Saying Goodbye to Randy…

July 26th, 2016

Now that the police have officially declared the human remains found north of Cochiti Lake  in New Mexico to be those of Randy Bilyeu I wanted to post some abbreviated material that Randy sent to be shared with other searchers. Randy sent this note in September of 2015, shortly after we had met up with Randy and Leo at Forrest’s Gaspard book signing in Santa Fe.

Think of this as a tribute to Randy…and his best pal Leo

NOTE SENT SEPTEMBER 10th 2015

Hey Dal and Goofy:
With the passing of another Labor Day… I wanted to send you guys some
photo’s of my 14 “labor’s of love” adventures with my dog, Leo. Please feel
free to post any of these pictures on your blog if you think other searchers
will enjoy a laugh and maybe benefit from them. I am keeping my current and
favorite search a secret between me, Forrest and my dog.
This is my first entry to any of the Fenn blogs because I was afraid of accidently giving out some clues.
Happy hunting everybody and I really hope that someone soon finds Forrest’s  chest of Gold… but everyone knows that the real treasure is the journey of life itself and enjoying nature.
P.S. Forrest’s dog Tesuque has some real competition this year. Lol
Regards,
Randy and Leo Bilyeu
WhiteBeard and SpongDog
Leos Rocky Mtn. Adventure 026 Leos Rocky Mtn. Adventure 070 Leos Rocky Mtn. Adventure 064 Leos Rocky Mtn. Adventure 061 Leos Rocky Mtn. Adventure 059Leos Rocky Mtn. Adventure 078 Leos Rocky Mtn. Adventure 079 20140606_182655 20140604_102252
20140605_081200 20140605_094403 20140603_200814 20140607_184209 20140918_155858
20141006_092308 IMAG0778 IMAG0788 IMAG0914 IMAG0918
Moms Funeral and NM CO 106 Moms Funeral and NM CO 211 Moms Funeral and NM CO 151 Moms Funeral and NM CO 529 Moms Funeral and NM CO 552
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Human Remains Found…

July 20th, 2016

 

 

Here is the news story from KOB-TV in Albuquerque about human remains found in the area where Randy Bilyeau disappeared last winter.

Report From Friday by Cynthia…

February 13th, 2016

 BY CYNTHIA

 

Friday Feb 12th Search for Randy

A couple days ago, Tom Terrific mentioned he’d like to wade downstream from Buckman Road where Randy’s car was found…he felt the river was low enough and slow enough for him to do this, with the aid of a searcher or two on the shoreline for safety’s sake.

A small group exchanged emails and decided on meeting Friday morning at 7:00 am near Old Buckman Road. I arrived first, quickly joined by Roger Radcrad a veteran searcher, Robert B who is not a Fenn treasure searcher but ex-military with SAR experience, and Tom Terrific himself. I received a text from Scott R that we should go ahead without him…he’d catch up, eventually. Seems Scott was driving a bit above the speed limit on his way north, and got pulled over…

The four of us accessed the river and were surprised to see the flow had greatly increased from what we expected. We agreed wading was not a good idea…we’d walk along the shoreline, spreading out where feasible between the water and cliff-sides, downstream, as far as time would allow.

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Roger led the way…along the water’s edge…sometimes winding through thickets of willows that slashed at my face and grabbed at my hair like giant tentacles with claws. There were areas of Russian olive trees that were thick with branches covered in thorns. I noticed the guys were wearing gloves…I understood why as I tried to push the branches aside enough to wiggle through. Later I noticed a bloody scratch across Roger’s cheek… where he apparently lost the battle with an angry branch…

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There were stretches along the shoreline where the sides got steep between the water and cliff- face. Robert’s dog Pepper never seemed to mind…maybe having 4 feet with your center of gravity a few inches from the ground made this hiking much more amiable…

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As we went about our journey, we each kept an eye out for Randy or any clues that would be helpful…sometimes Roger would stop for a moment and use his binoculars to search the shoreline and land across the river. Once Robert and I crawled through the thicket of tree branches, willows, and brush to check out an area that Pepper seemed interested in sniffing…

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Every now and then, we came to an area of sandy beach along the water. This particular search for Randy was bittersweet for me…I was in awe of the beauty of the river through this section of canyon I’d never traveled. Despite the brisk 23 degree temperature when we first stepped out of our vehicles that morning, the sun soon warmed my chilled bones…we couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful February day. The sky could not have been any bluer or the water clearer…we were witnessing the Rio Grande at it’s finest. I almost felt guilty with my overwhelming sense of joy to be standing there…

As we took a break on a much-appreciated beach, we heard yelling coming from upstream…we looked up on the butte to see Scott waving to us…he had made it after all and finally spotted us from his vantage point. We hollered back and forth…not really sure what the other said, but good enough to understand he’d continue his hike up high, and eventually meet us downstream.

