The Poem Married to a Map….

July 2019

By CharlieM

 

Apologies with the length to ensure clarity and the process involved in finding the clues. I do ask for all to put all biases aside and not use comments that came from Forrest Fenn in the past.

In my efforts for locating the treasure I have been looking for factual places, things and directions that I believe that pertain to the clues and hints within the poem. I base the style of searching of only matching the clues in the poem on a map. I have steered away from using the book “The Thrill of the Chase”, with its unintended hints sprinkled within the stories that may help. Basically I wanted to see if, just using only the poem and a map would work and not using most of the comments after the book came out from Forrest Fenn, including his later books and scrapbooks. However I did not ignore the comments from Forrest in regards to where not to search along with the high and low elevation limits. 

I took the first stanza of the poem, “As I have gone alone in there and with my treasures bold, I can keep my secret where, and hint of riches new and old.”, as being stated by the man that hid a treasure by himself in the mountains; he’s going to keep the secret where the treasure is hidden and he is going to give hints to find the treasure chest full of new and old gold and jewels within the poem. The first stanza I took as and intro. This stanza has no clues and does not help in finding the treasure.

1st Clue –Begin it where warm waters halt” What does the word “warm waters halt” really mean?

Waters is plural; river water is made up of different water that merges together on its downhill course to become waters.

I looked at major rivers of the Madison, Jefferson, Yellowstone, Gallatin, Colorado, Arkansas, Animas and Rio Grande that would fit the words, “warm waters”. The Jefferson and the Gallatin rivers have a majority of cold waters, so I deleted those two from the search. All of the other rivers that I mentioned become warm in the majority length of each river naturally. 

With what I have wrote so far, the Madison, Yellowstone, Arkansas, Colorado, Animas and the Rio Grande have a majority of their waters are warm and has to originate in the Rocky Mountains. I feel those rivers can be considered as warm waters. Each of those rivers start out cold and become a “majority” of warm “waters”, the exception is the Madison River, as it starts out warm with the merging of very hot & cold water. Also the Madison waters do not halt in reality, (physics) and it is hard to consider where exactly it becomes fully warm. One may quibble about cold waters at the beginning of a river and later on becoming warm, the fact is, it contains the very same waters throughout its length, (physics).

In reading the poem we know there is a starting place and we all know there is a distance involved to be able to put in someplace below the home of Brown. So while taking a look at the rivers mentioned I also looked for a place named Brown and did not take into consideration for places that were named “Brown’s, Browns” or a name before Brown. I also felt the name Brown is of a geographical place in the mountains and found on a map. One can’t see on a geographical map in the mountains places of a person’s home that has a name Brown, fish and animals, nor did I consider towns named Brown, because there is no town with that name in places that I looked.

Melting snowpack causes the start of flowing water for each of those rivers. The water for rivers coming from the Rocky Mountains, do stop flowing, “halt”, at the same place from where they began. Sure, the rivers continue to flow because of other tributaries further down the line, but are farther from where the waters originally started and halted.

I discounted the Madison, Yellowstone, Arkansas, Colorado and the Animas rivers because they do not start and maintain the same name from where the waters start its actual flow, (physics). Each of those rivers start by “name” only, because they have two or more different named tributaries that merge together that make up the start of the “naming” of the river. It becomes a guessing game of which of the two or more starting tributaries are where warm waters halt. In order to be a halt of river waters it must be in one singular place where waters flow does halt, (physics), because of no snowpack and have no tributaries that merge together at its beginning. Also the rivers cannot be tributaries of any other river flow, because this creates and even bigger quagmire. 

Here are good examples that I found through research;

(a) The “named” Yellowstone River starts where two tributaries, the North Fork and the South Fork Yellowstone merge together. So which tributary is the right one where warm waters do halt? It becomes a guess, so the Yellowstone River is out with no place that is named Brown off in the distance.

(b) The “named” Madison River starts from two tributaries, where Gibbon and the Fire Hole Rivers merge. It becomes a guess as well. The Madison is out with no place that is named Brown off in the distance.

(c) The “named” Arkansas River starts where the tributaries of the Tennessee Creek and the East Fork Arkansas River merge together.  It becomes a guess as well. The Arkansas River is out with no place that is named Brown off in the distance. I did go one step further and went to the start of the East Fork Arkansas River to be fair and still no place that is named Brown.

(d) The “named” Colorado River starts where the tributaries of the Tonahutu Creek and the North Inlet Creek merge together before a dam. It becomes a guess also. The Colorado River is out with no place that is named Brown off in the distance.

(e) The “named” Animas River starts where the tributaries of the West Fork Animas River and the Burrows Creek merge together. The Animas River is out with no place that is named Brown off in the distance.

(f) The “named” Rio Grande is without any tributaries to form its beginning. It is a singular place where the river starts and has a true Headwaters. A majority of this river is warm, it has the same start and halt place (physics), it also has a place that is named Brown off in the distance. Also the Rio Grande is not a tributary of any river. I will also show later on, my concluded treasure location is nowhere near this river.

One other simplistic idea, “warm” could very well be in the southern Rockies which is usually warmer than the northern Rockies and could very well be considered to look at the rivers in the southern end of the Rockies. This simplistic idea does need more to substantiate this thought. Also, I did not consider any super heated water coming from any hot spring as being warm and that water is constantly moving and truly does not halt, even through seasonal changes. 

Reminder again; the melting snowpack is where the river waters start flowing (physics) and when the snowpack is gone the waters do “halt” (physics), which contains the very same river waters on its flow, for the entire length of the river. The majority length of the Rio Grande is of warm waters. 

So, the Rio Grande at its headwater, I have concluded this is the first clue’s answer to, “where warm waters halt”. By the way Forrest did say that the treasure is not “near” the Rio Grande. I believe I can show that the treasure is not anywhere near the river, the headwater is merely the starting point.

2nd Clue – “And take it in the canyon down,” But which canyon? There are three canyons in the immediate area using the map. So I chose the canyon and headed towards a place named Brown described in the radius area of search under the 3rd clue. I merely went to the canyon to go down from where the first clue is on the map.

 “Not far, but too far to walk” I believe this is a hint for a distance to arrive at the third clue. Too far to walk for me is about 7 miles, but I have to take into reasonable consideration that some folks may feel 5 miles is too far and for others it may be up to 15 or 20 miles. So, I cast a fifteen mile radius from the headwaters of the Rio Grande to help with the put in spot below the home of Brown. I’m not concerned about the distance at this point; it will become apparent when I know where, what or why, to “put in below the home of Brown.”

The 3rd clue is the end point of the distance from the first. (Note: This distance cannot be fully vetted until the location of below the home of Brown has been located. However a place named Brown was found in the general area. This does help somewhat in the direction to generally head towards.)

3rd Clue – “Put in below the home of Brown” Brown I took as a name otherwise it wouldn’t be capitalized at the end of the sentence. Brown I felt was a place or thing in nature, because normally one isn’t going to find a person or any other creature on a paper map or GE/GM in the Rocky Mountains. So, I’m looking for something named Brown in my radial search area. Again, the name Brown’s, Browns or has a name before Brown is not being taken into consideration. In my radial search I found Brown Mtn.

So below Brown Mtn. creates a problem, how far below is the “put in” place? Is it a foot, yard(s) or mile(s) below this mountain’s home? I physically went to Brown Mtn., above the town of Silverton, CO for the first time in my life and started looking for the clue as being “no place for the meek”. I didn’t find anything that represented as being meek, or causing one to be meek defined in a dictionary. Nor could I find anything else mentioned in the poem after “From there it’s no place for the meek”, directly below Brown Mtn. that fits, I returned home and went back to the map. (Note: With the first visit above Silverton, CO, of August 2017, I had not read “The Thrill of the Chase”, nor did I know of the blog sites. I became interested because of the pastor’s death through the news media. I started looking just for the challenge, and the treasure was a nice thing to have, I really don’t need it.)

It dawned on me while looking at the map that I had already been to an area that is “No place for the meek”, driving to and coming from Brown Mtn. The problem was, this area was not below Brown Mt. Studying the map from Brown Mtn., there is the canyon that starts at the base of the mountain that went directly all of the way to Silverton, which is below the mountain. It was then I found the “Put in” place below the home of Brown Mtn. and tied in with, “From there it’s no place for the meek.” It is the intersection after Taking it in the canyon down, not far, but too far to walk and highway 550, which is a “put in” place below Brown Mtn. that causes a momentary pause to head towards “no place for the meek”. (I did not consider the “put in” as a reference to water, because of Forrest parking his car.)

This I concluded is “too far to walk” from the headwater of the Rio Grande, (That distance now can be known, approximately 10 miles.) to the intersection of highway 550, and the “Put in below the home of Brown” Mountain. 

The image below shows the search Area. The red pins are clues and the Yellow pints are hints.

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CLICK ON IMAGE TO SEE IT LARGER

4th Clue- “From there it’s no place for the meek”. The first two words, “from there”, is somewhat vague in a way. It could mean to go to or through, or to head in the direction towards “it’s no place for the meek”. I did go through the “no place for the meek”, going to and from my first recon searching for what was the “Put in below the home of Brown”. I realized when I returned home looking at the map of the area that I had been there and felt very comfortable that the Hwy 550 from Ouray to Silverton, CO was “no place for the meek”.

My very first impression of the hwy was that it was unnerving to drive, because the hwy seemed narrower than other roads and there were little to no shoulders in many places with no guardrails. Driving along the road is cut out of shear steep rocks with shear steep drop offs and a long way to go to reach the rocky bottom. The road also had steep hairpin curves along the route. This is why I felt the route between Ouray and Silverton is “no place for the meek”. I did take into consideration that “some” folks wouldn’t be bothered driving this road, but not all folks would feel this way.

I felt I needed more to verify my thoughts and my word alone isn’t good enough. My wife and I needed some time away from home and went to Silverton for two days, just to explore the very old mining town. I did not do any searching as the San Juan National Forest was closed due to high fire danger.

My wife wouldn’t even look at the mountains or the deep chasms below along the route, because she would get sick because of the terrains height up and down, instead she read a book. Just for fun, I asked her if she wanted to drive on our return trip and it was a resounding NO. I also asked folks in Silverton and Ouray which were vacationers visiting shops, if they had driven the road from Ouray to Silverton and most of the comments where, spooky, scary, unnerving, being uneasy and did not want to drive the road again. I did ask the same question on my three other visits for my searches and the answers where basically the same. By the way, my close friend did drive to my following three searches, the first time up was uncomfortable for him driving the road and still was somewhat very attentive in driving the remaining search trips.

After I and my wife’s visit I went back to the map and started a search between Ouray and Silverton to see if the next two clues would fit in the area and have the need to go to or through “it’s no place for the meek.” Going through the route from Silverton it ends up at Ouray and from that town is all private property and out of the mountains. I also looked for a possible place that could be ever drawing near, “nigh” or something ever drawing to the left. This didn’t work out at all for either interpretation of, “the end is ever drawing nigh” because of the steep rocky canyon making it impossible to even search. 

So I now know what the phrase meant, “From there it’s no place for the meek”, from there is merely to head towards “no place for the meek”, which is the road along very steep solid rocks and hairpin turns, in the canyon between Ouray and Silverton. (Note: I feel if one discounts this without going to the area has no argument.)

5th Clue – “The end is ever drawing nigh” After searching through the “no place for the meek” as described above I found nothing that fit this interpretation of, “the end is ever drawing near”. I also thought that ever drawing near meant as never getting near the end. The other interpretation, “the end is ever drawing left”, I did find the road 558 on the map, it did slowly draw to the left all of the way to the end of the road. This Rd. 558 (gravel) starts approximately 2 miles just north of Silverton that is not in the canyon, it is well before, “no place for the meek”. So, the Rd. 558 is, “The end is ever drawing nigh”, (left).

