A Straight Forward Colorado Solve……

leadville train

September 2019

By Aaron R.

 

A little preface before I get into my solution.  I based my solve primarily on the poem, giving it as straight-forward a reading as I possibly could—no hidden meanings or code-type solutions.  I don’t know whether this is the correct approach, its just the only one I was smart enough to attempt.  I ended up with no Indulgence, but perhaps some of my thoughts will aid my fellow searchers.  In any event, I was able to take my first ever trip to the Rocky Mountains which was a beautiful and spiritual experience beyond my ability to put into words.  Also, I didn’t take as many pictures of the clues as I would have liked, sorry.  In any event, here it what I came up with:

“Begin it where warm waters halt”— I chose Leadville Colorado. Just above Leadville is a point where three major watersheds halt (waters). All of these watersheds eventually end up in the Gulf of Mexico (warm). There is also a major molybdenum mine at this point (riches new) and this was a popular area for gold mining during the Colorado gold rush (riches old). Also, as other searchers have noted, Leadville is the highest incorporated town in the US– 10,200 feet. There is an airstrip and a hertz rental so Forrest could have hidden the treasure in a single day if he flew himself up. Finally, Forrest said he followed the clues when he hid the treasure. Any way you drive from Leadville you will, by necessity, have followed the clues.

“And take it in the canyon down, Not far, but too far to walk.”–  For the longest time I was thinking that the canyon started right at WWWH and that you took it in the canyon not far, but too far to walk.  After reading for the 1,000th or so time, I saw a different possibility.  “Not far, but too far to walk” refers to “down”, as in the canyon itself is located some distance away from WWWH.  I choose the canyon just below Red Cliff, Colorado.  

20190830 115412

Its about 21 miles from Leadville, too far to walk, but a fairly short drive.  One feature I liked about this canyon is that a road runs along its rim—about 500 feet up from the bottom.  Plus, its easily accessible via abandoned railroad tracks.  Another bonus that I didn’t realize until I was walking the tracks is that red raspberries grow along the entire canyon, and they were ripe as I made the hike.  Perfect Snacking!

20190830 114300

“Put in below the home of Brown.”—This is one I’m really upset that I didn’t take a picture of, but I’ll show the satellite photo that attracted me to the feature:

20190903 170458

I noticed that the cliff side had a very particular shade of brown coming down from the top.  In person it is even more dramatic.  To me it appeared to be as close to a “true” brown as you can get.  I did some research and the color is emanating from an abandoned mine called the Champion mine.  The primary mineral mined from Champion was siderite.  Siderite’s primary use is as pigment for brown paint.  To me, this sounded like the mine is the “home” of “Brown”—literally the color brown.  As for the capitalization, I’m not sure.  Maybe its because he was personifying Brown by giving it a home, maybe it’s a poet’s way of saying “brown” itself—the color.  In any event, it’s the best “home of Brown” I had come across that wasn’t related to a person.

“From there it’s no place for the meek,

The end is ever drawing nigh;”–  I’m not sure if there are two clues here, or just one.  I had identified Petersen creek from satellite photos as the place I wanted to go.  I had no idea if I could get up there safely from the canyon.  Luckily, it turns out that I could.  I believe that “no place for the meek” means that its time to leave the comfortable path—in this case the railroad tracks.  Just below the Champion mine, the side of the canyon gave way and I was able to head up into the trees.  It was off to the left, but I’m not sure if nigh is a clue for turning left or not, but a left turn into the brush is what I made.

“There’ll be no paddle up your creek”–  Petersen creek drops steeply down the canyon wall.  No paddling or even wading up this creek.

“Just heavy loads and water high.”—As I made my way up towards the creek, I could hear rushing water before I even arrived.  There were several smaller waterfalls and huge boulders on either side of the creek.  

20190830 122155

The picture doesn’t do it justice.  You can barely see it, but the waterfall continues above, through the branches.  This is about 200 feet up from the railroad tracks.

At this point I was pretty jacked.  I can honestly see how people get hurt looking for the treasure given how I was acting at this spot.  All though of personal safety was out the window.  Although it wasn’t life threatening, I could have easily broken a leg scrambling over rocks and criss-crossing the stream looking for a blaze.  Full. On. Treasure Mode.

Then I saw it.  I looked up and saw this large rock looked EXACTLY like a face.  I jumped because it was so startling.  Of course, I took a picture of it, and of course the picture was nowhere on my phone when I had left the area.  Sorry.  I climbed up– not too difficult—and looked all around.  Over, under, sideways, standing on top looking down, sitting on top looking down, sitting underneath . . . and on and on.  Nothing.  

I only spent about an hour looking over the area, but it wasn’t too large of a spot.  No other signs of a blaze (maybe I’m not wise enough) and no chest.  There were remains of mining structures in the area and signs of recent rock falls.  If the chest had been hidden at this spot, there’s no way one could be comfortable that it would remain intact for 10 years, let alone 100.  Plus I couldn’t see any mountains given how narrow the canyon was.  Still, it was pretty exciting.  I felt like I found things that could have represented 8 clues, but close doesn’t count in the chase.

Maybe someone will read something here that helps them find the treasure.  As for me, I might be done.  My only goal in this was to find a spot where the treasure could be located and go on an adventure to try and find it.  Mission accomplished!  

Aaron R.

 

 

 

 

 

Below the Trout Line…

bbfmca

August 2019

By FMC

 

Title reference: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PcMx7o2_L7I

Disclaimer: If you’ve read my previous two solves, “Going to See the Elephant” and “Crouching Flyer, Hidden Canyon”, you should know by now that this is going to be long. Get comfy.

2nd Disclaimer:  The majority of this was written in between my 2nd and 3rd BOTG in this area.  Where I have updated based on additional research during this interim, I will note so as to try and keep the evolution of the solve understandable/consistent.

“Eddie Dean blew breath into the key-hole of his memory. And this time the tumblers turned.”

– Stephen King, Wizard and Glass

How I Came to This Solve

For those that have been around the Chase for awhile, you may or may not remember my attempt to catalog and share potential specific WWWH. I had a website to submit them, but it didn’t get much traction and consisted mainly of those I culled from solves posted here on Dal’s and from my own ideas. Shortly before I gave up on it, the map looked like this:

1 Warm Waters Found Map

I also had a picture where I overlaid the TFTW map and it looked pretty sweet, IMO, but I couldn’t find that image so… sorry.

One of the last ideas I added to the list was all of the ski areas in the search area, thinking that melting snow/spring runoff halting the skiing season allowed for some poetic interpretation to WWWH, but wasn’t too far out there (like tears, blood, etc.) At the time (late 2017), I couldn’t find any ways to make the rest of the clues fit and I wrote off the idea. After my 2018 solve, which relied on “canyons” formed by the boundaries of wilderness areas, national parks, etc., I came back to the ski area idea to see if there were any fits with this new “canyon” interpretation.  One of the ski areas I looked at… was Red River Ski and Summer Area in Red River, NM.

The Red River area and in particular, the Red River Fish Hatchery as home of Brown, have been considered as potential clue solutions since the early days of the Chase. Cynthia referenced her first BOTG trip to the hatchery 4 years prior to this post from 2017: https://dalneitzel.com/2017/02/11/method_madness/

Dal looked in this area as well: https://dalneitzel.com/2013/03/23/looking-in-new-mexico/#comment-27093

The Wolf covered this area along with Taos in his book/posts and who could forget the infamous Goose Lake “photo of the Treasure Chest”: https://www.abqjournal.com/499766/man-says-he-found-then-lost-fenn-treasure.html

But my canyon down and home of Brown interpretation are different from anything online… could one of these early searchers in the area be the one “within 200 feet”?

A Few More Things on Red River, NM

Before we get into the rest of the poem, a few items (warning: possible confirmation bias) that point to Red River as a possible location. Some/most of these are not “new” revelations, but I’m not hunting down who/where they were first discussed to give credit… claim it as you see fit.

  1. 1)Red River and environs are in the Sangre de Cristo mountain range. Sangre de Cristo is Spanish for “Blood of Christ” which has ties to the “My church is in the mountains and along the river bottoms…” quote.
  1. 2)Also, using the map in TFTW and the latitude lines, Red River is more directly “North” than a lot of the rest of the search area.

1a Map Lines

  1. 3)Where it’s located in the mountains, Red River is one of the two closest getaways for Texans to escape the summer heat (this was born out by my BOTG trips and confirmed by multiple people I talked to). This ties to the target audience for TTOTC per FF: “Every redneck in Texas who has lost his job, has a wife and 12 kids, a pickup truck and a sense for adventure.”
  1. 4)There’s the obvious tie of Red River to “so we laughed and drank red tea” from Tea with Olga, but just south of Red River is Black Mountain – “so we sipped black tea and nibbled on Oreos”. Two of the three colors referenced in the story tie clearly to features in this area (we’ll come to “green” shortly).

2 Black Mountain

  1. 5)Ties to “treasures bold” and “hint of riches new and old” in the names of the Chairlifts at Red River Ski Area. As you can see, we’ve also got our third tea color.

