Below the Trout Line…

bbfmca

August 2019

By FMC

 

Title reference: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PcMx7o2_L7I

Disclaimer: If you’ve read my previous two solves, “Going to See the Elephant” and “Crouching Flyer, Hidden Canyon”, you should know by now that this is going to be long. Get comfy.

2nd Disclaimer:  The majority of this was written in between my 2nd and 3rd BOTG in this area.  Where I have updated based on additional research during this interim, I will note so as to try and keep the evolution of the solve understandable/consistent.

“Eddie Dean blew breath into the key-hole of his memory. And this time the tumblers turned.”

– Stephen King, Wizard and Glass

How I Came to This Solve

For those that have been around the Chase for awhile, you may or may not remember my attempt to catalog and share potential specific WWWH. I had a website to submit them, but it didn’t get much traction and consisted mainly of those I culled from solves posted here on Dal’s and from my own ideas. Shortly before I gave up on it, the map looked like this:

1 Warm Waters Found Map

I also had a picture where I overlaid the TFTW map and it looked pretty sweet, IMO, but I couldn’t find that image so… sorry.

One of the last ideas I added to the list was all of the ski areas in the search area, thinking that melting snow/spring runoff halting the skiing season allowed for some poetic interpretation to WWWH, but wasn’t too far out there (like tears, blood, etc.) At the time (late 2017), I couldn’t find any ways to make the rest of the clues fit and I wrote off the idea. After my 2018 solve, which relied on “canyons” formed by the boundaries of wilderness areas, national parks, etc., I came back to the ski area idea to see if there were any fits with this new “canyon” interpretation.  One of the ski areas I looked at… was Red River Ski and Summer Area in Red River, NM.

The Red River area and in particular, the Red River Fish Hatchery as home of Brown, have been considered as potential clue solutions since the early days of the Chase. Cynthia referenced her first BOTG trip to the hatchery 4 years prior to this post from 2017: https://dalneitzel.com/2017/02/11/method_madness/

Dal looked in this area as well: https://dalneitzel.com/2013/03/23/looking-in-new-mexico/#comment-27093

The Wolf covered this area along with Taos in his book/posts and who could forget the infamous Goose Lake “photo of the Treasure Chest”: https://www.abqjournal.com/499766/man-says-he-found-then-lost-fenn-treasure.html

But my canyon down and home of Brown interpretation are different from anything online… could one of these early searchers in the area be the one “within 200 feet”?

A Few More Things on Red River, NM

Before we get into the rest of the poem, a few items (warning: possible confirmation bias) that point to Red River as a possible location. Some/most of these are not “new” revelations, but I’m not hunting down who/where they were first discussed to give credit… claim it as you see fit.

  1. 1)Red River and environs are in the Sangre de Cristo mountain range. Sangre de Cristo is Spanish for “Blood of Christ” which has ties to the “My church is in the mountains and along the river bottoms…” quote.
  1. 2)Also, using the map in TFTW and the latitude lines, Red River is more directly “North” than a lot of the rest of the search area.

1a Map Lines

  1. 3)Where it’s located in the mountains, Red River is one of the two closest getaways for Texans to escape the summer heat (this was born out by my BOTG trips and confirmed by multiple people I talked to). This ties to the target audience for TTOTC per FF: “Every redneck in Texas who has lost his job, has a wife and 12 kids, a pickup truck and a sense for adventure.”
  1. 4)There’s the obvious tie of Red River to “so we laughed and drank red tea” from Tea with Olga, but just south of Red River is Black Mountain – “so we sipped black tea and nibbled on Oreos”. Two of the three colors referenced in the story tie clearly to features in this area (we’ll come to “green” shortly).

2 Black Mountain

  1. 5)Ties to “treasures bold” and “hint of riches new and old” in the names of the Chairlifts at Red River Ski Area. As you can see, we’ve also got our third tea color.

3 Chairlifts

I would argue that gold, silver, and copper would be “riches old” while platinum, which, while discovered long ago, only recently became a popular option for jewelry (source: https://eragem.com/news/the-history-of-platinum-jewelry/) would be “riches new”.

  1. 6)The Ski Area in general as WWWH and the “nearly all are north of Santa Fe” comment from FF.  Obviously, most ski areas are north of Santa Fe, but there are a few that are south of Santa Fe (Sandia Peak and Ski Apache, for example).
  1. 7)This one’s admittedly a bit more tenuous, but in my last solve, I discussed the potential image hidden in the picture on page 28 of TTOTC in the story, Bessie and Me.

