Vagabond…

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August 2019
by dal

 

On the first of July I retired from my job running a community TV station. No more decisions to make about television programming. No more fretting over hosts, sets, time sheets, editing time, graphics, program schedules, financials, technical reports, meetings, equipment repairs, planning, purchases or returning phone calls. By the second of July I had run amuck. I was in a melt down. Nothing to do…

Just 24hrs into my retirement and I was driving Kathy mad. She told me to “get out of the house”. “Go visit Forrest and take in Fennboree. Then go search for the treasure. Enjoy yourself”, she said. “Take all the time you need. No hurry”, she added.

So I did.

Tuesday July 2nd
At 3pm on July 2nd Ezy and I were on the ferry headed to the mainland. 1,600 miles to Forrest’s place from the island. Three days of driving.

I was still jumpity as my brain tried desperately to think of something to worry about, some reason to call a meeting …but there wasn’t anything to do except point Ezy east and south toward Santa Fe.

I had an errand to run first. So instead of heading south and east I headed north and east on the North Cascades Scenic Highway. Last winter Jenny Kile had sent me one of her Forrest Fenn Gold Medallions to hide for folks in the northwest to look for.

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Jenny’s Gold Medallion

Well…actually, I would hide a stone with a code written on it somewhere in the Cascade Mountains. Whoever found that stone could claim the gold medallion that would be safely tucked away in my cabin and not exposed to the elements..

I had marked my stone and I knew where I wanted to hide it, at the entrance to the North Cascades National Park between Marblemount and Newhalem.

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The welcome sign is pretty dramatic and I thought it would be a good place to write a poem with clues to the stone’s where-abouts. I left the stone there, documented its location and pointed Ezy east.

By 11pm Ezy and I were camped on the Columbia River near Peshastin, WA.

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Ezy’s insides decked out for a good night’s rest.

Wednesday, July 3rd
Not a good night. My mind was working me over about retirement. Hard time sleeping. Restless all night.

At first light I was down the road. Heading toward Pendleton, OR and further south.
What struck me about this particular July was the satisfying lack of forest fires…so far.

For the past five summers it seems like the West has been terrifyingly ablaze by July. The forest’s I’m driving by show the scars. Miles of black leafless columns crowd the landscape in every direction. What were once lovely, leafy forests are now nothing but burned out remnants reminding me of the smoke choked air that was so difficult to breathe. But this year is different. The air is remarkably clear. There are no wildfire detours, fire trucks speeding down the highway or helitack choppers heading to smoke enveloped hills.

I pass by green orchards with a bajillion pears, apples and apricots ripening up. Further south the orchards turn to vineyards and then hop fields interspersed with ranches and grazing black cattle by the tens of thousands. Later in the day Ezy and I climb up into Oregon’s Blue Mountains and our first opportunity to stretch dal’s legs and look for wildflowers.

In the lowlands, by July, spring wildflower season is past but at about 5,000 ft elevation, this far north, it’s still spring and wildflowers are in abundance. I pull off onto a side road near the highway, park, and walk through the orange trunks of fragrant Ponderosa trees scanning for patches of open meadow.

It doesn’t take long before I find my first gold…

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This is a delicate Orange Honeysuckle. They are a forest understory vine that crawls upward on taller plants to try and reach the sun. As kids we all knew to pull the filaments out of the flower and suck the sweet nectar drop off the bottom…hence the name Honeysuckle.

Walked around for a half hour admiring the pines and the meadow then jumped back in Ezy and headed further south and east toward Wells, NV.

I’ll spend the night in the brush south of Wells, where I can’t hear the trucks exploding past at unlimited speed. I still can’t sleep. My mind is trying to understand retirement. Will I starve to death? That’s ridiculous…I’ll get a retirement check and a social security check monthly. I’m fine. So much to worry about, so little time.