6th Clue – “There’ll be no paddle up your creek, just heavy loads and water high” Looking at the map there is a creek that runs along the side of Rd. 558, the creek is deep enough for watercraft, (canoes, kayaks, small rafts), to pass through. This creek I did see on my prior two visits. There is a small creek, Clear Lake Creek, which is impossible to paddle up. The creek is very narrow, rocky and steep, flowing through steep and high rocky walls on both sides and contains small waterfalls.

“Just” to me does not indicate for a searcher to go to heavy loads or water high. “Just heavy loads” can go up along the creek. Heavy loads can only mean one or two things, its either vehicles or back packing. The other, “water high” I took as, there is water high up the creek.

As it turns out there is a jeep trail that goes up to Clear Lake and there is a trail that hikers and backpackers use to go up to another lake, Ice Lake. So the hikers and backpackers and four wheelers going up the trail was strongly considered as “Heavy loads”. The “water high” up are the natural lakes.

The 7th clue, while looking at the map, the creek, high lakes and the trail does put one in a small location to search for the chest. I believe that was the intent of, “There’ll be no paddle up your creek, just heavy loads and water high”. If someone where to go up the jeep trail or the path, they are quickly beyond the high elevation limit set by Forrest, as not where the treasure is hidden.

 7th Clue – “If you been wise and found the blaze” Looking at the map, (Google Maps), I found only 3 things that could be a blaze, there is nothing else that could be considered as a blaze. The first thing that could be a blaze was the jeep trail going up the side of the mountain to Clear Lake. It stands out prominently on the map. The second thing that could be a blaze, is the hiking trail, because it too can be seen on the map. The third blaze can be seen as a white marking on the map, because of the creeks flow over the rocks and falls, which is Clear Creek.

On my next three visits to search, I was on time constraints because of my close friend’s obligations. I was not going by myself, as it is never wise to be on foot alone in the mountains. I and my friend, we are each other’s first responder. For each trip there was the driving and searching in one day, stay overnight in a hotel then drive back home.

The only way to verify each possible blaze was to find what could be considered as “in the wood”. For each of the blazes, one does need to be at the base in order to “look quickly down”. It didn’t make sense to look quickly down anywhere from the top of each of the probable blazes or anywhere in between. The problem was, there are four likely places that could be considered as “wood”.

I started with the least likely blaze, the jeep trail, because it was the farther of all from the small location. When one looks quickly down on the map for this blaze, there is an old log jam that can be considered as “in the wood”. The portions of the logs were not under water, which is where I first looked for the treasure, which by the way did not produce the chest. If standing at the base of this blaze, one clearly could not see the wood or this blaze.

My second least likely blaze trip to the area was to search below what I perceived as the white blaze being shown on the map. In looking quickly down, it also had some log jams just below the waterfalls of Clear Creek. This also proved to not contain the chest in the logs.

The third trip was because, there also was an old log jam on dry ground, below the true trailhead of the trail, the possible blaze, which could be seen from the map, but those logs, could not be seen while there. I did not much care for this log jam because it was in plain sight and near the campground and could be used and broken up for campfires. Never the less it had to be searched.

I and my friend did look in the first part of June this year 2019. This third trip was twofold; the primary reason for going up early was because there were many avalanches in the San Juan Mountains and the area I was searching was very near steep mountains, I wanted to know if the search area was effected by an avalanche. If the search area was not harmed, we were to search the old log jam. As it turns out there had been a very destructive avalanche in the area and that old log jam, which had been there before the Chase began, was gone because of the large surge of water, snow and downed trees, down the Ice Lake Creek and the Mineral Creek. 

While there I stood at the base of the Ice Lake Trail and looked quickly down, looking straight forward to about the quarter of the way to fully looking down. Sure enough my fourth in the wood stood out right away. The wood is an isolated group of three pine trees from the main forest trees. If one thinks about the trail as the blaze, it truly is in its self a blaze and needs no markers that guides one up to one of lakes and is a defined path to follow, unlike trails that are vague and needs markers (blazes) to aide someone to achieve their destination. I have determined the Ice Lake Trail to be the “blaze” it is tied to the 9th clue. By the way, “Tarry Scant”, I strongly feel means to, “not doddle with little time”, to stare at a marvelous find, for the place that contains the chest.

The fifth stanza of the poem, “So why is it that I must go and leave my trove for all to seek? The answer I already know, I’ve done it tired, and now I’m weak.” This is merely a question as to why he hid the treasure; it does not have any clues or hints that will aide in finding the treasure. Forrest does know why he hid the treasure, before he hid the treasure he is stating he was tired before hiding the chest and was weak after the treasure was hidden. There also are no clues or hints in this line of this stanza that will aide one in finding the treasure.

8th Clue– “So hear me all and listen good, your effort will be worth the cold.” Some may think this line is included with the last clue; however it is not something to ignore. Standing at the base of the blaze, (trail), there is something in the way to get to the last clue and that is the “cold” creek, of the South Fork of Mineral Creek. One needs to take the “effort” to cross the rocky creek bottom with its “cold” water. On one side of the creek is shallow and the other side of the creek is deeper. For some it may not be that difficult and other’s it will take effort to cross.

9th Clue – “If you are brave and in the wood I give you title to the cold.” If one is “brave” enough to go among the prickly needles and branches in the cluster of the three pine trees to get into the “wood”. (An area of land, smaller than a forest, which is a small group of growing trees) One should go in among the cluster of three pine trees to retrieve the treasure. I’m confident the cluster of the three pine trees contains the hidden treasure.

You may ask why I didn’t retrieve the treasure to complete the poem. At the time of my last visit this year, the creek was not safe to cross because of the melting snow runoff. Also I do not have the capability to cross the creek, even when the creek is at its normal level. I am a below the knee amputee and wear a prosthesis and I lose my balance while crossing rocks on dry land. I am not going to risk injury while trying to maintain my balance on slippery rocks and when I can’t fully see and feel what I am stepping on.

Can you imagine me going down with a heavy load on my back even at some 20 pounds on slippery rocks? If I did fall with a load of 20 lbs in this situation the likely hood of me not getting my feet under me is huge. My friend that I have and searched with has difficulty in this situation with a knee and hip replacements as well.

There is no other way to go down the other side of this creek as there are no bridges, roads or even trails, unless you wade across the creek.

I am very confident without an ego, that I have shown the clues within the poem are of actual places and things and the clues are continuous and solidly linked together. All that I ask is to study thoroughly with what I have presented and why. This I feel has nothing to do with coincidences.

The reality is, Forrest himself has not said a word about any clue’s answer or what the location is. Yes, he has given many hints, but has not pointed out its location references. Some of those hints that he does give out relate to a process that may help in finding the treasure. The subtle hints in his book, “The Thrill of the Chase”, I strongly believe those hints are a word or a combination of words and not so much about the stories themselves. I love his stories and scrapbooks about his life, family and friends and I am humbled that he has shared this with all. 

The person that does use what I have presented can go and possibly retrieve the treasure. I don’t know how Forrest would feel about this. I merely would like Forrest to know that his treasure has been found and he once again has his coveted silver bracelet with the turquoise stones. If not, I or anyone else will have to wait until the treasure has been found.

As for me the treasure is not a need to have, nor do I want to improve my lifestyle. I am comfortable were I am in life. (No I am not wealthy) It has been the challenge to solve the poem to see if I could fully fulfill the challenge. I also hope the one that does retrieve the chest, that they truly need the treasure for themselves and their family.

Here is my challenge to all of those that may respond to this post. Try very, very hard to not use what Forrest has commented on in the past as a means for a rebuttal except for those that are related to where not to search and the elevation limits and please don’t use a hypothetical as a basis for rebuttal. I am asking for sound facts related only to the Poem of actual places, things and directions it speaks of.

-CharlieM

 

 

 

 

Missing the Mountains Already…

June 2019

By Veronica and Izzy

 

I have been wracking my brain trying to think how I can share my search without giving away my location. So I wrote a poem…
Enjoy!

Izzy and I aimed our car at the Wild, Wild West,

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To search for treasure where we thought might fit the best .
So we drove all day and most of the night,

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Got some rest , then hit the road by first light.
Finally made it to where the warm waters stop,

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Then drove not too far with our canoe on the top.

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We searched all over for that home of Brown,
Don’t mind us…We’re just passing through town.

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We looked all over in the places not very meek,

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We even found a paddle up the paddle-less creek!

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No chest to be found , but there are riches galore,
So much to see, and so much to explore!

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So, get in your car and aim it out West

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And visit the Rockies where you’ll be put to the test.
For me and my boy , we count down the days,
Til we can search again and find that dang blaze!

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Now get off the couch and go smell the sunshine, Y’all!
– Veronica & Izzy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

River Bathing is Best Solve, Clue 1-5

June 2019

By Jake Faulker

 

The Thrill of the Chase has hints and subtle hints that will help you get the general area down and I think these are places considering we have to marry the clues in the poem to places on a map and the poem also has directions, places and things at places.

In Love With Yellowstone
West Yellowstone
Looking For Lewis And Clark
The Madison’s
The Gallatin’s
Yellowstone National Park
Flywater
Geography
Google Maps and/or a good map
The Poem
The Memoirs
Imagination

1 – Begin it where warm waters halt 
After reading his books and poem multiple times, I have come to the conclusion that chapter 5 “too far to walk” River Bathing Is Best, is where to begin. He tells a story of his bathing spot near Ojo Caliente spring on the Firehole River in Yellowstone National Park. Note: He never mentions Ojo Caliente, but we now know that was his bathing spot in the Firehole near Ojo.

This spot should not be in a canyon and isn’t seeing we need to take it (The quest) in the canyon down next.

“when I decided it was time to leave I’d back a couple of feet downstream where the water was cold. That gave me instant incentive to climb out and sun dry…”

*Omega shape on this part of the Firehole River

*5th line in the poem and the 5th chapter in – too far to walk

*He went alone in there

**My secret bathing spot

**Always worth the effort

**https://www.oldsantafetradingco.com/blog/river-bathing-is-best

firehole swim

ojo

2 – And take it in the canyon down, 

The only canyon down (In elevation) is the Firehole Canyon.

Maybe this explains why many have figured the 1st 2 clues correctly and fizzled out.

firehole canyon

canyon down

Not far, but too far to walk.

Not a clue here, just letting you know what you shouldn’t do and maybe just drive.

3 – Put in below the home of Brown. 

In the preface of his book “too far too walk”, he states “put a small rubber dingy in the Madison River a few miles from West Yellowstone and fished downstream to Baker’s Hole. The river distance was about 10 miles”

“The river experience cemented my connection to that special country and I promised myself that someday I would make the trip again. THAT DAY NEVER CAME FOR ME,…. For me now, it’s just too far to walk.”

Some have decided to figure out what the home of Brown is instead of knowing where it is before trying to figure out where warm waters halt. Big mistake!

I think Forrest is the only one who knows WHAT the home of Brown is and you will only find out after you find the treasure. I do not think this place is labeled on any map, new or old.

One way to figure out where this clue is, is to skip it and figure out the next few clues if you can do this. I was able to do this and the next few clues seem to work with what the poem says.

What’s more important? The “put in” spot? or where you are going to draw, take or get out of the waterway. Try that out on a river or lake and you will see what I mean. It’s more important where you get out.

put in

put in madison

4 – From there it’s no place for the meek, 

From there? The place you put in, then let the river flow take you down stream passing through Fenn’s favorite, special fishing spots to the border of Yellowstone National Park.

