A Slippy Slidey Blazey Crazy Armchair Solve…


October 2019
by JonPaul

I stumbled upon the poem from The Thrill of The Chase, and all-things-Forrest-Fenn, when the British press covered the story a couple of years ago.  I’ve always been fond of puzzles and riddles so naturally I found Forrest’s poem irresistible.  I have very much enjoyed my introduction to Yellowstone, to Wyoming and Montana, and to the colorful history of this unique, beautiful corner of the US.  Like many others I have studied the poem and formulated a solution.  And, like many others, it is not feasible for me to travel to Yellowstone to conduct a boots-on-the-ground exploration, so a walkthrough of my rationale will have to suffice, and hopefully it will be of use.  Should anyone use this solution and actually find the treasure, I trust they will give credit where credit is due.

I’ll be honest: I have not read TTOTC.  However, from reading the many blogs and resources online, I think the wider context of the hunt – and perhaps the most salient clue to be taken from the book – is that Forrest has a long and intimate knowledge of Yellowstone, especially the Western reaches, and the creeks and waterways therein that might be discovered by the avid and adventurous fly fisherperson.  I have also learned the following from various additional statements that Forrest has made:

I believe the 1st stanza basically sets the scene – Forrest’s secret place is somewhere he was able to visit openly, alone, in his 80’s, carrying 40lbs over 2 trips in a single afternoon (https://www.fftreasure.com/uncategorized/not-under-water-done-two-trips/).  The 2nd Stanza is where the real clues begin – let’s get to it!

‘Where warm waters halt’ is, I believe, where the Gardner River flows into the Yellowstone River at Gardiner.  There are a great many potential WWWH’s in and around Yellowstone, but Forrest does not capitalize ‘warm’ here which suggests it’s not Warm Spring Meadow, Warm Springs Creek, or similar (and we’ll come back to Forrest’s use of capitalization later).  There are too many hot springs scattered throughout Yellowstone for Forrest to be unnecessarily vague, so I believe he must be – surreptitiously – offering us something we can work with.  I believe that ‘warm’ is the key word here.  It’s a strange and specific term for Forrest to use: not cool, tepid or hot, not scalding or boiling, just ‘warm’.  We can guess from Forrest’s accounts of childhood that our WWWH could be, or could be linked to, a hot spring he used to know as a boy.  It turns out that in the 1800’s the Gardner River was known as Warm Spring Creek due to the hot springs at Boiling River (Historical Origin of Waterways Names in Yellowstone).  Forrest is, I believe, using the word ‘warm’ to specify this particular waterway, and the WWWH it points to, without being either too vague or too obvious.  Where does the Gardner River halt?  It halts where it meets and mixes with the cold water of the Yellowstone River.  The interesting thing is that if you’ve adopted Boiling River (a hot spring) as your WWWH, instead of the Gardner River, it doesn’t really matter – following the next 2 clues takes you ultimately to the same checkpoint.

‘Take it in the canyon down’ means, I believe, follow the Yellowstone River downriver (rather than following the Gardner Canyon south).  The Yellowstone River is not specifically named as a canyon at Gardiner, but I think it can apply in general terms and subsequent clues make a lot more sense with respect to the Yellowstone River.

‘The home of Brown’ is, I believe, the home of ‘Uncle’ Joe Brown – Joe Brown Creek.  This appears to be confirmed by ‘Put in’ which, at face value, is a straight reference to the boat ramp located here.  There are a great many potential HOBs (HsOB?) if we only consider brown the colour, but here we see an overt capitalization.  I don’t feel that Forrest, as a wordsmith, would want to sow unnecessary confusion by deliberately misusing standard grammar.  If it’s capitalised, I believe Forrest is signifying a person’s name, pure and simple.  Forrest did have names for all the local fish, but it appears that they were on first-name terms (https://dalneitzel.com/2018/05/04/not_in_yellowstone/).  And since WWWH is Gardiner in this solution, it’s not feasible for the correct Brown to be Ranger Brown or Grafton Tyler Brown.

‘No place for the meek’ is, I believe, Slip & Slide Creek, the mouth of which is located below (South) of the mouth of Joe Brown Creek.  Its name speaks for itself.  Now, I admit I was *sorely* tempted at this juncture to err towards Tom Miner Creek / Rock Creek, and an area that appears to satisfy the subsequent clues to a greater or lesser extent, but I think Forrest’s lack of capitalization for ‘meek’ precludes this interpretation.  Extending the logic from the previous clue, I think Forrest would have used ‘Meek’ if he wanted us to head to Tom Miner Basin per the legend of Joseph Meek.  Instead my solution continues on the north side of the river, south of Joe Brown Creek. . .‘The end is ever drawing nigh’ refers, I believe, to Sliding Mountain West, located just beyond the end (source) of Slip & Slide Creek.  I’ve read a lot of speculation about whether ‘nigh’ means left, and I believe it could, but there’s actually a bigger clue here.  We know that Forrest plays golf, and once dreamed of being a professional golfer (https://mysteriouswritings.com/six-questions-with-forrest-fenn-and-the-thrill-of-the-chase-treasure-hunt-double-charmed/).  He knows that the controlled versions of a Hook shot (which drifts left) and a Slice shot (which veers right) are called Draw and Fade.  This clue tells us, I believe, that the end of the correct creek is a location that is ever drifting left or, to use different language, sliding west.  In a wordplay triple-whammy, we also know that a ‘draw’ is the name given to a small stream flowing in a steep channel, and also means to bring forth water (eg; drawing a bath), both of which suggest that we’re following a real water-bearing creek and not a road or forest trail. . .

