Dal – Almost Live from MT/WY…

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June 2015

 

Around Yellowstone for the next few day. Decided to add this post so Goofy doesn’t nuke me for being off topic 🙂

I’ll keep you aware of how often I do not find the chest.

BTW: When I was in Tacoma visiting the middle school treasure hunt club, they had created a cardboard mimic of the chest in it’s exact dimensions. Then they measured off 200feet and put it down on the floor of a long school hallway in front of me.

Yikes!! I could barely, barely see it. If I had not known it was there I would have never noticed…and that was in a lit hallway on a flat floor.

If that chest is 200ft or more from me, outside in the sage and bentgrass…I’ll never see it. Just saying…It will take some scouting around.

Thanks for making that clear Treasure Hunt Club.. 🙂

Travel to Montana Pics

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Stopped at Mission State Park east of Coeur d’ Alene, Idaho. This is the oldest standing building in Idaho. Built in 1850..The west is very young. It was a Jusuit mission. Attempting to convince the Coeur d’ Alene Indians to take up farming instead of weapons..

Looks like this on the inside. Idaho's oldest building is only 55 years older than my house.

Looks like this on the inside. It’s a National Historic Structure.

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Also stopped here. Montana Valley Bookstore..over 100,000 used and out of print books…my kinda place…They were closed!!

 

DAY ONE PICS BELOW

My new paddleless stream complete with snorting Bison and a steaming geyser.

My new paddleless stream complete with snorting Bison and a steaming geyser.

It's spring in the caldera. Lupine and buckwheat.

It’s spring in the caldera. Lupine and buckwheat.

Phlox

Phlox

A shooting-star

A shooting-star

The new cache. Some verified wood, obsidian, marbles, caribeaner, an old bead, some hand tied flies, an apache tear, a quartz crystal and a pyrite crystal..or and a miniature book... Take something and leave something from where you live..sign the book. Send me a picture of you and the chest and I'll post it.. But I'm having trouble finding a spot to hide it. The old spot was the best but the Park didn't like  a cache in their park.

The new cache. Some petrified wood, obsidian, marbles, caribeaner, an old bead, some hand tied flies, an apache tear, a quartz crystal and a pyrite crystal, several fetishes and a miniature book…
Take something and leave something from where you live..sign the book. Send me a picture of you and the cache and I’ll post it..
But I’m having trouble finding a spot to hide it. The old spot was the best but the Park didn’t like a cache there so they took it..

 

DAY TWO
I have to find a place to hide the cache today. Unfortunately I don’t think I can find a place in town. I may have to try a spot out in the Gallatin NF. Town is good because folks can look for it in the evening after dinner..a fun diversion..

Maybe I’ll put it back in the same area..different spot and chance loosing it again..
Just so more people will look..
Maybe I can convince someone to take it home at the end of summer and put it back out for the summer..

Meeting up with Austin today for a late lunch and dinner tonight with a film crew..
Filming Friday and Saturday..

LATER THE SAME DAY
IMG_9960 I saw a moose today. I didn’t know they were pink! I don’t know what’s going on here exactly but it looks kind of nefarious. Poor Moose may be going to dinner with the bears. I shouldn’t speculate. Maybe the Moose agreed to ride on the hood.

I found a great spot for the cache today..more on that in a bit..

Had lunch with Austin and his wonderful family. What really nice folks!!!

I would have said that even if they hadn’t bought my lunch!! Honest!!

I had dinner with Dustin from CBS News. Nice guy. Tough job getting all the logistics together for a story that spans the Rocky Mountains. Takes a special temperament, the patience of Job, the flexibility of a Ukraine gymnast and the logistical skill of supply sergeant.

DAY THREE

Last night the broadband was so slow that I could not collect my mail or get on the blog. So I couldn’t post anything.

I met with the CBS crew at Madison Junction this morning along with our Park Service escort but Dustin had some bad news. The crew got called off the shoot and were now leaving for Billings for a “hard” news story. So we will try to meet up again tomorrow and carry-on.

That gives me some time today to post the directions to the new hidden catch in West Yellowstone. I’ll do that in a bit.

In the mean time, Ramona sent me this. It was posted on a Facebook page. I believe Iron Will is going to be out here next week..Maybe others too. If you’re interested..that’s a good show..Might be fun to be involved. I will not be here then.

My name is Jennifer, I am an associate producer for the Travel Channel original series EXPEDITION UNKNOWN. The show is hosted by Josh Gates who is a life adventurer with a degree in archeology. The show follows Gates as he investigates iconic mysteries around the world. 
Our team is preparing to film a story on Fenn’s Treasure very soon. We are trying to locate someone who believes that Fenn’s Treasure could potentially be hidden in MT, WY, or Yellowstone. If… you or anyone you know would be interested in participating in our program please feel free to contact me at your earliest convenience at jen.sheeran@gmail.com
I look forward to hearing from you soon. 
Thank you, 

I will put this up on Nine Clues too..

I spent the day searching outside the park in two places I wanted to check out a creek I can’t paddle. Here is Whits Lake. It drains…when it drains…down into Hebgen Lake via a seasonal..and nameless creek..

There were some interesting developments in the neighborhood of this lake. I plan to return tomorrow for a better look/see.

Pretty, clear and COLD!

Wits Lake

Whits Lake

The wildflowers were boisterous today. Bitterroot, Balsamroot, Sunflower, Bistort, Larkspur, Violets, Fairy Slippers, Wild Geranium, Glacier Lily and more that I can’t name..

DAY FOUR

This is my last day to search. I am taking the CBS crew to Whits Lake to help me search. They better not find it before me!!!! Fog this morning. Griz reported in the area yesterday.

The lake is fed by snowmelt. The actual size of the lake depends on the amount of snow..So, it’s large in the spring and dwindles down a great deal during the summer. It’s actual outlet only works when the lake is high. The rest of the time it evaporates..and disappears into the ground…I guess..but it gets smaller all summer long…

Back from the search and shoot at Whits Lake. Photos below:

About 10am on the road up to the trailhead.  We run into a party riding the trail, just for the fun of it. Reminded me of Forrest and Donnie riding around here and imagining Lewis and Clark.

About 10am on the road up to the trailhead. We run into a party riding the trail, just for the fun of it. Reminded me of Forrest and Donnie riding around here and imagining Lewis and Clark. Fog is hovering above.

Whits Lake. Could be Dal down at the edge..or wait...maybe that's Sasquatch!

Whits Lake. Could be Dal down at the edge..or wait…maybe that’s Sasquatch!

Mike getting the shot most people forget. This is the lake's intake. A very pleasant little stream cascading down into the lake and making a very pleasant and soothing sound as it comes down from above.

Mike getting the shot most people forget. This is the lake’s intake. A very pleasant little, crystal clear stream cascading down into the lake and making a very soothing sound on its way.

Barry Petersen, CBS Senior Correspondent getting ready to ask me something I don't know the answer to.

Barry Petersen, CBS Senior Correspondent getting ready to ask me something I don’t know the answer to.

Mike shooting while Dustin the Producer looks on. At least I know that I didn't simply miss the chest. I had lots of eyes helping me look.

Mike shooting while Dustin the Producer looks on. At least I know that I didn’t simply miss the chest. I had lots of eyes helping me look.

When the story airs I think they should add into the credits, the following line:

No Holes Were Dug in the Making of This Story.

By the way, the rangers over at the Gallatin Ranger Station were very helpful and very nice to all of us.

By the more way..I hear that Ranger Tim Reid of “we dislike treasure hunters” fame has left Yellowstone National Park and is now top dog over at Devil’s Tower. So be careful if you go out there. Tell them you are a serial murderer, or a bank robber…but don’t tell them you are a treasure hunter when you visit Devil’s Tower…just saying!

Empty hands today. No chest found. Another checkbox checked and I move on to the next place the nine clues lead me…

This search is finished. I will be heading out again later in the summer. A good time was had by all. I am certain Dustin will let me know when CBS plans to air the segment.

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Row, Row, Row Your Boat…

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At the beginning of autumn, 2014 I decided to make one final trip for the year into my favorite place to search for the chest. I wanted to be there before the snow.

The Firehole River under a darkening sky

The Firehole River under a darkening sky

I think most folks on the blog are familiar with my “best” starting spot. The place I believe Forrest meant when he wrote “Begin it where warm waters halt”. This place is inside Yellowstone National Park at Madison Junction. Many searchers disagree. So be it. They haven’t found the chest either.

For me, it does not necessarily follow that the chest is actually hidden inside the park simply because my WWWH is inside the park. That possibility depends on where, following the rest of the clues in the poem takes me. So far I’ve followed clues far and wide. I have at times, followed the clues and remained completely inside the park. At other times I have followed the clues right past the park boundary and out onto Forrest Service land, and even out to private ranch land.

Looking for hiding places beneath a blaze

Looking for hiding places beneath a blaze

Now I know what you’re thinking, one would believe that after 44 trips to find the chest with at least 20 trips beginning at Madison Junction, without success, I should have pretty much figured out that I might have the wrong starting place. Of course I believe no such thing. Why?, you ask. Because in a mere 22 trips starting at that spot I have not even begun to explore all the choices offered to me from that spot as I follow the other clues in the poem. And besides, I’m having a big bag full of fun.

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Crossing the Madison

Most of us know that Forrest has indicated that some people have gotten the first two clues correct…but then missed the other 7. This is how that can happen so easily. It’s like a maze. Assuming for a minute that I begin at the correct WWWH location, there at Madison Junction. I would have the “Begin it” correct. Next I have to “take it in the canyon down”. From Madison Junction I believe there are three possible choices to follow it in the canyon down. If I choose the right one I would have gotten two clues correct. The first two directions correct. However. It is only a 33% chance that I would have gotten the second clue correct because there are (by my accounting) three choices.

Everyone who has searched Yellowstone is probably familiar with this cave

Everyone who has searched Yellowstone is probably familiar with this cave

Now things begin to get more complicated because depending on which “canyon down” I take there are a multiplicity of choices for the home of Brown. In one direction I have one choice. In the second direction I have three choices and if I follow the third canyon I have at least five more choices for the home of Brown.

The bummer is that it keeps getting more and more convoluted with each direction. By the time I get to the creek I cannot paddle up I have about thirteen more choices to make depending on the route taken. Then from each of those thirteen choices there is another large selection to explore before I get to the next direction.

So, to solve this maze of directions (assuming I started at the correct WWWH, will take many more days of trying, and failing as I go about searching for the treasure.

A hiding place? Looks like a wood rat already moved in. A hiding place? Looks like a wood rat already moved in.

A hiding place? Looks like a wood rat already moved in.

Finally, I have to be able to recognize the actual hiding spot when I trip over it. There is always the possibility that I will miss it (or already have) just like the others who have walked past it within a breath…but missed it.

So, by my calculations, I have another 28 trips and about 168 possible choices to make before I can say I have thoroughly explored all the possibilities, before I need a new WWWH. But the thing is, I don’t get tired of looking. I get exhausted from walking up and down and up again all day. I get tired of singing the same old song out loud all the time to let the bears and cats know I’m coming. I get thirsty and hungry and stuck in dead end gullies and annoyed by all the federal rules and trying to figure out where in the heck I am at any one moment in time but I never do get tired of looking and soaking-in the history and enjoying the scenery.

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Another guardian of the hiding places

So if you hear somebody singing Row, row, row your boat, over and over again up there in Montana and Wyoming where the country is sweet, the water runs free and the nights are bold. It’s probably just me.

 

 

The Tewa Connection…

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POSTED IN may 2014

For quite awhile now I have been looking at various Native American legends that might contain allusions to Forrest’s poem. What I was particularly focused on was finding a legend that would give me a place to start…some Native American story based upon “where warm waters halt”. I have read legends from Blackfeet, Shoshone, Ute, Apache, Navajo, Sioux and several others looking for ideas. I came up empty. I couldn’t really find anything with a specific reference to “where warm waters halt”. Perhaps because I missed it or perhaps because it’s not there.

But it didn’t occur to me until much later that I left out at least one important group of Native Americans who could have occupied land where Forrest might have hidden his chest.

As you know, Forrest owns land that is the site of an ancient Tewa Indian pueblo called San Lazaro. He has been excavating it for some time and made several “new” discoveries that have contributed to the culture of the Tewa people. It occurred to me much later that perhaps the Tewa people have a history or legend that would point to “where warm waters halt”. This past winter I read dozens and dozens of manuscripts, books, essays and theses about and by the Tewa people. I reread Forrest’s San Lazaro book. I could find nothing and was considering the distinct possibility that I was barking up the wrong pinyon when a friend mentioned a collection of oral histories that live at the UNM and were recorded in the 1950’s. It took me awhile but I tracked down the curator of these recordings and inquired if I could listen to them. I was told they were not catalogued nor digitized at this time but I would be allowed to listen to the original recordings if I made an appointment. I did, and I was excited to begin.

 

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A reel of 1/4″ audio tape

The recordings are on reels of audio tape. There are literally scores of reels. Handwritten notes on the boxes tell the interviewee, interviewer, date, location, etc. I had no idea where to begin. So I just began at the top. Most of the tapes I listened to were family stories…genealogical in nature more than anthropological..by my definition. The recordings were fine but I had a difficult time understanding much of what the interviewees were saying and little to none of it had anything to do with my own interest in legends.

Hours into my appointment, barely able to stay awake, I was scanning through a tape at double speed when I heard something that sounded like “In the beginning where warm waters halt…” My mind stirred..I became alert…I stopped the tape, rewound and played that section back.

It was an older male voice and he was retelling a legend of the Tewa winter and summer people who were living at Posi Ouinge, a prehistoric pueblo ruin just above the hot springs at what is now Ojo Caliente (hot eye) in New Mexico. There were several lines in the old mans’s telling of the legend that sounded very close to the lines in Forrest’s poem. The similarity was stimulating.

He told of the creation of the Tewa and started at the Ojo Caliente spring but talked about how the people visited a place of high water in a dry canyon too far for the elders to walk. He referred to the place he called “the rocks” as an area that is now known as Tres Piedras, which is about 30 miles from Ojo Caliente by road. 30 miles certainly seemed to far for me to walk.

I decided that someday, when visiting NM I would examine this place. That opportunity became reality last week when I drove Esmerelda to NM and met with Nick Lazaredes from Dateline, on the SBS TV Network in Australia. Nick had just flown in from the Ukraine where he was filming a story about the insurrection along the Russian border. I looked at his report. Bold filming…

Now he was producing a story on Forrest’s treasure hunt. He followed Diggin Gypsy around in the Montana snow for a few days and then came down to NM to follow me around, interview Forrest and visit Desertphile’s Fennboree (more on the Fennboree with pictures in my next post). This seemed like the perfect opportunity to explore the Tewa legend.

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The Ojo Caliente Resort which is near the ruins of the Tewa pueblo of Posi Ouinge

I downloaded the Posi Ouinge brochure printed by the Bureau of Land Management and decided I would take Nick to two sites. First the pueblo site at Ojo where, according to the legend the winter and summer people began “where warm waters halt” and second to the place at Tres Piedras where “high water ended in a dry canyon atop the brown rocks striped with white”.

Now everyone who has listened to me spout off knows I don’t believe that a hot spring could possibly be a place where warm waters halt simply because the water does not halt. Instead it reaches the surface and spills out into a river or rivulet and continues on it’s journey to the sea. But here it was in a Native American’s own voice…the warm water’s halting at Ojo Caliente…possible??