Joseph Meek was a trapper, trader & hunter back in the 1800’s when there was no park label and designation back then.

There is no hunting or trapping allowed in Yellowstone National Park now and the park is no place for him.

If you don’t like Joe Meek in the mix, then you could say it’s no place for Fenn now. Seeing that day never came for him, I would have to say he is meek in the park now with all the crowds and fisherman all over his special fishing spots.

This clue brings you just outside the park at the border in West Yellowstone.

meek place

5 – The end is ever drawing nigh; 

You’re at the border of the park and there’s a bridge close by.

You have to draw out of the Madison River there and head North on Gallatin Road.

NIGH = North Intrastate Gallatin Highway, is Intrastate Highway (191). It is also known as the “Gallatin Gateway” and reminds me of “The word that is key”. Gallatin County appears to be in the shape of a key.

You will need a key to unlock the “Gateway”.

The end is ever drawing North Intrastate Gallatin Highway;

Hop on the bridge and head north to your creek.

Gallatin County below.

gallatin county

There are over 30 creeks up the Gallatin Gateway and it’s been tough to pick out a few that fit the poem. All the areas in this solve are places that Fenn loved which makes sense to me where he hid the treasure.

gallatin nigh

The Gallatin River where you can paddle.

ode joe

Ode to Joe fishing spot from too far to walk on the Gallatin.

I think this is a basic simple straightforward solve by my design and guidance from Fenn’s comments.

All these clues do not have to be physically traveled. Just use your imagination to get from one place to another and don’t overcook or over think what is right in front of you.

Good luck to all of you and please simplify if you can.

-Jake

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Diggin Gypsy Signs Off…

JANUARY 2019

By Diggin Gypsy

 

I’ve finally  come to the end of my chase  I’ve had a good run. When I started in the summer of 2013 I never knew I would have visited West Yellowstone so many times in my life. I’ve done things I never thought I would do. One was hiking thru huge snow drifts beside the Madison at ghost village, climbing up mountains and sliding back down them on my butt. Dodging grizzlies around Hebgan lake and running from the moose at refuge point.

When me and my sister began the chase my mom and dad had just died it was a way to move on and try not to let death overcome us with sadness . We thrived and became strong adventurers bringing along family members to join in on the fun .

I’ve had the best times of my life searching and have met wonderful friends along the way The chase does take a toll on you though, years of racking your brain. I’ve flooded the ole coot with many emails, especially after a good margarita night. How does he deal with everyone after all the years? I have no clue.  I’m surprised he hasn’t said good riddance to us all.

If I can tell all the new chasers one thing it would be to make the chase not about always finding the treasure.  When you’re searching and it isn’t where you think,  look at your adventure as a treasure. Don’t let the chase consume your life. That isn’t what Forrest wanted.

And let’s all remember this man kindly hid a treasure for us all to have a chance to find. Let’s don’t join chat sites that bash Forrest. Let’s keep the chase without drama and the way Forrest wanted it to be, for families to enjoy being together outdoors.

Happy trails y’all I’m off to new adventures. Luv you guys.

-Diggin Gypsy

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Imagine That!…

November 2018

By Voxpops

 

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Lake Vyrnwy in North Wales. An entire village was submerged here in the late 19th century when this valley was flooded to provide drinking water for Liverpool

There’s a book I read recently for our local book group: Days Without End by Sebastian Barry. It’s a tale centered in the Indian Wars and the American Civil War. At times it’s funny, at others horrific, and with its stream-of-consciousness delivery, you might say it’s more of a tone poem than a novel. How historically accurate it is I can’t say; certainly, with its references to cross-dressing and interracial exploits, it feels a touch implausible and anachronistic in places, and yet it is an imaginative tour de force, carrying the reader deep into the blood-soaked landscape and vomit-inducing stench of war.

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For me, the past year has been a lesson in the power of imagination. There have been periods of terror offset by flashes of enlightenment – all brought about through intense introspection as a result of my involvement in the Chase. It’s only now that I’ve concluded my search that I’m able to look back with a sense of perspective, and begin to understand how imagination has played a critical role in forging a path that I could follow both physically and metaphorically.

We all know that Forrest Fenn ranks imagination above knowledge, but it might be worth asking ourselves why that is. What is it about imagination that will propel us forward to the hiding place, while knowledge leaves us scratching our heads in confusion? To answer that I want to start by examining the reasons given for the treasure hunt: “…to get kids off the couch and away from their texting machines…” and: “…in a terrible recession… I wanted to give hope to those who had a sense of adventure and were willing to go searching.”

As someone pointed out recently, given the decision to write the poem and hide the treasure preceded the economic downturn by more than a decade, we can pretty much discount the second reason as a prime mover for the Chase, unless we’re prepared to grant Forrest clairvoyance. It may well have been something that gave added impetus to the timing, but even then it seems unlikely that a family deeply affected by the recession would have the spare resources to gamble on the one-in-a-billion chance of finding the chest. But before we dismiss it entirely, the word “hope” is interesting. Whether or not we’re in an upcycle or downswing, the human condition is one that needs – is almost desperate for – hope: hope that there is something better in the future; hope that our lives are not lived in vain. Hope springs eternal according to Alexander Pope in his poem An Essay On Man, in which he castigates mankind for believing that he can use his knowledge of science to “scan God.” So by Fenn saying that he wanted to give hope, maybe he was talking about the power of imagination over that of knowledge, where the latter speaks to man’s desire to measure and classify everything, and the former grants access to a cosmos of fresh ideas. Perhaps there are some things that transcend the known, and yet remain vital to our wellbeing.

As for the first-mentioned reason, we probably spend about 90% or more of our “search” time online, with a tiny proportion given over to BOTG. Families searching together certainly give their kids wonderful and real experiences that they couldn’t possibly match with their “texting machines,” but overall, even though there’s probably been a huge upswing in searchers’ exposure to the wilderness, the Chase has probably also been instrumental in increasing our slavish devotion to gadgets!

So we’re left with two given reasons that are not altogether satisfactory. And if we accept that, then is there a hidden or underlying reason? I would contend that there is, and that it is partly to do with imagination – to help us develop that faculty and to open our minds to whatever influences may be present. In my own search that has meant using imagination to bridge the “gaps” between clues, and developing a kind of sixth sense for recognizing “aberrations that live out on the edge.” It’s more of an art than a science, and if, like me, you’re not used to that way of thinking it can be a lengthy – and at times frightening – learning curve.

Merriam Webster defines imagination firstly as: “the act or power of forming a mental image of something not present to the senses or never before perceived in reality.” That’s an interesting definition because it allows for truly “blue-sky” or visionary thinking, not necessarily grounded in reality. In the context of the Chase, my contention is that the only way to successfully complete the challenge is to delve as deep into your imagination as it’s possible to go, until you develop the technique of mirroring Fenn’s thinking. The problem is knowing when you’re beginning to succeed, especially if there’s apparently so little to help you confirm your progress (ignoring for a moment the books and ATFs, which have the tendency to confirm everyone’s solves!). But I would suggest that if you can develop this technique you will have flashes of insight that help you plot a way forward. The mirror may be very cloudy at first, and progress will be stumbling, but with time and persistence things should become clearer.

Of course without knowing where to begin and without understanding how the numerical framework comes into play, imagination alone won’t be sufficient, but it can certainly help with both these elements. However, here’s the rub. There’s no way to know in advance whether your poem interpretations and mirror-imaging are correct without testing the ideas on the ground – possibly many times. I seriously doubt whether this depth of “vision” can be obtained by fireside cogitation alone. Even though I believe the answer we’re all seeking is fairly simple in one sense, the possible permutations are almost endless. We’re talking about a slow and dogged development of this faculty, which requires getting off the couch and out into the wilds.

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Castle Rock and Green River during a storm

My last trip to Wyoming was not a particularly happy event – and nearly didn’t happen at all. It came after what my doctor diagnosed as an acute psychotic disorder. I was recovering from a bout of flu when I began to have serious concerns about the Chase, and these rapidly morphed into terrifying thoughts and delusions. Basically, I had spent so long making connections at a profound level that I’d forged pathways into my own darkest mental recesses. In short, I’d let the demons out of the cage. It was an intensely unpleasant experience that was also very distressing for those around me. So the trip, which had almost been canceled, was foreshortened and took place alongside a wife who had come to, quite understandably, detest everything about the Chase.

But before you dismiss what I’m about to say as the ravings of a diagnosed lunatic, I’d ask you to consider what Fenn really had in mind for the most ardent searchers. This is “The Thrill of the Chase.” We might normally define this as the excitement of the hunt. But what if we adjust the emphasis a little?

Fenn has a way with words – to the point of exasperating the reader. Take SB 178 as an example. The first line is: “Pony Ault was the only important client our gallery had in Santa Fe, and she seemed to know everyone.” Does that mean that Pony Ault was the only person living in Santa Fe who was an important client? Or does it mean that she was the only important client… period? Well, the latter seems unlikely since Forrest could boast of some of the biggest names around as clients. But now read the entire SB slowly and carefully, and pay particular attention to the final paragraph; does that alter your perspective at all? A quick Google search for Pony Ault will reward you with very little. But you will find the name given as a founding member of the Santa Fe Art Institute, along with William Lumpkins, a member of the Transcendental Painting Group, which aimed to convey spiritual truths through abstract art. Interesting.

Now try, “It doesn’t help to stretch a tangent.” Back in 2016, if I’d read that sentence with the emphasis on “tangent” instead of “stretch,” I might have saved myself a couple more years of searching, and perhaps some heartache too.

So to return to TTOTC, the word “thrill” originally meant “to pierce.” If we read the line with the emphasis on “Thrill” instead of “Chase,” we might conjure an image of a searcher being pierced by something. So could the phrase really be referring to searchers being hunted down and pierced? And if so, by whom and with what?

We all know from the fishing stories and the cover of OUAW that Fenn is angling for something. It’s not beyond the bounds of possibility that he’s looking for someone for a reason. What that reason is remains known only to the poem’s author. I honestly don’t believe he’s looking for the cleverest searcher; after all, there are some pretty amazing brains working on this, but cleverness doesn’t seem to be what’s required to solve the poem. Could it be, instead, that he wants someone with the necessary imaginative skills to complete the journey? And if so, why?

I believe the answer to these questions is a spiritual one. An abiding image for me is from an interview during one of the earlier bookshop appearances, in which Forrest breaks his vocal stride to deliver a line which goes something like, “nothing is as it seems.” When you watch the video it seems like a non-sequitur, and that draws attention to it. What is not what it seems? From my own experiences this year I would suggest that we’re not talking about a regular treasure hunt, but about a vision quest where outward appearances may be deceptive. I’m not the first to suggest this as a plausible scenario, but I would like to support that viewpoint and relate it to the concept of imaginative solving as I try to make sense of what’s been happening in and beyond my own chase.

I will say upfront that the search is over for me. Interpret that as you will, but it certainly tallies with my current predicament. I am stuck in Britain, unwilling to risk my marriage any further for a box of gold. Unless the domestic situation changes, there will be no more trips to the Rockies. Besides, the Welsh countryside is equally impressive, just on a smaller scale!

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LLynnau Cregennen near Cadair Idris in North Wales

In the past, the various artefacts I’ve found and spoken about as being Chase-related have caused some controversy and hilarity. That’s completely understandable, particularly if you don’t know the reason why a particular spot has meaning, or how a specific find can help spark the imagination sufficiently to be able to move forward in a solution. On the other hand, my own interpretation has developed over the course of time as I tried to make sense of the simple practicalities involved in placing strategic “pointers,” or generating distinctive symbols that appear on Google searches.