‘There’ll be no paddle up your creek’ is not just a play on the well-known saying ‘Up (the) creek without a paddle’.  It reiterates, I believe, something hinted at in the previous clues – we should be definitely following an actual waterway.  There are many creeks in Yellowstone that have a similarly-named creek road running alongside, but I think Forrest knows we’ll need to be ‘in there’ by now – on foot, and getting our walking boots muddy.  I believe that ‘no paddle’ simply refers to walking, but perhaps also implies that the correct creek is dry in part.

‘Heavy loads and water high’ is yet another clue that could point to several notable locations in this part of Yellowstone.  Heavy loads could refer to rocks, electricity, or the old railroad.  ‘Water high’ could refer to elevated creeks or lakes, or be an allusion to Hell.  From point-of-view of where we are in the poem and on the map (ascending Slip & Slide Creek) I believe this clue serves to frame and underline where we are and where we’re headed – towards the source of the creek.  I believe that ‘Heavy loads’ refers to Big Pine Creek over the ridge to the north, and ‘water high’ refers to the cluster of lakes near High Mountain to the south.  I believe we’re being guided in, like a plane coming to land – the poem lays out where we’re coming from, where we’re heading, and what stands either side as way markers.  I also believe, however, that we’re not meant to go right to end of the creek. . .

‘If you’ve been wise and found the blaze’ is, to my mind, the most difficult clue in the whole poem.  As Forrest has noted, a ‘blaze’ could be just about anything  (https://www.chasechat.com/archive/index.php?thread-5596.html).  Of course, it could just be a simple mark on a tree, as is traditional, but I suspect that’s too mundane for a wordsmith like Forrest.  I believed for a long time that the blaze was a shape to be traced on a map by following the locations described by the clues, and that the final shape (maybe an ‘X’ or an arrow) would point to the actual location of the chest.  I could never get this approach to work, however, because the clues and locations are sequential, not scattergun.  Forrest has hinted that we should ‘make all the lines cross in the right spot’ (https://www.reddit.com/r/FindingFennsGold/comments/amuhe4/anyone_drawing_lines_on_a_map/), but I believe this can be taken to mean that it’s simply a case of intersecting the lines he’s describing in the right places: the line from Gardiner to the Joe Brown Put-In; the subsequent line from the mouth of Slip & Slide Creek up towards Sliding Mountain West.  In this sense, I believe he really means ‘spots’, plural.  This would suggest that the crossing lines aren’t an ‘X’ marking the spot, but simply where one section of the path joins up with the next.

So, what IS the blaze?  Forrest hinted early on that identifying the blaze is meaningless without having already solved the preceding clues (https://dalneitzel.com/cheat-sheet/).  This is an important clue.  If someone was out hiking and stumbled randomly upon an incongruous sign, they might be tempted to root around underneath and subsequently find the treasure.  But Forrest doesn’t want that – it would render the preceding clues redundant – and he’s discounted the chance of anyone finding the treasure by accident (https://dalneitzel.com/cheat-sheet/).  Consequently I believe that the blaze can’t simply be a sign out in the wilderness.  Instead, I think the blaze shows us when to look, as we move up the correct creek.  And how do we identify the blaze?  Forrest tells us, I believe.  He says we will already have been wise (past tense) and found it.  Wise, of course, means clever.  But we wouldn’t be in the correct creek already if we weren’t clever.  The word ‘-wise’ (like the similar ‘-wards’) also means to move in a direction, usually with respect to a circle: clockwise or anti-clockwise.  I believe Forrest is instructing us to turn.  But which way?  I don’t think it matters.  Forrest just wants us to turn around, which will enable us to find the blaze.  At this point I believe the blaze can only be a reference to the name of Shooting Star Mountain, which at 9665 feet would be visible in the southwest once you’ve reached the correct elevation up Slip & Slide Creek.