Thursday, July 4th
Before first light I am down the road. There isn’t much for me to appreciate in the stretch of Nevada between Wells and Ely on the Great Basin Highway. I guess because I don’t know enough about gray rocks and lizards. The landscape is dry, monotone and tedious. If Ezy was a 4 wheeler I guess I could explore more out in that area but I’ve been stuck twice too many times so now I stay on the hard top through there. I’ll make good time because there is nothing to stop for and the speed limit is faster than I care to drive.

There is this:pes

The Pony Express memorial at the Shellbourne Rest Area. It’s part of the Pony Express National Historic Trail. I complain too much. Those guys had it a lot tougher than Ezy and me.

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double click to see this large enough to read

I always stop at the Great Basin National Park. They do a magnificent job of trying to impress me with the 300 miles of monotony I just drove through and the 150 miles of uniform tedium I am about to drive through.

gbnpsignJohn McPhee is the best science writer in my known universe of science writers. I love the guy. He makes the impossible, conceivable. He interprets science the way Cormac McCarthy interprets the west. Science is an adventure with John at your side.

mcpheeOne of McPhee’s enlightening books is titled “Basin and Range” and it examines the geologic underpinnings in this part of the universe. McPhee does such a good job of science storytelling that when I finished Basin and Range I couldn’t wait to be out here in the Nevada wasteland again.

nvboringHowever, my fervor quickly dissolved once I was again face to face with 7 hours of leaden landscape, 105 degree heat and pitiless unbending road. If I had my way I would sleep the whole way between Jackpot, NV and Delta, UT. I pity the jackrabbits and snakes that somehow survive in this butt-sore topography. Sign me up for an autonomous vehicle lease through Nevada…Maybe Uber next time…

But then Utah comes roaring into view like a John Ford movie in spectacular Vistavision. It’s dramatic, huge, colorful and entertaining. The road is twisty the towns are quaint and the drive becomes spectacular. I head with renewed energy toward Loa and Capital Reef National Park.

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Hwy72 gains about 9,000ft of elevation and from my perch I can look down into the washed and tortured canyon lands below. Once again, at 9,000ft, even though I am quite far south, it’s still lush and springlike up here.

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The meadows are dotted with wildflowers from Beggerticks to Sunflowers to Paintbrush to Lupine, Daisies and Larkspur.

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From here it’s all downhill to Loa and Fruita.

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The problem is that I am always fighting the clock in my head. This time I am trying to get to Santa Fe before Fennboree begins. So I drive right by the park, without stopping…again!!

I have never had enough time to get out and explore Capital Reef. I’ve driven by it a few times on the Bicentennial Highway but never stopped. This September I plan to spend a few walking days at the park on my way to Santa Fe. I’m looking forward to it. If anyone has suggestions for good day hikes in/around the park…I’m all ears.

It’s getting late in the afternoon, 4th of July and I can see town picnics and food fairs in the squares of small burgs as I drive through. Kids are waving sparklers and I pass cars with the stars and stripes flapping from their antennas. Celebrations are everywhere.

I am keenly aware of the existence of leaping deer and elk as I drive between Cortez, Durango and Pagosa Springs at dusk. My eyes are peeled for anything attempting to run out in front of me. I make it all the way to Pagosa Springs before I smack a deer at 45mph. Ezy is crunched. The deer is totaled.

I get out and drag the deer carcass to the side and clean off the broken plastic and glass from Ezy’s front. I briefly consider dressing the deer…but pass since I really don’t want to stick around. Thankfully the radiator is smooshed but not punctured. I pull the right fender away from the wheel. The grill and parking lights are a loss.The hood is a little catywonkers. My right headlight is working but pointed low and inside. I decide to push on to Tesuque.

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At Tesugue I spend the night in a cheap casino hotel room so I can shower and shave and smell presentable at Forrest’s. You’re welcome!

Friday, July 5th
The next day I head over To Forrest’s place. We gab a bit about deer tragedies and retirement possibilities. Then we meet up with Geoffrey Gray who has come to interview Forrest for a story he is writing for Alta Journal, a magazine out of California. After the interview Forrest and I hop in Ezy and drive up the hill to see if we can find Cynthia at Hyde Memorial State Park where she is holding an evening get-together the night before Fennboree. We find her campsite but she isn’t around so we raid her pantry and help ourselves to a few crackers and refreshments while we wait…In a short while she drives in and others start arriving for an afternoon gathering of friendship, marshmallows and beer.