4 Shadowsv

And in the following, Flag Mountain (Flag) and Red River (Car/Truck) seem to match up pretty well, including the gap under the car/truck and the gap in the road just south/east of Red River. The man fishing is a less clear, but could be the end of the designated special trout waters (at the border of the Carson National Forest as per: http://www.wildlife.state.nm.us/download/publications/rib/2019/fishing/2019_20-New-Mexico-Fishing-Rules-and-Info.pdf) or, though the distances don’t match up well, the popular fishing area around Eagle Nest Lake.

5 Shadows Interpreted

Post-BOTG #2/Pre-BOTG #3 Interim Update #1

In looking more closely at the New Mexico Fishing Rules linked above, and the “Warm Waters” section more specifically, I noticed the Red River City Ponds listed, with one of the ponds “open only to anglers 12 years of age and younger and anglers/individuals with disabilities” which has some ties to the FF quote “I think kids have an advantage”.  Looking at the map, the city ponds are located right next to the Ski Area and the start of the Pioneer Creek Trail.

5a RR City Ponds

It’s possible that these city ponds are WWWH (people stop to fish in the warm water ponds) and the rest of the solve proceeds from here instead of the Ski Area.  Assuming the same general warm water definition (ponds, lakes, etc.) it would still hold true for the “nearly all of them are north of Santa Fe” comment.

Begin It Where Warm Waters Halt

With our general WWWH identified, there are various interpretations for “Begin it” and “take it in the canyon down”. These are as follows:

6 Begin It WWWH

  1. 1)“It” as the Pioneer Creek Trail down (South) from Red River Ski and Summer Area (primary focus).
  2. 2)“It” as the beginning of NM-578 (splits off from NM-38 which runs through town) and runs down (South) through the “canyon” formed by the borders of the Columbine-Hondo Wilderness (left) and the Carson National Forest (right). I will touch briefly on this route later.
  3. 3)“It” as the chase starting from Red River in a more general sense and down as lower in elevation to the West along NM-38 (I will come back to this in more detail later as an interesting backup solve).

Note: I’m sure everyone is familiar with FF’s “gut feeling” comment (link: http://mysteriouswritings.com/six-questions-with-forrest-fenn-and-the-thrill-of-the-chase-treasure-hunt-double-charmed/) from the 2018 edition of “Six Questions” and the update from June 28, 2018 where his “gut feeling is wavering” (link: http://mysteriouswritings.com/featured-question-with-forrest-fenn-and-the-thrill-of-the-chase-treasure-hunt-gut-feeling/). Potentially related to this is a partial forest closure for Carson National Forest, including the Questa district, of which this entire search area is part of. The closure was announced on June 25, 2018 and became effective on June 27, 2018 (link: https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/carson/news-events/?cid=FSEPRD584852). The closures were lifted in early July and lesser restrictions (no fires of any kind) were put in place.

Post-BOTG #2/Pre-BOTG #3 Interim Update #2

After returning from BOTG#2 and after deciding I needed to make one more trip for BOTG#3, I ordered Cynthia Meachum’s book, Chasing Fenn’s Treasure, which you can read more about and order here: https://store.bookbaby.com/book/Chasing-Fenns-Treasure.  I have long respected Cynthia’s efforts in the Chase and have said more than once that of all the other searchers, she’s the one I think most likely to find the chest. Her blog is well worth reading as well: http://www.chasingfennstreasure.com/.  

I referenced before her visit to the Red River Fish Hatchery in early 2017 and in Chapter 9 of her book, she details her Boston Acres/Middle Fork Lake Solve from later in the Spring of 2017 (similar to a solve area I looked at as part of my 2nd interpretation of “it”).  Towards the end of the Chapter, however, she outlines a series of connections she makes from FF Scrapbooks, Vignettes, etc. to this general area and also along Highway 38 west of Red River, all of which were made from early March 2017 to the end of April 2017, while she was looking in this area.  I’m not listing them here – buy her book if you want to see the details. She even provides a picture of her thumb tacks/tags on her map in the book.

6a Cynthia Map

Included with the permission of Cynthia Meachum.