‘Look quickly down, your quest to cease’ tells us, I believe, that the chest is on, or set into, the ground at that spot – a point up Slip & Slide Creek where the peak of Shooting Star Mountain first comes into view behind you.  It’s not an exact science, which is why I believe Forrest has always maintained that a boots-on-the-ground search is necessary for the treasure to be found (https://www.reddit.com/r/FindingFennsGold/comments/bh9qsp/thinking_out_loud/).  The clues in the poem will put you to within a few meters of the treasure, but it’s up to you to scour the ground at your feet to find the chest itself.  The middle reaches of Slip & Slide Creek are no more than 3km from Route 89, which makes them accessible on foot from a vehicle parked near the Yankee Jim Picnic Area below.  A round trip would take about 2 hours, which would have allowed ample time for Forrest to make the journey twice in one afternoon.

Additional: Forrest has given a few cryptic quotes about the end of the search being somehow connected to the beginning, including a reference to a poem by TS Eliot (“moved with confidence” – The Hint of Riches – Forrest Fenn’s Treasure Hunt).  I believe that this is a nod to the other link between Shooting Star Mountain and Slip & Slide Creek:  as far as I can tell, before a recent land exchange (https://billingsgazette.com/outdoors/land-exchange-opens-gardiner-basin-ranch-to-public/article_929ae536-bec4-58d3-983f-f9d9ed1f24db.html) the lower slope of Slip & Slide Creek was owned by the Shooting Star Ranch, which is located in the Cinnabar Basin between Shooting Star Mountain and the river.  In short, the right spot up Slip & Slide Creek is denoted by visibility of the mountain which lends its name to the ranch which recently owned the lower stretch of that same creek.  Full circle.  Not to mention that half of western Yellowstone would be visible from the higher portions of Slip & Slide Creek, giving searchers a fresh perspective on the road already travelled.

I can’t help but feel that the last 2 stanzas are essentially an extended outro, with ‘brave’, ‘in the wood’, and ‘cold’ underlining the need for searchers to go out in the field.  ‘So hear me all and listed good’ could be a reference to the natural amphitheater formed by the curved ridge that surrounds Slip & Slide Creek (incorporating the peaks of Red Mountain, Sliding Mountain West, and High Mountain) but that feels a little too tenuous to me.  It’s more likely, I believe, that this is a nod to the famous letter written by Native American leader Chief Joseph (http://fennclues.com/hear-me-all-and-listen-good.html), along with ‘I’ve done it tired, and now I’m weak’.  Forrest planned his hunt and wrote the poem when, like the Chief, he believed his days were truly numbered.

Well, there it is.  I can’t shake the conviction that my solution gets at least a few clues correct, but then I guess most people who have worked out a solution feel the same way.  If not, then it’s been both fun and informative, for which I thank Forrest most sincerely.  Best wishes!

JonPaul, UK





70 thoughts on “A Slippy Slidey Blazey Crazy Armchair Solve…

  1. You have a brilliant imagination, and a great solve. Others have done boots on the ground searches in that area and post their stories and adventures. It is a difficult area to remove from possibility. But, IMHO it is in New Mexico not far off the high road to Taos. Try out your imagination on this area next time. I will look forward to your results.

    • Hi Michael,
      Thank you for your kind response. I know that Slip & Slide Creek has received a lot of attention, but my interpretation of WWWH means I’m wedded to this Yellowstone solve. I can’t accept that ‘warm’ is merely a description of relative temperature as it does nothing to narrow the field. Does Forrest have childhood recollections of New Mexico that he recounts in TTOTC? For me, WWWH has to be a location well known to (a young) Forrest, which satisfies both ‘warm’ (primarily) and ‘halt’ (secondarily). I’d be interested to hear how closely a New Mexico solved fits with the clues.

      • what if WWWH were turned around to say WCWS? Where cold waters start? Naturally this puts you at the higher elevations of all mountain streams. Then it takes you down the canyon too far to walk to the HOB. Kind of flows too.

        I was stuck on Yellowstone too and made 3 trips there and now know all of the places people are describing.

        However try reading the book and listen to the stories. There are so many connections to NM.

        In the book he describes going bald – there is a baldy mountain. he describes tea for Olga and Red, Green and Black tea. There are mountains with those name. FF is a Maverick and low and behold there is the Maverick Creek solve. Then there is the story about the children in the art gallery who were allowed to ‘touch’ and yes there is a Touch Me Not mountain right next to Green mountain which is accessible by going up Maverick Creek. then you also have the Vietnam Veterans museum, Moreno (Brown) Valley, Enchanted Circle and there are many more to call out.

        I made my 2nd trip to the Moreno Valley area (Angel Fire to Red River and points slightly east) What i like about this area is it is an easy drive down to Santa Fe and I dont think Peggy would’ve noticed or worried about Forrest going 2 hours away like if he went to Montana or Wyoming. One last thing is i found an old logging road that looks like a rope with 20 or so knots on it (remember the story of the kids holding onto the rope). What i like about this is it is an alternate path to a solve using a Jeep instead of hiking up a creek — I know there isnt the young FF connection but keep in mind FF lived in Santa Fe for a long time and settled there so he had plenty of time to find a special place.

