The Legend of Forrest Fenn…

by DeCall Thomas

Prologue: What a mess Forrest Fenn has gotten himself into this time… the flames growing ever higher… he can afford to lose a finger or two… a bit off his tail. These will all grow back. (He’s been in a tight spot or two before;) Fenn is the immortal Salamander you know, escaping the fiery furnace unharmed… We will set this poor fellow free. Back to the forest and fen where he belongs…

Philosophy: Straightforward and simple. Fenn wrote two books about the poem and his life. One would expect to find hints or clues in those books. Don’t be overly creative, just visit the places Fenn spoke of and apply them to the poem. To demonstrate this idea, take “where warm waters halt” (wwwh) in the context of “The Thrill of the Chase” (TTOTC) and we think of “Yellowstone National Park” (YNP) because of Fenn’s stories in TTOTC and because YNP is the obvious place to find hot springs, boiling pots, and geysers in the Rocky Mountains. Also, try to follow directions. When it says “take it in the canyon down” simply go “down” rather than go “south”
Theme and Structure: The theme of the poem is Fenn’s journey through life. The Omegas (Fenn’s colophon) are found in the poem. (Halt and Cease in the poem are literally the words representing the beginning and ending of the “quest”. We are not looking for a “double omega”) This means that the journey is between those two words.
The poem structure is both “Palindrome” (mirror) and “Circular”
Ω entrance and exit on the stage of life Ω
end to end ⊙ (Hollow Log)
Secret Stuff: Yeah, there’s secret stuff..


Photo Description:
View of Minnie Lake looking West. Not easily seen is the island in the center of the lake with it’s own pine tree. The tree is actually about 15′ tall and the island is about 60′ long. From the edge of the lake it looks perfectly like a grave mound and tombstone. Minnie lake is about 2.1 miles from parking at Potamageton Park, Trail 205 trail head. The hike is difficult, but not extreme. We hiked to it in about 2 hours.

As I have gone alone in there
“As” may seem an odd way to start the poem, but for me it appears to be an instruction to follow. What better “word that is key” than the first word of the poem? I had thought of “alone” but it is the same effect. “As” is the key. So if “As…” = “Like I’ve gone in there” We are looking for the different ways or places that Fenn had gone alone into. So in the context of TTOTC, we remember that Fenn visited the cemetery alone at night. He went to see the gypsy girls dancing. He went fishing on the Madison River alone. River bathing alone. He flew his fighter jet alone, and his private plane alone. Different roles or hats = different solution layers. Eric = one or alone. (Wikipedia) Alone = ⊙ or mega “O” OPPOSITE of the “X” mark . Entrance to the hollow log.

And with my treasures bold,
The treasure chest is bold, Fenn’s (or our) gifts to the world. Also bold means that Fenn stripped down to place the chest in cold water, and we must strip down to retrieve the chest in cold water.

I can keep my secret where,
Answer: “Under my hat” or in my mind (mine alone, and any use of the word my or mine by Fenn. Minnie = mine) (Great article on this by Mindy)

And hint of riches new and old.
I believe this means the contributions of Forrest Fenn past and present. Possibly these are riches possessed by the reader? The potential in all of us? Also a Tribute, Riches = Eric Sloan (Hinrichs, credit to Mindy for this idea), Richard Weatherill (bracelet), Dr. Richard Blake (solar physicist)


Photo Description:

Google Earth screen-shot. This area is the stomping-ground for Fenn’s childhood summers. It also represents his emotional, romantic yearning for this region… it belongs to him. Firehole is the important feature here. The Firehole halts dramatically at the Madison Junction (MJ). The Madison River begins here. I have always understood that the shadow man is Fenn, hat and walking stick ready to begin his journey, and standing at MJ. As Dal Neitzel pointed out, warm waters don’t halt at Ojo Caliente (River Bathing is Best). WWWH is only important because of it’s shape, a Fire Hole, aka a MEGA “O”. Halt is an abrupt “end”, Ω qualifying as an “Omega”. The Firehole is symbolic of his start in the art business, where he dropped chunks of metal into the fiery furnace and from the crucible, he poured molten metal to create bronze art. Compare to a burning, hollow log.

