Watching Phillystone……


BY FORREST and Kieran


Kieran is about to embark on a great adventure. He’s going to be posting updates on his Instagram (@k.w.shields) as he travels and he’d love it if other treasure hunters could follow him and maybe even meet some of them along the way. Here’s an email I received from him. Good luck Kieran, and please stay safe on the road and in the mountains. f

Hello Forrest!

My name is Kieran Shields and I’ve solved your riddle. I’m sure you know where you hid your own treasure so I won’t bother trying to explain your own clues to you but your poem was so beautifully crafted! I’m 19 and I’m from just outside Philadelphia Pennsylvania; I don’t have a car so my friend and I are setting out on an adventure to ride our bikes from Philly to Yellowstone to retrieve the treasure. Right now we’re trying to get some supplies together so our bikes don’t fall apart while we’re rushing to the park but we would love to meet you in Yellowstone and go to the treasure with you! If you can’t make it we’re planning on retrieving the treasure and riding our bikes to Sante Fe to meet you. Even if I’m wrong about the treasures location I want to thank you for inspiring me to go on this crazy adventure!!

Thanks for being an adventurer, Kieran.

Search Results Near Yellowstone……

by Ron Conley

I recently got back from a week in the Yellowstone area with my son, son-in- law and 3 grandsons.  We had a great time despite the rainy weather some of the time.  We did horseback riding, white water rafting, fly fishing in Yellowstone, spent two days searching for the treasure and toured Yellowstone for a full day at the end of the week.  We each had our bear spray, satellite SOS device, walkie-talkies, and even a hunting knife as the weapon of last resort -yeah, like that would have really worked.  We even had a doctor with us.  My Son is an Emergency Room doctor that has served in Haiti after the earthquake and as Head of the Mass Trauma Unit in Kandahar, Afghanistan.  We were prepared!!

 This will make four days that I have searched this area including when my wife and I did an initial recon last October for two days and this past week’s search.  In our Chevy Suburban (4WD) rental, we began at WWWH, drove past the “Home of Brown”, past where there’s “no place for the Meek”, parked our car just like Fenn would have done and trekked into the “wood”, up a creek without a “paddle” and with heavy loads above.  Nearly 78 years young and with a 20-pound backpack on, I limited it to where Fenn could have gone twice in an afternoon.  Between the six of us, we covered a lot of area.  If I recall, Fenn once said that children would likely have a better chance of finding the treasure than an adult.  Humm, is that a clue?  Well, I can tell you that the area we searched was a kid’s playground.

No, we did not find it, but it sure looked like the most likely place Fenn would hide a treasure.  It was an area where I would lay my bones.  As Fenn said, “the mountains are my church”.  The sun came out the second day and everything was gorgeous.  Alpine meadows of wild blue flowers sprinkled with yellow set against the tall green pines and grey boulders under a clear blue sky.  Everything seemed so brilliant and full of life.

All six of us climbed up nearly 6 or 7 hundred feet the first day and determined that even though it was a fantastic day in the mountains with unbelievable views, it wasn’t a place where Fenn would have gone twice in the afternoon.  So, after the six of us had thoroughly scoured the mountain side and with my strength beginning to wane, we ruled out that area and zeroed in on the most promising area for the second day.  After a long and treacherous drive over heavily rutted and muddy roads back to our motel, we all sat down to diner and discussed what we would do the next day.  Everybody slept soundly that night.

At a lower altitude on the second day we climbed over boulders and tree stumps for hours looking for the treasure.  It seemed that around every turn there was a place where the chest could have been hidden.  So many places begged an invitation for inspection.  If I had been a teenager in the 40’s and my Father was fishing nearby, I would have explored every nook and cranny of this place with my brother.  We could have easily walked right by the treasure and not known that it was within a few yards.  I was a little worried that we might encounter snakes or other nasty critters when looking into dark crevices, but luckily none appeared.  The boys used their flashlights and poked into small places with their walking sticks that they fashioned from fallen limbs.  The most dangerous animal we encountered was a chipmunk as it ran across our path.

We did find a recent kill by a bear.  By the looks of it, my son said that it was probably a few days old.  It was hard to tell what kind of an animal it was since it was scattered and torn up so much.  We didn’t investigate too closely or hang around that spot too long.  We “tarried scant”.  The area was littered with sheep and elk droppings as well as animal bones scattered in a few places.  Some of the bones were pretty big but looked suspiciously placed.  Almost as if someone had put them there.  Anyway, the kids got a kick out of that.

We actually found a “Blaze”, but not the type that I thought it could be.  We were looking for some kind of blaze coloring on a rock or some kind of Indian petroglyph that Fenn would have found.  Then my Son called me over and pointed it out to me.  I said, “Wow, yeah that could be it”, but there was no treasure box to be seen unless we just overlooked it.  There were a hundred nearby places where the treasure could have been hidden.  The blaze will still be there in a hundred or more years unless someone destroys it.

There have been two things in life that seem to have fascinated Fenn – Indians & Fish.  This area seemed to satisfy both.  I encouraged the boys to look for arrow heads, but none were found.

There was one spot that could have fit the “worth the cold” clue.  We found a downward, opening recess in the side of a hill big enough for a person to enter.  It led sharply down for just a short distance (not a cave) where we could go in and inspect with our flashlights.  But the interesting aspect was that the air must have been at least 20 degrees (or more) colder.  Humm.  Anyway, there was nothing that we could see that looked like a chest.

I don’t think at this time that I will return, but just in case that the bug gets to me in the future, I’m keeping my solve to myself.  In the meantime, I’m going to closely review all my photos and videos to see if anything shows up.  I even flew a drone over the area and recorded some nice scenes; but the bottom line with a drone is that it is useless in finding the treasure.  It might make an entertaining video on UTube, but that’s about all.

At the end of the second day, I discretely deposited between a couple of rocks some fake gold coins and colored glass beads that I had carried with me.  I then called the boys over and declared that I found something.  The boys came over, looked at me and said, “are you kidding.  Did you just put them there?”.  So much for my surprise.

My first attempt with the drone on day 1 was less that professional.  I tried to use the DJI Goggles with my Phantom 4 Pro Plus, but the goggles locked up on me after a minute and I had to rely on the remote built in viewing screen.  At one point I thought I lost it and couldn’t visually locate the drone.  I then initiated an automated “Return to Home” sequence.  The drone was out of sight, approaching 400 ft altitude and maybe a half mile away.  Then, the drone failed to respond, and it wasn’t coming home.  Well, I could feel panic beginning to set in.  The drone was nowhere to be seen and it wasn’t doing what I expected or at least what the manual said would happen.  I could see that this was a recipe for disaster and mucho bucks down the drain.  If you have ever piloted a plane, then you know that it’s easy to get lost if you’re only VFR qualified and can’t see any recognizable landmarks.  Try that while looking at a 5-inch screen on the remote controller and the only thing you can see are acres of green trees.  Then superior navigational skills kicked in and I maneuvered the drone so I could see a few landmarks and managed to safely land it back to where it initially took off.  The second day I was much more with it.  Goggles and drone worked flawlessly. I did discover one thing.  If you ever fly one of these drones with the DJI goggles, use the gimbal tracking mode that will slew the drone as you turn your head.  Using the camera gimbal mode as I initially did can be confusing since the drone direction and camera are not in sync.  Using the gimbal tracking mode is more like driving the drone.  It goes where you point your head.

I did make a movie about my recon last October, but it’s for family only since it reveals my search location.  Everyone got a kick out of it.  Maybe the Grandchildren will look on it in future years and remember Papa and Nana.

I often ask people “what is your most valuable asset?”.  Few know the answer.  I then tell them “Time is you most precious asset.  Time is like water.  Some people just let it run through their fingers while others try to drink every drop.”
I’ve included a few photos of our trip.

Good hunting, Ron Conley

An Aussie Gives it a Go……

by JIM


On June 6th this year I made my first BOTG search, and I was surprised at what I found at my final destination. Similar to another searcher who recently posted their story, I travelled to Montana from Australia, specifically the city of Newcastle in New South Wales. You have to be very committed and confident to sign up for 30 hours of travel and a few thousand dollars in costs but my research was solid, ticked many boxes and was unique so I thought it warranted a try.

I highly doubt I will be coming back so I hope that some of my ideas may help someone else out in their search… here goes…

Like many searchers before me my WWWH began as the Boiling River, or Mammoth Hot Springs and later La Duke Hot springs. Other searchers have made many connections with Rooster Cogburn, the Sherriff, Marion Morrison from scrapbooks and interviews. The line of the poem “So hear me all and listen good” could be a hint at John Wayne’s quote “Listen up and listen good”. I haven’t read any further references to link that “Duke” is a nickname for John Wayne.

La Duke Hot Springs is just up the road from Gardiner and there used to be a large hotel and baths on the site utilizing the warm waters for travellers coming to visit Yellowstone or workers at the coal mines in Aldridge. You could consider a hotel a stop or a halt. There was also a train stop here, also called a halt.

Here’s the thing though, I don’t think WWWH is any of these. I used these locations to direct me to my HOB and blaze, but my logic took me down a different path for WWWH. I had found a map of every hot spring in the USA. They do not halt at the Yellowstone caldera, they go all the way up through Canada. In my opinion WWWH is not a hot spring. Forrest has stated that several people have solved the first two clues without realising their significance. Several. However 1000’s of people use a hot spring or Madison River confluence or the New Mexico fishing regulations as their WWWH, not several. So the correct answer must be something more obscure. I was sure that my blaze was correct though and so I considered the most obvious nearby canyon and looked at what was at the start of that canyon to see if it could relate to Warm Waters.

So I typed into google Warm Waters Jardine. And this was the first result. Warm Waters by Charles Lloyd. 

I freaked out, because on the very first day I started researching the chase this information crossed my path. I had tried finding lyrics and buying the album but it didn’t seem to be significant or connected to the treasure. However why when I added Jardine to warm waters did this album pop up again? Well, Al Jardine from The Beach Boys sang on the first song and on the Wikipedia page his name is in the first paragraph. Previously Forrest has said that a detailed map and good knowledge of geography will help find the treasure and I think this fits. If you know that there is a small town called Jardine near Yellowstone you might notice that name Al Jardine. The album was recorded in Malibu and Forrest’s plane was a Piper Malibu…. this is most likely nothing but an interesting connection none the less. I am not sure how “halt” fits in. Perhaps the name Al is in the word halt? Perhaps it is “warm waters salt” referencing the Beach Boys. I couldn’t find the lyrics to the song Warm Waters, maybe it is something to do with the last word, words or line.

Here is another important concept that helps explain why WWWH is so important. When Mr Fenn started this chase he knew exactly where he wanted to die and hide the chest. It seems to me all of the clues are reverse engineered, i.e. he wrote the last clue first and worked backwards to the starting point. Since he has stated the WWWH is the first clue, it would make sense this is the last clue he wrote. This means it would also be the hardest and vaguest because he could get more specific as the clues progress in the poem.

So let’s now really give my answers for the clues and hints – 

Yes, Forrest went alone to hide his treasure. 

A weir is a name for a low dam on a river and I think his secret weir is a spot on the Yellowstone River that has two slight dams that at different river heights trap trout in pools that allow for awesome fishing.

WWWH is Jardine for reasons already detailed. Start there and go down the canyon. It is about 3 miles until you get to a small put in overlooking the canyon and Joe Browns mining claim and house. Joe Brown lived in Cooke City and Gardiner but also lived on his claim.

From there head to Bear Creek/Bear Gulch, you can’t be meek trekking in a place with bears, you must be brave. Possible reference to Joe Meek but meek isn’t capitalised in the poem, so perhaps just a subtle hint.

Look to the nigh side of the creek and nigh side of the river. This is the left side when looking down stream.

No paddle up the creek, you are going down Bear Creek, not up and you will be walking.

There was heavy lode mining done here, look at the high water mark. And this is what you will see.

When Mr Fenn was 16, Forrest and Donnie went looking for Lewis and Clark on horseback and Forrest’s horse’s name was Lightning. Here is a picture from The Thrill of the Chase, as you can see Lightning’s blaze is a perfect match to the marking on the mountainside.

Look down and to the nigh side of the Yellowstone River from where the blaze is and you will see the tarry scant. A “scant” is a masonry term for a large rock cut down vertically on both sides to the bedrock.

There have been quite a few searchers that have mentioned this general area and the blaze but none went to the other side. This makes sense of Forrest’s comments that people have been within 200 and 500 feet of the treasure, they simply haven’t crossed the river.

Most people go searching for the chest in June and July during summer vacations, but this is when the Yellowstone River is running very high from the snow melt and getting across is very hard. However if you are at this spot in September the river is low and there is an easy way across. Forrest having grown up around this area would know this.

For my journey I chose a different route. Jeff Murphy’s path took him to Turkey Pen Peake, and I saw that if I followed the same trail I could reach my destination without crossing the river. This confused me because I had always believed the chest would not be on BLM, NPS, Indian, federal or private land. It made more sense to be public land due to the legalities of finding lost/abandoned property. The trail starts in Yellowstone National Park so I found a map of the park to check the borders.  