3 Chairlifts

I would argue that gold, silver, and copper would be “riches old” while platinum, which, while discovered long ago, only recently became a popular option for jewelry (source: https://eragem.com/news/the-history-of-platinum-jewelry/) would be “riches new”.

  1. 6)The Ski Area in general as WWWH and the “nearly all are north of Santa Fe” comment from FF.  Obviously, most ski areas are north of Santa Fe, but there are a few that are south of Santa Fe (Sandia Peak and Ski Apache, for example).
  1. 7)This one’s admittedly a bit more tenuous, but in my last solve, I discussed the potential image hidden in the picture on page 28 of TTOTC in the story, Bessie and Me.

4 Shadowsv

And in the following, Flag Mountain (Flag) and Red River (Car/Truck) seem to match up pretty well, including the gap under the car/truck and the gap in the road just south/east of Red River. The man fishing is a less clear, but could be the end of the designated special trout waters (at the border of the Carson National Forest as per: http://www.wildlife.state.nm.us/download/publications/rib/2019/fishing/2019_20-New-Mexico-Fishing-Rules-and-Info.pdf) or, though the distances don’t match up well, the popular fishing area around Eagle Nest Lake.

5 Shadows Interpreted

Post-BOTG #2/Pre-BOTG #3 Interim Update #1

In looking more closely at the New Mexico Fishing Rules linked above, and the “Warm Waters” section more specifically, I noticed the Red River City Ponds listed, with one of the ponds “open only to anglers 12 years of age and younger and anglers/individuals with disabilities” which has some ties to the FF quote “I think kids have an advantage”.  Looking at the map, the city ponds are located right next to the Ski Area and the start of the Pioneer Creek Trail.

5a RR City Ponds

It’s possible that these city ponds are WWWH (people stop to fish in the warm water ponds) and the rest of the solve proceeds from here instead of the Ski Area.  Assuming the same general warm water definition (ponds, lakes, etc.) it would still hold true for the “nearly all of them are north of Santa Fe” comment.

Begin It Where Warm Waters Halt

With our general WWWH identified, there are various interpretations for “Begin it” and “take it in the canyon down”. These are as follows:

6 Begin It WWWH

  1. 1)“It” as the Pioneer Creek Trail down (South) from Red River Ski and Summer Area (primary focus).
  2. 2)“It” as the beginning of NM-578 (splits off from NM-38 which runs through town) and runs down (South) through the “canyon” formed by the borders of the Columbine-Hondo Wilderness (left) and the Carson National Forest (right). I will touch briefly on this route later.
  3. 3)“It” as the chase starting from Red River in a more general sense and down as lower in elevation to the West along NM-38 (I will come back to this in more detail later as an interesting backup solve).

Note: I’m sure everyone is familiar with FF’s “gut feeling” comment (link: http://mysteriouswritings.com/six-questions-with-forrest-fenn-and-the-thrill-of-the-chase-treasure-hunt-double-charmed/) from the 2018 edition of “Six Questions” and the update from June 28, 2018 where his “gut feeling is wavering” (link: http://mysteriouswritings.com/featured-question-with-forrest-fenn-and-the-thrill-of-the-chase-treasure-hunt-gut-feeling/). Potentially related to this is a partial forest closure for Carson National Forest, including the Questa district, of which this entire search area is part of. The closure was announced on June 25, 2018 and became effective on June 27, 2018 (link: https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/carson/news-events/?cid=FSEPRD584852). The closures were lifted in early July and lesser restrictions (no fires of any kind) were put in place.

Post-BOTG #2/Pre-BOTG #3 Interim Update #2

After returning from BOTG#2 and after deciding I needed to make one more trip for BOTG#3, I ordered Cynthia Meachum’s book, Chasing Fenn’s Treasure, which you can read more about and order here: https://store.bookbaby.com/book/Chasing-Fenns-Treasure.  I have long respected Cynthia’s efforts in the Chase and have said more than once that of all the other searchers, she’s the one I think most likely to find the chest. Her blog is well worth reading as well: http://www.chasingfennstreasure.com/.  

I referenced before her visit to the Red River Fish Hatchery in early 2017 and in Chapter 9 of her book, she details her Boston Acres/Middle Fork Lake Solve from later in the Spring of 2017 (similar to a solve area I looked at as part of my 2nd interpretation of “it”).  Towards the end of the Chapter, however, she outlines a series of connections she makes from FF Scrapbooks, Vignettes, etc. to this general area and also along Highway 38 west of Red River, all of which were made from early March 2017 to the end of April 2017, while she was looking in this area.  I’m not listing them here – buy her book if you want to see the details. She even provides a picture of her thumb tacks/tags on her map in the book.

6a Cynthia Map

Included with the permission of Cynthia Meachum.

Prior to reading her book, I couldn’t connect her Red River Hatchery post to FF’s “gut feeling” comment as the post was from early 2017 and his “gut feeling” comment was made in February of 2018.  After reading her book and the connections I touched on above, I looked at the book as the link between the two and realized it became available in December of 2017, after the 2017 search season, and just before FF made his “gut feeling” comment.  It’s entirely possible he thought someone buying the book would continue on the path that Cynthia began.

“It” as the Pioneer Creek Trail

I liked the Pioneer Creek Trail the most as it starts directly at Red River Ski and Summer Area. Even more, it starts behind Arrowhead Lodge and we all are aware of FF’s story of finding his first arrowhead and of references to arrowheads in general. Also:

7 Pioneer

If you consider the definition, it’s easy to see a hint to this Trail in “As I have gone alone in there” (unlike some other hints, I don’t think I’ve seen this interpretation anywhere). Additional hints to “Pioneer” include the story in TFTW, the world lost its darling, on Amelia Earhart, who he calls a “pioneer aviator.” If you squint a bit, the story of blotting out Philadelphia with his thumb could be a callback to Jim Lovell, who did a similar thing in blotting out the Earth with his thumb on the first (Pioneer) trip around the moon (source: https://www.newsweek.com/earth-behind-mans-thumb-96783).

Not far, but too far to walk.

Here you can see another view (looking South) of the Canyon and the distance (just under 3 miles) to the parking area at the top of the trail.

8 Canyon and TFTW

Three miles is far shorter than the typical estimate of ~10 miles for NFBTFTW, but there is an elevation gain from 8,670 feet to 10,020 feet.

Disclaimer: This is a 4WD off-road trail, though not an overly technical one. I did it with no off-roading experience twice in a Jeep and once in a large 4WD Dodge Ram (though all were stock rentals) and wouldn’t attempt it in anything smaller/less suited to this type of trail. I’m not going to get into the definition of “sedan” and whether or not this trail is excluded based on that comment. I will note that, based on Youtube videos of people going on this trail from years back and compared with my experience, the trail has deteriorated a fair amount since 2010.

Note: While it’s a hiking/off-road trail in the summer, it is also a snow-mobile trail in the winter which potentially speaks to the “probably retrieve it in any weather” quote from FF.

Put in below the home of Brown

I touched on the Fish Hatchery as a popular early HOB. For reference, in the following image, the Fish Hatchery is on the far left side, Red River is on the far right side, and Pioneer Creek Trail is marked in red:

9 Hatchery Latitude

How do we get below the Fish Hatchery along the Pioneer Creek Trail? Well, we’ve already started the process above, by looking at the big picture. 

The links between the latitude at the Fish Hatchery (36 degrees, 41 minutes, 0 seconds North) and FF’s father selling his ‘36 Chevy for a ‘41 Plymouth have been noted many times, but I like the clarity of Del Shannon in his piece (link: http://mysteriouswritings.com/where-warm-waters-halt-in-the-thrill-of-the-chase-treasure-hunt-by-del-shannon/):

“One evening, while re-reading the In Love With Yellowstone chapter I stopped after Forrest described his dismay after his father sold the families 36 Chevy for a 41 Plymouth. Why on earth was this such an important part of his life? And why didnt he use the numbers 19in front of these dates. Every other reference to a year in The Thrill of the Chase uses all four digits 1926 for example, the year his parents were married.

Forrests attempt at alarm over this car sale seemed insincere. After chewing on 36 and 41, which were details that seemed misplaced, and while using Google Earth to snoop around the Questa area, I noticed the latitude in the lower right hand corner. If I hovered the little electronic hand directly over the center of the village and it read 36 degrees, 42 minutes north. HmmmThen I moved it to the fish hatchery and it read exactly 36 degrees, 41 minutes, 0 seconds north. Holy crap!

10 Hatchery Latitude

Using a new interpretation of “below” (the word that is key?) with the Fish Hatchery’s latitude, you get this:

11 36 Degrees 41 Mins

And zoomed into the Pioneer Creek Trail, it crosses just above the “put in” – the parking lot/turnaround point near the end of the trail (circled).

12 Pioneer Creek Lat Line

Around where the latitude line crosses is also a section of the trail where the creek follows the trail and you basically drive into (alternative possible “put in”) and along the creek.