Pottery shards are scattered all over the ancient pueblos site

Pottery shards are scattered all over the ancient pueblos site

The pueblo above the spring at Ojo is a fascinating place. Broken pieces of 500 year old pottery and other prehistoric artifacts of civilization are scattered throughput the area. I am sure someone with a better understanding of the land could have painted a clearer picture of exactly how the pueblo was once arranged on the wind eroded hills. But even without that knowledge it was great fun to stand among the fallen walls and imagine the day to day life in a community of 5,000 people who lived there for 500 or so years before the Spanish arrived in New Mexico.

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The landscape near the ancient ruins of Posi Ouinge

Here they prepared arrows, told stories, collected water from the stream below, grew crops, butchered animals and created thousands of pots whose painted shards were now scattered in every direction around me. Walking this rolling, juniper dappled landscape was thought provoking. The small wildflowers in the arroyos were in full bloom and since it was May the temperature was still tolerable for a guy from Washington State.

Wildflowers on the mesa at Posi Ouinge

Wildflowers on the mesa at Posi Ouinge

A Collared lizard eyes my carnivorous self suspiciously

A Collared lizard eyes my carnivorous self suspiciously

Nick spent about two hours filming up there. I saw thousands of pot shards and a single arrowhead. I left everything at the site just as I found it since the government’s merciless rules forbid removing artifacts.

Next we drove over to Tres Piedras (three stones) and took a red dirt road nearly two miles past the ranger station back into the piñon and juniper and ponderosa. We parked and walked about a mile to the westernmost hummock of smoothed sandstone jutting out of the ground maybe 50 feet in height. The area reminded me of an old TV western.

Nick in a cleft in the rocks at Tres Piedras

Nick in a cleft in the rocks at Tres Piedras

I imagined the Apache preparing to attack us at any moment. Gene Autry or Jay Silverheels or Ward Bond taking up a position behind the safety of these hoodoo rocks. But we never saw anyone else back there. The brown rounded sandstone is indeed striped with ribbons of thick coarse quartz that stand out vividly like white blazes. So many to choose from…

From the tops of the hoodoo rocks at Tres Piedras

From the tops of the hoodoo rocks at Tres Piedras

We followed several white blazes to the ground. We explored inside small dry caves and under dark ledges and had a grand old time. Although no chest was found, Nick discovered a perfect, small white arrowhead resting upright in a clear pool of high water atop the rounded sandstone.

We knew we were not the first civilization to play on these rocks but are we the last?

 

You can download the BLM’s brochure about the Posi Ouinge ruins at Ojo Caliente here.

You can watch Nick’s Frontline Ukraine report here.
We will post his Forrest Fenn report as soon as it is available.

My Garmin tells me our location at Tres Piedras was here:
36°39.729N 105°59.374W

It’s a cool spot with views and shade and rocks to run around on and blazes abound.
Just because I didn’t find the chest does not mean you will not…

Bring water and have fun!!

When you find the treasure in this spot…please don’t tell me..

 

The Shaft…

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POSTED IN APRIL 2014

Last fall I received a registered snail mail envelope from a fellow with an unusual name, Harley Dodge Dart. Harley lives up in the Bitterroot Valley in Montana. The Bitterroot is about a hundred miles long and most of it is due south of Missoula, Montana.  Harley wrote to tell me he knew exactly where the treasure was hidden and needed some help to get it out.

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No Paddle Up Your Creek..

I’m shy to partner-up with people when it comes to hunting for the treasure for a couple of reasons. The most logical being that partnerships tend to go sour and once they do…well accusations, slander and really hard feelings are likely to follow. I’m not a “businessman” and I can’t just shrug those things away. It’s easier for me to simply go searching on my own.

But Harley’s note was a bit different. First of all he didn’t want help “finding” the treasure. According to his letter he already knew where it was. Apparently I was the only person he trusted to help him free it from it’s resting place. I would later discover that I was probably the only person who would help him do anything. Harley’s neighbors give him a wide margin. Most don’t talk to him at all. Maybe it’s his tree-hugging politics. Maybe it’s the lawsuits he has pending against many of them and the State of Montana in General. Harley leans a bit toward ornery…a bit further toward peculiar…and a whole lot toward stubborn. But I didn’t know all this about him when I got the letter. I might have been suspicious though. The envelope had a lot of scuff marks and fingerprints from greasy hands on it. The letter itself was hand written printed scrawled in blue pencil by a guy who probably did not take handwriting in third grade from Sister Mary Linus. It was grammatically correct as far as I could tell and his spelling was better than mine would have been without the luxury of a spell checker but the clincher was that, in addition to the letter, he enclosed a single $5, 1953, silver certificate. He said it would pay for my gas to Montana.  It took me a few minutes to see that it was a silver certificate so I was wondering how I would get to Montana on $5 in gas. When I looked that certificate up it was valued at about $65. So it might not get me all the way to Montana but it was a fair start.

You’d have to read Harley’s letter to get a true sense of how unlikely it seemed that Forrest’s chest could possibly be hidden in the spot he’d decided it must be. But Harley was convinced it was “the spot”, and for whatever reason, he decided I would be the one to help him secure it. Harley didn’t want me to put his letter up where everyone could read it. His verbatim remarks follow – “To much good information. To many solid facts. Whole freakin valley’ll look like a Jones family reunion if you show my letter up on your blog..and I wouldn’t want to have to shoot ya to keep ya from showin it  round. Are ya with me?”

Harley’s letter didn’t demand any correspondence from me. He told me where to meet him, date and time, in Missoula. He’d know me by my truck he said and told me he’d be driving a ’68 Ford pick-up, “mostly baby blue under the mud with some miles on it. A good Warn winch mounted on the front”. If I wasn’t there, he’d know I stole his money and wasn’t coming.

I can only think of one other treasure hunter since this chase began that has made me laugh as much as Harley. He doesn’t try to be funny. He is as serious as a bible in a Baptist pulpit. Humor comes from unintended consequences. His manner is direct and serious, but something about him is just off enough to be funny without being threatening.

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The Korean War…winter…

Couple things you should know about Harley. Since he wouldn’t let me take his picture I think it might help you form a better image of him. He’s a Korean War, combat Marine vet. He was at the Inchon landing, helped liberate Seoul and fought his way out of the Frozen Chosin against seven Chinese infantry divisions. Harley almost met his maker at the Chosin Reservoir. He suffered severe frostbite and ended up losing all ten toes, a couple of fingers and some nose. He walks a little funny but when you think about the damage his feet endured and take into consideration that Harley is a year older than Forrest, there is no doubt that he has had a lot of practice overcoming adversity. Skinny as a rusty nail. Tall as his truck cab. Wild, thick, colorless hair that goes about equally in all directions from under his hat like Lee Marvin’s in Cat Ballou. Pale, squinty eyes with deep crows feet from the summer sun. His nose is unnaturally crooked and there’s some scarring on the tissue under his eyes. Most of his face was hidden behind a few days worth of four-o’clock shadow. In spite of the rugged cowboy look there is also a sense of mischief and humor in his face. You’d like him immediately. I think it’s not til you get to know him that you get suspicious of him. Harley’s a loner. Never married. No relatives. Refers to himself as “end of the line Harley”.

He’s not a whiner. I had to pump him full of bourbon to get some history out of him. He drinks whatever is standing around. He doesn’t sip it either. He knocks one and a half ounce shots back with a handful of salted peanuts for a chaser. He had either twelve or thirteen shots in a two hour session at an empty, dark saloon that smelled like sawdust three miles down the two track jeep road from his place. The shots were $9.50 each. The bottle didn’t have a label but I don’t think it was Pappy Van Winkle. The peanuts were free. The music was mostly Grand Ol’e Opry tunes…Hank Williams, Patsy Cline, Bill Monroe, the Carter Family…Might have been a Willie Nelson song in there somewhere. At 10am we were the only folks in the place.

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We sat on old backless stools at the bar. After about an hour of watching Harley dispose of whisky like it was tap water he asked if he could buy me lunch. I said “Sure, what do they have?” Harley didn’t say anything he just pushed a big, uncovered jar of peeled, pickled eggs down the sticky bar toward me. The jar was covered in greasy fingerprints. It smelled like bad breath and there were little round black things floating on the top. A handwritten label on the bottle said they were “seventy-five cents each, three for two dollars, use tongs”. There weren’t any tongs. I don’t have a death wish. I passed.

About an hour later Harley let me pick-up the tab while he hit the restroom. I admired the well-worn table shuffleboard for a few minutes before I walked out into the sweet scented spring-like air. At Harley’s suggestion I left my truck in front of the saloon for the ride up the jeep trail in Harley’s Ford to where he called home and the start of his solution to the poem.

The ride up was remarkably rough. If we’d been grocery shopping I have no idea where we could possibly have put a dozen eggs to keep them safe. Harley says the County won’t take care of the road because it only goes to his place so he’s “suing their britches off.”

Mr. Dart is honest Montana stock. Born’n raised around Missoula. Only other places he’s been are Camp Pendleton and Korea. He cowboyed plenty on ranches up and down the Bitterroot and around Chouteau. He’s lived on the place he has now for over 55 years. He maintains his ranch is “about the most worthless land in the whole Bitterroot…maybe all of Montana.” It’s so bad, he claims, he’s leaving the place when he dies, to his worst enemy. I doubt this is true. I suspect it’s just advertising, because he also told me he was suing the county assessor.

I had to ask him about his name. He said it’s all an accident. There were no Dodge Darts when he was born and there might of been Harleys but he was named after his grandfather, Harley Berwyn Dart from Butte and Wales. Dodge was his mother’s maiden name. He said he never owned or even drove a Dodge Dart. “I wouldn’t know a Dart if one ran me over twice.”, he muttered as we bolted up the road trail

Harley’s final spot was in an abandoned vertical mine shaft on Forrest Service land not far up the side of the valley. Lord help me. I was not looking forward to exploring that hole. I had no faith in his solution or his spot but in spite of everything,  I genuinely like Harley. He’s a character worth knowing in a world where change is the enemy and neutral is everyone’s favorite color.

But it gets better. His starting place was one of the best I’d seen…maybe not heard…but certainly seen. We stopped there first.

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Harley claims this sink came from the Fenn Haven Motor Court…

Harley lives in a 700sq foot cabin he built himself from pines he cut by hand himself and crosscut into boards by hand himself. Everything in his cabin and on his property he hauled up that jeep trail. There are no power lines on Harley’s property. “I hate the power company”, he adds. “They take all your money to give you something you don’t need but can’t live without. Anyway they want a fortune to bring a line up here and I’ve been living just fine for the past 50 years without their help. Sons-o-guns wanted to put up a series of those big electrical towers across my property back in the 60’s and pay me $150 a year for the privilege. I told em to go to hell in a handcart. That’s when all the trouble started.” According to Harley, the County along with the power company and an organization called Power for People in the Bitterroot, almost had his land condemned so they could get the towers across his ranch. It apparently nearly turned to trenched warfare and started all the trouble between Mr. Dart and his rancher neighbors who thought the towers were a good idea. “I’m not a guy who necessarily listens to reason.” Harley told me. “Sometimes you just gotta fight for what you believe, and I believe those towers are one of the most hideous examples of human progress ever plunked upon the countryside. Ya know, if I had wanted to live under one of those things I would have moved to Paris and built my cabin under the Eiffel Tower.”

Harley heard about Forrest’s hidden treasure on a trip to Missoula to meet with “old friends”. What got his attention was not so much the story of the treasure, but the person who hid it, Forrest. Harley claims he knew Forrest’s dad and that Harley’s dad and Forrest’s dad fished on the Madison and the South Fork together. “I was thinking about this old sink I got next to the cabin. I got that sink from my dad, who in turn, got it from Forrest’s dad. It came out of one of the Fenn Haven Motor Court cabins in the 60s when they were remodeling.  I was thinking that Forrest probably knows that old sink is up here. This is where warm water halts. And no wonder no one could figure out where to start. I mean who else knows about this sink? So don’t you tell anyone where exactly it’s at cuz I don’t want a herd of treasure hunters up here messin around on my property.”

From the old enameled metal sink Harley pointed to the creek about twenty feet away that goes down the canyon to the Bitterroot River and then on down the Bitterroot several miles to the home of Brown. Now his Brown is a connection between the painter C.M. Russell and the Bitterroot and a painting of Charley’s that is hung in the CM Russell Museum in Grand Falls. Harley explains, “A pretty special painting that came to that Museum in the 80s and I am not positive but I think it came from Peggy and Forrest. You can mention it but don’t name it. That would be a dead give-away.” At this point on the river there was a significant battle between the Blackfeet and a group of explorers that Harley feels is Forrest’s connection to “no place for the meek”. This place is also the confluence of the Bitterroot and another creek that has changed names a few times throughout history. It is a fast moving, cascade laden stream where you certainly could not paddle. Above it a ways is an old mining claim that Harley feels is also connected by name to the poem. “Just to many things line up.” he told me, with a mischievous grin and raised eyebrows.

About three o’clock in the afternoon we arrived at Harley’s old hole. A vertical mining shaft that went down about thirty feet through hard rock to a relatively flat floor below. As I lay on my belly shining a flashlight into the shaft I could see timbers scattered on the floor below and what appeared to be a single horizontal shaft heading off to the east. But what got my attention was a wooden box about two feet square sitting just off center of the hole. Why was it there and what was in it? “In the wood”, was all that Harley said. The hole was about twelve feet across and at one time had a wooden platform and a tipple over it. Miners probably descended into the shaft the same way their diggings came out, via a large bucket attached to a steel cable and winch. All that was gone now. But Harley brought along the makings of a tripod, two hundred feet of strong poly rope an old pulley and a climbers harness. One of us was going down into that hole to see what was in that wooden crate.

We assembled the tripod and dragged it over the shaft with the pulley attached and rope thru. We positioned it so that the rope went straight down the wall opposite the tunnel shaft at the bottom. The other end of the poly was attached to the wire rope on Harley’s winch on the front of his Ford. The Ford was as close as we could get it, about a hundred feet away from the hole. After the rig was assembled Harley handed me the harness and a radio and simply said “You’re younger than me”, and walked away toward the truck. “The radio is set to channel 3. I’ll be at the truck. Just let me know when you’re ready to go.” I kept thinking about all those shots Harley had swilled not more than a few hours earlier.

I didn’t really like this one little bit, but complaining is not my style and it seemed sane enough. The hole was in solid rock. Nothing could really fall on me unless the tripod failed but it was pretty solid. The rope was new. The Warn was old but not likely to fail. I stepped into the harness. Tied myself in. Stepped over near the hole gave everything a tug. Nothing fell apart. My heart was beating hard but steady. I turned on the radio. It said “channel three” back at me as it powered up. I pressed the “talk” button and asked Harley if he could hear me. “Loud and clear buddy”, is all he said. I heard the truck start up. I stepped to the edge. Turned and faced the truck. Gave everything one more tug. No reason to chicken out. Hit the talk button again and told Harley to take up about two feet of slack. The rope slowly reeled back toward the truck about two feet. I still had nearly half a foot of slack but I figured that would do.  I felt for the flashlight on a d-clip on my left hip. It was there. I lowered my body till the rope was relatively tight. Grabbed it between the winch and my head with my left hand and leaned fully backward with the radio in my right hand until all the weight was off my legs. I was completely dependent on Harley now. I spread my legs apart, held the radio to my mouth and said “down slow”.