And this is what I found. The scant is this tiny piece of land just outside of the park. Only this little area is outside, and it is only noticeably outside if you zoom in closely. This fishing spot/treasure spot/ grave spot is the perfect place outside the laws reach for Forrest to be able to fish without the NPS rules and for the treasure to be left and recovered. (The green area is NPS land, the lighter area is Public land)

As for Forrest leaving the treasure, back in 2009/2010 when he hid the chest, you used to be able to walk about 3 miles from Gardiner around the cliffs on another trail. This has since been closed due to land owners complaining about trespassers (probably searchers to be honest). I believe Forrest walked this route and crossed the river late August/ early September.

Lastly I think the twin Omegas are a hint at the Roosevelt Arch at the north entrance of the park. You can look at the gate as both one enormous omega, but also the smaller doors on each side also look like omegas.

So I arrived at my parking spot around 8am on Wednesday the 6th June and started my 3 mile hike. It was a beautiful day and straight away I saw some Pronghorn a little way off the trail.

It was definitely weird being alone in totally foreign wilderness with no gun, only bear spray and plenty of wildlife around. The noticeboard at the trailhead had mentioned a bear had been sighted in the area a couple of weeks earlier and this was confirmed by these tracks I found only a few hundred feet along the trail.

I kept hiking, talking to myself to make noise and before long turned the corner around the hill to catch the first sight of the blaze.

The hike to the spot only took around 30 minutes and upon arrival the river was in full roar. 

This is exactly where I thought Forrest had hidden the treasure. You can see a large boulder that appears to have an alcove or space behind it that could hide the chest and keep it out of direct view of people and google earth.

The actual area is an awesome secluded spot, off the trail, plenty of animal bones and fresh scent around. You could easily imagine setting up camp here and fishing for days, away from the crowds, and the law. I carefully descended to the ledge and large boulder I believed the chest to be hidden behind and this is what I found.

I searched in and around this pile to no avail. Those big rocks are about the size of an office desk, not easily moved. There were a lot of spider webs around, and potentially rattlesnakes so I didn’t really want to stick my hand inside too much.

It didn’t make sense. I had checked multiple satellite imagery sites and all of them had the boulder vertical and intact. I know that google earth is only updated every now and then (over my house is about 5 years old) however the cliff face was old and weathered, and didn’t look like there was a freshly exposed area to suggest that the cliff had partially collapsed.

It almost looks like the boulder had been recently destroyed/broken/exploded by human intervention.

I searched all around the ledges, on the scant, around the water’s edge but found nothing.

Now we have all heard many times people saying the treasure has been found. In my opinion this is the correct spot that Forrest left the chest. Maybe I am simply gifting the chest to someone else who will travel here in the future because it is still there and I just couldn’t find it. I didn’t take a metal detector with me and couldn’t check the rock pile thoroughly. It could also be that someone found the chest and in the process broke the large boulder. It was heart breaking to walk away, but it was awesome fun searching. 

On the way back I nearly stepped on a young Bull Snake or Rattlesnake, had a small herd of Pronghorn sniff me up and down and saw a grizzly about 500 metres (1/4 mile) away scratching on a tree. I have video of him but not a very clear photo, I didn’t really want to hang around.

So many memories, cool people met, great local beers consumed and no regrets. Hope you enjoy reading my story as much as I did living it.


Harnessing A Force of Nature……

by Jamescastellaw1685


If you believe you have a good solve, and a plan. Please stop reading, and just go about your business. If you would like to skip to the end, please read on, if you so dare. I’ve left out much of the details and how many of the stories and scrapbooks pertain to the correct path, but you will probably figure out a bunch of them with a little digging and imagination… just take a look, and try not to get excited. I will provide my journals (emails) to Fenn over the course of the last year, on my website ( …coming soon), on a gradual basis. Mr. Fenn has taught us mountains, and I like to use some things from his playbook: immaculate grammar and spelling does not allow for imagination or poetic license, it’s like looking at the exact same painting style from every artist. Please forgive me, I rarely go back and edit, so there will probably be some happy little mistakes…

I have yet to see the chest or touch it, though I have a good idea of where it may be. I leave these truths to be self evident, I have studied this Gordian Knot, and about to pull out the pole pin.

I hope for the best for all involved, please allow me to cut to the chase:
Just about a year ago, I was roped into something very special, and consuming. It all started with the last half of an Expedition Unknown segment, then my curiosity and the challenge. I mulled over that poem for a couple of weeks, thought like many I had a good idea and then a plan was set. We’d drive for a couple of days out to Yellowstone, take in the sights, and find that darn chest. Not only was my first inclination totally wrong, someone had already been there! My partner urged me that evening to not give up, we had come so far, see what else you can come up with in the area, she said. So I went back to my “warm waters halt” ideas, and found one I couldn’t shake. You see, below Yellowstone lake there’s warm water that is stifled, there’s a heck of a canyon down river, and there’s an Artist’s point, where an architectural painter by the name of Grafton Tyler Brown did a painting of the lower falls. But what really got my attention, as I looked over the satellite map, a small horseshoe shaped pond in the woods just south west of the point. This was just going off some logic… worth a shot.

The next morning, we took some pictures with the falls, peeled away from the crowd and made our way clockwise up the hills to check out this little unique pond. Huffing and puffing like a couple of low land easterners, we finally arrived at the hidden clear water gem. As I inspected the end of the peninsula jutting into the reservoir, I found a piece of cloth. Appeared to be an old white halter top, full of holes. It had definitely been there more than a few years. Just then, my ever beautiful and ever observant wife proclaimed she spotted something behind me, a bottle! Not just any bottle, it turned out to be a L-G 1934 milk bottle, in great condition. People shouldn’t litter!…Now how do you suppose that got there? …I had a pretty good idea.

You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have. -Maya Angelou

Everything about this bottle was a clue.

After searching all around the surrounding area, and even flying back on a return trip, with some new ideas. I thought I had reached the end of my treasure hunt, that was far from the truth. I had yet to use much of my imagination, or that bottle. On that return trip I stayed in Gardiner Montana, because of the cheaper rates and close proximity. I learned that Gardiner has an unexpected “I” in its name, and it was the end stop on one of the steam locomotive lines. But a few things caught my eye on the drive down to the falls area. The swimming hole just south of the park entrance. And who would say halt, but a Gard. The town of Mammoth, which just happened to be the seed of coming national parks, and all those Brown signs within them… What animal was Bigger and Brown, than a mammoth (no see hair? nose hair! my favorite clue/ interview haha!). There was also the Liberated felt cap in Mammoth, and further down the canyon something really got my goat. There was a pull-off parking spot for the Sheepeater cliff area just down from where a coyote camp used to be. Sounded like no place for meek sheep or bananas to me (who says baaa? …and na, na,…no, no…, think like this, and you will see through the vale).

A bell, a cowboy, and his dog…

When I returned home, I dug further into all this mounting evidence and started to build my case. Now I’m no detective, but I was refusing to give up this chase case, much to my wife’s dismay. As I started to notice such things on the map, as the Obsidian lake, which fed a little creek that eventually emptied into the Gardner right where I started looking. Of which, with a little imagination, just happened to look like the profile of a big head with a load on his mind. Then on the other side of the river, just to the north east, trees in the shape of a huge hat! I would come to learn, the Obsidian from just south of there, has been found all across the US. Even hundreds of pounds over a thousand miles away before Indians had horses, some found in the Ohio mounds. Seems like something Forrest would have  to mention… unless he didn’t want to draw attention. I also read somewhere, after the fire in ’88 there were scientists from the Denver museum out there making observations above the obsidian cliff. How convenient, If you needed to hitch a ride…

Just enough to stay hidden, what a beautiful work of art!  Hat’s off to mother nature! lol

After several more trips, my attention was to take a monumental turn. I began to notice a very big picture, and figures appeared  in the new trees from above. The floating hat guy was just the beginning, there was a huge chess piece to be seen, the head of a horse, Pegasus? Secretariat? Ralph Lauren? Polo?. Off of his nose, a crescent moon, a dove made from the wide shallow falls. A little cowboy, a dog at his side, and just above his head, the shape of a bell! A beautiful ode to Mr Sloan, there was no more doubt in my mind anyway, I was in the correct area. My attention then turned to the natural spring along the crescent, water flowed from high above. Then looking on down river, the possible appearance of a little man with an ax on his shoulder, a possible stump below him, and a large frog to his west. Mother natures wonders never cease! Below these figures, back to the south towards the big hat, along the river’s edge, sails topped with a skull.

More than impressed with the scope of things, a large buffalo to the west, a small chicken under him, a bear face or two to the north, a possible cat up there too. And there very well may be more, but this is where I will stop. I have tried the obvious and not so much. Hopefully this will take the chase a giant leap forward, level the field, perhaps. More like presenting you where the field is. It very well may be found this summer, time will always tell. I am content, for it is not in my nature to seek out fame and fortune. Believe I have gotten y’all most of the way there, and as odd as it may seem, I shall let the glory go to the one who can finish it. I love a challenge, I love the infinite possibilities, and I love the great outdoors, and that is plenty for me. Please be careful if you explore, nature is not forgiving, though personally I see no better place to go, this I know. Yes, for me it was the hunt I sought, and not the quarry. From a disaster, they found opportunity in those twisted pines. My guess is, they don’t ask you many questions, when you volunteer to replant a forest..

May you all find inspiration and peace within your travels.

Please obey The law, don’t do any digging, it’s not allowed or needed, I believe. Stay away from steep grades, high water, and anything else that might kill you. Show respect for the natural environment, and each other. If you get the place shut down or cause forrest to call it off, well that’s on you… and take a kid fishing. Tip your waiters and waitresses at least 20%, and the same for that dude that gave you 90% of the solve, that would be fair in my eyes. And if you don’t get it done within the next 2 months to 2 years, I will come back and quite possibly walk off with it, in short order (I’d like to invite Cynthia and Cowlazars to join me…). 10% would go to my veteran buddy next door, 10% to my old uncle who kept me straight, that old guy has some great stories too… sometimes the story, is worth more than the object… and may wonders never cease! Butterflies and life are fleeting, but maybe a family’s story is worth more than what’s in a box?

P.S. -My original plan, if I found it, was to go to one of those Carvana vending machines, pick out a nice ride, and “OH! Look what came with my car!” but then I remembered, some people have put a lot more time an effort into all this, and I kinda hope one of those veterans in this chase, will see this solve for what it is and finish it.

Man has responsibility, not power.-TUSCAR


My 10,000 Mile Boots On The Ground Adventure……

by RockLicker61


Well OK, it was only actually 9,800 miles door to door, but unless someone from South Africa has gone searching I think I can still claim the unenvied title of Furthest-Travelled Failed Searcher.

For me this craziness started after reading a news story in March 2018. It was a day that I couldn’t be bothered doing any work, so I found myself digging around the blogs and forums and I was quickly hooked.

Within a couple of days I had the basis of my solve sorted out, then it was refined and strengthened over the next couple of weeks to what you will read today. The solve builds on the work of others to narrow down the WWWH starting point, but I’m presenting a couple of (possibly) new ideas on some lines of the poem, particularly the blaze, so hopefully you may both enjoy the story and get something useful out of it.

In its simplest interpretation this solve doesn’t rely on any information you can’t find on a good map, but a small amount of googling and a bit of geographical knowledge help firm things up. Unlike many solves people come up with, I had this one down to a fairly specific area months before I put boots on the ground. This was by necessity – I’m a New Zealander living in Perth, Western Australia, so if I was going to invest (haha!) a few thousand dollars into getting to the Rockies I couldn’t afford to be going on a hunch.

But I’d just sold my trusty old pickup so I had some play money lying around, and I have a very understanding wife! In early May I found myself setting off for the 39 hour journey to Bozeman Montana. There I rendezvoused with one of my brothers who lives in Phoenix and couldn’t say no to this sort of adventure.

So armed with a healthy dose of jet lag and a can of bear spray, this is our chase…

Begin it where warm waters halt,
And take it in the canyon down
Not too far, but too far to walk
Put in below the home of Brown

This simply follows the popular solve starting where the warm Gardiner River meets the cold Yellowstone River at Gardiner Montana, then following the Yellowstone River down to the Slip and Slide Boat Ramp near the end of Joe Brown creek.

From there it’s no place for the meek

This boat ramp is used by rafters and kayakers to access the white-water rapids in Yankee Jim Canyon – definitely no place for the meek.
A less obvious interpretation is that this canyon was a stumbling block for Joseph Meek in his early exploration of the area (though this obviously requires knowledge beyond the scope that Forrest Fenn says is necessary).

The end is ever drawing nigh

This refers to the bottom of Sphinx Creek, the first feature we come to down-stream, and there’s a few ways of looking at it:
The flowing creek is continuously ending as it reaches the river.
The word “drawing” could be used because the bottom of Sphinx Creek is in a draw (also known as a re-entrant outside of the USA), which is a steep-sided gully.

Also, it’s on the left, and numerous people have asserted that nigh is an archaic word for left, though I haven’t found any solid references for this.

