This is an old solution that I’m tired of hearing about. I’ve had numerous folks (maybe a dozen) tell me this is THE solution but when they arrived at the hidey spot the chest wasn’t there so someone must have already removed it. I hate that…
Forrest has said the chest is still where he left it many times since the first searchers arrived at this hidey spot so we know they are wrong but what surprises me is that folks didn’t understand that this was not a good hidey place even before they arrived there.
What I’ve submitted below is a compilation of many different solutions that have started out in the same place and ended in the same place. There have been slight variations in the clues between the beginning and the end but by and large this same solution comes to me more often than you’d believe.
I call it the “Simple Solution”. Because that’s what it is, very simple and straight forward, even logical…up to its end.
Step one of any solution is in identifying the place to begin.
You certainly won’t get to the chest by following the directions in the poem if you start out at a place different than the place Forrest intended the directions to start from.
I think this is self evident but let me explain…
If someone gives you directions on how to find the Dairy Queen on Elm and Second Streets based on the fact that you are starting from the 7/11 on Box Street…you won’t end up in the correct place if you start from the 7/11 on Third Street instead. You’d need a different set of directions to get to the Dairy Queen on Elm Street from the Third Street 7/11.
So..the correct starting place is essential…Therein lies the rub that leads wise men to the dump instead of the palace.
Begin it where warm waters halt
Tens of thousands (I’m guessing at the number) of folks over the past 8 years have used Madison Junction in Yellowstone National Park as the place to begin. This is simply because two very warm Yellowstone rivers, the Gibbon and the Firehole end in this place and it is the beginning of the Madison River.
There is a whole litany of reasons why folks might choose to start in this place:
1. This is a geographical place where two warm rivers end (warm waters halt) and one river starts, “it”
2. This place is known to millions of people as the end of the Gibbon and Firehole Rivers
3. This place is known to millions more people as the start of the Madison River
4. This place is known to tens of millions of people as the place where Yellowstone N.P. was born
5. This is a place Forrest is unquestionably familiar with
6. Forrest mentions fishing on all three of these rivers
7. Forrest wrote about walking in the Madison with his raft in TFTW
8. Yellowstone National Park is talked about extensively in all three of Forrest’ s memoirs
9. To me it is a logical and practical place for Forrest’s WWWH
10. This location is one of the early places that many searchers used for their WWWH and Forrest told us in a comment in September of 2012:
“Several months ago some folks correctly mentioned the first two clues to me in an email and then they went right past the other seven, not knowing that they had been so close. Alas, and dame fortune, so often a fickle and seductive wench, never spun her wheel to lure them back.”
And at least one practical reason why it does not work:
1. Forrest said “There are many places in the Rocky Mountains where warm waters halt, and nearly all of them are north of Santa Fe.”
This suggests to me that such a unique place, where two rivers end and a new one starts, is very unlikely to be one of many in the Rocky Mountains. I cannot think of another place where two warm rivers end and a new river begins…
But, what the heck…I’m playing the odds. Ten reasons for and only one against in my opinion…Let’s go with it.
And take it in the canyon down,
I believe “it” refers to the Madison River. “Canyon” refers to the Upper Madison Canyon which starts immediately below Madison Junction and “down” refers to downstream. So I take the Madison River, downstream into the Upper Madison Canyon…and all the way through that canyon…and keep going about 17 miles to Hebgen Lake.
Not far, but too far to walk.
I don’t want to walk 17 miles. So I’ll drive.
Put in below the home of Brown.
In this solution the home of Brown is Hebgen Lake for a couple of reasons:
1. Hebgen Lake is considered a Brown trout angler’s nirvana
2. Brown’s grow to be the largest and most desirable in the secret depths of the lake
The reason for this is:
There are many species of Mayflies, more than 2,500 but they all seem to look fairly similar. Frankly, you’d have to care more about bugs than most normal people do to tell them all apart. Chances are that if you live somewhere on earth…particularly if you live near a lake…you have seen Mayflies…perhaps swarms of them around your porch light in the evening, in late spring and summer.
Depending on where you hail from, the buggers are also known as Fishflies, Shadflies, Lakeflies and around Hebgen Lake by their Genus name, Callibaetis or Spinners. I can remember the air being thick with Mayflies flapping about over the shoreline of Indian Lake in Manistique in the summers when I was a kid. Swarms so thick I could smell them. They brought an odor like the lake from which they had just emerged. It seemed like millions of them appeared from nowhere.
In truth they had just completed a journey started a year or two earlier when Mayfly eggs sank from the choppy surface of the lake and ended up in the sediment below, where they would spend the next few weeks or sometimes 24 months (depending on the species) in various states of development and then miraculously emerge again on the weedy surface as adult Mayflies. On the surface they can take off immediately…or float around for awhile contemplating their new abdomen or even climb atop a tall weed for a view of their newly acquired world before taking flight. Their shared timing is impeccable as tens of thousands, perhaps millions, do this over a course of days in the same lake….creating swarms of Mayflies, magnificent to some…alarming to others….and then, suddenly stop. They all die, falling to the ground where they clog drains, cover windshields and stink up the neighborhood.
