Yellowstone Opens Early to Bikes…

APRIL 2018

by dal


This is a cautionary tale-

A few years ago I visited Yellowstone when it was too early for exploration. I should have known better. I wrote about the experience here:

But if you MUST visit YNP the below news article announces that the park has opened to bikes…But don’t expect to search beyond the road because the park will still have meters of snow on the ground where it hasn’t been scraped away.

From the Bozeman Daily Chronicle March 28th Edition

Some roads inside Yellowstone National Park opened to bicycles on Wednesday, but some remain closed because of weather and construction.

The park said in a press release that cyclists can ride from Mammoth Hot Springs to Willow Park and from the West Entrance to Roaring Mountain.

There will be no bike access to Old Faithful or Canyon until the roads open to cars on April 20.

The park reminds people that the weather is variable during the spring and that cyclists should plan accordingly. The park also said cyclists might encounter snowplows and wildlife.

Riders are urged to carry bear spray and plan for self-rescue or repair.

More information about biking in Yellowstone is available at


How To Have An Adventure For A Few Hundred Bucks…

MARCH 2018

by Jeremy


First things first, buy the hat. You need an adventure hat. It’s non-negotiable. As soon as you put it on, you’re basically Indiana Jones already. Adventure hats vary greatly depending on how cheap you are, but let’s call this $50. I spent $20. I’m cheap.

Next, buy the book. The Thrill of the Chase. It’s $35. It’s worth it. Don’t just buy the book. Actually read it. Someone out there’s going to disagree with this, saying that all you need is the poem, and that the poem is free. Ignore those people. Every adventure is wrapped in a mythology. This book is yours. Read it like Indiana Jones studying the grail diary.

Now, let’s get in character…

Principle: Thou shalt tilt at windmills. You’re going to want to pick up some other books, for free, at your local library. I recommend Huckleberry Finn. There’s a few chapters in Huck Finn where he describes how Tom Sawyer never saw things as they actually were, but instead as how he imagined them to be. That needs to be you. It’s not a Sunday-school picnic over there, it’s a caravan of Arabs and Spaniards!

This is how you have a proper adventure in modern times where the real world lingers in your periphery, and where your day job is only a phone call away. Set all that aside. You’re not Bob the Accountant. You’re Bob the Adventurer! You have to be ready to go out in the mountains where you can fight your imaginary foes without distraction. Oh, and you have to have imaginary foes. This is a must. You need a Belloq.

Don’t skimp on this research. A proper adventurer has watched all the movies and read all the books to the point where every rock carving and every blaze on a tree is a quiet reminder that the Hovitos are near. The adventurer knows that there are treasures around every corner, and everything that glitters is, in fact, gold. Imagination is always free.

You’ll need a treasure map. You should draw it on the back of parchment paper, in blood, but not in real blood, just use red ink and “let on” that it’s blood.

Adopt the vocabulary. Get in the habit of asking people, “Do we have an accord?” Tell people at the store that you’re on an “expedition to find the milk”. Refer to yourself as a knight upon a holy quest, because you are. Identify amongst your friends the cleric, the wizard and the rogue. You’ll need those guys. Refer to them as “party members”. Speaking of which…

“It’s dangerous to go alone! Take this.” Zelda fans just nodded in approval, but it’s true. Bring your friends. Bring friends because they may chip in for gas and beer. If you don’t have any friends, bring your family. If your family doesn’t want to go, bring your dog. If you don’t have a dog… steal one from the shelter! You’re a bloody pirate!

Let’s hit the open road! You can fly just about anywhere in the United States and be there in a few hours. That’s fine if you’re on vacation. But you’re not. You’re on an adventure! It is worth your time to see the country as Kerouac intended, through a bug splattered windshield. Even if you live in the Rocky Mountains, you should fly out to the East Coast just so that you can drive back. There’s so much raw America out there, and at least once, you should see it by car. For the adventurer on the cheap, most of your savings is in skipping planes and trains in favor of the automobile. You can pile all of your party members in, and take your gear, saving a ton of money.

You also want to go camping, and not like “camping” where you sleep in an RV or a cabin, but more like how the Boy Scouts and homeless people do it. You want a proper tent, or sleep in your car. An adventure is not a pampered night in a warm bed. It’s a starry night in the middle of nowhere. Ever hear of Paxico, Kansas? Me neither, until we pitched a tent there at a little farm by the tracks. A train blew by around two in the morning. Nothing else like it. It’s pretty much in the center of the United States, too, and now I can say I did that. The next night we camped at the Orilla Verde in the Rio Grande Gorge. Back east, it’s instant adventurer-cred to say you slept by the Rio Grande. It’s an amazing experience.

Depending on where you are, camping costs can range from $0 (ie. a Walmart parking lot) to maybe $20 a night, if you go primitive, and at that price you might even find a shower. Get used to sleeping on the ground. You’re an adventurer! Avoid those KOA sites, they’re just a bunch of RV’ers watching movies and keeping you up all night.