There’ll be no paddle up your creek
Just heavy loads and water high

Sphinx Creek is merely a trickle, even when we visited during the melt in May, so you won’t need a paddle.

The second line defines the bottom and top of the creek as we go up it.

Heavy loads describes the bottom of the creek which crosses the Old Yellowstone Trail and where the railway line used to go.

The top of the creek is a perched lake (high water) called Yankee Jim Lake.

So we head up the creek all the way to the lake.

Fresh bear tracks of different sizes were dotted all the way up Sphinx Creek – a bit worrying for us as we’d never had to deal with bears before!

If you’ve been wise and found the blaze. Look quickly down

OK, here’s where it gets interesting.

Notice the past tense on this sentence – in my opinion you have to have already been wise and found the blaze before you get there. In this case that’s because you can’t actually see it from the lake at the top of the creek.

So to find the blaze, you need to know where to look.

Have you noticed the red magnetic declination lines on the map provided in Where Warm Waters Halt? I find them odd because they’re a bit ugly, and many versions of the map have removed them for aesthetic reasons. But what are they for? It’s not normal to have these lines on a simple schematic map like this. Magnetic declination is used when you’re using a compass bearing – the lines tell you what the correction is between true north and magnetic north is at a particular spot. The presence of the magnetic declination lines is telling me that you need to use some sort of compass reading, or at least a general bearing to some remote feature in your solve.

So what is the blaze?

If you look on a map about 6.5 miles / 11 kilometres to the south west of Yankee Jim Lake, you find Shooting Star Mountain.

Shooting stars blaze across the sky, and you have to look quickly to see them.

Forrest has mentioned that it would be possible to remove it the blaze, but not feasible. I know from experience in the mining industry that removing the top of a mountain is definitely possible, but you have to have a good reason to do so to make it feasible.

But you can’t see Shooting Star Mountain from the top of Sphinx Creek, it’s hidden by the ridge on the other side of the valley. Luckily there are high points all around Yankee Jim Lake, but for this solve, you need to be “wise” and move clockwise around the lake.

A drone photo of Yankee Jim Lake, looking roughly north west, with the high point where you can see the blaze on the left

As you reach the highest point on the south-west side, Shooting Star Mountain just peeks into view above the ridge.

Another drone photo, with the high point in the foreground and Shooting Star Mountain peeking just above the ridge, slightly left of centre of the photo

I was 99% sure I’d be able to see Shooting Star Mountain from this high point as I’d used the 3D view in Google Earth and a viewshed analysis in QGIS to verify this beforehand. Still, it was a massive relief when we reached the top and Shooting Star Mountain just came into view!

Look quickly down your quest to cease

When you’re at the top of the hill and the blaze has come into view, then look down and you see a series of rock faces below you.

But tarry scant with marvel gaze
Just take the chest and go in peace

And this is where this solve joins the long list of failures!

It was a beautiful spot, with sweeping views of the valley dotted with lakes and meadows framed by distant mountains.

The view from the solve location – a fitting spot for a final resting place

We searched all along the rock faces, covering everything up to 200 feet away from the peak (in reference to the 200 feet that Forrest says searchers have been within). There were plenty of perfect little hiding places, but alas, no chest.

One of the many chest-sized nooks in the rock faces

The original solve was a bust, but I knew that I had to get closure and I had to exhaust all options before we left Montana. So, on the second day of our trip we searched all of the rock faces between the top of the creek and high point from the first solve, thinking I may have misinterpreted how to use the blaze reference.

My brother left to go back to work the next morning, but I spent that third day searching the main peak of Sphinx Mountain, and all of the rock faces on the south west side facing the blaze. Again, I found many amazing spots with beautiful views over Yankee Jim Lake, and lots of potential hiding places, but no chest.

The view over Yankee Jim Lake during the third day of searching

Our (approximate) search coverage around Yankee Jim Lake

So I go in peace, having spent an awesome couple of days hiking in Montana with my brother. We found some amazing spots, plenty of fresh bear tracks, and walked away with a couple of deer antlers as trophies.

Our trophies adorning the rental car

It’s a common cliché in The Chase circles, but this experience gave us moments to treasure, even though we walked away empty-handed.

So as my final act of closure in this chase, I’m putting this failed solve out to the world so that you might hopefully glean some insight that helps you in your chase.

You can see my solution on a Google map by clicking HERE.

I’ll be lurking on Dal’s website, Reddit and THOR under the username RockLicker61 if you want to discuss this solve. Or drop me an email at the same username if you want to get in touch directly.

Stay safe out there, the bears are always watching you!


Not At 40.41025N/105.5555W . . . Black Canyon, CO……




Last spring, on this site, I asserted that I had a unique solution to the poem.  And I promised to post it if it failed in the field.  Today, I am making good on that promise.  

Given the time delay, some of you may be wondering, “So why did you wait so long to send it in?”  

Fair question; in short, because I needed to assure myself that I wasn’t giving away information of extreme value too hastily, or for the wrong reasons.  As I have ridded myself of those concerns, I have chosen to give others the benefits of my thoughts and methods.

What follows is a complex solve. It is stunning and hideous at the same time. It is also incorrect! Please let me reiterate that:  IT IS INCORRECT!  This is not Mr. Fenn’s solution.  Whether he deliberately wrote this solution into the poem or not, I cannot say for certain.  All I can say is that I did not know what I was doing in advance.  I simply followed the directions in the poem in a certain way, and this is the result.  Hopefully, neither one of us will be disparaged too greatly for creating the intersection of creative thought described herein.


Many searchers believe that the poem cannot be solved using anything other than imaginative word associations and maps.  While I cannot prove that this perspective is incorrect, I do not subscribe to it myself.  I believe that the successful searcher will have a coordinate in hand before heading out to the mountains.  

For my assertion to be true, letters must be converted to numbers in some way.  And for letters to be successfully converted to numbers, very precise validations must be provided such that the possibility of miscommunication between the searcher and the author are minimized.  My methodology provides context for both parts of this information exchange.  I identify a potential validation structure, select inputs of interest, and compare output results to expected outcomes.  Obviously for this case, my inputs are incorrect relative to the validation structure I’ve identified and chosen to use.  

Of the two components necessary, I see most searchers completely engrossed on the input side of the house.  People are racking their brains trying to decide whether this warm spring, that hot creek, that warm-to-cold water fishing regulation rule change spot, etc. is the right one and why.  While I cannot prove that this approach cannot work, I do know that it is not for me. 


Because I find it illogical, and I know that I cannot solve an illogical puzzle nearly as well as many, many other people.  Now a logical, math-driven solution, with that structure, I like my chances. So for clearly personally-motivated reasons, I’ve spent my time trying to use puzzle solving strategies to crack the code and decipher the winning location. What follows is only one of hundreds of solution attempts that I’ve made, and because it is a statistical outlier across several fields of possible inquiry, I am happy to show it to you. Hopefully you glean some insight into how the poem can be approached from perspectives beyond those of imaginative place name association techniques.


I see a lot of discussion on the site regarding the distinction between hints and clues.  Frankly the whole subject bores me.  The poem is a puzzle, there waiting to be solved.  Now I’m sure that Mr. Fenn has a very distinct line in mind when he defines these words, but I do not know what that line is at all.  Therefore, I’ve chosen to ignore those distinctions completely in favor of my own personal terms:  Observations, Inputs, Solution Steps, Outputs, Validations, After-The-Fact-Observations.  A solution such as the one I am about to present cannot come from a vacuum.  Initial observations are needed.  Initial assumptions that define inputs to test are needed.  I believe it is critical to apply the scientific method to the solution process in order to have the best chance for success.  That this particular effort proved unsuccessful means nothing to the process needed.  But I digress a bit.  Let’s get it on!

There are many points about the poem that lead me to believe that a mathematical solution is involved.  But the most important ones are the following:

The four corners of the poem contain the following letters:

Line 1: A(s) (ther)E

Line 24: I (gol)D

Read from lower left around CCW yields:  IDEA!

The four corners of Lines 2/23 contain the following letters:

Line 2: A(nd) (bol)D

Line 23: I(f) (woo)D

Read from lower left around CW yields:  I ADD!

Using simple substitution, where A=1, B=2, C=3 . . . J=1, K=2, . . . Z=8

I = 9

A+D+D = 1+4+4 = 9

I = ADD!

The 5th letters in from the right and left Lines 2/23 contain the following letters:

Line 2: (w)I(th) (treasure)S

Line 23: (yo)U (th)E

From upper left around CW yields:  I SEU! = I SE(e) (yo)U! = I USE!

I = 9

S+E+U = 1+5+3 = 9

This information seems to validate the use of summative reduction numerology and the selected use of anagrams and puzzle-type extrapolations as possible solution techniques. 

So the question is:  Are these important observations, or random hits?  

Fair question, so I’ll weigh in with my personal opinion.  Yours may differ.  

My experience with working on the poem for a long time indicates that there is something here.  Some will trot out confirmation bias as a reason to ignore my opinion, and honestly, I cannot fully refute that.  All I can say is that, for me, I see enough here to persevere and keep trying. I see a math puzzle that can be solved, and hopefully, before I’m through, you will be inspired to tinker with my techniques, too.

My next major observation is that a lot of math is possible across “To Be.”  Candidly, I owe Brock Swenson for pointing this out to me via his seminal primer, “Not Just Another Solution.” His work paved the way for me to get started.  Everything you see here is built upon his foundation.  “Not Just Another Solution” can be viewed on Dal’s site, and I recommend it wholeheartedly for anyone who wants to come over to the dark side after reading this in its entirety!

“To Be” is used conventionally in 8 lines.  

Line 9:  From there it’s no place for the meek  (present tense: IS)

Line 10:  The end is ever drawing nigh  (present tense:  IS)

Line 11:  There’ll be no paddle up your creek  (future tense:  WILL BE)

Line 13:  If you’ve been wise and found the blaze  (past tense:  HAVE BEEN) 

Line 17:  So why is it that I must go  (present to future tense question transition:  IS)

Line 20:  I’ve done it tired and now I’m weak  (past to present tense:  AM)

Line 22:  Your effort will be worth the cold  (future tense:  WILL BE)

Line 23:  If you are brave and in the wood  (future tense:  ARE)

There are also several unconventional uses of “To Be” where forms are embedded in other words. For purposes of this solution, I focused my math pre-work on these eight conventional uses first, leaving the others for review later.  But just for clarity and completeness, I will list them here.  Also note that the embedded AR’s seem to be useful for letter swaps more than math, IMO. Letter swaps are not involved in this solve, by the way.

Line 5:  Begin it where wARm waters halt  (present tense:  AR(e))

Line 7:  Not fAR, but too fAR to walk  (present tense twice:  AR(e))

Line 13:  If you’ve been wISe and found the blaze  (present tense:  IS)

Line 15:  But tARry scant with mARvel gaze  (present tense twice: AR(e))

Line 21:  So heAR me all and lISten good  (present tense:  AR(e) & IS)

Line 23:  If you ARe brave and in the wood  (present tense:  AR(e))

Simple substitution math key will be used for this HINT-LEVEL math:










Beginning math checks on Line 9:  From there it’s no place for the meek . . . 

From = 6+9+6+4 = 25

There = 2+8+5+9+5 = 29

It = 9+2 = 11

No = 5+6 = 11

Place = 7+3+1+3+5 = 19

For = 6+6+9 = 21

The = 2+8+5 = 15

Meek = 4+5+5+2 = 16


It = No = 11

Words directly across IS are equal.

There + It = 29 + 11 = 40

Place + For = 19 + 21 = 40

There It = Place For = 40 = 4+0 = 4

Place FOR is 4!

The rest looks random. Full left never equals full right.

Next, Line 10:  The end is ever drawing nigh . . . 

The = 2+8+5 = 15

End = 5+5+4 = 14 = 1+4 = 5

Ever = 5+4+5+9 = 23 = 2+3 = 5

Drawing = 4+9+1+5+9+5+7 = 40

Nigh = 5+9+7+8 = 29


End = Ever = 5

Words directly across IS are equal yet again!

Note:  The odds that any two letters, word or phrase sums are equal using this method are 1 in 9. So the fact that both pairs of words are equal is nice, but not yet persuasive.

The + End = 15+14 = 29

Nigh = 29

The End = Nigh = 29

Note that the full left could equal the full right if unreduced letter values were used initially in place of the reduced ones listed above:

The + End = 20+8+5+5+14+4 = 56 = 11

Ever + Drawing + Nigh = 5+22+5+18+4+18+1+23+9+14+7+14+9+7+8 = 164 = 1+6+4 = 11

This might be a tip to use unreduced letter values instead of reduced ones. In most cases, letter state is irrelevant, but occasionally a total gets affected. Thus it pays to understand the nuances and pitfalls of this type of analysis!

As this is HINT-LEVEL math only, I’m not concerned about this outcome at all, as my primary focus is on the words directly across “To Be” right now.

Next, Line 11:  There’ll be no paddle up your creek . . .