13 Jeep in Creek

It’s probably confirmation bias, but I see similarities to the cover of TFTW in the rocks/creek (it’s probably just how thousands of creeks in the search area look).

From there it’s no place for the meek

I maintain my simple interpretation of this clue – this is where we exit our vehicle and go into the wild (specifically at the parking area referenced above).

The end is ever drawing nigh

There are two possible interpretations for this line:

14 Drawing Nigh

  1. 1)Search the draw (geographical feature) on the left as you head further along the trail.
  1. 2)Continuing up the trail, you are getting closer (drawing nigh) to the end of the trail, which is gated off.

There’ll be no paddle up your creek

Obviously, there’s continuing along Pioneer Creek from the search area (both upstream and downstream as “no paddle up” could refer to the shallowness of the creek or which direction to take), but looking at a topo map of the area, there’s also a creek coming down from the draw.

15 Creeks

Just heavy loads and water high

For the Pioneer Creek route, this is easy – Pioneer Creek goes past a field of rocks dug out from when this area was mined extensively and goes up to Pioneer Lake.

16 Pioneer HLAWH

It’s less clear interpreting HLAWH up the draw’s creek.  There is the Bunker Hill Mine shown on the topo map, but “waters high” is a mystery… perhaps there’s a waterfall somewhere up the creek.  

17 Draw Creek HL

It’s also possible to interpret NPUYC and HLAWH as still being related to Pioneer Creek and the “no” being not to go that way and to go towards the “end” that’s “drawing nigh”.

200 Foot/500 Foot Searcher Test

For the “along Pioneer Creek” interpretation, I considered the 500 foot test to be anywhere along the actual trail, though most likely originating at the Parking area.  The closer 200 foot test would be if someone decided to go look at the creek or went further up the road to where the gate is.

18 PC 500 and 200

For the “searching up the draw” interpretation, the 500 foot line starts higher up the road closer to the gate. There’s a hiking trail on the other side of the ridge and the 200 foot line intersects would be for someone that went up that trail (possibly not searching).

19 Draw 500 and 200

BOTG for this Solve (Trips 1-3)

In and around the Red River area, I took 3 BOTG this past summer, and searched this area each time, approximately as follows:

20 PC BOTG

There were not too many “blazes” – this is probably the best one (from BOTG #1):

20a PC Blaze

I hoped to be done with this area after my second trip, but I was concerned on trip #1 that we (my wife and I) were above the draw and not in the draw and that we could potentially have missed something. I also considered the possibility that the gate could be the “end” that’s “drawing nigh” and that “no paddle up your creek” could be to not go further up Pioneer Creek and that a pile of rocks  on the east end of the parking area could be the blaze.  I would then apply my “look quickly down” interpretation of “quickly” = one second (of latitude), which is approximately 100 feet (for this location). “Down” could either be south or lower in elevation.

Once I got to the parking area on BOTG#3, I knew my memory of the rock pile had fooled me and that it was not the Blaze.  I searched up the draw again as outlined above, but did not look perpendicular to the rock pile.

End poem interpretation where “It” is the Pioneer Creek Trail

“It” as the beginning of NM-578 (#2)

6 Begin It WWWH

NM-578 starts towards the Southeast end of town and winds down through the Valley of the Pines.  There were three main areas I was interested in using this “it” – Goose Creek Trail (note: the hiking trail, not the off-road trail), the Middle Fork Lake Trail/Bull of the Woods Creek, and Sawmill Creek off of the East Fork Red River Trail.

These were less developed solves with more tenuous interpretations so I’m going to go over them a bit more briefly…

Goose Creek Hiking Trail

This used the same HOB methodology, with the latitude of the Fish Hatchery.  The Goose Creek Trailhead and parking area are the first “put in” below that latitude.

21 Goose Creek Overview

The trail crosses the creek in multiple places without any bridges (“worth the cold”) and the creek is shallow (“no paddle”).  It leads to Goose Lake (“waters high”) and is in the general direction of Gold Hill (“heavy loads”?)  On BOTG #1, I searched up the closest (“nigh”) draw and planned to search up the first draw with a mapped creek on the left side of the Goose Creek (“drawing nigh”) on BOTG #3, but I ran out of time (and also no longer thought it a likely hiding place for the chest).

22 Goose Creek BOTG

Note: There is a bridge that crosses Red River from the Goose Creek parking area to the actual trail that is Private Property. Historically, the land owner had granted hikers use of the bridge, but the property was sold in 2018, and while the new owners initially did the same, something changed in early 2019 that made them stop granting that access (Ranger theory was that there was some kind of altercation with a hiker).  Accordingly, the owners put up a sign that the bridge was Private Property and to contact the Questa Ranger District, effectively making the trail legally inaccessible (barring a sketchy water crossing of the Red River).  The Ranger District plans to get a legal right of way for the bridge based on historical use or build a new bridge further upstream, but the timing of either of those events is unknown.

Post BOTG#3 Note: The sign has since been removed.

Goose Creek Jeep Trail

Though it didn’t work for my HOB interpretation as the entrance is north of the fish hatchery’s latitude, I did consider this trail briefly, primarily because of the Goose Lake “photo” and, per the reporter who wrote the story, FF’s insistence that there wasn’t anything to it (which seemed out of character for him).  While  I never searched up this trail, this spot seemed the most likely, though it was approximately 1.6 miles up the trail (and with 1,000 feet of elevation gain) and I questioned whether it was further than FF would have gone.

22a Goose Creek Jeep

While this is technically a Jeep trail, I wouldn’t recommend going up it for safety reasons (see Travel Tips for Red River #3 at the end of this write-up).

Middle Fork Lake Trail

I tried to search this trail on BOTG #1, but it was still snowed in so I went on BOTG #2. HOB for this interpretation was Beaver Ponds (where marked below) on a map (that I can’t seem to find again). “Waters high” would be Middle Fork Lake.  I considered Bull of the Woods Creek as a potential “blaze” and wanted to get over to the base of it, but I couldn’t find an acceptable way across the river (and didn’t worry too much about it – if Doug Scott couldn’t get there, it probably can’t be done: http://www.dougscottart.com/hobbies/waterfalls/bullwoods.htm).

23 MFL Overview

I also went along the Elizabethtown Ditch for awhile.  Found a blaze or two and some tarry scant and even some marvel gazes, but no treasure.

24 MFL Collage

East Fork Red River/Sawmill Creek

This trail starts east of the Middle Fork Lake Trail with a lot of the same interpretations…  Creek in a draw going to the left, waterfall as “HLAWH” (source: http://www.dougscottart.com/hobbies/waterfalls/sawmill.htm), plus sawmill links to “in the wood.”  For my BOTG trip here, I misread where the actual falls were so I actually went past them without seeing them. I trust that since Dal was here, it’s been well-searched.

25 Sawmill Creek

End poem interpretation where “It” is the Beginning of NM-578

“It” as the Chase and “down” being in elevation along NM-38 to the West (#3)

26 NM38 West Overview

This interpretation started with the Columbine Creek Trail as an emergency backup for BOTG #2 using primarily the Fish Hatchery latitude idea for “below the home of Brown” and not much else in the way of solved clues once heading down the trail (this was born out by my hiking along it for awhile and not finding much else of note…)  I also wanted to re-check The Wolf’s foray up into Bear Canyon as he posted some interesting pictures and I just wanted to poke around/confirm he didn’t miss anything (details of his trips can be found on Chase Chat or by using the WayBack Machine or you can buy his book). As I understand it from his writing, he crossed via a fallen tree approximately across from Bear Canyon and then searched up into the canyon. 

27 The Wolf BC

I forget exactly how he came to this point, but I think I re-interpreted it as Bear Canyon being “home of Brown” with the canyon (on the left coming from Red River) as “drawing nigh”, the power lines as “heavy loads”, and the creek/waterfalls he found as “waters high”.  It wouldn’t matter, however, as I couldn’t find an acceptable way across the Red River.  This was the best option and even in the Dodge Ram, I wasn’t the least bit interested:

28 Hard Pass

Put in below the home of Brown

While I distinctly remember having this thought about FF’s potential playfulness while looking at Columbine Creek ahead of BOTG #2, I didn’t consider it a real possibility until after re-looking at the map ahead of BOTG #3…

Could the Chevron Moly Mine be “home of Brown”?

FF did say in an interview once that “you’re gonna have to solve the riddle that’s in my poem.” (Source: www.tarryscant.com; https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/isaac-cole/on-the-road-with-charlie/e/50089487)

Could this be a play on another popular “home of Brown” choice – the Molly Brown house in Denver (or associated Molly Brown-related places)?  I wouldn’t put it past FF to have it be just that.

It’s been pointed out before, but there are also possible hints to the Moly mine in the image of the Man with the Axe and Cutdown Trees on page 146 of TTOTC as there are no trees on the mine.

28a Moly Mine

With the connection (the Moly Mine as HOB) better established in my mind, I looked again at the area, and the road crossing the Red River from the image above (the closest “official” crossing) is just past (and below/lower in elevation) the entrance to the Moly Mine and is 8.8 miles from Red River (closer to the generally accepted TFTW distance of ~10 miles).