Now that you’ve got a rough outline of what your adventure might be, let’s fill it up!

A thousand MacGuffins. “Something hidden, go and find it.” This is the clarion call for every explorer. It is the thing that drives us forward. Somewhere out there is a treasure chest of gold and jewels, just waiting to be found. It’s the ultimate prize. But, wait, there’s more! The true adventurer accepts all quests offered, and in absence of any, makes one up. A MacGuffin can be anything, and you should always have one at the ready.

Want to see the smallest town in America?

Want to get lost in the House of Eternal Return?

Want to see the world’s largest sticker ball?

Want to count One Thousand Buddhas?

The adventurer says, “Heck yeah!”

There are thousands of offbeat attractions and strange discoveries waiting for you all across America. Many are free. Visit and plan ahead.

While your treasure awaits in the Rocky Mountains, somewhere north of Santa Fe, your adventure starts the second you walk out the door.

A couple more tips…

Take the small car. Ain’t no shame in it. I have a tiny black Nissan Versa SV, the cheapest car I could get brand new. It’s got a 1.6 L 4-cylinder engine. I know you’re jealous. On the open road people pass me by, but who’s the bad ass who can squeeze his car between two double-parked monster trucks at Walmart? This guy. A compact car is exactly what you need for adventuring. It forces you to travel light, and what you can’t cram into that 14 cubic feet of trunk space, you don’t need. The goal is to stretch each gallon as far as it’ll take you. Not much comfort, but when you’ve got 3,000 miles to go round trip, $300 in gas is a steal.

Rent the big truck. Once you get to where you’re going, ditch the car and rent a 4WD. Less than $100. There is nothing more fun than a 4WD truck in the Rocky Mountains. In fact, if you don’t have that truck tilted at more than thirty-degrees at some point, preferably sideways, you don’t get to call yourself an adventurer. Think ATV trails. Don’t worry. It’s not your truck. It’s insured. Once you get that truck, you go take that mountain. Find some sketchy road, and drive that thing up to the top! Don’t forget your camera.

Mingle with the natives. Find a local bar. Strike up a conversation with the locals. You’ll be glad you did. Every good adventure story begins at the Tavern. Don’t be shy. You tell those folks exactly what you’re there for. You’ve come red-eyed and weary across a whole continent to pluck Forrest Fenn’s gold right from under their noses. They’ll laugh and say they know exactly where it is too. When you ask why they haven’t gone and gotten it, they’ll mutter some excuse about being too busy. Muggles are funny that way.

Buy some trinkets. Make sure they’re authentic. $100-$200.

And finally…

Be prepared. That’s my motto.

Total cost: $500 on the low end. $1000 at most. Cost sharing will get it even lower, but don’t go so low that you aren’t having a good time. Treat yourself. We’re not savages.


The Case of the Mirrored Image…

March 2017

by Jeremy P


“In solving a problem of this sort, the grand thing is to be able to reason backward… Now, this was a case in which you were given a result, and you had to find everything else for yourself.” – Sherlock Holmes, A Study in Scarlet

The archaeologist resurrects the past from available evidence found in the present. It’s not an easy job. Often the story is told only through small details, and the archaeologist has to piece together the small bits they find into a larger narrative. For a great example of this, be sure to check out some of the video interviews with Forrest, l ike this one in which tiny marks on a bone suggests that ancient peoples may have had to eat horses when times were tough. It’s pretty cool what all you can figure out from a few small marks.

Dr. Jones said, “Seventy percent of all archaeology is done in the library. Research. Reading.”, and it’s the same in the Chase, but you all know that already.
It’s winter. If you’re out in the woods, you shouldn’t be. So while it’s no grand adventure, let’s have some fun.

We’re going to try and resurrect the past, in some small way. We’re going to turn back time and try to figure out what an original artwork looked like, from what we find in the present, using one of the well-known illustrations in T he Thrill of the Chase. We’re going to take this image and rebuild it as the artist originally intended.

First, some context. Mirrors, reflections, reversing, these topics are so on the minds of searchers these days, based on comments from Forrest in the past year. Most searchers are watching videos on Youtube about the “backwards bike”. They’re digging up scrapbooks in which Forrest shared pictures of his bathroom mirror. They’re wondering about mirrors in the chest. They’re pondering quotes from the book like, “…if any readers over the age of twelve don’t see a little of themselves in this mirror…”

Mirrors are hot right now, but did you know… there is actually a mirrored image in the book? There’s just the one, it’s on page 146, and if you don’t look twice you may miss it.

This is the image as published in The Thrill of the Chase, on page 146. At first glance, there doesn’t appear to be anything curious about it. Those who have read the book have considered whether it holds clues, but on its own it simply seems to be an illustration about the environment, similar in theme to the Joni Mitchell song about paving paradise and putting up parking lots.

Look closer, however, and you may begin to notice some oddities. Most of the people I’ve talked to, when asked, eventually notice that some of the tree stumps have been duplicated. Fewer, still, notice that this image is a mirrored one.

