To The Gold…

February, 2019

By John (Crazy Fox)

 

First of all, let me state that the following is all just my opinion on where to find the treasure.  Also, I want to say that my solve was only made possible by all the brave people out there who are willing to share ideas.  So thank you all.  Thanks to Dal for hosting this site and a very special thank you to the man himself, who got me hooked on his fishing line, Forrest Fenn.

I enjoy watching nature documentaries and recently watched a documentary about the four seasons of Yellowstone.  Spring, summer, fall and winter.  Winter is especially tough in Yellowstone and the great bison struggle to survive the cold, harsh environment.  But then spring comes and life is renewed and the cycle continues.  I think this transition from winter to spring is important in understanding the poem.

Begin it where warm waters halt.  From the documentary, I learned that everything freezes in Yellowstone except the Firehole River.  The Firehole River runs north where it meets the Madison River.  The warm waters of the Firehole River run into the Madison River where the waters freeze (or halt).  Waters is plural because the Firehole splits right before it meets the Madison.  We don’t need to know a specific pin-point location, but more of a general area of where to start this search.  So, where the Firehole River meets the Madison River is my warm waters halt.

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Since the waters freeze, this indicates that we are in wintertime at the beginning of the poem.  Wintertime is symbolic of death and spring is symbolic of new life.  Death and new life are reoccurring themes in my search for the treasure.  Think of a forest fire…the pine trees burn and are destroyed but the pine cones are heated up enough to reseed the forest and start life anew.

Note: I’m not very articulate, so for clarity I’m trying to keep this story short and as simple as possible. 

And take it in the canyon down.  To me, it simply means follow the downstream flow of the Madison River, west through the canyon.  I think Begin it where warm waters halt and take it in the canyon down is probably the first clue, but I never really tried to count clues and I’m not doing so in this story.  If anything, I think all the lines are clues.

Not far, but too far to walk.  In my opinion, this just means we’re driving now because it’s simply too far to walk.  But how far do we go? Not very far, but we have to continue west on the highway until we know where to “put in” (or park).  There has to be something that let’s us know how far to go.

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Put in below the home of Brown.  If we’re heading west on the highway, the Madison River will be on your left hand side (or south of the higway). 

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All of the examples in The Thrill of the Chase (TTOTC) refer to brown as a color.  I’ve heard people suggest that Brown Trout is what the brown is referencing.  I think this makes a whole lot of sense, since Forrest is an avid fly-fisherman and was a fishing guide in his younger days and the Madison is world-famous for its Brown Trout.  We are in our car traveling west and we are north (or above) the home of Brown (the Madison River).  So, we keep going until we are below (or south) of the river.

Remember the story about Forrest flying above Philadelphia and he stuck his thumb in front of his eye covering the whole area?  As we come through the canyon, there will be a valley on your left that kind of looks like a thumb.  At the northwest corner of the valley there is an overpass where the highway crosses over the river and there is a horseshoe-shaped parking area right after the overpass.  If we park there, we are now at the home of Brown because we are now south (or below) the river.  If people figured out the first two clues but not the home of Brown, then I could see how they would easily go right past this quietly forgotten area. 

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Okay, before we proceed let’s take a look at the double omegas, because we passed those along the way.  Omega means the end and…death.  Two omegas equal two deaths.  In the chapter My War For Me in TTOTC, Forrest writes about Operation Arc Light when he was shot down and the bombs dropped in rapid succession after he had parachuted down.  He says “I experienced what was perhaps the most terrifying event of my life”.  And “the noise blasted me to my core”.  “The roar was so traumatic I felt that if it happened again I might not survive”.  And “I am convinced that thousands of animals, human and otherwise, were killed in Vietnam by sound alone”.  When Forrest got cancer he was given only a 20% chance to live.  Thank God Forrest didn’t actually die either time, but I’m sure he felt like he was going to die these two times in his life.  So for me, the two omegas represent these two events in his life when he thought it was the end for him.  Symbolic deaths if you will.  We have two omegas so we have two ends.  What is the end of the end…a new beginning?