  2. Excellent start. I used all that same logic for my first searching trip and it was a grand adventure. You should go check it out.

    • Hi Muset,
      I’d love to, but I have a wife and 3 kids and not enough time or money to go around! Hopefully someone else can run with my solve, or take some inspiration from it to apply to their own, and crack this nut once and for all.

  3. JonPaul,
    I can see you have done a lot of research and your clue solves fit that picture. This was a good read and well thought out. It’s a shame you didn’t do the botg trip for this adventure.

    Good luck,

    • Hi Bur,
      Thanks! I’m afraid a BOTG trip is out of the question both now and for the foreseeable future. I really do envy those searchers who live Stateside and could undertake multiple trips to try to verify their solves.

  4. JonPaul – Loved your solve!!! And, especially, the Yellowstone named places link. Several have referred to the Poem being a ‘riddle’:

    Riddle Lake
    (a few miles south of Grant Village)Named in 1872 by the United States Geological Survey. Professor Bradley had these words to say about the “riddle” of Riddle Lake:”‘Lake Riddle’ is a fugitive name, which has been located at several places, but nowhere permanently. It is supposed to have been used originally to designate the mythical lake, among the mountains, whence, according to the hunters, water flowed to both oceans. I have agreed to Mr. Hering’s proposal to attach the name to this lake, which is directly upon the divide at a point where the waters of the two oceans start so nearly together, and thus to solve the unsolved ‘riddle’ of the ‘two-ocean water.’ A year later Captain Jones found just such a body of water (Two Ocean Pass).

    Many have used the Continental Divide at Two Oceans Pass as their WWWH. Interesting that Yellowstone Lake was aka Riddle Lake, originally (at the bottom of that link). See also: Pacific Creek. Because ‘Pacify’ means to ‘bring peace’. And you could certainly ‘take the chest and go in peace’ down that creek, from Two Oceans Pass.

    I didn’t know that Shoshone Lake was originally, mistakenly, called Madison Lake; the source of the Madison River. Or, maybe I did, and I forgot. Since the true location of Madison River is high atop the Madison Basin, that could also be a viable WWWH; like a ‘big pitcher’, pouring ‘canyon down’.

    I am also curious about Soda Butte Creek. That’s near the old Ranger Brown station in YNP, isn’t it? Isn’t that where the Yellowstone Institute does the studies of the wolf packs? That’s ‘no place for the meek’ sheep, for sure. Did you know the head of the Brown family, who lives in the Rember-architected home at the edge of the ever expanding Opal Springs (part of Mammoth Hot Springs), manages the Yellowstone Institute?

    Sharing your solve gave me a lot of food for thought. Thank you! Now where’s my cold can of Dr. Pepper, Forrest? In Soda Butte Creek?


    • Dear Lisa,
      Thank you for your detailed replies! I too considered Soda Butte for WWWH, then moving to the Lamar Ranger Station as the subsequent HOB. The only problem with that is that the Station is only 8km away (about 5 miles), following Route 212, which isn’t really too far to walk. I do agree with you that a knowledge of the history of the chosen area will definitely help with the solve.

      • JonPaul – Thank you for that hoB/TFTW info. for Soda Butte Creek! Still going to fly fish there, though, and maybe do a little Wolf photography at the Lamar Ranger Station in the evening.

        • Lisa,

          Are you definitely planning to put boots on the ground in YNP the new season? I have a new solve (not published here) that literally gives me goosebumps, and I wondered if you’d be interested in checking out a single location in YNP for a percentage of the possible spoils?

          Contact me at jonpaulfahy(at)yahoo(dot)co(dot)uk

          Also, LOVE the photography!



          • My friends and I are taking a week up to Gardiner to look at a few possibilities then another week down to Thermopolis and wind river. I’m trying not to overthink the clues and look at what pops out most on the map published with the poem and both locations seem like good options. You’ve really thought this through! I’ve loved reading some of the things other people are thinking.

  5. I really liked your write up about being wise and while at your creek stop when your blaze comes into view. I think this is what will happen too.

    I don’t see where f said this before “Forrest hinted early on that identifying the blaze is meaningless without having already solved the preceding clues (https://dalneitzel.com/cheat-sheet/)”.

    One other thing, I brought up an f quote about missing ingredients ystdy, maybe it was in Odds n Ends. I shared it to compare what it says against Crysty’s theory for her wwwh. I think the quote is pertinent to compare how you solved for your wwwh. I think f has told us that one can’t figure out the correct wwwh by just using that first clue line.