29 River Crossing Overview

30 8 8 Miles

Crossing the river, there are a number of possible clue interpretations, primarily with Bear Canyon as “no place for the meek” both in the not being afraid sense (bears) and also not being quiet (making noise to alert bears to your presence).  There is a small creek that goes up Bear Canyon (“no paddle up your creek”) as well as fallen boulders and waterfalls (“heavy loads and water high”) as identified by The Wolf.

However, there are also draws to the left (south/southeast of the “put in”) and on the left side of the river as you go towards Bear Canyon and Red River itself could potentially be “your creek” and there exist then the same “no paddle up” possibilities for the river being too swift to paddle against or meaning to go downstream.  There are power lines and rock piles/rocky outcroppings (“heavy loads”) all along this side of the river and a creek back towards Red River as potential “waters high”.

31 Options

And the 500 Foot/200 Foot quotes are only marginal help as the road and/or Red River (people fishing) provides cover for people being within 500 feet, while The Wolf’s search up Bear Canyon and searchers potentially staying at Goat Hill Campground/fishing the Red River south of the campground provide explanations for potential 200 footers. (Personally, I thought something up Bear Canyon was more likely.)

32 BC 500 and 200

BOTG #3 to Bear Canyon

In late August, the Red River flowrate was approximately half of what it was for BOTG #2 and I was able to cross without any difficulty.

33 Lower Water

I found the creek and proceeded up Bear Canyon along a trail (I couldn’t tell for sure if it was a human trail or a game trail):

34 Trail

And soon found The Wolf’s spot (and the Iron Bar from his adventure):

35 Iron Bar

(If that’s actually a piece of an old Spanish sword or something, well, you know where to find it…)

I continued up past the waterfalls and soon noticed that, despite going up the only possible canyon, the sound of running water had diminished and eventually disappeared.  As I’d previously considered a natural spring/something with water tables to be the reason behind the FF quote “physics tells me the treasure is wet,” I made a mental note to investigate further on my way back down.

A little further on, I came to a large rock with an overhang/gap on one side. Inside, the gap was filled with sticks (“in the wood”) and dead grass, which, as the gap was well above the creek and on the downside of the rock, seemed unlikely. 

36 Sticks in Gap

I cleared out the sticks and debris, but found no chest.

Continuing up the canyon, I happened to look up and see this:

37 Rock W

I’ve too young to have seen It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, but I’m aware of the “Palm Tree W” from the movie.  Could this be a “Rock W” and be the Blaze?  Given the angle, it’s certainly something that you couldn’t see from Google Earth (FF: “Google Earth cannot help with the last clue”).  I also estimated that it was approximately 200 feet from the trail I was on to the base of the cliff below the “W” – could that be why someone was able to get within 200 feet?

I hiked over/up to the base of the cliff, though I did notice there was still a faint trail to follow.  At the base of the cliff was an overhang with a decent enough view, some blackened (“tarry”) rocks, and some fragrant pine trees.

38 Decent View

But I soon noticed something else… the presence of climbers…

39 Climbers

Okay, I thought to myself, maybe the Climbers were the ones who were within 200 feet.  So I continued along base of the cliff, looking around larger rocks and at the base of pine trees.  I noticed a weirdly colored rock uphill a bit and went to check it out.  It was just a rock, but a little bit beyond that rock was a mine entrance, and in that mine entrance was a plastic bin with rocks on top of it.

40 Bin

 I doubted the treasure chest was inside, but maybe some gold from the mine? Something else interesting (and valuable)?  Not really… it was just climbing equipment that the climbers didn’t want to carry back and forth every time they came to climb.

I looked further around and saw more climbing equipment (carabiners and rock bolts) in the cliff face of the only other way to go and decided to head back.

I went further up the main trail a little bit, before deciding that I’d gone further than FF could have done to hide the treasure twice in an afternoon.  I regret not going a bit further as I think my side trips could have impacted my tiredness estimate relative to FF who would have known right where he was going.  One way, I estimate I hiked a little less than a mile with approximately 500 feet of elevation gain so there’s some potential still for anyone that wants to check further up into Bear Canyon.

On my way back down, I did locate the expected spring, which was just above the 2nd, approximately 3-4 foot, waterfall.  

41 Spring

I considered finding the spring possibly being related to “if you’ve been wise” with that waterfall as the Blaze, but couldn’t find a way to get to the area just below the waterfall.  I did look all around and below the spring itself, but didn’t find anything.

I did also search the dry creek/area southeast of the “Put in” and found a few potential “blazes” but not much else. This area seems like it gets more campers/visitors/high school kids drinking.  Exhausting that area, I called it quits and headed back to town for a beer.

Travel Tips for Red River

Should you find yourself in the area (hunting for the chest or otherwise), a few tips.

  1. 1)The bar at the Red River Lodge has some excellent musicians playing live music most nights from 6-9 (at least during the summer). I also splurged on a steak here one night and it was excellent.
  1. 2)Explore around for dinner as you like, but until you get tired of eating there, I’ll recommend the Major Bean Sandwich and Coffee Co. for breakfast and lunch. 
  1. 3)Unless you’re a very experienced off-roader, don’t go anywhere near the Goose Lake Off-Road trail.  Trail repair in the last several years has faced some serious budget constraints and it is currently unsafe (based on my research).  If you look for them, there are articles outlining approximately 1 death/year on this trail (from vehicles sliding off the road down steep embankments). A lot of the Jeep/off-road rental places in town don’t let you take their equipment on this trail at all.

Conclusion

After eight BOTG trips, zero injuries, and zero bears seen, I’m going to call my TTOTC a success, despite not finding the treasure.  Never say never, but I expect this to be my last solve attempt.  Frankly, I’m out of new ideas.  But in sharing my solves, maybe someone will use some of my ideas in their own solve (I have not applied my “latitude of Red River Fish Hatchery” and interpretation of “below” to the Lamar Ranger Station) or build upon my ideas with their own additions.

Good luck to everyone and please find it (closure would be nice) and thanks to Forrest for creating the Chase. I’ve had some good trips with family, some solid adventures, and a healthy dose of nature and I’m glad for the time I’ve spent in the Chase.

Cheers.

-FMC

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Think The Chest is Here…

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Many searchers have decided the chest is in a general area…maybe even a specific area of the known universe of the Rocky Mountains north of Santa Fe. So this is the place where we can talk about where we, as individuals, think the chest is at…Don’t give away too much though… 🙂

dal…

I Think The Chest is Here…Part Four

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This page is now closed to new comments. To continue this discussion please go to the newest I Think The Chest Is Here page.

Many searchers have decided the chest is in a general area…maybe even a specific area of the known universe of the Rocky Mountains north of Santa Fe. So this is the place where we can talk about where we, as individuals, think the chest is at…Don’t give away too much though… 🙂

dal…

Chasing Forrest’s Treasure…

 

DECEMBER 2017

 

Unless you live on an ice floe in the arctic you probably know about Cynthia’s book, “Chasing Fenn’s Treasure”.

This is a great book not only about searching for Forrest’s chest but also about the best hikes in northern New Mexico, and even more specifically, about enjoying yourself in the great outdoors. This is NOT a book about cracked up solutions and secret codes …this is a book about searching with style and joy and persistence over several years in some of the prettiest country northern New Mexico has to offer. It is a journal of Cynthia’s remarkable treks and it is a guide to places near and dear to everyone looking for solace and Indulgence in New Mexico.

What makes it better than the norm is Cynthia’s captivating storytelling, her cheerful approach to searching and her delicious photographs. This is a book that is going to make you want to hike around in NM whether or not you believe the chest is there. But if you do believe the bronze chest is resting somewhere in the Land of Enchantment then this is not just a good read…it’s a necessary guide. There is just no sense searching in NM until you’ve looked through this informative journal.

The book itself is certainly impressive. It’s a full 8.5 by 11 inches with a full color, glossy card cover. Inside there are 129 information filled pages…practically everyone of them contains full color, beautiful photos that fundamentally illustrate her searches but also excite and delight the reader.

I’m not the only fan of this book…Forrest said this:

“Cynthia, I love your book. You are a natural for the chase, so full of energy and fun. f”

The way you get your hands on the book is to order it directly from BookBaby. You can find out more about ordering and even check out sample pages, here:

https://store.bookbaby.com/book/Chasing-Fenns-Treasure

Ohh…and if you want a signed copy…it’s possible. Cynthia told me all you have to do is buy a book and then take her out to lunch… 🙂

I’ve been to lunch with Cynthia and I have to say, it’s an enviable experience…

dal-

 

 

 

Home of Brown…Part Five

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This page is closed to new comments. To continue the discussion please go to the newest HOB page.

 

This is for a discussion about “the home of Brown” in Forrest’s poem.

Got an HOB that didn’t work out…or maybe you need an HOB for a certain area…or perhaps you have an idea that needs some fleshing out..