There = 2+8+5+9+5 = 29 = 2+9 = 11 = 1+1 = 2

No = 5+6 = 11

Paddle = 7+1+4+4+3+5 = 28 = 2+8 = 10

Up = 3+7 = 10

Your = 7+6+3+9 = 25

Creek = 3+9+5+5+2 = 24


There = No = 11

For a third time, the words directly across TO BE are equal. 

There = 11 = 1+1 = 2

Paddle + Up = 10 + 10 = 20 = 2+0 = 2

Once again, full left does not equal full right. 

Line 13 has two significant structural differences relative to the lines examined so far. 

  1. Past tense structure likely indicates that the sentence will behave differently!
  2. “You” presented as first term on the left indicates likely structural change if solver action is required to create equality, rather than equality being provided initially!

So, skipping ahead to the similar usage found in Line 17!

Line 17:  So why is it that I must go . . .

So = 1+6 = 7

Why = 5+8+7 = 20 = 2+0 = 2

It = 9+2 = 11 = 1+1 = 2

That = 2+8+1+2 = 13

I = 9

Must = 4+3+1+2 = 10

Go = 7+6 = 13


Why = It = 2

For a fourth time, the words directly across “To Be” are equal. 

Let me reiterate that! There are exactly four lines with similar construction across “To Be” and all four lines have words of equal value directly across from each other. 

Odds on any pair being equal are 1 in 9. Yet it happened four times in a row! Statistically this means:

1/9 x 1/9 x 1/9 x 1/9 = 1/6561 =.0001524

This equates to a .01524 percent chance of this arrangement happening randomly. So I’m saying that there’s a chance that Mr. Fenn did this unintentionally, but I’m more than willing to take the HINT that there is something going on across “To Be” and I need to understand what that is!

Now the other four lines act differently because they relate to future work. The fact that they do not solve now is a hint that it’s up to the searcher to find the letter values needed to make the equations work properly. 

But before we try to solve anything, let’s continue reviewing these initial lines!

Line 13:  If you’ve been wise and found the blaze . . . 

If = 9+6 = 15

You = 7+6+3 = 16

Wise = 5+9+1+5 = 20

And = 1+5+4 = 10

Found = 6+6+3+5+4 = 24

The = 2+8+5 = 15

Blaze = 2+3+1+8+5 = 19


Note that You (16) not equal to Wise (20)!

BUT:   W = E = 5 (from wISe!)

Observe that the structurally similar application of my words directly across “To Be” still works here for the present tense case, even though there are no words, only single letters in play! This is very sneaky and it lends credence to my theory! 

So, technically, I did not have to skip Line 13 at all! It works as it should, and it informs me that I need to do some work to make the other part of the equation correct later!

Everything else here, at this point, is irrelevant IMO. Next up, Line 21!

Since Line 13, with embedded IS in WISE worked, I want to check up on the IS in LISTEN, Line 21!

Line 21:  So hear me all and listen good . . . 

So = 1+6 = 7

Hear = 8+5+1+9 = 23

Me = 4+5 = 9

All = 1+3+3 = 7

And = 1+5+4 = 10

L = 3

Ten = 2+5+5 = 12

Good = 7+6+6+4 = 23


L = 12 unreduced and 3 reduced.

Ten = 12 = 1+2 = 3.

For a sixth time, the structure works as it did the first time through! That is truly stunning!

1/9×1/9×1/9×1/9×1/9×1/9 = 1/531441 = .0000018816

That’s .00018816 percent chance for those of you keeping track at home! 

Deny this all you want, but recognize that your denial matters not to whether there is math involved, but it certainly may diminish your chances of succeeding should these concepts be involved with the winning solution!

Hear = Good = 23 = 2+3 = 5

Hear + Me = 23 + 9 = 32 = 3+2 = 5

All + L = 7+3 = 10

Ten is 10 linguistically!

There are meaningful equalities all over the place here! I respectfully suggest that you listen up and take the HINT!

Returning to Line 20:  I’ve done it tired and now I’m weak . . . 

I = 9

Ve = 4+5 = 9 

Have = 8+1+4+5 = 9

Done = 4+6+5+5 = 20

It = 9+2 = 11

Tired = 2+9+9+5+4 = 29

And = 1+5+4 = 10

Now = 5+6+5 = 16

I = 9

I’m = 9+4 = 13

Weak = 5+5+1+2 = 13


Note that I=9 not equal to Weak = 13 = 1+3 = 4

But I’m = Weak = 13

While this is technically incorrect as I believe that the contraction should not count, one can make a case that this structure works. Whether Mr. Fenn intended this equality be a positive hit or not, I don’t know. But I can take a HINT when I see one. 

Done + Tired = 20 + 29 = 49 = 4+9 = 13

Done +  It + Tired + Now = 20+11+29+16 = 76 = 7+6 = 13

Weak = 13

Last I checked, “done tired” and “done it tired now” both equal “weak” linguistically, too!

Moving on to Line 22:  Your effort will be worth the cold . . . 

Your = 7+6+3+9 = 25 = 2+5 = 7

Effort = 5+6+6+6+9+2 = 34 = 3+4 = 7

Worth = 5+6+9+2+8 = 30

The = 2+8+5 = 15

Cold = 3+6+3+4 = 16

F = 6

EF = 5+6 = 11

EFF = 5+6+6 = 17

T = 2

W = 5

TH = 2+8 = 10


Note that Effort not equal to Worth

Note that neither F, EF, EFF or T equal W or TH! This implies that a logic problem across “To Be” is NOT in play! (At least not this time! LOL!)

Note that Worth+The+Cold = 30+15+16 = 61 = 7

Your = Effort = Worth + The + Cold = 7!

Note that Your + Effort not equal to Worth + The + Cold!!

This, for me, is the MOST CRITICAL observation so far! YOUR EFFORT does not equal WORTH THE COLD! I think that these terms need to match! I think everything rides on making these terms match!


Fair question!

At some point in this chase we all must reach inside ourselves and make a determination about what is incontrovertibly right, what is incontrovertibly wrong and what is open for interpretation and/or negotiation.  The Engineer in me says, this Line, right here, this one must solve properly, in full, or the answer is going to be WRONG! So if my gut is incorrect about this, then I have no chance to win. End of story for me. 

Finishing OLD MATH with Line 23:  If you are brave and in the wood . . . 

If = 9+6 = 15

You = 7+6+3 = 16 = 1+6 = 7

Brave = 2+9+1+4+5 = 21

And = 1+5+4 = 10

In = 9+5 = 14

The = 2+8+5 = 15

Wood = 5+6+6+4 = 21


Note that You not equal to Brave 

Brave+And+Wood = 21+10+21 = 52 = 5+2 = 7

You = Brave+And+Wood = 7

Once again, a significant equality, but full left not equal to full right. So the structure of the You/I equations are similar to, but never identical to each other. I believe that it is my job to make all of these equations solve properly. That’s my theory, so let’s try to make it happen!


There are, of course, myriad ways to create solutions from a blank slate. At first I tried permutation after permutation using the directions in the poem, making rectangles all over the place. Some of them seemed to work out, most did not. 

These failures got me to thinking outside the follow the directions mode of solving. A tip from a friend put me on a track to simplify the process. What follows is a direct result of that tip. 

Mr. Fenn has said that there are nine clues in the poem. I decided to try to find nine inputs and then see what kind of a solution might be possible from there. 

Before making my choices, though, I noticed that Canyon and Brown both totaled 72 (unreduced letter totals) as follows:

Canyon = 3+1+14+25+15+14 = 72

Brown = 2+18+15+23+14 = 72

Given that both these key words had the same raw total, I decided to select 7 alphanumeric key change point inputs one way and 2 inputs by another way. 

For the larger set of 7, I decided to use letters directly across “To Be”, last on left = first on right.

The letters I chose for this subset were:

Line 9:  iT=No . . . T becomes N

Line 10:  enD=Ever . . . D becomes E

Line 11:  therE=No . . . E becomes N

Line 13:  yoU=Wise . . . U becomes W

Line 13:  W=E . . . W becomes E

Line 17:  whY=It . . . Y becomes I

Line 21:  L=Ten . . . L remains L, but value changes to 10! (note that this alternate usage probably doomed this entire solve, but I did not figure that out until after the fact)

For the other two inputs I used “I” loops:

Lines 1/24, 7th letters in:

Line 1(hav)EI(n)

Line 24 (y)O(u)T(he)

Reading from upper right CW yields:  I TO E . . . I becomes E

Lines 2/23, 5th letters in, already discussed:  I SE U . . . S becomes E

Ok. I now have nine alphanumeric answers that I want to see become active in my final answer key . . . 

Can it be done??

I already know that I have to begin my trek on Line 5 because this is where the first CLUE is housed. Let’s put up a grid and see what happens next!

A s I h a v e g o n e a l o n e I n t h e r e 

A n d w I t h m y t r e a s u r e s b o l d 

I c a n k e e p m y s e c r e t w h e r e 

A n d h I n t o f r I c h e s n e w a n d o l d 

B e g I n I t w h e r e w a r m w a t e r s h a l t 

A n d t a k e I t I n t h e c a n y o n d o w n 

N o t f a r b u t t o o f a r t o w a l k 

P u t I n b e l o w t h e h o m e o f B r o w n 

F r o m t h e r e I t s n o p l a c e f o r t h e m e e k 

T h e e n d I s e v e r d r a w I n g n I g h 

T h e r e l l b e n o p a d d l e u p y o u r c r e e k

J u s t h e a v y l o a d s a n d w a t e r h I g h 

I f y o u v e b e e n w I s e a n d f o u n d t h e b l a z e 

L o o k q u I c k l y d o w n y o u r q u e s t t o c e a s e 

B u t t a r r y s c a n t w I t h m a r v e l g a z e 

J u s t t a k e t h e c h e s t a n d g o I n p e a c e 

S o w h y I s I t t h a t I  m u s t g o 

A n d l e a v e m y t r o v e f o r a l l t o s e e k 

T h e a n s w e r s I a l r e a d y k n o w 

I v e d o n e I t t I r e d a n d n o w I m w e a k 

S o h e a r m e a l l a n d l I s t e n g o o d 

Y o u r e f f o r t w I l l b e w o r t h t h e c o l d 

I f y o u a r e b r a v e a n d I n t h e w o o d 

I g I v e y o u t I t l e t o t h e g o l d 


Line 5:  Begin it:  W here!

Answer:  W At!

Validation:  Where+Warm+Waters+Halt = 5+8+5+9+5+5+1+9+4+5+1+2+5+9+1+8+1+3+2 = 88 = 8+8 = 16

The 17th letter in Line 5 is the “W” in “Waters!” 

The first instruction is to accept the first three letters in WAT ers and do nothing else. Visually, I have:

B e g I n I t w h e r e w a r m w a t e r s h a l t 

Line 6:  And take it:  “IN” the canyon down!

Answer:  homophone “EN” where second “N” on “canyoN” is directly below the “E” in “WATErs”

Validation:  In+The = 9+5+2+8+5 = 29 = 2+9 = 11 = 1+1 = 2

B e g I n I t w h e r e w a r m w a t e r s h a l t 

A n d t a k e I t I n t h e c a n y o n d o w n 

N o t f a r b u t t o o f a r t o w a l k 

Line 7:  Not far, but “TOO” far to walk!

Answer:  “TOO” is the only pure number in the poem. For all military codes, “TOO” means the number “2”! So extend the line from the current stop on the “L” and extend it down two more letters as shown:

B e g I n I t w h e r e w a r m w a t e r s h a l t 

A n d t a k e I t I n t h e c a n y o n d o w n 

N o t f a r b u t t o o f a r t o w a l k 

P u t I n b e l o w t h e h o m e o f B r o w n 

F r o m t h e r e I t s n o p l a c e f o r t h e m e e k 

Validation:  “Put in below” signifies a change of direction underneath Brown.

“From there” doubles down on this change of direction concept, especially since the “F” is in this Line already.

Line 9:  From there it’s (k)no(w) place!

Answer:  Move left through PLACE, stopping before reaching NO/(k)NO(w) homophone combination!

Validation:  The end is drawing nigh = means keep left as you move “From there!”

B e g I n I t w h e r e w a r m w a t e r s h a l t 

A n d t a k e I t I n t h e c a n y o n d o w n 

N o t f a r b u t t o o f a r t o w a l k 

P u t I n b e l o w t h e h o m e o f B r o w n 

F r o m t h e r e I t s n o p l a c e f o r t h e m e e k 

Line 11:  There’ll be (k)NO(w) paddle “UP” . . . 

Answer:  Currently on “P” with half a “Paddle” directly below, so use what’s available going Down!

B e g I n I t w h e r e w a r m w a t e r s h a l t 

A n d t a k e I t I n t h e c a n y o n d o w n 

N o t f a r b u t t o o f a r t o w a l k 

P u t I n b e l o w t h e h o m e o f B r o w n 

F r o m t h e r e I t s n o p l a c e f o r t h e m e e k 

T h e e n d I s e v e r d r a w I n g n I g h 

T h e r e l l b e n o p a d d l e u p y o u r c r e e k


A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z 

W A T E N L B F E C A L P A D X X X X X X X X X X X X 

Half the alphabet down, and four for four on my hypothesized input/output exchanges! Wow! What’s next?