The left edge of the sky in the image is exactly the same as the edge of the right side.
So, let’s keep things straight. I don’t want to start any clue-mongering. I think we can reasonably say that the mirroring in this image is the work of the graphic artist who placed the image on the page, and not the original illustrator (presumably, Allen Polt, as listed in the credits), and it’s probably not a clue from Forrest in a conspiracy with the artist himself.

How do we know this?

We know it was the graphic artist who mirrored the edges, because a space for a tree stump is copied on the left side, where there is no tree stump, with exactly the same edges as the space on the right, where there is a tree stump. The illustrator didn’t do that. It’s clearly a Photoshop job, post-illustration, pre-press.

What I’m interested in — what we’re endeavoring to do, in fact — is to determine whether or not we can figure out exactly what the original image was, before it was doctored. We want to see if we can reconstruct the original image and bring it back from the past.
Got it? Great! Let’s get to work!

What we don’t know, yet, is which edge of this mirrored image is the original edge. We’ll need to know that in order to reconstruct the original image.

For now, let’s skip over the question of edges, just for a moment, and look at the tree stumps in the foreground.

As we can see, several of the tree stumps are duplicates. The copies are color coded here. Which ones are copies, and which are the original, is a little difficult to determine, but not so much if you think it through.

There are two types of images that graphic artists work with, vector and raster images. Vector images are scalable because they are just paths, so like between “x” and “y” fill the path with black. These are great for logos where you don’t know if it’ll be a small image on a phone or a big image on a billboard. Line drawings, solid shapes, those are all good for vector images. Photos, not so much.

Raster images are made up of individual pixels. They don’t scale well, especially when trying to make them larger. We’ve all seen pixelated images of small graphics blown up big, and those are raster graphics. These are raster graphics, the illustrations in the book.
But here, in this image, we have clean lines. This suggests they haven’t been scaled up. In fact, they have probably been scaled down, as we have another clue in the line thickness, or weight. Notice that most have similar line thickness, but some are lighter than others. The line weight suggests that the copies are the smaller ones, because the lines are thinner.

Great! We’ve made progress. Let’s remove the ones we can determine are copies, based on line weight. These are the smaller red and blue ones. Here’s the result:

Notice that the ones that were marked green and orange haven’t been removed. That’s because we don’t have any basis for determining which of those are the original, and which have been duplicated… at least not yet.

Now, let’s turn our attention back to those edges of the sky. Can you figure out which one is the original edge?

They are nearly identical, so don’t feel bad if you can’t figure it out right away. OK, I’m not really being fair. It’s a trick question.

Truth is, neither the left side, nor the right side, is the original edge. It’s this green dotted line shown here. Wait, what? You’re wondering, “Where did that come from?” Bear with me. It is the original edge. Here’s how we know…

The six stars highlighted by the green circles are all the same set of two stars. If you have the book, check it out. It’s obvious once you know what you’re looking at.

There’s other “registration points” in the ink strokes and minor white space, as well, but these six are the most noticeable.

These stars give away that what we have is the exact same pattern on the left, twice, and once on the right. This leaves us three potential original edges, and we have to decide which is the correct one.

Well, obviously, we know that one of the two on the left isn’t the original, and we know that it can’t be the outer one on the left, because that leaves the inner left duplicate pattern unaccounted for. There’d be, like, a gaping hole there. It’s not rocket science.

But now that we know that we are justified in doing so, let’s remove the outer edge duplicate, the two stars on the farthest left and the matching pattern that surrounds it.

What we’re left with is what we know to be the original face of the left side, and what the graphic artist gave us as the edge of the right side.

The second set of stars on the left were kept as is, and the reconstructed edge was found in the ink marks. Again, if you have the book you can follow along. These small scans don’t show the marks in great detail.

However, If you look very close at the illustration on page 146, you can see a little indentation here, a duplicated ink stroke there. Hidden in all of this is everything we need to find the original line marked above in green.

OK, still with me? So, now that we have this somewhat awkward looking image, we also have a very new question. When trying to deconstruct what the graphic artist made, and reconstruct what the original illustrator made, we’re forced to ask…

Did the graphic artist flip the right side to the left side at some point? It’s a fair question. Although we’ve found that the left side had at least one copied pattern, maybe both patterned areas were copies, originally from the right side. So, the question, was our reconstructed left side copied from the right side of the original?

The answer is, No. How do we know?

This little line here tells us. It’s not a natural line. Drawn from left to right, it stops abruptly at the arrow, then starts again and ends at the stump that we can clearly see is the same stump from the left side of the image.

The two stumps, the one on the left, and the one on the right, are the same, so which is the original?

If you trace this little line on the left side of the image, it flows naturally. If you trace the line on the right side, it doesn’t. The one on the left, of course, is the correct original line, and the stump on the left is the correct original tree stump.

Further, if you look at the image on page 146, this non-natural line’s “bump” coincides with a darker ink stroke extending upward. Everything to the right of the darker stroke is a duplicated pattern from the left image, everything to the left of the stroke is not that pattern, it’s “new” image.