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Forrest hangs out for awhile admiring Cynthia’s camp and gabbing with searchers that stroll in. He hands out a few clues and talks about the place he hid the chest…(just checking to see if you are reading). He did not hand out any clues…

After a couple hours or so we roll downhill back to Santa Fe where I leave Forrest and head back to the park to see if I can find a place to sleep for the night. As I’m driving around the campground loop Jason Dent signals me in to the site where he and Sacha are camped.

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They have a fire going. SeanNM and family are there, as are Illinois Gho$t and a few other souls. I discover that Iron Will has held a place for me at his campsite next door. Thanks Will!

That evening we all walk over to Cynthia’s campsite for her campfire and gathering where the camaraderie is as comforting as home made chicken noodle soup.

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I spend all of Saturday at Fennboree. I am given these great rocks by JDiggins…Everybody got a couple…probably priceless gems…We all feel rich!!!…Very Cool!!
Unfortunately now that I posted this photo Kathy will want the rocks…bye, bye rocks…

Sunday morning I get up, say goodbye and point Ezy’s broken front end north for a thousand mile drive to Gallatin County, MT and my search area.

For my pics and story about Fennboree 2019 look HERE

I love this part of the drive. From Santa Fe north on 191 along the great rivers of the west, gold country, dinosaur land, Indian territory and up into rendezvous country is always an adventure. With plenty of fascinating places to stop for history, geology, botany, archeology, paleontology, souvenirs…you name it this region has it, from extraordinary landscapes to fantastic learning opportunities…so much to see and touch and experience…it’s always fun, fun, fun!!!

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the hogan trading post pano

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jhwy

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I arrive at Baker’s Hole on the Madison River a couple days later.

Wednesday July 10th
I wake up pretty early and decide to canvass the area around the full campground. I run into the campground host and we start talking about the hot weather. His accent is familiar but clearly not local. I am stunned to discover he is from Temple,TX. He says that he took classes from Marvin in Junior High and he knows all about Forrest and the chest and he too figures it’s probably stashed up here somewhere. But that’s about all he’ll say about any solution he might be harboring. What a great summer gig for a searcher.

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This is the interpretive sign at Baker’s Hole. It explains the relationship between the Madison, Hebgen Lake and trout. Double click on it to read it.

Today was a good day to do some walking around and stretch some tissue that only had the gas pedal and less frequently, the brake pedal to exercise with for the past few days. So I went into the park around my favorite spot on Fountain Flats and checked the location out for wildflowers and wildlife.
To my personal satisfaction…little had changed.

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Blue-Eyed Grass

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Elephanthead

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Cinquefoil

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Onion

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Blue Damselfly

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Lupine

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Goldenweed

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I don’t know what kind of moth this is but she’s cool

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Flax

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There are a few folks buried in Yellowstone. Mattie is one. She has a headstone, usually decorated with flowers, over on Nez Perce Creek.
You can read about Mattie’s sad death, HERE.

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I met up with Mark and Brenda on the Nez Perce. Really nice folks. They were searching further north and east. We talked Forrest and solutions and headed over to the Happy Hour Bar on Hebgen lake for a crab dinner…that was DELICIOUS!

Thursday July 11th
As you know, the solution I’ve been working on for a few years has me begin at Madison Junction, about 17 miles upstream on the river from Bakers Hole.

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Madison Junction. Gibbon comes in from the right. Firehole comes in from the left. The Madison heads straight away for the canyon below

From there I take it down through the Madison Canyon which is directly below the junction. From there I’ve been going to Baker’s Hole, which is my HOB…There are numerous other elements that fit the clues in the poem but the one element I cannot identify is the Blaze. It’s probably because I am in the entirely wrong place but if nothing else, I am persistent. So I’ve been examining this area, with slight modifications for a few years trying to locate Forrest’s blaze…with no luck, I might add.