Down I went. Nice and slow. I had no problem walking the smooth vertical wall as Harley lowered me to the floor. At the bottom I just stepped off the wall and onto the littered floor between a mess of fallen timbers and planks and bolts and steel plates. My foot landed near the skeleton of a rat or packrat that had probably fallen in one night when he wasn’t paying attention. Everything looked like it had been there for at least dozens of years. Nothing looked like it had been placed here in 2009 or 2010. A couple of seconds later the winch stopped. Harley must have figured out about how much line it would take to get to the bottom. I hit the talk key and said. “Good”. I took the flashlight from my hip, switched it on and turned around to look east down the horizontal tunnel to see if there were any monsters coming after me. I didn’t see any. Cold air rushed at me and up the shaft. I relaxed a little and turned my attention to the wooden box. It had some printing on one side but I couldn’t tell what the letters spelled. I was confident they did not spell “DuPont” and that made me a little more comfortable.

A few seconds later Harley was peering down at me. “What’s in the box” he yelled.

I don’t know yet”, I yelled back.

“Well what the hell are ya doin down there? This ain’t no Hawaii vacation.” he said.

“What kind of mine was this?” I yelled up at him.

“Probably silver was what they were looking for. Probably rock was all they got.

“Maybe the box is full of silver nuggets.”, I said, hopefully.

“Silver don’t form nuggets around here.”, Harley responded.

I thought I heard something in the tunnel. I pointed the light at it again and peered carefully into the nothingness.

“What’s up?”

“I thought I heard something.”

“Might be bats. Shining that light at em might rile em up. Can you open that box?”

There was a rusted steel latch on the front and two rusted strap hinges on the back. The box was very light. I could move it pretty easily. It certainly didn’t have a 42lb treasure inside it.

“I think it’s empty”, I said.

“Open it!” yelled Harley.

So I grabbed the latch and lifted it up and used it to pry the lid open on it’s stubborn hinges. It wasn’t empty.

“What’s that?” yelled Harley.

Down at the bottom of the box were crumpled up newspapers. They were torn and mushed into balls like someone had used them to act as padding around something fragile. But whatever the fragile item might have been, it was gone. I pushed the rotted newspapers aside, to see if there was anything at the bottom. Just more newspaper and something slick and flat. I pulled at it. An old oilcloth. Like the kind my kindergarten teacher would have made me use when I played with clay. Under it was a magazine. I carefully took it out from the bottom. It seemed intact. To my surprise it was in very good shape.

“What is it?” yelled Harley.

“A magazine. The Saturday Evening Post.”

“Anything else?”

“Nope. I’ll bring it up.”

“Okay, I guess I’m headed back to the winch. Let me know when to start reeling you up.”

I unbuttoned my jacket and put the magazine inside, flat against my chest. Put the flashlight back on it’s clip. Pulled the radio out of my pocket. Grabbed the rope with my left hand. Walked over the jumbled debris on the floor to the wall. Hit the “talk” button and said “up, slow”.

It felt good to be headed away from that dark, cold tunnel and the noises it was making. Getting out was a little harder than getting in but not by much.

We reeled in all the winch cable. Coiled the poly and opened a couple of Cokes that Harley brought along. I took the harness off and the magazine out from my jacket. We studied it like it was a million dollar treasure. We had worked hard for it.

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It was in amazing condition.

“June 29th, 1929”, I said.

“What? Let me look at that. Where’s the date?”, said Harley.

I pointed at the date, nearly obscured by the cover art.

Harley stared at it with a look of confusion on his face. He didn’t say anything. He reached behind to his back pocket and yanked out his wallet. Flipped it open so his driver’s license was displayed and said, “What’s my birthdate?”

I pulled his wallet closer to my face and read his birthdate out loud.

“What are the chances of that?” asked Harley.

 

Grayling Creek – Part Two…

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This is part two of a two part story. If you’d like to read part one first, CLICK HERE.

 

 

Note From Forrest-July 2013 To Amber, Chip, Porochista and Dal

Thanks Amber….
….This will be Porochista’s first time into God’s country. Please don’t let those guys find the treasure up Grayling Canyon. f

 

Note From Chip-July 2013 To Dal, Forrest and Amber
Hi Dal…
…My plan is to walk straight to the treasure with you sometime Sunday…
Chip

 

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The sweet Gallatin River as it winds it’s way along the highway

Ezzey, Porochista Khakpour and I are moving fast down the highway from Bozeman toward West Yellowstone. The light is fading quickly. We are supposed to have met with Forrest’s nephew, Chip, a few minutes ago. I can’t use the time warp machine right now so instead I am late for our meeting. I hate that. I check my cell for signal strength. I’d like to tell Chip we’ll be late, by a good hour, but no bars on the phone.

It’s really a shame we’re nearly in the dark because the highway along the Gallatin River and down into the park via Bighorn Pass is one of the most beautiful stretches of highway this country has to offer. I’d like Porochista to see it.

The road was built piece-meal fashion about the time that folks started demanding automobile access to Yellowstone. Originally considered by the citizens of Bozeman in 1904, It was not fully completed for many years later as the park and the county road commissioners haggled over loss of wildlife habitat and uncontrolled park access. Today, urban sprawl is the new enemy along the 75 or so miles of highway outside the park. Cul-de-sacs with three to a half dozen houses each pop-up like blisters on a tenderfoot’s heel as the prosperous ranching towns spread south and west into the beautiful valley of the Gallatin.

Fireweed in bloom along the Gallatin Highway

Fireweed in bloom along the Gallatin Highway

It is along this highway that Forrest and Donnie made a 91 mile trek to Bozeman one summer in the 1940s. I have to respect that adventure. I am sorry I never had the foresight to walk 91 miles down such a beautiful river as the Gallatin. I can imagine them each pulling a trout or two every day from the Gallatin for dinner as they camped along this rip-roaring river every night for the five or so days it must have taken to walk to Bozeman. In spite of the encroaching developments and growing traffic since Forrest spent his summers in this neighborhood, the roadway is still picturesque…but get here before it’s gone.

It’s about 9pm by the time we roll into Chip and Amber’s property above Hebgen Lake.  Chip’s daughter Emily is there to meet with us as well. After “hellos” and “introductions” all around, the conversation turns pretty quickly to the location of Forrest’s chest and his intoxicating note that snidely suggests he hid it in Grayling Canyon. We are all confident that the chest is NOT along Grayling Creek. We chuckle as we recall the playful note Forrest sent us. Yet, we also know that we MUST look along Grayling Creek because if we don’t and that turns out to be the spot…won’t we be the fools…

Forrest’s sense of humor and command of the English language is family lore. Everyone in the room knows that Forrest wrote a sentence that says nothing about where the chest is, or isn’t located, and at the same time planted a seed we cannot ignore. We also predict he is sitting at home in Santa Fe warmed by his little piñon fire smiling because he knows exactly what his note is going to drive us to do. He’s as clever as the day is long…

We laugh and trade stories about Forrest. Chip says that as a kid he remembers occasions when an Air Force jet would buzz the town of West Yellowstone from south to north. The plane would come in from a long distance off, low and level. The growing sound of a big jet engine screaming right toward town. The whole town would stop and watch. Shopkeepers out on the street. Kids holding fingers in their ears. That plane would head right up Canyon Road, waggle it’s wings and then nose up straight for the high sky, spinning like a top. Everyone knew it was Forrest. Forrest, of course, denies that he would have done anything like that. “That sounds dangerous and probably illegal”, he says with a perfect poker face.

Everyone in Chips front room that evening knows with certainty that there is no treasure on Grayling Creek. We also know that Forrest does not hand out clues to individuals…only to the public at large. We know that the last place on earth we should bother to look is Grayling Creek and we also know that the first place we will all look tomorrow will be Grayling Creek. We are doomed.

I am a little surprised by Chip’s immersion into the poem. He shares a three ring binder with Porochista and me that holds his notes about the poem and his ideas about the location of the treasure. He is a serious searcher with an unshakeable belief that Forrest’s chest is somewhere around Yellowstone.

We make plans to meet with Emily and her brother Aubrey for breakfast in the morning and the four of us will head on over to Grayling Creek for a look/see. Like addicts…we are about to embark on something we know we shouldn’t because we cannot avoid doing exactly what we’ve been told NOT to do…Forrest is a fun loving puppet master…

Before midnight, Porochista and I head off toward West Yellowstone and accommodations provided by Chip and Amber at one of their rental properties. Although we have simple and explicit directions to the building where we will have rooms, we go back and forth and up and down the streets of West Yellowstone hunting for the address. How on earth can I ever expect to find the treasure chest when I can’t even find a two story apartment building in West Yellowstone. I really am doomed.

The gate at Parade Rest Guest Ranch

The gate at Parade Rest Guest Ranch

The next morning Emily and her brother Aubrey meet us at Parade Rest Guest Ranch where we will have breakfast. I really didn’t know about this place before this morning. I may have seen a sign for it along Lake Hebgen but I had no idea the lodge was open to the public for meals. It was a perfect place to enjoy a hearty Montana style breakfast in a western, ranch house setting. Emily has brought along her infant daughter Aliyah. She is curious and perfectly mannered and just about the cutest kid in Montana. She draws a lot of waving and ohhs and ahhs from the other customers at the ranch.

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The conversation today is much more relaxed. I suppose because we have the big issue settled. We know where we are headed to search. So around the breakfast table we just talk like normal people rather than treasure addicted searchers. We talk about the vicious otter that has showed up on the Madison River near the 191 bridge. It has attacked and bitten more than one swimmer. I learn that Emily is a trail runner, biker, marathoner and outdoors woman of the most Montana kind. Aubrey is recovering from some broken limbs but looks absolutely fit to me. He busts broncs and rides on the backs of angry bulls on the rodeo circuit but is spending his healing time as a rodeo clown this summer. Have you ever seen what a rodeo clown does? That’s tougher than being a bull rider as far as I am concerned. The whole purpose of a clown in the rodeo ring is to get those behemoth, outraged bulls to chase and try to kill him. His goal of course, is to survive. It quickly adds up to me that Chip has raised a couple of kids not afraid to take on serious challenges.

Aubrey, Porochista, Emily and Aliyah as we start into the Grayling Creek Canyon

Aubrey, Porochista, Emily and Aliyah as we start into the Grayling Creek Canyon

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Crossing Grayling Creek

Right after breakfast we head over to nearby Grayling Creek and begin our search. There really is no trail along the creek. The water is clear and cold as it comes out of the Park onto Forrest Service land. The canyon is sometimes narrow and sometimes broad. The water is in a hurry and the walk is enchanting through wooded riverine and past cliffs of local yellow, scrabbly rock. We are on the watch for bears. They have been in the area recently. Aubrey brings his dog Tater, who will spot a bear long before we do. Once the canyon narrows down to no wider than the stream itself we have to clamber from rock to rock and ledge to ledge to follow along the creek.

Where I come from creeks are a few feet across. The Grayling is much more like a river than a creek at this point. Thirty feet across with lots of charming bends and hiding places for dinner sized trout. Emily is carrying Aliyah on her back as she easily traverses the slippery rocks and narrow ledges. She looks like a dancer moving on her stage. Her feet cling to slimy river rocks like snails. Every step is honest and unchallenged. And Aubrey…If there is anything at all about Aubry that is broken I fail to recognize it. He moves among these rocks like they are library shelves. Meanwhile Porochista and I are slipping and sliding and plunging off rocks and narrow ledges with regularity. Clearly, we are the novices in this country. Porochista’s magenta sneakers light the way in front of me in the darkened canyon. She is a trooper. She never stops. Determined to follow the treasure hunters no matter what ridiculous place Forrest has told them not to find the treasure.

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Little Aliyah falls fast asleep on her mother’s back in record time. I am amazed. The creek is noisy. The air is cool. The walk is bumpy. Just another trek in the woods with mom for Aliyah.

Aliyah at rest. Don't you wish you could sleep like that?

Aliyah at rest. Don’t you wish you could sleep like that?

At a place in the canyon where we really can’t go much further without walking in chest deep water there is a fall. A beautiful multi-teared fall about thirty feet across and with about a 15 foot total drop. A blaze? Surely Forrest has seen this fall in his exploration for good fishing holes. We cannot avoid the inevitable. Aubrey tells me that the water in the creek is at it’s lowest this time of year. Snow and Ice will keep everyone out in winter. If we are going to examine that fall…now would be the best time.

Approaching the fall on Grayling Creek

Approaching the fall on Grayling Creek

We wade out and examine every crevice and hole. We look under, around, in and through the fall. Aubrey has the certain feet that allow him to walk across the lip of the fall to look at the other side. Tater gingerly follows. Clearly the dog has concerns. She looks one way, then another. Gets halfway across then begins to turn back . Tater knows this is the wrong place to be walking. I start on this side of the fall and work toward the center at its foot. Emily stays on the side with Aliyah safely on her back. She will wade in if anyone gets in trouble. Porochista stays out of the fall as well. I am convinced she thinks we are all lunatics. Perhaps we all are. The water wants to push me downstream. The current is so fierce in spots that I dare not lift a foot off the bottom without a handhold for fear I will be pushed over. I pry and poke with my ice ax. The water is sternum deep in spots. It’s uncomfortably cold. Staying upright is a constant chore. If I fall I’ll end up about thirty feet downstream after banging into some boulders on the way. Finding a place between boulders to cram my feet is challenging. The rocks move threateningly under pressure from the current. I wonder why I am here. Would Forrest be here? I think not. He’s smarter than I am. We spend most of an hour at the fall. Sadly, there is no treasure chest in our immediate future.

Checking out one more spot on the way back

Checking out one more spot on the way back

As we are walking out Chip approaches on an ATV to help us carry the heavy chest. Unfortunately, there is no chest to be carried. And of course, I am reminded that it is highly unlikely that Forrest would have hefted the chest through that difficult canyon. Not a likely spot. But certainly a lovely place to waste valuable exploring time with good company.

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Porochista, Emily, Aliyah, Chip, Aubrey and Tater…treasureless again!

When we get back to their house, Amber has laid out a fantastic lunch spread. We all make sandwiches and talk about the adventure. The conclusion is unanimous. That fall is  not the location of the chest for more than one reason.

1. Too difficult to get at while carrying 21lbs…twice..

2. It’s too remote. We all believe the chest is hidden near an area that the public visits.

3. Why would that place be special to Forrest?

4. I try and try but I cannot make the clues in the poem lead me into that canyon.

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A splendid lunch with Amber

The next day Porochista and I head into the park to visit Forrest’s favorite bathing spot on the Firehole river at Ojo Caliente. It’s a murky day. Overcast and threatening storms. The dark clouds add to the ominous sensation as we walk around in the caldera of a super volcano. We explore the lower geyser basin and fountain flats on foot just for the sheer pleasure of looking at the gems of spouting hot geysers, thumping mudpots, multicolored springs and alkaline water holes. We admire long legged birds and the remains of winter and wolves on the open savannah in the center of the Yellowstone crater. The scene is vast and wild and prehistoric. Great steam plumes rise in every direction. Grasses dotted with wildflowers at our feet. Sun-bleached bones scattered around the water holes. The air smells of sulphur and something else…like rye.

