Hobble Creek Solve…

February 2020

By garnum


I would like to layout the one and only Forrest Fenn treasure solution I came up with over the past few years. Even though my one BOTG found nothing, this solve is an example of just how “straight forward” the correct solve could be. I shared this solve on a call to A Gypsies Kiss several months back but have participated very little in online forums.


The entire solve is based on a very different interpretation of WWWH. Warm I interpreted as comfortable/pleasing and halt (my key word) I interpreted as Hobble. I had pulled my biased hints in TTOC, videos, and scrapbooks which included Lincoln, Poker, Alice/crocodiles, forgotten graves, asterisk, omegas, brown gravy, white canyons, porcupine, and marry the map with the poem.


So, if you haven’t given up on me already let’s begin at WWWH:
Find Hobble Creek on a map. It is the only Hobble creek located in the search area. It is a pleasant, relatively short trout stream which Forrest is likely familiar with. The only way to access it via car is to start in Cokeville, Wyoming located in the southwest corner of Lincoln county (remember the folded Lincoln five dollar bill in scrapebook). If you look at the poem/map in TFTW, Cokeville lines up exactly with the line in the poem Begin it where warm waters halt (marry map with poem).


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 Now where on Hobble Creek do you start? Put in below the home of Brown. There is a lonely single grave marker on Hobble Creek which is the resting place of Estella Brown. Estella means star which could be the asterisk reference. The grave stone is right where the Lander Cut-off of the Oregon Trail crosses Hobble Creek.


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The only put in below this gravesite is Hobble Creek campground. Much of the canyon walls between the gravesite and campground appear white on Google Earth and the ridge along that route is Porcupine Ridge. The put in is approximately 6 miles below the gravesite. It is about a 30 mile drive from Cokeville to the campground.


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Starting the search at that point on Hobble creek. You follow a trail that leads to Lake Alice. If you look at “the big picture” on Google Earth Lake Alice (with a little imagination) could look like a crocodile.


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Forrest mentions picking Huckleberries in a scrapbook. Lake Alice has a Huckleberry Cove.


Lake Alice was formed a couple of thousand years ago by a collapse from Lake Mountain. That landslide formed a natural dam of Poker Creek (we all know the Poker reference), resulting in the lake.
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If you backtrack from Lake Alice back towards the campground, Poker Creek then flows under the landslide (there will be no paddle up your creek just heavy loads and water high) for about a mile before surfacing at the end of the landslide and it becomes Spring Lake Creek.


While during my BOTG I hiked the 1.5 miles to Lake Alice, but I was almost certain Forrest would not of carried the treasure that far.


When I first started my hike at the put in I was struck by how “alone in there” I felt. I did not see another person during the entire search. About 10 minutes into the hike from the campground the trail splits between a human trail and a horse trail.


The double omegas in TTOTC look like horseshoes. The horsetrail (the treasure is not in close proximity to a human trail) starts off steep (no place for the meek) and runs in close proximity to Spring Lake creek. If one “listens good” you can notice that the sound of the creek stops when you reach the bottom end ( the END is ever drawing nigh) of the landslide because it is all underground from that point all the way up to Lake Alice. If you depart the horsetrail when you no longer hear water it is a short hike (50 ft.) to the End and what could be the blaze, the exposed rock slide forming the end of the mile long natural dam. If you stand on top of the END and look straight down it is about 30 feet down to where the water springs forth at the bottom.
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I had little time and have never been back, but somewhere in that area I was hopeful I would find the chest. I did not.


It is interesting to note that if you draw a line on Google earth through the entire search area starting at Santa Fe and ending in the very corner of NW Montana, that line crosses straight through my search area and my blaze is exactly at the halfway point on that line. Try it yourself.


Again, this is just an interpretation of how straight forward the clues could be. An isolated area but where many hikers/fishermen have hiked within 500 ft of the treasure on their way to Lake Alice. Begin it where Hobble creek takes the white walled canyon down not far but too far to walk. Put in below the grave of Brown and take the steep horsetrail up to where the End of the landslide is drwing near. There will be no paddle up this creek because it runs underground through heavy debris ending at the high Lake Alice. If you listen good and find the blaze of rocks ending the debris field, look straight down that blaze and somewhere at the bottom the treasure is concealed. Your effort will be worth the cold because you may have to wade across the little creek.