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Okay, let’s go back to the home of Brown and figure out no place for the meek.

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In TTOTC, the chapter No Place For Biddies, the biddies say “he’d run away from home but he’s not allowed to cross the street”.  Forrest didn’t say anything out loud to the biddies because he was meek.  But instead said to himself, “I could cross the dumb street anytime I wanted to”.  So, from the home of Brown we cross the highway on foot, into the wooded area.  But how can it be in a place like this valley?  The place is so exposed and people and park rangers would see you in there and you’d get in trouble if caught.  Is that why we need a flashlight?  Are we supposed to sneak in there at night or something?

The end is ever drawing nigh;  The end of winter is drawing near in our poem and I think Forrest used the semicolon to signify the transition from winter to spring.  Also, nigh meaning to the left, gives us the direction that we will head toward the river and creek on our left.

There’ll be no paddle up your creek.  To me, it means we are not going up the creek.  This next part is where imagination is really more important than knowledge.  In the strange Scrapbook 116, Forrest posts about images that he can see in his shower tiles.  This effect is known as pareidolia.  An example would be the famous face on Mars that people think they see.  I have found pareidolia images as well in this valley.  I see a bird, a duck, a mountain lion’s face, but the ones I want to focus on are the phone, the alligator and the leaping frog (front view) with paddle feet.  The frog reminds me of the frog Forrest placed in the chest with the large “paddle” feet.  I’ve drawn these pareidolia images so they’re easier to see.  The first one is the easiest to see…the phone.

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Now, see if you can spot these in the landscape of the valley.

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Pic15The alligator has one of the frog’s paddle feet clenched in his jaw.  Hence, no paddle up your creek.  Hope that made sense.

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So, no paddle up your creek, JUST across the river.  If we’re standing on the bank, looking across the river, we see the phone on the other side.  Does Forrest really want us to cross the river?  When I actually thought the chest was hidden in here, I read the lines So hear me all and listen good, Your effort will be worth the cold.  HEAR ME ALL?!!!…on this giant phone!!!  So that gives us the crossing point…where the river is narrowest by the phone’s receiver.  Your effort will be worth the cold…meaning the cold water.  I think there’s more than one meaning to lines in the poem and I’m not going to go into all of them.  Just heavy loads and water high.  If it’s springtime now in our poem, the heavy loads are the snow-pack and the water high is the spring runoff.

Forrest talked about the time when he was in Laos and had to decide whether to try to walk out or call for help.  He decided that it wouldn’t be fair to Peggy if he took months to walk out, so he made the call for help.  To me, the giant phone symbolizes this call for help and he was then saved.  I’m not very articulate but hopefully you’re picking up on the meaning I’m trying to convey.  It’s springtime in the poem now, a chance for renewal of life.

So we’ve been wise and crossed over the river at the right spot and now we’re looking for the blaze, or the correct path.  If we are wise like an owl and see things from above then we can see the blaze.  It’s right next to the phone.  It’s the white, fallen dead tree (symbol of the first “death”).  Now we just need to find the second symbol of death and the two signs of life.  I know you’re probably thinking, how could this possibly be the blaze?  It’s not permanent.  It won’t be there in 100 or 1000 years.  I feel that Forrest wants this treasure found sooner rather than later.

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Look quickly down.  Follow the blaze down and it points toward a triangular sandy area.  That triangle is an arrowhead (just like the first arrowhead Forrest found as a small child).  This is the arrowhead that has struck the alligator, saving the frog, giving him new life.

But tarry scant with marvel gaze, just take the chest and go in peace.  If we sneaked into this area then tarry scant would mean don’t dawdle, just take the chest and get the heck out of there before your caught.  But I’ve already stated that I don’t believe the chest is there.  So there must be a deeper or alternate meaning to tarry scant.  Tarry as in tar or something resembling black.  In Tea With Olga (TTOTC) when Olga told Forrest she had cancer, they drank black tea.  I believe the black tea symbolized cancer (or death) and the green tea was symbolic of her new life (after death).  Forrest came back from death after beating cancer, so the double omegas represented the two “deaths” in Forrest’s life, now we’re looking for the green symbols of life.  On the arrowhead, it appears there are two green trees, I  truly believe this is the area where Forrest wanted to rest his bones.  His “bones” are represented by the second fallen tree (on the arrowhead by the trees) and is symbolic of his second “death” by cancer.