The Firehole River near Ojo Caliente, looking at Forrest's favorite bathing spot

The Firehole River near Ojo Caliente, looking at Forrest’s favorite bathing spot

Porochistas sneakers remind me of survey tape

Porochistas sneakers remind me of survey tape

Porochista finds a buffalo skull

Porochista finds a buffalo skull

The flats seem like a vast windswept grassy plain with small copses of pine here and there to break the monotony. We can conjure up remarkable dinosaurs plodding through the scene just in front of us. Porochista finds a buffalo skull. She is not squeamish. She picks it up to admire it’s earthly story and I snap a picture. We talk about life and death on this plain. We try to understand Forrest’s remarkable childhood experiences. We find a comfortable log and summon up Forrest and Donnie and Skippy and the rest…We imagine the place in 1940…In our fantasizing it is windswept, grassy and steaming, beautifully the same as it is today. We cherish the idea that this protected place is a landscape in only a handful of such landscapes in the world of modern man that have not changed in 70 years…perhaps not even in a thousand years…

The lower geyser basin

The lower geyser basin

 

dal…

Grayling Creek – Part One…

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Porochista Khakpour is the kind of person that makes you wonder where you went wrong. She is attractive, of course. She is brilliant, of course. But there is something more, a breath of worldly sophistication accompanies her. Sort of like… I am the chicken and find myself sitting in a restaurant, talking with Colonel Saunders about side dish recipies. She can make a guy nervous. We are riding in Esmerelda heading south along the picturesque Gallatin Highway toward Yellowstone. She asks me who I will tell when I find Forrest’s treasure.

Gallatin River

Gallatin River

But let’s move back a little in time. It’s the first week in August, 2013 and I am around the West Yellowstone neighborhood. Things are moving briskly. I came out here this time of year, in spite of my intense desire to avoid Yellowstone during peak visitor season, just to be with the BBC. They are here filming a story about Forrest’s treasure hunt and my searching experience in the Red Canyon is part of their story.

A few days earlier, before I leave my island home for the mountains north of Santa Fe, Forrest writes that a lovely and charming, dark haired journalist by the name of Porochista Khakpour is penning a story about him for a national magazine. She has spent several days interviewing him in Santa Fe and even visited his friends in Temple, Texas. He further writes that the poor deprived woman has never had the opportunity to visit Yellowstone and since I am headed there perhaps I could meet her at the airport in Bozeman and take her to all the important places in the most important park in the country. “You’ll like her,” he adds.

Forrest also puts me in touch with a member of his family who lives in Montana and happens to have rental accommodations near the park. His relative, Chip, agrees to put Prochista and me up for a couple of days. So, now I have an appointment to be a guide for someone who needs to know everything there is to know about Forrest. I have free accommodations arranged by Forrest and I am going to meet a relative of Forrest’s who clearly must have some idea where the treasure is hidden. Sounds like a plan made in heaven.

Except…what kind of name is Porochista Khakpour? Who is this dark haired siren about which Forrest has told me little? If I were not curious I wouldn’t be looking for the treasure in the first place. Hand me that computer.

Porochista Kakpour by Melissa Hom

Porochista Khakpour as she appears on the web. Photo by Melissa Hom

I know for certain that she’s not from the eastern European neighborhood in Detroit where I grew up. Too many vowels in her name. Kids there had last names like Wojciechowski and Czarnecki. She’s not Polish, Slav, Romanian or German. Maybe Italian…I try pronouncing her first name aloud as if she were a fine goat cheese from southern Italy…”poor-ohh-cheeeees’-ta”. It sounds right..it’s also fun to say. I decide she is Italian.

Not long after I consign Porochista, along with Muscato wine and hard salami, to the Italian corner of my brain I get cc’d on a note from Forrest to Porochista and Chip that reads something to the effect of-

“Chip, whatever you do don’t let anyone find the treasure up on Grayling Creek.”

I stared at that line for awhile. I cocked my head one way and then another…like a black lab watching a squirrel. I read it a few hundred times to make sure I had all 14 words in proper order in my brain. I took a short walk out in the woods. I ran into a beautiful Sphinx moth and took a few mindless pics.

Sphinx Moth from Lummi island

Sphinx Moth from Lummi island

Then I came back to the house, opened the laptop and looked at the message again. All 14 words were still there. That sneaky Forrest. He knows I won’t be able to look anywhere I’d planned now that Grayling Creek is stuck in my head. Of course it’s a red herring. Of course Forrest is having fun with us. I know this as clearly as I know my own name. I’ll bet he’s smiling right now! For some reason Jack Nicholson as Daryl Van Horne in the film, The Witches of Eastwick comes to mind.

I need to stop thinking about Grayling Creek. I decide to look up Porochista and see what kind of journalist she really is. To my surprise, before I even get her entire first name punched into Google her full name pops up in two dozen different references. Not like mine does. Not at various state and federal criminal postings but at places like the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Village Voice…impressive stuff! She’s written for those three and more and her first novel, Sons and Other Flammable Objects, has garnered notable awards including the California Book Award and the Dylan Thomas Prize. The only thing I can see to hold against her is that she is a graduate of Sarah Lawrence. On the upside she has an MA from Johns Hopkins.

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I was concerned. Porochista and I clearly have little in common. I was lucky to get into a state college and my accomplishments so far are pretty narrow compared to her own. What will we talk about? I have to spend 2.75 days with her. Esmerelda will be happy for someone intelligent to listen to. Do I resent her? Am I humbled by her? Am I frightened of her? Will this be a crummy 2.75 days? Based on her profile Porochista is probably vegan and can’t even savor a simple pizza with pepperoni. Will she show up in some highly fashionable but unhikeable shoes?  Maybe there is a good reason she has not been to Yellowstone. Maybe she doesn’t even like bear, buffalo and beaver…unthinkable, but possible…she’s from NYC.

But wait! This isn’t a date. This is an assignment. Show her the treats of Yellowstone. Show her the secular icon’s of Forrest’s youth in the wild and woolly west. I can do that as well as anyone. Forrest is what we have in common. She just spent several days with him. I can probably garner information that will help me think creatively about the treasure…I am beginning to see how only good can come from this. Just don’t stress the small stuff, I tell myself.

Confidence is in the ether.

A few more lines in Wikipedia and I discover Italy is not even close. Not even on the same continent where Porochista is from. She was born in Tehran, Persia…aka Iran. Her family fled during the revolution in the 80s. She speaks fluent Arabic and her book is about the aftermath of 9/11 and it’s effect on sons who in every culture try to find part of themselves in their fathers. Alice McDermott, a Pulitzer Prize finalist for her wonderful book, After This, described Porochista’s novel:
“Sons and Other Flammable Objects is a marvelous novel: witty, wise, continually surprising, continually inventive, exuberant, heartbreaking. It resists the easy categories of immigrant lit, family saga, first novel—because it is, first and foremost, a delightful, generous work of literary art.”
—Alice McDermott, author of Charming Billy

Confidence evaporates in the ether.

Ding! An email from Chip. “My plan is to walk straight to the treasure with you sometime Sunday.”

Back out to the woods and find the Sphinx moth for more portraits.

So now it’s Saturday, day of reckoning and I am sitting in Esmerelda at the Bozeman airport, short-term parking lot. I am considering the next 65 hours with Porochista. She writes for national magazines, the biggest and baddest newspapers and has a wildly successful novel to her credit. I write posts on a blog. The gap is wide. The possibility for learning is vast.

I am an hour early, as is my lot in life. Lateness is one of the eight deadly sins…wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, gluttony and lateness. I like to have knowledge of a place…get there in advance…know where the exits are…the fire extinguishers…the restrooms. If someone told me that after this life I was going to have to come back as an airport I would prefer to come back as the Bozeman airport. It is efficient and friendly and the fire extinguishers are conveniently located.

I am thinking about how to greet Porochista. I have never met her. But we have exchanged email. She wanted to make certain I was going to meet her in Bozeman on time. A worrier. I liked that about her. But now, the issue at hand was “hug” or “shake”. Did one or two emails and a common friendship with Forrest constitute a socially acceptable welcoming “hug”…or should I retreat to the always acceptable yet somewhat off-putting handshake? What to do? It’s never an issue between guys. I can only remember actually hugging a few men in my life. Proper hugging was not part of “de rigueur” taught in Marine Boot Camp. I learned to salute. I learned the value of a solid, single pump handshake. I learned how to greet the enemy with a simple thrust and twist of my bayonet. Nothing about hugs. Sister Mary Linus never taught us about hugging in Catholic school either. In fact, I am pretty certain, had I actually hugged one of my female peers in 7th grade I would have been taken out and turned to salt on the spot. Touching, even handshaking was frowned upon between the genders in Sister Linus’ classes.

Not only was I never taught when a hug was appropriate. I also struggled with how. My right hand clearly needed to go to the back, in the upper area…perhaps near a shoulder blade. At any rate, above the hook and eye thingy. But the left hand…that was the devil. The allocated area for it to land was lower and smaller, below the bra but there would be hell to pay if it landed too low. And being too high and actually touching the bra was not considered polite either. It was always a gamble. You could get in a lot of trouble by hugging a woman you did not know well. Particularly if her husband was standing behind her. And how close do you place yourself to her? Sister Linus always maintained that a foot was plenty close enough in dancing. But I’d learned from experience that in hugging, a foot of space was not what women who didn’t wear a crucifix expected. It was embarrassing to be pulled closer to a woman than my already shaky stance could afford. My footing lost, I would crash into my hugee like a drunk and lose my balance, sometimes twirling around once or twice in a little uncoordinated ballet that made everyone giggle. To this very day that still happens as I try to maintain the good Sister’s one foot of clean, unromantic air between myself and my hugee. I watch other men smoothly pull off the mixed gender, socially acceptable, greeting hug with a great deal of admiration.

As I enter the luggage collection area in the airport I can see tired passengers from the flight trolling down the steps from the restricted area above. It suddenly occurs to me in a flash of blankness that I cannot remember what Porochista looks like. I am here to meet someone and I don’t know what to look for…a woman. I try to imagine up the photo I saw of her on the web. She looked sophisticated, powerful, … and….and… Jeese! It’s not working. I remember her age as around 30. I am certain she had dark hair. She was from Iran for goodness sake, of course she had dark hair. I think she wore glasses in a photo I saw. It seems like every other passenger is a woman in her 30s with dark hair. I choose a stranger wearing glasses who might be Porochista. I smile at her. Welcoming her to Bozeman. She gives me a look that clearly lets me know I should be handcuffed and removed from the airport.

Tone it down.

I fully expect Porochista to be in the leading group of discharged passengers. Her Sarah Lawrence seat would be in first class. First on and first off. But the line of satiated travelers in linen and silk carrying suit bags, matching brief cases and complimentary roses moves past me and Porochista is not among them. We are now clearly in the economy class group…backpacks and small duffels. More stressed from having perched for three hours in an ergonomically designed seat that offers a tad less comfort than a plank. Still, no Porochista. Next are the partiers…twenty-somethings…t-shirts, shorts and hiking boots. Still no Porohista. Off comes the smartly uniformed crew and then, finally a familiar face from Wikipedia, but wearing a cranberry hoody and magenta sneakers…Porochista has materialized.

I plaster the “welcome to Bozeman” smile on my face and she posts her “thanks for being here on time” smile on hers. She throws her arms comfortably around me and exclaims that we have to stop at a burger joint somewhere…anywhere and get something…anything to eat.

Porochista at the Happy Hour Bar on Lake Hebgen

Porochista at the Happy Hour Bar on Lake Hebgen, wating for her buffalo burger.

I don’t even remember where my hands land but she does not yell for TSA so I think the hugging part went well. We pick up her small, well worn travel bag and head out the door. As we approach Ezzey, Porochista points and says in an admiring voice that she has read all about Esmerelda and is looking forward to the ride back to Yellowstone in my trustworthy companion. She has read my blog!

“She’s not so bad”, I tell myself.

Part Two – Meeting Chip exploring YNP and searching Grayling Creek. CLICK HERE.

 

Ladies Only…

Lets have some FUN!
winner
2nd Place goes to #9 ZuniBears
3rd Place goes to #10 Noche Girl
————————————————————–
A new idea cast it’s comely shadow across the blog and prompted a spectacular idea. Let’s have a contest to see who has the most shapely shadow. Here’s the one sent to me and it sets the bar pretty high. Can anyone best it?
abc
My name is Diggin Gypsy and my excitement casts a long shadow across the exact spot where the treasure is hidden. I am sure of it. This was taken at my most recent search location. Winter set in before I had the chance to unhide the chest. Come spring, I’ll be one treasure chest richer. My camera doesn’t consider parallax so you should know that my body has been compared with that of Suzanne Somer’s. Eat your heart out Paris Hilton. Bet none of your bloggers can match my shadow for Playboy worthiness.

 

OK, Diggin has thrown the gauntlet at you so here are the contest entry rules:

 

1.     You have to be female

2.     It must be your own shadow

3.     No photo editing allowed except to crop and resize

4.     You must send it with your screen name so we can attach it to the photo.

5.     You should write a short paragraph about your pic and/or yourself.

6.     You must reveal the actual spot of one of your completed searches.

        It will be fun to see where people are looking.

 

Myself and hree other exceedingly qualified males from this blog will pore over the entries and choose a winner. The judges will be named so they can take heat from angry females who didn’t win. Entries will be judged on their originality, humor, and fascination quotient. The contest ends about 40 days and 40 nights after it starts…an exact date will soon follow.

 

You can submit as many entries, one at a time, as you would like. But remember the entry fee is that you must provide a place you have searched. A different place for each entry.

 

 

So…to be clear, here is a sample entry…
myshadow

Submitted by: 

AliceFallsDownALot

Date Submitted:

October 20, 2013

Statement: 

I like the way my forearms came out. Other than that, I think this must be someone else’s body that I live inside. My husband said he thought it looked better than I really look. I am now seeking a new husband.

Place I’ve Searched: I forgot about the “north” of Santa Fe part. The poem led me to the Collected Works Bookstore.  Seriously, right below the shelf of authors whose name is Brown. I was certain this was the place. Nothing was there except books by authors named Davenport.

Okay..you see how this is done..
The entry gate is now open..
Send your photos and requested info to me at:
dal@lummifilm.com
I will post them on the blog and start assembling the team of judges…
Good Luck!

dal…

 

ENTRIES:

1.

CindyM

Submitted by: 

CindyM

Date Submitted:

October 21, 2013

Statement: 

If it means a special, SECRET PRIZE from Forrest Fenn himself, I for one, am in. This is me on my last hunt. Although my body has been compared with Suzanne Somers at one point in my life, I was aiming for WISE in this photo rather than PLAYBOY WORTHINESS. The judges will just have to use their imaginations!

Place I’ve Searched: 

Once I searched for the treasure in a consignment shop (treasures new and old) in a small town. I spent most of a rainy day looking through an old desk and trunks (in the wood), made a new friend (hi Debbie!), and brought home a copy of Preston and Child’s “Cold Vengeance” that I found in a trunk. I forgot that the treasure was not associated with a structure. Oops!

————————–

2.

Waterhigh

Submitted by: 

Water High

Date Submitted:

October 21, 2013

Statement: 

Me and My (Chest) Shadow

Place I’ve Searched: 

It seemed obvious to me.  Warm waters.  Yellowstone.  Geysers and hot springs.  Which one? The biggest.  Mammoth Hot Springs.  When I saw Sheepeater Cliffs on the map, I thought, aha, that’s no place for the meek.There’s a canyon there, too;  maybe a couple.  But what caught my eye was the blaze, Bunsen Peak. You can see more on my blog: The Fenn Diagrams.

——————

3.

scoutaround

 

Submitted by: 

Scout Around

Date Submitted:

October 21, 2013

Statement: 

The more I stare at that picture the more I think I look like an alien.

Place I’ve Searched: 

Live hard and die harder fighting a grizzly. My search was up a creek with no paddle. Every darn stream in Montana especially Duck Creek and Beaver Creek. Grizzlies everywhere!

—————–

4.

diggin gypsy2

 

Submitted by: 

Diggin Gypsy 2

Date Submitted:

October 21, 2013

Statement: 

I know my shadow is odd but the sun ain’t shining where I live today so I had to invent one.

Place I’ve Searched: 

The Madison is a beautiful place. Lets just say Its where the water divides and the grizzlies roam at the river bends and where the eagles fly. Best of luck to all you posers out there.