91 thoughts on “Hobble Creek Solve…

  1. Garnum – love your effort and your solve.
    Makes good sense to me.
    Thanks for sharing.

  2. Barnum—-

    Excellent thinking! I once had settled on the thought of “Hobble Creek” myself. I based this largely on the fact that “halt” can mean “lame”. So someone “hobbling along” could infer they were handicapped.

    In one of Fechin’s paintings the Forrest uses in one of his SB’s there is a child on crutches at the front of the crowd. Also, did you know that the boat ramp at the “Wedding of the Waters” (Big Horn and Wind River split) was the first “handicap access” made available in the United States?

    Also, Sequoyah, the Indian who invented the written Cherokee Language (an astounding feat) walked with a limp? I mention Sequoyah due to where the Trail of Tears ends near his cabin in Oklahoma. I would have to go into detail about that and will avoid it for now, but all of these things link to “halt”.

    So “Hobble Creek” is an excellent choice (IMO). Especially as you point out that the line “Begin it where warm waters halt” in the poem/map align with Hobble Creek.

    I really like your solve a lot. Good work.

    • just some wild associations …. the god Vulcan is depicted with a twisted foot….indicating some crippling problem… vulcan, volcano, vulcanization, rubber tires, tired, halting. OS2

    • Thank you for commenting. I live in Oklahoma about 60 miles north of Sequayah’s cabin.

    • Thank you for commenting. I live in Oklahoma about 60 miles north of Sequayah’s cabin.

      Reply ↓

  3. Uggg. Horsetrail hiking while Fenn treasure hunting is not fun. It’s for the horses I do believe.
    Nice theory though, like the idea of making lines on actual map to see where that goes.

  4. Thank you for sharing this!

    This is what I like to see. Step-by-step how each clue was deciphered and why. This helps us to look at how we are deciphering our own clues and maybe open a possibility that we had not considered. I would not have equated “halt” with “hobble”, but that is a great idea. Great write-up. Thank you.


  5. Garnum,

    I hate to inform you of this but your halfway point is slightly off. Sorry, I just checked it myself. It’s a bit shy of halfway.

    • Could be. Hard to drop a pin exactly on Google earth. But several of my attempts had it within a couple miles. Thanks for taking a look at it.

  6. ABSOLUTELY the best solve yet. And simple but imaginative. I am a Hobbled, lol veteran & 70 but sending our daughter Melissa to be my BOTG. Located in Florida also difficult for me to get out there. Thanks again for sharing.

  7. “There are many places in the Rocky Mountains where warm waters halt, and nearly all of them are north of Santa Fe. Look at the big picture, there are no short cuts.” f

    I think this would eliminate “Hobble Creek” as being wwwh seeing there is only one.

    There have been a lot of folks who have said that Fenn has been to their place but I rarely see the evidence, just a guess. I like to know the facts of where he is been in all his writings, interviews and statements.
    “Forrest is likely familiar with”. Hobble Creek and Cokeville in Sw wyoming?
    I wouldn’t use the word “likely” unless you have some evidence.

    I do like how you use and simplify the clues in the poem although it seems you use the SB’s a little too much to help your clues and not enough TTOTC.

    Thanks for sharing and enjoy.

    • The reason I said Fenn has likely been there (which is speculation) is his love for trout fishing and the fact below:
      Lake Alice is the home of the only known pure lake strain of naturally reproducing Bonneville cutthroat trout caused by the isolation of the landslide preventing outside genetic influence. At one time the subspecies was thought to be extinct in Wyoming.

    • Jake ~*I think this would eliminate “Hobble Creek” as being wwwh seeing there is only one.*

      Is it not one of many creeks? {Many WWsH in the RM’s}
      Only narrowing down the idea of many is; using halt to help the process. Halt; lame, idea to hobble. I would also agree with the speculation fenn could know of this location, even if never really drew attention to it in all his writings… why would he?
      He was a fishing guide in YSP, took time to explore {example the L&C chapter} I would think that was not the only time he and other took off for a week or two over a 20 period visiting MT & WY…

      I’m just not diggin the hoB reference… it seems too popular to find it and hot needing WWsH.