At one time, I was convinced that Forrest or someone he trusted had somehow gone around secreting these little “aberrations.” Take the smashed pottery as an example. See the “Garden City” name here? Now look at the picture of the book cover in SB 172 – and note the publisher’s address.

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Smashed pot courtesy of the Garden City Pottery Company and found near Daniel, WY

It’s these tiny coincidences that I kept discovering that had me believing these were plants. Now, after being able to see more clearly the role imagination plays, my understanding has both shifted direction and deepened. Now I believe that if you can open those mental channels sufficiently, your subconscious will “notice” things (aberrations out on the edge) that can assist your conscious mind in its deliberations. They are not necessarily things that have any direct relevance to the Chase, but they are things that help reinforce the connections you are making. And that also means that they are likely to be different for every searcher.

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Stone “triangle” in the Big Piney area

The two quartz-filled stones forming a triangular window are another example. These were so important to my developing trajectory in terms of confirmation that without discovering them I could easily have floundered. They would probably mean little or nothing to another searcher who happened upon them while on a different trajectory. And that’s another thing that I’ve changed my view on. There are many possible routes to the chest. It was only after discovering my end point that I realised I’d taken a particularly convoluted path. If I’d understood things better earlier on, the path would have been much simpler. So why did I find these stones that could have been placed there by anyone? Because my imagination needed them as a spur. A bit like, “…seek, and ye shall find.”

The “frog” offers another small insight. This was how I found it when first searching at this spot. It gave me a heck of a boost.

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Stone “frog” discovered near Marbleton, Wy in 2017

When we returned to the place this year, it never quite looked right. I tried to get the same angle and effect, but to a certain extent it eluded me. It’s not that there’s anything particularly different about it twelve months later – maybe just the lighting – but I’m not sure I would have even noticed it if I didn’t already know it was there. In other words, it had already given up its meaning to me, and because I no longer needed it to give my imagination fresh impetus, my subconscious now ignored it.

So my conclusion from all my “finds” (of which there are many), is that whether FF placed any, all or none of these, it doesn’t matter. What matters is whether you have created the conditions necessary for your imagination to assist you. But as I discovered to my family’s deep concern, there may be a price to pay for diving so far into the deep. Beware!

Crowhurst

And this might be an appropriate point to mention another book that passed my way from our book group: The Strange Last Voyage of Donald Crowhurst by Nicholas Tomalin and Ron Hall. This is a fascinating account of Crowhurst’s attempt at sailing singlehanded and nonstop around the world as part of a competition in the late ’60s. The work involved old-fashioned investigative journalism of a kind rarely seen these days, and uncovered a tale of hubris, fraud, resilience, shame, and (inferred) suicide. What is particularly intriguing towards the end is the state of mind of Captain Crowhurst as he tries to formulate a theory of man’s forthcoming evolution while drifting in the Atlantic, but descends into incoherence and madness. And although it’s tempting to ridicule the man for his vain attempts to set himself up as some kind of new prophet, his long, lonely days at sea had given him the opportunity to use similar techniques of “imaginative penetration” to those that I believe are required in the Chase. Unfortunately, he paid the price for straying off course (both literally and metaphorically) after being pierced by something from deep within.

 

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Petroglyph near Torrey Lake, Dubois, WY

One thing that shouldn’t be forgotten when considering the importance of imagination is that Forrest has said he would never tell anyone his secret spot. If that is literally true, then the poem, on its own, does not reveal the spot. If it did, that would contradict his statement, and he would have, by inference – even if only obliquely – told the whole world his hiding place. So although the poem contains all the ingredients necessary to discover the spot, the method of cooking is missing some vital instructions. In order to measure and mix all the ingredients in the right order, we’re going to need directions from the subconscious. Without them, the task is hopeless in my opinion. And specialized knowledge, beyond a comprehensive knowledge of geography, will yield nothing useful. To bake the cake according to Forrest’s recipe, we need to be able to navigate precisely, and rely on a level of imagination that approaches divination.

In support of that, and to suggest that logic, while important, can really only take you so far, I want to touch on a couple of things that have occurred to me since returning to the UK from my last search. Because I had left Wyoming with the job unfinished, I continued to ponder my finishing moves. This was around the time of the Dizzy Dean SB. A major breakthrough was forthcoming relatively quickly, and with the aid of Google I was able to home in on a spot which contained a symbol that echoed what I’d found at my start point. A helpful arrow was also visible nearby. I had been checking my progress against the website wherewarmwaters-halt.com that someone had referenced around that time. After congratulating myself for finding what I assumed was “the spot,” I was irritated to find the website continued to make insistent “noises.” At the same time I had the nagging suspicion that, despite what looked to me like a perfectly acceptable hiding place, I hadn’t quite finished. There were loose ends. During this time I was sending my “moves” to Forrest in somewhat coded form, and what seemed to be coming back via the website dovetailed neatly with my situation. (I have no idea who is actually behind that site.)

Suddenly, as I went over and over the data I had amassed, the penny dropped. I used a technique that I’d honed on previous excursions to pinpoint a spot – in a totally unexpected area – and noticed something in a Fenn drawing that seemed to offer support. But still the WWW-H website shouted its orders. I wasn’t done yet! This time, rather than use the website for confirmation, I allowed it to lead me to a spot about a mile distant that I should have noticed before but didn’t. The place had meaning for me via its distinctive rock formation. The website went quiet, and I breathed a sigh of relief, tinged with slight annoyance that I’d succumbed to being led rather than working it all out for myself. But my relative peace of mind didn’t last long. The combination of what I’d discovered at the spot, what I picked up from a few rather odd blog posters, and my own still rather fragile psyche’s promptings sent me into a downward spiral. Once more I endured terrifying thoughts and deep paranoid suspicions that lasted for days. It was very difficult trying to keep this from spilling over into my daily life and rekindling my wife’s angst.

But as I wrestled with these demons, a thought occurred to me. What would happen if I spun these thoughts 180 degrees? What if reinterpreting them as positive rather than negative symbols might be the way to go – and avoid a real crisis? So then began a slow but steady period of recuperation. Even though I’ve never been a very successful meditator, I tried to recall some of the techniques I had encountered briefly in the past. Things improved, and I continued with trying to use imagination in a wholly positive way. And that was when I began to discover its real power.

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Rainbow on the horizon near Fontenelle, WY

When you open up your imagination as a direct consequence of delving deep into the subconscious – in this case attempting to get on the same wavelength as Forrest Fenn – I believe that your subconscious will attempt to help you. This concept was brought into sharp relief for me during late summer as I tried my best to practise a form of mindfulness.

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The beautiful countryside of Montgomeryshire

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River Vyrnwy near Dolanog North Wales – a spot for tranquil contemplation

Here I was, back in Wales, not really thinking about the Chase anymore, when out of the blue I discovered that the coordinates of my home in Montgomeryshire, which we’d moved to from Oregon two years prior, added up to 166 – a really odd coincidence. I was jolted back into search mode, and tried to see if my subconscious was attempting to tell me something. For some reason I felt I had to visit the Rainbow horse riding trails in Dyfnant Forest, just a short distance away from where we live. Specifically, I felt directed towards the spot where a lookout tower used to be sited at the top of a hill to help protect the surrounding forest. There, my trusty GPS refused to function, and so I had to rely on intuition and what I remembered from the map to guide me to the exact location.

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One of four metal posts from the old Lookout Tower in Dyfnant Forest North Wales

I found the metal posts indicating where the tower had once stood in the middle of brambles and undergrowth. The trees had been felled in the immediate vicinity and on one stump just below the summit I spotted something rather bizarre. Three identical small pegs had been inserted into carefully drilled holes surrounding the center point of the tree rings.

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An odd, knotty find in the middle of nowhere

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The leaping hare

A beer bottle cap with the image of a leaping hare lay to one side. Why anyone would take the trouble to make this with such care and in such an awkward-to-access spot was beyond me. I spent hours pondering it, and then came across this whimsical piece of craftwork adorning a tree in our village a couple of days later.

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3 and a knot

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I did as I was asked

There appeared to be distinct correlations to many of the things that had featured in my Chase (the three-sided fire pit, the three-cornered stone, the three-coordinate rectangle, even the chalk graffiti at the Museum of the Mountain Man where “Fenn” looks like “Fe3 – with the “3″ twisted 90 degrees CCW.”)

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St. Melangell’s church at Pennant Melangell, North Wales

I had a look on GE and traced a line north through the two locations. Some miles distant, a third and related tri-pole symbol appeared in a village that I’d never heard of. Looking it up on Google, I found that Pennant Melangell hosts a church and shrine dedicated to Saint Melangell, a sixth century hermit and now the patron saint of hares. The coincidence was remarkable, if a little spooky.

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The shrine to St. Melangell, where pictures and postcards of hares have been placed by pilgrims

My wife and I visited the shrine, adorned with pilgrims’ images of hares, and took in the beautiful surroundings, including a rock shelf where the virgin hermit used to sleep out of the reach of wild animals.

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The rocks where the hermit St. Melangell slept during her life around the sixth century

I was perplexed. It was quite clear that Forrest had zero to do with the placing of the “symbols” that led me to the shrine. But they definitely had resonance for me in the Chase, and came amid a cascade of odd incidents, chance meetings, book readings, and online “contacts” that I couldn’t explain. A few seemed quite otherworldly. What I suspect is that Forrest knew he was setting up a “spiritual” challenge when he launched the Chase, but he probably had no personal knowledge of how this would affect each individual searcher with their unique insight and experiences. For me, it was a major process of spiritual discovery that has profoundly affected my worldview.

By the time we visited Pennant Melangell I’d stopped communicating directly with Forrest. But it seemed that he hadn’t quite finished with all of us. As autumn arrived, it came with a series of public communications from Fenn, which sent me wearily back to GE. I really didn’t want to be doing this anymore. Each of Forrest’s posts contained pointers. I used them to tie in with what I knew of the area of the Rockies I’d “landed” in. They helped me navigate to the blaze, and then (after a couple of false starts) to the final location, strangely only some 200 ft. from where I’d “spent” the previous couple of months, never noticing what was so close by. And at last things became clear. Here was the symbol that mirrored those at the two “ends.” Here was where you’d at last find J.C. Penney. Here was the place that finally brought the poem to a close – and for once I had no doubt in my mind.

But I could no longer claim that it was “my” doing. It was a question of making the effort over five years, yes, but then it was the recognition that not only had I made use of prompts from Forrest through his public utterances, and occasional searchers’ pointers, but also that whatever was at work deep below the conscious ego was far more in tune with events than “I” ever could be.

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Looking westward wistfully from Wales (actually it’s south, but I like the W’s!)

But despite all this the chest remains out there for anyone to find and retrieve. I don’t know whether circumstances will ever be right for me to return to the Rockies, and that’s hard to live with, admittedly, but I try to be content with things as they are. I stay off the blogs as much as possible in order to concentrate on “real” life, but as you can see I’m not always successful! (It may be that Forrest has also now withdrawn from public interaction, but only time will tell.) The Chase has taken me to the darkest places, but also to radiant uplands. I have made discoveries that go far beyond anything I could have imagined – and for that I’m eternally grateful. I certainly feel more “integrated” than I ever have done in my 65 years.