————-

5.

Tairona

 

Submitted by: 

Tairona

Date Submitted:

October 23, 2013

Statement: 

Was trying to get a pose like the jar on p.139.  What do you think? I’m interested in the secret prize…hope it will provide some much needed insight! Merri.

Place I’ve Searched: 

The TofTC led me to a ranch in Wyoming.  The country home had a sign by the front door that said, “Home is where the heart is”.  I knocked and a bright, cheery woman answered named Starla.  I told her about the poem and book and related how a higher hand led me to her place.  She said she had been praying for something and I showed up….

————-

6.

keep away from my treasure

 

Submitted by:

chihuahuaroadwarrior

Date Submitted:

October 24, 2013

Statement:

First I pooh-poohed the shadow contest, but hey, a Secret Prize from Forrest…I’m in. See the lizard? That’s a winner for sure. About me. If a place says, “Keep Out”, I’m more than good with that. Our chihuahua  goes with us ’bout everywhere so I’m kinda limited to how far out into the desert or mountains I can go, as he’s pretty heavy to carry. We don’t live in a “treasure rich” area with hidey holes, so mostly my investigations have been Thrill from the Chaise.

Place I’ve Searched: 
Our first trip was a whirlwind fun adventure from Arizona where we were staying then to Parachute, Colorado. Amazing scenery getting there though and lots to see going and coming.

————-

7.

MaggieMay

Submitted by:

MaggieMay

Date Submitted:

October 24, 2013

Statement:

My photographer fell asleep before the yard light came on and I had to take this picture myself. It looks nothing like me. I’m actualy just a few inches short of 6′.  My Grandson helped me recreate the abandoned outhouse in the picture,by coloring the orange flames. They did not show up in this photo 🙁 , but you can see the actual picture on google earth. Forrest had just posted the recipe for the sandwich and said to put it in a bowl with color that would not clash with the red and yellow. Well red and yellow make orange and by golly those flames were defenitly orange. It’s embarassing to admit, but I had the nerve to email Forrest and ask him to please stop giving out clues because I was sure someone else was going to figure it out. Even more embarassing was that I had only read the poem on the website. I was going to stop at the bookstore on my way home and buy the book as a souvenier. I picked up my book the night before my tearful 4+ hour flight home.

Place I’ve Searched:
I searched in Cruz Canyon, New Mexico. It’s just below Taos Mountain.

————-

8.

shadow

Submitted by:

Rhiannon

Date Submitted:

October 25, 2013

Statement:

Don’t cross the alligator.

Place I’ve Searched:
One of our searches led us to La Madera, and we did feel the need for bravery as it seems most of the folks up there are well-armed.  Lately my husband and I have been concentrating on a different area.

————-

9.

zunibears

Submitted by:

ZuniBears

Date Submitted:

October 26, 2013

Statement:

I would normally not have entered this contest, but the possibility of winning a “special prize” from Forrest made me do it. (So blame this ribald photo on Forrest–not Dal). I tried a “sexy” pose but that is not the true me as my wardrobe consists of sweatshirts and hiking boots (I’m wearing hiking boots but they got cropped.) However, I do love a good margarita–so my motto: “Alcohol…Because no great story starts with a salad!”

Place I’ve Searched:
Battleship Rock, Jemez Mountains, New Mexico.

Where Warm Waters Halt: McCauley Warm Springs
Take it in the canyon down: 2 mile trail down the canyon leads to Battleship Rock
Not far but too far to walk: 2 miles is too far to carry 42 pounds but you can drive there.
Put in below the home of Brown: Capt Robert Brown was the captain on the battleship USS Missouri who was charged with running it aground in 1950. “Put in” (park) at the parking lot at the Battleship Rock Picnic area which is “below” (downstream) Battleship Rock. There is also a parking area north (above–upstream) Battleship Rock.
From there it’s no place for the meek: Trail #137 which goes around the east side of Battleship Rock and eventually on to McCauley Warm Springs is an uphill trek, plus once one leaves the trail to search for the hidden treasure chest in the slots, holes, caves, boulders, etc surrounding Battleship Rock, the footing is treacherous.
There’ll be no paddle up your creek, Just heavy loads and water high: There are 2 creeks that converge at Battleship Rock: The East Fork of Jemez Creek runs along the trail and on to McCauley Warm Springs and Jemez Falls; therefore I’d pick this trail/creek because Jemez Falls is my “water high”. Heavy loads is Battleship Rock.
If you’ve been wise and found the blaze: “wise” indicates owl (bird) so look high up on the sides of Battleship Rock to find the “blaze” (I’m looking for a spiral like the Sun Dagger in Chaco Canyon).
Look quickly down, your quest to cease: Look down from the “blaze”, not look down from your feet. I looked for a hole or slot in the rocks that could be the treasure chest hiding place. I found a blaze and a perfect slot back into the rocks that I was able to squeeze into. There was a shelf at the far end, just enough above my head that I had to shimmy up the walls to see into it. Needed a flashlight but didn’t have one so used my cell phone. Alas, no treasure chest to be found. I will continue to search this area.
Cheers!

————-

 

10.

noche

Submitted by:

Noche Girl

Date Submitted:

October 26, 2013

Statement:

Since Forrest is the master of word play, here’s a twist on the word ‘shadow’
as an entry requirement.
-A silhouette is dark shadow
-Silhouettes in the 18th century were known in England as “shadows” or ”shades”.
-silhouette [ˌsɪluːˈɛt]. n. 1. the outline of a solid figure as cast by its shadow.

Place I’ve Searched:
I’m relatively new to the hunt; this summer I spent time in Idaho (before I saw
the “not in Idaho” clue), and Montana all the way to the Canada border.
Treasure hunting equals camping, hiking, kayaking, and photographing.
Hubby does all the fly-fishing while I explore all the nooks and crannies.
My passion is geology – yep, a rock-hound.  And also meteorites, a
bit other-worldly but a good conversation starter.  Since I’m out there exploring
anyway, I’ll keep thinking on the treasure clues.  The 5000′ clue helped a lot.

So Idaho went like this (using only the poem, before I knew about Today Show clues):
Begin it WWWH: Warm Springs Creek confluence with Salmon River, Challis Idaho
…canyon down: down Salmon River main course
…too far to walk: drive and then maybe a float trip on wild and scenic section?
…home of Brown: no clue
…no place for the meek: confluence with Snake at Hell’s Canyon
…The end…: Salmon River known as “River of No Return”
…no paddle up your creek: float trip provides guides
…heavy loads and water high: heavily-loaded float raft and spring melt

Not pretty, and of course after the Idaho clue, eliminated.

————-

11.

MoonShadow

Submitted by:

MoonShadow

Date Submitted:

October 27, 2013

Statement:

Yes, that’s me … at the blaze (you can see the blaze’s shadow to the right of me).  Of course, it’s not THE blaze, if it were, I’d be writing a different blog to send to Dal (hee hee).  I love how the shadow is cast on the fallen leaves.

Place I’ve Searched:
I’ve searched in some of the most beautiful places on earth … the Northern New Mexico Mountains!  Most people who have never had the pleasure of visiting here have no idea that the high desert is full of majestic, vibrant terrain.  I’ve searched near hot springs, rivers, creeks, waterfalls, everywhere that the Fenn Treasure is not!  One place in particular where I searched several times was at the Manby Hotsprings in Taos.  I searched just south of them where the old bridge use to cross the river, but alas the treasure was not there either!  Instead I have found the other treasures that Mr. Fenn wanted us to discover:  The little frog that came to me while sitting on the river’s edge, the sunlight hitting the multi-hued leaves on the trees growing in the canyon, the rabbit that darted in front of me as I traveled a path along the Rio Grande that had been traveled for thousands of years by many people … yes, these are a few of the treasures I have discovered thus far.  Hmmm …. perhaps I have found the real treasure already (but, I sure wouldn’t mind a little secret prize from Mr. Fenn!).

—————

12.

fashionmaven

Submitted by:

Fashion Maven

Date Submitted:

October 27, 2013

Statement:

sand casting

Place I’ve Searched:
Our first search (obviously with no success) was around the San Antonio hot springs. My husband and I thought we were on to something there with a home of brown. We still enjoy the treasure of a mountain bath. I recommend going early in the morning or hiking up in winter for some private pools.

—————

13.

hitchervicki

Submitted by:

Hiker Vicki

Date Submitted:

November 1, 2013

Statement:

My shadow knows. With my stick and my back pack l’ve walked the Santa Fe streets and
Heard the music from the harps,guitars, and flutes to waters flowing by.  I’ve walked
The Rio Grand from where warm waters halt and took the canyon down where waters
We’re very high and where no paddle up your creek. I’ve walked the mountains to the
Rocky Mountains high to hear the moose and wolves and deers and elks sing their song.
To foot prints of lions, bears, and moose and birds and squirrels go by. A statement is how you can meet some very nice people on our searching.  My shadow is pointing to the place where the box is. The treasure is the time spent with each other and the beauty of the out doors.

Place I’ve Searched:
A place I have looked was Santa Fe  and the Rio Grand river we hiked it from New Mexico to Colorado . Yes a long way.

—————

14.

IMG_6426

 

 

Submitted by:

Noche Girl

Date Submitted:

November 1, 2013

Statement:

“Beyond a shadow of a doubt” is the title of this photo submission.  Since beginning this
treasure hunt, my husband has remained doubtful.  However, he has accompanied me on each adventure (probably because wherever my search takes me, there’s usually fly-fishing spot nearby to keep him occupied).  So as we’ve embarked upon my trove trips , only the two us – and our two shadowy companions – know whence we seek….next.

Place I’ve Searched:
Yet again, this was before the “Not in Idaho” clue – DOH!
I was studying the Ice Age Floods in Montana & Idaho.  Too much info to include here, google Ice Age Floods National Geologic Trail for background.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Missoula_Floods
Begin it WWWH:  Cordilleran glacier lobe dammed Glacial Lake Missoula near Idaho/Montana border
…canyon down:  When the glacial dam broke, Glacial Lake Missoula flooded down canyon into Idaho and beyond
…too far to walk:  Lake Pend Orielle, ID
…home of Brown: delta Clark Fork River “Brown trout dominate” according to Fish & Game report
…no place for the meek: hundreds of feet of flood water carved massive scarp
…the end…no one could survive the cataclysmic floods
…no paddle up your creek: flood waters reference
…heavy loads and water high: floods carried debris (erratics), left high water marks, and carved a scarp across the southern shore of Pend Orielle.  Kayaked near the edge of the now-wooded flood scarp.
Well, that was the extent of this search, but I learned alot on the IAFNGT!!

————–

15.

cindym2

 

Submitted by: 

CindyM

Date Submitted:

November 1, 2013

Statement: 

That wonderful book is worth a second (possibly more) entry. If I can’t get to the judges with quality, maybe I can wear them down with quantity. Since I searched six X in as many months,
I can still enter a few more times in good conscience. Although TTOTC has brought me to my knees at times, I remain a faithful searcher.

Place I’ve Searched: 

I found a wonderful spot beneath a large tree.  The earth was very soft and covered with leaves. I was totally hidden from view and felt safe and secure like when I was playing in my fortress as a child playing cowboys and Indians

————————–

16.

LyndellaSings

Submitted by:

Lyndella

Date Submitted:

November 2, 2013

Statement:

The following is a portion of the lyrics to an original song I wrote on day 9 of our search. It is titled…
“Secret of the Chase”
Enjoy.

****

Ol’ Forrest must be laughing now.
Proud of himself, his Chase and how,
each of us is talking ’bout
Who’ll be the one to find it ?

And if contentment is the goal.
With all our dashing to and fro.
Like we were Indiana Jones…
to “Live the Chase” reminds us…

That in the end, we know not when.
But we could still begin again.
And find the place anew and then…
the secrets there behind it.

Place I’ve Searched: 

Flashlight…Check
Sandwich…Check
Cool Indiana Jones Hat…Check
Smell the sun ?…
Check and Double Check !

We started our early searches near our home on the western shores of Alaska. We hiked the mountains and even the deserts of our huge state, looking for clues near hot springs and ancient places of wisdom. Hoping our northern starting point would be an advantage…

Of course, that was before we knew just how far “North of Santa Fe” might mean.

As for an actual search within the current parameters, the closest we have come would be…
During a two hour lay over in the Security Area of the Denver Airport 🙂
Alas, to no avail.

Although that bronze beauty may very well have been looking up at the belly of our airplane as we hung in the air above those beautiful mountains, all we saw or heard was a faint
“Come, find me, I dare you”.

————————–

17.

image

Submitted by:

zeldasings

Date Submitted:

November 3, 2013

Statement:

Sulphuric steam belching from Dragons Mouth Spring at Yellowstone accompanied by hisses and gurgling roars is the perfect backdrop for a shadow picture.
There  is a rainbow aura around me that I did not see originally, but it showed up on the photo, which validated the increased spiritual feelings I have when in Wyoming.

This summer while on search I was standing on the boardwalk with the sun at my back and took this photo of my shadow reflected onto the steam.

I have been on three searches: New Mexico and twice to Yellowstone and Wyoming.   I feel connected to Wyoming and yearn to be back.

The Chase came to me at a time in my life when I needed it.  Once again, the Universal Powers That Be allowed me to find direction.  My husband of 37 years died of cancer  last fall and I was left with me.   I entered this endeavor with excitement and the adventures, although sometimes very strange, continue to fulfill me and add color to my life.

Place I’ve Searched:
One if the searches I completed on this trip was “LeHardy Rapids” and it was near Dragon Mouth.

LeHardy Solve
WWWH= Yellowstone
Canyon Down=Lamar River Valley
HOB= former home of Ranger Gary
Brown ( now Yellowstone
Institute)
No Place for the meek= place for the
hardy= LeHardy Rapids
End is drawing ever nigh= left at
Yellowstone River
Blaze= see rapids below
Tarry Scant, Marvel Gaze=
Pull out at LeHardy
In the wood= under the boardwalk

No, I did not find TC.   What I found was adventure, wonder and reverence   for our world and a humble awe at how small our individual time exists within it.

Oh YES….. I also found a pretty cool place to take a picture of my shadow!!!!!

Thank You for recognizing the women searchers In all of our spiritual, sexual and intellectual ways.

————-

18.

r06skeleton5lrou9

 

Submitted by:

Stands With Left Fist in the Air

Date Submitted:

November 3, 2013

Statement:

I took the advice of one of the posers and am trying to get my “bait in shape” but as you can see, I went a little overboard.  Wow, I would literally KILL someone for a pizza right now….just say’in.

Place I’ve Searched:
Wind Cave, South Dakota
You see, there are several tours you can take on this site.  My theory was that Forrest strapped half of his trove to various parts of his body and signed up for the Fairgrounds or Candelight tour.  In order to conceal his riches he had to wear a tan trench coat.  I can just imagine all the parents guarding the bathroom doors when their little children had to go pee! Anyways, as I was saying, those two tours go down the back of Wind Cave in an elevator (not far, but too far to walk) and then he veered off of the tour when it got to the Monte Cristo room (take a sandwich..get it?) and literally RAN to Brown’s Canyon room with a flashlight and placed the items underneath a small cove ( I have ESP and that’s where I pictured it in my mind.)  He then ran back and joined the tour as it looped around.  He did the same the following day with the rest of the trove and the chest itself.  My brother Sid and I met with this guy that surveys Browns Canyon room on a weekly basis and had him sign a contract stating he would get 10% of the riches and then reveeled our big “SECRET.”  He looked at us as if we were crazy and said there is NOT a treasure in Browns Canyon Room.  What does he know…he is just a he.