Forrest said we would have to use a magnifying glass to read what was inside the bottle.

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I found this sign by the double omegas and it’s hard to read and I had to zoom in all the way.  I believe it says…Naturally reseeded by wildfire in 1988.  1988…the same year Forrest was diagnosed with cancer.  I believe this is at least part of the reason why Forrest has said something to the effect of being umbilically tied to this spot.  The wildfire and reseeding is just one more example of death and new life.

Now let’s take a closer look at the comments Forrest made about searchers being within 500 feet and 200 feet of the treasure.

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If we take a look at the double omegas (the viewing areas), we see that one of the pullouts is 500 feet wide and the other one is 200 feet wide.  I think this is where the searchers have been.  The treasure is all right in front of us.  There’s no hidden chest filled with gold to find in this area.  The beauty of this special area is our treasure.

Don’t go where a 79/80 year old man wouldn’t go.

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One more thing…actually two.  There has to be an “X” marks the spot, right?

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If we measure out 200 feet from the “bones” (see first picture above), the red area is the banana.  Can you see it?  Grab every banana you can!

I’ve found our golden frog safe and alive, peeking his head out of the woods and hiding out from the black, shadowy figure holding a large flashlight (more pareidolia images).  If you want to find him in Google Earth, start at the “bones” and measure out 500 feet in the direction of the arrowhead point.

So if we draw lines from the banana and the golden frog the lines intersect at the “bones”.  X marks the spot!

Thanks for reading. Hope you enjoyed.  Like I said, this is just my opinion.  If you think the chest is still out there, then good luck in your searches.  I’ve been typing this up while having the flu and fever so I’m going to go rest now as I’ve done it tired and now I’m weak.  If I get any comments or questions I’ll try to respond eventually.

-John (CrazyFox)

 

 

 

 

 

Through the Looking-Glass…

January, 2019

By Jonas

 

 

I’ve been fighting with this puzzle for more than a week now. I know that isn’t a long time for some of you in the chase community but I’m a very impatient man and must get rid of the itching an unsolved problem cause. I chose to make this public on HOD since I’m a Swedish resident and do not intend to go and get the treasure and I’m not sure I’ve legally could claim it if I wanted to. Before I present my solution I would like to express my gratitude to Mr Forrest Fenn – thank you sir, it’s been a thrill. Given my solution is right you are surely a genial architect. So here we go (I will try to keep it short).
The equivocal mirror solution.

Since I’ve first saw the poem I was sure the first paragraph is about losing yourself in the world of literature and art. I know Forrest Fenn said the purpose of the chase was to get out in the wild but I think that’s only half of it the other half is about educate yourself. A sort of body and life harmony in life and thereby the mirrored solutions.

I will reference the ”Wildlife reflection” as ”a)” and the ”Mind reflection” as ”b)”.
”Begin it where warm waters halt”

Using basic physics. Water, when heated rises and halt on the surface. First I was interpreting this as ”at the top” but I now know that it is the ”surface”.

a) Surface Creek by the Yellowstone River
b) Two Mile Reservoir outside Santa Fe (from now on this is what gives me the distance)
”And take it in the canyon down,”

a) Follow the Canyon (2 miles straight line)
b) Follow Canyon Rd (2 miles straight line)
”Not far, but to far to walk.”

a) I havet o get to the other side of the river
b) ” If Paris wasn’t so far away” (The Golden Road, L M Montgomery 1913). Paris, Texas is the birthplace of the Brown I am heading to.
”Put in below the home of Brown.”

”And then ‘mome raths’?” said Alice. “If I’m not giving you too much trouble.”
“Well a ‘rath’ is a sort of green pig, but ‘mome’ I’m not certain about. I think it’s sort for ‘from home’–meaning that they’d lost their way, you know.”