Prior to reading her book, I couldn’t connect her Red River Hatchery post to FF’s “gut feeling” comment as the post was from early 2017 and his “gut feeling” comment was made in February of 2018.  After reading her book and the connections I touched on above, I looked at the book as the link between the two and realized it became available in December of 2017, after the 2017 search season, and just before FF made his “gut feeling” comment.  It’s entirely possible he thought someone buying the book would continue on the path that Cynthia began.

“It” as the Pioneer Creek Trail

I liked the Pioneer Creek Trail the most as it starts directly at Red River Ski and Summer Area. Even more, it starts behind Arrowhead Lodge and we all are aware of FF’s story of finding his first arrowhead and of references to arrowheads in general. Also:

7 Pioneer

If you consider the definition, it’s easy to see a hint to this Trail in “As I have gone alone in there” (unlike some other hints, I don’t think I’ve seen this interpretation anywhere). Additional hints to “Pioneer” include the story in TFTW, the world lost its darling, on Amelia Earhart, who he calls a “pioneer aviator.” If you squint a bit, the story of blotting out Philadelphia with his thumb could be a callback to Jim Lovell, who did a similar thing in blotting out the Earth with his thumb on the first (Pioneer) trip around the moon (source: https://www.newsweek.com/earth-behind-mans-thumb-96783).

Not far, but too far to walk.

Here you can see another view (looking South) of the Canyon and the distance (just under 3 miles) to the parking area at the top of the trail.

8 Canyon and TFTW

Three miles is far shorter than the typical estimate of ~10 miles for NFBTFTW, but there is an elevation gain from 8,670 feet to 10,020 feet.

Disclaimer: This is a 4WD off-road trail, though not an overly technical one. I did it with no off-roading experience twice in a Jeep and once in a large 4WD Dodge Ram (though all were stock rentals) and wouldn’t attempt it in anything smaller/less suited to this type of trail. I’m not going to get into the definition of “sedan” and whether or not this trail is excluded based on that comment. I will note that, based on Youtube videos of people going on this trail from years back and compared with my experience, the trail has deteriorated a fair amount since 2010.

Note: While it’s a hiking/off-road trail in the summer, it is also a snow-mobile trail in the winter which potentially speaks to the “probably retrieve it in any weather” quote from FF.

Put in below the home of Brown

I touched on the Fish Hatchery as a popular early HOB. For reference, in the following image, the Fish Hatchery is on the far left side, Red River is on the far right side, and Pioneer Creek Trail is marked in red:

9 Hatchery Latitude

How do we get below the Fish Hatchery along the Pioneer Creek Trail? Well, we’ve already started the process above, by looking at the big picture. 

The links between the latitude at the Fish Hatchery (36 degrees, 41 minutes, 0 seconds North) and FF’s father selling his ‘36 Chevy for a ‘41 Plymouth have been noted many times, but I like the clarity of Del Shannon in his piece (link: http://mysteriouswritings.com/where-warm-waters-halt-in-the-thrill-of-the-chase-treasure-hunt-by-del-shannon/):

“One evening, while re-reading the In Love With Yellowstone chapter I stopped after Forrest described his dismay after his father sold the families 36 Chevy for a 41 Plymouth. Why on earth was this such an important part of his life? And why didnt he use the numbers 19in front of these dates. Every other reference to a year in The Thrill of the Chase uses all four digits 1926 for example, the year his parents were married.

Forrests attempt at alarm over this car sale seemed insincere. After chewing on 36 and 41, which were details that seemed misplaced, and while using Google Earth to snoop around the Questa area, I noticed the latitude in the lower right hand corner. If I hovered the little electronic hand directly over the center of the village and it read 36 degrees, 42 minutes north. HmmmThen I moved it to the fish hatchery and it read exactly 36 degrees, 41 minutes, 0 seconds north. Holy crap!

10 Hatchery Latitude

Using a new interpretation of “below” (the word that is key?) with the Fish Hatchery’s latitude, you get this:

11 36 Degrees 41 Mins

And zoomed into the Pioneer Creek Trail, it crosses just above the “put in” – the parking lot/turnaround point near the end of the trail (circled).

12 Pioneer Creek Lat Line

Around where the latitude line crosses is also a section of the trail where the creek follows the trail and you basically drive into (alternative possible “put in”) and along the creek.

13 Jeep in Creek

It’s probably confirmation bias, but I see similarities to the cover of TFTW in the rocks/creek (it’s probably just how thousands of creeks in the search area look).

From there it’s no place for the meek

I maintain my simple interpretation of this clue – this is where we exit our vehicle and go into the wild (specifically at the parking area referenced above).

