The Dream Search…

SUBMITTED december 2014


My 14 year old son, Brendan, and I were debating about searching in New Mexico. We thought the warm waters fishing designation of New Mexico just had to be the warm waters Forrest was describing. I had pretty much ruled out the whole state based solely on the increased chance of snake encounters, but we had a few search locations that were just too good to dismiss.

Right as I was getting ready to rule out the trip to NM, they announced the Fennboree gathering. I thought this might be a once in a lifetime adventure, so I pulled Brendan out of school for a couple days (he didn’t argue too much) so that we could head out a little early and visit some of our search areas, as well as those we’d ruled out but wanted to see in person.

Three days before our road trip the plans for our destination changed dramatically. I haven’t had too many dreams about the Chase, but this one was so vivid and felt so real that we had to include this dream spot in our trip and made it the first stop of our journey. We had researched some areas near Taos, but not the area I dreamt about, so I’m not sure where some of the dream info came from?

Here’s some small tidbits from the dream, and our follow up search of the dream spot…

The Dream

In the dream, I was lying in bed looking at Forrest’s poem which I’d replicated exactly as it appears in the book on my bedroom wall. The large replica made it easy to reference the poem while I did some searching on my IPad before I went to sleep. I had been pondering “a word that is key”, and wondering if it could be “Brown” since it was capitalized.

I’m thinking of the capital letter “B”, and picturing it overlaying the whole poem in various ways. As I look at my poem wall, suddenly certain letters look a little more bold than others. I noticed that the bold letters formed the outline of a shape, but now it’s not exactly a “B” instead it’s the outline of an Omega…two Omegas on their side actually. I jump out of bed, grab a red marker and draw over the letters before they un-bold themselves. Suddenly, I realize the meaning of the line in the poem “The end is drawing ever nigh”, the Omega means “the end” and they have been “drawn nigh”.

Excitedly, I write down the letters that form the Omega shape. They spell out ,

“In Taos, in Taos Box, in the Upper Falls”.

At this point I’m starting to wake up, but I’m struggling to remain asleep as the “blaze” was the next part that was becoming clear in my dream.

Waking me is thinking “but there’s no “X” in the poem so those letters can’t be right”?

Sleeping me was thinking “exactly, there’s no “X”, because “X” marks the spot, it’s part of the blaze and”……but unfortunately waking me won out at this point.

In my still half asleep state, I rollover and grab my IPad, pull up the poem and draw a couple of omegas over it. Of course nothing lines up as perfectly as it does in the dream world.

I try a Google search to see if there is an area called “Upper Falls in the Taos Box”. Sure enough there is, and it’s the area for boaters to “Put In”. At this point I decided we had to go check this out! I changed all our plans and a few days later we were on our way to Taos.

The Search

Car loaded up , and we are on our way! Several hours later....

Car loaded up , and we are on our way! Several hours later….

Like our first search that we completed in Colorado, a road trip with a teenage boy involved lots of snacks, car dancing (mostly on my part), and singing.

Like our first search that we completed in Colorado, a road trip with a teenage boy involved lots of snacks, car dancing (mostly on my part), and singing.

We pulled up to a dirt parking lot in what felt like the middle of nowhere. We stretched and walked over to the trailhead to take a quick peek down the canyon wall, surely Forrest could make this trek twice.


We prepped for our adventure, changing clothes, rearranging backpacks to allow for a small box on our return trip, and grabbed plenty of water for our hike down to the edge of the Rio Grande. As we prepped, a truck with an older couple rolled up. We chatted for a little bit and found out that they were from Texas, and that this is one of the gentlemen’s favorite fishing spots. Fishing? YES! Brendan and I give each other a quick smiling glance. We’re even more excited at this point. We don’t share exactly why we’re there or why he’s out of school, we’re just hikers after all!

The TX gentleman decides to head down the trail to check things out, he’s coming back tomorrow alone to fish. His wife has no interest in hiking, and waits in the car.

A few minutes later we are packed up and ready to go when I see this:


Really? I take deep breaths and we blaze on…

It’s not much of a trail in many areas, and you step down over big rocks with plenty of snake hidey spots underneath. But it sure is an amazing view!


We decide to sing ” 100 Bottles of Beer on the Wall” to pass the time. I’m also thinking it might scare away anything in the area. As we step down over the big rocks we use our walking poles to tap the rocks below and make sure no snakes jump out at us (yes, to me they jump). Brendan starts saying, “No snakes, no snakes” at each big step down. Well, I don’t even want to hear that word, I tell him it sounds like he’s calling them to us. I ask him to call the snakes something else, and we decide on “Whammies”. So we trek on while we sing, “94 bottles of beer on the wall, 94 bottles of beer”….( tap tap with the pole, step down over the big rock)…”no whammies!, no whammies!… take one down pass it around, 93 bottles of beer…”.