(Through The Looking Glass, Lewis Carroll 1871)
a) Lookout Point were Grafton Tyler Brown painted ”View of the Lower Falls, Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone” 1890
b) The Irby Brown Gallery in Santa Fe
Jumping past a couple of lines in the poem since they don’t take me any further.

”There’ll be no paddle up your creek,”

a) Alum Creek (3 miles straight line)
””I wonder if it’s where we buried it yet,” Speculated Felix.
”I put a stone over it, just as we did over Pat,” said Cecily”
(The Golden Road, L M Montgomery 1913)

This is where you go if ”you’ve been wise” (Bring a sandwich a flashlight)

b) Santa Fe Public Library, La Fargo Branch (3 miles straight line)
””I read it in a book”, said Alice.”
(Through The Looking Glass, Lewis Carroll 1871)

This is were you go to get wise (Bring a sandwich and a flash lamp –  to burn the midnight oil)
Again, thank’s for the thrill!

-Jonas

 

 

 

 

 

Scrapbook One Hundred Ninety Seven…

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JANUARY 22nd, 2019

A More Human Side of the Chase

Normally I don’t read long emails, but these three came to me with the flavor of a different personality. Lee, who is from New York, was drawn to the chase by the desire for companionship with a friend who had no rigid expectations. This is their story. f

Dear Mr. Fenn;
I have written you before and I feel like you have become a great friend of mine even though I have not had the pleasure of meeting you.  I hope you won’t mind if, in the future, I address you as Dear Forrest – you have become very dear to me.

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Here is a picture of my best friend in all the world – Tyke.  Tyke and I took the train to search for your treasure in Colorado this summer, and (look at his face), we had the time of our lives.  After we got home, I learned that Tyke had terminal cancer.  As I write this, I’m about to lose my best friend, and I feel lost.  How can I ever thank you enough for getting us on that train and creating a wonderful memory that will last into eternity for us?  Words don’t suffice, but my heart is full.

Happy New Year, my dear Forrest.

Lee


Dear Forrest;
Thanks to you, we had four glorious “Fenn trips” – two were camping, in which we stopped at all sorts of fantastic places (Dodge City, the Daniel Boone National Forest, some reservations, we went to Pagosa Springs and camped out (with my father who is 3 months younger than you and a cancer survivor) in 38 degrees – and no, I did not think that Where Warm Waters Halt was Pagosa Springs!  We just wanted to see it.

I wish I knew you better because I think we have many shared interests.  I am around the same age as your daughters. My baby died on January 2nd.  Now I have to finish the story that we started together.

Lee


Dear Forrest;
I wanted to send you two more pictures of Tyke, to show you what a handsome fellow he was, and what a sweet soul.  He made friends wherever he went because he was so full of love and enthusiasm, and he thought that everyone was his friend.

On our last two trips, we took the train, and he made friends with people in the station, other people in the sleeping car, the conductor!  One girl I met on the train took pictures of Tyke and has them on her refrigerator!

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Lee

 

 

 

Diggin Gypsy Signs Off…

JANUARY 2019

By Diggin Gypsy

 

I’ve finally  come to the end of my chase  I’ve had a good run. When I started in the summer of 2013 I never knew I would have visited West Yellowstone so many times in my life. I’ve done things I never thought I would do. One was hiking thru huge snow drifts beside the Madison at ghost village, climbing up mountains and sliding back down them on my butt. Dodging grizzlies around Hebgan lake and running from the moose at refuge point.

When me and my sister began the chase my mom and dad had just died it was a way to move on and try not to let death overcome us with sadness . We thrived and became strong adventurers bringing along family members to join in on the fun .

I’ve had the best times of my life searching and have met wonderful friends along the way The chase does take a toll on you though, years of racking your brain. I’ve flooded the ole coot with many emails, especially after a good margarita night. How does he deal with everyone after all the years? I have no clue.  I’m surprised he hasn’t said good riddance to us all.

If I can tell all the new chasers one thing it would be to make the chase not about always finding the treasure.  When you’re searching and it isn’t where you think,  look at your adventure as a treasure. Don’t let the chase consume your life. That isn’t what Forrest wanted.

