The Trouble With Confidence…

Iron Will


It is a dangerous, double-edged sword.  If one would truly aspire to accomplish greatness with their life, they would be required to hack and slash, with this particular blade, through all of the adversities lying in front of them.  The problem is… during this up-hill battle… a person will always cut him or herself, inflicting wounds into their own thought process, their pride, and their heart.  Each time they are cut in that push forward, a small piece of confidence is severed from the whole.  So it makes sense to me that champions are the people of this world, who ignore the pain of those lacerations.  They continue to fight and to push with unstoppable effort, despite the cuts, and in the end… their confidence and sheer determination, along with perhaps a small amount of luck and timing, come together to win the day.  That… is not my story.

Even now, as I begin to publicly unravel my secreted thought process to each of you, I still hold reservations.  I think to myself, “I had to have missed something there!” or “It just all adds up too perfect… it’s got to be at that spot!“.  I fear confidence is forcing me to cling to fleeting hopes of possible genius, or perhaps to subconsciously keep me from getting the particular closure I need…that I was wrong.  So I have decided that I am ironically willing to share my solution that has never been spoken out in the open, to my knowledge.  But if I am to reveal it, I must show all of it.  Every quote that Forrest has mentioned played a part.  Several scrapbooks, which I had sworn were hints or messages, also led me to my conclusion.  Even book entries and the unintended clue in TFTW, all played a part.  Yet, I still remain here…with only iron and no gold.   I want to apologize for two things before I start.  One, I am sorry that this article will be so lengthy, and I hope Dal can forgive me for all of the pictures and drawings I have need of him to include.  Second, I wish to apologize for the way I must have seemed to some people when I entered the chase and figured out this solution.  It was the confidence in me, coupled with excitement.  Now, for the time being… both are gone.  I’m sure there are statistically 10% of you that will not listen, cannot take to heart my actions here today, and simply still hold some sort of hidden agenda with me.  I’m O.K. with that, and I wish you good luck nonetheless.  Without further banter, let me begin…

First I would like to explore Forrest Fenn’s comments about the location being a special and dear spot.  I did ordinary geographical locations, like most of you, for the first two weeks that I attempted to decipher the poem.  Searching for Browns, and hot springs, along with waterfalls and creeks, I soon realized that there could literally be thousands of poem satisfying outcomes all over the Rocky Mountains.  I thought to myself, “Then it has to be something different, because Forrest wouldn’t just throw a scenario out in the wilderness, among thousands of others.”  Then I remembered him saying that the area of the chest was generally safe.   I began to wonder then, “The wilderness can’t be safe at all.  Too many snakes, wolves, grizzlies.”   Then it hit me, when listening to his interview at Moby Dickens when someone asked him how he enjoyed watching the searchers hunting his treasure, and he quoted some poetry which ended, “things are never what they seem“.  “What if they aren’t creeks or canyons out in the wilderness!?” I suddenly asked myself.  So I went back to the chapter Gold and More and read it again, noticing the line, “Indecision is the key to flexibility“, and remembered his statement about a butterfly being a flutterby.  That got me to thinking, “What if Indecision and Flexibility were anagrams?”  So I lined them up below according to the way the sentence read, and then worked it out.  Flexible to what end?  To the end of indecision…

Flexibility ———>Indecision

I fill by exit——->inside icon

At first I decoded indecision to mean in die icons or cemeteries or coffins, but then I remembered Forrest’s statement that icons (as a plural) would not assist one.  And I was sure anagrams were O.K., due to no known definition calling them any kind of code or cypher. So I stuck with the above and tried to make sense of it.  I looked up the meaning of Fill and found it to be…

1. To add a foreign substance to

2. To fill (a crack, hole, etc.) with some reparative substance.

That didn’t help much so I moved on to inside icon.  An icon is a smaller picturesque representation of a larger body.  I started to think about Yellowstone and then, I remembered a quote in the book about the potholes of Canyon Street in West Yellowstone.  I quickly jumped onto Google Maps and pulled up the town and started seeing all the streets named after creeks, rivers, valleys that exist in YNP.  “West Yellowstone IS the icon of YNP!” instantly came from my mouth.  And remember Forrest’s land surveying talk of 660, 66, and 66,000 links?  West Yellowstone’s elevation is 6,667 ft., which is a strange coincidence with repetitive 6’s.   So I was down to “I fill(ed) by (an) exit inside West Yellowstone“.  Still at a loss for what the “fill” meant, I decided, “O.K., let’s bring the poem into the picture and see if I can make it work without “stretching” anything.”, and that’s when everything started falling into place.