A short ways down we come upon the man from TX who’s heard this whole discussion and singing, he’s completely red in the face from laughing at us. We nod, smile, and move on. 320 feet down and about a half mile later we reach the bottom.

It’s beautiful!


There’s a little path to the boat put in, and adjacent a small, corrugated roof shelter with a picnic table. We decide to sit and have a water break. I head towards the picnic table and immediately see a small snake slithering away a few feet in front of me. I did what came naturally, ran the other direction (probably towards more snakes) yelling “Little Snake, Little Snake!”. I run towards the river, down a narrow path with tall grass on either side. My backpack catches on the grass, flicking the tall grass, and the motion makes me think there’s another, bigger snake next to me. This of course sends me running back towards Brendan who is just standing there laughing at me and shaking his head.

We sit and have our water break at the picnic table. Once my heart rate came down, we decided to set off down river towards some big trees (could this be the “in the wood”). We scout out how to get there since most of the area is covered with tall grass and shrubs, with some random paths that deer or other animals have made.

The shelter is built adjacent to the rocky canyon wall. There is a narrow path less than 3 feet wide between the shelter and canyon wall that allows us to head in the direction we wanted to go. We set off with Brendan leading the way, we’re right between the structure and the rock wall when we hear a distinct “rattle, rattle, rattle” at head level …again I did what comes naturally and ran the other way. Yes, mom of the year award I know! Somehow Brendan followed?

Again a short heart rate break, as I stood frozen in apparently the only snake free clearing.

Me in my clearing

Me in my clearing

We decide to head the opposite direction, up the creek, no paddle required. We didn’t get far when we came to a point with big boulders and high water rushing by. There was one big dark colored rock with a mark on it. We get closer, it’s kind of an “X”, a blaze perhaps? Brendan’s face lights up.

He climbs up on the boulder and looks down in to the water on the other side.


No treasure, but I hear him shout “it’s really cool looking, lots of sparkly stuff in the water!” (Keep in mind we live in suburbia, so this is a big thrill for my young adventurer)

I’m not exactly sure what else there was to look at on the other side of this boulder, but he crawled around and checked it out thoroughly for quite some time.



We head back towards the picnic structure, thinking we could find another way to head down stream that is rattlesnake free. I’m leading when I hear Brendan say “Uh!” pretty loudly behind me. Apparently another snake slithered right behind me. I make it back to my snake free clearing rather quickly, and decided this was no place for us meek folk. I took a quick glance around at all the possibilities for treasure hiding spots, but we decided we just couldn’t do it. They all would most definitely include at least snakes, and after looking at all the deer trails I decided it just wasn’t safe for the two of us if something happened. Maybe we would come back to explore with the rest of our family another time. A few quick photos by the river and we head back up the hill, and on our way to the next search area….”43 bottles of beer on the wall…No whammies! No whammies!”.


Our First Treasure Hunt…

SUBMITTED August 2014
BY Julie


We found Cows, Laughter, Car Dancing, and a Fear of Heights…but no Treasure!

As my kids get older, the short amount of time I have left before they head to college is really starting to hit me. My new mantra is “Don’t Miss the Moment!”.

So when I saw the story about the Fenn Treasure on the Today show last spring, I thought it would be a wonderful way to create some memorable moments with my 12 year old son. The perfect way to get him away from his phone, video games, and out of his room.

I thought we’d start our search close to home, here in Colorado. I wasn’t really thinking we would find anything, for me it was really just about spending time together. My son on the other hand was hooked immediately. We spent hours researching online, talking about what the poem meant over dinner and drives to/from soccer. Soon, I too was totally in to the Chase!

We made a file folder with all our research. Apparently he felt this was top secret information, labeling it “Confidential” and then hiding it in my office. It would be several weeks before the snow melted and our search area opened. During those weeks, I would find our treasure file hidden in odd locations throughout the house. He said he had to move it in case someone (other treasure hunters apparently) broke in and stole it. Curious what runs through his mind?






As the weather warmed, he had me check daily if the area was open. Finally it was and we were off to the Black Canyons of Gunnison. We had narrowed our search to the North Rim Trail, the less touristy side of the canyon. We figured it was a possible location Mr. Fenn could have driven through on his way to Yellowstone. It was about a 6 hour drive for us from suburbia to our hotel. Then the next day about another 1.5 hours to the Canyons.




Apparently, long road trips involve lots of snacks!

And wildlife jumping in front of our car….