    • Jake, I will concur with Seeker here.
      I agree with your quote, but so many ff quotes are meaningless. For instance, I think the “did you dip your toe it it?” is just Forrest having fun. Supposedly, little Indy can get the first couple of clues right, and she can’t dip her toe it in.

      With the “there are many warm waters…” he doesn’t specify the type of warm (thermal, affectionately named, color or hue, etc) the meaning of waters (pl) [which i take to mean a creek], or the reason for halting [in warmth, confluence, in name, etc]. So to me, i don’t find this quote very revealing.

      “There are many places in the Rocky Mountains where warm waters halt, and nearly all of them are north of Santa Fe. Look at the big picture, there are no short cuts.” f

    • Nice solve Garnum, but I’m calling Bingo on Jakes comment though

      the bigger picture (to me) means the geological tectonic formation (Rockys) resulting in frequent thermal activity re: “nearly all of them are north of Santa Fe”

      creeks are fun to explore, but are also numerous south of Santa Fe

  8. That’s a good solve. The idea of halt = lameness has come up before. There was a scrape book showing a church in New Mexico with dozens of crutches hanging on the wall, from people that had gotten miraculous cures there.

    • Thank you. I think halt could be the word that is key, especially since it is in the first clue. Theories on halt meaning stop just make no sense unless you include a dam. Water typically doesnt actually halt.

      • Gary,

        Halt could refer to waters that stop. Snow is frozen waters… it stops being liquid, hence “warm” as liquid waters that flow. Glaciers are nothing more than packed snow [ over time ].
        So if halt refers to snow… and snow is found in all four remaining states… narrowing down the idea of a glacier involvement bring the idea of Glacier National park.
        “And take it in the canyon down,” is basically what a glacier does… removes parts of mountains {ice river} creating canyons. Not far over time {Geologically}, but too far too walk, back in time…now it tftw.
        Point: waters can be stopped without a dam. Physics tells us it can be.
        In this case, for a searchable area, hoB would tell us where we go to and find the correct starting deciphered first clue.
        Stanza’s 2 first sentence can be below the hoB. It can be the home of WWsH, and why we need to know it.
        “From there” in stanza 3 would relate to where the “put in” is *from* WWsH.
        All relating to a geographical place{s} within a small area {the big picture idea}, rather than, a named place made up from a word. If the name changes we’re basically up that famous creek. I mean, how many times have names of places been changed in the USA in just a 300 year time span. What will the names be in the year 3009?

        IMO, Halt makes perfect sense to the meaning of stop. We just need to know what is stopping and why is can… Warm Waters… liquid waters. Was the plural version water chosen for a reason?

        My main point to the conversation is; can waters and water truly be equal in meaning? or do we force them to be. More like slang vernacular, than factual?
        The same for wood and woods…

        • I think you likely correct in that interpretation. It just makes it too mind boggling for me to narrow it down to the correct spot. But if it were easy it would have all ready been found.

          • Sticky note version, theory;
            Glacier..NP WWsH
            Canyon it created ..over time
            Below Canada ..hoB.. national symbol “title” Brown Beaver {capped for the ‘title’}
            From there it’s no place for the meek.. {home of the “brave”- USA side}

            In the scenario above; WWsH is deciphered to what it refers to. Then using other clues it explains /learned of where it it found.
            Next would be, understanding stanza 3 to how it is understood to match up with stanza 2. NPFTM .. USA / Continental Divide. TBNPUYC.. Ice River. “Just” heavy loads and “water” high… Glacier.
            The “end” can possibly mean the lower section of said Glacier {drawing or pulled by gravity and slope, the action needed to create a canyon}, or the result of a past Glacier in today’s time and what is left in it’s place.

            I never understand why many think “connective order” must be followed in such as way that all the answers to the puzzle, riddle, challenge, call it what ya will, must be separate and individual to each other. Can we truly know why or what the first clue is for without deciphering what other clue’s represent?
            LOL the first clue was deciphered… yet folks didn’t know they did. How is that possible?
            WWsH, IMO, can be deciphered to what it is and still not known of where it is at unless other clues help in that manner. I think, how the clues work with each other is just as important as what they are deciphered as. Two different things in my mind. So when folks were on site they hope to find later clues, not understanding the possibility of how the clues are contiguous to each other.