Typically, adult Mayflies only live a day or two and in that time they have a natural inclination to do a lot of breeding and deposit eggs on the surface of the lake…where the eggs sink to the bottom…etc, etc.
Mayflies, of course, are not the only bug to emerge like this from Montana lakes. Hebgen is a virtual bug making machine and during the times of emergence it becomes a feeding bazaar for bug eating trout. In Hebgen Lake the trout are called “Gulpers” for the sound they make as they rise to the surface and greedily grab their victims before the insects can fly off to my front porch light and dazzle me with their numbers.
The “hatch” as it’s called when the bugs take flight is a magical and frenetic time of year for trout and also for anglers. In Hebgen there is more than one hatch per year and generally they last a very short time. Between hatches Hebgen Lake fishers tend to drink beer, eat chicken, read Orvis catalogues, carve whirligigs for their front yard and wax unpoetically about large fish they cannot prove they caught.
The fly angler’s goal is to fool the trout by using a lure, called a “fly” that resembles (sometimes pathetically) a Mayfly, Stonefly, Midge, Dun, Trico or some other bug in one of its various stages and throwing it into the lake at the appropriate time of year. This is called “fishing”. Sometimes you have to wonder what kind of nitwits fish must be to mistake what the fishers toss into the water for a real insect…
But understand, the fish are in a frenzy…caution to the wind…eat up boys while the eating is good. Hopefully one of those frenzied big Gulpers will spot your fly and go for it, you will land it and take a selfie to prove to your undeserving peers that you are among the greatest of fishers.
and then release it back into the lake and try again for a bigger one, or, if you are a fish connoisseur and brought your salt and pepper along… motor quickly to shore, start a fire and have a lunch of freshly grilled trout in the Rocky Mountains north of Santa Fe.
Unlike stream fishing, you need a boat to get out on the lake to catch trout this way. Some fly fishers would never actually step into a boat. That’s for bait fishers…a lower class of so-called fishers…but the bragging rights are significant if you land a big Gulper, so the temptation can be overwhelming.
To get back to the home of Brown…
Because of the magnitude of the “hatches” on Hebgen Lake, the trout grow large and it’s a great place to fish during the heat of summer when the fish above the lake flee the warmed up streams for something deeper and cooler and bug infested…Fishers surge to Hebgen when the “hatch is on” for the thrill of catching a BIG Brown, and many will. Hebgen Lake Browns average 19 inches vs Rainbows a couple inches smaller…so…Hebgen is considered the home of big Browns…Ask any trout catcher who lives nearby where the Home of Brown is and they will yammer on for hours about the great gulpers they caught on Hebgen Lake.
Putting in Below
The Madison River enters Hebgen Lake at its southern end and exits at the north. Prior to the dam the lake was simply a wide spot in the Madison River. Montana Power added a dam at the northern end in 1914 to make a reservoir that is used to regulate the flow for reservoirs and hydro projects further downstream. They named the reservoir after Max Hebgen…who, unfortunately didn’t live long enough to see the project completed.
Putting in below the home of Brown means putting in below the dam.
How far below the dam do we put in???
The poem tells us exactly…
From there it’s 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.
Okay…stay with me here.
I’m going to say that the poem is telling me to put in DIRECTLY below the home of Brown…Immediately below the dam…where the meek won’t go…where you certainly can’t paddle upstream and where the water comes from high and the stream bed is filled with rocks and heavy loads. it’s a scary place below a dam where the tail water rushes out creating a lot of noise and where the potential for dam failure seems imminent and death feels just an earthquake away.
And is there a blaze…
If you’ve been wise and found the blaze,
Look quickly down, your quest to cease,
You bet. Lots of them. If you’re brave enough to walk around down there you’ll find blazes of all sorts, sizes, shapes and denominations depending on your particular belief about what a blaze could be…
But you should have realized before you started even looking for a blaze that this could never be the spot where Forrest expected to take his last breath…expected to be his last sight of this world. Who in hell wants to die below a noisy dam?
There is a trail made by fishers everywhere you walk down there and a road about 60ft away. No animals down there either. They have better sense…and you can’t smell anything but lake water.
and this is where the set of directions fails quickly and makes no sense.
I agree that up to this point a case could be made….but this is not the hidey spot…
So why is it that I get several folks each year who want me to believe that they went down to this place because it absolutely fits ALL the clues in the poem…yet the chest was not there …
So they claim that clearly, someone got here ahead of them and removed it…
Why does it not occur to these folks that this is not Forrest’s “special” place? He never hid his chest here. He never intended to die here.
Come on folks. Get over yourselves…
This might be a simple solution but it’s simply wrong…