To wrap up these musings on imagination, I have a sneaking suspicion that the chest will only be recovered when it is ready to be recovered. Yes, that sounds fanciful and a bit “woo-woo,” but if you believe, as I do, that this a vision quest as much as it is a treasure hunt, it may require a certain state of mind and personal readiness. I know that all of this will send some searchers into fits of giggles, and others will just sigh and shake their heads, but that’s OK; there will be a few who will be curious and willing to keep an open mind, particularly when they return to some of the Scrapbooks and other Fenn writings with this in mind. Remember that there’s a reason the Little Girl from India can get no closer than the first two clues with her map and poem. Anyway, I apologize to those looking for concrete pointers that none of the places pictured here are anywhere near my final spot (nor even the places the first two clues lead), but I sincerely believe that those willing to delve deep can find the same haunting hillside that both beckons and bars me (for now). And lastly, to return to books, if any of you are into motor racing, and particularly Formula 1 (sorry, Nascar fans!), Damon Hill’s autobiography, Watching The Wheels, makes for a fascinating read, as well as touching tangentially on the theme of this post.

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-Voxpops

 

A Brown for the Times…

October, 2018

By Stephan

 

William Harvey Brown, b.1862, d.1913

A stout-hearted man if ever there was one!  I imagine that all three of his names will certainly ring a bell with searchers.  Born in South Africa to American parents and later educated at Cornell, he worked for the Smithsonian, and spent more than a few years roaming the Rockies and the American West.  A naturalist, he collected specimens of mammals for display in the museums of his day, rubbing shoulders with some of the 19th Century’s most accomplished taxidermists.  He ended his life in South Africa.

It could well be that museums such as the Denver Museum display to this day some of his specimens in their taxidermy collections.

On one of his expeditions, he helped establish a scientific camp high in the Rockies, which was dubbed “Camp Brown Bear Trail”, so named for the many grizzly trails which then criss-crossed that area.  He resided there for several weeks and hunted for grizzly.

The following is an actual account  from recollections of those days:

“I went up the side of a steep mountain following a small stream to its head.  I chose a large flat rock at the edge of a ledge for my camping place.  The view was marvelous.  On the rock I soon had a fine fire going.  Water was heated and venison toasted.  Though tired, I was much refreshed and cut a great stock of fir spruce boughs which were to serve for a bed that night.  A goodly quantity of wood was gathered for the fire,(which) was now removed nearer the edge of the rock and the spruce boughs spread down.  I stretched my weary bones out on that bed of Mexican feathers and really almost went to sleep and would have had not the fire burned low and a horrible dream about a grizzly roused me.”

Well, I figured this small stream he followed was the creek to paddle up and I figured that this ledge just had to be the blaze in Forrest Fenn’s poem, what with campfires blazing and bones and all..  And wouldn’t you know it, after some considerable effort (difficult but not impossible) and some years, I finally found the Ledge and stood upon it.  The view was truly marvelous.  And yes, I had already considered where warm waters halt: and it led me right to it.

But before I ever went to the Ledge, I figured I had better give the poem a once-over just in case I missed anything.  Good thing I did:

Scant (from Wiktionary)- a block of stone, sawn on two sides down to the bed level.

Marvel (from the Shorter Oxford)- see also marvil.  A child’s marble.

Tarry- of, like, or covered in tar; splattered with tar.

Clear as day, then:  I knew I needed to find a block of stone with black flecks and a marble-like marking of some kind on its face, probably white.

Since I knew Forrest Fenn was a marble champion in 7th grade, I knew I was onto something:

So I climbed to the Ledge at last. It was at an altitude of just barely under 10,200 feet.   I took my best friend with me.  Together we stood on that Ledge, and we keenly felt that we had found Forrest’s special spot.  To stand on the actual rock where a brave and wise naturalist had once camped in the late 19th Cenury, when the wilds were still wild.  He had  even carried a Sharps rifle, as if he wasn’t already wise enough.  And below us, a rare fisherman’s paradise, but virtually unknown, with two perfectly symmetrical horseshoe bends.

Then we turned and gasped as we saw the block of stone beneath us on the Ledge, so scant-like, with a marble on it.  We gazed on it in awe.  But evening drew nigh and so we resolved to return the next day.  And then that night it snowed and snowed.

-by Stephan

 

 

An Argument for New Mexico…


October, 2018

By Clearly Clueless

 

 

I just got back from a trip to the Rocky Mountains with my sister. We had a blast. Last year it was my parents who I dragged out there. We had a blast then, too. We enjoyed several different areas and lots of touristy things. In between stomping through woods and looking for “you know what”, we managed to see lots of balloons in Albuquerque and grab some culture and coffee in Santa Fe. I was one day away from that last book signing….Argggghhh. And, Will in the bookstore did not even mention it, the day before when I popped in…..hmmm.
Things I love about New Mexico….
1. It holds Indulgence …In My Opinion… and I would like to make a case for this below.
2. My hair was not frizzy while there. LOVE this!
3. No allergy problems while there.
4. The weather is so ever changing, the climate is so diverse. I saw a rainbow after getting     pelted by sleet. Strangely, it was very cold in the mornings, but we weren’t miserable. Pleasant.
5. New Mexico has a funny sense of humor. What are you people mowing?

Ok, here is what lead me to search in New Mexico.
In my opinion we read through the poem more than once….several times.
I think the first time through, Mr. Fenn gets us to the correct state.
So, I am going to go through the poem ONLY ONE time THIS TIME and I am going to use Mr. Fenn’s poem/map.

Question: “Are there clues in the TFTW book?”
“Yes, because the map is in the book.”- Forrest Fenn

Question: “Are there clues in the TTOTC book?”
“Yes, because the poem is in the book.” -Forrest Fenn

In my opinion, you have to use his map and his poem.
Ok, go get your copy of Mr. Fenn’s map and let’s look/listen and go through the poem.
“Begin it where warm waters halt….”
Start in Colorado.
Colorado means “colored red”.
Red is a warm color.
So I began “where warm waters halt” at the bottom of the Colorado boarder.
“And take it in the canyon down.” ….the bottom border of Colorado.
Now that we are looking at Mr. Fenn’s map, you will see some Brown shading at that Colorado and New Mexico boarder….go on…look ….why don’t we “put in below the home of Brown.”
*Remember, I believe I am going through this poem several times to get information.
*In my opinion, Brown will be something else another time through.
Now that brown shading takes us down to the wrong end of “NEW”.
If, following along this way, we will have to read backwards.
No problem.
“WEN”
In Britain, “wen” can refer to a large, crowded urban area.
Which I take to mean “no place for the meek.”
After this, we get the idea to go the end of the next word “Mexico”.
So lets goooooo……..
Now, I do realize I skipped a whole lot of words and thoughts, that is ok.
To me some of the other words are important in other ways, other times through.
I can go through with his poem on other maps and in other areas and “see other things.”
This time through I see “New Mexico”.
Does anybody else see “New Mexico”?
Has anybody else found other pictures?
One time through, if you have the right map…..you will grin and smile and want to go running to a particular area in New Mexico.
I live too far off to keep running, I would love a partner who thinks like this.
“Chasing” in metal work is beautiful.
I think Mr. Fenn has brilliantly chased a beautiful picture using his poem.
I do hope the treasure is found soon.
Any comments on going through the poem this way?

Clearly Clueless
P.S. Not Clueless on the clues, I think I have found all 9. I am clueless on how the clues “lead” us to the treasure. I do have some ideas.
I do have one spot, I would love someone to go over.

-Clearly Clueless

 

 

 

Crouching Flyer, Hidden Canyon…

by FMC

 

 

Disclaimer: This solve will probably be at least as long as my “Going to See the Elephant” solve so make sure you’ve got some time to read it all, grab a beverage, and get comfy…

2nd Disclaimer: I will be interspersing my thoughts on ATF comments throughout my solve, but I should point out that my solve came first from the poem/maps and I primarily used ATF items as confirmation (bias) for my solve. I will try to point out/identify possible Confirmation Bias (CB) where applicable.

How I Came to this Solve

I covered how I came to the Chase in my previous write-up so I’m not going to re-hash it here. For this solve, there were a few things that happened around the same time that led me to my WWWH. 

1) I was exploring the edge of Wyoming/Idaho on the basis of the Western Interior Seaway – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Western_Interior_Seaway (as potential WWWH) in the following picture.

I was following the Snake River and ended up in Grand Teton National Park and then realized how close it was to Yellowstone.

  1. 2)I’d always skipped trying to find a solve in Yellowstone because of the number of people that have already searched there and because of the legal questions surrounding finding the TC in the park. But around this time, the following was posted on Dal’s site:

Which, combined with #1, made me reconsider the area (though I still didn’t think it was inside the park).

  1. 3)I took FF’s advice and focused on WWWH. I’ve long thought that the simplest explanation (especially given the warm “means being comfortable” ATF) is that WWWH is related to a hot spring. I also think the first two lines of the poem (“As I have gone alone in there And with my treasures bold”) point to a hot spring (“treasures bold” being a euphemism for skinny dipping and both lines hinted at in “river bathing is best” in TFTW). I’d searched the hot springs map – https://maps.ngdc.noaa.gov/viewers/hot_springs/ multiple times in each state, but this time, I took a different route – I Googled.

And I found hot springs outside of the parks that weren’t on the hot springs map.

Begin it where warm waters halt

There are multiple parts to this line so we’ll take them one by one. The above picture is from Huckleberry Hot Springs and I think the first article about it I found was this one:

https://www.jacksonhole.com/blog/getting-hot-in-huckleberry/

Looking at Google Maps of the area led me to a second, nearby hot spring (Polecat Hot Springs), which you can see in the top left of the image below. 

Full disclosure: both springs are now closed to people (effective 2014): 

https://www.tetonvalleynews.net/page2/two-popular-hot-springs-now-off-limits/article_6b954510-ed13-11e3-adc6-001a4bcf887a.html

So where do these warm waters halt?  Where they enter Polecat Creek or the Snake River? Nope. I think they halt (people) at Flagg Ranch – where you would park to go to them. So in this solve, my WWWH is Flagg Ranch. Now for “Begin it”. My “it” is the Ashton-Flagg Ranch Road (AKA Reclamation Road; AKA Grassy Lake Road) which starts at the intersection with US Hwy 89/US Hwy 191. For purposes of this write-up, I’m just going to call it the Flagg Ranch Road. All told, BIWWWH looks like this:

And just to give you a wider overview of where we are, we’re south of Yellowstone and north of Grand Teton:

The Word that is Key (Possible CB)

For this solve, the word that is Key is Key, as in Francis Scott Key, who wrote the lyrics that became the Star-Spangled Banner. 

From Wikipedia: “Key was inspired by the large U.S. Flag, (Flagg Ranch?) with 15 stars and 15 stripes, known as the Star-Spangled Banner, flying triumphantly above the fort during the U.S. victory.

FF also hinted at this Francis Scott Key/potential flag connection in TTOTC, in“Important Literature”- “If Robert Redford had ever written anything he probably could have done it better than the guy who wrote that Gatsby book.“ The “guy who wrote that Gatsby book“ would be F. Scott Fitzgerald, who was named after his famous second cousin, three times removed on his father’s side, and whose full name is Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald.

Deep Thinking Logic Clue (Possible CB)

Many have wondered about this ATF comment from FF. I think it relates to his motive to “get kids off the couch and away from their texting machines and out into the mountains. “ There are many places in the mountains where there is no cell service, so it would be hard to narrow the search area much based on this comment alone, but I suspect it’s more rare to be without both service and WIFI wherever these hypothetical kids are staying each night. From the Headwaters Lodge and Cabins at Flagg Ranch website:

And take it in the canyon down

So we’re on Flagg Ranch Road, but where’s our “canyon down”? Here’s where we need to “look at the big picture” and “have the right map”. In this case, the interactive map at www.wilderness.net:

https://umontana.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=a415bca07f0a4bee9f0e894b0db5c3b6

When we follow Flagg Ranch Road towards Ashton, ID (the only way we can go on it), and fill in the borders of the National Parks, you get this…

So we “take it” (Flagg Ranch Road) “in the canyon down” (I.e. down the road through the map canyon). 