Now we’re really making progress!

We can follow this line and reconstruct the original right edge of the illustration and remove the copied edge.

It’s not an exact science, but this is more or less the original, non-mirrored, right edge of the illustration.

And now we can clearly see which of the remaining duplicate stumps are original stumps, and which are copies that should be removed.

We remove the final stumps, leaving only the original stumps, the original left edge of the illustration, and the original right edge of the illustration.

Finally, like a ghost from circa-2010, we have a glimpse of the original illustration. Let’s recap…

This is the illustration that was constructed by the graphic artist, from the original illustration provided by (presumably) Allen Polt, published on page 146 in The Thrill of the Chase.

As we’ve seen, when looked at closely, it’s been changed in several ways from the original artwork. Through analysis, we’ve determined exactly what steps the graphic artist took in constructing this image, and working backwards from the published image we were able to reconstruct the original work.

We found evidence that both sides were actually extended, using the left edge of the original work. The right side was augmented. The left side was the augmented. But even as the left side of the original work was used, it was copied and pasted to both sides, and the original left became left, right, and also left-left.

It was challenging, but we did it. Like archaeologists, we’ve built a time machine and peeked into the past.

You’ve been patient long enough, so let’s have a look at the original work by the original artist! Here it is, The Original Illustration…

It’s possible that the original work has some minor differences from what we were able to reconstruct, but we should be fairly certain that if said artwork ever surfaces we’d be pretty close, if not spot on, in our reconstruction.

To me, this version looks more like the style of other images in the book. It doesn’t take a lot of imagination to draw similarities between it and, say, the image on page 41 of the book. There’s a similar rounded side on the right, and a straighter edge on the left.
Now all we need is Allen Polt’s autograph to make it complete.

OK, you’ve all been really great on this adventure. As a reward, you can now let your imaginations wander!

Why was the image expanded from the original work???
Was the illustrator OK with the changes???
Did Forrest even know the graphic artist made the changes??? Is the mirroring a clue???

Unfortunately we can’t answer these questions with just the physical evidence we find in the final published image. But, hey, that’s what imagination is for, and maybe that’s why it’s so much more important. Imagination fills these gaps between knowledge, which are like enormous canyons waiting to be filled.

Go fill them up! Jeremy P.

Jeremy Does Forrest Three……

Please Note:
This is a parody solve, intended for entertainment purposes only. Any resemblance to an actual solve is purely coincidental. Forrest didn’t actually say these things. Merry Christmas everyone!

click to enlarge

About the Artist
Jeremy Parnell is a searcher from Lexington, Kentucky, who joined the chase in 2015. He works as a software developer for the national governing body of equestrian sports by day, and pursues an interest in art, philosophy, and puzzle solving in his free time. You can find him at where he infrequently posts art, photos, and random thoughts.

Jeremy Does Forrest Two……


click to enlarge

click to enlarge

About the Artist
Jeremy Parnell is a searcher from Lexington, Kentucky, who joined the chase in 2015. He works as a software developer for the national governing body of equestrian sports by day, and pursues an interest in art, philosophy, and puzzle solving in his free time. You can find him at where he infrequently posts art, photos, and random thoughts.

Jeremy Does Forrest……

SantaStrikesBack click to enlarge

About the Artist
Jeremy Parnell is a searcher from Lexington, Kentucky, who joined the chase in 2015. He works as a software developer for the national governing body of equestrian sports by day, and pursues an interest in art, philosophy, and puzzle solving in his free time. He’s a self-described “geek”, loves comics, and “knew all the Marvel characters even before the movies”. One day a friend challenged him to draw a story. A couple of glasses of bourbon later, and this was the result. You can find him at where he infrequently posts art, photos, and random thoughts.

A (partial) knowledge of geometry……




“Why do we need to hike all the way down there?” they asked. We were already tired from the several-mile hike the day before, and had already hiked a few miles that day to where we stood, just beneath 10,200 feet in elevation on the side of a mountain in New Mexico. We were standing beneath a rock formation that I thought looked like a campfire in Google Earth, what I was calling my blaze.

“We’re at 10,200 feet. Isn’t anywhere around here fair game?” they insisted.

“We need to get down to the trail,” I replied. More hiking. “You need a comprehensive knowledge of geometry.”

“I think you mean geography,” they looked at each other, and then back to me, skeptically. “He said geography.”

“Yes, but now that we’re here, this is a geometry problem,” I said.

Let me explain. Forrest Fenn has said that a comprehensive knowledge of geography might help searchers. It’s been a few months since I was out looking, but I thought I’d write this up because I had a day off from work, and I feel that this information could be useful to any searcher no matter where they are looking. It’s basic logic, and it may seem pretty straightforward, but I can imagine it’s easy to overlook when you have boots on the ground in the thrill of finally searching in your location.