            Geography and mapping tools are better suited for the above scenario vs. names of places. Picking a name is still guessing for a deciphering and not having much of a connection with other clues and their deciphered information.

            Basically I see many just picking a manufactured WWsH and making other clues be what is needed just because of the area *they chose* by the *searcher’s WWsH hopeful.*
            Where’s the “big picture” in that method?

  9. I like it. You should have had more time. I can’t go but it sounds like you’re onto something worthwhile !

  10. Gary,
    Great job! I like your solve. I wish I’d live closer, I would go search with you around that area.
    …And Lake Alice looks like a big cross in the map.

  11. Gary… I like your solution! I used the exact same WWWH and searched quite a bit around Cokeville back when I wondered if the Fenn Clovis Cache was an “old treasure” and a connection to the poem solution. The Fenn Cache was reportedly found close to Cokeville at the Tripoint of Wyoming, Utah, and Idaho. I managed to find the tripoint but obviously no treasure. Someone had removed the rectangular monument stone and for just a split second I wondered if someone had found the treasure there. It was a hole exactly the size you would expect. That was exciting!
    Way to marry the clues to a map and IMO you are in the right state. Nice work.

    • PS I also searched around the Lander cutoff…was intrigued with Afton…spelled backward “not fa, but too fa to walk. Throw in a Texas twang and there you go.

    • Thank you Sally. Your comments are interesting. I met some very nice people in Cokeville. I wish I could have spent more time there.

  12. Gary – Thanks for sharing! I enjoyed reading your solve. The area you searched in general seems like a nice place to visit just for the sake of enjoying the scenery. I wouldn’t mind camping at that campground for a night or two. And you didn’t see a single other person all day during your BOTG trip? That sounds wonderful to me! 🙂

    In particular, I was really interested in your description of the area where the landslide off of Lake Mountain dammed up Poker Creek and forced it to disappear underground. Have you considered that spot to be WWWH and go from there? Alice Lake reminds me very much of Earthquake Lake up north, but with the added element of the creek being forced underground for a short distance; but from an aerial view would appear to have halted. Of course, if you used the underground portion of Poker Creek as WWWH and took the canyon down from there, you’d have to come up with a different hoB that Estella’s grave, since that is upstream. Are you going to give up on this area now or do you think you’ll return again? Anyways, good stuff all around and thanks again for sharing!

    • Thank you for your comment. I went BOTG on a weekday so yes there were no others in the area. I doubt I will return unless I have an epiphany. I made a roadtrip out of it since I had never been in the area. Went to Yellowstone, then my BOTG, then a couple of days in Moab, then Santa Fe before returning to Oklahoma.

    • If you read the clue as warm waters halt (Alice lake) and [the warm waters] take it in the canyon down (poker creek), you can go back the other way NFBTFTW and PIBTHOB.

  13. I enjoyed reading your ideas and explanations for them. Sounds like a really interesting area. I like the “X” in Alice Lake, too.

    • Thank you for commenting. Lake Alice was beautiful.
      Lake Alice is the home of the only known pure lake strain of naturally reproducing Bonneville cutthroat trout caused by the isolation of the landslide preventing outside genetic influence. At one time the subspecies was thought to be extinct in Wyoming ↓

  14. Wouldn’t that have been perfect if it were there!!!
    That was a interesting little solve.
    I like to hear solves that go straight to the point.

    • Yes it would have been wonderful! Fenn said his poem was straight forward so I kept it simple.

  15. Also after viewing the blaze at the end and look quickly down, well you can look straight down or down could mean south, I still don’t think it will be that easy. There is quite a bit of wood out there.

    • You are correct. I wish I had more time to really search . It just struck me hard on my way home that I had been standing on too of “the end” of the landslide. And that End could have been the Blaze. Nonetheless, I just hope some one comes up with the correct solve so that maybe we could all finally understand the poem. Hope it is you.