This is the place to discuss all things HOB…

dal…

Home of Brown…Part Four

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This page is now closed to new comments. To continue the discussion please go to the latest Home of Brown page.

 

This is for a discussion about “the home of Brown” in Forrest’s poem.

Got an HOB that didn’t work out…or maybe you need an HOB for a certain area…or perhaps you have an idea that needs some fleshing out..

This is the place to discuss all things HOB…

dal…

Nez Perce Creek…

September 2017
by dal…

 

Everyone who knows my name probably knows my search area. It has not changed a great deal in the past few years. I looked elsewhere when I first went out in 2011 and 2012. But since about 2013 I’ve concentrated on the greater Yellowstone area. That is not to say inside Yellowstone National Park precisely. But in the general area of Gallatin County, Park County, Yellowstone and a bit further north.

How come my area is so vast you ask…?

Well…I say…because I go where the clues lead me and there are many, many choices as I move along my path. It takes me time to explore all the possible routes.

I pointed out a couple weeks ago that I felt the poem is not unlike a mideveal labyrinth or maze. They are different from one another. Which one of these puzzle types has become more clear to me over time. I originally thought Forrest had designed a labyrinth. A long route that twisted and turned. The single path was simple to navigate…but long and twisty. Here is a two dimensional representation of a labyrinth:

Since then, I have decided that what Forrest has really constructed is a maze. A maze differs from a labyrinth in that a maze has many false doors. The route is not direct. Many choices have to be made along the path about which doorway to go thru.The problem with a maze is that you don’t know you have chosen an incorrect path until you’ve followed it to it’s dead end. Then you have to retrace your steps back to your last choice and try a different door. Of course it can be more complicated because the maze could be constructed with doors behind doors so the choices are exponential with hundreds of more chances to be wrong than right. And, of course, all the paths, all the doors look the same so it is sometimes not so simple to see that you’ve been in this same place before.

We’ve all seen mazes drawn out on paper as a child’s puzzle in a magazine or puzzle book. They look like this:

In the mideveal world mazes were often actual devices…physically constructed out of hedges or fences or walls. Garden mazes are sometimes used as plot devices in dramatic films and recently corn mazes have become fashionable around halloween.

Fortunately, with Forrest’s maze I can, at least see where I have been before. Each choice may look different but there are many to choose from. No path is a known winner in advance. You will not know if you have made the correct choice until you come to the end. If there is no chest at the end then somewhere along the path you went thru an incorrect doorway. But which one?

Forrest says there are nine clues. I think this means nine correct doorways. If I get to the end and there is no chest, how far back do I have to go to try again? In my case I go back to the last choice I had to make and try again from there. Once I have tried all those doorways without success I go back to a further choice and try again….and on…and on…

I think you can see why it takes so long to move through the possibilities…

Apparently I am bad at making choices.

Of course all this is based on the premise that I’ve selected the correct place to begin. If I have not done so then all I will ever have are some wonderful hiking experiences…which is okay with me. I would love to find the chest but not to the point of distress when I don’t . Locating Indugence is not the driving force behind getting out and looking for it.

Okay…so what is the driving force…

I’ll take you through my last attempt so you can see how this works for me.

My startiong point for many years has been Madison Junction inside Yellowstone Park.

Madison Junction, Yellowstone National Park – Where the waters of the Firehole and Gibbon Rivers meet and where the Madison River begins. WWWH?

This starting place is based on a lot of thinking about “where warm waters halt” that I did over a couple years. I, like everyone, was bumping around in the dark about WWWH. I tried a few different things but none of them really clicked in my mind until Madison Junction. I feel good about Madison Junction and for the time being I am using it. But I also constantly consider what might be better…what Forrest really could have meant.. That is to say, I am keeping my options open even though I presently work from Madison Junction.

Since “where warm waters halt” is the place to begin it is certainly the most critical clue to identify. If I am wrong about where to start none of the other clues will lead me to Indulgence…but they do lead me on interesting adventures.

I had always felt that WWWH had to be a place of significance. It couldn’t just be another geyser or hot spring because there are thousands of those things in the RMs and as hard as I tried I could not make any single hot spring stand out above any other in the poem. There did not appear to be any identifying words or lines in the poem that would point to one hot spring over another.

I originally thought the Rio Grande River where the cold water springs start enriching it and making it viable for trout was a good place for WWWH. Those cold springs are common knowledge among fishers in that area. My first twenty or so searches began at that location around the place where the Rio Grande crosses into NM and they ended at various locations in New Mexico.

Frustrated with the places that I saw in NM, most beat to death by tourists and fishers, I felt that none met my criteria for a place Forrest would choose to be his last view on earth.

After reading the book again and again looking for hints I decided to look for a more prominent place as WWWH. I first saw Madison Junction while visiting the park to capture footage of grizzlys for a film project I was working on. Years later after being convinced that my place on the Rio Grande was not working out I was reminded about Madison Junction.  It struck me as a likely spot for Forrest to choose and to know about as WWWH.

I was also drawn to the Yellowstone area because of Forrest’s remark about Yellowstone being a “special” place to him according to a document that Tony Dokoupil read and wrote about in one of the very first stories written about the treasure hunt, back in 2012. And I was also interested in a location that met the criteria Forrest mentions while answering a question framed by mdavis19 about specialized knowledge required:

Q- Is any specialized knowledge required to find the treasure? For instance, something learned during your time in the military, or from a lifetime of fly fishing? Or do you really expect any ordinary average person without your background to be able to correctly interpret the clues in the poem? -mdavis19
A- No specialized knowledge is required mdavis19, and I have no expectations. My Thrill of the Chase book is enough to lead an average person to the treasure. f

To begin, there was signage at Madison Junction describing it as the place where the Gibbon and Firehole rivers both end and as the start of the Madison. This is an atypical geographic situation. Not unique, but not terribly common either. Often a lake might have two or more streams feeding it and one leaving it that takes a new name. But Madison Junction is not considered a lake. It is simply a basin where two rivers pour in and one leaves. The single caution that I have about the place being Forrest’s WWWH is that it is simply a human decision that the Firehole and the Gibbon end and the river that leaves this place is a new river called the Madison. Why didn’t those same men decide that the Gibbon joins the Firehole in this location and the Firehole continues? It’s a subjective opinion…made by early geographers in the area. Forrest did point out that a comprehensive knowledge of geography might help.

Q- Mr. Fenn, Is there any level of knowledge of US history that is required to properly interpret the clues in your poem. 

A-No Steve R, The only requirement is that you figure out what the clues mean. But a comprehensive knowledge of geography might help.

Even more unusual in this scenario is the fact that both the Gibbon and the Firehole are “warm” rivers. Not at all cold as you might expect from a couple of mountain streams descending from higher elevations. They are both physically warm to the touch, comfortable to sit in. In the heat of summer they are often too warm for trout who have to escape up cooler side streams. These rivers are warm because they pass through geyser basins full of hot springs and other thermal events that drain into the rivers and heat them up.

The plural of “waters” might refer to the two rivers that halt in this spot.

Signage and descriptions of the curious geographic confluence at Madison Junction appear on visitor maps and brochures. It is a widely understood location for  the place where two rivers end and a third begins. All these rivers were mentioned in TTOTC. This was better than any hint I had for any possible WWWH location in NM. So I adopted it as my WWWH. I can assure no one that it is correct…and I may change when/if something better catches my eye. But for now Madison Junction is my place to begin.

Shortly after, I began my understanding of the poem as a puzzle…possibly a maze or a labyrinth, but certainly one or the other. I would have choices to make about words in the poem like “down” and “below” and “nigh”. The choices I made would lead me in specific directions. What I needed to do was try to decide how Forrest would think about these words. The book helped me some there too. I found other useful hints about Forrest and language in the video interviews and many stories he has given us. I paid attention but tried not to let the research take me deeper than I needed to be for my particular solution…

As stated, my WWWH is at Madison Junction.

Madison Junction- Gibbon enters from the right. Firehole enters from the south. Madison leaves to the left.

From that location I immediately have a decision between three routes…or three doors that I can use.

First, take it (the Madison River) downstream into the Madison Canyon and beyond toward Hebgen Lake.

or

Second, I can take it (the Firehole River) down (south) into the Firehole Canyon.

or

There is a third sketchier route but I can’t rationalize that one so I won’t discuss it so that you cannot accuse me of taking too big a bite of peyote.

So right off the bat my maze begins. I have two choices and must select one to try out. I tried the Madison first. I spent two years looking at that path for a hoB. The obvious choice is Hebgen Lake. A spawning area for Brown trout. Many hundreds (maybe thousands) of folks have considered this route. I have been uncomfortable with it from the start…Folks have examined the lake and all its tributaries and gone below the dam as far as Ennis trying to make this path work. It may be the second most popular search area, right after the Enchanted Circle in NM. Diggin Gypsy seems to have patented the search in this area. She’s been looking around there for  5? years now. What could she miss that I could find?