The end is ever drawing nigh

There are two possible interpretations for this line:

14 Drawing Nigh

  1. 1)Search the draw (geographical feature) on the left as you head further along the trail.
  1. 2)Continuing up the trail, you are getting closer (drawing nigh) to the end of the trail, which is gated off.

There’ll be no paddle up your creek

Obviously, there’s continuing along Pioneer Creek from the search area (both upstream and downstream as “no paddle up” could refer to the shallowness of the creek or which direction to take), but looking at a topo map of the area, there’s also a creek coming down from the draw.

15 Creeks

Just heavy loads and water high

For the Pioneer Creek route, this is easy – Pioneer Creek goes past a field of rocks dug out from when this area was mined extensively and goes up to Pioneer Lake.

16 Pioneer HLAWH

It’s less clear interpreting HLAWH up the draw’s creek.  There is the Bunker Hill Mine shown on the topo map, but “waters high” is a mystery… perhaps there’s a waterfall somewhere up the creek.  

17 Draw Creek HL

It’s also possible to interpret NPUYC and HLAWH as still being related to Pioneer Creek and the “no” being not to go that way and to go towards the “end” that’s “drawing nigh”.

200 Foot/500 Foot Searcher Test

For the “along Pioneer Creek” interpretation, I considered the 500 foot test to be anywhere along the actual trail, though most likely originating at the Parking area.  The closer 200 foot test would be if someone decided to go look at the creek or went further up the road to where the gate is.

18 PC 500 and 200

For the “searching up the draw” interpretation, the 500 foot line starts higher up the road closer to the gate. There’s a hiking trail on the other side of the ridge and the 200 foot line intersects would be for someone that went up that trail (possibly not searching).

19 Draw 500 and 200

BOTG for this Solve (Trips 1-3)

In and around the Red River area, I took 3 BOTG this past summer, and searched this area each time, approximately as follows:

20 PC BOTG

There were not too many “blazes” – this is probably the best one (from BOTG #1):

20a PC Blaze

I hoped to be done with this area after my second trip, but I was concerned on trip #1 that we (my wife and I) were above the draw and not in the draw and that we could potentially have missed something. I also considered the possibility that the gate could be the “end” that’s “drawing nigh” and that “no paddle up your creek” could be to not go further up Pioneer Creek and that a pile of rocks  on the east end of the parking area could be the blaze.  I would then apply my “look quickly down” interpretation of “quickly” = one second (of latitude), which is approximately 100 feet (for this location). “Down” could either be south or lower in elevation.

Once I got to the parking area on BOTG#3, I knew my memory of the rock pile had fooled me and that it was not the Blaze.  I searched up the draw again as outlined above, but did not look perpendicular to the rock pile.

End poem interpretation where “It” is the Pioneer Creek Trail

“It” as the beginning of NM-578 (#2)

6 Begin It WWWH

NM-578 starts towards the Southeast end of town and winds down through the Valley of the Pines.  There were three main areas I was interested in using this “it” – Goose Creek Trail (note: the hiking trail, not the off-road trail), the Middle Fork Lake Trail/Bull of the Woods Creek, and Sawmill Creek off of the East Fork Red River Trail.

These were less developed solves with more tenuous interpretations so I’m going to go over them a bit more briefly…

Goose Creek Hiking Trail

This used the same HOB methodology, with the latitude of the Fish Hatchery.  The Goose Creek Trailhead and parking area are the first “put in” below that latitude.

21 Goose Creek Overview

The trail crosses the creek in multiple places without any bridges (“worth the cold”) and the creek is shallow (“no paddle”).  It leads to Goose Lake (“waters high”) and is in the general direction of Gold Hill (“heavy loads”?)  On BOTG #1, I searched up the closest (“nigh”) draw and planned to search up the first draw with a mapped creek on the left side of the Goose Creek (“drawing nigh”) on BOTG #3, but I ran out of time (and also no longer thought it a likely hiding place for the chest).

22 Goose Creek BOTG

Note: There is a bridge that crosses Red River from the Goose Creek parking area to the actual trail that is Private Property. Historically, the land owner had granted hikers use of the bridge, but the property was sold in 2018, and while the new owners initially did the same, something changed in early 2019 that made them stop granting that access (Ranger theory was that there was some kind of altercation with a hiker).  Accordingly, the owners put up a sign that the bridge was Private Property and to contact the Questa Ranger District, effectively making the trail legally inaccessible (barring a sketchy water crossing of the Red River).  The Ranger District plans to get a legal right of way for the bridge based on historical use or build a new bridge further upstream, but the timing of either of those events is unknown.