Begin it where warm waters halt
Dal Neitzel’s explanation for WWWH —– (Click here to go there… I like it, thank you Dal)
Begin “it” is likely his favorite river that he doesn’t want to say of course. “It”, also means one of the different layers, roles, hats, ideas. For example, begin “birth” when the water breaks and the baby born; begin death when the heart stops and the body buried, begin the treasure hunt where the Firehole halts (a “T” where the name changes) and where the Madison River begins. The fire- hole is a mega “O” in shape Ω. Water flows out of the ground and into the river, symbolic of an entrance, birth, onto the stage of life. Parallel symbolism here is Fenn’s start in the bronze casting business… certainly a fire-hole forge, the beginning of his art business and financial success.
“The most common mistake that I see searchers make is that they underestimate the importance of the first clue. If you don’t have that one nailed down you might as well stay home and play Canasta.” f (speaking of WWWH)
Why? The beginning and the end are the same. Just trust me on this one. HALT AND CEASE, omegas IN the poem.
An entire book could be written about the ecosystem of this river and the life that permeates here. Take “it” in the canyon down. Simple and straightforward. (It still applies to each layer or interpretation: birth, death, sex, Vietnam, and literally) Forrest made WWWH a little more obvious by putting it on the cover of “Too Far to Walk”. The title is described as the 10+ miles of winding Madison River between the Firehole river and Hebgen Lake. If you had Fenn’s correct TFTW then you also know WWWH and hoB, because they are contiguous. Put in, below the home of Brown. All clues are relative to Fenn’s life. Brown = Brown trout, which spawn between Hebgen Lake and Gibbon Falls and also up to Firehole Falls. This is also relevant to the theme of water… water being the stage of life; Fenn’s life, from entrance to exit, omega door to omega door. Can it be any more clear? The most obvious Brown, the most obvious place, Hebgen, his favorite river, his childhood memories. This was his stomping ground for 20 years, his first taste of freedom and adventure. Like Fenn’s escape from school down the fire escape, we begin to understand… the legend of the salamander...

So when did FF discover the omegas? When did FF say, they belong to me, I own it…. mine alone. When did he understand that it expressed his life? He must have felt his heart skip a beat when he knew the world would think of him when they saw them, the double omegas, and see his entire story in a glance. Like something hieroglyphic read by some future generation. The story must be told. So what do Omegas mean, and what spectacular place is his legacy? If the Firehole is the entrance, the beginning, then where is the other omega? The exit. The end of this journey? It cannot be here for it must be at the other end of this trail… And what is the trail? The Madison river. So we take it down wherever it leads us. Birth, childhood, his military career, and his start in the art business, FF enters the flaming o, alone, innocent, bearing treasures of his talents and contributions along the way. Trials and difficulties are certain to come… and secrets untold.

And take it in the canyon down,
Madison Canyon down. Fenn’s Journey.

Not far, but too far to walk.
Stretch of Madison river as described in the preface of TFTW.

Put in below the home of Brown.
hoB = Hebgen lake because the Brown Trout migrate upstream to spawn.


Photo Description:

Hebgen Lake, a place mentioned many times by Fenn, and of obvious importance. Brown trout spawn upstream into the Madison, Firehole and Gibbon rivers. We have Hebgen as the most obvious “home of Brown” in the context of Fenn’s books, stories, and interviews. Tolerate this interpretation for now…. we have not disproven the idea. In the teachers with ropes picture, I take this to mean the Madison River. The teacher is hand outstretched, clearly symbolic of halt, holding the end of the rope (where the Madison begins). This allows us to identify the big car as Hebgen, or home of brown (similar to house bronze). My additions to the illistration make it easier to see the basic circle of the poem, and the contiguous nature of water in the poem. I see the 9 clues to be 9 places along this water pathway among the 24 lines of the poem. Let’s not forget that we are to “put in below” the hoB. This idea fits perfectly below the dam, which interrupts this contiguous flow of water. The fire escape pictured here is like the one at Fenn’s school, and fits perfectly with the idea of the Salamander escaping (hollow log) the fire unharmed… the brown streak on his pants was mentioned in ttotc.
Miscellaneous Meanings

Stick-Men: This oddity seems to point to the Geoglyph. Fenn is the walking man, Fenn is the football player, Fenn is the other football man. Fenn is the shadow man (with hat). We can deduce that Fenn IS the Axolotl Geoglyph (which also has a hat!!)
Elevation: 8,264 ft. or just above 8.25 on the altimeter
GPS: Latitude: 44.9313984°N Longitude: -111.3346734°W – “I, one, one” (First Line) match the GPS coordinates 111 deg. W. The 44lb chest could be the other coordinate.
Distance: 42 miles from “Begin it” to “quest to cease” (Omega to Omega)
CompassRadialClockface: Minnie Lake could be a clock face or Radial. My guess, the tc is between 0700 and 0800 when FF does his best thinking. That’s also where the bear is standing, floating hat picture.
Most Compelling Evidence: Perhaps the most compelling evidence for this area is the salamander geoglyph nearly 8 football fields wide. The artist is UNKNOWN. Not a forgery, but forged with hard work. Many man hours, equipment and fuel went into this… and for what purpose and what end? Fate and an eye for a deal, Forrest Fenn had to appreciate this unclaimed art. It even has trees (Forest) and (fen) pondweed!! But this alone would not have been enough for his legacy. Within reasonable distance is Minnie Lake. Also undeniable are the sexual overtones here. Why? A masterpiece must have multiple meanings and symbols. Fenn is not a cutesy simple a man, he’s a multi-millionaire, jet pilot, Alpha-Male charmer with class and style.
Also compelling evidence is the RARE island and shape of Minnie Lake. It has the Fenn grave. It has the hat shape. It has the “O” shape. It has the feminine gender and tribute to women. It has the entrance of cold snow melt into the Madison River system. And, If Minnie Hollow Wood isn’t convincing enough, then no solve will ever do. (We know little bighorn is important to FF and, think about it, “BRAVE AND IN THE WOOD”!!!) Fenn has used often the words “little” and “small”. I have no doubt that Minnie IS the “little” Indian girl. Minnie1 Minnie2 Minnie3
Note: Probably the ugliest picture in the book is of the “Tiger Skin on the Tin Roof” but in the context of a Tiger Salamander on the side of a hill, it fits quite well. Perhaps even a confirmation of what we are looking for.
Note 2: Does anyone but me think the poem is 3d? As in hollow log, tunnel, mine? Alone and Gold are both “Circle-Dot,” found first line and last line. Also interesting is that the Greek alphabet has 24 letters (poem 24 lines) the last letter being an Omega. Omega = Circle Dot
Note 3: Does anyone SEE the floating hat?


