Jemez Mountains…


Submitted march 2014


The Jemez Mountains

I briefly searched the Battleship Rock area of Jemez Mountains, NM last year and used it as part of my Shadow Contest entry.  A few weeks ago, I went back with a better WWWH starting point, and conducted a more thorough search of the whole area. In fact, this time I noticed a sign at the Spence Hot Springs (WWWH) parking lot that triggered a new interpretation of  “And take it in the canyon down” – Here’s my search story — hope you like it…….

I began at Spence Hot Springs (WWWH), located along NM Hwy 4, about 5 miles north of Jemez Springs, NM. There are 3 main pools at this hot springs —  an upper larger pool which cascades into 2 smaller pools.  Since there are multiple pools, this indicates “waters” (plural) to me. And the waters “halt” here, before meandering down the slope side and spilling into the Jemez River. (Only in NM would this stream be called a “river”.) I know Dal has posted several reasons “regarding the likelihood that WWWH is not a hot spring” per his comments in The Poem..Part 4.  I’m not saying he’s wrong, but I’m not dismissing them as a potential WWWH either. The American Heritage Dictionary defines “halt” as “a suspension of movement or progress, especially a temporary one”. I think this particular hot springs area meets that definition. Plurality of the word “waters” is met due to numerous hot pools in this area. Along with the main pools where most people go to soak, there are other smaller, more private obscure pools nestled in the trees and boulders farther up the mountain side if you know where to find them. Also, none of these hot pools of water are scalding hot but just perfectly pleasant (warm waters) for a winter’s morning soak. And last but not least, the fact that there are over 5000 hot/warm springs in the search area makes it more likely to me that Forrest used one of them as his WWWH – I’m thinking probably a more obscure one than Spence but I still had to check out this one. I’ve searched 5 hot springs so far so only have 4995 to go. LOL! (After all, Forrest did say in TTOTC regarding bathing in the Firehole River “It was a special  place” for him.)

And take it in the canyon down…Just a couple miles downstream (canyon down) is Battleship Rock (home of Brown.)

Not far, but too far to walk…The parking lot for Battleship Rock is about 2 miles south from the parking area for Spence Hot Springs – not far, but too far to walk if one is carrying a treasure chest, and farther than I’m going to walk since it’s along hwy 4 and an easy drive.

Put in below the home of Brown…There are 2 parking lots for Battleship Rock—an upper lot and a lower lot (“below”), where I parked (put in). This lot takes you to the East Fork Trail, which winds north along the east side of Battleship Rock, ultimately leading to Jemez Falls (water high.) I believe the home of Brown could be Battleship Rock itself. In 1950, Captain William Brown ran the battleship the USS Missouri aground in Chesapeake Bay and was found guilty of negligence, ending his naval career. Plus, Battleship Rock should stand the test of time and “is not associated with any structure”.

From there it’s no place for the meek…meaning you must get off the trail to find the hidey spot. Maybe you need to cross the stream, or walk along the base of Battleship Rock.

The end is ever drawing nigh…meaning not much farther to the treasure chest; drawing (to cause to flow forth), and nigh meaning follow the East Fork Branch of the Jemez River which is to the left of the confluence of it and the Jemez River (when taking it in the canyon downstream.)

There’ll be no paddle up your creek…Creek refers to the smaller of the 2 streams and indicates you should follow the trail along the East Fork Branch of the Jemez River. This creek is so full of boulders you definitely could not paddle up it. Also, the old adage up a creek without a paddle pretty much described the situation Capt Brown found himself in.

Just heavy loads and water high…Heavy loads refers to the Battleship and water high refers to Jemez Falls which is approx 2 miles up the East Fork Branch of the Jemez River..

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Below the pools of hot (not extremely hot but nicely “warm”) waters, where the waters “halt” before meandering down the slope side.

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the lower 2 pools

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The upper pool — David (a stranger I just met that morning) agreed to pose for the photos for my story

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David granted me permission to use these photos on Dal’s blog. I told him about Fenn’s hidden treasure chest which he hadn’t known about until that day when I gave him all the details. (I think in this photo he’s imagining picking it up – actually, he was showing me how clear and blue the water was.)

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Entrance to lower parking lot  (below home of Brown.) Battleship Rock in background.

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Map of Battleship Rock area, Jemez River and the East Fork Branch of River, East Fork Trail, and Jemez Falls

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There’ll be no paddle up your creek


If you’ve been wise and found the blaze,

Look quickly down, your quest to cease,

But tarry scant with marvel gaze,

Just take the chest and go in peace.