Bike Hints

Flagg Ranch Road is part of the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route (section 2):

https://www.adventurecycling.org/routes-and-maps/adventure-cycling-route-network/great-divide-mountain-bike-route/

From TFTW, again in “river bathing is best” FF talks about riding his bike 20 miles to his secret bathing spot.  In ATF comments, on getting to the hiding spot, FF asks, “What is wrong with me just riding my bike out there and throwing it in the ‘water high’ when I am through with it?”

Not far, but too far to walk.

Put in below the home of Brown.

I’ll come back to “Not far, but too far to walk”, but essentially, we’re driving along Flagg Ranch Road towards Winegar Hole Wilderness, my home of Brown. For this clue, I think too many people focus on “Brown” and not enough on “home”. From the wilderness.net map:

So Winegar Hole was designated a wilderness area because it was prime grizzly habitat (North American Brown Bear).  Debate all you want about the capitalization of “Brown” – I’m not going to get into it here.

FF ATF: “The clues did not exist when I was a kid, but most of the places the clues refer to did.” Winegar Hole Wilderness was not a designated wilderness by Congress until 1984.

Logically, I initially found 2 “Put in” locations – the Loon Lake Boat Launch, and the Fish Lake Trailhead, both of which are just south of (below) Winegar Hole Wilderness.

From Flagg Ranch, Loon Lake is 19.5 miles away and Fish Lake Trailhead is 20 miles away – “Not far, but too far to walk.”

These two options to “Put In”are good and it’s possible to make the rest of the poem work with them (I’ll come back to these options later as back up solve possibilities), but there was something about an area just east of Winegar Hole Wilderness that I couldn’t let go of. The rest of the clues (and ATF) worked better – if I could only find a “Put in below” that worked.

Calf Creek/Calf Creek Hill

Before I get into the specifics of the rest of my solve, I want to explain that they evolved somewhat between my initial solve and each of my two successive BOTG trips (3 BOTG total). I’ll try to reference this evolution as I go through the rest of my solve by identifying my thought processes prior to each BOTG.  To do so, I’ll reference each trip as follows:

BOTG #1 – Northern Route to Big Cliff

BOTG #2 – Along the Creek

BOTG #3 – Headstone Check

Put in below the home of Brown

For each trip, my “Put in” remained the same – the trail just east of Winegar Hole Wilderness that led into the Wilderness, but the thought process for my HOB changed.

Prior to BOTG#1, I had actually modified the HOB I listed above (Winegar Hole Wilderness) to Calf Creek Hill itself, though I recognized at the time that Calf Creek Hill as HOB was tenuous at best.  

For Fenn so Loved a Cow (Possible CB)

From “Bessie and Me” in TTOTC:

I think for Calf Creek Hill as HOB, my interpretation was either Brown as the color of the Calf itself (How Now Brown Cow?) or some sort of poop (mudpie) related teenager-esque interpration based on “My mind stays at about thirteen.” from the preface to TTOTC. 

I also got some confirmation from the shadows in the picture on page 28 of TTOTC which were pointed out by charlie on Dal’s site (though he missed the Flag):

https://dalneitzel.com/2017/09/14/the-blaze-4/#comment-384844)

I initially interpreted the “hill” as Calf Creek Hill, but later revised my interpretation to be an elevation map between Flagg Ranch and the turnoff to the Fish Lake Trailhead (identified by the “Flag” and the “Man Fishing”, respectively).  Mapping Flag Ranch Road to the turnoff results in an elevation graph as follows with the car/truck at approximately the parking location by Calf Creek Hill:

Kids have an Advantage ATF (possible CB)

For Calf Creek Hill as HOB, I tied this ATF to the following kids book:

It also works for Winegar Hole Wilderness as HOB:

For each of my two successive trips, my HOB was Winegar Hole Wilderness, but again, still using this trail as my Put in. I’ll detail my change in thought process after I go through BOTG#1, but first, the rest of my initial solve…

From there it’s no place for the meek

In this solve, this is simply the place where you park and get out of your car and go into the wilderness (into prime grizzly habitat).

The end is ever drawing nigh;

From wikipedia: “An example of a draw on a topographical map, and how it would look in the real world. If you are standing in a draw, the ground slopes upward in three directions and downward in the other direction.“

I probably don’t need to point out this relatively obscure geographical feature and FF’s ATF comment about “a comprehensive knowledge of geography”, but here it is for the sake of thoroughness.

This draw also goes to the left (nigh), completing the interpretation of this line in the poem.

There’ll be no paddle up your creek,

Below is a picture of part of Calf Creek (west of the Put in) from Google Earth in June of 2013 (the June/2013 image shows the creek more clearly than the August/2015 image – I’ve been waiting for a Google update for 2018 all year).

In short, Calf Creek is a shallow creek (mostly under 12 inches deep, but occasionally with small pools that might reach 2-3 feet).  In addition, there are many small (4-6 feet) waterfalls as it descends into Yellowstone. It’s certainly not a creek that can be paddled and we are also going downstream.

Just heavy loads and water high. 

There are a few possible interpretations for this line with this solve. On the topographic map, the nearby trail is the South Boundary Trail (Borders bookstore as a hint in TTOTC?) and is designated on the Topo map as a Pack Trail.

Calf Creek eventually continues into Yellowstone and empties into the Fall River, which has a large number of waterfalls (water high). The waterfalls themselves may also be heavy loads (of water) or heavy loads could be the large boulders in Calf Creek itself.

If you’ve been wise and found the blaze,

This is the part of my solve where things become a bit more trial and error. I wrote about my thoughts on breaking this line up into two parts in my “Full Thoughts on Halving the Blaze” post from October/2017 – https://dalneitzel.com/2017/10/11/halving-the-blaze/ which was directly influenced by this solve.

Also around this time, I was trying to explore whether FF would answer (at the Nov 2nd Book signing) if it was now possible to see the TC on Google Earth as I viewed applying the thought process from the post pretty compelling in light of the GE imagery (notice the flat rock with the dark spot in the middle)…

Under this scenario, there would (in theory) be a blaze near the flat rock that couldn’t be seen from GE.

I also considered, further down the creek, the possibility that this cliff/barren area was the blaze. 

Look quickly down, your quest to cease,

With this blaze, the idea would be that TC would be below it, down closer to the creek.

But tarry scant with marvel gaze,

From the June/2013 GE image, there was also an interesting rock formation (tarry scant?) that resembled (from GE at least) headstones.

The zoom.earth view of these rocks also showed an interesting glint, but it’s hard to say for sure what was causing it.

It also seemed that from these rocks, there was the potential for a “marvel gaze” into Yellowstone NP, though BOTG would be needed to confirm.

Paul Harvey Voice: And now… the rest of the Poem

I subscribe to the Lugnutz theory of the rest of the Poem…

Consequently, I don’t think there’s much here with the exception of maybe some legal stuff and one confirmation hint that we’re in the right place.

If you are brave and in the wood

In this solve, this is a line that confirms being in Winegar Hole Wilderness is the correct place (as opposed to further down the creek and into Yellowstone NP or east of Winegar Hole Wilderness closer to Flagg Ranch Road).

“In the wood” relates to the “Wine” part of Winegar with wine being stored/aged in wooden barrels. “Brave” relates to the “gar” part of Winegar and relates to the veterans that made up the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR), described by Wikipedia as follows:

The Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) was a fraternal organization composed of veterans of the Union Army (United States Army), Union Navy (U.S. Navy), Marines and the U.S. Revenue Cutter Service who served in the American Civil War for the United States forces. Founded in 1866 in Decatur, Illinois, and growing to include hundreds of posts (local community units) across the nation (predominately in the North, but also a few in the South and West), it was dissolved in 1956 at the death of its last member, Albert Woolson (18501956) of Duluth, Minnesota. Linking men through their experience of the war, the G.A.R. became among the first organized advocacy groups in American politics, supporting voting rights for black veterans, promoting patriotic education, helping to make Memorial Day a national holiday, lobbying the United States Congress to establish regular veterans pensions, and supporting Republican political candidates. Its peak membership, at more than 490,000, was in 1890, a high point of various Civil War commemorative and monument dedication ceremonies.

Additional TTOTC Hints to this Area (Possible CB)

In “Looking for Lewis and Clark” FF writes the following:

Which, combined, can be mapped as follows:

In “Gypsy Magic” FF writes “The gypsies came through town several times a year in their horse-pulled wagons that had rubber tires.” The story also has the following picture:

Teton Wagon Train & Horse Adventure (http://www.tetonwagontrain.com/) runs multi-day wagon tours along Flagg Ranch Road, with an overnight camping area near Calf Creek.

A Hint from TFTW to this Area (Possible CB)

In “my prehistoric friends” FF includes the following picture of one of his arrowheads.

Looking up the Castroville Point on www.projectilepoints.net reveals that these type of points are found in central Texas. What’s interesting is the listing of similar points:

You can go here: http://www.projectilepoints.net/Points/Calf_Creek.html if you want to read about the Calf Creek Point.

Distances (200 feet/500 feet) and an 80 year old FF

Before BOTG, the final questions are whether our prospective path can feasibly be done by an 80 year old man with a 20 pound pack twice in an afternoon… So how far do we travel on this solve?

With a one way distance of 3,500 feet, the total distance for 2 round-trips from the car is approximately 2.65 miles.

The 200 feet and 500 feet ATF comments are hard to define, but above, for the possible TC on Google Earth, one of the trails is approximately 450 feet to the east, while the pack trail is approximately 150 feet to the south. 

For the interesting rock formation below the blaze, the assumption is that the searchers were on the South Boundary Trail going into Yellowstone towards the Falls River.

@FF: You talkin’ to me? 

AKA The most Confirmation Bias-y thing that that ever Confirmation Biased (and deservedly so, IMO)

I’m sure it will come as no surprise that this relates to FF’s “gut feeling”.

In September of 2017, as I was in the process of developing this solve, I sent the following email to FF:

Obviously, what stands out is my use of “gut instinct” and that I stated I was telling him specifically for his annual update (which I mis-remembered as happening just after New Year’s rather than the actual time of early February.

But what really drives this confirmation bias home is FF’s answer to the first question in the same “Six Questions with Forrest Fenn”.

In a response that only tangentially (IMO) answers the question, he references again (and misspells once), his calf/cow Bessie.

https://mysteriouswritings.com/six-questions-with-forrest-fenn-and-the-thrill-of-the-chase-treasure-hunt-double-charmed/

Since I (spoiler alert!) didn’t find the TC, this is obviously just a coincidence and only served to give me a wicked case of Confirmation Bias, but you’ll never convince me it wasn’t at least justified given the above.

Backup Solves

I mentioned way back towards the beginning that I initially liked Fish Lake Trailhead and Loon Lake Boat Launch as “Put ins” below (south) of Winegar Hole Wilderness and they became backup solves to check out if my primary search area didn’t pan out.  I won’t go into as much detail, but in general, my solves for each were as follows:

Fish Lake Trailhead:

Loon Lake Solve:

The Best Laid Plans

So I’ve got my solve, I’ve got my hints, and I’ve got my ATF interpretations. I’ve got my backup solves. I’ve got my search partners lined up (my Dad and my brother) and we book our BOTG trip for the end of July/early August with 2-3 days of dedicated searching on either side of a drive from Denver, CO (family vacation in the Denver area is the following week).

It is at this point that I see posts from someone else on Dal’s site that led me to believe that they were in my same general area… namely a reference to a bike trail (could it be the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route that I discussed earlier?) and a question about 20 miles (could they be referencing the 20 miles from Flagg Ranch to Fish Lake Trailhead?), along with a direct reference to looking in Yellowstone. My interpretation was that this person was as far as “Put in below the home of Brown” being Fish Lake Trailhead below Winegar Hole Wilderness and that it might only be a matter of time before they started considering Calf Creek/Calf Creek Hill.

