etc.) and choosing a famous location that gets thousands of tourists every year would be a great choice for someone wishing to have a long lasting effect…just think of how people that rafted through Seidel’s suck hole would react when they found out they were within 100 feet of this treasure…and think of how many people would see, and talk about, a possible future monument to Forrest Fenn erected at the location of the Dip sign blaze? This would be discussed with tourists on all future rafting trips through Brown’s canyon…Forrest Fenn knows a thing or two about making this type of big splash and seems to like the notoriety. I think he would choose a high impact location like this as opposed to something more obscure (just my opinion and Forrest Fenn might not agree with me). One thing that cannot be argued is that Forrest is a brilliant marketer and promoter. Nothing in the poem, and none of Forrest Fenn’s subsequent public hints / clues / statements have ruled out this location. My primary concern with my solution is that I could not find any evidence as to why this location might be so special to Forrest that he would like to be buried there…and that is potentially a big problem.
The only other problem with this solution is that I do not believe the treasure is there. On July 1st 2017 I searched all dead logs, in the hollows of the cottonwoods, all through the leaf litter, in the rock crevices, etc…and no treasure. I even purchased a metal detector and made a second trip July 3rdto the location to see if it was located in the mulch somewhere that I did not originally search and all I found was some old wire, pieces of metal, iron railroad track parts, old beer cans, etc. I did not find the treasure. Confirmation bias is a factor, and it is quite possible I think this solution is better than it actually was…unless Forrest brought a shovel and buried it in an area of hard packed soil (as opposed to the loose mulch) that I did not really search…I did get one intriguing hit on the metal detector in one spot of hard packed dirt that I did not dig because I did not have a shovel and could not do it with my hands. It might be worthwhile for someone to explore the area with a good metal detector and a shovel.
Dave from KC, MO