Thinking About Far…

canyonMAY 2020
by dal


We shall not cease from our exploration
And at the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time


If a person will think, they can find the chest; but the secret is to think and analyze… they can find the chest.10:23
(4/2/13 – World Report)

One of the lines I find most perplexing in the poem is in the second verse:
Not far, but too far to walk.

As straight forward as that line seems, particularly in comparison to other lines in the poem, it is its very own riddle. For nearly ten years I have been trying to apply that line to dozens of solutions with no real sense of satisfaction.

How far is “not far”…and how far is “too far to walk”?

I’ve used distances that seemed correct for Forrest.
I’ve used distances that seemed right for an ant.
I’ve used distances that seemed applicable to me.
I’ve tried saying that if the distance is too far to walk then I should drive or take a bike.
And I’ve tried a lot of other ideas too.
But they all felt squishy…nothing really clicked into place…

I thought maybe my issue was with the word “far”…
Google’s definition of the word “far”-

at, to, or by a great distance (used to indicate the extent to which one thing is distant from another).
over a large expanse of space or time.

It’s that second definition that got me thinking.
What if Forrest is not talking about distance. What if he’s talking about time.
Okay…Forrest is clever but I don’t think that even HE has developed a way to travel through time…

But wait!
What about traveling through geologic time over geography..
That happen’s a lot…we all do it…particularly in the mountains.

It’s the actual Time/Space Continuum.
Think of a road cut through rock…or a canyon…

layersThe rim of a canyon can be millions of years distant from the floor of the same canyon.
As a river cuts a canyon through solid rock it exposes the layers of sediment and rock that were laid down millennia earlier…epochs earlier…eras earlier…TIME.
As we walk the length of the canyon we are walking through far stretches of time.

Too far to walk…It would be impossible to walk far through time…and certainly no one can walk a thousand years…that’s too far…except in geologic time. It’s commonly done…we do it all the time, without even thinking about it.

Maybe “far” is describing traveling through geological time as we move through a canyon…

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

Just thinking…


I started with nothing, and I still have most of it!










APRIL 2020
by dal


I have used several BIWWWH locations in my prime search area. I’ve shared a couple of them. They seemed pretty good to me on first light but two of my often used WWWH locations have pretty big holes in them…

Namely Ojo Caliente and Madison Junction…

Let’s start with OC. Ojo Caliente is a thermal event near Fountain Flats in Yellowstone. It rises out of the ground about 30ft from the the north side of the Firehole River at the Freight Road bridge and forms a small, very hot pond that empties through a series of small channels into the river. 

In his story, River Bathing is Best, Forrest tells of riding his bike from West Yellowstone out to this spot to take a warm bath before they had plumbing and hot water in his parents cabins. He wrote about how, by moving his body a bit in one direction or another in the river, either toward the hot spring water or away from it, he could find the perfect temperature for bathing. 

I tried this myself and things haven’t changed much in the 80 or so years since Forrest rode his bike out there..
I wrote about the experience HERE.

Forrest’s story about river bathing appeared in the West Yellowstone newspaper and on Forrest’s website before he announced the treasure hunt. It was not a story that was included in The Thrill of the Chase but it was included in his second memoir, Too Far to Walk. So the story has been around since before the chase began and is still around on his website. You don’t have to buy a book to read River Bathing is Best. Does that say something about its importance in the hunt for Forrest’s chest?

Maybe…But here’s the thing..If Ojo Caliente is the starting point, then why is it not mentioned…or even alluded to in TTOTC? After all, Forrest has insisted that the way to figure out the clues in the poem is to read the poem, then read the book, then read the poem again..then think…then read the book again…etc…

So it stands to reason that the clues are in the poem and the book is where we go to find hints about what those places the clues represent actually are…He never mentioned anything about there being any hints to the clues on his website or in the West Yellowstone paper…

So how in the heck is there any kind of hint in TTOTC that would point us toward Ojo Caliente???

It’s not mentioned in the book. It’s not hinted at in the book…How would we know to begin at Ojo Caliente by reading the book and the poem?
I don’t think we would. I don’t think anyone would.

This appears to be a fatal flaw against Ojo Caliente being the starting point.
And there’s more….

Listen to the idea that the clues are “contiguous”
From the Moby Dickens video at 47:35 in-
“They’re contiguous. I knew where I wanted to hide the treasure chest so it was easy for me to put one foot down, and then step on it, to get to the next foot, that’s what I did.”
Moby Dickens video is HERE.

What does that word “contiguous” tell us about the clues?
Simply that they touch one another. Where one ends the next begins. There is no space between them. As in the 48 contiguous States. They touch…where one state ends the next begins. Neither Alaska nor Hawaii are one of the contiguous States because they don’t touch any of the others. There is space between Hawaii and the other States. They are not contiguous with any of the other States.

So…for instance, “the canyon down” must begin at the place “where warm waters halt” ends. They must touch one another. The canyon must be pretty long because we take it “not far but too far to walk” and right at the end of that canon must be the place where we put in…and logic tells me that the Home of Brown is inside the Canyon since we are putting in below it and the “put in” has to be touching the end of the canyon. There is wiggle room here though…as long as everything is touching.

How does this negate Ojo Caliente as the place to begin?
Because there is no canyon touching Ojo Caliente is there?

Ojo Caliente is 30 feet from the Firehole River and the nearest canyon down from that place on the Firehole is 7 miles downstream at Firehole Canyon. Firehole Canyon and Ojo Caliente are not contiguous…

The only canyons contiguous to Ojo Caliente are the little canyons that the hot water has carved through the 30feet of travertine on the way to the Firehole River…but a 30foot canyon is hardly too far to walk…isn’t it? Even an ant can walk 30ft effortlessly.

Ojo Caliente seems to be a “no go” right from the start because the very next clue is not contiguous…there is no canyon that is “too far to walk” contiguous to Ojo Caliente…

If there is a simple litmus test for the place that we should begin, our WWWH…it should be these two questions:
1. Is this place somehow referred to in TTOTC or the poem…even remotely…even off-handidly…even microscopically?
2. Is there a canyon contiguously adjacent to this place?

Let me apply that same litmus test against Madison Junction.

Madison Junction is the place where two warm rivers end and a new river begins.
1. Does Forrest ever mention Madison Junction in TTOTC or the poem?
Is it mentioned off-handidly or remotely or candidly or microscopically?

The answer, I am afraid, as far as I can tell, is no. Forrest does not write about that place in particular nor symbolically by mentioning a mixing of waters or a meeting of rivers or the headwaters of the Madison. The place seems to hold no memories worth writing about for him.

2. Is there a canyon “contiguous” to Madison Junction?

Yes. The Upper Madison Canyon begins at Madison Junction and the newly formed Madison River travels through it for some 14 miles…although, exactly where in geographic terms the Madison Canyon ends seems open to geographic interpretation.

So that failure tells me that I should not use MJ as my BIWWWH.
Additionally, there is well-founded speculation that the upper Madison Canyon is really a valley and not a canyon. It is marked as a canyon on only one map that I could find and is more often referred to by fishers and rangers as the Madison Valley.

What Madison Junction has going for it is that it is a place where two warm rivers (warm waters), HALT. They both end at exactly that spot.

I still feel that the upper Madison River is generally the right place to look…It has all the other elements that I need…I just have to find the key…and a new starting place…

Of course, this is not a fact…it is merely my opinion, and my opinions tend to change over time. Failure to find what one is looking for leads most to change perspective on where to look.
You may have better opinions if you think about it.








Row, Row, Row Your Boat…




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.


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.


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.