————-

19.

IMG_0012 copy

Submitted by:

Ann Hannah Moss

Date Submitted:

November 10, 2013

Statement:

I’m a lurker who really would like the prize, the book if not the treasure chest.  The odds might be 50% better.   50% of something is better than 100% of nothing. Ya know.

Place I’ve Searched:
(Sort of true.  The chicken part anyway.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
Yeah.  Right.  See those thorns?)

While I was alone in there
To search for treasure old,
A shadow whispered, Do not dare
Disturb the leaves of gold.

Beneath them lies a once-used Colt
That laid a maverick down.
Go far away.  Run, don’t walk!
Beware the bones of Brown.

These woods are no place for the meek,
I heard the shadow sigh.
There is no gold along this creek,
Move on before the shades draw nigh.

If I’d been wise, not in a daze,
Three questions I’d have asked.
But though I peered and scanned the haze,
The voice’s source was masked.

So why is it I left without
The treasure that I sought?
As darkness fell, I headed out.
I’d lost the lamp I brought.

I heard a rustling — leaves or bones?
My pounding heart turned cold.
And when I fled, I tripped o’er stones.
I’m sure not bold, not worthy of the gold.

 

I was headed for the ice caves of Idaho, but they were disqualified so I had to use my imagination, instead of knowledge.  Or is it knowlege?  Anyway, I hear it’s over-rated.
Ever wonder how things would be different if Eve hadn’t tasted that fruit?

———————

20.

csan

 

Submitted by:

Mustang Sally

Date Submitted:

November 10, 2013

Statement:

My photo is my shadow holding my “Thrill of the Chase” book laid against my mustang Poco Paso.  I chose this because I have only done research on where the treasure is and the places I plan on looking.

Place I’ve Searched:
I haven’t actually gone to look yet.  I found out about the treasure and Forrest and the book about a year ago and of course had to do some research about it before setting out.  I want to make my search count because I will only be able to go once a year.  I plan on searching at the end of June 2014 in Yellowstone Park.  Shhh, don’t tell the park rangers.  🙂

————————

21.

image

 

Submitted by:

Hiker Vicki

Date Submitted:

November 10, 2013

Statement:

I know I will get the book and first place too. I found indian pictographs on
Rocks which have never been found before. Contacted the local Indian council to see if they knew of it and she said no had never seen it before to email it it her so she could look into it. So exciting.  Found historical artifacts and old historical ruins. It has been a very adventurous trip.

Place I’ve Searched:
As we went hiking in the desert we would come along beautiful
Places by water where grassy areas would be by the Ojo Caliente resort spa in N.M. Most of the poem fit. But they have the water way fenced off so we could not follow it. The fences did not use to be there. But the water at the spa felt very good to soak in and it helped the aching bones after so much hiking. I recommend it to every one.

————————

22.

dg2

 

Submitted by:

Diggin Gypsy

Date Submitted:

November 11, 2013

Statement:

I want that book to read at the campfire were gonna have for woman only at Forrest’s ruins. Even tho Forrest has no clue lol. Get to posing Stephanie  we want this book  😉

Place I’ve Searched:
Ohhhh, I looked under the fishing bridge in Yellowstone and Firehole Falls.

—————

23.

cynthia

Submitted by:

Cynthia of Rio Rancho

Date Submitted:

November 12, 2013

Statement:

The shadow on the left is of my dog Emma (Weimaraner) who has traveled with me on every treasure hunt and reconnaissance trip since I started searching in April, 2013. My other Weimie Molly was also there, but with no one other than myself to take the picture, it was quite difficult to get my shadow and one dog, let alone both dogs, AND the reflection of the Taos Junction Bridge. Over the course of two hours and 96 pictures later, we stopped photographing and called it a day. (My shadow is somewhat contorted as it was tough to be the photographer as well as the subject.)

Place I’ve Searched:
I’ve only searched in New Mexico and usually go where Dal has already searched (I’ve heard he’s really good at deciphering the clues but is older so his eye sight might be questionable! lol–just kidding since he is one of the judges.) However, I haven’t noticed him mention this specific stretch along the Rio Grande in the Orilla Verde Recreation Area (south of Taos but north of Quartzite). As I approached the Taos Junction Bridge, I did notice a road sign warning “Heavy Road Traffic and Water Hauling” where a pipe came out of the ground above me with a steady flow of water for people to fill water vessels, I guess. Maybe that is Forrest’s clue for “heavy loads and water high”. Regardless, we (my dogs and I) did not find the treasure chest. But we did enjoy watching the herd of Big Horn sheep in the canyon (home of Brown?) on the north-side of the bridge, grazing contently as we soaked in the magnificent scenery and basked in the sunshine of an absolutely gorgeous day in November in the Land of Enchantment. I’ve spoken briefly to Forrest twice, but have never had the time to thank him for creating this treasure hunt, which for me is a “thrill” more than anyone can imagine (except for you fellow searchers who understand the obsession, lack of sleep since the poem loops through your brain when you go to bed, missed exits from the highway because you are trying to decipher the clues as you drive to your search area–missed my exit at Santa Fe this trip, and the possibility of getting fired from your job because all you care about is this dang treasure hunt…I’ll be moving in with Forrest if I get fired!)

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24.

image

Submitted by:

Wild Kat

Date Submitted:

November 13, 2013

Statement:

Here we are, in the lovely crisp of Autumn; me and my shadow.
During the summer, at this very same place, the grasses were lush and tall.

This Fall, I’ve been searching pretty much daily, and, solo.
During the summer I had a wonderful treasure hunting partner. I like to call call her “Fish Pie” cause she’s an impressive Angler. We did crazy brave things in pursuit of the treasure. (Some of our random acts of bravery got us in trouble with Game and Fish as well as Parks and Recreation officials.) However, since school resumed, Fish Pie is unavailable to continue accompanying me, and I miss her comradeship.

For the most part, we searched extensively in Northern New Mexico. Although we research other states and areas, we’ve chosen to stay focused in this territory.
It’s been a thrill indeed, learning so much history that comes with this territory, and I will never look at these mountains the same for this.

I am from Maui. I have been full time searching since march 2013. If I’m not out there physically searching, I am researching, and planning my next strategy.

A couple months ago, as I was on a solo search, I had an epic experience…
A close encounter with a Mountain Lion!
… It all began with when I was down by the rushing river in a small canyon and heard loud alarming screams that sounded as if a woman was seriously injured. I started to investigate the situation, and as I was walking up on the trail (that was also towards my car) a frantic Mamma Deer came springing a few feet right in front of me, crossing the path. She ran towards the river.  Then a few moments later, she came bouncing back with flared nostrils, snorting, with wide eyes of panic. I could feel her heart beating. Then little further away, the little Bambi Deer ran across the path towards the river. All the while, the lady screams kept happening. I looked at the momma deer with my head cocked in confusion, thinking the screens may be coming from her. Certainly from her direction. Then, there it was! A magnificent adult mountain lion, just 20 feet in front of me crossing my path!
I froze my stance, whipped out my Bear Spray and tried quieting the pounding of my heart. Ah! So this is what all the Deer excitement is all about!
I felt such an urgency to get back to my car, however, I had to pass the bush that the mountain Lion was now in to get there.
After what seemed like 5 min standing very still, barely breathing, I decided to start marching loud and strong as I held up my arms (with bear spray) and started singing some made up Indian chant in a  very low and strong voice.
The lion gave me passage and I made it safely to my car.
Later, I come to learn that it was the Mountain Lion that was screaming. She was Announcing her attack.
I hope I have grandchildren one day so I can share this story with.
I felt it was a very special honor to encounter and cross paths with such a stunning beast!

Place I’ve Searched:
I’ve been several times to the John Dunn Bridge area. That was not the location of my Mt. Lion encounter tho. Several of the places I have searched, I can just feel it, that many of you have either been there, or shall soon arrive. At times, I wish I could bump in to a treasure Hunter on the path, sit down for a bit, chat about the blaze, share a laugh or two about some of our outrageous wild adventures that the thrill of the Chase has taken us.

I’m sure when Mr. Forrest Fenn was designing his plan, he knew it was going to be big! Yet, I wonder if he too is surprised at just “how big” this has turned out to be!

I know many of you will agree; that we have found many precious treasures along the winding journey that the Thrill of The Chase has taken us. My life has certainly shifted for it!
In some ways, I feel that I have rediscovered myself!
Thank you Forrest Fenn for the many gifts you have given us!
It’s been so much fun having a passionate fire lit for such adventures!

Be safe out there all you dedicated treasure hunters!

————-

25.

The_fly

 

Submitted by:

GoldBug

Date Submitted:

November 22, 2013

Statement:

If I was a fly on Forrest Fenn’s wall,
Oh the stories I’d hear,
No tale is too tall.

If I was a fly on Forrest Fenn’s wall,
I’d know all the clues,
Warm waters and all.

The horn toad might eat me,
I’ve got to be bold,
I’m flying away to find Forrest Fenn’s gold.

Place I’ve Searched:
My husband and my first search took us up to Yellowstone outside Gardiner Montana. Mammoth Hot Springs seemed to be the obvious place where waters have halted, and Gardiner is down canyon a ways. The Tinkers cemetery is no place for the meek followed by an uphill trek on Landslide Creek to Rainbow Lake (heavy loads and high water). Unfortunately, we didn’t find the box under the ‘head stones’ below Sepulcher Mountain, just a few obsidian artifacts, and an old rusted out leg-hold trap (maybe it was Osborne Russell’s). Cool adventure thou…jumped 5 new born baby elk (still in spots) bedded in a grassy draw. They didn’t really appreciate our intrusion and ran squalling for their moms who were standing up on the ridge top.

———————–

26.

b 2

Submitted by:

Maggie May

Date Submitted:

November 23, 2013

Statement:

This was me trying to grasp the treasure at the end of Forrest’s rainbow.

Place I’ve Searched:
There is a beautiful little spot where the water shoots out of the side of the mountain (water high).
The formations change over time due to the mineral deposits (heavy loads)

Warm water collects in a small basin within a cavern (warm waters halt)
There are unlimited nooks and crannies in which to hide the bronze box in the area of Soda Dam.

———————–

27.
b1

Submitted by:

Maggie May

Date Submitted:

November 23, 2013

Statement:

This is my attempt to transform myself into a butterfly. I feel like a catapillar, not being able to see what is just over the hill, while the butterfly, has a much broader view.

Place I’ve Searched:

There was a time when I believed Forrest might have used an olden form of North, meaning down or under, and before the above 5000′ clue. I can’t reveal just yet what made me think of a ranger dog, which most people would associate with Jellystone, due to the cartoon, but I’m not most people. Ranger lake in New Mexico looks like a dog standing on it’s hind legs from the air, and we know Forrest loves his dogs. Could he have put it in the cold nose of the dog? That would be funny. It’s not far from the Texas border and you could probably hear the trains from Lubbock, if the wind was out of the East. And one last thing, the nearest airport is in Hobbs abbv. (HOB)
———————–

28.shadowtoes

Submitted by:
Can You Guess?

Date Submitted:
November 23, 2013

Statement:
I adhered to all the rules….I am female and this is My Shadow(our black kitty…..I’m going for humor and I hope you enjoy the shape of my feet with their Pink Toe Nails…ok, they’re red right now
We have two cats, Bella and Shadow and while out searching all over the past going on 3 years…I am happy to report that our children kept them alive *shocker*. I’ve tried to ask Shadow where the treasure is since only The Shadow knows…but she said Cody, Forrest’s German Shepard forgot to email her the information. I now keep her away from the computer, because she keeps eating the mouse.

Place I’ve Searched:
Cimarron State Park where I met up with a black bear after all the campers had gone home for the season. We only took one look at each other and decided that was enough and we took off in opposite directions. While that was freaky scary, I think back to what a cool moment that was for me to experience.

———————

29.

IMG1761

Submitted by:

Lou Lee

Date Submitted:

November 26, 2013

Statement:

I cast my Shadow Across the Madison Limestone at the Top of the falls, at Sinks Canyon, Wyoming. Hiked after a snow. I am a new “empty nester” and I Love to hunt for Rocks and things. I Chase Rainbows.
Photo taken on a crisp, cold, November day, at the Top of the falls Looking down the Canyon, of the Popo Agie River. On a solid large rock. Late Afternoon.

 

Place I’ve Searched:
I went to Sinks Canyon, I had never been to the Wind River, I had been wanting to go for over a year, After searching on line, I saw this river that rushed into a cave and came out down stream, I wanted to see this! After Forrest said to go. I jumped in my truck and went! I decided to hunt here. I know its been hunted, but I had to go! So with a flash light and a snack, and no bear mace, or anything I hiked up up and than off trail too! Even passing a couple with a large gun, and Bear warnings. For some reason I felt safe here, and was not worried. Enjoying the beauty!

What really surprised me was this unbelievable happy excited feeling that I was going to find the treasure at any moment. I searched and searched with this feeling that I still have today, its the feeling that I will find this treasure. I was the last one the leave this canyon, as it was getting dark and cold. I was so elated to have been it such a incredible place. The Falls and the Sinks are wonderful. I felt at peace and did not want to leave.

———————–

30.

image

Submitted by:

Hiker Vicki

Date Submitted:

November 27, 2013

Statement:

I have walked and really enjoy the thrill of the chase in the
out doors where you are one with nature.  The wind blows through your
hair and the smell of the trees and the water smell of so good. The blue
sky and than a cloud moves in and than another and than the rain begins
to slowly fall upon your face. This is oh so nice, but this time of year the
rain is snow and a beautiful blanked is upon the earth. It is to deep to
walk in so we must wait for spring.

Place I’ve Searched:

We went up to Wheeler,N.M. end of the road and
followed the stream up and snow was there and we found no warm
waters halt. It did not match the poem. On the way down the canyon
there are many water falls. We must go back and explore them. We love
Water falls. They do not match the poem but they should be pretty to
see. We did not know New Mexico had so many water falls. What a
great find.

—————–

31.

image 2

Submitted by:

Hiker Vicki

Date Submitted:

November 27, 2013

Statement:

I have look and wandered and tarry a far.
Where oh where is my treasure box gone.
The rains have come down and washed
away all my paths and blazes to see.
The waters flow down where warm waters
halt and down the canyon I go.
And back I will go when warm weather
comes back and the sun rays shine once more.

Place I’ve Searched: 

We were going up into Estes Park, Co.
Rocky Mountain Park but colorado had so much rain the park
was shut down. They were rebuilding the roads. So we had to
go somewhere else.  We were than going to go to some water
falls, but two days before we got there a rock slide had
happened and a whole family was killed. So they had it
closed off.  Most of the parks national campgrounds were
closed and all national parks because of Government shut
downs. It was a bad time to go out with all of Colorado’s rains
and government shut downs we ran into a lot of
closed fences and gates. We went to Leadville , Co. and
found about half of the poem fit but it was the other
half of the last part of the poem we could not find.
So our adventure goes on.

—————–

32.

asoup

Submitted by:

Maggie May

Date Submitted:

November 29th, 2013

Statement:

I titled this one: Thick Soup
All that is needed is onion, celery, and bell pepper. Seems like most searchers think there is some kind of bridge interwoven into the chase, so instinct told me, myself, and I to sit on this one for a bit.  All this searching is making me hungry. Maybe that’s why Forrest said to bring a sandwich.