Status report: 

I have half of a blaze, I need exactly 12 more letters, but I lack instructions at this point! Perhaps I can draw my way to a complete nine for nine solution?

Line 14 hints:  “your quest to cease”

Answer:  2 C’s!

Using this idea, I added to my letter string as follows: 

My first “C”:  Down from “D” in “padDle” to “A” in “And”, left to “S” in “loadS”, down to “SE” in “wiSE”

My second “C”: Down from “E” in “wisE” to “N” in “dowN”, left to “W” in “doWN”, down through “W” in “With” to “ES” in “chESt”. 

These two moves add 10 letters to the blaze. 

I chose to finish the blaze by moving upwards and finishing with “IN” per Line 16, “go IN peace!”

Note 1:  In retrospect, I should have realized that moving upwards violated the instruction of Line 11, but alas, I did not!

Note 2:  The completed blaze, when seen, will be a shock to some. For that, I apologize in advance! But, it is what it is, and I can’t do anything about it now!

So here it is, the full blaze, in all it’s glory:

B e g I n I t w h e r e w a r m w a t e r s h a l t 

A n d t a k e I t I n t h e c a n y o n d o w n 

N o t f a r b u t t o o f a r t o w a l k 

P u t I n b e l o w t h e h o m e o f B r o w n 

F r o m t h e r e I t s n o p l a c e f o r t h e m e e k 

T h e e n d I s e v e r d r a w I n g n I g h 

T h e r e l l b e n o p a d d l e u p y o u r c r e e k

J u s t h e a v y l o a d s a n d w a t e r h I g h 

I f y o u v e b e e n w I s e a n d f o u n d t h e b l a z e 

L o o k q u I c k l y d o w n y o u r q u e s t t o c e a s e 

B u t t a r r y s c a n t w I t h m a r v e l g a z e 

J u s t t a k e t h e c h e s t a n d g o I n p e a c e 

So what is this a picture of?  Rotate the grid 90 degrees CW and I see a scrotum and an erect penis!

Yes, people! I have “WOOD” on your screen. Linguistically-, mathematically-, artistically-derived “WOOD”! For that, I apologize, but then again, it is pretty funny, too! 

Drawing Validation: all 9 of my input/output combinations hit!

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z 

W A T E N L B F E C A L P A D A S S E N W W E S I N 

The blaze, when written out, has a hidden message, too!


Holy cow! That is so weird, that I still don’t know what to make of it! But, given the drawing on the screen, the message seemed to really fit, so I ignored the weirdness and got down to finishing my solution pronto!


New alphanumeric key courtesy of the WOOD!

A B C D E F G H I J K  L M N O P Q  R   S T U V  W  X Y Z 

5 1 2 5 5 3 2  6 5 3 1 1 7  1  4 1 10 10 5 5 5  5 5 10 9 5 

Line 22:  Your effort will be worth the cold . . . 

Your = 9+4+5+10 = 28

Effort = 5+3+3+4+10+5 = 30

Worth = 5+4+10+5+6 = 30

The = 5+6+5 = 16

Cold = 2+4+1+5 = 12


Effort = Worth = 30 (Exactly!)

Your+Effort = 28+30 = 58

Worth+The+Cold = 30+16+12 = 58 

Your+Effort = Worth + The + Cold = 58 (Exactly!)

These are exact totals! No reductions! These are pure equalities, and EXACTLY how I want this line to operate!

Note:  These outputs are more than enough for me to continue looking at this very hard all the way to the end of the line! Line 23:  If you are brave and in the wood . . .

Technically, I’ve already got this line covered, but let’s check the math, anyway!

If = 5+3 = 8

You = 9+4+5 = 18

Brave = 1+10+5+5+5 = 26

And = 5+1+5 = 11

In = 5+1 = 6

The = 5+6+5 = 16

Wood = 5+4+4+5 = 18


If + You = 8+18 = 26 = Brave (Exactly!)

Brave + And + The + Wood = 8+2+7+9 = 26 (By reduction!)

Wow!  Exact equalities involving Brave and Wood! 

Thanks to a picture of WOOD!

Even now, I’m still stupefied at how this all came together!

If this isn’t an engineered solution, it a statistical anomaly of extreme proportions!

Continuing with Line 13:  If you’ve been wise and found the blaze . . . 

If = 5+3 = 8

You = 9+4+5 = 18

You’ve = 9+4+5+5+5 = 28

Been = 1+5+5+1 = 12

Wise = 5+5+5+5 = 20

And = 5+1+5 = 11

Found = 3+4+5+1+5 = 18

The = 5+6+5 = 16

Blaze = 1+1+5+5+5 = 17

If + You = 8+18 = 26 = 2+6 = 8

Wise + Found + The + Blaze = 20+18+16+17 = 71 = 7+1 = 8

If + You’ve + Been + W = 8+28+12+5 = 53 = 8

And + Found + The + Blaze = 2+9+7+8 = 26 = 8 (Note: E cannot be used here. Another RED FLAG missed!)

As this is getting very long, I’ll simply summarize the other equalities:

So+Why = It+Must+Go = 2  (Note:  Neither “That” nor “I” can be used here)

From+It = No+Place+For+The+Meek = 7  (Note: “There” cannot be used here)

The + End = Ever + Drawing + Nigh = 9  (Full left = Full right)

There = No+Paddle+Up+Your+Creek = 4  (Full left = Full right)

Done+It+Tired+Now+I = Weak = 7  (“I’ve” and “And” cannot be used here)

So+Hear+Me+All+L = Ten+Good = 8  (Full left = Full right)

While there are some imperfections, the correlations here are extremely strong! I must admit being blown away by the totality of the fit, and yet, IT WAS NOT GOOD ENOUGH! Oh, the lessons we learn the hard way! LOL!


The only work left is to find the coordinates in the grid. 

Given that I have a picture of WOOD, I need to find “R” in a place where I can successfully enter the WOOD itself. 

B e g I n I t w h e r e w a r m w a t e r s h a l t 

A n d t a k e I t I n t h e c a n y o n d o w n 

N o t f a r b u t t o o f a r t o w a l k 

P u t I n b e l o w t h e h o m e o f B r o w n 

F r o m t h e r e I t s n o p l a c e f o r t h e m e e k 

T h e e n d I s e v e r d r a w I n g n I g h 

T h e r e l l b e n o p a d d l e u p y o u r c r e e k

J u s t h e a v y l o a d s a n d w a t e r h I g h 

I f y o u v e b e e n w I s e a n d f o u n d t h e b l a z e 

L o o k q u I c k l y d o w n y o u r q u e s t t o c e a s e 

B u t t a r r y s c a n t w I t h m a r v e l g a z e 

J u s t t a k e t h e c h e s t a n d g o I n p e a c e 

RDSSWW = 105.5555 . . . This is a longitude in CO!

I paired this with O space ORGU coming down from the “O” in “Down”, Line 6!

This combination seemed to fit with the tone of the solution at hand!

O space ORGU = 40.41025 . . . This is a latitude in CO!

The location is in the Roosevelt NF near Black Canyon Trail. Black Canyon felt like a very fitting location for this solution. The hike proved to be 3.2 miles one way with all but the last little bit on trail. This distance is right at the outside limit of what I felt was theoretically possible for Mr. Fenn to undertake. The lack of extreme elevation changes worked as a mitigating factor, but honestly, given the totality of correlations I had on paper, I was game for almost anything. Needless to say, Indulgence was not at this spot. I had a friend and a metal detector. We looked around the area for a good while, but I knew going it that this was a long shot scenario because I did not have a set of points on a map to bolster the work presented here!


So what went wrong?  

A lot of things, actually.  But the biggest mistake I made was getting too excited about some very positive math! The math, after all, WASN’T PERFECT . . . it was only ALMOST PERFECT!

Then there was the hike thing. It was too long. I don’t think Mr. Fenn could do that 6.4 mile round trip twice in an afternoon. I know for a fact that I was done after doing it once and I’m still in decent shape. So from now on, my hike limit is a 2-mile radius from park point for anything but almost flat ground!

Then there is the lack of connection to Mr. Fenn thing. Frankly, I discounted this far too much! I got too excited about my wacky solution and forgot to cover the basics! Mea culpa on that one! Will certainly do better next time!

Then there is the whole WWWH/HoB matter. From Mr. Fenn’s comments, there has to be more to these clues than a path through the poem. I discounted this aspect to my own detriment. Again, I won’t do that again.


As this solve is very strong, I may have missed something related to the Latitude. I really like the derivation of the Longitude coordinate. But I admit that I had to guess a bit on the Latitude. It is possible that a different set of letters could emerge from this solution, as presented. If so, you are welcome to review my work, find another answer, and investigate at will. All I can say is that I took my best shot and came up dry with this solution. Your results, should you play with this further, may vary!


Even in defeat, I like this solution. It is certainly possible that another path through the poem might generate a positive result.  I hope that one will work out for you, should you dare to revise this one, or look for another possible answer; but, after working with these possible paths for over a year, I decided to scrap the blaze-inside-the-poem concept altogether. I have a new methodology and a new solution in hand. With any luck, I’ll be able to walk right to the chest later this summer.  If not, I’ll publish it and admit defeat once and for all!

You see, this chase is what we make it. For me, the chase has provided me with a chance to solve a difficult puzzle using my abilities to the fullest extent.  No matter what happens next, I’ve already  done that.  No matter where I go or what else I do to dream up another answer, I will never be able to top the place I plan to go next.  Thus, for me, the chase is already over . . . I’ve run my race.  There is only victory or defeat in the offing now, and only time will tell which of those it will be.

Either way, I will walk away proudly, knowing that I’ve given this opportunity everything I could muster. 


Making predictions about what will happen in the chase may be foolhardy, but I’m going to put a few things out there, anyway.

The complexity of this solution goes far beyond statistical randomness. I don’t believe it is random at all. I believe that I am looking at an intentionally-constructed outcome. I believe this is Mr. Fenn’s CRUDE solution! 

You see, I think that Mr. Fenn anticipated guys like me coming along and he wrote us a note beforehand. That note said, “Great thinking . . . but screw you, Dude! Keep trying! LOL!”

Based on this outcome, I am absolutely certain that an elegant, perfect-math solution is out there waiting to be found! It’s there, just waiting on someone else to come along and discover it for the very first time! 

The alternative, of course, is that the correct solution is NOT math-based at all. But if it isn’t, why go to the trouble to derive and provide a solution of this complexity at all? Think about that for a minute, please! If you do, I think you’ll realize the importance of what I just said!

I further predict that the math verifications will be predicated on more intricately devised arrangements than full left = full right on a single line, as I’ve postulated here.

I further predict that the final solution will use far more interesting puzzle construction techniques than the ones encountered here . . . and these are GREAT!

I further predict that the inputs will be exactly 2, not 9! Line 7 provides the number, and it is “TOO!”

The puzzle must be worked backwards, reverse engineered. While the inputs are few, the answers are all provided, and the most astute searcher will be able to put all the pieces together successfully. 

Essentially, Mr. Fenn has written a double-sided, but 90-degree rotated picture puzzle for us to solve. If you’ve never worked one of these before, take it from me, they are hard because there are pictures on both sides of every piece. When working them, one often puts together little sections, then those sections have to be disassembled and reassembled after flipping and rotating. I find myself doing the same things with my ideas here. And this is harder than any double-sided puzzle because we lack a box top of the picture itself. We must imagine the picture, and the only way that I’ve been able to make any headway at all is to play with the letters in the poem grid! I humbly suggest working with the grid until you begin to see some light and shadows through the forest of letters provided.


As for me, I want to thank Mr. Fenn for giving me the opportunity to stretch my mind and think about things in ways that I’ve never done before.  And, if I get nothing else beyond that out of this effort, then I will have been well-compensated, indeed. 

May all of you achieve the similar outcomes!


Rule Out Beartrap……

by VJ


Actually, I think someone else came to the conclusion that Bear Trap Canyon in Montana probably wasn’t the location of the treasure,

But I figured they hadn’t considered everything…like I had, because I was sure.

My son Jeffrey and I flew into Bozeman, MT on Friday, April 27, 2018 on our quest to find the Fenn treasure.  We both have a little of the wanderlust in us, and definitely like seeing new places.  I think mainly he just wanted to get out of town for a few days, and this was a great excuse.

Anyway, I felt a little safer traipsing through the wilderness with someone along rather than by myself.  However, he is a faster runner than I am.

As the story title indicates, I had settled on Bear Trap Canyon, MT, just north of Lake Ennis, which is formed by the dam on the Madison River as it winds its way north to converge with the Jefferson and Gallatin. (to form the mighty Missouri)  Now the word “dam” may have just jumped out at you as something Forrest commented on recently.  I actually found that quote a day or so before we left for Bozeman, and was having high anxiety about it.  (Forrest, in an effort to get everyone off of the dams throughout the Rockies, said that “Where warm waters halt” had nothing to do with a dam).  Again, I thought I knew better, and that Mr. Fenn may have fooled everyone else, but not me.  I’ll explain my reasoning.