There is so much about Forrest Fenn’s treasure hunt that we don’t know. We don’t know which state. We don’t know what the clues mean in his poem. We don’t know a lot of things. However, if we take him at his word (and if we don’t, why bother searching?), there are a few things we do know. Some of the things that we know are actually very useful in weeding out bad search locations, or pinpointing high target areas in a location you feel strongly about. These hints that he’s dropped, unlike so many other clues, aren’t ambiguous, aren’t mysterious or shrouded in hidden meanings, and aren’t open to interpretation. They are, in fact, facts, assuming he’s being honest, and we all assume that he is. These facts don’t live in the realm of poetry. They live in the realm of math and geometry.

At a certain point, the search is no longer a question of geography. It’s a question of geometry.

He knows X, We know Y

Assumed Fact: Multiple searchers have been within 200 feet of the treasure.

Assumed Fact: Forrest Fenn knows this, because searchers have said where they’ve been.

Here we have two geometrical objects to work with. We have a treasure location, which we’ll call “X” (we totally have to call this X… X marks the spot). And we have a searcher location “Y”.

We don’t know X. Forrest Fenn doesn’t know Y. We don’t know each other’s Y. But after we tell him our collective Ys, we now know that X is within 200 ft. of some searchers’ Y.

We do know a few other things about X. Ignoring geographical information, such as it’s in the Rockies, north of Santa Fe, within four states, etc. we also know some geometrical z-axis information, namely that it is within 5,000 ft to 10,200 ft. This z-range is very useful.

X is a point, Y must be a point or line, Y is nameable

Whatever we do, we must remain geometrically consistent to have a good solve.

X is a geometric point. With just X, a point, there’s not a lot of geometry we can do. Thankfully, that’s not all we have. We also have a Y, and geometrically speaking, Y must be one of two things. Y must either be a single point, or a line, that is within 200 ft of X. Further, Y must be a nameable point, or line, for FF to know where the searcher is when he’s told. Let’s lay out another assumed fact.

Assumed Fact: Y is a nameable point, or a nameable line.

Consider these example (not real) emails:

“Hey Forrest, I was at Foo Bar waterfall. Sadly, I didn’t find the treasure, but I had a great time!”

“Hey Forrest, I was hiking along the Foo Bar trail. My wife tripped and fell into the river that runs along it. We’ll LOL forever off that one!”

Because the searcher identified Y (the waterfall, the trail, the point or line they were on), FF can then say that the searcher was within 200 ft. of X. Further, this is the only way that FF can know if we take him at his word.

I know, this isn’t rocket science. It’s pretty obvious. But you’d be surprised at how many potential solves don’t remain geometrically consistent with this, and how easy it is to forget when caught up in the thrill. Yet, if you keep it foremost in your thoughts, it has enormous benefits.

Case Example: We were standing at 10,200 ft., yet we were more than 200 ft below the blaze (a nameable point). We were partially geometrically consistent in being within 10,200 ft., but we were geometrically inconsistent because we were outside of 200 ft. of a nameable Y. We needed to get to the trail (a nameable line) that was much further below 10,200 ft.

What does nameable mean?

“Nameable” is a pretty loose term. One can name geometrical points and lines through GPS, after all. It’s conceivable that a searcher might email FF a list of GPS coordinates they were at as points, or even that they may have sent a list of all the GPS points they were at along a line. So far, the geometrical problem solving I’ve suggested is all math and geometrically fact based. However, I think we can go a little further by adopting a few likelihoods.

Assumed Likelihood: FF was not sent Y as a GPS point or a series of GPS points.

I mean, really? People don’t invoke GPS in email conversations. More to the point, “multiple searchers” are less likely to have sent FF a bunch of GPS coordinates that he had to then look up, measure from X, to conclude that Y is within 200 ft. of X. This, again, seems so simple, but it has very practical uses. A searcher should be ignoring areas that aren’t within 200 ft. of nameable locations, nameable in a common sense way that FF would recognize your Y. The nameable, perhaps, is where geography comes in. But after that, it’s mostly geometry.

Further, the nameable location has to be one that conceivably a number of searchers would have visited. One of the questions we have to ask ourselves when searching is, why hasn’t it been found there already? This is an important one. You have to reconcile two issues: 1) “Searchers” have been within 200 ft. of the treasure (not the general public, he said “searchers” wrote to him) and 2) They did not find the treasure. Your solve has to account for why they did not.

Case Example: Standing at 10,200 ft., we were further than 200 ft. from the blaze. Thus we had to get to the next nameable Y, a trail, a line, further down the mountain. To make this nameable location consistent with likelihoods, I had to assume that searchers would have taken that trail before. They had, it had been written on blogs. I also knew that the area within 200 ft. of the trail they had hiked on was not considered by them to be a high target area, but it looked good with my interpretation of the clues. Bringing it all together, within 200 ft. of the trail is my only geometrically consistent location, that is also consistent with likelihoods, and also matches my clue interpretation, and also accounts for why it hadn’t been found.

A geometrically consistent approach

See how it works? A knowledge of geometry (or keeping that as a focus) in your search not only reduces the search area, it makes searching more efficient. This applies wherever you are searching. We obviously didn’t find the treasure at this location in New Mexico because the location was wrong. The approach is sound.