  16. I’m really tired of the wood. Ha ha ha!!!!
    But who knows I may fall in love with that wood!!! Ha ha ha
    I will bring the wood home with me. Ha ha ha

    • Wood was still a weak point for me (not personally but in my solve). There are lots of trees in that area but I think wood would decay too quickly for Fenn to conceal the treasure under wood. What do you think?

  17. garnum,

    While I like the thought process and use of halt or other words in matching this site… the one thing that pops in my head is the grave [marker].
    Many folks, especially locals, could know of this marker [A few seconds on google search provided many hit about it] and almost eliminate WWsH completely. For me, it’s almost the same as guessing hoB to be Molly Brown’s home in CO. {without a structure involved, in your solve}.

    The thing that bugs me is the idea we need WWsH {nail down the first clue} or we don’t have anything, comments. Doesn’t the grave marker make the first few clues needless?
    IDK, it just seems to be a shortcut that would pass by a few clues… mainly… the clue we are told we need or stay home.

    Just sayin……………..

  18. While I agree the Grave Marker is known to those familiar with the area I doubt many Fenn treasure hunters would think to look for it without some other clue giving them reason to look. That said I came across the grave marker in a strange manner. Fenn said dont look where a 79/80 yr old man carrying 42 pound chest couldn’t go. For fun, I googled longitude 42,7980 and Cottonwood Cemetery near Big Piney, Wy popped up. When I looked up that Cemetery there was a reference to Estella Brown grave about 30 miles west. That led me to Hobble creek. Fenn did say if you know the correct HOB you would not need the previous clues.

    • Like I said; I like the idea of your WWsH conclusion… better then most, imo. Even though I don’t like using names of places… that’s just a personal preference. Names change all the time. Many names of areas throughout the RM’s have changes in the last few hundred years, espeically depending who controlled the territories and tribal lands over time.

      But for those who are in the challenge, anything brown has been dug up by the truck loads. Desertphil years back had made a map of all brown things North of SF. Graves included. It just seems to me that fenn has been admit about having the first clue or we haven’t got anything. One little thing I found in a very quick search; was about “poison ivy” and it’s not what many would think. Which raised many debates about that Q&A you mentioned.. you said; *Fenn did say if you know the correct HOB you would not need the previous clues.* Err not exactly what was stated. In fact the question posed by fenn seem to imply *why would you be concerned…?” as if saying we may need to be very concerned and relates to all the other comments about nailing down the first clue.

      While we’re chatting, some of the idea you came up with seems to really relate to SBs and other ATFs never mentioned in the book. While I like the ATFs as a check and balance for any theory… IF you didn’t have those ATFs how would you have gone about discovering other clue’s references?

      I’m just thinking..IF anyone would have read the book and lived in WY Northeast CO and even southeast MT… knowing of this location doesn’t seem too far out there. It’s even mentioned in this USDA brochure with pics… these sites are tourist delights, and searchers alike.

      Don’t get me wrong… I do like the analyzing you did… I just think IF there’s a way around skipping WWsH, I’d tread softly.

    • Gary, re: the first sentence in your response here, you assume that locals, in Cokeville and surrounding area, wouldn’t know about the FF treasure hunt? A risky assumption it seems to me. I agree with Seeker that your HOB may be a problem.

      Ken (in Texas)

      • ***I agree with Seeker that your HOB may be a problem.***
        Ken (in Texas)

        Framed and hung on the wall… right next to Miss February. A model with just the right curves in all the right places… Miss Detroit Model T 1930

  19. The grave marker was significant to me because I think perhaps the most meaningful thing to Fenn in TTOTC is stumbling on the grave marker of the forgotten soldier.
    Another thing that came to me during BOTG was the End. Why does Fenn say that where he does in the poem? He would not need to say the end of your search is drawing nigh. He tells us our quest to cease upon finding the blaze. That leads me to think the End is actually something you can find or see. What do you think?

    • Gary,

      Yep… at some point we should see or know when and where the “end is ever drawing nigh” And I agree in part, it’s about the ceasing of the task ~ with a bit more to do on site, rather than an end of a clue’s reference point.

  20. Gary—-

    One other thing I meant to mention above in my post to you was an answer Forrest gave to a middle school student. The answer appears to confirm “halt” perhaps relates to being handicapped. Here is the exchange:

    “Is there a specific reason that halt and walk are the only words that do not follow the rhyme scheme”?