    • Hi Fundamental,
      Thanks! I am convinced that the blaze is a timer rather than a pointer. I also have a great backup blaze if the Shooting Star Mountain part of the solve fails. There’s a ruined cabin about halfway up Slip & Slide Creek (https://naturalatlas.com/creeks/slip-and-slide-809641). If you look on Google Maps (Satellite view) you can see that the cabin walls match the shape of the traditional blaze for ‘turn’ (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trail_blazing). So, ‘If you’ve been wise and found the blaze. . .’ could equally mean ‘if you’ve turned (whilst ascending the creek) and seen the cabin. . .’ Which would mean the chest is located somewhere along the creek in line-of-sight of the cabin.

      The quote you’re looking for on that page is this:
      “Playing a hunch is not worth much in the search and those who start out by looking for the blaze, are wasting their time. f.” The elegance of considering Shooting Star Mountain (or any mountain) as the blaze is that it can be seen in advance from many different locations, but it will only be of value if you’re already in the correct place up the correct creek. This strikes me as the kind of solve Forrest would find amusing!

      Can you post a link to your Odd & Ends comment? I have tended to believe that the poem is the primary tool for any solve, with clues from the book being strictly supplementary (https://www.reddit.com/r/FindingFennsGold/comments/9earsv/what_is_needed_to_solve_the_poem/). With this in mind, I believe that any key to WWWH must exist in the poem itself.

    • Hi Tall Andrew,
      Thanks for your reply. I have – as a verb I believe it means to stop, or be stopped. Synonyms would include cutoff, freeze, interrupt, layoff, letup, pause, terminate, arrest, break, stand and stop. In and of itself, I don’t think its very helpful as it would make WWWH any place where hot spring water is forced to stop flowing(?) or, more likely, change temperature. But throw in ‘warm’ as a qualifier, and I think we’re onto something!

      • Thank you for your response (above). My point is that halt specifically relates to movement/action, not specifically to temperature. If something
        ends (such as a street), that happens where it no longer extends/exists.

        As always, IMO. Good luck in your solving/searching. Please be safe.

  6. Jon Paul, nice write up and creative ideas. The one thing that I can’t get passed is the logic you use to place your solve in Yellowstone. I have read TTOTC many times as we as as TFTW, OUAW and revised. He actually speaks very little about Yellowstone and they’re certainly not an expose’ on how well he knows the park.

    • Hi Double,
      Thank you for your response. In interviews Forrest claims to have spent 19 of his first 20 summers in Yellowstone (https://dalneitzel.com/2018/05/04/not_in_yellowstone/) which I think is significant. He also worked there as a fishing guide, getting to know the hidden waterways and secluded creeks. Yellowstone was basically his playground during his formative years. There might not be a lot about it in the anecdotes in the books, but Forrest has never claimed that the books contain the main clues. . .

  7. Jon Paul, great explanation of your solve. I love your respect of the ‘tenses’ in the poem.


  8. Thanks for sharing, JonPaul. I especially liked your logical analysis of use of capital letters in the poem.

    • Darvcus,

      While I believe that some or many hints can be found in the books, if you keep going back to the poem, it really does work! Just my opinion.

    • Hi Darvcus,
      Thanks for your post. I’m not sure you’re correct. I believe Forrest stated (somewhere) that “All you need to find the treasure is in the poem. The chapters in my book have very subtle hints but are not deliberately placed to aid the seeker.” (https://www.reddit.com/r/FindingFennsGold/comments/abjf3p/is_ttotc_necessary/)
      As a consequence I’m treating the poem as a primary source, and treating anecdotes from the book as extraneous. That might be a harsh approach, but it means I’m less likely to be waylaid by clues that are subtle at best. Before a clue from the book can be deemed useful, it must first be identified as a clue. In the poem, we know we have 9 clues trapped in a barrel.

      • do you find it clever the Poem has 9 sentences, 9 clues and only 1 nine letter word ‘treasures’ ironic the only 9 letter word is the purpose of our chase.

  9. JonPaul,

    I really like the logical fundamentalist approach in the beginning of the solve.

    The following ATF gives me pause regarding your concepts for the blaze.

    Mr. Fenn: How far is the chest located from the blaze? ~ casey

    Casey, I did not take the measurement, but logic tells me that if you don’t know where the blaze is it really doesn’t matter. If you can find the blaze though, the answer to your question will be obvious. Does that help? f

    You might rationalize that if you pick the exact spot where you are supposed to see the distant peak, then that works. But, I think that is a stretch.

    VOA Part 3 1:00
    ” when you get to the 9th clue look down because you are where the treasure chest is”

    Also, regarding the old log cabin, the treasure is not hidden in or about a structure

    • Hi BigGuy,
      Thanks! We all know Forrest is a poet and a romantic, but he is also ex-military and a trained pilot. I think his mindset is logical and methodical, and he uses language the way a surgeon wields a scalpel. I believe that any solve must also be logical and methodical. No Kabbalah or star maps here!

      I disagree – the ATF you quote could equally support my solve. If you don’t know where the blaze is then the question of distance is academic; if you’ve found the blaze then the answer (at least in general terms) will be self-evident: a few inches, a few yards or (in my solve) a very long way!