And let’s all remember this man kindly hid a treasure for us all to have a chance to find. Let’s don’t join chat sites that bash Forrest. Let’s keep the chase without drama and the way Forrest wanted it to be, for families to enjoy being together outdoors.

Happy trails y’all I’m off to new adventures. Luv you guys.

-Diggin Gypsy

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Gardner River…

December, 2018

By David Brinkley

 

Ok…here it is..90% solved. Where warm waters halt is Gardner Mont. (Treasure Island hint in TTOTC) Take it in the canyon down is to drive (to far to walk) south (down on a map) till you cross the big bridge over the Gardner river just past Mammoth Springs. Park immediately first parking area on the right. In Yellowstone they call them “pull outs” but we are parking, so “put in” BTW..the Gardner river is home of Brown ( trout, and they can’t swim upstream past Osprey falls) Make your way on left side of river, (nigh), upstream, toward Sheepeater Canyon (no place for meek) and Osprey falls. The “no paddle up your creek” is meaningless and not a clue. “Heavy loads and water high” are Osprey Falls. Heavy loads part refers to the Air Force V22 Osprey designed for heavy load lifting AND water high is the falls. Mr. Fenns nod to the USAF. Grassy area near a waterfall was significant to Forrest in ‘Nam and the tombstone of the forgotten soldier. The Blaze is a stone shaped either by chance or purpose, like a tombstone. I think then you either look quickly south to the spot where the chest is. It will be obvious once your there. ( “down” meant south earlier in the poem) that’s why he said a compass would be handy. Maybe you look actually down to the ground but I don’t think so. Forrest doesn’t want to be like that Soldier that passed on with no fanfare or glory. I won’t get out West to get the chest myself…I know this…but I also know this solve is correct…every single clue fits

 

 

 

Scrapbook One Hundred Ninety Six…

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December 20, 2018

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At 1755 this evening I will salute an anniversary that is noteworthy only to me. It will mark the exact time my parachute and I floated down into a dark, dank, and dense Laotian jungle after we ejected from my crippled F-100. It was during the Vietnam War, and little did I know at the time that the incident would indirectly lead to me writing The Thrill of the Chase, a memoir. I told that story to Nelika and here is an email I received from her this afternoon. Thank you Nelika. f

Subject: 50 years ago

Hi Forrest,
Just thinking of you on this day and wanted to send you a lil poem I wrote just for you:

Today, half a century ago,
You rose up from below;
Shot down from the sky,
Yet once again, you did fly.

Those moments a memory,
Embedded for eternity;
In a mind thinking a thousand thoughts,
Collecting them all, like snapshots.

You soared through life,
Alongside your wife;
A maverick each day,
Living it your way.

Thank you for being you!!

Your friend,
Nelika

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scrapbook One Hundred Ninety Five…

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December 5, 2018

 

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Suzanne and Barry Manilow made this video privately.
She is fed up with what she sees around the world and wants to make a political statement. It has been sent to a very visible political commentator hoping that person will play it nationally. She has been very close to Barry for many years and they have great chemistry. She joked that the “Movement” may have her arrested. f

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where Warm Waters Halt…

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This is for a discussion about Where Warm Waters Halt. We’ve all got ideas that didn’t work out or we are willing to share…I think we can give folks just starting out some ideas for the kinds of places that might just be the place Where Warm Waters Halt…or not!

Let the discussion continue…

dal…

Imagine That!…

November 2018

By Voxpops

 

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Lake Vyrnwy in North Wales. An entire village was submerged here in the late 19th century when this valley was flooded to provide drinking water for Liverpool

There’s a book I read recently for our local book group: Days Without End by Sebastian Barry. It’s a tale centered in the Indian Wars and the American Civil War. At times it’s funny, at others horrific, and with its stream-of-consciousness delivery, you might say it’s more of a tone poem than a novel. How historically accurate it is I can’t say; certainly, with its references to cross-dressing and interracial exploits, it feels a touch implausible and anachronistic in places, and yet it is an imaginative tour de force, carrying the reader deep into the blood-soaked landscape and vomit-inducing stench of war.