Post BOTG#3 Note: The sign has since been removed.

Goose Creek Jeep Trail

Though it didn’t work for my HOB interpretation as the entrance is north of the fish hatchery’s latitude, I did consider this trail briefly, primarily because of the Goose Lake “photo” and, per the reporter who wrote the story, FF’s insistence that there wasn’t anything to it (which seemed out of character for him).  While  I never searched up this trail, this spot seemed the most likely, though it was approximately 1.6 miles up the trail (and with 1,000 feet of elevation gain) and I questioned whether it was further than FF would have gone.

22a Goose Creek Jeep

While this is technically a Jeep trail, I wouldn’t recommend going up it for safety reasons (see Travel Tips for Red River #3 at the end of this write-up).

Middle Fork Lake Trail

I tried to search this trail on BOTG #1, but it was still snowed in so I went on BOTG #2. HOB for this interpretation was Beaver Ponds (where marked below) on a map (that I can’t seem to find again). “Waters high” would be Middle Fork Lake.  I considered Bull of the Woods Creek as a potential “blaze” and wanted to get over to the base of it, but I couldn’t find an acceptable way across the river (and didn’t worry too much about it – if Doug Scott couldn’t get there, it probably can’t be done: http://www.dougscottart.com/hobbies/waterfalls/bullwoods.htm).

23 MFL Overview

I also went along the Elizabethtown Ditch for awhile.  Found a blaze or two and some tarry scant and even some marvel gazes, but no treasure.

24 MFL Collage

East Fork Red River/Sawmill Creek

This trail starts east of the Middle Fork Lake Trail with a lot of the same interpretations…  Creek in a draw going to the left, waterfall as “HLAWH” (source: http://www.dougscottart.com/hobbies/waterfalls/sawmill.htm), plus sawmill links to “in the wood.”  For my BOTG trip here, I misread where the actual falls were so I actually went past them without seeing them. I trust that since Dal was here, it’s been well-searched.

25 Sawmill Creek

End poem interpretation where “It” is the Beginning of NM-578

“It” as the Chase and “down” being in elevation along NM-38 to the West (#3)

26 NM38 West Overview

This interpretation started with the Columbine Creek Trail as an emergency backup for BOTG #2 using primarily the Fish Hatchery latitude idea for “below the home of Brown” and not much else in the way of solved clues once heading down the trail (this was born out by my hiking along it for awhile and not finding much else of note…)  I also wanted to re-check The Wolf’s foray up into Bear Canyon as he posted some interesting pictures and I just wanted to poke around/confirm he didn’t miss anything (details of his trips can be found on Chase Chat or by using the WayBack Machine or you can buy his book). As I understand it from his writing, he crossed via a fallen tree approximately across from Bear Canyon and then searched up into the canyon. 

27 The Wolf BC

I forget exactly how he came to this point, but I think I re-interpreted it as Bear Canyon being “home of Brown” with the canyon (on the left coming from Red River) as “drawing nigh”, the power lines as “heavy loads”, and the creek/waterfalls he found as “waters high”.  It wouldn’t matter, however, as I couldn’t find an acceptable way across the Red River.  This was the best option and even in the Dodge Ram, I wasn’t the least bit interested:

28 Hard Pass

Put in below the home of Brown

While I distinctly remember having this thought about FF’s potential playfulness while looking at Columbine Creek ahead of BOTG #2, I didn’t consider it a real possibility until after re-looking at the map ahead of BOTG #3…

Could the Chevron Moly Mine be “home of Brown”?

FF did say in an interview once that “you’re gonna have to solve the riddle that’s in my poem.” (Source: www.tarryscant.com; https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/isaac-cole/on-the-road-with-charlie/e/50089487)

Could this be a play on another popular “home of Brown” choice – the Molly Brown house in Denver (or associated Molly Brown-related places)?  I wouldn’t put it past FF to have it be just that.

It’s been pointed out before, but there are also possible hints to the Moly mine in the image of the Man with the Axe and Cutdown Trees on page 146 of TTOTC as there are no trees on the mine.