Below picture: Scott is standing at point of red arrow.

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We four, plus Pepper continued on…winding our way along the water, through thickets and brush when necessary. I was delighted when we retreated from the shoreline to meet Scott on higher ground.

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Above photo: Roger, Scott, Tom, and Robert.
The guys exchanged information and stories while I found a nice rock out of the way to take a seat…once again I marveled at the beauty of the canyon, the desert hillside and terrain, the sky…

There alone on my rock in my solitude, I looked at these 4 guys…I mean, unbeknownst to them, I studied them…Roger a 70-yr old Vietnam veteran who has been out searching for Randy almost every day for 4 weeks, mostly alone…he probably now knows the area between Buckman Road and the raft including all the roads and trails around Montoso Peak better than anyone except maybe John Brown. Standing to his right was Scott, a 40-ish yr old guy who looked like he’d just stepped off the cover of Guns and Ammo magazine…This is meant to be a compliment…if I ever need a young, all-around super duper guy for a body guard, Scott would get the call! He, too, has done numerous searches, breaking an axle on his ATV trailer, ruining the transmission in his truck, and finding a flat tire when he returned to his vehicle later today. But, despite his bad luck, he never gives up helping to search for Randy. To his right stands Tom Terrific…I had never met him prior but had read a few of his comments on the blog. Like all of us but Scott, he too is on the north side of 60 and wanted to help search for Randy…he was the instigator of this particular search. On the right is Robert…he had never heard of Fenn and the treasure until a month ago when he saw that Randy was missing. He is ex-military with experience in search and recovery…he also has been kayaking Cochiti Lake, trying to paddle through the ice chunks to the river inlet. Some of you who read this story may criticize me for talking about these guys…but they epitomize the kind of folks who have been searching for Randy the past month…and I want everyone to understand the commitment some of us feel.

It was now approaching 1 pm, so most of us decided it was time to head back to the vehicles. Scott wanted to continue his trek downstream a bit further and Roger wanted to hike back up along the shoreline we’d just negotiated. Tom, Robert, and I decided to walk above the river across the terrain where Scott had walked…it was easier and some of us believe this was Randy’s exit strategy all along.

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For the three of us, walking up and down the hilly terrain, winding our way through the junipers back to the saddle on the butte where we sighted Scott was like a walk in the park compared to the hike along the shoreline. Just prior to the saddle, we found the dirt road that winds down to the river from the water wells near Buckman…Randy may have discovered this prior to his trip, and planned this as part of his walk back to his car…we likely will never know.

We were tired when we returned to our vehicles…we had been gone almost 7 hours and most of that time was on our feet. Unfortunately, we did not find Randy, nor any clues. I was delighted, though, that we all returned safely…other than minor scratches, no one twisted an ankle, bled profusely, or fell into the river. Pepper lay exhausted in the shade beside her owner’s truck while Tom and Robert enjoyed a cold beer while resting their tired feet, sitting on the tail gate. I threw my gear in my vehicle, said my good-byes, and headed back to civilization. It was a long ride across the sandy, rippled surface of Buckman Road…passing Diablo Canyon, staring at the guys near the tents there wondering if they were the “Mountainmen from Texas”… but mostly contemplating… what to do next?

Robert has made progress with the Cochiti Pueblo and may be able to gain access to Tetilla Peak next week. If so, we can glass the lake and river inlet. Roger talked about a trail he found up the east side of the canyon from the raft to the mesa north of where the raft was found. If we camped there on top, it would give us an early start to another search day, hiking down this “trail” to the river, where we could search the shoreline and hillside north of the raft upstream to Ancho rapids. Until every square inch of land has been searched or Randy has been found, some of us will never give up…

Peace to Randy and his family.
To see more pictures from today’s search, click this link: https://tomcor99.smugmug.com/Randy-Search-Buckman-Shoreline

On Randy’s Selfie Trail…

February 9th, 2016

by Tars1

 

I live in Farmington NM, I recently began posting as Tars1 trying to help with the search for Randy. I was with Sacha and the crew in January and February. Since there was not a big search crew going out the other day and I wasn’t trying to beat a storm on the way home, I decided to check something out on my own.