I cannot find the link, but one of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) websites, describes fishing at Lake Ennis, and says that “since the lake Is relatively shallow throughout (ten feet at its deepest), it is referred to as “warm water”.( I believe I paraphrased that really close), but my point is, the author did not say the water is warm because it is shallow, but because it is shallow it is called “warm”.  Significant.

Okay, the “halt” part.  As a noun, halt means a suspension of movement or activity.  A suspension, not a dead stop.  The dam on Ennis Lake is not your conventional dam, it is called a timber crib.

Water pushes through the timber crib; it is slowed down or halted, but not permanently stopped.  Although Forrest said to exclude dams from our solutions, technically,

I was not dealing with your typical dam, it is a timber crib.  As a verb though, halt means to bring to a complete stop. So, another  fault in my reasoning, but I wanted to make this work.  All right, we move on.



At this point, we are at the very south end of Bear Trap.  The word down is very important; down means to follow the directional flow of the water, which in this case is north.  Upstream would be counter to the flow, or south.  So we are going north.  Another reason I liked this location is because there are no trails at this end of the canyon, and Forrest said that the treasure is not near a trail.  It’s all coming together.



There is a “Put In” for rafts and floating craft below the timber crib and it is located at the end of Barn Creek Road at the Power Station.  Looking at all of the maps, Google Earth, etc, I concluded that an 80 year man could wade and walk the distance from there to the creek, in two trips, in one afternoon.  Distance on the computer map was approximately 1.5 miles from the Put In to the creek on the west side.  This had to be the spot!  But…..conclusions based on images from the computer do not necessarily convey what you see in person.

Oh, and HOME OF BROWN…….I did not put as much emphasis on this clue as my fellow explorers, although no doubt, it is important.  I made sure that the word “below”  worked in this scenario, and it did.  “Below” follows the same directional flow as “down” in the above paragraph, and then… home of Brown?  Lake Ennis… Brown trout cruise the vegetated channels of this shallow lake.  Looking good.

Although narrow and sometimes rough, you can drive all the way to the Power Station on Barn Creek Road.  Scenery is breathtaking.  Once there though, my heart began to sink.

The Power Station blocks all access on the east side, and there is no level surface for walking on the west side, just the steep bank that drops sharply into the Madison.  The only way to progress up the Madison from the Put In is in the river itself.



My son and I were prepared to wade in the water, based on the Poem, and some additional clues from Forrest.  We had leased waders from a local outfitter, with FELT soles, just like Forrest recommended.  We were so ahead of the game.  However…..the water looked daunting.  Fishermen were out in the water that day, but at this location on the river, the water had clearly gained momentum and volume since its push through the timber crib.  (heavy loads and water high)

Surveying downstream, there was a spot about 75-100 yards down the river that looked promising as a spot to get back on land, and hike farther in.  So we suited up, and were on the very verge of entering the rapid water (about 4 feet deep), when we were startled by the Power Station Manager.  He was very friendly, and just wanted us to move our truck to the designated parking area.  When we told him about our plans though, he became quite serious.  He said that the release at the crib was approximately 3200 cfs, a substantial flow rate, and it would be tricky to maneuver in, but the area he was most concerned about was right there at the Power Station where the water is released back into the river.  The surge from the release would be very difficult for us to wade through, and he was very concerned about us trying.

My son was already having doubts about my choice on the Madison being the correct location, but with the advice of the PS Manager, he was ready to call it off.  I was terribly conflicted, but decided not to tempt fate.

We got out of the waders, and drove back to our hotel in Bozeman.  I later thought about 2 of the 3 gentlemen who had lost their lives looking for the treasure; those 2 had drowned in probably similar or worse water conditions.

I do not know if they ventured into the water, or if it occurred by some accident, but regardless you have to respect the sheer power of the river torrents.



Three more items which had made me sure about my choice:

  • This location on the Madison was at 4800’; you would only have to climb another 200’ to get to the 5000’ mark.  However, the gradient gain was incredibly steep……for an 80 year old?
  • All of this area is under BLM control and authority; if the treasure was found here, no problems.  Officials at BLM have said, take it.
  • The Canyon is approximately 10 miles long; if you started at the north end, you would have to hike 7 miles before you got away from the trail.  That would be 28 miles in an afternoon…..for an 80 year old?

Happy hunting to all,



Deadwood Gulch…



I thought I would share the details of my 2nd search for Forrest Fenn’s treasure.  I did not find the treasure but maybe some of my logic can help someone else find it.  Below is my failed solve #2.  My search location was Deadwood Gulch just south of Silverton CO and I will get into the details about the location a bit further below.  Everything below is just my opinion even if I forget to state it sometimes.  Thanks for understanding.

First I looked at the ‘big picture’ because I felt that was missing from my first solve which initially led me to the wrong location for WWWH.  After giving it some thought, I felt the big picture might be related to Forrest facing his mortality, looking back at his life, and making a final statement to the world about his life…or at least a final statement to his father.  Forrest mentioned on multiple occasions that his father instructed him to ‘grab all of the bananas’, specifically while riding on a ‘train’.  I figured the ‘train’ was a metaphor for life and that the ‘bananas’ were a metaphor for seizing every opportunity that life presents.  Since Forrest mentioned this train/bananas metaphor multiple times I felt like he was saying that this was very important and sage advice from his father and that he tried to adhere to it during his life.  From Fenn’s writings, I do feel as though it is important to Forrest that he impress his father.  I then went on to conclude that the treasure chest and its contents represented some of the many ‘bananas’ that Forrest had grabbed during his life.  I felt like this train/banana metaphor from his father might have been what Forrest was referring to when he stated “What surprises me a little is that nobody to my uncertain knowledge has analyzed one important possibility related to the winning solve”.  I personally have not read on any of the blogs where searchers believe a train should be involved because of the banana metaphor (I have seen searchers that like train involvement for the halts but not for the banana metaphor).  Am I the first to analyze this important metaphor from his father and is this what Forrest was referring to with his quote above?  Who knows.

 Forrest’s original idea about the poem and the location was that he would go to the location, die with the chest, and leave the poem for people to come find him and the chest.  For my solution I looked for a location that would include a steam train, a canyon, a river with ‘put ins’ for rafts/kayaks, a potential home of Brown, and other aspects of metaphorical significance for someone dying.  Forrest did say “those who solve the first clue are more than half way there, metaphorically speaking”.  I took this as a hint that metaphors were important to the solution.  I think you can still keep it simple and interpret metaphors in the solve…metaphors are not like some of the crazy complex stuff I see some searchers writing about (anagrams, codes, ciphers, etc.).

Stanza #1
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.

For the first stanza, I took this to mean Forrest went alone to hide the treasure and that he did not tell anyone…so it was his secret.  I interpreted “Hint of riches new and old” as a hint that the location had old riches and Silverton, CO fits this because of all of the mining that took place there (there are old mines strewn about everywhere).  For new riches, it could be a hint of the treasure itself, or possibly all of the great fun to be had in Silverton (rafting on the Animas river, riding the steam train between Silverton and Durango, hiking, fishing, ATVing, etc.)  I thought ‘Bold’ could be a hint to the treasure location, which is just a 200-foot hike up a cascading creek just north of US Highway 550 in Deadwood Gulch (we’ll discuss this further down).

Stanza #2
Begin it where warm waters halt – Clue #1
and take it in the canyon down, – Clue #2
Not far, but too far to walk.  Clue #3A
Put in below the home of Brown.  – Clue #3B

For WWWH (clue #1), I went to the ‘big picture’ mentioned above and the train metaphor.  I felt the big picture and the metaphor were the reasons this location was so important and special to Forrest…and NOT that the location was one that was special because Forrest visited it during his childhood…but instead special for the purpose Forrest was seeking for his final statement to the world (or his father).  Silverton has a steam train that still runs today between Silverton and Durango.  Train stops were sometimes referred to as ‘halts’ in the old days.  These were usually water stops where the locomotive would receive more water for steam powered fuel.  The warm waters are those heated waters stored in the locomotive.  I chose the Silverton station as my WWWH.

When the Silverton train departs, it heads south and down the canyon and follows the Animas river downstream (clue #2 – take it in the canyon down).

For the HOB (clue #3) there are several possibilities (Brown Mountain is 10 Miles due north which is TFTW and Brown’s Gulch is 5-6 miles NW of Silverton which is also TFTW).  There was a previous Silverton solution from another searcher that was using Cement Creek (which feeds the Animas river in Silverton) as the HOB because the locals call the water at the confluence ‘Brown Gravy’ (I doubted this one).  Regardless of which HOB you choose, there is only a single feasible marked ‘put in’ in this area and it is ‘below’ all of these (south and lower elevation).  Just south of Silverton (and north/upstream of Deadwood Gulch), there is a ‘put in’ on the Animas River that is used by the rafting companies and kayakers.  This is an ‘official’ put in with its own sign (see photo).  This ‘put in’ is south / downstream from the Silverton Rail Road station so this also has you moving down the river / canyon.

Below are some additional thoughts on this location and why it might be special for a reason important to Forrest.  I believe Forrest does not want his life or his name to be lost to history like the graves of the French soldiers he stumbled on in the high grass field near the waterfall he found in Vietnam.  I’m thinking he has a strong desire to be remembered long after his death (thus the books, memoirs, etc.).  He was also a very smart promoter and marketer in his life after the military.  Choosing a tourist location like Silverton would be brilliant in terms of ‘marketing’ for his immortality.  If his treasure was found in that tourist town it would be discussed on every train ride and every rafting trip…there would be businesses setup in town around the Forrest Fenn name, and they would probably create a Forrest Fenn museum in the town for the tourists to visit after they get off the train (they have a couple of hours to spend in Silverton before the return trip to Durango).  It would be brilliant!  And Forrest IS brilliant when it comes to promotions and marketing.  I understand that this thought will offend some searcher’s idealization of Forrest and also that Forrest himself might not agree and might be slightly offended by this…so this is just my opinion…but I personally would not put something like this past Forrest and would not blame him for such a brilliant plan!  I just cannot ignore the fact that this man was a self-admitted non-lover of art…yet we know he made a small fortune as a great art dealer.  Why?  Because he knew how to market and promote.  Would Forrest get the same level of immortality if he hid himself and the treasure way out in the middle of nowhere?  I do not think so.  With that said, I do think Forrest has already achieved some level of immortality with this amazing treasure hunt he created, for being a war hero, and with his other books so I do not intend to diminish that with the above opinions…I just think hiding his treasure in a tourist town would take his immortality to the next level…and I do think immortality is important to him and I might not even believe him even if he directly told me otherwise.

Many, many other train hints:
The train hints from Forrest are voluminous and at this point I do not think I could have a solve that does not involve a train.  Forrest has talked and written about trains several times and has made several comments that associate trains to death (I suggest going to the Tarry Scant website and search by ‘train’ to get the exact FULL quotes on the below bulleted items).
·       When talking about his dog Tesuque’s expression when hungry he described it as “Feed me now or there will be a train wreck with no survivors” – Death by train comment #1.
·       When answering one searchers questions Forrest gave a long response that included “Besides, I will probably get hit by a train” – Death by train comment #2.
·       In a separate video interview Forrest mentions “Yet, tomorrow I will probably get run over by a train, but I believe in karma and some of those things.” – Death by train comment #3.
·       In yet another separate interview Forrest states “I dare you to go get it.  If you find it, you can have it.  And nobody knows where it is but me. If a train runs over me this afternoon, it will go to my grave with me” – Death by train comment #4.
·       Forrest provides a very warm written response to a searcher named Diane that wrote to him about hobos and trains and referred to her as “kindred”
·       Forrest quotes his friend Eric that the far away sound of a bell “can be both forlorn and soul-stirring”.   Later in that same topic, he wrote that he acquired from Eric a cast iron bell possibly retrieved from an old steam locomotive that he keeps at his San Lazaro Pueblo.  Forrest has a thing for bells.  The old trains have bells.
·       Forrest mentions in his TTOTC book that as a child he could hear the steam train going out of Katy “The Katy Rail Road tracks were about half-mile from our house and late at night I could hear the steam engines puff and the engineers blow their air horns. It was a soothing sound and sometimes I think I can still hear when the wind is out of the east.” – The Silverton train tracks are east of the potential hiding spot in Deadwood Gulch.  If Forrest was going someplace to die, would he not want something soothing like the air horns from the train?  The Silverton train uses these steam whistles and he could definitely hear them from Deadwood Gulch.
·       The last sentence leading up to the poem in TTOTC says:  “So I wrote a poem containing nine clues that if followed precisely, will lead to the end of my rainbow and the treasure:” The Silverton Rail Road Station was at the end of the “Rainbow Route” which was a steam train dating back to 1888 that ran from Albany to Silverton, CO. (long since defunct)

Stanza #3
From there it’s no place for the meek,  – Clue #4A
The end is ever drawing nigh; clue #4B
There’ll be no paddle up your creek, Clue #5
Just heavy loads and water high.  Clue #6

For Clue #4 (From there it’s no place for the meek, The end is ever drawing nigh), I have multiple possible interpretations.