This year I decided to see what would happen if I changed my HOB upstream a couple miles to the Beaver Meadows. I think 13-14 miles is still further than I want to walk, so it still works as TFTW from Madison Junction.

Beaver is an Anglicized word from the old High German “bibar”, which means brown.

These days locating the Beaver Meadows is not difficult. Albeit I did not see any signs of beaver.

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Just head upstream from Baker’s Hole and when you get into a couple mile long willow brush area that’s hard to travel through…you’re there.

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In spite of it’s romantic name…I saw no beaver and it is hardly a meadow. Tromping through the Beaver Meadows is not a pleasant experience. The only trails are game trails. In addition to the 7ft willow brush, it’s a maze of shallow ponds and swampy pools, most of which have leeches. Mosquitos and other bothersome flying insects are a constant nuisance. Additionally the tall willow is a hiding place for elk, moose and bison…which you do not want to annoy or stumble upon. On the day I spent plumbing around in that underbrush it was also hot and muggy.

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I decided to stand still for a moment in a dry patch I bumbled into. It wasn’t long before I could feel something biting my legs. I looked at the stump next to me where I had set my camera and all I could see were ants…biting ants!!! I dislike those things and by now I could feel the buggers all through my pants so I moved away from the stump and stripped…shook out all my clothes, redressed and went on my bit and itchy way…You may have noticed that I can’t think of much to recommend Beaver Meadows as a pleasant hike. Needless to say I found very little in that maze of water traps that seemed clue-like or rewarding in any way…but please, be my guest. Just don’t trample me on your way out!

I also explored a bit upstream from The Barns on the Madison. I could see a small building a mile or so upstream and was curious about it.

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You can see the building I am talking about in the top third, center of the pic. That’s the Madison River upstream from the Barns.

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Turned out to be a river gauging station. But the walk was beautiful and the lodgepole and sage smelled great in the thin mountain air…and I saw this:

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A nice bright orange blaze up in that tree…
Didn’t strike me as a Forrest type blaze and after I saw another I figured out that I was on a winter ski trail and those blazes help the first cross-country skiers, after a fresh snowfall, find the trail.

That marked my last day of searching…I had to head home the next morning…take what was left of Ezy’s front end apart and replace everything…

I can drive the 700 miles from Yellowstone to my place on the island in a day if I push. But I didn’t feel like pushing…
I wanted to stay off the freeway. Drive the two lane.

The Clark Fork is a favorite river of mine…
I stopped along the way at a few places to tease the fish…imagine what it was like when Lewis and Clark came this way…

I was walking a gravel bench above the Clark Fork one day and when I kicked a rock I saw something shine blue beneath the rock…

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You can see what I saw in front of the toe of my boot. It’s round and blue…

Turns out it was a glass bead…and there were two more under the rocks…

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They might be old trading beads. They are a beautiful color. I have an arrow point I found awhile back. I think I’ll have the three beads and the arrowhead turned into a necklace for Kathy. She would like that.

So to review…
I am unemployed and trying to wrap my head around it…I smashed up Ezy but walked away unscathed… I missed out on some good venison…I have swollen ankles from ant bites…I scored two cool rocks at Fennboree… I didn’t find a suitable blaze or any sign of a chest…I found three nice beads that stand a pretty good chance of being old trade beads and I can use them to have a nice necklace made for Kathy…successful trip!!!

-dal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy 89th Forrest……

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Forrest Fenn will be celebrating his 89th birthday Today, Thursday, August 22…

Thanks for being here Forrest. I am in awe of your accomplishments as well as your fishing skills, and sincerely appreciate your treasure hunt…it has provided opportunities and joy for hundreds of thousands of searchers…including me!!

By the way…Wouldn’t it be a nice tradition to hand out a new clue on your birthday??…
just sayin!