I had noticed during the BOTG searches that there is still some disagreement about where the selfie was taken. It seems kind of moot at this point but I also wanted to verify it to myself and see exactly what Randy was seeing when he planned his boat trip.

I drove to Whiterock and checked from the overlook and it looked like I was heading in the right direction so I continued on  and found “Powerline Trail” on highway 4 between Whiterock and Bandalier. As I feared, it was blocked off with only an opening for hikers and mountain bikes. It is a 2 mile hike to the rim from the highway but it is actually a road that has been blocked so the hike is easy enough. It goes to the rim where the power lines cross the Rio Grande Gorge. From that point I followed the rim south toward the point and I came upon a well marked trail that went down around the face of the rocks on the point .

Selfie spot trail Selfie spot uphil Selfie spot view Selfie spot jogger

I didn’t have Randy’s selfie with me so it was hard to pinpoint just where he was standing but the slope several hundred feet below, the view of the Rio Grande and the canyon in the distance, and the bright rock face above me make it very obvious that this was the place. While I was taking pictures and glassing the view a jogger came down the trail with his two little dogs. We only chatted a moment as he was headed down to the river. He said the trail goes all the way down to the river and supposedly connects with the Blue Dot and Red dot trails below Whiterock. In a moment he was out of sight and less than two minutes later he was visible on the trail well below. It is that easy of a trail. He is almost in the exact center of the picture pointed  down the face of the hill. He was moving pretty good. He had parked at the same place I did, and even though the river is probably another mile or more I half expected the guy to get to the river and still pass me getting back to the highway.

Selfie coord

The coordinates I managed to mark on my gps are just up the hill from where the selfie was taken. N35 47.071 W106 13.407

I just wanted to make sure at least this part was verified for everyone.

Tars1-

Report From Saturday by Sacha…

February 7th, 2016

 BY SACHA

 

Search Report from Saturday February 6th

No plan goes as expected, especially when it’s success is contingent on outside forces that can’t be controlled.

I set out yesterday with two plans.  The first was my primary plan.  I wanted to get my group to search areas that have been inaccessible to us, which are the mouth of the river and the eastern section of the lake.  This plan required two things to happen.  First, we needed permission from Cochiti to fly the drone. Second, we needed permission to access the area closed to the public until April 1st.

We did not receive permission on either front.  I had no way of knowing whether or not we did until we met for the search that morning.  Even though it was looking promising on Friday, I still had a backup plan in case things didn’t go our way.  That backup plan is the plan we ended up using.

Rover Dave had already agreed to spend his Saturday using his drone wherever we needed it.  We decided that we could best use it on the river to examine the water, south of where Randy’s raft was found.  In addition to Dave, we had Kevin, Anthony, Scott, and Cynthia.  But, Cynthia had her trusty companion Molly with her, and didn’t think it would be a good idea to take her to the Montoso Mesa.  Molly’s paws would not be happy with the cactus out there.

We all met at the La Bajada marker, and waited for Ranger Nikolas to arrive.  We waited for an hour before we decided he wasn’t coming.  Cynthia kept busy while we waited by picking up a saddening amount of trash from the meeting place.  It would seem that some people had been using it as a dumping ground.  She filled a big black bag, and it barely made a dent.  She could have filled the bed of her pickup with the monitors, mattress, and other debris.

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We decided to split our group up, sending Cynthia and Molly to scout the lake area, and see if it would be worth trying to take a team to the west side of the lake.  Cynthia’s scouting trip proved that it would not help us, because it wouldn’t get us close enough to the area for us to see well.  There are a couple of miles between the shore and the mouth of the river, and there isn’t a vantage point high enough to compensate for the distance.  Cynthia also discovered something else – there WAS ice on the lake still.  I don’t know where Ranger Nikolas got his information, but there is definitely still too much ice to see well.

The rest of us headed to the Montoso Mesa.  First, we went to the raft location, and flew the drone just south of where the raft was found.  We used one full battery to cover the water area.  The video resolution is so clear, you can see blades of grass.  Last week, we identified a turquoise object in the water.  It was small, and we could see it looked plastic, but it didn’t concern us.  When we returned this week, we found that same object, still in the same location.  It was actually on dry land, in the middle of a sandbar.  When we were in the same location a week ago, that item was covered with a few inches of water.  That told us the water level is much lower this week.