As I have gone alone in there, and with my treasures made me realize Forrest is talking about not boldly but bold mark on the word treasures to point out more than one.  Since he was alone, then the only other treasure he could have had was his memories of staying Summers in West Yellowstone and growing up there.  Just as a side note, I believe the unintended clue in Too Far To Walk, was the word that is: key.  On the chapter of the Dude Motel, look at the picture there.

Begin it where warm waters halt – Again I thought, not hot or red waters but endearing (as in memories), and what waters were warm and endearing to him?  The Madison, The Gibbons, and The Firehole rivers, where they all halt to the side of Canyon St.  Remember Forrest’s statement about WWWH?   If you don’t have that one nailed down you might as well stay home and play Canasta.f    In Canasta the winning objective is to “GO OUT“.  So if you are trying to win WWWH, it would be the opposite…” STOP IN“.  

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And take it in the canyon down, Not far but too far to walk, put in below the home of Brown. – Forrest said if followed PRECISELY, so I did just that.  Walk south in the middle of canyon street….wait…you can’t walk in the street there.  Trust me,   I’ve seen the traffic.  Also remember the chapter on Old Biddies, where they look at Forrest and make fun of him, remarking that he’s not allowed to cross the street?   Ok so now the home of Brown, what could that be?  At first glance I immediately thought Grizzly Center near the bottom southern corner of town, but then remembered Forrest saying that a few have cracked the first two but went right past the other 7 clues.  So they got WWWH and Canyon street but didn’t get the home of Brown right.  Perhaps that is because they too thought HOB was the Grizzly Center.  So I backed up my train of thought and started thinking of the big picture, as Forrest once told a searcher to do.  And then instantly it hit me, “Wait! Ranger Brown, Alaskan Brown Bear, and Brown Trout!  They all share ONE HOME!  Yellowstone!”  Even the TFTW pointed to it.  Try to say it as a Texas redneck… Not for bout 242 walk (paces).  Strangely enough, from the lower side of the Madison/Canyon intersection to the Yellowstone avenue intersection is about 242 paces!  It even made sense with his comment on the Terri Fenn video concerning the HOB, If I told you that, you’d go right to the treasure.

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From there it’s no place for the meek, the end is drawing ever nigh; there’ll be no paddle up your creek, just heavy loads and water high. – Since you put in below …you are on the southern sidewalk, which in reality would be the banks of the Yellowstone River.  Joseph Meek and his brother were trapping along the banks of the Yellowstone River when attacked by Blackfoot Indians, barely escaping with their lives.  And if you look at the map, the street is always drawing straight to the left to its end.  There will definitely be no paddle up this creek because it is a street, with intersections at Electric Street (heavy loads) and Faithful and Geyser streets (water high).  I thought to myself, “It can’t be this simple! Can it?”

If you’ve been wise and found the blaze, look quickly down your quest to cease.  But tarry scant with marvel gaze, just take the chest and go in peace.  – This is where I got stuck.  Initially I thought it was Iris Street at the end of Yellowstone Ave.  The Bearded Iris, a popular bright yellow flower many Iris flower lovers enjoy that is dubbed the “Sun Blaze“.   Something inside of me still thought that just wasn’t Fenn’s style of the blaze.  So I sit there looking at Google maps satellite view of the end of that road and the trees on the south side, straining my mind and vision for some sort of clue to the blaze.  I remember being frustrated, tired, and restless all at once… then suddenly it became clear in a marvel gaze that brought a tear of joy to my eye and a sudden warmness to my heart.  Occasionally it’s wise for the fox to dress like the hound instantly came into focus as I looked at the road staring at a clearly visible “F F” written with a scant bit of tar on the street!  Then that stanza made sense! If you have found it then look down or to the south, but if you haven’t…then tarry (tareee) scant with marvel gaze is how you do find it! I was jumping up and down in front of my computer so completely happy with my accomplishment.  I then suddenly realized the anagram was right!  “I fill(ed) by (an) exit inside West Yellowstone“.   Fill- to fill a crack with reparative substance.  That’s exactly what the function of those tar lines are for on roads!  And that spot is right by the South Western Exit of West Yellowstone!  Also Scrapbook 119 Pottery Shards, I believe, was a hint at finding the blaze.  My confidence was there and I was ready to move.  That’s where everything started grinding to a halt.