Because my wife is awesome and understands that I can be a bit obsessive about things (aren’t we all to a certain extent regarding the Chase?), and maybe because she didn’t want to listen to me worry about someone getting to my area ahead of me for however many months, and maybe because she wanted to do a family vacation to scenic Grand Teton, we booked a short 4-day trip for early June, with a dedicated day for the two of us to search. My in-laws joined us on the trip and wanted to take our two kids to Yellowstone/Old Faithful on our search day. Wins all around!

Full disclosure: that poster has since posted their solve (not on Dal’s) and they were not in the same area. They ended up being further west on a Warm River up to Cave Falls area solve with some dubious (IMO) logical stretches.

BOTG #1 – Northern Route to Big Cliff

We flew into Jackson, WY, landing around 9:00 am, and toured Grand Teton for the rest of the day. The plan was to search on day 2 and we started the day with a huge breakfast at the Virginian before picking up our bear spray and driving up to Flagg Ranch.

At Flagg Ranch, we encountered our first hurdle: a billboard informing us that Flagg Ranch Road was closed after campsite 8. This, despite me analyzing snowpack throughout the winter, and the gauge at Grassy Lake (approximately the midpoint between Flagg Ranch and Calf Creek Hill) being at 0 for 2+ weeks. We elected to drive as far as we could and if the road got bad, we would simply turn around and give up on it as neither of us were interested in getting stuck and hiking out 10 miles back to Flagg Ranch (remember there’s no cell service anywhere nearby). We were, however, in a GMC Yukon, which certainly helped our confidence levels.

At campsite 8, we (don’t tell anyone) moved a few barrels and, with there being no snow to speak of, continued on our way. Approximately a mile past this, we passed someone walking from the other direction, who informed us that he had parked on the far side of the closed section, walked in, and that the road was completely fine all the way to Ashton. We thanked him for the information and continued on to Calf Creek Hill.

What are the Chances? (Or: In which I almost have a heart attack)

As we rounded the corner to our predetermined parking spot by Calf Creek Hill, after seeing/passing only 2-3 other cars on this entire 15 mile stretch of road, we see a jeep and a truck parked in the exact spot we wanted to park and there are four people bustling about by the side of the road. I immediately jump to the conclusion that they’re searchers in my spot, and my wife remains calm and thinks they’re probably there for some other reason.

We drive past them about a mile and park to figure out our next move when another car comes up behind us. It’s a young couple in a Honda Civic that was trying to get through from Ashton, ID to Flagg Ranch/Yellowstone. When they passed the people in my parking area, they saw them loading animal parts and suspected they might be poachers and were trying to get service to call someone to report it.  We advised them that we thought they could get through on Flagg Ranch Road (which is a plus given FF’s “it was a sedan” ATF comment about the vehicle he used while hiding the TC). We turned around and went past the people again and it looked like they were packing up so we parked a little beyond that and waited. The young couple in the Civic eventually drove up and let us know that they had stopped and talked to the people. Apparently, they had just shot a bear and were loading up the carcass (the couple also let us know that they had confirmed it was bear-hunting season – I assume from that it was a Black Bear).

Eventually, the Jeep and the truck leave and we park at our spot to begin our search at about 12:30 in the afternoon. As we started up the hill, we did see what remained of the bear – there wasn’t much – and I didn’t take a picture.

BOTG #1 – The Search Itself

Our route was essentially the one I laid out in above:

We searched where the possible TC from Google Earth was. It was a bush. We searched in and around all the rocks we saw between the parking area, the top of the hill, and as we went towards the area marked “Cliff”.

We did find a “marvel gaze” (this isn’t the best picture):

But unforunately, it was a Cliff and there was no way to reach the headstone shaped rocks:

Some promising spots, but no TC. At this point, at the cliff, it was only around 2:30, but this being her first BOTG and the first for both of us in bear country, and after the internal drama of the bear hunters situation, our nerves were both kind of frayed so we searched as we headed back to the car. I knew that I still had my original trip with my Dad and brother coming up to spend more time searching so I viewed this as a bit of a reconnoitering trip to get the lay of the land.

We did start to head towards the Fish Lake backup solve, but the road was significantly worse than Flagg Ranch Road itself (probably not passable in a sedan unless you subscribe to the textbook dictionary definition that allows for an SUV to qualify as a sedan). After a short distance on the rougher road to the Fish Lake Trailhead and with our aforementioned nerves, I called it off and we called it a day.

Rest of Our Trip

This next bit isn’t search related other than we definitely fulfilled FF’s goal of getting our kids out into the mountains (they’re not old enough for their own phones, so there wasn’t any getting them off their texting machines).  We spent the next day hiking around Grand Teton NP and took a float trip down the Snake River.  The following day, we took the Tram to the top of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, the kids finished up their Junior Ranger booklets and got their badges, and we bought all of our standard magnets/Christmas ornaments/snow globe souvenirs. We didn’t find the TC, but it was a great trip!

Revisions to my Solve Prior to BOTG #2

I mentioned before how I thought Calf Creek Hill as HOB was tenuous. After I got back from my first trip, I looked at some elevation information about Calf Creek itself and made a discovery – on Google Earth, Calf Creek close to Flagg Ranch Road was at a lower elevation than it was as you followed it up into Winegar Hole Wilderness.

And, per GE, it definitely drops back down as CC flows into Yellowstone and merges with the Falls River:

So this change in elevation allows me to use Calf Creek and the nearby trail as my Put In below (at a lower elevation than) Winegar Hole Wilderness, as measured by the elevation of Calf Creek. It also gives me a different possible interpretation of “waters high” – the high point of Calf Creek. Could there be a natural spring there with a stable water level that might account for the TC being wet, but not submerged?  Maybe a grotto type structure with a cooler temperature, making it “worth the cold”?  Or maybe the GE elevation data was just wrong (probably).  But even if it was wrong, we’re still using the poem and a map (even if the map is incorrect).  Also, the cliff above the creek is higher than our starting point so “put in below” could be referring to the start of the trail (which is modestly below the elevation of the trail as it goes into Winegar Hole Wilderness).

Regardless, traveling along the creek and reaching this high point would be the focus of BOTG #2.

Along the creek, we would look for our “blaze” while also considering the possibility of it being a waterfall down in the creek.

Other ATF/Hints for Going Along the Creek

There are multiple self-explanatory items here: “worth the cold” as a hint in the poem to having to walk through cold water and the ATF “I know the treasure is wet” from the NM tourism video. I also think the following quote (image from tarryscant.com) is well-explained with FF creek-walking at some point as he took the TC to its hiding place:

BOTG #2 – Along the Creek

I flew into Denver and took the scenic way up to Jackson Hole, driving over the Snowy Range Scenic Byway through the Medicine Bow National Forest and making stops at Saratoga (Hobo) Hot Springs and the Oregon Trail related sights, Devils Gate (https://www.wyohistory.org/encyclopedia/devils-gate) and Independence Rock (https://www.wyohistory.org/encyclopedia/independence-rock).

I met up with my Dad and brother in Jackson, WY and the next morning, we headed up to Calf Creek after picking up our bear spray. The general plan was to go along the creek, getting in and searching the creek where possibly, and searching the rocky area above the creek as well. The planned path was as follows:

There were a number of waterfalls and we were able to get into and out of the creek between them at times:

Though at other times, the drop off was too steep…

In one spot, there was a pre-attached rope that led to the bottom of the creek, which none of us were able to figure out a reason for it being there (I.e. why would anyone be trying to get to the creek here; other than other searchers obviously).

Along the top of the rocky area, there were a number of potential hiding areas; areas large enough for a body to fit in and surrounded by stones (remember the alleged early draft of the poem with “leave my bones” and hypothesis that the corresponding rhyming word would be “stones”) and with plenty of nooks and crannies to hide the TC.

(Full disclosure – the above pic was actually taken on BOTG #3 as I didn’t do a good job photo-documenting BOTG #2).

But the greatest potential spot was one of these areas that also had a “marvel gaze” – down through the valley and out into Yellowstone itself.

You can’t see it from this picture (and I didn’t take a better one on BOTG #2), but just outside the bottom frame of this picture is a headstone-shaped rock. And down in the creek is a waterfall. We remarked on all of this at the time, but getting down to the headstone-shaped rock was modestly dicey and as, you could see behind it and around the rocks from a different angle, we didn’t go down to actually check out the rock. We all said that this was the perfect spot and we didn’t find a better one further down the creek.

We did end up making it beyond where my wife and I went on BOTG #1, but were still not able to reach the creek bottom below the big cliff. 

On day 2, we looked at the Loon Lake Backup solve, but the woods from the parking lot were too thick and the area surrounding the lake was too marshy. We also looked at the Fish Lake Trailhead backup solve and made it to here:

I wanted to check out whatever weird thing it is I have circled and also get to where Calf Creek first enters the meadow, but what looks like relatively flat ground is actually a wall of ~8 foot high bushes that none of us wanted to fight through, especially given the possibility of unseen bears in them. The ground was also soft/marshy and this was only at the edges.

This isn’t the spot, but is an example of the type of terrain/bushes (thought these are only maybe 1/2 the size of the what we encountered.

Desperate Times

Pre-existing solves exhausted, I came up with an alternative backup solve that put us closer to Grassy Lake with Yellowstone as HOB, the “Put in” as Mountain Ash Creek Trail, “drawing nigh” as a small draw on the left side of the trail heading higher in elevation towards a gravel pit and small pond (“heavy loads and water high”). My “in the wood” interpretation from before becomes leaving Yellowstone and going back into just the National Forest.

It looked nice and there was a small creek running there, but not really ever a “marvel gaze” or any good blazes.

Out of ideas and time, my Dad and brother headed home and I started the drive back to Denver.

300 Miles Later…

I was somewhere around Rawlins, on the edge of the basin, when the doubt began to take hold.

I’m driving along, thinking about my failed solve, when the idea occurs to me that we should have checked that headstone-shaped rock more. What if it is somehow disguising the TC? It did look a bit out of place (whiter) than the surrounding rocks. Maybe it’s buried right underneath it like the dish in “charmay and me” that was hidden under the lid in the floor? What are the odds that a headstone-shaped rock would be in the perfect spot for FF to hide himself and the TC?

(It’s always on the way home that you realize something about your solve that you should have realized before…  It’s inevitable.)

I don’t have time to go back before I’m supposed to meet my family in Denver so I decide to explore it more when I get home and re-evaluate whether it’s worth a trip back to check what is most likely just a rock.

Additional Research and an Unfortunate Lack of Pictures

Unfortunately, I only have the picture of the spot… none of the rock itself. Neither my Dad or brother have a picture of the rock either. But GE provides some additional info. In this image, you can clearly see the waterfall lined up with where you would first spot it (essentially the rock I was standing on to take the picture). And I measured the headstone-shaped rock to the actual trail (topo map on top of GE). In looking at this area, there’s also an interesting squarish shape nearby…

But what probably pushes me over the edge is the distance from the trail…

My wife continues to be awesome/understanding of my need to check this and, coupled with a super-cheap direct flight, I book a quick in-and-out weekend trip to confirm the rock is a rock and there’s nothing under it and then I’ll be done with this solve.

BOTG #3 – Headstone Check

I flew into Salt Lake City early Saturday morning, rented an SUV and drove 4.5 hours to Calf Creek, stopping to pick up bear spray along the way. I got to Calf Creek around 4:15 and was at the headstone-shaped rock by 4:45. Upon seeing it, I was pretty sure it was wrong as it was definitely not as whitish as I remembered.