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We didn’t find anything else to note in that location, so we packed up in the trucks and headed around the canyon to the south, out to a point further down the river.  We had to forge new roads and find old ones, but eventually we arrived at our location.  We hiked to the rim, and we could see miles downstream.  Dave decided to hike much lower, to get the best range from his drone.  Kevin and Scott joined him.  Kevin was Dave’s spotter, and Scott hiked all the way down to river level, to see things much closer.

Dave flew his drone up and down the river banks, hovering over every item he could find.  He made sure to fly as low as he could, and covered the entire river surface in a grid pattern.  He used every battery he had, and risked losing his drone if the wind kicked up, but he stayed down there for over three hours, getting as much footage as he could.

Wheres Davea

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Anthony and I used Scott’s binoculars to look further downstream than the drone could go.  We could see so far, it seemed like we could almost see to the lake.  There were several objects in the river, but we couldn’t see any of them with clarity from that distance.  The sharp turn at the end was too far for anything we had to see very clearly.

We didn’t make it back to the trucks until 3:30.  We spent the next hour praying our way through the mud, while we trekked out of there.  I didn’t see my car again until almost 5 pm.

It was difficult for us to make out anything on the video, while we were in the field.  The glare on the remote screen does not allow us to see colors or objects clearly.  But, when I go home, I popped the card into my computer, and I was amazed at what I saw.  You can see bushes, grass, small pieces of litter and debris, and even the ripples in the sand beneath the water.  The video is clearer than any of our eyes could see, without having to stick our heads in the river.

I have given the memory card with the drone footage to Cynthia very early this morning.  She is spending the entire day uploading the files.  It may take her into tomorrow.  She will give me the links to all of the video as soon as she has them.  When she does, I will share the video so that you can all help us go through it and make sure we didn’t miss anything.

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Sadly, we have run out of new places to search, until we get permission from any agency, or until April 1st, when the Tetillo Peak Recreation Area reopens.  Cynthia and I checked, and that gate is very locked.  And, that hike is too far to be done on a reasonable day.  We most likely will never receive permission to fly the drone any further south than we have already done.  And, the water in the lake is far too cold to recommend that we spend any significant time in watercraft.  If someone were to accidentally fall in, the hypothermia could be catastrophic that far away from help or shore.

I think we may have reached an impasse in our search efforts.  I know that there are others out there checking on a few small possibilities that are left, but the areas that hold the most promise are the most difficult for us to get in to.

Also, I think the water based searches should only be performed by trained professionals, and hopefully with high-tech equipment to search places that people shouldn’t.  That would probably be an expensive venture, but would also yield the best results.

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Many of you still want to help, and one way you can do that is to continue to contribute to the GoFundMe campaign.  Randy’s daughter has control of that account, and she can use that money towards paying professionals to check the water.  The local law enforcement don’t have access to the expensive and experimental equipment that the private sector does, but the private companies almost always require to be paid for their work.

https://www.gofundme.com/qcjp7k4s

Thank you all of you so much for your support and kind words.  Please send those good thoughts and wishes to Randy’s family.  They need them much more than us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Search Plans for Saturday Feb. 6th…

7

February 5th, 2016

 BY Sacha

 

Search Plan for Saturday February 6th, 2016

I am sorry about being so late with the plans, but I only just got off the phone with Ranger Nikolas a few minutes ago.

I have GREAT news. The ice that covered the mouth of the river into Cochiti has broken up! This is great, because it means we can search the lake and mouth of the river. I was even told that watercraft can pass through with ease, but we don’t have any water craft available for tomorrow.

We will be meeting at exit 264, on the West side of the highway, at 8 am on Saturday, February 6th. When you exit, turn West and we are about 100 feet down on your left.

The best part about tomorrow’s search is that there is no special equipment necessary, but binoculars would be the most helpful item you could bring. We will be searching as much of the lake and mouth of the river as we can cover. Ranger Nikolas is working on getting us permission from ALL appropriate agencies so that we can access any area around the lake.

Please do remember to bring water and snacks, and wear a good pair of hiking shoes.

Please Note:
There will NOT be an organized dinner after tomorrow’s search.

Cynthia and I will see you there.

On Searching…

nmscenic

February 3rd, 2016

by forrest

 

An average person can believe they excel when they don’t, and most smart people realize that they are really just average. Then there are some who stand out and don’t even know it.