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As of July 9th, 2010…No Blaze. September, 2011 …the blaze is there.


Before I flew out in April, I was sure it was somewhere in that clump of trees just south of the blaze, so when I got there, I was suddenly surprised with something I had not expected.  In the Collected Works Video, he said,  Let me put this in perspective, so many people have decided that they are going to take a picnic lunch out on Sunday, and look for the treasure  .   Well guess what? Right in that patch of trees are two 400 lb., 4″ galvanized steel picnic tables, which I believe are the same two tables (pigs) he mentions in the More Than Just a Pig scrapbook.  And there is also a 2.5 ft.  sand stone there which is about 500 lbs.  It is the only rock on the entire lot.   Remember Jenny’s SLICK featured question?    I found mine under the floor boards of a long-ago abandoned log cabin within walking distance of the Gallatin River in Montana. I carry it sometimes myself. f    Gallatin River runs through Bozeman, Forrest once walked from West Yellowstone 92 miles to Bozeman to prove he could do it.  Also… take special note of this…

‘Here’s my little 2.5 ” jade slick.  You can see the polish from being carried in a buckskin pocket for a few decades.  …….. Sometimes when I set out on a difficult mission that has to work for me, I stick it in my pocket.” f    Notice this block of text when showing off his rock, is in quotations.  However, he switches the quotations with the apostrophe at the beginning, in order to cleverly turn 2.5 feet into 2.5 inches.    Notice the gold patches on the rock halves just like his “polished” picture.  Being broken apart and bad angles along with weathering it is hard for a good comparison.  I wonder who could’ve possibly broken that in half.  Oh and the lot all the way across and to where the town vehicles are parked is just barely over 2 acres, eerily similar to the 2.086 acres of “public land” that he claims is his allotment.  Could this be his land that is in a private land trust to the town, to conceal his name?  The deed to the property sitting snugly in the chest for the finder, would be the perfect explanation of I give you title to the gold.   That would ensure the legality of the treasure would never be in question as it would be your land it was found on.  I was so shocked that everything was falling into place,  I even found what I thought was a half rotten onion from a picnic someone had, just south of the blaze, but when I got a closer look and tore it open it turned out to be an “onion bomb” the size of a baseball.  This is the same kind of bomb or bombette, that damaged Skippy’s face in SB 125, and Forrest once said, “I always figured the treasure chest was a bomb”.  What if it was a hint that the chest is underneath that onion bomb, something that has no business being in a picnic spot on the side of the street?   So here I was, searching to no avail.  I had followed the poem precisely and had searched all around the entire 2 acre lot.

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I went back home with no success, and started licking my wounds from that double-edged sword.  I believed, without a doubt, that I was right and it was there.  I just needed to figure out what I was doing wrong.  Then I thought to myself, “Self, What if the blaze and looking down isn’t the 9th clue!?  What if you still have to figure out HOW to find it!?”  That was brilliant!  I quickly went back to the poem reading again and again then a theme started to appear that meshed perfectly with every quote Forrest has said about the treasure!  So why is it that I must go, and leave my trove for all to seek….I’ve done it tired and now I’m weak…..If you are brave and in the wood  –   No way! He leafed his trove!  If you are brave and in the tree.  He did it tired (in a car) and now he’s weak (from climbing the ladder twice to hide it) “Of Course!” I thought.  Forrest hid the treasure on a tree because many pine trees in the Rockies live around 500 years and even longer.  From the evidence at hand, it was most likely 20 feet up on the tree probably in a 3 branch outspread where it would sit comfortably.  It makes perfect sense and sort of ironic considering what is all over the outside of the bronze chest… men climbing ladders to claim their prize.

You’re not going to just get out of the car, walk over into the woods, and walk to the treasure.

No one is going to accidentally stumble onto the treasure.