      Regarding VOA Part 3 1.00, I agree totally – look down to the ground when you see the blaze and that’s where you’ll find the chest.

      I also agree RE the cabin – Forrest has discounted the chest being associated with any structure (I think this means ruined or otherwise). My idea was that – like mountain blaze – you would stop along the creek when in *line-of-sight* of the cabin. At no point does the poem say leave the creek before (that would be a 10th clue!)

      • JonPaul;

        You state: “Regarding VOA Part 3 1.00, I agree totally – look down to the ground when you see the blaze and that’s where you’ll find the chest.”

        I have to disagree. Stanza #4 is one complete thought. There is no period after cease, so I do not read it as (Paraphrasing) Find the blaze, look down and find Indulgence. What about Tarry Scant, and marvel gaze, and then take the chest?

        I read it as: Find the blaze, look quickly down at the Tarry Scant and its Marvels, and then take yourself somewhere else.

        I know that this is not a popular interpretation, but look at the words closely, and you might see the possibilities. JMO – JDA

        • Hi JDA,

          Thank you for your post. I’m not sure what you mean by ‘Indulgence’. Can you explain?

          To me, Forrest is simply saying:

          If you’ve turned around and seen the blaze,
          Look down and the quest is over (eg, you’ve found the chest),
          Don’t just stand there with your eyes bugging out,
          Take the chest and git!

          Tarry scant just means don’t wait around. Tarry=wait, scant=not a large amount. I’m pretty sure tarry is in the standard dictionary.

          The treasure is essentially found as of ‘cease’; after that there’s nothing to solve.


          • Hi JonPaul – Indulgence is the name Forrest has given to the bronze box full of gold and jewels – the treasure chest. I think it was once called Tarzan (But I could be wrong) – but that is no longer the case – JDA

          • Hi JonPaul -Regarding the rest of how you interpret the poem. Yes, these are simple, direct, and straight-forward interpretations. Is this the correct approach? Who knows? Good luck to Ya’ – JDA

        • I never felt limited like some who make a point that the clues are necessarily complete thoughts…as in each clue needs a period after it.

          • Certainly a lot of things to consider when one attempts to understand/solve FF’s poem.

            How much poetic license is there in his poem?

            How many times do we take a butterfly and turn it into a flutterby?

            How much purpose is there to the punctuation, or lack thereof?

            How simple do we try to keep it keep it when we are told to try to simplify something that was architected over 15 years?

            Just a few of the things that compound to make this riddle of a poem difficult but not impossible and we all need to decide for ourselves how many of these possibilities we will tolerate in our individual solve process.


  10. A revised Little Girl in India Question:

    I’ve slightly reworded this ever-important question, and predicted the revised answer. Note: THIS IS NOT THE ORIGINAL Q&A, THIS IS MY REVISED Q AND PREDICTION AT THE ANSWER. I’m very surprised no one has asked this. Read carefully —

    “Your treasure hunt has inspired people worldwide to discover history, culture and nature, but many people, (even in the US) might be deterred because they don’t live near the Rockies or can’t afford to travel. Should they be deterred? Can a little girl in India, who speaks good English, but only has your book with the poem and a map of the US Rocky Mountains, work out where the treasure is? And would she be confident as she solves each clue, or only confident when she has solved them all?

    A)I wish I had another treasure to hide in the Appalachians. The little girl in India can solve all the clues if she has the book. There are many disabled people who are deeply into maps and geography, and they are having a lot of fun.”

    Can someone with connections to Forrest (Dal?) pursue this question?

  11. Of course if your at the ninth clue look down, this in no way means look quickly down is the ninth clue! What if you’re quest to cease is the ninth clue, look down from there. Remember he didn’t say, “If your at the ninth clue look quickly down!!!!

    • Hi Tom,
      I agree. There’s been some debate about which phrases constitute the 9 clues. I didn’t start out looking to lump things into 9 piles, but if you look at which phrases act to impart detail, as opposed to which phrases pass comment or wax lyrical, it pans out pretty quickly: WWWH, Canyon Down, HOB, no place for meek, drawing nigh, no paddle/creek, heavy loads, water high, wise/blaze. Look quickly down doesn’t need deciphering, so it’s not a clue.

      • One thing, Wwwh to me don’t have all the ingredients because each clue are to get you closer to the chest, you begin it where warm waters halt but you need to make a move to get closer right? If you add and take it in the canyon down, you reach a point closer to the chest. IMO that would be one clue.

        • Hi Tom,
          Then you could take WWWH and Canyon Down as one clue, and split up Wise/Blaze. It’s not really a biggie how they relate to each other or even how many there are. I think real importance is that they link to each other sequentially, and carry you along a specific path that kind of self-validates as you go along.

        • Tom Trouble, I think the pertinent question is closer than what?