My first thought for clue #4 was that Forrest might be referencing the Animas River which is on your left (nigh) while moving south/downstream from the Silverton Station to the ‘put in’ location.  This is the river that runs along the Silverton train tracks.  It is also known as “The River of Lost Souls”.  ‘Lost souls’ are considered to be ‘damned’ souls…since the ‘meek will inherit the Earth’ the meek are not ‘damned’ souls and therefore this would be no place for the meek.  This information about being ‘damned’ or a ‘lost soul’ would be pertinent for any person who is dying (end is drawing nigh/near) and Forrest thought he was going to do this whole poem and treasure hunt to go to the place he was going to die.  Hint – Forrest calls the chest his ‘indulgence’.  If you look up indulgence you find a pertinent definition of “a grant by the Pope of remission of the temporal punishment in purgatory still due for sins after absolution. The unrestricted sale of indulgences by pardoners was a widespread abuse during the later Middle Age” (could Forrest be offering back some of his ‘bananas’ (i.e. treasure) as an indulgence to be pardoned for his sins?).  Forrest’s scrapbook #26 shows an old ‘anima sola’ which depicts a lost soul in purgatory.  Forrest pretended to not know what it was…yeah right.  Could he have been hinting at the Animas river?  I thought yes.  Anima is defined as “soul”.  Forrest has stated he is not really religious and that he is more spiritual…but I think most people have religious type thoughts when facing death and maybe the fact that Forrest was not religious during his life gave him some concerns that he might end up in some sort of purgatory if he turned out to be wrong about religion?

My second thought on this clue #4 ties back to the bananas/train metaphor.  The meek would not be the ones ‘grabbing all of the bananas’ in life’s short (end ever drawing nigh) ‘train’ ride.  Thus, unlike Forrest (and the searcher trying to find his bananas), this would be no place for the meek.  I felt this is less likely to be correct than my first thought on this above but I would not put it past Forrest to have multiple meanings to the clues and I believe the message of the bananas/train metaphor from his father is that “life is short and do not be meek…seize all of the opportunities”.  So, I do somewhat like this second interpretation…just not as much as the first one above.

My third thought on this clue #4 is that this was the land of the Ute Native American tribe.  There was an “Indian Agent” named Nathan Meeker who was slaughtered (along with 10 others) by the Utes in the White River settlement on the western side of the Continental Divide.  The Utes near Silverton were led by the peaceful Chief Ouray and there was no Nathan Meeker around trying to force the Utes into an agricultural lifestyle.  Even still, the end was drawing nigh for the Utes as they were driven from the land near Silverton despite Chief Ouray’s peaceful and diplomatic approach.  I felt this interpretation was less likely than the first or second interpretations above.

For clue #5 (there will be no paddle up your creek), I note the semi colon after clue 4.  Semi colon’s can be used for a change in direction, and I thought that Forrest might be referring to a change in direction because as you continue south/downstream from the Silverton Station and then past the ‘put in’ along the Animas River, after approx. ¾ mile (from the put in) you will come to a creek called ‘Deadwood Gulch’ that feeds into the Animas river.  This Deadwood Gulch creek runs perpendicular (change of direction) to the Animas and it has a pretty steep climb up the mountain from its mouth at the Animas.  I believe Forrest indicates in the poem that it is ‘your’ creek because ‘his’ river is the Animas (river of lost souls) but the creek you want (your creek – the one with the treasure) is Deadwood Gulch.  Hint – ‘Deadwood’ is a term used in the card game Canasta!  If you do not have the first clue you might as well stay home and play Canasta!  You need to head ‘up’ this Deadwood Gulch creek (in elevation – not North).  There is no way you would ever put any sort of kayak or raft into this steep creek and thus there is no need for a paddle.

Clue #6 (just heavy loads and water high).  The creek in Deadwood Gulch flows down from high on the mountain (water high) and features a very nice waterfall (also water high) just below highway 550 (yes, THAT highway 550 – the one also known as the ‘Million Dollar Highway’ between Silverton and Ouray).  Between highway 550 and the mouth at the Animas, the creek also contains lots of old timbers, wood, and cast iron parts from an old mining operation that, I believe, ran some sort of rail cars / trolley down alongside the gulch to carry loads down from the mines further up the mountainside (heavy loads).  When I inspected this part of the creek I did see some sort of iron wheel and some old pieces of metal that looked like they might have been used as tracks.  You have to be careful walking around this area due to all of the mining debris that included wood pieces with old rusted nails sticking out of them.  I walked around this part of the gulch below highway 550 looking for a blaze (besides the obvious waterfall).  I did not find a blaze on that section of the Deadwood Gulch below highway 550 and ultimately decided that I did not like that part of the creek for Forrest’s hiding spot because it did not have a blaze (other than the waterfall), and I could not identify any location down there that would have a spot 200 feet away where some searchers would have been that also coincided with a separate 500-foot spot where lots of people would have been.  In addition, I also did not like the fact that all of that mining debris cluttered the area…if Forrest hid the treasure in this area I could see it being accidentally discovered at some point in the future if they ever decide to clean up all of that mining debris.  If you are down in that lower part of Deadwood’s Gulch searching, I think you need to be wise and think about the part of the Gulch above highway 550 (see explanation below for clue #7).

Other misc.  hints pointing to Deadwood Gulch near Silverton:
·       In OUAW, Doug Preston writes that Forrest originally intended to leave the final clue by leaving his car in the parking lot of the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.  This museum is located just outside of the ‘Golden Triangle’ of museums in Denver.  The San Juan Triangle is created by connecting the towns of Silverton, Telluride, and Ouray.  Deadwood Gulch is just outside of the San Juan Triangle since it lies just south of Silverton.
·       In TTOTC, there is an illustration of “My Spanish Toy Factory” which shows three children looking down at a triangle formation (marbles) and two of the children is pointing down at the triangle (or maybe just outside the triangle).  Deadwood Gulch is in the San Juan Mountains (San Juan is obviously a Spanish name and could be linked to “My Spanish Toy Factory” for that reason…and isn’t this whole treasure hunt like a big toy for Forrest?)

Stanza #4
If you’ve been wise and found the blaze, Clue #7A
Look quickly down, your quest to cease, Clue #7B
But tarry scant with marvel gaze, Clue #7C
Just take the chest and go in peace. Clue #7D

I am counting the whole 4th stanza as clue #7.  After searching the area of Deadwood Gulch below highway 550 I think you need to be ‘wise’ that it is not the hiding spot and also ‘wise’ to the fact that the Gulch extends above highway 550 and that area above highway 550 should be considered for a search.  You also need to be ‘wise’ to get in your car and drive up to the top part of the Gulch above Highway 550 because hiking it is impossible unless you are some sort of mountain climber (it is a little over a 2-mile drive from Silverton to where the Gulch meets highway 550).  Thankfully, as you drive up on highway 550 at Deadwood Gulch you come to a ‘turnout’ in the road that is gravel and a place to park your car (see photo).

As you look up the Deadwood Gulch from the mountainside turnout you are treated to a beautiful cascading creek that runs relatively flat and shallow between the steep stone gulch walls up to a small and beautiful waterfall.  The stone gulch walls are covered with all sorts of ‘desert varnish’ in various colors but much of it is a tarry black color.  There is no mining debris in the Gulch above highway 550.  As you look at the small waterfall (which happens to be right at 10,200 feet of elevation and 200 feet from the gravel parking area) you see something that stands out…a blaze.  I had seen this blaze before in a picture of this Deadwood Gulch cascade on Pinterest…and I went there looking for this blaze.  Directly to the right of the waterfall (as you face it) you see this large square shaped red rock facing you with three fat dark black streaks of desert varnish.  The black desert varnish streaks on the otherwise red stone really stands out and is quite beautiful (see blaze photos).

Fire is a blaze and red in color…why not a red blaze?  Tarry scant could refer to the red aspects of the stone that were not covered by the tarry colored black lichen.

Go in peace’ (i.e. Rest in Peace) could be a reference to Forrest dying and resting in peace now that he has paid his indulgence to the searcher.  When I viewed the potential blaze from near the road it appears small and a bit hard to see and almost looks like it could be some sort of native American rock art…but up close you can see that it is quite large and is just lichen created desert varnish with an unusually bright contrast between the black and the red. The only way to get up to the blaze from the parking area is to go into the cascades and walk 200 feet up the creek…there are no side trails and the sides are steep and treacherous and thick with pine trees.  It could be the earlier searchers within 200 feet simply provided Forrest with some nice pictures of their time in Silverton and that the Gulch was not a part of their solutions.  Or, it could be that the searchers were there at a time when the Gulch was full of snow.  This year, the snow was melted by 12May, but normally this time of year that gulch would be full of deep snow making it inaccessible for a search until June.   I had been to this location earlier this year with my snow shoes and snow shovel and learned just how deep that snow was in April.  When I saw the heat wave from 5May to 12 May I guessed that it might be melted and I was right….it was running strong from the snow pack melt but I was able to easily walk up it with some hiking poles and rubber boots (and waterproof gortex pants) …. Fenn being a fly fisherman would not even blink at walking/wading up this cascade.  To get to the potential hiding spot you have to walk through the ‘pinch point’ where the walls of the Gulch are closest together.
Beyond the ‘pinch point’ it slightly opens up on the other side of the pinch point and has an area that has ground with bushes and accessible cavities at the base of the stone gulch for potential hiding spots (see photo).  One of these cavities was about 10-15 feet downstream from the blaze – quickly down.  This was at the base of the gulch and was an absolutely perfect hiding spot for the chest.  The cavity was outside of the creek, so not underwater but still wet…it was about 2-3 feet deep into the side of the Gulch, about 10 inches high top to bottom, and about 3 feet across / wide….and the cavity is in a spot that is hidden behind the pinch point of the gulch so anyone on the road would not be able to see what that crazy old man was doing up there in the Gulch when he was hiding it (see photo – it is the triangular shaped hole towards the right center of the photo with a small log in the water pointing towards it).

I got out my flashlight and shone it into the cavity…I was sure I was going to see some rocks covering the indulgence when I looked inside the cavity.  My heart was broken when all I saw was a bottle, a plastic cup, and underwear!  Yes, there was men’s underwear in the cavity…they looked relatively new and when I looked up the brand name I saw they were sold at Walmart.  I knew I really was up shit’s creek at this point when I found the underwear and I was able to have a small laugh despite my disappointment.  I assume this bottle, underwear, and cup had washed down from the top of the mountain.  There is no reason for people to go into that part of the Gulch beyond the pinch point because there is no fishing to be done in that creek and there are no hiking trails anywhere in the area.  It would be really hard to get beyond that small waterfall and it gets really steep beyond that waterfall so I do not see people hiking up that Gulch just for the fun of it.  It would not really appeal to mountain climbers either because they would get soaked and it would be an insanely cold hike.  There were some other cavities in the base of the gulch that were also empty…but none were as perfect as the one cavity described above…I REALLY thought I was going to find the treasure in that one and my heart was pounding when I saw it.

Other hints related to clue #7
·       Why did Forrest make the upper elevation limit an odd number like 10,200 feet instead of 10,000 feet?  It is not the tree line…the tree line is between 11,500 and 12,000 feet.  The lower limit is a nice even 5,000 feet so I have always wondered if it might be right at 10,200 feet and this solution gave me that 10,200-foot number, which I liked.
·       Within 500 feet of the blaze is a second parking ‘turnout’ on the opposite cliff side of highway 550 that would be more popular because that one would provide the view of the larger Deadwood Gulch creek waterfall that exists below highway 550.  These two turnouts would explain why lots of people have been within 500 feet and why Forrest might have known some searchers were within 200 feet if they took a photo of the cascades / small waterfall above highway 550.
·       People bike on highway 550 all the time and I saw several people on bikes…Forrest hinted that he might just ride his bike there and throw his bike in the ‘water high’ which he could do…just toss his bike into the Gulch below highway 550 and then hike up the cascading creek above highway 550.  At his age now, I think he would need to start somewhere high on the mountain and coast down on his bike and not try to start at a lower elevation and pedal up the mountain.
·       The creek and pinch point could explain why Forrest is confident no one would ‘stumble’ upon the treasure.  It is a great ‘gatekeeper’ for the treasure.  As noted above, there is no reason to go into that part of the Gulch above the pinch point unless you are searching for Fenn’s treasure.
·       Once you are up the cascade beyond the pinch point if you look back you see a wonderful view.  You are looking North and, in the distance, you have a great view of Brown Mountain (see snow covered mountain in photo below).  You also see Silverton and if you stayed there long enough you would eventually hear the train blowing its whistle and ringing its bell from the East.  It is a neat spot.

·       I found a picture of the blaze on the internet after I had my solution for Deadwood Gulch by searching for Deadwood Gulch Silverton Colorado.  Fenn was once asked if the blaze could be pre-determined from the poem before being physically at the search location and he called the searcher a rascal for asking that question and decided after a long deliberation that he would not answer that question.  To me, that leaves open the possibility for finding the blaze prior to being BOTG.  You can find the exact quote if you wish…it is out there.
·       Fenn wrote about lichen in scrapbook 171:  “Because these strong colored rocks are a favorite of mine, once a friend told me that if I took one home, kept it in a sunny place, and sprayed it with beer once a week, it would continue to grown and keep its colors.  It didn’t work.”

