My Best Solve So Far…

by TimM

Hi everyone.  I have been sitting on this solve for over a year and a half.  So far, I think it’s the best one I’ve come up with.  I have had a few other ones in the past two years but I always seemed to try my hardest to get the solve to fit the poem instead of the other way around.  This one, however, it appeared that everything just fell into place.  I had planned to go to Colorado last spring to get boots on the ground but for one reason or another that never happened.  I was in a rush to beat Amy Sweitzer to Colorado because this solve was so good that I thought she figured it out too…  lol.   Amy, and whoever else, can check it out if you want to….  But, if you find the chest, don’t forget to throw this old dog a bone.

I was trying to figure out the best way to tell my solve without boring all of you.  I figured the best way to do it is to tell a few stories from the research I’ve done and then use a lot of pictures.  I apologize in advance if this gets too wordy.  I will also try to give you the websites that I got my ideas from.  You’ll have to forgive me if I can’t remember some of the info… it’s been well over a year.  I have always thought that the whole poem held clues.  I didn’t want to skip the first stanza and start WWWH.   So, with that said… lets get started.

Story 1.   In January 1859 a fellow by the name of George Jackson was hunting with his buddy.  They camped in an area now known as Clear Creek.  Jackson wanted to explore the area around there more but his hunting buddy decided it wasn’t for him and returned to Golden, Colorado.  The next day Jackson explored westward and saw a bluish mist or cloud rising from the nearby canyon.  He thought it was an indian encampment so he crept through deep snow to look over the ridge.  What he saw was a herd of mountain sheep grazing on green grass and the mist was steam from a hot spring.  After camping there over night he headed west the next day.  He set up camp on a sand bar next to Clear Creek and built a bonfire.  The fire thawed the ground around him and he was able to use a drinking cup to pan for gold.  He ended up finding $9.00 worth of gold.  Jackson marked the spot and returned to Golden, Colorado planning to return next spring.

Story 2.   Silver Plume is a silver mining town in the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains west of Denver, Colorado.  The name of the town came from a poem that the owner of a hotel made when prospectors brought some silver in to him.  His poem is:

Knights today are miners bold,
Who delve in deep mines’ gloom,
To honor men who dig for gold,
For ladies whom their arms enfold,
We’ll name the town Silver Plume!

Another resident of Silver Plume was a gentleman named Clifford Griffin.  Mr Griffin was from New York.  He was set to be married but the night before the wedding his soon-to-be wife became gravely ill and died.  To escape the memories of his beloved he and his brother moved to Colorado and they came to own the 7:30 mine.  It was named the 7:30 mine because the owners would allow their miners to start work at 7:30 intstead of 6 a.m. like all the other mines in the region.  Every evening Mr Griffin would go up to a nearby cliff and play the violin.  The sounds of his music could be heard everywhere in town because of the acoustics of the valley.  One night after playing his melodies the townspeople heard a shot ring out.  Most of the town ran up to the cliff to find Mr Griffin had shot himself in the heart and was lying in a grave that he had already dug.  He left a note for the people asking to be left where he was because that’s the only place he found happiness after his wife passed away.  The town errected a granite monument in his honor directly over the gravesite.

Now… down to the solve.

Lets look at the first stanza…

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.

I figured that this was a clue to get you to the right general area.  Hinting of riches new and old meant that the chest are the new riches and the old ones are precious metals or artifacts.  I don’t remember exactly how I got to the search area that I’m about to tell you about but it seems everything fits…  “As I have gone alone in there”  much like Clifford Griffin going alone and accepting his fate on the cliff.  He was ready to pass on.  “And with my treasures bold”  kind of ties in with the poem that named the town of Silver Plume.  I know it’s a stretch but bear with me…. These hints are mostly fluff or coincidence.

The next stanza reads…

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

Now this is where the meat and potatoes are!  The first story regarding George Jackson is key here.  The hot springs that he found are in Idaho Springs, Colorado.  Early records show that a hot spring geyser erupted in 1859 but had stopped flowing by 1860 and it was attributed to the mining activity in the area.  This is where warm waters halt.    Let’s take a look at a map…   pic1I have circled the town of Idaho Springs.  That’s Interstate 70 running East to West.  If you “Begin it where warm waters halt”….