Unfortunately, this time I did not have a particular blaze to go directly to, like in my previous search on The Slide Trail. My plan was to peruse Battleship Rock itself, and the East Fork Trail and adjacent “river” (stream) it followed, as well as the forest, boulders, and rock outcroppings in the vicinity. Forrest did say in TTOTC “My church is in the mountains and along the river bottoms where dreams and fantasies alike go to play.”  Just like I thought in my previous search where the Old Spanish Trail was the large blaze, and then the actual rock slide area was a narrowed down blaze, and the white boulder was an even smaller blaze that pinpointed my attention to my “owl blaze thing” (I couldn’t tell if it was a petroglyph or what it was), I thought Battleship Rock could be the large blaze, but I needed to find something that stood out (a different blaze) to narrow down the search area. I agree with Dal that the treasure chest could be hidden in a small, dry cave, where Forrest could have lain beside it to die.  I believe Dal said this in reference to Forrest’s quote “I will rest through all of time and space, pillowed down and scented in” TTOTC pg 125.

Anyway, I spent a couple hours exploring the east side of Battleship Rock, as well as paying particular attention to the rocky boulder areas on the far side of the stream. Whenever I saw any opening, slot, crevice, etc, that was large enough for a person and treasure chest, I would look inside.  Needless to say, I didn’t find any hidden treasure chests or any small dry caves. But….. when I returned home and looked at that day’s pictures on my computer, this is what I saw —

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What is that “blaze” thing in the upper left corner that looks like a giant thumb? (or an extremely abstract owl?) Whatever it is, the sun is hitting it just right to make it my smaller “blaze”.

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Zoomed in on the “blaze” – maybe it is a thumb, big toe, or my (wise) owl  (doesn’t it have 2 eyes and tiny feet?)

I had to go back the following day to get a better look………………



Plus, this is the sign at the Spence Hot Springs parking lot —–

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Could it be that the Treasure Trove is in Dark Canyon? Maybe this is how Forrest knows people have been within 500 ft of the trove. Plus Dark “Canyon” is actually lower in elevation than the Spence Hot Springs themselves, so could that be the solution “take it in the canyon down”?  Maybe “down” doesn’t mean downstream—maybe “down” means lower elevation, or lower down the mountainside. Another reason I had to go back the next day….. to explore the Dark Canyon Fishing area.


Day 2 …….

Exploring the Dark Canyon Fishing Access area

Begin it where warm waters halt – still using Spence Hot Springs

And take it in the canyon down – Dark Canyon Fishing Access — 500 ft from Spence Hot Springs parking area, “down” the mountainside (although it is actually up the canyon or north), and Canyon is in its name.


Not far, but too far to walk — Not far is correct if a person hiked down the mountainside directly from Spence Hot Springs to Dark Canyon. But that would be difficult so following the trail back to the road and driving to Dark Canyon Fishing Access made more sense.

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Put in below the home of Brown – I don’t have a good solution to this line of the poem at this place.  “Dark” could be Brown, National Forest and Park signs are usually Brown, Brown trout? Beaver? Bats?  Regardless, this is where I parked (put in).


From there it’s no place for the meek,

The end is ever drawing nigh;

There’ll be no paddle up your creek,

Just heavy loads and water high.


I think the Jemez River at this location meets all the criteria in those 4 lines:

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No place for the meek – the canyon is narrow, the banks steep, and it looks like it would be easy to hop across the rocks to the other side –Not so. I almost fell in the stream several times trying to cross so I could search the other side. I gave up since I didn’t have a sure hidey spot.

There’ll be no paddle up your creek – self-explanatory (see photo).

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Lots of heavy loads (big boulders) and water high (notice the pile of tree limbs, debris that was deposited here during water high)


If you’ve been wise and found the blaze – the biggest dilemma of this area—no good blaze

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Not even I can see an owl blaze in this boulder, although I certainly tried.

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Is that painted rock a “blaze”? Highly doubtful!

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Is that underwear pointing to the no-campfires-allowed symbol the blaze? Not likely!

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Is that an owl rock on the mountainside above Dark Canyon?? (Hmm, maybe, depending on how many margaritas you are drinking when you look at it —  I see an owl face!)


No blaze here – no treasure chest found here.


Back to Battleship Rock to examine that “blaze thing”

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I walked along the west side of Battleship Rock to get closer to the “blaze thing”

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Ah, the blaze is a spire-like formation at the top of Battleship Rock. When just the right sunlight reflects off of it, it glows.

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Whoa! – Is that a large gray-owl-rocky area below the blaze?

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I scrambled up the scree trail to get closer. The rock was the texture of owl feathers! And it looked like it had pointy owl ears!  (I don’t think I captured this well in the photos – it looked like a large rock owl to me!)

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I briefly looked around the base of this side of Battleship Rock, but didn’t see any caves or anything else worth investigating.

Once again, I did not find Fenn’s Treasure Chest. But, once again, like all my previous searches whether posted on this blog or not, I had an awesome 2-days and a big Thrill in this Chase. I hope you enjoyed my tale of this adventure…

I will not search this area again for two big reasons – the first being, I don’t see Forrest finding this a “special place”, and secondly, this area is too far west and not far enough North of Santa Fe.

‘Til next time,