I’ll wrap this already lengthy post up with an example of applying this approach to a target that we didn’t search. Turns out it was deeper on Taos Pueblo lands than we could get to. We tried, but the big Federal trespassing signs are quite convincing. Everything looks different on Google Earth, and all the routes I had to the location couldn’t get us there with boots on the ground. I don’t recommend you searching there either, but it’s a great case example for this approach (why I targeted it in the first place). I won’t bother push-pinning it. I’m sure you can find it. It’s up the mountain above the Veteran’s Memorial, to the north west. It’s called Apache Spring.

On Google Earth it kind of matched the clues. I could justify it through the poem, and it looked really good as a possible tie in to the Tea with Olga story. It was a beautiful, probably forgotten in time, natural spring in a clearing. It was a really unique spring as well. For some reason the ground was discolored at the mouth of the spring. I don’t know if this was rocks or vegetation. Bing maps highlight it better than Google, but it resembled the blaze on a horse’s face. These are the things that drive a searcher. It’s a real shame it’s inaccessible.

Let’s ignore all that. That’s geography, a bit of poetry, and just hunches. Now it’s a geometrical problem. Let’s apply the approach.

I have an unknown X. I now need to know what Y is, the nameable location that Forrest Fenn was sent. Looking at the clearing, I can see that the mouth of the natural spring that looks like a blaze is close to the tree line up top. The only nameable location here is the spring itself. “Hey Forrest, I was at Apache Spring up above the Veteran’s Memorial” is an email I could imagine multiple searchers sending (I didn’t know until I got there that it was inaccessible).

Standing at Apache Spring, virtually, I see that the path of the water flows into the treeline goes, “looking quickly down”, you guessed it, a little less than 200 ft. away. Geometrically, I now can guess that Y is the mouth of the spring and that X is just inside the treeline. The story I form for my solve is that searchers, on a hunch, went to Apache Spring, looked at the spring and didn’t see the treasure, gave up and left, and told Forrest about their adventure. Maybe they even glanced in the tree line but, because it wasn’t their target, they didn’t look closely. If they had just checked more closely in the tree line!

And that’s how it goes. This approach identified an area that, maybe, other searches had missed because it wasn’t their high target area. Since it wasn’t, maybe they half-assed the search, so now we can account for both searchers being there, and why it wasn’t found. We remain geometrically consistent throughout.

If this all seemed obvious to you, sorry for the long read. If not, hopefully you can get some use out of it. Best of luck out there, and if it does help remember: “It’s fortune and glory, kid.” You keep the fortune, let me share the glory. Give me a heads up if you find it using this approach.

Please feel free to contact me:


Jeremy Parnell


A Search in New Mexico…

Jeremy Parnell


I just got back from New Mexico and since I’m unlikely to return any time soon I thought I’d share the solve I came up with. It has an unusual search area at the end, but I do think it follows from the clues and is reachable by an elderly man. This, I say, despite skeptical looks from people when I tell them where I’ve been, without explaining the solve, and with my own party members (my dad and two brothers) being very close to mutiny on the path itself. I’m pretty sure that I was one crazy idea from being thrown off a cliff.

Shall we begin?

As I have gone alone in there

This is skipping ahead, but I went rather deep into the Colin Neblett Wildlife Management Area.

And with my treasures bold,
I can keep my secret where,
And hint of riches new and old.

Like many others, including Forrest Fenn, we start with this line:

Begin it where warm waters halt

A number of different “warm waters halt” will get you there, but the one I liked most was Agua Fria in Moreno Valley, way up high in the Sangre de Cristos Mountains beyond the Taos Pueblo. Agua Fria, of course, is Spanish for “cold water”. There are a couple of reasons why I chose this location. Primarily, it fits lockstep with the other clues. Almost as nice, it is located at the intersection between the Vietnam War Memorial and the Angel Fire Airport, both locations being places that Forrest Fenn is likely familiar with, intimately. As everyone knows, he was a fighter pilot in Vietnam and flew private planes throughout the area later in life. Both chapters of his life were important to him. I don’t think it’s a small thing, either, that there’s another Agua Fria in New Mexico, in Santa Fe near where Forrest Fenn lives. I believe it’s fair to think Agua Fria was on his mind when crafting the clues. None of this is new. Others have started here as well. It’s been a popular starting location since the story broke.

And take it in the canyon down,

Which canyon?

Not far, but too far to walk.
Put in below the home of Brown.

Oh, that canyon. There’s only one that matches this description. Cimarron Canyon east of Moreno Valley. It is “not far, but too far to walk” from Agua Fria. In the poem “Brown” is capitalized as a proper noun, so it’s natural to look for a named place. Moreno is Spanish for “brown”. Moreno Valley is “Brown Valley”. Anyone who looks at the valley can see that Eagle Nest Lake is the anchor feature around which the valley thrives. When you arrive in the valley in person, it’s very clear. Eagle Nest Lake is the home of Moreno Valley. When you enter the canyon, you drive beneath the dam that forms Eagle Nest Lake. Entering the canyon, you are “below the home of Brown”, Eagle Nest Lake. Again, this isn’t new. Others have gone this way, some of them thinking in entirely different ways, for example saying that Eagle Nest Lake is filled with brown trout. I think it’s a lot easier than that. Eagle Nest Lake is the home of Moreno Valley and Moreno is “brown”. When you enter Cimarron Canyon, you are below the home of Brown.