 

 

 

 

 

The “Give Me a Break” Solution…

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August 2019
by dal

 

This is an old solution that I’m tired of hearing about. I’ve had numerous folks (maybe a dozen) tell me this is THE solution but when they arrived at the hidey spot the chest wasn’t there so someone must have already removed it. I hate that…

Forrest has said the chest is still where he left it many times since the first searchers arrived at this hidey spot so we know they are wrong but what surprises me is that folks didn’t understand that this was not a good hidey place even before they arrived there.

What I’ve submitted below is a compilation of many different solutions that have started out in the same place and ended in the same place. There have been slight variations in the clues between the beginning and the end but by and large this same solution comes to me more often than you’d believe.

I call it the “Simple Solution”. Because that’s what it is, very simple and straight forward, even logical…up to its end.

Step one of any solution is in identifying the place to begin.

You certainly won’t get to the chest by following the directions in the poem if you start out at a place different than the place Forrest intended the directions to start from.

I think this is self evident but let me explain…

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If someone gives you directions on how to find the Dairy Queen on Elm and Second Streets based on the fact that you are starting from the 7/11 on Box Street…you won’t end up in the correct place if you start from the 7/11 on Third Street instead. You’d need a different set of directions to get to the Dairy Queen on Elm Street from the Third Street 7/11.

So..the correct starting place is essential…Therein lies the rub that leads wise men to the dump instead of the palace.

Lets Begin:

Begin it where warm waters halt

Tens of thousands (I’m guessing at the number) of folks over the past 8 years have used Madison Junction in Yellowstone National Park as the place to begin. This is simply because two very warm Yellowstone rivers, the Gibbon and the Firehole end in this place and it is the beginning of the Madison River. 

There is a whole litany of reasons why folks might choose to start in this place:

1. This is a geographical place where two warm rivers end (warm waters halt) and one river starts, “it”

2. This place is known to millions of people as the end of the Gibbon and Firehole Rivers

3. This place is known to millions more people as the start of the Madison River

4. This place is known to tens of millions of people as the place where Yellowstone N.P. was born

5. This is a place Forrest is unquestionably familiar with

6. Forrest mentions fishing on all three of these rivers

7. Forrest wrote about walking in the Madison with his raft in TFTW

8. Yellowstone National Park is talked about extensively in all three of Forrest’ s memoirs

9. To me it is a logical and practical place for Forrest’s WWWH

10. This location is one of the early places that many searchers used for their WWWH and Forrest told us in a comment in September of 2012:

“Several months ago some folks correctly mentioned the first two clues to me in an email and then they went right past the other seven, not knowing that they had been so close. Alas, and dame fortune, so often a fickle and seductive wench, never spun her wheel to lure them back.”

And at least one practical reason why it does not work:

1. Forrest said “There are many places in the Rocky Mountains where warm waters halt, and nearly all of them are north of Santa Fe.”

This suggests to me that such a unique place, where two rivers end and a new one starts, is very unlikely to be one of many in the Rocky Mountains. I cannot think of another place where two warm rivers end and a new river begins…

But, what the heck…I’m playing the odds. Ten reasons for and only one against in my opinion…Let’s go with it.

  

And take it in the canyon down,

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USGS Topo Map showing Madison Junction with the Madison Canyon labeled just downstream of the junction.

I believe “it” refers to the Madison River.  “Canyon” refers to the Upper Madison Canyon which starts immediately below Madison Junction and “down” refers to downstream. So I take the Madison River, downstream into the Upper Madison Canyon…and all the way through that canyon…and keep going about 17 miles to Hebgen Lake.

Not far, but too far to walk.

I don’t want to walk 17 miles. So I’ll drive.

Put in below the home of Brown.

In this solution the home of Brown is Hebgen Lake for a couple of reasons:

1. Hebgen Lake is considered a Brown trout angler’s nirvana

2. Brown’s grow to be the largest and most desirable in the secret depths of the lake

The reason for this is:

The Mayflies.

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There are many species of Mayflies, more than 2,500 but they all seem to look fairly similar. Frankly, you’d have to care more about bugs than most normal people do to tell them all apart. Chances are that if you live somewhere on earth…particularly if you live near a lake…you have seen Mayflies…perhaps swarms of them around your porch light in the evening, in late spring and summer. 