Place I’ve Searched: 
My search took me to Taos Mountain. I had read about it, but there is nothing quite like being there, in that beautiful place, and experiencing it yourself. It all seemed vaguely familiar. Reminded me of when I was a kid, when I didn’t worry about where my next meal was coming from. I just knew it would be there. I met an artist/architect/mentor all rolled into one. It was obvious he had lived in Taos a long time.  He answered most of my questions with questions.  I was fascinated by the art work he showed me.  Beautiful colors and intricate design.  I was most interested in the work he did in indigo.  When I asked him where he acquired that particular color, he got a gleam in his eye and mumbled something about a cave, a man, and a bra. Ah, the Thrill of the Chase.

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33.

wooly

Submitted by:

Rhiannon

Date Submitted:

November 30, 2013

Statement:

Casting the Wooly Worm.  Some crucial elements of my setup were a mailbox, tape, dining chair, trashcan, and a 2 x 4.

Place I’ve Searched: 
In 2012 we hiked a questionable route to the bottom of the Gorge near Questa.  The trail disappeared a couple times and was excessively steep, but we made it down to the river and saw some amazing petroglyphs.  We decided the spot and hike were both unlikely, but returned later to cross the river anyhow.  (It wasn’t over there, either.)

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34.

Door_arrow_composit

Submitted by:

GoldBug

Date Submitted:

November 30, 2013

Statement:

I spoke to the moon, but he wouldn’t say.
I’ve listened at keyholes, no hints came my way.
This arrows a blaze and I looked quickly down,
No treasure was there, just sandy old ground.

Place I’ve Searched: 
Visiting my mother-in-law last weekend in northern New Mexico we took an impromptu hike into Bandelier Monument. Since we were kinda-sorta “out of bounds” I probably shouldn’t elaborate (for legal purposes). I’m sure Forrest would agree that rules really shouldn’t get in the way of a good hunt and, after all, it was only around 500 feet. Admittedly the clues were hanging pretty loosely together to get us to this point (there was a canyon, and a sketchy HOB, and we really had to use our imaginations to get the loads and high water) so we were somewhat shocked to find this amazing petroglyph. I’ve envisioned many blazes but this one was begging to be explored. Since it was pointing to a cliff on the edge of the mesa the ‘look quickly down’ was a slam dunk. It took some doing to get scramble to the base and check out the rock pile at the bottom ……once again, no cigar.

————-

35.

image

Submitted by:

Hiker Vicki

Date Submitted:

November 30, 2013

Statement:

Keep a smile on your face and your feet walking on the ground. I enjoy reading Forrest Fenns books and web pages and Dals web pages.
Keep on going for all to see.

Place I’ve Searched: 
We have been searching in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming but this can take a long time. There is so many warm waters and take it in the canyon down and to find it below the home of Brown. The blaze we have not really found to really match the Poem to help us find the chest. So our journey continues. So much snow right now, but fun to play in.

————-

36.

image

 

Submitted by:

Hiker Vicki

Date Submitted:

November 30, 2013

Statement:

‘My effort is in the cold.
My shadow is brave and in the wood.
So where oh where is my gold.
The only gold I saw this time was the Aspen trees.

Place I’ve Searched: 
Marble, Co.  It has warm waters and goes down a canyon and is below the home of Brown, but could not find a blaze to fit the poem. It is an old ghost town and is so pretty. You see clouds coming over the mountain and the next thing you know you are in a
blizzard .

——————-

37.

image

Submitted by:

Libbi

Date Submitted:

December 1, 2013

Statement:

I’m 17, and I strive for adventure. I’ve crossed rivers, climbed mountains, dodged a few bears, camped, and lived off beenie weenies from a can trying to find this darn thing. I still have hope and plan on going back soon.

Place I’ve Searched:
I’ve been all around in and outside of Yellowstone looking for the treasure. And had the pleasure of meeting Forrest on our road trip back home, i wish i knew more people like him.

—————

38.

smileycat-private

Submitted by:

Smileycat

Date Submitted:

December 1, 2013

Statement:

First, let me say I LOVE THIS CONTEST IDEA!  I think you should run a contest every month. . .

And I love the treasure hunt tho’ will love it more when I am on my way to the bank  😉

In my photo entry, I have just beaten another ernest searcher to the treasure.  Ha Ha!

Place I’ve Searched:
I have searched many places in New Mexico, Colorado, Utah and Wyoming but one of my favorite places to have searched so far is Dinosaur National Monument.  I searched there early this last summer and found lots of bones, amongst other things (including another searcher).

—————

39.

IMG_20131108_223336

Submitted by:

CindyM

Date Submitted:

December 1, 2013

Statement:

Since I was the very first entry, I am now striving to be the last.

The mountains of the southwest are a beautiful sight to a flatland girl like me and I have fallen in love with the gorgeous vistas and interesting folks I have encountered in my searches. I am ever mindful of the fact that there are so many of you doing the same things at the same times…with the same results.

Here I am holding my pet lizard in one hand (representing the many critters I found along the way) and pointing to my halo with the other. The halo was much larger before I started the TTOTC but that’s another story. To you judges out there who think my halo is a bit too small to see I say it’s not the size that counts!

Place I’ve Searched:
Once I dug up an ancient truck tire hoping it would contain a  pretty bronze chest. On the plus side, I collected enough night crawlers to start my own colony for fishing.

—————

40.

IMG_20131201_204940

Submitted by:

Cloudcover

Date Submitted:

December 1, 2013

Statement:

This is a story of a little wood burning stove. Well sort of. An old Franklin stove my son bought for $50 bucks and brought it home to be displayed for my viewing pleasure on my living room floor. its austere cast iron body staring at me smugly from the carpet after work one evening. The thing was just daring me to throw it outside. I especially enjoyed seeing the lovely piping that rested against it on one side. Black ash had fallen from the pipe during the move from wherever it had been sitting for the past 20 years and now that ash was accenting my carpet in little bitty black ash piles. I yelled for someone to get this thing out of my living room but my son came running to tell me about all of the stove’s virtues and how thankful I would be once it was up and running and keeping us warm when winter set in. I, very politely I’m sure, told him that would happen over my dead body but unfortunately this did not make the thing disappear. My son cleaned up the mess and the iron monstrosity was moved to a far corner of the room while it was contemplated what was to be done with it. After several months of contemplation, it was decided that it would remain in the far corner of the room.
Now on December 5th., I called my mom from work to see if she was going to lunch at the Elks which she did every wednsday. She was feeling quite poorly and had thought about just staying home that day but upon answering my call decided she would get up and come in to town. At lunch she suddenly got up and made her way to the restroom. An attendant came to our table just minutes later to tell me that she had collapsed in the bathroom. We had an ambulance come over . My mom couldn’t really tell the paramedics what she thought was wrong with her only that she felt very weak and was spitting up blood in the restroom. They took her to the ER and a cat scan was done. When the results were viewed by the ER physicians, the atmosphere changed quickly. Several came into my mother’s room and one informed us that she had a dissected aorta and was bleeding out into her body. They were trying to get a hospital that could perform the necessary operation to take her. UNMH refused her. The Heart Hospital in Albuquerque refused her. I asked a doctor what would happen if nobody would take her. He hesitated, then said they would get someone to take her. The university of Colorado in Aurora, Colorado accepted her.
I went with my mother on a Flight for Life airplane in the middle of the night to Denver. Sitting in the cockpit with the pilot, I stared out the window of the plane into the black night. I tried focusing my sight on the distant twinkling lights of small Colorado towns below me and prayed that my mother would be all right. She went right into surgery after some tests upon arriving at the hospital and came out of it with flying colors. Everything had gone pretty well. My sister drove all the way from Las Cruces to Denver and arrived early the next morning. My mother was awake and seemed to be ok. She was having some trouble with her breathing though and her kidneys had stopped functioning due to the cat scan with contrast they had given her right before surgery. As the day progressed her breathing problems continued and it was becoming apparent that the bi pap machine was not enough. My mom had been a respiratory therapist when she was younger and knew what they were wanting to do. She confided in me that she didn’t want to go on the ventilator because she had smoked for more than 40 years and was afraid she couldn’t be weaned off of it. She had seen some that couldn’t be weaned off. She was finally confronted and told that she would need to be put on the ventilator. She told them, “ not till my son gets here” My brother flew in from Alaska and on the second night they put her on the vent. She stayed that way for two weeks. My sister and brother and I stayed by her side during that time and waited. During the wait, I had time to talk with my brother which was something we hadn’t done in a while. He lives very far away and conversations by phone really weren’t the same as being able to sit down and talk at length with him. We passed the time talking about our childhoods and what not and at some point I got around to talking about the treasure.
My brother loved hearing me tell stories of my trips and was so intrigued by it all that he starting researching online using his phone. Now I had plenty of support up to that point of family wanting to accompany me on my trips but this was the first time that anyone wanted to help me figure it out. I was taken aback at first because I wanted to be the one to do it But I realized that it was rather selfish of me not to encourage his ideas so I changed my tune. My mom came off the vent after two weeks but stayed several weeks more due to other complications from her surgery. She had a second surgery to remove blood from her body cavity and her breathing got a little better. They had trouble controlling her high blood pressure and her kidneys were slow to recover. She was on dialysis for a while. I didn’t leave Denver until after new years. My kids at home were taking care of themselves. I paid the bills online and wired them money to buy food. My oldest had turned 21 while I was away. My youngest was 15. I have five in all. At some point the propane ran out and they were using electric heaters to warm the house. It’s $300 for a hundred gallons of propane. Paying the bills, wiring money and paying for motel rooms was sapping my paychecks. I called to tell my children that I was going to buy one hundred gallons and have it delivered. My son said no, they had installed the wood stove. A neighbor had come over and helped them install it properly telling them what materials to buy to fire proof the area around it. They pulled out the window in my kitchen and extended the piping out of it. They would fill the small bottle with propane to heat water and cook but spending the $300 on propane was not needed. It turned out that they did a good job with putting the stove in and we’ve used it ever since. My kids put the tree up that year but there were no presents for them under it. They had each other and not one complained about situation that they found themselves in. I cried that I wouldn’t be there for Christmas but each one knew that the gift of life was better than anything I could ever buy them and their grandmother would one day come home. I was so proud of their maturity and their concern that I stay with my mother while she recovered enough to go back to NM. After my mom came off the ventilator, my sister, brother and I went to the Molly Brown House in Denver. I also wanted to go to lookout mountain where Mr. Cody is buried but there was no time.
I remember walking through my front door after a month in Denver and seeing that little Franklin stove in my kitchen, a cheery fire crackling within it. And I was glad it was there when I couldn’t be.
@
The shadow in that picture is me standing next to that stove. I have concluded that my shadow looks suspiciously like a giant thumb. If this was a thumb shadow contest I would have a good chance of winning.

 

Place I’ve Searched:
An exact search location for me would be up ponil canyon past the gates of the scout ranch, through the Elliott Barker Wildlife Area, past the rich cabins on Turner’s land, in to the valle vidal and still following ponil creek until one hit’s the latitude coordinate of 36 degrees, 41 minutes. No treasure but many gorgeous wild flowers.

—————

 

 

 

JUDGES ANNOUNCED

The following commenters have graciously volunteered to judge the entries in this contest:

SoCal Jeremy
Don Johnson
dollarbill
dal

 

PRIZE ANNOUNCED

Forrest is providing the prize for this contest. It’s a doozie…

A special, limited edition book by Forrest…

prizebook

I own a copy of the regular edition and I can tell you it’s nothing like this.

The Secrets of San Lazaro Pueblo, a book by Forrest Fenn, signed
Limited edition, slip cased, number 4 of only 10 copies, with an original pottery gaming piece (ca 1325AD) emblazoned on the leather cover.
326 pages
140 drawings
360 photos
3 maps

I checked around to see what this prize could possibly be valued at…

Copies of the “regular printing” of this book sell for between $130 and $380 on Amazon. I saw a regular edition, signed, at a book fair in Santa Fe, the asking price was $500. The regular printing is cloth bound. Very nice of course, as are all of Forrest’s books, but the limited edition is an art piece. The only place I have ever seen the limited edition version of this book is in Forrest’s library. I don’t know who has other copies but rest assured, the winner will be in good company.

There were only 10…ten…X of these made…
In my unlearned guesstimate, this book should be worth about $2,000 right now…
More as the day gets longer….

One more point..
In my opinion this book is the only one of Forrest’s that I own which provided any evidence to me of the way in which Forrest likely hid his treasure chest. I think understanding what Forrest has learned from his prehistoric neighbors is very useful in the hunt.

winner

 

Dal Complains to Forrest…

idaho09

POSTED IN september 2013

I’d like to discuss a few things with you Forrest.

How far is too far to walk?
You might as well be asking, how deep is a hole? I need more information.

And what’s this about Brown? Brown what? Home? What home? I don’t know anything about those things. You must be losing it to think I could figure this out with no clues given other than take the canyon down. What canyon? You’re making me bilious. And what about this warm water place where I should start? I could name a million places where…

Some say it never was hidden in the first place, but I believe you because how could they know? Others claim someone already took it from their spot and that’s why it isn’t there anymore. How could they possibly be wrong? Never mind that they couldn’t find the blaze, or they found a thousand blazes.
Is the blaze painted on the side of an outhouse in Utah?

Some say they’ve read the poem a hundred times and that should be worth something. What should I tell them? The only thing meek around here is the information we have.

But wait a sec, let’s look at it from your perspective. It took you fifteen good years to put your treasure plan together. What sober thinker believes that anyone could waltz out over spring break and locate such a thoroughly pondered prize?

No worries! I can stop searching anytime I want. I am not addicted. I am in control.
My psychologist told me so.

Just in case though…I’ll keep Esmerelda’s tank full, my sandwich ziplocked, my flashlight on it’s lanyard, my meds in ample supply and my maps handy.

I’ll get back to you in a few days. Idaho, here I come!

dal…

The British are Coming…

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Back in June of 2013 I was contacted by an assistant producer from the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) in London.

Emma, was interested in creating a TV story about Forrest’s Treasure that would include a searcher as well as Forrest. The story would be part of a larger series about treasure around the world. Emma’s voice sounded young and delightfully British. We chatted on the phone for awhile and then she wanted to know when I was going to be headed out to look again for the treasure. Mid-August in the Yellowstone Region was my next planned outing. Emma thought that period and location would work for her group as well. In the next few days we struck an agreement whereby a BBC film crew would fly from London and come along for a day with me as I searched for Forrest’s hidden millions.

BearSprayAs the date approached Emma needed to know what the film crew should pack along in the wilds of Montana. I suggested long pants to protect legs from pokey underbrush. Long sleeve shirts to protect arms from intolerable bug bites. Plenty of water and oh yes, bear spray, since we would be in the finest and most bear populated grizzly habitat in the lower forty-eight.
“Bear spray”, repeated Emma. “What is that? Some sort of foul smelling scent you spray all over yourself that the bears don’t like?”
“No”, I replied. “You spray it at the bears when they get too close,. It’s like Mace.”
A quiet moment followed.
Then Emma asked, “How close do grizzly bears get before you spray them?”
“Twenty-five feet or so”, I responded.
Another quiet moment.
“I was really hoping to keep them a bit farther away than twenty-five feet.” Emma added.

Lummi Island in the Salish Sea

Lummi Island in the Salish Sea

I left Lummi Island on August 7th for a two day drive to Yellowstone Country. It was warm and blue when I left the island.

Camp where the sun wakes me in the morning

Camp where the sun wakes me in the morning

On the 10th of August my job was to make camp and have coffee ready in the morning when the BBC folks arrived at the farthest place we could bring vehicles, up the road, near my spot. My spot is located north of Hebgen Lake, near West Yellowstone, Montana. In a broader sense it’s a somewhat well searched area but I believe the precise spot I’m interested in had been passed up by many others. I felt good about the area. I could get here by following the clues…yet another spot Forrest’s poem could lead me…Number 41 in my accumulated search locations to date.