28a Moly Mine

With the connection (the Moly Mine as HOB) better established in my mind, I looked again at the area, and the road crossing the Red River from the image above (the closest “official” crossing) is just past (and below/lower in elevation) the entrance to the Moly Mine and is 8.8 miles from Red River (closer to the generally accepted TFTW distance of ~10 miles).

29 River Crossing Overview

30 8 8 Miles

Crossing the river, there are a number of possible clue interpretations, primarily with Bear Canyon as “no place for the meek” both in the not being afraid sense (bears) and also not being quiet (making noise to alert bears to your presence).  There is a small creek that goes up Bear Canyon (“no paddle up your creek”) as well as fallen boulders and waterfalls (“heavy loads and water high”) as identified by The Wolf.

However, there are also draws to the left (south/southeast of the “put in”) and on the left side of the river as you go towards Bear Canyon and Red River itself could potentially be “your creek” and there exist then the same “no paddle up” possibilities for the river being too swift to paddle against or meaning to go downstream.  There are power lines and rock piles/rocky outcroppings (“heavy loads”) all along this side of the river and a creek back towards Red River as potential “waters high”.

31 Options

And the 500 Foot/200 Foot quotes are only marginal help as the road and/or Red River (people fishing) provides cover for people being within 500 feet, while The Wolf’s search up Bear Canyon and searchers potentially staying at Goat Hill Campground/fishing the Red River south of the campground provide explanations for potential 200 footers. (Personally, I thought something up Bear Canyon was more likely.)

32 BC 500 and 200

BOTG #3 to Bear Canyon

In late August, the Red River flowrate was approximately half of what it was for BOTG #2 and I was able to cross without any difficulty.

33 Lower Water

I found the creek and proceeded up Bear Canyon along a trail (I couldn’t tell for sure if it was a human trail or a game trail):

34 Trail

And soon found The Wolf’s spot (and the Iron Bar from his adventure):

35 Iron Bar

(If that’s actually a piece of an old Spanish sword or something, well, you know where to find it…)

I continued up past the waterfalls and soon noticed that, despite going up the only possible canyon, the sound of running water had diminished and eventually disappeared.  As I’d previously considered a natural spring/something with water tables to be the reason behind the FF quote “physics tells me the treasure is wet,” I made a mental note to investigate further on my way back down.

A little further on, I came to a large rock with an overhang/gap on one side. Inside, the gap was filled with sticks (“in the wood”) and dead grass, which, as the gap was well above the creek and on the downside of the rock, seemed unlikely. 

36 Sticks in Gap

I cleared out the sticks and debris, but found no chest.

Continuing up the canyon, I happened to look up and see this:

37 Rock W

I’ve too young to have seen It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, but I’m aware of the “Palm Tree W” from the movie.  Could this be a “Rock W” and be the Blaze?  Given the angle, it’s certainly something that you couldn’t see from Google Earth (FF: “Google Earth cannot help with the last clue”).  I also estimated that it was approximately 200 feet from the trail I was on to the base of the cliff below the “W” – could that be why someone was able to get within 200 feet?

I hiked over/up to the base of the cliff, though I did notice there was still a faint trail to follow.  At the base of the cliff was an overhang with a decent enough view, some blackened (“tarry”) rocks, and some fragrant pine trees.

38 Decent View

But I soon noticed something else… the presence of climbers…

39 Climbers

Okay, I thought to myself, maybe the Climbers were the ones who were within 200 feet.  So I continued along base of the cliff, looking around larger rocks and at the base of pine trees.  I noticed a weirdly colored rock uphill a bit and went to check it out.  It was just a rock, but a little bit beyond that rock was a mine entrance, and in that mine entrance was a plastic bin with rocks on top of it.

40 Bin

 I doubted the treasure chest was inside, but maybe some gold from the mine? Something else interesting (and valuable)?  Not really… it was just climbing equipment that the climbers didn’t want to carry back and forth every time they came to climb.

I looked further around and saw more climbing equipment (carabiners and rock bolts) in the cliff face of the only other way to go and decided to head back.

I went further up the main trail a little bit, before deciding that I’d gone further than FF could have done to hide the treasure twice in an afternoon.  I regret not going a bit further as I think my side trips could have impacted my tiredness estimate relative to FF who would have known right where he was going.  One way, I estimate I hiked a little less than a mile with approximately 500 feet of elevation gain so there’s some potential still for anyone that wants to check further up into Bear Canyon.