Depending on where you hail from, the buggers are also known as Fishflies, Shadflies, Lakeflies and around Hebgen Lake by their Genus name, Callibaetis or Spinners. I can remember the air being thick with Mayflies flapping about over the shoreline of Indian Lake in Manistique in the summers when I was a kid. Swarms so thick I could smell them. They brought an odor like the lake from which they had just emerged. It seemed like millions of them appeared from nowhere. 

In truth they had just completed a journey started a year or two earlier when Mayfly eggs sank from the choppy surface of the lake and ended up in the sediment below, where they would spend the next few weeks or sometimes 24 months (depending on the species) in various states of development and then miraculously emerge again on the weedy surface as adult Mayflies. On the surface they can take off immediately…or float around for awhile contemplating their new abdomen or even climb atop a tall weed for a view of their newly acquired world before taking flight. Their shared timing is impeccable as tens of thousands, perhaps millions, do this over a course of days in the same lake….creating swarms of Mayflies, magnificent to some…alarming to others….and then, suddenly stop. They all die, falling to the ground where they clog drains, cover windshields and stink up the neighborhood.

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Mayflies emerge from the bottom of the lake. This is a bug eating trout’s ultimate buffet.

Typically, adult Mayflies only live a day or two and in that time they have a natural inclination to do a lot of breeding and deposit eggs on the surface of the lake…where the eggs sink to the bottom…etc, etc.

Mayflies, of course, are not the only bug to emerge like this from Montana lakes. Hebgen is a virtual bug making machine and during the times of emergence it becomes a feeding bazaar for bug eating trout. In Hebgen Lake the trout are called “Gulpers” for the sound they make as they rise to the surface and greedily grab their victims before the insects can fly off to my front porch light and dazzle me with their numbers.

The “hatch” as it’s called when the bugs take flight is a magical and frenetic time of year for trout and also for anglers. In Hebgen there is more than one hatch per year and generally they last a very short time. Between hatches Hebgen Lake fishers tend to drink beer, eat chicken, read Orvis catalogues, carve whirligigs for their front yard and wax unpoetically about large fish they cannot prove they caught.

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The fly angler’s goal is to fool the trout by using a lure, called a “fly” that resembles (sometimes pathetically) a Mayfly, Stonefly, Midge, Dun, Trico or some other bug in one of its various stages and throwing it into the lake at the appropriate time of year. This is called “fishing”. Sometimes you have to wonder what kind of nitwits fish must be to mistake what the fishers toss into the water for a real insect…

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But understand, the fish are in a frenzy…caution to the wind…eat up boys while the eating is good. Hopefully one of those frenzied big Gulpers will spot your fly and go for it, you will land it and take a selfie to prove to your undeserving peers that you are among the greatest of fishers.

gulper

and then release it back into the lake and try again for a bigger one, or, if you are a fish connoisseur and brought your salt and pepper along… motor quickly to shore, start a fire and have a lunch of freshly grilled trout in the Rocky Mountains north of Santa Fe.

fishy

Unlike stream fishing, you need a boat to get out on the lake to catch trout this way. Some fly fishers would never actually step into a boat. That’s for bait fishers…a lower class of so-called fishers…but the bragging rights are significant if you land a big Gulper, so the temptation can be overwhelming.

To get back to the home of Brown
Because of the magnitude of the “hatches” on Hebgen Lake, the trout grow large and it’s a great place to fish during the heat of summer when the fish above the lake flee the warmed up streams for something deeper and cooler and bug infested…Fishers surge to Hebgen when the “hatch is on” for the thrill of catching a BIG Brown, and many will. Hebgen Lake Browns average 19 inches vs Rainbows a couple inches smaller…so…Hebgen is considered the home of big Browns…Ask any trout catcher who lives nearby where the Home of Brown is and they will yammer on for hours about the great gulpers they caught on Hebgen Lake.