Harebells

Harebells

Sulfer Paintbrush

Sulfer Paintbrush

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The area was resplendent with about two dozen different prairie and creekside wildflowers still in bloom. At 7am the sun was just beginning to heat up the lodgepole pine along the creek and they, in turn, were beginning to release that incredible scent of sweet pine that fills the great outside here on warm summer days.

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Dallas Campbell reacting to all the grizzly bear information near the trailhead

The crew arrived after stopping in town to film Dallas Campbell, their presenter, what we would call the host or reporter in the USA, purchasing a can of bear spray at one of the local shops on Yellowstone Avenue. My cowboy coffee was boiling, the fire was hot and although no bears had been spotted near camp, there were reports of them in the area, including a sighting the previous day of a mom and cubs a mile or so below us.

A grizzly bear just outside of Yellowstone National Park

A grizzly bear just outside of Yellowstone National Park

Dallas and I chatted for awhile over black coffee about my involvement in the treasure hunt. My impressions of Forrest and my thoughts about the kind of place Forrest would have hidden his cache.

What I sensed about Dallas was that he was very enthused about the treasure hunt. For a guy who has traveled the world and been involved in some of the finest science and technology television programming ever made, Dallas is a down to earth guy. He is not stuffy or “above” the common man, like so many TV personalities in the States. He is a pleasure to be around and a joy to treasure hunt with.

Dallas getting ready to place an "X" on the BBC Treasure Map

Dallas getting ready to place an “X” on the BBC Treasure Map. Emma, Julius and Phil in the back.

This was not Dallas’ first treasure hunt by any means. He hosted the incredibly popular BBC series, Egypt’s Lost Cities, where he used satellite technology to hunt for previously undiscovered treasures among the ruins of ancient Egypt’s sphinxes and pyramids. He was also host for a number of other BBC and Discovery Channel series about science, the environment and technology before starting this new series about world treasures.

The crew sets up for a shot that will introduce Forrest to viewers

The crew sets up for a shot above camp that will introduce Forrest to viewers

Dallas likened the hunt to a fairy tale. Not unlike Little Red Riding Hood trying to get to grandma’s house along a path fraught with distractions. Or in another example, like the yellow brick road of Dorothy fame, where we all try to follow the path to find a treasure only to discover that we already had the real treasure, all the time…family and friends.

Sophie consulting with Julius about a shot

Sophie consulting with Julius about a shot

The rest of the crew were likewise very experienced and a delight to spend time with. Sophie, the series director, producer and writer was the producer for one of the BBC’s most popular reality TV series, Last Woman Standing. Where five British, female athletes traveled the world to compete in indigenous sports. On our location, Sophie watched every shot the camera recorded and imagined how everything would edit together. She supervised the entire crew and in the end, she is the person responsible for making sure the events of the day unpuzzle into a clever and intriguing story.

Julius with his Red Epic fitted out for documentary work

Julius with his Red Epic fitted out for documentary work

Julius is the team’s delightful and savvy cameraman and director of photography. A remarkably cheery fellow, responsible for a slew of technical gear and, in the end, coming back with world class footage for each story in the series. His Red Epic camera and support gear, batteries and monitors and tripod weighed nearly as much as me. Julius has several BBC series behind him including work with Sophie and Dallas all around the universe.

Phil and Dallas listen as Sophie describes the next set-up

Phil and Dallas listen as Sophie describes the next set-up

Phil is the sound recordist with the team. Responsible for not only all spoken words but also natural sound and ambiance. Very few TV viewers appreciate the contribution good sound recording makes to the overall loveliness of a high quality production. Even in our simple case, it’s not an easy task to get clear sound from a couple of guys walking in a stream torrent or climbing up hills and as far apart from each other as several hundred feet. It’s an art form and technological feat that most viewers just take for granted.

Emma shows off her USMC tattoo hand blazed by Dallas with a Sharpie

Emma shows off her USMC tattoo hand blazed by Dallas with a Sharpie

Emma is the series assistant producer and in the USA would probably also be called the production coordinator. It is her job to line up all the participants and locations for all the episodes. She spends almost all of her time worrying about what is going to happen next. She is the company planner. Without Emma the story ideas remain just that…ideas. She makes things happen…on time…on budget! So, for example while the crew was chasing me around in the streams and under rocks, Emma was calling Australia and London lining up what the crew would be filming in a day or two. Making sure that everything from flights to bear spray were not going to fail. Some day, Emma will be a series producer and director. Be nice to Emma!

This geographic spot was new to me. I’d never searched here before but I’d been nearby. The poem led me directly to this spot just as it had with so many others I’ve examined. The difference here was that I felt I also knew what the “blaze” was before I had even seen the spot. This was a new experience. In every other location I’ve searched I always felt I would have to identify the blaze when I got to the area, but not here.

Our "no paddle up your creek" stream

Our “no paddle up your creek” stream

This place was along the fault line of the 1959 earthquake that shook out Quake Lake and dropped most of the area south of the fault 15-20 feet. A giant snap that killed, frightened, destroyed and changed. One geologic mini-event that lasted just a few seconds but still has repercussions some 55 years later.

My sense was that the blaze could be the place where this particular creek crossed over that fault line and plummeted 15-20 feet downward. Although I had not seen the place I imagined it to be a picturesque waterfall. And below the waterfall…directly below the waterfall…. might be Forrest’s chest.

Follow the yellow brick road

Follow the yellow brick road

This was the spot I intended to go to with the BBC crew. About a quarter mile hike from where we would leave our vehicles at the end of the road, this seemed like a good place. The broader area is the setting for a story in Forrest’s book and the location is inside the Grizzly Bear Recovery Zone…no place for the meek.

Everyone was in a good mood as we headed up the trail. Six of us. The crew humping enough TV gear to finance a small war if sold at market value and armed with enough bear spray and handguns to start one.

A remote camera securely attached to a "bear tree" in order to see what the grizzly's are up too

A remote camera securely attached to a “bear tree” in order to see what the grizzly’s are up too

Within minutes we left the trail to get closer to the creek as we marched toward the fault line. Proof that we were in grizzly bear territory was evidenced by a camera attached to a “bear tree” in a small opening in the woods. I think its presence increased everyone’s awareness of the fact that we were no longer the top predators where we walked.

As we approached the line I could hear the rush of water increase. The creek was getting noisier. We were closing in on the fall, but it was a tangled mess below. Logs, stumps boulders all tossed about like toys in a child’s room. A minefield of potential ankle twisters and shin wackers. When Dallas and I finally got to the base of the fault it was not what I expected. Not a lovely fifteen foot cascade over a stone ledge surrounded by hanging mosses and a transparent pool at the bottom suitable for storing a bronze chest. Instead it was a rubble canyon through dirt and gravel. Made over fifty-five years of high water and low. It was unattractive, unappealing and not a likely resting spot for Forrest’s treasure. I was very disappointed. I could only stare at it, like an unfulfilled parent, mesmerized by what it had failed to become.

Like good soldiers we poked and prodded in shallow pools and surveyed the rubble as best we could looking for hidey places. None were discovered.

We decided to push onward, up the creek without a paddle and see if we could locate a better place not far from where we were. Above the fault the creek was a series of small cascades and pools as it weaved it’s way through walls of lighter colored granite. If it was to be up here we would have to locate a suitable blaze.

 

Further up the creek less traveled

Further up the creek less traveled

All told, Dallas, Sophia, Emma, Phil, Julius and I spent several hours above the fault examining the creekside. Imagining blazes. At one point things got particularly exciting as we discovered a neat cavern behind a small cascade with rocks that appeared piled by hand to conceal what might be behind.

In the end, my dear friends, the chest, if here, is still wild and free, available for any of you to better my location and discover. But I must warn you. The Brits and I scoured the creek and it’s neighborhood relentlessly.

The crew and subject after a long day of humping gear and framing shots and standing in obnoxiously cold water

The crew and subject after a long day of humping gear and framing shots and standing in obnoxiously cold water

There is another creek, older and lovlier…not far away, where I spent the very next day searching with relatives of Forrest and a charming journalist and novelist by the name of Porochista Khakpour in a location dictated by Forrest himself in a whimsical moment of teasing his kin into taking up the splendid chase.

More to come…

dal…

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Julius Brighton, the cinematographer who shot the story for the BBC put the video up on YouTube in 2015. You can see it at:

 

Filming Forrest Fenn…

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It’s late April and I find myself at Forrest’s home to do a little filming for this blog. I have a few things in mind. Forrest showed me the “unique” books in his collection a few months ago and I found the introduction fascinating. First because I didn’t know the kind of books he collects even existed. I’ve always thought of books as containers of information and not as items of art or as collections of rare documents.
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Forrest is also working on his new book, Too Far To Walk, and I am hoping we can tape a short informational piece about it. Commentors on this blog have asked me what the book is about? What kinds of stories it will tell? It turns out that his designer Susan and his producer, Lou, are coming by the house to show Forrest their first design layouts and get his impressions. I think that might be perfect footage to intertwine with whatever Forrest has to say about his book. Since the book will include more about Peggy than The Thrill of the Chase included, I am hoping I can get her on film as well. She is very sweet and so far has successfully dodged all my efforts to get her recorded.
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Forrest and his friend Suzanne Sommers at the San Lazaro ruins

Forrest and his friend Suzanne Sommers at the San Lazaro ruins

I was also visiting Forrest a few months earlier when he showed a German reporter his archeology lab. This is the place where Forrest brings all the recovered artifacts from his ruin, the ancient pueblo at San Lazaro. Here the artifacts are studied, cleaned, evaluated and moved to storage. The lab is visually interesting but even more impressive is Forrest’s presentation of these beautiful artifacts. He has made some remarkable discoveries, that have led to new ideas about the skills and knowledge held by the folks that lived there and how things changed when the Spanish arrived in the pueblo. Keep in mind that San Lazaro was occupied for about 500 years starting around 1180AD. The entombed material and wealth of knowledge unearthed from San Lazaro is fascinating. I hope he can share his enthusiasm for that place, and his knowledge of the ruins, on camera.
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The woolly worm...a wet fly

The woolly worm…a wet fly

Forrest also agreed to tie his infamous “woolly worm” fishing fly on camera and talk a little bit about fishing and what it has brought to his life. I think such a discussion might shed light on Forrest’s summers, as a young man, in Yellowstone.
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We only have a short time to do all this. I have to get on the road pointed northwest very soon. It’s a two and a half day drive back to my home and I am expected back at the studio on time. There is also the TV crew from Japan who are hoping to get some time with Forrest. It’s often quite hectic around his house. Forrest has more going on than a threat analyst at the CIA. Most of which he orchestrates like a symphony conductor.
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If you’ve watched the credits at the end of a decent documentary film you know that it takes a pack of film geeks to get things done. There are lighting folks and camera operators, make-up artists, hair dressers, sound recordists, producers, directors and folks from the bank taking notes on your every wasted movement. There are usually a couple of interns and depending on the complexity of the interview there might be an ambulance with medics hanging around or possibly someone from your insurance group making safety suggestions….”Don’t trip on that cord…”.
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Okay, I’m making all this up. Documentary film crews are generally small and nimble teams. Mine is so small that it’s just me. This is both good and bad. On the bad side is that it’s just me to get everything done well and I’m not that dependible. On the good side is that it’s generally easier to get folks comfortable talking to a camera when there is just one person around than when there is a whole crew fussing about. It’s less intimidating for the interviewee.
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On this interview it’s just Forrest and me and we get along pretty well. Conversely, I have no one else to point my finger at when things go bad. I could blame Forrest when the shot is out of focus or the sound is a little hollow or the lighting makes him look like a banshee in a bed sheet…but I doubt he’ll step up and shoulder the responsibility. So anything that sucks can only be relegated to my inattentiveness.
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I’ve been a professional filmmaker since I was 18. So, you’d think that I would not forget things like… pressing the “record” button. You’d be wrong. Forty-seven years operating cameras, sound gear, lights, under all the worst conditions in the universe and still I make dufuss mistakes. Sometimes the same dufuss mistake…over and over…
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The good news is that the viewers don’t know what you lost…only what you included and if you have sufficient skill to cover your mistakes and tell a story…all will work out in the end…
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Forrest is a great person to work with in an interview. He can speak extemporaneously, and  at length, on many different subjects, even the one you want him too.  And more important…he does not speak in run-on sentences. Next to someone who will not talk at all, the speaker who does not put a period and a short stop at the end of a complete thought will drive a filmmaker to the funny farm.
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The great office space and interview set

The great office space and interview set

Another attractive feature when filming Forrest, is his office. The ceilings are high, which is great for hiding lights. It has so many wonderful backgrounds to choose from…shelves of beautiful books, indian artifacts, his fireplace, buffalo skulls, dolls, bronzes…pick a wall..any wall. Unfortunately Forrest likes, most often, to sit at his desk, in his comfortable chair. Ordinarily this would not be a bad thing…but his chair is an overstuffed wing back affair with a very high back. So in a tight or medium shot of him all we see behind Forrest, is chair. No beautiful office space. It’s hard to take advantage of that great space when Forrest is in his favorite seat. If I had a curvy sweet-talker along she could suggest that he sit in a different chair and probably be successful but if I suggest it he’ll just ignore me and plunk down in his favorite piece of furniture.
However, this is the great shot you get of the office when Forrest sits in that overstuffed, ultra-winged comfy chair

However, this is the great shot you get of the office when Forrest sits in that overstuffed, ultra-winged comfy chair

You probably don’t even consider how you’d film in a room when you enter it. It’s a curse!
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In Forrest's lab where the space is small and the lighting is strong

In Forrest’s lab where the space is small and the lighting is mean

The lab, on the other hand, is a difficult place to film. The room is very small. There is no ability to add light and the existing lights are directly overhead causing nasty bright spots and deep shadows. Please understand that when I say that “there is no ability to add lights…” I am speaking as a documentarian who carries with him one or two lights and rarely gets to use them because there is no time. A documentarians lighting kit is the sun and whatever lights already exist in a location because we cover things NOW. We rarely get the chance to take hours to set up lights, repaint walls and put make-up and costumes on the subjects we film as they would in a dramatic film or pseudo-reality TV series. What we see is what you get.
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The pottery shards tell thousands of stories

The pottery shards tell thousands of stories

Now the other interesting (or not) device that you get when one person is doing all the filming from one position is a lot of zooming. I hate zooming. I like a nice clean cut from a wide shot to a tight shot…but if all you have is one camera you have to learn to be flexible in what you embrace. Take for instance the Pottery Shard clip. I hope that it does not make you seasick but I felt it was necessary to show the object he was talking about nice and tight and also Forrest’s face…zoom in…zoom out…please don’t watch if you are subject to epileptic seizures. By the way, that pottery shard pile is in Forrest’s backyard.
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The other technique you can employ to accommodate tight shots and wider shots with one camera is to have the camera on your shoulder and actually step in closer and then back. This is the technique I used in the lab. You can see me weaving about with the camera and then following Forrest’s hands when he pulls out the drawer. You can also see my big fat head throw a shadow across those artifacts…no time or space to relight…
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So take a look at the new batch of videos I filmed over at Forrest’s. They are called the Gone Fishing Interviews and the link to them is on the top right of this very page.
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Send me a note or yell at me in public on this page if you find the work unwatchable. I’m also taking suggestions for what you would like Forrest to talk about in our next batch of interviews. He won’t answer the question “So where did you hide it Forrest?”…I tried that one…
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dal…