I learned of Forrest’s treasure hunt earlier this year and became hooked on it not so much for the money (although that’s what draws people and makes it competitive) but for the challenge of solving the puzzle and being the person to find the dang thing.
I’ll just quickly go over how my wife and I chose our Beaver Creek solve but know that the Cabin Creek / Cub Creek solve was using very similar logic.
Of course this thing could be anywhere that Mr. Fenn has suggested. However, it would be difficult to convince me that there is a better WWWH than Madison Junction. The preponderance of thermal hydrogeological water features of the world flow down the Firehole and Gibbon rivers. When the two come together to form the Madison they move further from the geysers and hot springs. Add to that the fact that Madison Junction was the origin point or birthplace of Yellowstone and you could see how it would be a good spot to “Begin It….” From there I am not as sure of my solve but here goes. We took the Madison Canyon down by car as it was too far to walk.
Put in below the home of Brown:
Ok so I am not in love with the idea that Hebgen Lake is the home of Brown. Sure there are Brown trout there but they are up and down the Madison from there as well. Because the lake tilted from the earthquake in 1969, one of the banks was brown from exposed soil without vegetation but that didn’t last forever. What drew me to this answer may make some laugh but I think it also ties to a story in TTOTC. When Mr. Fenn talks about sliding down that rusty fire escape slide from Spanish class, he adds that it left the bottom side of his pants brown but it was worth it. You can’t get to close to it anymore as I imagine you could bet back in Fenn’s day but where Hebgen spills over to reform the Madison, the overspill is a slide of sorts. You can see the end of the “slide” from Hwy. 287 near Big Wig Loop but to get a better idea of what I’m talking about, look at it from Google Earth. Anyway, for our purposes this is the home of Brown Damnit so lets put in.
From there it’s no place for the meek:
So I’m not one of those people who is counting every vowel in every line and thinks that this means something astrological or that Fenn was thinkig on so many levels that you need to know 5 different Native American languages to solve this thing. That said, I don’t see why the word “meek” keeps being misconstrued to mean “less than brave” or “afraid”. The word means quiet. It can mean weak as in “easy to convince to change mindset or opinion”. But I think lets just go with simple. No place for the meek is no place to be quiet. You don’t want to be quiet in bear country unless you want to meet a bear. In Grizzly Bear country, you don’t want to meet a bear period. Add to that it rhymes with creek and there’s your meek.
So we drove up USFS Rd. 985 that runs adjacent to Beaver Creek.
The end is never drawing nigh;
There’ll be no paddle up your creek,
Just heavy loads and water high.:
I’ve heard the “nigh” equals left idea but I think he’s looking for a word that rhymes with high. There will be no paddle up your creek means walk up a creek that is very small and obviously unnavigable.
So, with that, our idea was to walk up the West Fork of Beaver Creek which, yes is a fork that enters from the left hand side when one is charting a path up Beaver Creek proper. We parked at the West Fork trailhead and began hiking. I am very aware that Mr. Fenn has said that Indulgence is not near a human trail but when you are out there, in order to get away from the road, the only logical solution to enter nature is to take a trail or to start walking in the creek. The second option is very slow moving and there are fishermen and women that frequent these creeks but if you think it is hidden where there is a moderate amount of human foot traffic, I have no reason to dissuade you from just walking around in the creeks and look for the blaze. We chose to take the trails and to look for places to diverge from the trail on our quests.
We started down the trailhead and made it about 3 minutes in before I decided that I would like to change out of my shorts and into jeans. This trail isn’t well trodden and the growth would have been uncomfortable at the least. Plus, I figured this to be another layer for the bear to chew through so I would at least get to see the annoyance that the bear would face having to chew through the denim of my trousers to get to my leg flesh. I imagined that, if I was lucky enough to remain conscious long enough I could see the humorous mouth calisthenics of trying to spit the jeans without fumbling my fibula into the canyon below. Anyhow, I put on jeans.
We walked approximately 1:45 in stopping at several small mountain streams that resembled washouts. We walked up and explored a few that would have been great hides including this small waterfall next to a log that looked like it had been burnt.
We went through a few switchbacks until we came to one, at which point we decided that Mr. Fenn would not have come this far in. We knew we had at least an hour and fifteen minutes to walk back. We figured that for an 80 year old this is at least a 3:30 round trip even if you know exactly where you are going and I am not convinced that a man of this age would do it twice in a day. The unmarked switchback upon which we turned around was the fork at which the hiker would decide to go to the right to go to Avalanche Lake or to the left to go to the triple small lakes. This junction, and actually the trail in general, was unmarked which is a shame because if we had known that we were that far in, we would have carried on and went up to Avalance to see it. Oh Well.
On the walk down between scaring off bears with our singing voices, we decided to walk off the trail to see where the west fork met the main Beaver Creek. When we got off the trail, we began seeing a lot more evidence of animals from trodden grass, moved rocks, and, of course, poop. We began to get an erie feeling that we were on someone elses land and ignoring the no trespassing signs. When we saw fresh bear tree markings we felt like we should turn around now lest we make some markings of our own in the aformentioned jeans. At that thought, I saw a jawbone that turns out is the bottom jaw of an elk. We decided to take the jawbone home and leave the rest of this elk for some other treasure hunter to find.
Good Luck To All,