On my way back down, I did locate the expected spring, which was just above the 2nd, approximately 3-4 foot, waterfall.  

41 Spring

I considered finding the spring possibly being related to “if you’ve been wise” with that waterfall as the Blaze, but couldn’t find a way to get to the area just below the waterfall.  I did look all around and below the spring itself, but didn’t find anything.

I did also search the dry creek/area southeast of the “Put in” and found a few potential “blazes” but not much else. This area seems like it gets more campers/visitors/high school kids drinking.  Exhausting that area, I called it quits and headed back to town for a beer.

Travel Tips for Red River

Should you find yourself in the area (hunting for the chest or otherwise), a few tips.

  1. 1)The bar at the Red River Lodge has some excellent musicians playing live music most nights from 6-9 (at least during the summer). I also splurged on a steak here one night and it was excellent.
  1. 2)Explore around for dinner as you like, but until you get tired of eating there, I’ll recommend the Major Bean Sandwich and Coffee Co. for breakfast and lunch. 
  1. 3)Unless you’re a very experienced off-roader, don’t go anywhere near the Goose Lake Off-Road trail.  Trail repair in the last several years has faced some serious budget constraints and it is currently unsafe (based on my research).  If you look for them, there are articles outlining approximately 1 death/year on this trail (from vehicles sliding off the road down steep embankments). A lot of the Jeep/off-road rental places in town don’t let you take their equipment on this trail at all.

Conclusion

After eight BOTG trips, zero injuries, and zero bears seen, I’m going to call my TTOTC a success, despite not finding the treasure.  Never say never, but I expect this to be my last solve attempt.  Frankly, I’m out of new ideas.  But in sharing my solves, maybe someone will use some of my ideas in their own solve (I have not applied my “latitude of Red River Fish Hatchery” and interpretation of “below” to the Lamar Ranger Station) or build upon my ideas with their own additions.

Good luck to everyone and please find it (closure would be nice) and thanks to Forrest for creating the Chase. I’ve had some good trips with family, some solid adventures, and a healthy dose of nature and I’m glad for the time I’ve spent in the Chase.

Cheers.

-FMC

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

30 thoughts on “Below the Trout Line…

  1. Wow – nice work, very detailed and easy to follow your logic/reasoning. I too like the ski area angle; ski run names are fascinating fodder for imagination and Forrest has of course written a “few” scrapbooks on family ski adventures at Ski Santa Fe. Have you included the Junebug campground in your explorations??

  2. I’ve done a lot of research and looked at this a few years back I’m surprised you didn’t mention Bill C. Brown painter of ski trails. If I remember correctly he even painted the Santa Fe ski trail sign. Put in below home Brown. Looks like you took it to a whole new level. Too far out for me but I do see that people share similar ideas. Just goes to show we can all come up with the same ideas from different angles.
    Thanks for sharing.

  3. I guess I interpret the whole story of “why did he get rid of the ‘36 Chevy for a “41 Plymouth?” to mean that changing FROM 36 to something else is the wrong move. As such, I am focused on a 36 latitude solve (which just happens to have land inside New Mexico and therefore fits with warm fishing waters).

    I do believe Lat/Lon info will be part of the solve and applaud your usage.

    NBDY

  4. I love reading other people’s solves, thanks for sharing this latest one.

    For me, it is wayyyy too convoluted though, far too intricate, contrived and over-thought.

    I think deep down you know yourself that when you say “warning, possible confirmation bias”.

    Same is true of many solves, people disappear down their own endless rabbit holes, getting excited chasing their own reflections in the mirror.

    Also starts reaching too far away from the poem itself into Fenn’s other writings and comments.

    Still fun to read though.

  5. Wow, what a great solve FMC..
    Your ideas are well thought out and detailed.
    The picture are great too! Awesome job..

  6. FMC,
    Nice trip….I’m envious.
    I too had several BOTG in same area….Red River Fish Hatchery to be precise. Our current solve has evolved from these. Still in NM.
    It looks like you have a good topo map…..I also found Green Mountain on mine. This has Red, Green and Black mountains in the area.
    I too looked at the magnetic variation to point me in a northerly direction and believe it is related to the finding of the TC. I believe FF, being a former pilot, would most likely use a magnetic correction.
    As always, IMO.
    Good luck and stay safe.

  7. I love reading other people’s solves, thanks for sharing this one.

    For me it falls down on being too tenuous, contrived and intricate, sounds like you had a gut feeling of this yourself when you wrote “warning – possible confirmation bias”.