…car dancing/singing…..and my young photographer entertaining himself with my camera. Here’s his shot of a mountain we labeled “Butt Hill”. Which in 12 year old boy world was entertaining for about the next 25 miles.


The next day we set out for our target area, and had an interesting wildlife encounter, one we don’t see much in suburbia. As we came around a bend in the road it was filled with cows. With no other choice, we parked the car and just let them walk by. They were close enough to touch from the car. We sat there for about 20 minutes surrounded by cows and laughing. The my stomach is going to hurt tomorrow laughter. There were many cow jokes, “Close En-cow-nters”. I didn’t say good jokes!

Soon a guy on a horse (we wondered if we would still call them cowboys?) came by and told us we could drive on if we just went slow, that the cows would move. We were laughing so hard we decided we should just wait.


Finally we were getting close! We crossed the narrow road that was the dam where “warm waters halt”. This freaked my son out since the guardrails were basically nonexistent and it was a long drop down.


We arrived at the North Rim. This freaked me out, since there were no guard rails at all, and it was REALLY a long ways downs!


I took a look around, and immediately I knew we were not even close to being in the right area for the treasure. While it was absolutely breathtaking, we most definitely were not “in the woods” for most of our search area, and our clues didn’t line up quite like we thought.

But we trekked on…..

From the dam it was quite a ways down the canyon. Definitely an area too far to walk! We put in below the home of Brown, checking in at the Ranger Station.


From there this road was absolutely no place for the meek, with its sheer drop offs into the canyon. I never realized that I had such a fear of heights until I was driving along this road to our trailhead. My son just laughed and said, “don’t look, don’t look!” over and over.


There was “no paddle up our creek”, as we walked upstream along the edge of the canyon rim to the next clue. Heavy load was “Balancing Rock”. The photo doesn’t show it well, it makes it look like the boulder is attached to the wall. Actually, it was just balancing.


Just down from balancing rock, was “Kneeling Camel” rock, we reasoned that camels store water. So this could be water high.



We thought for sure we had found the blaze with “Painted Wall”. A painted marker that would be there forever.



We looked “quickly down” the trail that lead to the abandoned forest ranger’s station and an old outhouse. We thought several words in the poem referenced an outhouse: “go in peace” and it would be “cold” to use at night, “title” to the throne room. We did a thorough search of the area.

(This was before Mr. Fenn announced that the treasure was not associated with any outhouse or structure.)



Some of us searched more thoroughly than others.


With no treasure in hand we made our way back to a beautiful overlook, had lunch, and reassessed our clues and thoughts on the area. My son took a little break to climb a tree, the only time I’ve ever seen him climb a tree!


We got directions from the ranger, and opted to hike out to a stocked, high mountain lake we’d read about. Possibly another option for “water high”? We hiked out quite a ways (never finding the lake), until suddenly I had the feeling we were being watched. I looked around to see if there were other hikers (not likely) or some wildlife nearby (more likely). I couldn’t see anything, but decided it was probably time to head back. My son explored the rocks and terrain a bit on the way back, and found a bird wing.


He thought it could be an owl wing, and therefore a “wise” owl reference and the blaze, until I pointed out that it probably hasn’t been out there for several years. However, finding only part of a bird didn’t make me feel any better about the whole being watched feeling, so I was glad to be heading back to the car.

We both were a little disappointed on the return drive to the hotel. My son just looked out the window, and didn’t want to talk. I felt horrible about how upset he was. However, about thirty minutes later he perked up and started sharing some new thoughts on what the poem might mean. We spent the night hanging out in the hotel pool, discussing the day, and new treasure hunting ideas.

As we headed home (with more road trip snacks), my son shared many things I never knew about him. It was an amazing “moment” that lasted for hours. The most surprising reveal was how much he liked being outside, hiking, camping, and having adventures. He wished we did more of this with our family. This from my quiet, video gamer!

So last summer, we took a couple camping trips and signed him up for some adventure classes through REI. Between his birthday and Christmas he now has the most impressively stocked, wilderness survival backpack a boy could have. He wears it around the house quite often, with his version of an Indiana Jones hat (you see him wearing it in these photos).

Most importantly, we are preparing for our next treasure hunt. We are heading to northern New Mexico in May.
I find myself now doing research not only on New Mexico, but also on how and where to find arrowheads, artifacts, and petroglyphs. Any tips are appreciated! I know he would think our journey a success if he found an arrowhead (in addition to the treasure of course).

We have a few New Mexico areas scoped out, and are counting the days until our next trip. Our research is safely tucked in to file folders, which of course are hidden again somewhere in our house.


In a way I hope nobody finds the treasure for a long time, I’ll take memories and moments like these for as many years as I can. Thank you Mr. Fenn for this wonderful adventure!