I managed to find an actual hoB above the lake. But it is an historic place and according to Forrest a knowledge of history is not required. None-the-less I looked for a year there. I could find things that encouraged me about meek and water high and heavy loads. I could even find a creek I could not paddle. But in the end, I could only find one convincing blaze and beyond that I could locate no chest..

So after two years in that area I retreated back to Madison Junction to explore another path. Heading south (down on a map) on the Firehole river and into the Firehole Canyon. Again, the hints and clues seem to work. I have two possible hoBs down this path. So the maze expands when I go in this direction. One choice is at Nez Perce Creek where the first Brown trout in the Park were stocked by the Army. More Brown trout…eeek.

Another is at Lower Geyser Basin where two fellows, one named Brown tried to stake out some land for themselves in 1870 so they could lay claim to the wonderful sights in that area and charge admission to see them. These fellows even started cutting fence poles in Firehole Basin. They were dissuaded from their entrepreneurial scheme by Nathanial Langford, a member of the Washburn Expedition who pointed out to them that the area would soon be a National Park and commercial holdings would not be tolerated.

Lower Geyser Basin – Yellowstone National Park

I liked this hoB…but in the back of my mind it seemed too esoteric and dependent on reading one small book written by Langford in 1870 titled “The Discovery of Yellowstone Park” . The account was nowhere else that I could find. Forrest clearly ruled out a knowledge of history would be required when he answered the question from Steve R. mentioned earlier.

So I began looking at other possibilities. But giving up on historical connections, in spite of the fact that Forrest had stated that US History was not needed….is difficult because I love to investiogate the history of the land where I stand at any particular moment…

I can sit down on a battlefield and imagine the battle. I can see individuals fighting for their lives. I can hear the sounds and feel the heat. I can smell the powder and hear the gun shots. It all plays out like a movie in front of me. It is an adrenaline rush. I can stand in a coulee in Washington and imagine the unimaginable mountain of water that poured out of the east to carve this thing I’m standing in thousands of years ago. When I pick up an arrowhead I can hold it tightly and imagine it being crafted . I can feel the breath of the individual carving it as I peer closer at his hands. History is intoxicating to me.

So, in June of 2017 when I visited the Lower Geyser Basin in Yellowstone National Park I was armed with the knowledge of what I believed to be three clues, and I was hunting for a fourth. I wanted to explore Nez Perce Creek as a possible “no paddle up your creek” but I also wanted to walk along it and see if I could conjur up the events that took place here. The history of the creek not neccessarily related to its potential as a clue…but interesting to me…Finding those connections alone would make the search delicious.

Confluence of Nez Perce Creek and Firehole River in Yellowstone National Park

There are many tales of fantastic human feats accomplished in Yellowstone. The tale that has conjured up the most interest from me has been the story of the Cowan group.

In 1877 nine tourists were camping in Yellowstone when 800 or so Nez Perce came through trying to outrun the Army and get to Canada. Mr and Mrs Cowan were two of the visitors in that group. The Nez Perce discovered their campfire one evening and raided them. The Indians decided they wanted the party’s supplies and horses. Mr. Cowan unwisely but heroicly objected. So they shot him in the head and left him for dead. They took the remaining eight tourists as captives, Mrs. Cowan, beside herself in grief, all their supplies and horses and headed northeast.

Miraculously Cowan didn’t die. The lead barely penetrated and flattened on his skull. He was knocked out cold. When he awoke he was all alone, no food, no horse and I imagine he must have had one helluva headache. But bad luck always comes in waves and later another element of the Nez Perce came by and shot him in the hip…and left him for dead again.

Tough guys, these Cowans. He survived and was eventually found by Army troops and treated by surgeons. He was later reunited with his wife and others in the camping group after the Indians let them go. He wore the lead slug that the Army surgeon dug out of his head, as a watch fob for the remainder of his long life.

In 1905 George and Emma Cowan pointed out the spot where George was shot and Emma was captured by the Nez Perce in 1877.

In 1905 the Cowans returned to the park to show historians where they were camping when they were raided by the Nez Perce. George Cowan lived into his nineties and Emma Cowan wrote an account of the story which is still available today.

Many, many years later descendents of the Cowans and the Nez Perce that were part of that event met together in Yellowstone to reconcile and to tell family stories. It must have been a fascinating meeting.

I was interested in following Nez Perce Creek as part of my pursuit of Forrest’s treasure but I was also interested in seeing if I could find the Cowan Group’s campsite from when they were raided. I had a copy of the 1905 photo of the Cowans that was taken in the spot they remembered as their campsite. So even if this path did not lead to the blaze and Forrest’s chest I was prepared to have some fun, explore and learn.

Nez Perce Creek

I have to tell you that if you are looking for a sweet hike in Yellowstone you couldn’t do much better than Nez Perce Creek. I parked in a pulloff on the loop road. Grabbed my camera and my photo and headed out. It was a magnificent day. Warm, but not too warm. I was in good spirit made even better by the day and the landscape and the purpose.

I spent most of the day walking that creek on its north side. I passed no other humans. Saw lots of birds and listened to more. The world was beautiful and I was exceedingly content.

Shooting Star along Nez Perce Creek

I get down on my hands and knees a lot when I am hiking with a camera because I love taking pics of wildflowers and ant hills and peculiar rocks.

In one wide spot along the creek I stopped to canvas the area. It felt warm and occupied. I could see no one else but I could sense that something had happened here. I could just make out a very old campfire ring near the creek and possibly…just possibly…old wagon tracks.

Was this the site where the Cowans had been raided? I took out the photo to compare. It was ambiguous. Possible match but not guaranteed. I went over near the ghostly mark of a campfire ring, got down on my hands and knees and started scouring the grass and dirt looking for something but I didn’t know what.

Under a small tree, perhaps uplifted by that tree over the years I saw a glimmer of white, no larger than a postage stamp. I reached for it. Picked it up and held in my hand a quite old piece of china. Possibly a piece from a broken dish or platter. Who brings china to camp? Civilized tourists in the 1800’s would have brought china. Emma Cowan could have brought china.

China sherd that I like to imagine is from one of Emma Cowan’s plates

A glass bead. Perhaps worn by a Nez Perce Indian during the raid

I did not dig. I only searched the surface. I looked for another twenty or so minutes and was just about to quit when I saw a second tiny flash of white about ten feet from where I found the china sherd. As I moved toward it, I lost sight of it. I spent another five minutes trying to recapture the location of it. I finally did. I picked up a tiny, oval shaped, pure white glass bead.

I sat right in that spot, facing the creek and looking in the direction that I imagined would have given the campers back in 1877 the most delight. Bead in my left hand and sherd in my right I imagined the Cowans, the camp, the Nez Perce, the gunshot, the fear, the anger. Like a John Ford film it all played out in my mind. Panoramic scenes on the stage in front of me. It was exciting. It was exhausting. It was fulfilling.

Lupine along Nez Perce Creek

I replaced the sherd and the bead and continued my movie.

I did not find a chest nor a blaze leading to one. At the end of the day I didn’t have any sense that I was even in the right spot for Forrest’s treasure but good god I enjoyed that hike…

dal-

A Different Way of Looking at Clues

SUBMITTED JULY 2017
by Seattle Sullivan

 

 The main thing people need to focus on is the way Forrest thinks. Remember his mind stays at about 13.  Back then life was all farts and giggles. So imagine the games Forrest and Skippy , must of played in the back seat on their way to Yellowstone . I envision them picking apart the wording on highway signs. ICY CONDITIONS MAY EXIST , ( I see why conditions may exist).

Cold Night

 What I am getting at is a whole different way of looking at the clues. It’s all a play on words. I call it  what I named my book “Well Knit Wit”.  Where is this book you ask?  It’s sitting in front of me.  Once I publish it, ” in which after reading it, Forrest hopes I do” my secrets will be told. The other reason being after consulting with Forrest at this years Fennbouree, I am holding off on a chapter I call “B- ond,  James Bond”.  It has to do with the green olive jar and and certain secrets”.  To me, and a few friends, the 20,000 word autobiography is the most valuable item in the chest. It is what drives me.  Funny as I am homeless and live on a $734 SSI check in the most expensive area in the nation. Dal, (pronounced Dale), will attest to that one.

My Front Yard in Snohomish County

 There are certain things we need to do in the solve. Forrest tells us how to play the game if you are wise. Butterfly – Flutter by for starters. And if he doesn’t see a word in the dictionary, he will make one up. Many of the answers combine Spanish and English. And spelling correctly is pointless, its all in the pronunciation.
Lets begin:
 My favorite clue is ” If you don’t know where to begin, you might as well stay home and play canasta”.  Here is why he used the word CANASTA specifically.  BE GIN.  In New Mexico, there are tanks of water in certain areas used for fire fighting. Each one is named. Since Forrest is a PET TALKER, or in slang , a pet taca, I picked the array of tanks, “Tanqueray”…..as in gin, above Petaca.  If you can, pin PETACA TANK A on google earth.  Oh ya, canasta is an anagram of  TANCS A.