Nevertheless, I carefully went down and checked it out (it was definitely a rock) and not moving anywhere).  I looked around it and around the nearby rocks again as well.  Nothing. I did also get back down into the creek and attempt again to get to the spot on the creek directly below this point, fighting through these trees/bushes that we skipped last time.

But I called it at the following point as not somewhere a 79-80 year old would go (it’s narrower/steeper than it looks and the water depth in the trench-looking areas is not clear).

I hiked out, drove back to civilization and flew home the next day.

Remember, it’s Inevitable…

Not 3 days later, while double-checking the area around Grassy Lake/Mountain Ash Creek Trail (the “desperation solve” from above), I came up with another solve in the area that I wish I’d checked out – Cascade Creek.

Just west of Grassy Lake is a trailhead for Cascade Creek, also just below Yellowstone (with Yellowstone as HOB, again).

The rest of the clues:

There is even a compelling 200 feet/500 feet interpretation:

But alas, as awesome as my wife is, a 4th trip would have to be summer of 2019 and would require a deft touch to accomplish (flowers, foot rubs, etc.) Let’s call it a long shot at this point and possibly not even worth it (relative to developing a new solve somewhere else and going there).

Conclusion

I’m biased, obviously, because it’s my solve, but I’m pretty proud of the work and thought process that’s gone into this solve and to be honest, I’m still not entirely convinced the TC is not in this area. After three trips, however, I guess I’m convinced enough to be done searching there and either move on to my next solve or call it quits on the Chase (which one probably depends on if I ever come up with another solve that I think is as strong as this one).

Thanks for reading and hopefully I’ve given you some new ideas with my views on the poem.

Also, if anyone has any additional ATF/hints related to this solve (either in support of it or that would rule it out) that I haven’t discussed, I’d appreciate you putting them in the comments. Good luck if anyone wants to re-explore this area or the Loon Lake/Fish Lake Trailhead backup solves or the Cascade Creek solve.

– by FMC

 

 

 

 

 

Again and Again…

By  Diggin Gypsy

I went back to my spot twice in one month. How many of us do that? You drive 1900 miles there and 1900 back, then get home and realize I should of looked under that dang rock lol 😂 

Probably only me. I’m crazy like that.  

So I was walking in a field and and the grass was really tall and tripped across some old metal. It was cool. I grabbed a piece and was gonna take it back to Georgia then my shoe became full of these sand spur like things I turned around to put my foot on a rock and wow there was wire on it like a x and a little piece of wood.

Lol, brave and in the wood.

I really didn’t give it much thought I was only thinking how the spurs hurt And how badly I was gonna feel while dragging that metal back to the truck.

Lol, I think the altitude messes with your thinking process out there.

So we drive back home to Georgia and I start thinking, “could that of been the blaze”? 

Mildew the hat had a covering over a hole with wire and it was like an anchor of some sort, like on Peggy’s swim suit. Well, we drove all the way back and nope it wasn’t under that rock. So we camped at beaver creek campground. It is so peaceful out there. No sounds at all.  Just a moose and baby that roam the woods. I love walking the trails behind the campground. You can find all kinds of cool stuff from the earthquake while looking around Earthquake Lake. We were there August 17 and it was kind of scary staying there on the same date as the earthquake in 1959.  

Walking around I found this old bed stuck in sagebrush. All I could think of was someone sleeping in it that fearful night.

I guess when this guy found it, it was in better shape.

I know many of us have searched Hebgan Lake all the way down to Earthquake Lake many many times. Donna M is one. After you go there a few times you sorta have a connection with that place and all its scattered little treasures.

We camped in front of that cool “F” that hovers over Rock Creek. The “ole coot” said it took him all week to make it, lol. So I searched Rock Creek once again knowing that wasn’t really the blaze but a cool area. 

The creek looks like a waterfall .

I bounce around when I’m out there. To learn the area I take my time and explore and try to see what Forrest would have seen.  

To get cell signal I had to drive to the Earthquake Visitor Center and I would sit by this guy who slept a lot.  I think he is  “Head of the Mountain”, lol.  

I had to go search under his chin  wasn’t there either but that would of been a great blaze I asked the “ole coot”  if that was his lunk headed blaze. He didn’t respond. I guess he didn’t think it was funny.

I explored more with my huge imagination.  I looked over on another mountain and saw a grizz staring at me.   All I could think of was the “ole coot” telling me I was whom the Grizz fears.  

So I went and looked under that grizzly of a mountain. Wasn’t there either. Another good blaze  I left it for others to find.

Here was my search team this year. Me and my sister and nephew sam and my husband John standing with Dal  whom we ran into in town.  We had a great evening with Dal, Kathy and Spalies, all great people to hang around with not just because they will buy your dinner and a good Montana beer, lol. Just “good down home people” as the south would say.

So have at it y’all it’s still out there!

Team Diggin Gypsy

 

 

 

Treasure Quest…Part Three

Treasure Quest
Part 3 – The Blaze
By Lana

The Blaze!
If you’ve made it this far, then yes, the blaze needs its own very section and lots of pictures too!  I first thought the blaze was this amazing spire.  You can see it on a topo map as a circle.  I think it’s too far for Fenn to walk with a heavy pack and one has to walk on talus to get there which I think is too difficult, so I ruled it out.  It’s got great views though.  I even talked to Tom Lucas, western artist and found out he was painting a picture of it!  I had to buy it…..now the painting is in our study 🙂 greeting guests, just begging for the story of the treasure hunt to be told.


Since then I got a lot smarter, or so I thought.  Still dealing with the Vision Quest theme here and more importantly the PETROGLYPHS! I’m sure you have read about the Rosetta Stone from his TOTC book AND mention of the Rosetta Stone in a couple of his interviews?  If you need a refresher here goes.

The Rosetta Stone
1. It is made out of granodiorite which is an igneous rock that is like granite and can be pink or black or white. The Rosetta stone has a streak of pink running through it. Among others, there is a ton of pink and black granite like rock at Torrey Creek at Ring and Trail lakes.

2. It was discovered by a french soldier (like the french soldiers name on the grave Forrest tripped over at the waterfall). On page 94 of TTOTC “A French name and rank was followed by arcing English words across the top.”  Arcing like the complete Rosetta Stone.  The RS discovered by the French but displayed in a museum by the British.  On page 96 of TTOTC Forrest says he was “drawn to that place” and “my body was already tired”.  Page 106 of TTOTC “a bunch of fairies dancing around a rock, if you can believe I’d come to that.”  Fairy: an imaginary magical creature who has the form of a tiny human being.  Like a Tukudeka shamen (Tukudekawere known to be smaller in stature) or spiritual creature, anthropomorph as seen during a vision quest, I thought.

3.  Two scholars, Edward D CLARK and WILLIAM R Hamilton examined the Rosetta Stone a similarity to Lewis and Clark and the Corps of Discovery. Searching or Looking for William and Clark anyone?

4. As wikipedia puts the Rosetta Stone “It proved to be the key to deciphering Egyptian hyroglyphs.” Glyphs as in petroglyphs? Pictures that mean words and tell a story? I thought so.

5. The RS was found broken.  The original stone would have had a rounded top (like the French soldiers grave) and according to Wikipedia “there would probably have been a scene depicting the king being presented to the gods, topped with a winged disc”


Ok I tried to find a petroglyph that looked most like the stone and I came up with this that is about 500 feet from the road. Compare the complete Rosetta Stone and the glyph I found to somewhat match it, and tell me honestly, what you think.


I see  a winged anthropomorph of an owl and also a king or a shamen on top on it that appears strikingly similar to the wikipedia description of what the Rosetta stone might have looked like before being broken. Pretty darn close…..

6. Check out this next picture of a petroglyph and you will see a woman pointing at a glyph. This pic is used by the museums to promote their local glyphs and guides of the glyphs. Do you see how she is wearing a hat, has a stick and is facing left? OK, so now look directly below where her stick is pointing on the waist of the image of the person on the glyph. There is a weiner dog on the Shaman’s waist, like a belt, with round feet also facing left. She’s pointing to the weiner dogs ear!

Now look at the mandrake photo. A guy in a hat, pointing to the left with a stick and a weiner dog…crazy eh? I thought I was so onto something LOL!  Even the Egyptian kings were pictured with staffs aka sticks!

I thought I was so onto something LOL!  Even the Egyptian kings were pictured with staffs aka sticks!

Don’t forget, there’s also Skippy holding a rock very similar in shape and size to the Rosetta Stone on page 56 of TTOTC.


7. I thought about this for a long time and then I reread the chapters where it says to touch art, George Washington on the nose. Petroglyphs used to be called Rock “Art”……Page 111 of TTOTC “It’s an Indian” and “It’s an art”….and “cold to the touch”.  On page 112 “by touching it I could imagine, in some small way, that I was also part of that company.”  Page 113 “why I wanted students to touch George Washington….In doing so the painting (art) might provide another dimension (like a vision quest), one that is not available to the eyes (as in vision) alone.” Then I looked back at the picture of the petroglyph above that looks like the Rosetta Stone with the lady pointing with the stick and noticed that if you followed the crack on the Petroglyph down on the right hand side of the rock, just below and to the left of the lady’s right knee (with grass growing out of hole) on the pictures above there was a stone that was about 12″ tall and 6” wide that if it pulled out like a drawer would have a secret compartment (now I’m really imagining like Indiana Jones) where the treasure could fit on it’s side! Also the description of the Rosetta Stone by wikipedia says it has a “diagonal break at the bottom right of the stone”. The crack shadow also looks like a horizontal key shape.


8. That glyph, my blaze theory, is almost exactly 500 feet from the road!  Tea with Olga chapter “sacred old mountain” and “aspen groves” and “aromas of sage and juniper” and “chipmunks scurried all around” (tons of chipmunks along Torrey Creek) and in Flywater chapter “there were many moments to remember like the time I sat under a tree on the …River and watched the osprey dive for fish”.  There are many osprey nests on Torrey Creek  See the picture below and find a nest in a tree top and also in a rock cave. On page 125 “moose and a calf that just came out of the tall pines to feed on the water grasses downstream”, there are moose in Whiskey Basin….

Um yea…so this is where I drop the hunt and give up.  I went and searched this glyph and the surrounding area a few times with my family with no such luck finding Fenn’s cleverly concealed blaze nor chest.  The chest continues to elude discovery.  I think I’m an expert in locating most of the glyphs along Torrey Creek now – LOL.  I’ve got a lot of pictures of amazing petroglyphs on my phone and amazing memories that mark these last 3 years.

I’ve seen many, many animals and I’ve learned about the history of this area and of the Tukudeka people.  For this quest I am very thankful for Forrest’s clever puzzle poem, the thrill of the chase, for the blogs, the people who continue to dedicate themselves to this quest, all the people I’ve met en route, and for all my wonderful experiences.

So, after 3 years of searching and countless hours dedicated to the search, and since I couldn’t find the chest along Torrey Creek, at the Vision Quest site, I can finally come forth and admit that yes, this solve is most likely wrong.  So I’m throwing in my hat.  By typing up all of this, I hope in some small way, I can help contribute by perhaps tipping off someone to get them thinking of something new perhaps to find that darn chest for Forrest, so he has closure.

If you would like to chat about this particular treasure solve, email lana at busybeedogs dot com as I’m no longer dedicated to the blog in my decision to bow out of the search.  Thank you for taking time to read this and good luck in your “quest” to find Fenn’s Treasure.

– by Lana, blog handle, thrillseekeranimallover, over and out of the hunt as I’VE done it tired and now I’M weak.

Go Back to Part One