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“And take it in the canyon down” ….

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You end up in the area of Georgetown and Silver Plume.   At the height of production from the mines in this area, a group of investors got together and decided that a railroad would be better to transport the ore down to the Denver area.  The grade was steep and tough so they designed the rail line to loop around a few times to give the steam engines a chance to build up speed.  After the mining in the area died down portions of the railroad was torn out… but not the section between Georgetown and Silver Plume.  This is known as the Georetown Loop.  It is a sightseeing railroad that is still in use today…  Here is a map of the looped tracks…

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See how the tracks loop over themselves?   The distance between the two towns is only 2 miles… but the length of the railroad tracks is 4 miles. There is also a bike/ walking path next to Interstate 70 between the two towns.  Does that mean its “Not far, but too far to walk”?  Why walk when you can take the train, right?

The next line in the poem is “Put in below the home of Brown”   Take a look at this map below.  This map is of the town of Silver Plume and just west of it.  If you look close you will see a notation that says “Brown Gulch”.  The gulch was named after one of the earler miners in the area.  There was a town of Brownsville just below the gulch that actually preceded Silver Plume.  After Silver Plume came into existance, the town of Brownsville became sort of a slum area that was mostly inhabited by immigrants.  Both towns had their own schools because no one wanted to intergrate them.  An avalanche occurred and wiped most of Brownsville off the map and killed a bunch of miners and their families.  After that, the two towns merged into what exists today.  So, when you “Put in below the home of Brown” you are in the town of Silver Plume.

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Lets look at the next stanza….

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.

This stanza gets you moving…  Do you see the zig-zag line on the map North of the Town of Silver Plume?  That’s not a road… that is a hiking trail.  Remember the story about Clifford Griffin?  That trail leads you to the monument on top of the cliff where he died.  It’s called the 7:30 mine trail.  The trail zig-zags because the grade is steep.  That means “From (Silver Plume) it’s no place for the meek,”  And of course “the end is ever drawing nigh” because the trail stops at the monument… where Mr Griffin’s end occurred.   The next line is “There’ll be no paddle up your creek” but it’s not talking about Clear Creek…  There used to be another small creek that dumped into Clear Creek.  It was called Cherokee Creek.  It’s not flowing any more or it has been diverted.   You’ll see why it doesn’t flow any more in a picture later.  As for “Just heavy loads and water high”.   I attribute that to the heavy loads of a backpack and water high, as in tipping your drinking water up to get a few gulps.

On to the next stanza…

If you’ve been wise and found the blaze,
Look quickly down, your quest to cease,
But tarry scant with marvel gaze,
Just take the chest and go in peace.

I think there is only one or maybe 2 clues in this stanza…  Obviously “If you’ve been wise and found the blaze” is one of them.   Let me show you some pictures of the 7:30 mine trail.  These photographs were posted by Nathan Abels at http://nathanabels.blogspot.com/2010/03/silver-plume-griffin-memorial-hike-mega.html

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The trail doesn’t look too rough… do you think its easy enough for an 80 year old man??

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Now this is an important photograph.  See the pile of stones there?  Is that a blaze?  Well, not exactly….  Its called a cairn.  If you needed to mark a trail in unfamiliar surroundings and there were no trees to put a “blaze” what would you do?  Exactly… a cairn serves the same purpose since they both mark the path.  There are a series of these cairns along the 7:30 mine trail.  “If you’ve been wise and found the blaze…”

We are getting close, ladies and gentlemen!!!