Photo Description:

Once “below the home of Brown”, we are pretty much in walking distance of the treasure. This Google Earth view covers most of the area for “Searching for Lewis and Clark” which started at Red Canyon and ended unknown (which of course, we know, was Beaver Creek). “no place for the meek” is quake lake and Forest Service Road 985, which goes to dirt here. Many wild animals in this area, winter or summer. Steep draws on both sides. Beavers and Boats have paddles. Beaver creek is known for it’s heavy silt loads every spring. Our first glimpse of the Salamander Geoglyph.

From there it’s no place for the meek,
Quake lake earthquake and dirt road starts here. We saw many animals and different tracks starting here. Birth = Life is difficult. Death = judgment day. Etc.

The end is ever drawing nigh;
Steep mountain sides here. Potamogeton park (means a fen) at the end of this forest service road. Birth = Life is short (clock starts ticking). Death = Day of Reckoning Sex = Orgasm soon Secret = Murder? (just using my imagination)

There’ll be no paddle up your creek,
Beaver Creek, Boat Mtn. Birth = spanking. Death = nobody can help you now Etc.

Just heavy loads and water high.
Heavy loads = silt in streams, water high = high mountain lake. Death = 6 feet under. Sex = pre orgasm
Life and water, follow a path. Fenn creates his own destiny. Bravely choosing his course in Vietnam, in love and business. There has been no sign of meekness here… fault lines here too… his books are filled with these stories. I would love to hear the secrets untold… well, not all, since some things are best kept as secrets. Now you see that this journey is perfectly symbolized by the Madison River, Hebgen Lake, and Beaver Creek. Water from beginning to end, like a highway. A life filled with heavy loads, difficulty, and challenges.


Photo Description:

Most notable is the EXACT location where the picture from page 58 of TTOTC. This is easy to verify in Google Earth using the tree patterns. Also, not so obvious, the cover of TTOTC could be a map of this area. Fenn in the green jump suit being the geoglyph, the boy hat is Minnie Lake, and the horses picture representing the area pictured. Of interest is the field of stumps picture. There is a corresponding field of stumps below the Axolotl Geoglyph, and the moon matches Minnie lake, where the dove of peace nests. Perhaps the first moment Forrest and Donnie realized they would find their way out was just west of Axolotl Lake. The geoglyph is NOT seen from the ground. It is not known how or when FF saw the Salamander and/or the island on Minnie Lake for the first time. 1987 is the oldest picture I have found for the geoglyph (1988 YNP fires). Most likely, FF found this by air or satellite photo. He probably thought this geoglyph was Native American. I have seen for myself that the clearings were cut with modern tools. Also unknown is who composed this scene… (Axolotl Lake with the Salamander with Minnie Hollow Wood) Curious that this place matches so well the legend of the Salamander, “brave and in the wood”, the floating hat, the fire at both ends, the hollow log, etc.
Note: Electronics Color Code – Red = 2, Black = 0, Green = 5 probably trail 205. Trail 88 also leaves Potamogeton Park and goes near Minnie Lake on the North East side. 88 could certainly be a double omega. Omega = 800. 8 = infinity etc.

If you’ve been wise and found the blaze,
Sage Peak, Minerva, Finding Lewis and Clark mountain man wisdom. Sun or Gold circumpunct.

Look quickly down, your quest to cease,
“Look quickly” is letting you know to look in the cold water. “quest to cease” is telling you that it has been a quest and that “cease” is the last Omega Ω.

