Introduction: If Forrest were to condense everything he has said over the past nine years into one short interview, I imagine that it might sound something like this. The words are all his, but I have selected and organized them in a manner that I feel best conveys the essence of his message.
– David Thalheimer
My Imaginary Interview with Forrest Fenn
The spot where I hid the treasure was in my mind from the time I first started thinking about the chase. It’s a place that I have visited a few times. I have fond memories of that place. It is special to me and there was never another consideration. No other hiding place was ever seriously considered. I was going to make it work no matter what.
I took it out and put it at a very secret, and a very dear place…private…and I walked back to my car, smiling. Telling myself, yeah. I really felt good. I had done something that I had dreamed about for a very long time. In my reverie I often find myself stealing away to that place and I will always consider it to be mine alone. If I had it all to do over again the results would be the same, and I can’t think of anything I would change. If I was standing where the treasure chest is, I see trees, I see mountains, I see animals, I’ll smell wonderful smells of pine needles, sage brush. The treasure is hidden in a place where I would not mind spending a few thousand years. I am almost umbilically attached to the spot, and as I approach 89 years my desire to be there is still strong.
I didn’t need a map or any information to write the poem. Everything was in my head. It took me a while to get the wording exactly how I wanted it. Counting the clues and hiding the chest came later. It is not likely that anyone will find it without following the clues, at least in their mind. In my mind, studying the clues is tantamount to using a road map to get from one place to another. It’s hidden in a pretty good place. Nobody is going to happen on that treasure chest. It’s difficult to find but it certainly isn’t impossible. But if you’re gonna find the treasure, you’ve got to solve the riddle that is in my poem, the nine clues that are in my poem. No one has any secret information that will take them to the hiding place. It’s in the poem for all to see.
The clues did not exist when I was a kid but most of the places the clues refer to did. I think they might still exist in 100 years but the geography probably will change before we reach the next millennia. I am guessing the clues will stand for centuries. That was one of my basic premises, but the treasure chest will fall victim to geological phenomena just like everything else. The Rocky mountains are still moving and associated physical changes will surely have an impact. Who can predict earthquakes, floods, mudslides, fires, tornadoes and other factors? The immediate landscape will probably remain about the same for as long as time has to go. If you are in the year 3,009 it will be more difficult for you to find the treasure.
I have always said the poem will lead you to the treasure if you have the right map and know where to start. The first clue in the poem is ‘Begin it where warm waters halt’. Searchers continue to figure the first two clues and others arrive there and don’t understand the significance of where they are. I know of a few searchers who have been reasonably close to the treasure, but there is no indication that they knew it. Some may have solved the first four clues, but I am not certain. Until someone finds the treasure they will not know for sure that they have discovered the first clue. 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. Your destination is small but it’s location is huge.
There are a few words in the poem that are not useful in finding the treasure, but it is risky to discount any of them. It is straight forward so there is no need to over-think it or look for commas and misspellings as clues. It was not written with the idea of fooling anyone. Some searchers overrate the complexity of the search. Knowing about head pressures, foot pounds, acre feet, bible verses, Latin, cubic inches, icons, fonts, charts, graphs, formulas, curved lines, magnetic variation, codes, depth meters, riddles, drones or ciphers, will not assist anyone to the treasure location. It seems like the longer one thinks about the search the more they complicate the problem. No specialized knowledge is required. My Thrill of the Chase book is enough to lead an average person to the treasure. The only requirement is that you figure out what the clues mean. But a comprehensive knowledge of geography might help. I would advise new searchers to look for the clues in my poem and try to marry them to a place on a map. The more detailed maps are most useful if you have the right map, but I’m not sure I needed to tell you that.
[How many clues can be solved by someone just thinking and searching the Internet from home?] All of them, in theory, but not likely in practice. It’s not a matter of trying, it’s a matter of thinking. The person who finds the treasure will have studied the poem over and over, and thought, and analyzed and moved with confidence. Nothing about it will be accidental. My guess is that the person who is successful will very quietly solve the clues and walk to the treasure with a smile on their face. I think that person will be positive in their attitude and deliberate in their actions. I warned the path would not be direct for those who had no certainty of the location beforehand, but sure for the one who did. No one is giving the treasure away. Whoever finds it will have paid their dues and earned the prize.
I applaud those who are staying in the search, and enjoying what nature has to offer. It is important that the mystery and intrigue of the story continues to excite families and motivate them to get out into the mountains. That has always been my goal. I will reiterate that the story is real, the chest is where I left it, and it is not in a dangerous place. If you can find it, you can have it. When somebody finds that treasure chest, everybody’s going to say, ‘My God! Why didn’t I think of that?’
T. S. Eliot said:
We shall not cease from our exploration
And at the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time