 

Pet – Talka

 Next, the answer that came to me in a dream. Here is where to BEGIN.  By counting the letters in a verse of the poem .  “Not Far”has 2 words before the comma. Go down the alphabet 2 letters…A-B. The last letter is the one we will use. So remember the B. Next , “But to far to walk” . Going 5 letters down the alphabet you get E .  “Put in below the home of Brown”…   7 letters gives you the G.  “From there it is no place for the meek”…gives you the ” I “.  The next verse has no comma, so combine the 2 sentences.  “The end is drawing ever nigh- there will be no paddle up your creek”, this will give you your N.  Add it up boys and girls, it spells BEGIN.
 Ah , but that’s not all folks. We have one sentence left.  “Just heavy loads and water high”.  Now being from Texas, that southern drawl comes into play.  Yesterday when I was using my backpack, I ADJUST the heavy loads. So ,  ADD  “Just heavy loads and water high” to the next verse”.  Count up the words.  It totals 36. This is your degree. The next verse “including the question mark” makes 32. These is your minutes.  Next verse 29. Your seconds.  36 – 32 – 29  latitude.  By counting letters starting at “From there it’s ……and ending at “and waters high”, you get 106 letters. Thats your longitude. But its easier if you just look at Forrest’s last name. Fenn.  ” Santa FE N.N.” , or directly North of Santa Fe.  Get back on google earth and pin those co-ordinates. Amazingly they are 1 mile from the Tanqueray location.  This is where you BEGIN.
As the inside cover says a little resolve is needed, I’ll start resolving now at where most everyone else starts:
1) Begin it where warm waters halt.   I believe it is the array of tanks above Petaca.  Take the story Forrest uses about the array of burned out tanks and war relics in Northern Africa. This I believe gives credence to my Tanqueray theory.
1a) And ta-Kit (Carson) in the canyon do w. n.   (due w. x n.)
2) Not far, but too far to walk. My spot is around 4-5 miles as the crow flies, to the h.o.B.
3) Put in below the home of Brown.  This is what I believe is Forrest’s bluff.  But you still put in below it. Simply a brown house on a bluff, and /or the Brown in the local graveyard.
4) From there it is no place for the Meek. The area is sketchy and the locals are watching you .  The dogs chase your car and bite at your tires. The pavement ends , and the mud begins.
5) The End is Drawing Ever Nigh.   See the dead end ?  Nigh I hear means left. Try that
6) There will be no Paddle (ORE) up Your Creek.  As the post marked culvert shows,  go no farther up the creek. There is no gold further up.
7) AD Just Heavy Loads and watter high.  This is where you park and walk, the power lines end,
8) If You’ve (U.V.)  been Y’s and Found the B la ze, ……. I once used a Ultra Violet light looking for the Blaze.  I believed back then the treasure was in the mine tailings, hence “The end of my Rainbow”, meaning Rainbow Trout Tail”ings”.   I climbed in and under the huge pilings, and used my Woods light.   The U.V. light was invented by Robert Woods, so you literally could be in a “Wood Beam”.  I Shivered me timbers, “worth the cold”, and the light made the Pine Tar, “Tary Scan t” glow like a hundred eyes staring at me in the “pitch” black darkness.  Upset like a newbie searcher, I e-mailed Forrest saying “it’s all eyes…it’s all lies”.   Until the next day when I sat next to the tailings and noticed two things. A chute out, “Shoot Out” as on page 36, that Y’d into 2 chutes, as in Forrest’s “Pair a’ chutes, where he was shot down twice.
 I gave up on the tailings.  But it still might be the spot.  Steel Plates litter the area, which could relate to the Babe Ruth clue. The metal was “brazed”  when it was cut, and remember Forrest is a “Brazier”, a person who works with brass.
9)  Bar B Que.  Again, I believe food is the final clue.  And the poem revolves around food, drink and entertainment.
 I am confident on my solution.Forrest once said “people don’t cry anymore”, or something along those lines. Look at the stories in T.T.O.T.C.   We have Pie , Pilots, Pioneers , Pirates.  Do the Y thing.  Wipe Eye, Wipe Eye Lots , Wipe Eye on Ear , Wipe Eye Rate.
 What goes with gin?  Tonics.  White Onyx?
 And finally for those searching Lake Hebgen.  Here is one for you.  Bessies tail was a FLY SWATTER. On page 121 of T.T.O.T.C., we have FLY WATER , and the story about Skippy’s electric fly zapper, he is refered to as the “General”.  Meaning 1) General Electric ,  or 2) that would mean HE BE GEN.    So there you have it.  Butterfly or Flutter by ,  Forrest is telling us to use a play on words.  C how  that works?
 Back to word play. When Forrest said not to mess with my poem , he meant don’t eat with it , as in mess hall. But here is another story he tells us to use word play. The ball of string.  Mostly whyte string .  With mother looking for the postman..  Another word for string is twine , and being inside, it was inner twine. And another word for postman is letter carrier.   Inner twine and letter carry.
 Another thing Forrest uses are cliches’.  Starting with you can’t judge a book by its cover.  Hmmm.  Here is where it gets crazy. Look at the word “CHASE”.  Now,  look at it like this….See H as E.   By looking at that H as a E , it turns into  CEASE . You can do this in reverse too. Next is the letter C ,which can be pronounced as a S , as in Seattle, or “C”attle.
 Forrest said we need to be in tight focus on a word that is key, but he never said it in the poem .  I believe that word is “WHISKEY”. And the word that is IT ,  is WHY, or simply a Y.   Hence, Y is it, WH is key…..why is it whiskey.  The answer of course is distilling, where steam condenses , just like the rain.  But the Y is it . “If you’ve been Y’s” and  “So Y is it”.  Here is what you do.  Put Y in front of a word to create a different word .  Taos is my word of choice.  YTaos becomes white house, or in Spanish, “Casa Blanca”.  The Y Rosetta Stone becomes “wire rows set a stone”.  Y Puppy becomes….well you got the idea.

Eden

 The county I search is Rio Arriba” meaning river above. One more play on words is the Spanish word Que , pronounced “Kay”.  This is huge once you find the blaze. The reason being is the final clue is all about food . To be more precise, Bar b que.  Remember the todo over BoB wire and BarB  wire ? BB wire .Its the grates he is talking about. BB Grates.  The miss spelling of the Baby Ruth candy bar for instance is a reference to grates and grills.  And you can’t think Texas without thinking bar b que.  Remember, Forrest said it is in the poem for all to see…..”B”een wise and found the “B” laze look “Q”uickly down.  Or would that be Quigly Down?  “Put another shrimp on the bobby”. Shakespeare is mentioned by Forrest….2 B (BB) or not 2B , that is the QUEstion.   Remember Texas A&M was a all male school(Men U). But here is the kicker. It all has to do with the Last Supper Table , or as Forrest calls it, “The Great Banquet Table of History”.
Now I already feel I’ve given away the farm. But not totally.  I feel I have narrowed it down to a 1/2 acre.  And I only showed you where to BEGIN.  There is alot of looking between there and Ojo , or where ever.

Fenn’st in

But here is why I believe this small, fenced in enclosure is the Holy Grail.  The whole enclosure is the blaze.  Simply put ,  BE LAZ E. …or, since Y is it,  BE LAZ Y.    The area is Forrest Fenns Forest Fence For Rest. Along with everything required.
 1) Two Chase Lounge Chairs

Two Chase Lounge Chairs

 2) A Dart Board

Dart Board, Posts and One of the Fire Pits

 3) Two Fire pits w/ Fire Rings (Stones)

Just the way I Found it

 4) Post(s) Marked for tanning hides
 5) BBQ Grates and Grills
 6) The Last Supper Table

The Last Supper Table

Now ask yourselves as I have, WHY.  Why are these items out in the middle of no where?  There is not a single NO TRESPASSING sign anywhere. Could it relate to “title to the gold”?  Could the meaning behind “Tea with Olga” have to do with the “proper tea” or the “property”? The story combines both, along with putting  TE with OLGA and getting OL GATE . Yes my spot has an old gate, with tires….it’s a tired ole gate.

But let me go into detail:
1) The lounge chairs. This is where you do that “see H as E ” thing again, turning that E  back to an A.  ” Look Quickly Down Your Quest 2 CEASE.  Change Cease back to Chase.  “YOUR QUEST,  2 CHASE”….the chase lounge chairs.
2) The dart board is key.  Remember Forrest saying you have to join the Indiana Jones Club?  Diana in Spanish is Dartboard or Bulls Eye, ….a BBQ sauce.
3) The fire pits have always been a top choice of mine for a long time. Mainly from the original draft of the poem. Only I knew the “bones” were fish, ribs and maybe chicken, but I’m not sure as the poem reads….” If you are not chicken and in the wood”…..come on people. Forrest is from Texas. Beef is whats on the menu, and maybe whats at the end of his Rainbow….trout. And a lot of stories on “firings”,  Frosty etc….