But tarry scant with marvel gaze,
“tarry scant” gives the sense of enjoy the moment and beauty of the place

Just take the chest and go in peace.
Some form of satisfaction when the journey is complete


Photo Description:

The clearing of trees and the creation of the Salamander Geoglyph was pre 1987. It’s not known how old it is. I’ve not found any documentation of this geoglyph, nor were the old-timers at the Forest Service any help. The only obvious history in the area was evidence of logging here and damage by fire between 1995 and 2005. You may have wondered what the two different stick-men in football helmets had to do with anything? The tiger stripes on the Salamander seem to represent both the football field (ff) and the ladder (seen on the chest and in the jet pictures). You may also be able to finally make out the “floating” hat comparison. Another interesting point, we see an “M” or “W” under the salamander smile, and going through the eyes and along its back. Switchbacks are probably in many search areas, but the “M” only adds to the meaning (William Marvin Fenn).

Fenn’s Legacy and Masterpiece
How do we recognize a correct solve? Is it possible to know we have it right? There can be only one place. It must have meaning to Fenn. It must be symbolic or literal Forrest Fenn. And finally I believe it will likely be spectacular.

The Salamander is the ideal idol for Fenn / Fen worship. It’s supernatural powers. It is the element of fire. It’s connection to fishing and forest and fen. It’s even shaped like a Fenn fetish. There is no question the frog in the chest is meant to foresee the missing bell or jar figure. The salamander fits perfectly with the bronze jar theme: Butterfly, Dragonfly, Frogs, (and the oddball gypsy girl). This nocturnal creature comes out at night and on rainy days. Newt form of the salamander has gills that resemble fire. When Fenn says to use our imagination, he is probably speaking in part about this creature… how it hides in and under logs, and despite the surrounding danger, it remains unharmed. Much like Fenn escaping the jet crashes and cancer and the other incidents. Persian origin of the word means “fire within”. No wonder FF sees this as some sort of spiritual collision of time and place.


Photo Description:

Hats… every picture on both covers is of Fenn wearing a hat. This is also iconic, of his legacy. A hat trick for sure, especially when you realize it’s a home run for Sitting Bull’s Peace Pipe. How? Value goes up. Minnie Lake is named after “Minnie Hollow Wood” who fought in the battle of Little Bighorn. She was allowed to wear the headdress (another hat) in honor of her fierce bravery. What a great tribute to women! Now, we also see that Minnie lake is shaped a bit like Fenn’s Stetson, and also the floating hat (Mildew) complete with the hole in the center. I have always considered the floating hat scrapbook to be some type of confession…. read it again about the hole…
Fenn had also devoted a page or two or three to his dad’s fishing hat. We see the only mention of “Minnie” in scrapbook 53 about diggin gypsy (DG) bringing back the Minnie Pearl look. I’m sure FF was trying to hit DG over the head with that one. An Omega does look like a top hat of sorts. I had to include in here Fenn’s Easter egg, a circle dot, complete with wooden egg signed by Eric Sloan. This mirrors first line “Alone” with “in the wood” last line.

So why is it that I must go
And leave my trove for all to seek?
To build his Legend of course.

The answers I already know,
answers plural confirm again there are multiple secrets, including where the chest is.

I’ve done it tired, and now I’m weak.
“done it” being = to “Begin it”. Meaning various things that he has began or done…. these secrets take a toll in life, thus tired and weak


Photo Description:

Look at the bracelet. Those are perfect circle dots in blue or green turquoise. Sun worship, gold worship, breast worship…. Fenn loves double omegas.
Now look at the island / mound. It looks like his epitaph… Fenn’s grave. I have no doubt that THIS was the magic spot that FF wanted to memorialize forever. This is his alone. “My spot, Mine, Mine, Mine, Minnie. This is the end. Death. He said he’d never wear the hat. (Never Die?, never arrive? etc.)
This looks very much like the dancing gypsy illustration and also Fenn’s feet by the fire pic. I have no doubt that this is the True Blaze and that the woman looking in the floor picture is showing us to look IN the last Omega (pot in the floor = underwater and dragonfly symbol = water)(also pot of gold at the end of the rainbow). Just keep fishing around in the mud until you find it…. better be July August when the water temp is tolerable.

So hear me all and listen good,
Hear Fenn’s life story

Your effort will be worth the cold.
Look around in the cold water

If you are brave and in the wood
I doubt anyone could come up with a better “brave and in the wood” as Minnie Hollow Wood and Eric Sloane along with a Salamander escaping the burning log.

I give you title to the gold.
Title = Ownership. The symbol for gold and sun, ⊙ end to end ⊙ (Hollow Log)

This story is far from finished. Forrest Fenn’s full story is yet to be revealed. I hope that I (the author) have contributed in some small way. I am a promoter at heart. That is what I do. One does not always need a reward for what he does. I will play this game how I want to.
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