The next line is “Look quickly down, your quest to cease,”   The next map shows a little different view of the 7:30 mine trail… you can see the topography.  Unfortunately, when you zoom this close on Google Maps the lines that mark the elevation disapear.  I know from my research that where I think the chest might be is within the 5000 to 10200 feet in elevation.  I want you to pay particular attention where the mine trail makes almost a 90 degree turn straight up.  Do you see it in the center of the map?  It goes up for a reason there…

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This next picture is right after you turn due north on the trail.  You can see that it is a steep drop off on the left side and that’s why the trail turns north.  Nathan posted on his blog that there was also a cairn in this photograph but I don’t see it.  I’ll take him at his word.   This is where you “Look quickly down, your quest to cease”   The rest of the stanza just means get it and get out… lol.

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Let’s go to the next stanza…. Hang in there, we almost have it  !!!

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 think this stanza goes back to the reason Forrest hid the chest in the first place.  He wanted to leave a lagacy….   Be remembered.   “So why is it that I must go”

That kind of sounds like what Clifford Griffin might say.   He also might say “The answers I already know, I’ve done it tired and now I’m weak.”  This pretty much sums up this stanza.

The Final Stanza…..   (drum roll…….)

So hear me all and listen good,
Your effort will be worth the cold.
If you are brave and in the wood
I give you title to the gold.

“so hear me all and listen good, your effort will be worth the cold.”  Well, due to the geography of the region Silver Plume seldom gets into the 70 degree range.  Most of the time it’s lower than that….   But let me show you something amazing….    “”If you are brave and in the wood, I give you title to the gold.”

When you “Look quickly down” this is what you’ll see…..

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Do you see where the trail turns North?  What would you see if you looked over the edge??  Can you tell what it is in the gulch?   How about if I show you the photo….

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Do you see the wood??   If you are in the wood, you get the gold…    (by the way, this is why Cherokee Creek was diverted or doesn’t flow any more.)

TA DAH !!!!!!!   (he he he he he)

Before you go off looking this stuff up on the interwebs, let me give you a few more tidbits….

If you look on Dal’s blog under the “cheat sheet”  you can quantify everything on that list with this solve.  It all works in order…  and as for this place being special to Forrest?  Well, the Silver Plume School House that sits at the base of the mountain in back of town has been converted to a historical museum.  Remember how Forrest’s dad took him to the school house because of the saying over the door?   Maybe this place is special because he brought family here to ride the Georgetown Loop Railroad?  Maybe it’s the fishing in Clear Creek?  I’m not sure… but all of fits.

If you go check it out, remember this old dog that led the way…  Happy hunting and BE SAFE!!!

Take care,

TimM

A Florida Girl Heads West…

SUBMITTED September 2014
BY Mindy

There’s nothing like the lure of hidden treasure and a mysterious puzzle to encourage a dreamer like me into action. However, before I rushed to buy a ticket to “somewhere in the Rockies,” I figured I should at least have a good idea where I was going.

photo 4So, for the last year, my 13 year old son, Joe, and I have been reading and researching, and at last, I felt confident enough to buy our tickets. We were heading to Colorado.

Now, I’ll tell you where I went wrong…or right, depending on how you look at it. I wanted the search to be especially memorable for my son. So, although I was fairly confident where the treasure was, I decided to take my son to where I WANTED it to be. Nature’s perfect hyperbola–Maroon Bells. All the hints that related to twins, mirrors, time, omegas, hourglasses, infinity…it all fit the hyperbola, and Maroon Bells is one of nature’s best.

photo 1We arrived in Colorado on Thursday morning, and rented a nice little AWD for the ride to Aspen and Snowmass. Along the way, Joe desperately wanted to find a Cracker Barrel, but there were none to be found. Using my GPS, I found a little place in Georgetown, which is a very quaint, historic little town full of beautifully restored homes from the 1800’s. They also had a nice little Main Street, with art galleries and antique shops. We spent way too much time there, but it was fun, and Joe scored some neat little treasures that I paid an arm and a leg for.

 

photo 8We arrived at our hotel in Snowmass too late to search, but we headed to Maroon Bells first thing the next morning. It was incredible–the sheer size of the mountains and the vastness of the land was overwhelming for a Florida girl whose idea of a hill is the fire ant mound in the backyard.