From there it’s no place for the meek,

Down Cimarron Canyon there are a few places of interest. There’s Cimarron River, The Palisades, several creeks that empty into the river, and a few hiking trails that disappear into the surrounding wilderness. If we’re right in our solve thus far, there should be one that matches a place that is “no place for the meek”. I’ve seen in the blogs that people have explored each of Cimarron Canyon’s features, but I don’t know why they didn’t all simply start with Maverick Creek. Forrest Fenn has been described as, and certainly identifies with, being a “maverick”. Seriously, I don’t think Sarah Palin described herself as a maverick more times than Forrest Fenn has. If it were a drinking game, you’d get drunker faster taking a shot when Forrest Fenn is described as a maverick. And then there’s this: Forrest Fenn has said in interviews that he often Google’s a word to find its meaning. When you Google “meek”, you get “quiet, gentle, and easily imposed on; submissive”. When you Google “maverick”, you get “an unorthodox or independent-minded person”. Maverick is the opposite of “meek”. Further, we’re looking at a creek, and that fits lockstep with the next clues. They closely fit with this particular creek.

The end is ever drawing nigh;
There’ll be no paddle up your creek,
Just heavy loads and water high.

There’s a couple of clues here, but I’m grouping them together to demonstrate why Maverick Creek uniquely matches them, especially a certain spot. “No paddle up your creek”. It’s a small creek that flows down from the mountains into the Cimarron River. You can’t paddle up it. This isn’t really unique, as the other creeks in the canyon do the same. “Just heavy loads and water high”. Here we have something that is unique to Maverick Creek. There are really only two things up Maverick Creek. One is a 30-foot waterfall somewhat off the beaten path, and the other is old logging roads. I first thought that “heavy loads” might be the treasure you are carrying, but later realized that you aren’t carrying a treasure. Forrest Fenn is. You’re looking for treasure. You don’t have it yet. The “heavy loads” have to be in the location, not your hands. Maverick Creek’s distinguishing features are the waterfall, “water high” and the old logging roads “heavy loads”. Nothing else in Cimarron Canyon matches the clues so closely. At this point, many of you may be thinking, but the waterfall has been scoured over good, and many have traveled the old logging roads. Some really observant people may be thinking, why did I include the “end is ever drawing nigh part” in this grouping? This is the point that I diverge from where others have looked and take my own maverick path.

If you’ve been wise and found the blaze,

In this solve, the “blaze” is a very large campfire “drawing” on the side of Touch-Me-Not Mountain, at the end of Maverick Creek. Go on, look up Maverick Creek in Google Earth, go to the end, look just above the creek onto the side of the mountain. It’s pretty clear. The formation of the trees and bald spot (drawing) is right near (nigh) the end of Maverick Creek. It’s viewable from the air, as Forrest Fenn would have seen flying over the area. When I visited, I found you couldn’t see it from the ground, unless you’re on nearby higher ground, but I think Forrest Fenn would have you look from the air as he did. To my knowledge, no one has done a hard-search of this area. Sure, people have walked the trail, maybe looked really closely around the falls and the start of the trail, but I don’t think anyone has seriously considered the end of Maverick Creek and up the mountain to where I think is clearly a campfire “blaze” as a good hard-search area. I looked and looked online, but if others had seen it, they weren’t talking. I think it’s next to obvious.

Look quickly down, your quest to cease,

The “blaze” is slightly higher than 10,200 ft. It’s at the end of a gully that topographical maps indicate is the worn-into-the-mountain beginning of Maverick Creek. Quickly down from it, around 10,200 ft is really where the creek starts. When I visited, I found that the creek forms out of the mountain slightly to the west. Yet, directly down from the “blaze” is near the end of the creek, and is actually the end on topographical maps. The important thing to note, as I’ll explain later, is that the creek forms out of Touch-Me-Not mountain. This is where the creek touches it.

But tarry scant with marvel gaze,

You have some magical views from here. Did you think there wouldn’t be?

Just take the chest and go in peace.

So why is it that I must go
And leave my trove for all to seek?
The answers I already know,
I’ve done it tired, and now I’m weak.

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

OK, so I’ve explained how the target area I chose fits the clues, but I haven’t yet explained the real reason I chose to visit that end of Maverick Creek. It’s hard to get to. It’s debatable whether an elderly man of 79-80 years could. I think he could, and I’ll explain how, but for now let me explain why I had to go and see if he could.