    It also reaches too far outside of the poem to FF’s other writings and perceived clues. It’s all in the poem, that’s what FF intended.

    It’s only natural that if people reach a dead end with the poem itself they try to cling onto any other possible hints, but it’s also too easy to lose yourself down tangental rabbit holes that way and get all excited at your own reflection in the mirrored halls.

    Fun to read though.

  8. I enjoyed reading your solve. I always enjoy Red River.
    You found some places that I would never have thought of. Mostly because I have given up on exploring the dirt roads in that area. I would also stay clear of any mines as sites or references.
    Keep it up.

  9. Another interesting write up, FMC, and some real good travellin’ to boot.

    Re the cars, why not 41 degrees 36 minutes North (instead of 36d 41m?) A parallel in southern Wyoming between the Co/Wyo border and the Great Divide Basin.

    Rock Springs Wyo (near the Green River and Flaming Gorge) is at that latitude.

    Jake

  10. FMC,

    Nice write up, it is overly complicated, but still good. The use of 200′ & 500′ points I have a problem with, because its not in the poem, I feel you are using this method as something to lean on to help validate. When ff spoke of the distances, they have much uncertainty as to where the footage taken is unknown and shouldn’t be used as a guide. Also the use of grid coordinates maybe faulty, because there isn’t a hint or clue in the poem that indicates the need of coordinates.

    Critics what do we know?

    Best regards

  11. I would never consider man-made retention ponds as WWWH.
    My HOB will never be a man-made fish hatchery or anything man-made.
    That’s as far as I got.

    Thanks for sharing though.
    Looks like a nice place to vacation in all four seasons.

    Why did the title change?
    It was “Below the Bass troutline”….
    Although “Below the Brown Trout Line” would work better.

    • Jake-
      I changed the title at the request of the author. The author’s original document had the word “Bass” with a strikethrough. However I did not notice the strikethrough when I reformatted the document for the blog. So the original title I applied was “Below the Bass Troutline” Instead of “Below the Bass Troutline”. The author noticed this misrepresentation on my part and asked me to add the strikethrough. However, this version of the WordPress theme does not allow any kind of text formatting in the title. So the author then asked that the title be changed to “Below the TroutLine”.

      As far as WHY the author wanted the strikethrough, or why the title change when the strikethrough was not possible, I do not know.

      • It’s a play on words with dual meanings of bass merged with my lat line/hob interpretation.

        It might make more sense if people click the link below the title labeled as “Title reference”.

  12. Great pictures, look’s like you had an exciting adventure. Unfortunately INMHO, as evidenced by your failure to Find the TC, your in the wrong area. I believe I have found The home of Brown. I will give evidence of this when I return from my BOTG this month. No body, and I mean no body has even thought of this, or if they have they have not discussed it publicly. You will be astounded by the answer. I have other clues and hint to back up my theory. Notice I said theory, until the TC is in Hand that is all anyone gas. I refuse to call any of them a solve as that means a conclusion of fact. With my treasures bold I go in September to seek the answers to prove or disprove my theory.

  13. FMC,. Thanks for sharing your solution. It was interesting to read. It always motivates me a little more when I read another solve, so thank you!

  14. This is a fascinating odyssey, very detailed, thorough. This will take me a while to digest. And it appears Dal has explored many other people’s solves and still has his own solve to continue to work on. So much research is bound to turn up the chest eventually. Just a matter of time and who gets there first.

  15. Think how involved your solve is. What are the odds that you went from hint to clue over and over again in exactly the thought process of FF? IMO your process is wrong for solving the clues in the poem.

  16. Maybe I am not digging deep enough, but I hadn’t put too much thought into the ’36 and ’41 connection. It is so common to say the year that way for older vehicles. Old timers would always say ’58 Ford Pickup. Or ’57 Chevy. So ’36 Chevy and ’41 Plymouth didn’t even phase me. Not sure which it is, but either a lot of people read too much into things, or I am taking some things far too casually.

  17. For what its worth….I just did a search in the Middle Fork area back in June of this year. Everything was still covered in snow though, so needless to say I couldn’t even find where the treasure wasn’t… it was a pretty solid solve, my final spot was/is actually owned by a fairly close friend of Mr. Fenn. Also, Mrs. Cynthia Meacham, has some pretty good video footage of her search in that area as well.

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