 

photo 9We started walking along the lake, and il took many pictures of the famous hyperbola as we strolled. Suddenly, my son gasped and grabbed my arm, yanking me back. I looked up to see a huge pair of swaying pink antlers in a little brushy area about ten feet in front of us.

Moose antlers. Big moose antlers.

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We backed away for a few feet. When we were sure the moose wasn’t coming after us, we high-tailed it to safer ground and took some pictures and video of Bullwinkle the Terrible eating and using his antlers to break the branches to a lower height.

The rest of the day was just as exciting, though not as heart-stoppingly so. As we exercised our Florida lungs with the moderate uphill climb to Crater Lake, I quickly realized that Forrest probably wouldn’t have hidden the treasure here. I wanted to check out Minnehaha Gulch, but if seasoned hikers described the trek to the gulch as “difficult,” I didn’t think an 80 year old man hefting at least 24 pounds of treasure on two trips could do it (no offense, Forrest!).

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On the way back down, we enjoyed the little kangaroo rats–or marmots–or whatever they were–chirping alerts to each other from their perches on boulder lookouts. The weather was beautiful, the scenery spectacular, and the wind whispered soft music through the trees as we stored each sight and sound and feeling into our memory.

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From there, we took the advice of a local ranger and checked out the ghost town of Ashcroft. I was certain the treasure wasn’t there, but at that point, I was no longer concerned with finding a monetary trove. The excited smile on my sons face as he held my hand and pulled me toward the old, broken horse cart was more than treasure enough. Still, we scoured the ground in search of artifacts others might have missed, and we actually found a couple very old nails. At one time, when we were sifting through the stones by a stream, Joe said, “I wish Mr. Fenn was here. He’d know what an arrowhead looks like.”

After exploring Ashcroft, we stopped by a stream and broke out the gold panning kit we’d bought at Georgetown. We carefully followed the instructions, and sure enough, we found a few almost microscopic flakes.

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By then, the day was wearing long, but we didn’t want to stop. So, we drove up Independence Pass to a place called the Discovery/Braille Trail. Joe thought the treasure could be there because the trail had ropes with knots in them that led blind people from one station to another where descriptions were written in both English and Braille. We poked around for a while. We were the only ones there, and the sun was just starting to set, and I remembered that, just a few miles back at Maroon Bells, the campgrounds were closed due to recent “issues” with a growing bear population. I didn’t want to come face to face with one, especially after our close encounter with the moose.

On the way back to the hotel, we passed a dirt track named “Midnight Mine Road.” I couldn’t resist. I turned onto the red, dusty trail and we creeped up the mountain. Every muscle tensed as we slowly rounded curves with barely enough room for our little car before the road spilled off the side. If we happened to catch a loose bit of dirt, I thought we’d be spilling over the side, so I abandoned the idea of finding treasure there pretty quick. Not very brave in the way-up-high-on-unstable-ground department, I’m afraid.

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The next morning, Saturday, we explored the Grottos, which features ice caves, waterfalls, and some curious rock formations. Again, although we searched there, I didn’t really believe it was there. As I began to realize just how much bigger the world was outside of my fishbowl in Florida, the treasure became more of a needle in a haystack than a possible reality. We still hadn’t searched my main area, but if it was as vast as Maroon Bells, I wasn’t going to hold my breath.

Around 9:30 am, we headed for my main spot, which is in the Tarryall vicinity. Not in Tarryall, not in Buena Vista, but sorta in the middle. Oreo’s come to mind when looking in my spot. It took over 3 hours to get there along Independence Pass, which can also be a little scary, especially when the locals fly around those curves like their cars can magically sprout wings.

After lunch at a neat little place called The Rooster’s Crow, just past American Flag Mountain and right near Birthday Peak, we headed onto 24 toward my spot. I wasn’t quite sure how we would get to the spot, and I wasn’t even sure it would look like I had envisioned. Everything else I had imagined turned out to be so much…more.

However, when I glanced off to the left and saw the beacon on top of the mountain, I knew I was in the right spot. A few moments later, a helicopter chopped it’s way through the clouds overhead. But, the mountain was so far away, and none of my maps showed any roads that would take me close enough…until I spotted the dirt road.