“I think kids may have an advantage…they’re more agile.” (They love to climb trees)

You should grab every banana off the banana tree

Well Andrew, I’m not sure “admire” is the right word but if we twist it a little maybe we can make it work. The word means approval or high regard

I don’t think earth can hurt it, under the right conditions wind might affect it,

So I needed to be looking up instead of on the ground!  Then I saw something from SB 123, I lost all desire to take their picture or rub their bellies, and a statement Forrest made on Scrapbook 78, there has been talk about some searchers receiving under-the-table clues that will help them find the treasure.   What if there is a clue written on the bottom side of the picnic table to final spot?  My mind was trying to stay open to all angles, since my scheduled June 8th trip would be the last I could afford for a while.  While hashing through all available scrapbooks I happened upon three scrapbooks that grabbed my attention…128, 130, and 121.5.   SB 128 in a Tuck tells a story of Forrest and “Sammy Myers” jumping off the Tower at the rarefied no.1 position, which was about 20 to 25 feet up at the top of the tower.  In that recollection, Forrest climbed the ladder TWICE to the top of the tower (or maybe tree), and hasn’t been back since.  It took him TWO trips from his vehicle to the spot to hide the treasure.  But what could this Rarefied no. 1 position be?  1st place I guess.  The Winner’s spot.  Then I remembered 121.5 the Pet contest winner announced with Tesuque sitting on a brown square tile with black borders all around and a “1st” place ribbon on the neck.  That’s when I saw something strange.  The picture is at least 5 years old!  Look at Tesuque in Scrapbook 130 Not Tired Yet.  He has the white fur on his face which is symbolic of an old animal.  Yet the picture from month before… no white.  This picture was deliberately taken at least 5 years ago and placed in that scrapbook for a reason. That’s when I thought to myself the “1” gold ribbon and the rarefied no. 1 position where he climbed twice.  What if Tesuque’s positioning in the picture put the gold medal on top of the specific tree where the chest is.  I was off to Google Earth in a heartbeat to line the imagery of that area up with the picture.  You need Google Earth in order to get the angle right with the angle the picture was taken.  What I found was astounding as I will show to you now.

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Ok I was set; I touched down June 8th, drove up to West Yellowstone, and searched like mad for day and a half.  I looked on all four sides of every tree there on that 2 acre lot and could see about 20 to 25 feet up with some confidence.  I looked underneath the picnic table tops with normal and U.V. flashlights… same with the trees.  DAY and NIGHT I searched.  Yet I could not find it.  I must admit that I had come to a point where my confidence was completely shattered.  I couldn’t understand.  If it’s in a tree I should’ve found it.  I could not see all the way up in that no. 1 position tree, and since I could not see the poem pointing to it I didn’t get an extension ladder to climb it and find out.  The funny thing about that specific tree… if you count the distance up in it to the chest, it would be approximately 200 feet from the blaze.  I had hoped I would be at Forrest’s home on the 13th of June celebrating my victory and my 46th birthday with him and his family… but here I am, at work, writing about my failure.  I made that man a promise to try and get his bracelet back to him and protect his legacy that his family will have to bare after his passing.  Now I have serious doubts I will be able to accomplish that alone.  So I turn to all of you with my solution and some of what I think is good advice in hopes that someone can make use of it all.   I had a revelation over the past couple of days that perhaps Forrest painted the chest with bark and pine needles to camouflage it up on the tree.  Maybe that was the final clue… Your effort will be worth the cold.  Maybe that’s how you find it….in the cold of night.  Forrest even talked in The Thrill of the Chase about being courageous (brave) to be in the graveyard at night.  Think about it for a moment.  You have a bronze chest full of gold up on a tree.  I say ON, because IN would be an ambiguous word that could be construed as “inside” the actual wood of the tree.  Something Forrest could use to misdirect.  Anyway, at around 10pm or Midnight, the trees would have all cooled off.  However, the chest would still be hot, just like a hot rock from a campfire.  The metal would absorb heat all day and then hold it for a few hours.  If one had a Thermal Imaging unit (FLIR), they could easily discern if the chest is in a tree.  For your consideration, I will place a satellite overview of the area with all areas the treasure possibly COULD be if it is there.  Maybe someone out there, who has the resources can actually do what I couldn’t and find it.

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As I sit here, I realize my confidence is fully depleted.  I am sure it will come back over time, but today is not that day.  On both trips, I thought about digging at two or three spots there, but it is not my property, therefore it’s not the right thing to do.  If it turns out that the treasure was buried in one of those highlighted spots, and I lost out because of my principles, so be it.  I will not abandon morals for greed.  I believe the chest to be placed up on a tree.  I also believe there are picnic tables near it.  So it is my wish that one of you can help me in protecting Forrest Fenn’s legacy from being that of a hoax in the eyes of most around the world, by finding what I could not.  Go look at this location, or possibly use my ideas in your own solutions to close the gap on completing the puzzle.  Maybe, just maybe… you can be the champion that I referred to at the beginning.  That is…if you can take the cuts.