    Forrest responds: “Yes, I was limited by my ability”.

    Limited by his ability? Kind of a strange answer don’t you think? A handicapped person is limited by their ability don’t you think?

    One other thought: what sport is known for having a “handicap” besides horse-racing? Golf. And Forrest has mentioned golf a few times.

    All the best Gary—-your solve brought a lot of stored information to mind. lol.

    • Sparrow,

      Also mentioned in the Little Indy Q&A…
      LOL some folks don’t like seeing that Q&A, but for me it say, all will be handicap if not at WWsH. {first two clues} a physical presences is needed for the rocking chair solvers after the first few {couple} of clues.

    • Another way to see this comment IMO , Forrest responds: “Yes, I was limited by my ability”.

      He could also be saying he is at fault ( limited ability, not measuring up). Fault the word that would ryme with halt. Not far but on or near a fault, would be the correct ryming line. He didn’t want to go with that line because it would give too much away, instead he used halt. He was limited in his description of the area…IMO

      • I think that working on the poem for as long as he did, FF used exactly the words he wanted. Rewriting a line to include “fault” and speculating that “Not far but on or near a fault” is the correctly written line is messing too much with his poem. IMHO.

  21. Gary, you wrote: “Another thing that came to me during BOTG was the End. Why does Fenn say that where he does in the poem? He would not need to say the end of your search is drawing nigh.”
    Oh my.

    You have latched on to something quite important here. Congrats. But I doubt that other searchers will see the significance.

    Ken (in Texas)

  22. Gary, I spent many days in Cokeville back in the late 80’s but I was nowhere near Wyoming. The wind was blowing almost every weekend.
    Great Solution and a wonderful imagination! 30 miles is about right from start to finish IMO. I’m at about 28 miles give or take. WWWH is key and can be found in the book TTOTC. I won’t tell you what chapter but it’s the Road we all must take to get there.., Good Luck and I really enjoyed your trip.

  23. Hi Gary… Thanks for sharing your one and only. The moment you embarked on your journey you were a winner. Everyone that becomes an actual botg searcher has struck the mother lode in terms of being a part of what Fenn intended in the first place. How each searcher interprets the poem is secondary to the individual experience of the great outdoors in a place that somehow called out to that person in the moment. Someday a searcher will see things the way Fenn does…

  24. There are literally hundreds of thousands of combination solves and many more creeks and canyons.

  25. Garnum,

    Thanks for sharing your solve and solve processes with all of us.

    Similar to your own find whereby WWWH literally had a spot where the waters disappeared into the landscape (in your case the rock-slide), lots of folks have looked a Sinks Canyon as a place WWWH for the same reason. Two good examples of the places where the water literally “takes it in the canyon down” by disappearing into the landscape (halting our view of same) and returning to view a relatively short distance away (Not far, but too far to walk).

  26. I generally like the solve, but I really feel it is missing something important. “Warm”. I guess your interpretation of “warm” is a pleasant little stream. I just don’t by that. I think there is something more definitive to warm than that. But I do like your use of halt/hobble.

    • I had a similar solve using Estella Brown grave site. It’s on Harry’s website. And I too did not come away with the treasure. But, once we started I knew it wasn’t correct, because it was just too far and remote for one man and 42lbs to go twice.

      • Interesting. How long ago did you search? Did you actually go to the grave?
        My solve just started at the parking lot and involved not more than one mile of hiking.

    • Someone asked Forrest what warm means to him.He said “comfortable”. From that I stretched it to pleasant, relaxing. Probably way off.

    • What got me most excited was the grave marker (with star/asterisk, and all the possible hints that lined up like porcupine, brown gravy, white canyons, Poker, Alice, huckleberry, Lincoln, etc. They were all right there.

  27. Thanks for sharing. Are you a local in that area of Wyoming? A personal knowledge of your solve area can be exciting. I have gone to my solve area and will go back again I am sure.

  28. Hi Mike. I live in Oklahoma so this was my first time to the area. I turned it into a road trip and spent some time in Lander, Yellowstone, Moab, and Sant Fe. I did meet some locals in Cokeville and got them pretty excited about the FF treasure hunt.

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