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For me, the past year has been a lesson in the power of imagination. There have been periods of terror offset by flashes of enlightenment – all brought about through intense introspection as a result of my involvement in the Chase. It’s only now that I’ve concluded my search that I’m able to look back with a sense of perspective, and begin to understand how imagination has played a critical role in forging a path that I could follow both physically and metaphorically.

We all know that Forrest Fenn ranks imagination above knowledge, but it might be worth asking ourselves why that is. What is it about imagination that will propel us forward to the hiding place, while knowledge leaves us scratching our heads in confusion? To answer that I want to start by examining the reasons given for the treasure hunt: “…to get kids off the couch and away from their texting machines…” and: “…in a terrible recession… I wanted to give hope to those who had a sense of adventure and were willing to go searching.”

As someone pointed out recently, given the decision to write the poem and hide the treasure preceded the economic downturn by more than a decade, we can pretty much discount the second reason as a prime mover for the Chase, unless we’re prepared to grant Forrest clairvoyance. It may well have been something that gave added impetus to the timing, but even then it seems unlikely that a family deeply affected by the recession would have the spare resources to gamble on the one-in-a-billion chance of finding the chest. But before we dismiss it entirely, the word “hope” is interesting. Whether or not we’re in an upcycle or downswing, the human condition is one that needs – is almost desperate for – hope: hope that there is something better in the future; hope that our lives are not lived in vain. Hope springs eternal according to Alexander Pope in his poem An Essay On Man, in which he castigates mankind for believing that he can use his knowledge of science to “scan God.” So by Fenn saying that he wanted to give hope, maybe he was talking about the power of imagination over that of knowledge, where the latter speaks to man’s desire to measure and classify everything, and the former grants access to a cosmos of fresh ideas. Perhaps there are some things that transcend the known, and yet remain vital to our wellbeing.

As for the first-mentioned reason, we probably spend about 90% or more of our “search” time online, with a tiny proportion given over to BOTG. Families searching together certainly give their kids wonderful and real experiences that they couldn’t possibly match with their “texting machines,” but overall, even though there’s probably been a huge upswing in searchers’ exposure to the wilderness, the Chase has probably also been instrumental in increasing our slavish devotion to gadgets!

So we’re left with two given reasons that are not altogether satisfactory. And if we accept that, then is there a hidden or underlying reason? I would contend that there is, and that it is partly to do with imagination – to help us develop that faculty and to open our minds to whatever influences may be present. In my own search that has meant using imagination to bridge the “gaps” between clues, and developing a kind of sixth sense for recognizing “aberrations that live out on the edge.” It’s more of an art than a science, and if, like me, you’re not used to that way of thinking it can be a lengthy – and at times frightening – learning curve.

Merriam Webster defines imagination firstly as: “the act or power of forming a mental image of something not present to the senses or never before perceived in reality.” That’s an interesting definition because it allows for truly “blue-sky” or visionary thinking, not necessarily grounded in reality. In the context of the Chase, my contention is that the only way to successfully complete the challenge is to delve as deep into your imagination as it’s possible to go, until you develop the technique of mirroring Fenn’s thinking. The problem is knowing when you’re beginning to succeed, especially if there’s apparently so little to help you confirm your progress (ignoring for a moment the books and ATFs, which have the tendency to confirm everyone’s solves!). But I would suggest that if you can develop this technique you will have flashes of insight that help you plot a way forward. The mirror may be very cloudy at first, and progress will be stumbling, but with time and persistence things should become clearer.

Of course without knowing where to begin and without understanding how the numerical framework comes into play, imagination alone won’t be sufficient, but it can certainly help with both these elements. However, here’s the rub. There’s no way to know in advance whether your poem interpretations and mirror-imaging are correct without testing the ideas on the ground – possibly many times. I seriously doubt whether this depth of “vision” can be obtained by fireside cogitation alone. Even though I believe the answer we’re all seeking is fairly simple in one sense, the possible permutations are almost endless. We’re talking about a slow and dogged development of this faculty, which requires getting off the couch and out into the wilds.