I was so startled I jumped in my seat, which made Joe (who was napping) startle awake and look behind us to see what cute animal I had just made into road kill.

“I think this is it!” I exclaimed, and he was instantly alert and excited. We followed the bumpy dirt road to an area where kids (and adult kids, I presume) partied and had campfires and drank beer and shot at targets, which were still pinned to a tree.

Then, we heard the first rumble of thunder. Traitorous dark clouds began to boil in the distance. We searched quickly, but I knew this wasn’t right. I had to get to the spot where you would be if you looked quickly down from the blaze, the beacon on top of the mountain, that would begin winking as night fell.

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The forest roads were like a spider web around that place, and we would follow one road, just to have it curve the wrong way. Then another road, only to find it, too, curved away from my site. I didn’t want to risk walking, as the thunder was coming more frequently, and it was beginning to sprinkle. We’d already stopped at a handful of spots and searched extensively. Everything fit. WWWH was nearby. HoB was, too. We were in an area with lots of sagebrush flats. There were blazing white aspens, just beginning to show their magnificent fall colors. There were bumpy roads. The area was lonely, cold. Our socks and shoes were covered with little burrs (we had to toss our socks in the trash). Our legs were a tad scratched up, too, but that was nothing compared to the excitement we felt, that we were THERE.

We finally found a notice board which held maps of the area. I opened it up (it was a HUGE map), and found the road I needed to take.

BUT…so close turned out to be still so far. The clouds unleashed a flurry while we tried to speed our SUV over the bumps and furrows to our spot. Hail rained down on us, and I cringed with each ping, praying the dents wouldn’t add up to extra rental fees. The dirt roads began to form into little streams, and the SUV was starting to struggle.

I glanced over at my son, and he was struggling, too, trying to keep calm. His anxiety was evident, though, and I realized no treasure was worth the look on his face. It was a long way back to the main road, and though he was trying to be brave, he couldn’t help but ask, “What happens if the roads flood and we can’t get out?”

His nervous question was punctuated by a peal of malevolent thunder, and I wondered if maybe someone was trying to tell me it either wasn’t time for the treasure to be found, or that it wasn’t meant to be found by me. Either way, the only thing I could do was start for the main road, sloshing slowly along as the streams became more like whitewater rapids. At some parts of the road, I could hear the water hitting the underbelly of the car, it was so deep. I prayed a quick prayer that went something like, “Okay, we’re leaving. Just don’t let the car stall in the middle of this!”

We made it out, and soon after, we were in Tarryall. The rain had also let up. We stopped by the one room schoolhouse to see if any particular nostalgic saying was hanging over the door. The door was locked, so we crunched through the snow-like hail still on the ground and peeked in the windows. The schoolroom looked like it was still in use. Maybe for town meetings, or church meetings, or maybe even for burro training classes. Next to the schoolhouse was a field of the cutest burros I’d ever seen. In my beach-trained surfer’s brain, I imagined donkeys looking like old, worn out, hunchbacked working mules. But these were peppy and happy and clean, and seemed to be curious and even smiley.

Burros

We loved those burros. Joe wanted to take one home, and I think I did, too. Can you imagine taking a burro to the beach? He’d have to wear sunglasses.

We contemplated going back to try and slog our way through the mud, but more clouds loomed in the distance, and we were pretty sure that even if the water had drained from the roads, they would still be too muddy to pass.

So, we started back to Denver, where we would catch the 6:30 am flight back home the next morning. Along the way, we saw many more curious sites, like the waterfall by Tarryall Reservoir, a stone chimney standing all by itself surrounded by trees along the side of the road, and a belligerent biker that had flew by us at the speed of light getting arrested about twenty miles up the road. Joe thought that was pretty funny, and it was glad to see he wasn’t upset about not finding the treasure.

I suspect that maybe he thought as I did–that we did find a treasure, and all was right in our world.

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Except for the not being able to smuggle a cute black burro onto a plane.