I found a blaze that was in close match to the clues. I hadn’t yet figured out why the place would matter to Forrest Fenn himself. It’s the Colin Neblett Wildlife Management Area. It’s kind of the go to place for hunting, fishing, wildlife photography, and all things outdoors in New Mexico. It’s not a stretch by any means to imagine he’s very familiar with it. Still, I didn’t know why it might matter to him, as his final resting place. That is, until I re-read the book.

There might be other clues in the book. I suspect a few, but really I don’t know. There is, however, one story that stuck out and that is “Teachers With Ropes”. In the story, Forrest Fenn describes how when he first opened his gallery he would visit other galleries and see what they did that worked, and what didn’t. He goes on to say how every gallery had the words “DO NOT TOUCH”. It was offensive, and it affected him so much that when he opened his gallery, he encouraged people to touch everything (even an original painting of George Washington, to the gasps of teachers who brought their children to the gallery). DO NOT TOUCH, in bold red letters in the book, is the only colored type in the book. Forrest Fenn, the maverick, scoffs at this and tells everyone, please touch.

This is the idea that led me here, and kept me fixed: How amazing would it be for Forrest Fenn to place his bones, and his treasure, where the Maverick literally touches the big huge rock that screams Do Not Touch! It doesn’t take a poet to see how this would be his one, last eternal jab at the world. It’s a nice discreet location, quiet and solitary, but boldly says, “I’ll do what I want. I will touch that, thank you.” The Maverick touching Touch-Me-Not. I think Forrest Fenn would approve (and maybe did).

But could he get there? That’s the question.

Maybe. That’s all I can say. The first day, my dad and two brothers and I tried hiking up the creek itself. We got a late start because there was some confusion over whether the trail was closed due to elk calving, and we had to get GAIN permits to hike in Colin Neblett. We didn’t get started until around one o’clock in the afternoon. It took us three and a half hours to get halfway up the creek. To be fair, we took our time, and was looking for treasure. It’s a tough trail, though, and I think it could be said it is very, very unlikely that an elderly man made that trip twice from his vehicle in a single day, carrying 20 lbs. of weight each trip. I say unlikely, but I really mean impossible. I just don’t like that word.

There is a way, though, and I don’t think it’s that far-fetched. It would require him to take a 4WD up the switch-backs on Green Mountain and come in from behind, down the saddle between Green Mountain and Touch-Me-Not. To test this idea, on day two, I rented a Nissan Frontier (we had driven from Kentucky in a little car that got good gas mileage, but was completely inadequate for the mountains). We left pretty early in the morning and began the slow ascent up Green Mountain and parked a little ways from the top where we could take the old logging roads over the saddle. There’s descriptions of this route if you query the Touch-Me-Not trail in Google.

This route, completely doable by a 79-80 year old man, puts you just above the “blaze”. The old logging roads are a little rough, and the inclines are somewhat steep, but a man of determination could do them, especially if he was beelining to already decided location. It’s debatable. We certainly got tired, and spent a considerable time up there, but we were looking all over the place, even as far down as the creek itself. One of our party, my dad, is a sixty-three year old smoker, though, and we had just hiked half the creek the day before, and he took the trek in stride. A lot of people consider 79-80 year olds as next to invalid. I think there’s a wide variety in endurance at that age. It’s debatable, but again, I have him going to a singular location and not trying to cover the whole mountain. I think most people would be surprised at what a healthy, determined, elderly man is capable of, especially if he knows he only has to do it and then it’s done.

There’s other questions. He’s said on several occasions that he took two trips to his car. In one interview he slipped and said “truck”. You almost certainly have to go this route in a 4WD. It’s a pretty dangerous mountain road. Could he have taken a truck? Often I hear people say “car” when referring to their SUV. It’s unknown, at least to me.

I’ll admit, it’s a somewhat extreme place for Forrest Fenn’s treasure, more extreme than some of the other solves I have seen, but I do think it’s doable. And, seriously, what’s better than the Maverick touching that which says Do Not Touch? In fairness, all of Maverick Creek technically matches the clues, and we found evidence of other searches further down the creek, but The End of the Creek, is poetic and legendary. It’s worth the extra steps, and (I believe) fortune favors the bold. It’s the reason I went looking in the first place.

We looked pretty hard, but we had limited time and it’s a large search area. There are tons of boulders out there, and they all look like square chests. It would take much longer than we had to completely rule it out. Anyone who says it’s not at Maverick Creek isn’t being honest with you or themselves. It’s a huge area, and no one has completely searched it, all of it. Most of the time, I believed that I could have been within feet of it, and completely missed it, despite Forrest’s encouragement that if you get within twelve feet you’re likely to find it… unless it’s buried… unless it’s under a field of boulders… unless the creek algae has hidden it…. unless it’s been muggled… unless it’s under a mudslide… unless a tree has fallen on it… unless…

Screen Shot 2015-06-15 at 10.42.31 PM

So, that’s the solve I was operating under. If you follow up on it and find the thing, please let me know. It’s fortune and glory, kid. You take the fortune, let me share the glory.

Photos of the adventure

Please feel free to contact me:

Jeremy Parnell