I received this email from Cynthia this morning. f

I think Sacha and I will put together another group search on Saturday unless the search area gets more snow tomorrow or Friday. We just can’t turn this off…you trained us to look for your treasure chest. Most of us aren’t surprised when we don’t find it, but that doesn’t keep us from continuing to search. We go home, regroup, re-research, and go out again…never ever planning to give-up.

Report From Friday by Cynthia…

January 31st, 2016

 BY cynthia

West Rim Photo Shoot for Randy

I was hoping Sacha and her group of a dozen plus searchers would find Randy in the canyon yesterday…the “figure” sprawled on top the large boulder looked promising from the drone footage taken a week or so ago. Alas, they identified that spot, and it was not a body…
So here I am once again…passing along the only information I can contribute to our search for our fellow Fenn treasure-hunter Randy Bilyeu…
The only idea I had left was to hike out to the West Rim of White Rock Canyon through Bandelier to the spot across from the raft…I’d set my camera with 300 mm zoom lens on a tripod and photograph a grid of pictures which I could then send the link to Dal for anyone to download onto their own computers, and zoom in even more. Maybe someone will see something…
Forrest made me promise that I wouldn’t make the hike alone so I called Roger who lives in Santa Fe to see if he’d escort me…he said he would.

Early the next day, we headed to Bandelier. The day before I had told the rangers there at the visitors’ center what my plan was…to hike out through the back-country to the rim. They said no problem and asked me to remain on the trail…I debated if I should explain my plan to them again…no trail usage intended…we would follow the south rim of Frijoles Canyon to the river and turn south. They hesitated and said okay…they wrote down my name and phone number and party of 2. They warned me that if my car was still in the parking lot there at dusk, we would be considered lost, and a search party would be sent out. Heaven forbid anything goes awry, I thought…

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The drive across NM502 that Friday morning was beautiful…we couldn’t have asked for better weather for January. We rode in silence much of the way…both of us contemplating our day ahead…neither Roger nor I had ever hiked across the back-country here so did not know what to expect. The lady ranger told me we were looking at a 10-mile roundtrip hike. That didn’t sound too extreme at our ages if you are on level terrain with good footing…but this was bush- whacking across the undulating mesa tops covered in vegetation and a lot of pre-cut dead branches. And that thought of absolutely having to be back to the car by dusk weighed heavy on my mind.
We parked, gathered our gear, and headed to the Frijoles Falls trailhead where we would make our 400-ft ascent up the switchbacks on the south side of the canyon to reach the mesa top. Much of the trail was still snow-covered…I followed the fresh rabbit tracks ahead of me.

ImageExtract-002 I wanted to sprint to the top…but Roger wanted to take in the scenery. It was the right thing to do since who knew when we’d return here. At the top of the switchbacks, we left the trail and headed east along Frijoles Canyon rim…it was mostly a pleasant hike.

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It took us 2 hours to get to the top of the rim across from the raft…we weren’t directly across from it but close enough. As I set up my tripod and attached the zoom lens to the camera, Roger was already busy using the binoculars, searching…

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We were quiet much of the time…the only sound was the shutter release repeating over and over…90 times to be exact because that’s how many photos I took during the grid shoot. Even when I finished, we both sat there…I took a few pictures on my phone which I sent to Forrest to let him know we made it safely to the rim. I was surprised there was enough of a signal, but when I received a reply from him, I knew they sent.
I joined Roger right out on the edge…it was almost spiritual…it’s hard to explain the feeling I felt… looking for Randy, trying to think like Randy…I’m sure most of the other folks who have done their own boots-on-the-ground searches as well as Forrest and his teams in the chopper, all understand what I mean.

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After an hour and a half, I asked Roger if he was ready to pack up and head back…no response. Ok…I knew we had plenty of time to get back before dusk. We talked about what a spectacular day it was…the setting up on the mesa top looking north or south along the Rio Grande was absolutely gorgeous if you like the desert…we both do. We talked about how we wished we’d brought camping gear so we could stay longer…it was that spectacular to us, and the solitude and quiet was so peaceful…
Eventually, we packed up and headed home…
Here is the link to the pictures: I’d like to thank my BFF Tom back in Pennsylvania who allowed me to post these on his SmugMug site.

https://tomcor99.smugmug.com/01312016-Search-for-Randy

Cynthia