My Rainbow

4) All though out  the book are Post Marks.  Male Scent Marked Post.  What I believe the posts with marks on them are used for, is for tanning hides.  And it ties right in with getting a spanking by father, and sliding down the fire escape. Both tanned his hide.
5) The Grate Seal of New Mexico ,  Babe Ruth, a BB Grate, YRose set a stone,  “Brave and in the Wood”…(getting grilled in the wooden witness box”), plus a ton more. The food thing goes on forever.   So why is it that i must go And Leave my Trove F or All To Seek.  Notice the capital letters spell , “SALT FATS”,  “but tary scant with marvel gaze” …(Buttery Skin w/ Marvelous Glaze).  And see how easy it is to get TARIAKI  out of “The AnsweR I Already Know I”ve………”.   Not to mention “SO Y is it”.  So I would say there is something up with sauces, and therefor, the person saucing would be a saucer ? Hold that thought.
Finally, #6.  The Supper Table. Forrest said he would meet at the Great Banquet Table upon his death. He also said he would die “dye” and leave his bones “fish” at a certain spot, which sounds like the 1st draft version. Which is why  “Below the Stones” is a prime location for hiding his trove. But the table. A 12′ x 4′  White Table, an exact replica of the one Christ used. Sitting out there in the sun.
 And Finally, back to saucers.  I’ve asked myself,  Why is this spot so special to Forrest?
 I asked him at the Fennbouree if he believed in flying saucers. He said he did , but he may have confused what I meant, with the ones Peggy had thrown at him over the years. But could it be?  Remember he flew over Washington D.C. in 1954.  The sighting over the White House was 1952.  The Taos chamber of commerce puts out a magazine called DISCOVER TAOS……Hmmm  DiscOver YTaos.  Wow.

 

DiscOver YTaos

I never would have believed

 And so after 9 trips from Seattle in my 1986 BMW, “Bills Mechanical Wonder”,  I still don’t have the chest.

Bill’s Mechanical Wonder

 And I encourage you to use these ideas where ever your searching.  Get a THESAURUS, try anagrams,  HE’S AU RUST….(AU = Gold), “he’s gold rust”, meaning the golden cow around the time of Charlton Heston,…er…Moses.  My BE-GINers Spanish-English dictionary is my most used book. You will discover so many new pathways it will blow you away.  Like how Frosty was a big hunk of a dirty name and the smell assaulted my sensitivities. The Spanish word for sense of smell is Olfato.   Change the way you see words. ORIONS BELT.  Or rye on Be L T……Tai Chi,  Chai Tea.
 Forrest chooses his words meticulously.  He knows I play with the Y.    So after he razzed Cynthia for not inviting him on a hunt, I invited him to join me. His e-mail back read “Not Me Bill”…of course I saw right away, that placing that Y between Not  Me,  he was saying “No Tyme”.
 The whole enchilada has to do with wit. K?   Que:  which -who   what – which   than – that  . This according to my Spanglish dictionary. …Which Which ?     Witch Which….  See H as E.    whiE and wite.   Why and White.    I just can’t tell you any more. But that’s the way I have learned to play a game with no rules.     Good Luck in the Ch as E.
Seattle Sullivan-

Starting at Agua Fria…….

SUBMITTED APRIL 2017
by HUMBLEPI

 

Here is my solution to the poem:

Agua Fria (near Santa Fe) to Agua Fria (near Angel Fire).

Down through Cimarron Canyon.  Near Angel Fire is not far, but near Santa Fe is too far too walk (more than 92 mi.)

Put into Cimarron Canyon below Eagle’s Nest (home) in (of) Moreno (Brown) Valley.  And before you start beating me over the head with the oh that’s not Brown, it is one of the definitions, and per SB 179 Fenn doesn’t care if he uses a word wrong so long as the reader gets his point.

From there head up to Raton Pass (no place for the meek).

Climax (the end) is drawing nigh on the approach. (you can see my comments on SB 166 for a ton of hints re: this area which I was previously focused on as the location of the chest).

I sent Forrest this photo thinking I was on to something, because the star of Bethlehem (wisemen) sits on top of the hill pictured.  His next scrapbook ended with the line “The secret is not to get too excited about the little things.  One of the pictures was a smashed church bell.

Head up Raton Creek.

Morley mine at mile marker 3 (heavy loads).  St Aloysius Church bell tower is the only thing left standing in the demolished town and I see Scrapbook 172 as hinting towards this.  The doorway (portal) faces east and is a dichotomy with the rubble of the town surrounding it.  This bell tower sits approximately 9 miles (the distance Forrest’s bell can be heard) from the Climax Canyon.  It was also coincidentally built in 1917 exactly 100 years ago.

Up near Fisher’s Peak there is a Bell Tank and a Bell Spring. (Water High) SB 172 had 2 pictures of bells and 173 used bells jingled.  These are roughly east of the Gallinas (Chickens? SB 175) exit in the Raton Pass.

East from the bells, across the mountain is a giant natural amphitheater (so hear me all and listen good).

Anyone noticed the common theme of many of the recent SBs involving the army going out of their way to punish the Indians?  What about the sudden theme of the pioneers?  Well, follow this link to read about Kit Carson leading some soldiers down into the amphitheater after some Apaches.  It may shed some light on F’s post about his really great hat.

This kind of obscure place is exactly the kind of place F seeks out to hunt for his treasures.  This place is surrounded by private property and the kind of out of the way place that nobody would readily stumble upon.  It is part of the James Johns (Jimmy Johns? Bring a sandwich?) State Wildlife Area of Colorado, which by definition is also a “chase.”

To get there you have to be in New Mexico and walk from Lake Dorothey (I recall a few things being tied to the Wizard of Oz… Glinda, a photo of a “now leaving Kansas” sign I think?)  This reminded me of the lumberjack illustration.

If you reach the end of Fisher’s Peak Mesa where you head down into the bowl, you are greeted with a magnificent view.  Lake Trinidad lines up perfectly in the little gulley of the ridge that connects the upper part of the mesa to Fisher’s Peak.  In the background, you can see the Spanish Peaks and the rest of the mountainous skyline behind.  It reminded me of all those landscape paintings by Sloane and others Forrest has shared only ten thousand times better. Down below, the amphitheater looks like a giant bowl.  It felt like sitting at the top of the Coliseum.  I sat there for an hour in awe (tarry scant with marvel gaze) before I looked around a bit.

From the east of where I took that photo (the photo does not do this view justice at all), a few hundred feet, is a secret waterfall that was roaring from the melting snow. The water sheeted down through a mountain of snow and disappeared. I thought I would get a good picture of it when I climbed down but because this gorge is on the north side, the snow was waist deep and the terrain was so steep I couldn’t for the life of me get back up near the waterfall.

I followed the creek down slowly toward Second Spring on Gray Creek keeping a wary eye for something that might let me know someone had secreted a can of Dr. Pepper in the stream, but the snow was still working against me.  I found a dry hill a little way up from the spring and camped out for the night.  In the morning, I went down to second spring thinking some of his hints pointed that way and for a brief moment I got excited when I thought I saw a bell sitting in the snow.  It turned out to be the remains of a tea kettle.  I moved it onto a pointy boulder approximately 2’ in a direction away from the spring.  On the ride home, it occurred to me that maybe that’s what Tea with Olga meant in the valley down below the mountain.

I wish I hadn’t been so overly eager and gone in May like I had originally planned, maybe the snow would be gone and I could search the waterfall and the creek more thoroughly.  As it was, I had to trespass North to Trinidad to escape the mountain.

FYI, the hike is not for the faint of heart it took most of the day the second trip (bedroll?).  My first attempt was so insane it will likely become a book.  I believe F may have used a horse to get there.  Many of the latest SB mention horses, and that could be why he refused to answer the question about using any other form of transportation.  It was definitely an awe-inspiring place and to me has all of the qualities he would look for in his special place.  These peaks are part of the Raton Mesa formation which also contain the Folsom Archaeological site.

Fisher’s peak by name would seem like the kind of place a searcher would go and come close to the chest but have no logical reason for being there.  Plus, his family passed through Raton Pass on the way to Yellowstone; these mountains would be the closest Rockies for that Texas Redneck with no job and whole lot of kids.

Just for I plotted the points out like a flight plan from Santa Fe Municipal Airport (in Agua Fria) to the waterfall and they seem to line up.  As you can see from the photo the first clue gets you more than half way to the treasure.

Hopefully someone else gets a chance to get up there when the snow melts the rest of the way and do a thorough search.  Maybe you will be the one to get out there and find it, but even if you don’t, I can assure you it will be well worth the trip.

One last thing… I know that F said no special knowledge was required.  All of these things could be solved as clues without having any special knowledge, but that doesn’t mean special knowledge won’t make you more successful.  The key word is required. Two hands aren’t required to be a drummer, ask that guy from Def Leppard; but that doesn’t mean you tie one behind your back.

Here is a picture of the range I took from the back of a pickup as I hitched a ride back to Sugarite.  You can see my consolation prize (elk shed) I carried from the mountain north into Trinidad.

 

HumblePi-