          If the clues are suppose to get us closer than how does the first clue work?

          It gets us all closer than where we are/live now, imo.

          Same idea with each clue. They get us closer than the previous clue.
          Same timing

        • When you BIWWWH you are then closer to finding the treasure. BIWWWH puts an X on the map. Therefore it is a clue.

          You begin it at the first clue and each subsequent clue gets you metaphorically (not necessarily physically) closer to the treasure.

          Your apparent need for motion within the first clue is not logical. Makes no sense.

          Even Forrest says BIWWWH is the first clue.

      • JonPaul,
        My 9 clues in the poem are very close to yours.
        You also don’t like “not far, but too far to walk” as a clue.
        I like – heavy loads and water high as one clue with both entities up that one creek.
        I’ll split up “been wise” as 8th clue and “blaze” being the last clue.

        • Hi Jake,
          We’re thinking along similar lines. I’m amazed at how much has been read into parts of the poem that are basic instruction, eg: ‘too far to walk’, ‘look quickly down’ and ‘tarry scant’. Forrest recognised early on that people were tending to overthink the poem.

          • Yes, overthinking the poem.
            Some searchers have the need to think further outside the box after failure(s).
            It seems like a contest here at times to see who can think the furthest outside the box.

        • Hi Jake,

          I’ve been thinking about the 9 clues since your post, and I’ve come to an interesting idea. I’m starting to believe that ‘The end is ever drawing nigh’ might also not be a clue after all (controversial, I know!) Here’s the logic:

          #1 WWWH
          #2 canyon down
          Not a clue: too far to walk (not meaningful until HOB is defined)
          #3 HOB
          #4 no place for the meek
          Not a clue: The end is ever drawing nigh – just an aside on life
          #5 no paddle up your creek,
          #6 & #7 heavy loads / water high.
          #8 & #9 wise / blaze

          Given that Forrest wrote the poem when he feared he was terminally ill, and that he references Chief Joseph (who feared his people’s way of life was over), I think ‘The end is ever drawing nigh’ could simply be an observation on life in general, and one that follows on directly from ‘no place for the meek’.

          Is it possible that the name of the location hinted at by ‘no place for the meek’ has connotations of finality, and would prompt a moment’s reflection on the brevity of live and certainty of death? Eg, (an obvious example) Devil’s Slide?


          • I think the clues you have listed are also a pretty good bet with the change. I’m a believer that the clues start at WWWH and the last is the blaze. Logical assumption by just reading and understanding the poem in a straightforward approach before marrying the places to the 9 clues. You can do that after you know what words and phrases are the nine clues in the poem.

            The end is ever drawing nigh 😉 falls into the same category as “not far, but too far to walk” as not being able to get you closer and/or not giving specific directions or place(s).

            I think we have some logical answers on which lines and phrases could be clues in the poem.
            But don’t go outside the box:
            WWWH and BLAZE.

  12. Nice work on, and articulation of, your solve process.

    Some things that caught my attention as possible detractors:

    1) Use of man-made places (ruined cabin) and things (railroad tracks, electric lines)

    2) Use of the Shooting Star Ranch, which is/was a privately owned business

    In the end, it all boils down to one’s personal tolerance level for items such as the two listed above that some searches see as violating this or that ATF, while others see them as a gray area with those same ATF’s, and still others are happy to ignore those ATF’s altogether and break into FF’s guest house looking for the treasure.

    Just points to consider.

    Again, nicely written.

    • Hi Bowmarc,
      You make a great point – how much of the poem can we take as useful, and how much is filler? And where do we decide to draw the line when formulating our own solutions? I’ve adopted a logical stance, much like approaching the clues in a crossword puzzle. The clues might be diabolical, but there will always be an underlying logic. Otherwise it’s just guesswork and dream interpretation.

      When Forrest said that the treasure was not associated with any man-made structure, I believe he was trying to preempt incursions on private property, or the vandalism of national/historical sites. That doesn’t mean that clues along the way don’t point to man-made locations (so long as they appear on maps). No part of my solve/s claim that the chest is located in or under a man-made structure. I believe that you only have to find/see the blaze in order to follow the next instruction – not go to it. Else the line might read ‘If you’ve been wise and reached the blaze’ or similar.

      Why is the Shooting Star Ranch (or any ranch that might be named on a good map) off-limits?

      • Hello JP.

        It boils down to my tolerance level. As your solve indicates, ownership of an area used in your solve process occurred, which may impact the reading / understanding / solving of the poem. Sure, it would still be referenced on historical maps, and in articles, etc., as the original name, but the very fact that such could occur and potentially impact TTOTC is something I don’t think FF would want.

        My tolerance level is that the places / areas described by the poem are natural physical features that have a much higher permanency attributed to them—for instance, changing the name of the Rocky Mountains or such-and-such lake is much harder than your ranch scenario. FF tried to think of everything when he created TTOTC, and utilizing a privately owned area as a clue is akin to assigning a changeable variable to something that requires one to be precise.