Putting in Below

The Madison River enters Hebgen Lake at its southern end and exits at the north. Prior to the dam the lake was simply a wide spot in the Madison River. Montana Power added a dam at the southern end in 1914 to make a reservoir that is used to regulate the flow for reservoirs and hydro projects further downstream. They named the reservoir after Max Hebgen…who, unfortunately didn’t live long enough to see the project completed.

Putting in below the home of Brown means putting in below the dam.

How far below the dam do we put in???

The poem tells us exactly…

From there it’s no place for the meek,
The end is ever drawing nigh;
There’ll be no paddle up your creek,
Just heavy loads and water high.

Okay…stay with me here.

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Hebgen Lake Dam…see that big white thing in the center of the photo? That’s where the water from the dam is returned to the Madison…That’s the outflow. That’s directly below the dam…NOT Forrest’s special place. Don’t look there.

I’m going to say that the poem is telling me to put in DIRECTLY below the home of Brown…Immediately below the dam…where the meek won’t go…where you certainly can’t paddle upstream and where the water comes from high and the stream bed is filled with rocks and heavy loads. it’s a scary place below a dam where the tail water rushes out creating a lot of noise and where the potential for dam failure seems imminent and death feels just an earthquake away.

And is there a blaze…

If you’ve been wise and found the blaze,
Look quickly down, your quest to cease,

You bet. Lots of them. If you’re brave enough to walk around down there you’ll find blazes of all sorts, sizes, shapes and denominations depending on your particular belief about what a blaze could be…

But you should have realized before you started even looking for a blaze that this could never be the spot where Forrest expected to take his last breath…expected to be his last sight of this world. Who in hell wants to die below a noisy dam?

There is a trail made by fishers everywhere you walk down there and a road about 60ft away. No animals down there either. They have better sense…and you can’t smell anything but lake water.

and this is where the set of directions fails quickly and makes no sense.

I agree that up to this point a case could be made….but this is not the hidey spot…

So why is it that I get several folks each year who want me to believe that they went down to this place because it absolutely fits ALL the clues in the poem…yet the chest was not there …

So they claim that clearly, someone got here ahead of them and removed it…

Why does it not occur to these folks that this is not Forrest’s “special” place? He never hid his chest here. He never intended to die here.

Come on folks. Get over yourselves…

This might be a simple solution but it’s simply wrong

-dal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Losing Your Marbles on the Madison…

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I’ve been walking the moody Madison River both inside and outside Yellowstone National Park for a few years now. It’s a fun place to hike, particularly since the Madison is such a pristine river for so much of its 183 mile journey to the Missouri River. It’s hard to find pristine river that’s easily hiked in this country but if your aching to walk along one…try the Madison…but avoid the hazardous sections and the stretches that wind through private property.

I have not walked all 183 miles…In fact I’ve only walked a little over a seventh of the river, or those portions where I believe Forrest’s poem leads me. I generally start where the poem suggests I should “put in” and then start searching for other key features of the poem. Most I find without problem. But that blaze has been a constant sticking point for me…

So I come back a few times each year when I get the chance and try something slightly different, a place less worn, a path less traveled, a slightly different direction.…and walk more. Sometimes right along the river and sometimes a few hundred feet outside of it. But I’m not aimlessly ambling along. I am searching…scanning the scenic landscape far and near for an elusive clue in the poem…not that I know exactly what it is that I am looking for…I try to keep my mind open to anything that fits…use my imagination…(which Forrest says I don’t have).

It’s not as if I don’t find things…interesting things…puzzling things…

One spring day I stopped at a bend in the river to watch a school of small trout racing around in circles near the bank. Eye candy! I stepped away from the bank to take my camera off my shoulder and a spot of red caught my eye in the sandy bank above the stream. Just a small glint of red. Maybe a fishing lure, I thought. So I got down on my hands and knees in the warm, soft earth and started digging away with my fingers where the color showed. 

marbles

It wasn’t a dry fly or any other kind of fishing lure. It was the small arc of what turned out to be 4 pretty old marbles. A shooter, two biggies and an aggie. They had been there awhile. Impossible to say how long a while. But in my mind I decided they were 80 or more years old. Maybe Forrest and Donnie Joe stopped here to play some marbles in the sand while they were out exploring. Maybe they took a nap in the warm sun and when they woke-up they forgot about their marbles and headed back to the highway and their bikes for the ride home.