Stanza #5
So why is it that I must go
And leave my trove for all to seek? 
The answers I already know, 
I’ve done it tired, and now I’m weak. 

I believe the 5th stanza is simply Forrest explaining that Forrest is ‘going’ (dying) and that he has his reasons for taking some of his ‘bananas’ to this spot for people to try to find using his brilliant poem.  He has grabbed as many bananas in life that he could and maybe this whole treasure hunt thing was his ‘last banana’.  When you think about it, this poem and this treasure hunt really has been a major ‘banana’ for Forrest.  He has sold many books, achieved fame, and cemented his legacy and immortality.  This was a banana that he could still grab late in life even though he was old, weak, and tired.  Right up to the end, Forrest is grabbing every banana in life and I am sure his father is very, very, proud of him.  I am sure his friends and other family members are proud as well.  He has also enriched many lives with adventure and outdoor fun…and that enrichment of others’ lives has been his ‘stated’ answer…but I think that was only one of the answers (plural).  The other ‘answers’ are more personal IMO and I may, or may not, have guessed them correctly above.

Stanza #6
So hear me all and listen good,
Your effort will be worth the cold. – Clue #8
If you are brave and in the wood – Clue #9
I give you title to the gold. 

For clue #8 (effort worth the cold), I think my solve was solid.  You have to walk/wade into a very cold creek.  Enough said.

For clue #9 (brave and in the wood), I think that the average person searching for the treasure might look at the Deadwood Gulch cascade with some trepidation…while it is shallow, it flows quite fast and it has a rock bottom.  Average people might think the cascade could knock them off their feet or that the rocks would be slippery…there is some bravery involved walking up that creek towards that waterfall and through the ‘passage’ at the pinch point (hint – Forrest recently said to have ‘safe passage’ and that pinch point in the gulch definitely qualifies as a passage).  The wood clue is obvious….it is DeadWOOD Gulch, and the cavities I found were literally inside the walls of the Gulch thus ‘In the wood’.

I think the rest of stanza 6 was for legal purposes…he wanted to make it clear that whoever finds the treasure gets to keep the treasure.

If you have gotten to the end of this, thanks for reading.  My hope is that maybe some aspects of this solution are correct and maybe can help someone with their solve.  Best of luck to all searchers and stay safe out there.

-Dave from KC


The Madison River…



I could no longer endure this winter’s wait… I needed adventure and I needed it now. 

On page 120 of TTOTC, there’s a picture of Forrest as a youngster standing at the end of a wooden table, displaying 11 large trout. The caption below the photo says “A good day on the river, I was twelve. What fish we couldn’t use we traded for potatoes and other goods. It’s what kept us going during the war when my father was making $4,000 a year teaching school in Texas.”  I wondered if that could be the reference to the line in the poem “and hint of riches new and old”. Those fish were a commodity the Fenn’s traded for food… could they be the “riches old”? And if so, then what? Where do we go from there? 

At the top right on the same page are the words MADISON RIVER. The Madison begins at the confluence of the Firehole and Gibbon Rivers at Madison Junction. Everyone who searches Yellowstone already knows this… it is probably the most popular WWWH in the eight years of Fenn treasure hunting.

And if you’re still not convinced, look at the sentence at the end of the opposite page where Forrest wrote, “But as I got older, I realized there were many moments to remember, like the time I sat under a tree on the Madison River and watched the osprey dive for fish as I wrote a note for my wife…”  The chapter concludes with the sentence “And when my tackle box is closed at last and the cadis hatch is gone, I will rest through all of time and space, pillowed down and scented in, with a smile that comes from remembering the special things that brought me to that final place, one of which was knowing Peggy was there, somewhere, waiting for me.”

It seems to me that last sentence in the chapter titled Flywater just described his “special place”, his final resting place… a place that is private and dear to him… and where he ultimately hid the treasure chest. He mentions Peggy… is it where he sat under a tree along the Madison and wrote her that note? Is the underlying message of his poem his final love letter to Peggy?

On that same page are words or phrases similar to the words in the poem… personal secrets, space was mine alone, I know, watching the waters deepen, and words “special”, most “dear”.

Even if this idea is on the right track, the Madison River flows 183 miles from Madison Junction to Three Forks, Montana. (You could glean even more hints for the Madison River in the chapter Looking for Lewis and Clark, where Forrest wrote about Osbourne Russell and Jim Bridger.) 

But where to start… I don’t like Madison Junction as where warm waters halt. I want to find a warm water spring nestled off the beaten path but not too far from the banks of the Madison River. There are a few to be found on a detailed map but the actual search will have to wait until late May or early June, when the weather settles down and the search becomes less COLD. Forrest did write, “You’re effort will be worth the cold”… if he means this literally, how much cold do I have to withstand to find his loot? 

I have a dismal feeling that I’m a good 7 years behind Dal, and Diggin Gypsy, and many folks who have already made various trips to search the YNP area, including the banks of the Madison River. I need a plan to catch up… so I thought I’d start now, using the process of elimination to help narrow the field.

I had been watching the extended weather forecasts for Pocatello, Idaho, Henry’s Lake, Ennis, and Three Forks, Montana for a couple weeks. I needed a 5-day window of drivable roadways to get from New Mexico to Three Forks, where the Madison ends (I also included a couple days in Gardiner/ Mammoth Hot Springs), and back home. My plan was to actually drive along as much of the Madison as I could so I could eliminate areas… I had already seen much of the river inside Yellowstone last fall so could skip it. This trip was intended to see the river from Hebgen Lake downstream all the way to the end.

I was out the door before 5am Saturday morning… it’s an easy drive from Rio Rancho up Hwy 550 to Rt64 to head west and north to Cortez, Colorado, Moab, Utah, etc.  I stopped for a moment along the road just north of Nageezi, NM, to get a shot of this sunrise. This alone was a wonderful reason to get an early start.

Then I continued north through Canyonlands where the road skirted Wilson Arch… I pulled into the parking area to take a picture but decided I had to climb up beneath the arch where I could see others milling around. It was worth the effort, on hands and knees here and there… wow, the view was incredible. Descending was worse… on hands and feet and butt… moving like a hermit crab down the precipitous side back to the parking area… well, that was exhilarating, and I was grinning… Yep, this was already an adventure!

In 12 hours after leaving home, I was pulling into my hotel parking lot in Pocatello, Idaho.  I almost wished I hadn’t made reservations so I could keep on driving… the adrenlin was pumping and I couldn’t wait to cross Raynold’s Pass and drop down to the river. But I knew Sunday was going to be a long day so tried to sleep.

At daybreak I bolted from bed, skipped the free breakfast and headed north to Idaho Falls, then northeast to Henry’s Lake where I turned northwest and crossed the Continental Divide at Raynold’s Pass. It was magnificent with the snow and the sunlight making it’s way through the cracks in the whispy clouds above. 

It wasn’t long until I reached the Madison at the Raynold’s Pass Fishing Access area. I pulled into the parking area, grabbed my gear, and walked along the river downstream a bit. It was beautiful, but not where Forrest hid the treasure chest, IMO… there were barely any trees. 

On MW Forrest said: ” Stop arm chairing that thing to death and get out there in the trees where the box is, but before you go, look at the poem as if it were a map, because it is, and like any other map, it will show you where to go if you follow its directions.” Yep, I feel like I’m not following the directions… at least not yet. I needed to drive upstream towards Hebgen…

The scenery did not disappoint… it was absolutely magnificent. I decided to use my cell phone to make a few videos. I held it in my left hand which I steadied on my side mirror as I drove. There was little traffic… I think it was 26º. My hand got cold but I didn’t care. I was on a mission… then I accidently dropped my cell phone as I was driving. Oops… thank goodness it bounced away from my truck, and landed face up. 

I stopped many times to get out and take pictures… I will spare Dal the inconvenience of posting so many in this story; instead, I will post a link to them at the end. (I included captions to describe the places.) 

By the time I got to Grayling Creek, the sky above West Yellowstone looked ominous… like Forrest had a direct line to God and they were warning me to turn back. So I did… 

From there I made my way back along the Madison and continued my journey downstream on Hwy287 to Three Forks, Montana, stopping at each of the fishing access areas to peruse the liklihood of Fenn’s loot hiding in the vicinity. 

The next photo is from the Lyon Bridge… yep, I count that as a possibility to “marry the clues on a map and see where the lines cross.” There are trees.. a forest of pine trees along one bank, and easily accessible, all year long.

Eventually the terrain became a wide valley… the photo below shows a herd of elk lying in the field… the river is behind them, and I don’t see trees… 

I continued on to the Lewis and Clark Hotel in Three Forks… it was a small town, but charming… probably… on any day except Easter Sunday. Nearly every eating establishment was closed… and I was starving! But I didn’t care… I was ecstatic… I had accomplished my mission. Here is the link to my SmugMug pictures for that part of my trip.


But wait, my journey and  reconnaisance trip doesn’t stop here. I planned an extra two days to stay in Gardiner and drive into Yellowstone National Park  to visit Mammoth Hot Springs and see wildlife… the 4-legged variety. (There was also some wild life of the 2-legged variety in the Two Bit Saloon in Gardiner, but that came later.) 

I had never visited this part of the park before. There are pros and cons for visiting in the winter… it is COLD…. 16º Tuesday morning as I made my way through Mammoth Hot Springs and on towards Tower-Roosevelt and the Lamar Valley.  Even though the road is open to traffic, that doesn’t mean the road is bare… driving through the hilly, windy forested area where the sun seldom shines was gut-wrenching, at least for someone living in NM who seldom has to drive in snow or icy conditions. I went slow… there was little traffic so I had the entire road to maneuver.  

I saw billions of bison and elk… not literally that many but A LOT. I stopped stopping to take pictures of them and continued on to Slough Creek where there were supposedly wolves seen that morning. By the time I got there, they were gone… how do I know this, you might wonder? Because the career wolf-pack-watchers were gone… the SUVs and pickup trucks with the big anntennas and surly people with the gigantic lenses, so I was told. 

Part way through the Lamar Valley, I decided to turn around and head back to the Terraces in the Mammoth Hot Springs area.  It was still a pretty day, albeit a bit windy and still bitter cold, but I definitely wanted to see them.  It was one of the best decisions I’d made the entire trip… I fell in love with the upper and lower terraces. It is a photographers paradise.  (One of the pros of a winter visit, less people…)

Once again, I will spare Dal the hassle of including them in this story… here’s the link to the Yellowstone photos, with captions on most of them.


I want to make sure everyone who reads this story understands I did nothing dangerous to put myself at risk. I even used my better judgment and postponed a drive through Yellowstone Monday the day I arrived, when it was snowing, blowing, and visibilty was horrible. I hated the thought of another YNP Fenn treasure searcher having to be rescued… or worse.

I also went extremely prepared… I had snow shoes, snow boots, 2 pairs of hiking boots in case one pair got wet, a winter ski jacket, hat, gloves, enough food and water inside the truck I could have lived in there for a week, as well as a shovel, chain, and flares.  

I did not actually search for Fenn’s gold at any particular spots… because I haven’t found the place to begin.  But now I have a better understanding of the terrain.

I also drove home by way of Rt191 from Bozeman to West Yellowstone before dropping south into Idaho… holy moly! This is a must-see drive for anyone in the area who has never seen this canyon and the Gallatin River. 

Now I’m so confused… this canyon and river is as beautiful as the Madison… and Fenn was a fishing guide here so would know the area well.

I have 6 weeks to solve the poem… then I return.  

As a word of caution, I hope anyone who plans to search in any of these areas looks at my pictures to understand how much snow is still there, especially in the trees. Don’t be stupid!  Go prepared and always tell at least two parties where you will be, and check in with them every day. 

I saw these words on a plaque in the lobby at the Lewis and Clark Hotel…

“Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take,

but by the number of moments that take our breath away.”

I am fortunate… I just had many!


April 2018

About Lat/Lon…

SUBMITTED February 2018
by Diggin Gypsy



So this was another one of my searches last year the poem and numbers. They matched up to this spot . Forrest said if we have the coordinates we could walk right to it lol so y’all know me. I see things. Maybe my imagination is over-cooked. Who knows? It’s a lot of fun. The first number-

So that took me to West Yellowstone  so I had to find another number to go with it   Hmmmmm I had found several over the years but I had to have the right amount for a coordinate. I didn’t pick numbers to match my spot they just automatically matched  in a place I have searched many times. Here is the second set.

This was the perfect spot for the treasure  so we got down on the ground and raked around. Bu nothing! I have to say this was the best thrill of all my searches. if I would have hidden that treasure it would have been there in that perfect location.

What are the odds that the numbers take me to a location many of us search?    Maybe the numbers are just a hint. Who knows?  I searched that whole area without luck. Maybe it’s someone else’s turn and they will get lucky.  Happy trails y’all.


Diggin Gypsy-