        Just my opinion and personal preference when approaching a solve process.

        Again, you have done a great job articulating your own solve process and thanks for sharing. I like the logical approach, and agree that such necessarily needs to be considered (along with imaginative, poetic, and riddle-esque perspectives) when approaching any solve.

  13. Hi JonPaul,
    Great logical solve, and I’m glad someone else is running with Shooting Star Mountain as the blaze – it just fits so many of his clues about the blaze:
    – Possible to remove but not feasible to do so
    – Finding the blaze is pointless unless you’ve solved everything else
    – Exact distance from blaze to treasure is irrelevant
    – His comment about which way the blaze is facing
    I know all of these might be confirmation bias, but I haven’t seen anything that contradicts the idea.

    • Hi RockLicker,

      Another thing occurred to me only yesterday while I was brainstorming (again!): the 3 wise men followed the star. . .


  14. My Crazy (E)x-Solve

    Hello again. I recently posted an armchair solve here https://dalneitzel.com/2019/10/03/gardiner_jonpaul/ and I received lots of lovely responses (thank you all!) that got me thinking. And thinking some more. Bottom line: there *just aren’t enough clues in the poem*. It’s that simple. Forrest suggests it’s merely a case of matching our solves for each clue to physical features that appear on any good map of the Rockies, and it will all fall into place neatly enough for us to be able to move with confidence. As many have already noted, this quickly becomes a case of not being able to see the wood for the trees. Or the blaze for the wood. There are too many duplicated and similar place names across a huge geographical area to make this approach useful. I couldn’t help but think that there had to be another way, and that it had to be explicit in the poem. What if I was overlooking something simple?

    Before I continue, I will digress by highlighting a fatal flaw in the logic of my previous solve: if Forrest uses ‘down’ in ‘canyon down’ to mean downriver, then ‘below’ with respect to HOB almost certainly cannot be interpreted as ‘south of’. I have chosen to believe that Forrest’s language is at least consistent within the bounds of the poem (eg, his use of capitalization), which means that Slip & Slide Creek cannot be the correct creek in the context of that solve, since it’s not downriver of the Joe Brown boat ramp. *sigh*

    How else can we crack this nut? I stated in my last solve that “I believed for a long time that the blaze was a shape to be traced on a map by following the locations described by the clues, and that the final shape (maybe an ‘X’ or an arrow) would point to the actual location of the chest. I could never get this approach to work, however, because the clues and locations are sequential, not scattergun. Forrest has hinted that we should ‘make all the lines cross in the right spot’ (https://www.reddit.com/r/FindingFennsGold/comments/amuhe4/anyone_drawing_lines_on_a_map/)”.

    In reading the responses to my solve I remembered that, in the New Testament, ‘the 3 wise men followed the star’ (one of the very few well-known phrases that contains the word ‘wise’) and it occurred to me that maybe this approach was worth revisiting. I re-read what Forrest had said – that the clues are contiguous – and realised that Forrest was performing his usual verbal calisthenics: what if the clues are contiguous, but the locations they refer to are not?

    This would enable us to join disparate locations on the map and still create the correct blaze, ostensibly in the shape of an ‘X’ or an asterisk. This approach turns the poem into a relatively straightforward list of instructions about where to start and stop drawing lines:

    Begin it (your first line) where warm waters halt and take it (the end of your first line) in the canyon down, not far, but too far to walk. There are a couple of notable canyons in Yellowstone that contain features named for distance, eg ‘Eight Mile Hole’. Could ‘too far to walk’ be a qualifier for where exactly to end your line within your chosen canyon?
    Put in (put your pen to paper again to start a second line) below the home of Brown. From there it’s (take your second line over to) no place for the meek, the end is ever drawing nigh. Yes, it is, isn’t it?

    By now we have our blaze. It’s an X. If we’ve chosen the right WWWH, HOB, Canyon and No place for the meek, our ‘X’ marks a specific Creek. How do we know? Because Forrest tells us: There’ll be no paddle up your creek, just heavy loads and water high. By ‘your’ creek, Forrest means the creek designated by the blaze you have just drawn. Heavy loads and water high will no doubt be geographical validators located along the same creek, eg: a hydroelectric installation together with a waterfall, or a mountain called ‘Iron Ore Peak’ together with a high-altitude lake. Etc. If the four locations which define the ‘X’ are close enough in proximity, the point where lines cross could be accurate down to a matter of yards, using Google Earth or similar. If you want to consider the blaze as an asterisk, then the bisection of your ‘X’ by the correct creek creates the third stroke: 3 lines crossing in one spot.

    This is my new direction, and I’m compiling workable variations. I’m still wedded to Yellowstone, since I think it best satisfies our need for Canyons and HOBs (HsOB?) Now, where was my sixth WWWH again. . ?



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