Or

Maybe a Crow stole them from some playground in town and carried them, one at a time, out here and hid them.

Or

Maybe they were in the back of a horse drawn wagon that an early tourist took from Virginia City to the park…before the highways…and the marbles fell out. Glass marbles were first made in America just before 1900. I believe the formal game of marbles is a British invention..but kids were probably playing some form of a marble like game with roundish stones for centuries before colored glass marbles and formal rules.

On another trip I found this small arrow point a few miles from where I found the marbles. It looks like part of the tang on the right side broke off at the notch. Maybe while being made or maybe while it was being used. I could not find any other pieces like this one in the immediate area so it does not seem likely that the site was a place where points were manufactured so I will guess that it was shot…maybe lost…or possibly discarded…

point

Close to a campground I found this 1985 Mexican 1 Peso coin. Not valuable but fun to find.

dollar

I ran into this deer antler shed in a thick lodgepole pine area while stalking wildflowers in Forrest’s old stomping ground near the Madison. Not a very majestic shed…but it had been on the forest floor for some time and the acid soil dissolved the softer parts of the antler leaving it grainy and interesting…Usually these things are devoured by porcupines or mice before they have a chance to lay around for a few seasons and get grainy. So this was a nice find.

antler

And finally…the oddest of all…This is a Japanese fishing net float. Aside from being found in Japan they wash up on the beaches of the Pacific northwest coast after storms, making the trek across the ocean…unbroken. This one was trapped in a backwater, cut-off from the main stream of the Madison…covered in a thick green goop. Big floats are about the size of a basketball and are prized by collectors and seafood restaurant interior designers. This one is about the size of a baseball and still has the netting around it. But it begs the question…how did it get into the Madison River some 5,500 miles from Japan and at least 15 miles from the nearest seafood restaurant? It couldn’t be old or the netting would be rotted. I think it’s authentic…Japanese…but I am certainly no expert…fun find.

float

At one time we held a contest for the most unusual “found object” someone recovered while out on a hike. Some pretty interesting things were carried back with searchers…LOOK HERE

-dal

 

 

 

 

 

Copper Art…

I thought you might like to know about this—-

Dan and Frances Hedblom are searchers and also a husband and wife artistic team who work almost exclusively with copper, coaxing stunning textures and colors out of otherwise dullish plain brown sheets. The results are beautiful and appear in fine galleries across the country.

The Hedbloms work out of their studio in Minnesota. Much of their work is inspired by the dramatic north shore of Lake Superior. You can find out more about them and see stunning pieces they have created HERE.

In celebration of Forrest and The Thrill of the Chase the Hedbloms have created a limited edition piece called “Where Warm Waters Halt”.

There are only 80 of these individually hand crafted pieces. Each is 17inches tall and 8inches wide. Dan says that they wanted to capture the mountains, forests and streams of The Thrill of the Chase. In my opinion they have certainly done that. I think these are gorgeous. Each piece is signed and numbered on the back and comes with a certificate of authenticity. You can see more photos of this limited edition piece on their website HERE.

You can purchase one of these limited editions from their eBay store, which is HERE.

They are available for $100 plus $20 for shipping. Since there were only 80 made and I know they have already sold some…My guess is that they won’t have much trouble finding owners for the few remaining so if you’re looking for something beautiful, unusual and also about the Chase…you should probably order one quickly…

-dal

 

Happy 88th Forrest……


Forrest Fenn will be celebrating his 88th birthday on Wednesday, August 22…

Thanks for being here Forrest. I am in awe of your accomplishments and sincerely appreciate your treasure hunt…it has provided opportunities and joy for hundreds of thousands of searchers…including me!!

Prairie Flower has been promoting a forest for Forrest campaign for the past two years…
She has a new compilation video of the growing forest…HERE