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Castle Rock and Green River during a storm

My last trip to Wyoming was not a particularly happy event – and nearly didn’t happen at all. It came after what my doctor diagnosed as an acute psychotic disorder. I was recovering from a bout of flu when I began to have serious concerns about the Chase, and these rapidly morphed into terrifying thoughts and delusions. Basically, I had spent so long making connections at a profound level that I’d forged pathways into my own darkest mental recesses. In short, I’d let the demons out of the cage. It was an intensely unpleasant experience that was also very distressing for those around me. So the trip, which had almost been canceled, was foreshortened and took place alongside a wife who had come to, quite understandably, detest everything about the Chase.

But before you dismiss what I’m about to say as the ravings of a diagnosed lunatic, I’d ask you to consider what Fenn really had in mind for the most ardent searchers. This is “The Thrill of the Chase.” We might normally define this as the excitement of the hunt. But what if we adjust the emphasis a little?

Fenn has a way with words – to the point of exasperating the reader. Take SB 178 as an example. The first line is: “Pony Ault was the only important client our gallery had in Santa Fe, and she seemed to know everyone.” Does that mean that Pony Ault was the only person living in Santa Fe who was an important client? Or does it mean that she was the only important client… period? Well, the latter seems unlikely since Forrest could boast of some of the biggest names around as clients. But now read the entire SB slowly and carefully, and pay particular attention to the final paragraph; does that alter your perspective at all? A quick Google search for Pony Ault will reward you with very little. But you will find the name given as a founding member of the Santa Fe Art Institute, along with William Lumpkins, a member of the Transcendental Painting Group, which aimed to convey spiritual truths through abstract art. Interesting.

Now try, “It doesn’t help to stretch a tangent.” Back in 2016, if I’d read that sentence with the emphasis on “tangent” instead of “stretch,” I might have saved myself a couple more years of searching, and perhaps some heartache too.

So to return to TTOTC, the word “thrill” originally meant “to pierce.” If we read the line with the emphasis on “Thrill” instead of “Chase,” we might conjure an image of a searcher being pierced by something. So could the phrase really be referring to searchers being hunted down and pierced? And if so, by whom and with what?

We all know from the fishing stories and the cover of OUAW that Fenn is angling for something. It’s not beyond the bounds of possibility that he’s looking for someone for a reason. What that reason is remains known only to the poem’s author. I honestly don’t believe he’s looking for the cleverest searcher; after all, there are some pretty amazing brains working on this, but cleverness doesn’t seem to be what’s required to solve the poem. Could it be, instead, that he wants someone with the necessary imaginative skills to complete the journey? And if so, why?

I believe the answer to these questions is a spiritual one. An abiding image for me is from an interview during one of the earlier bookshop appearances, in which Forrest breaks his vocal stride to deliver a line which goes something like, “nothing is as it seems.” When you watch the video it seems like a non-sequitur, and that draws attention to it. What is not what it seems? From my own experiences this year I would suggest that we’re not talking about a regular treasure hunt, but about a vision quest where outward appearances may be deceptive. I’m not the first to suggest this as a plausible scenario, but I would like to support that viewpoint and relate it to the concept of imaginative solving as I try to make sense of what’s been happening in and beyond my own chase.

I will say upfront that the search is over for me. Interpret that as you will, but it certainly tallies with my current predicament. I am stuck in Britain, unwilling to risk my marriage any further for a box of gold. Unless the domestic situation changes, there will be no more trips to the Rockies. Besides, the Welsh countryside is equally impressive, just on a smaller scale!

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LLynnau Cregennen near Cadair Idris in North Wales

In the past, the various artefacts I’ve found and spoken about as being Chase-related have caused some controversy and hilarity. That’s completely understandable, particularly if you don’t know the reason why a particular spot has meaning, or how a specific find can help spark the imagination sufficiently to be able to move forward in a solution. On the other hand, my own interpretation has developed over the course of time as I tried to make sense of the simple practicalities involved in placing strategic “pointers,” or generating distinctive symbols that appear on Google searches.

At one time, I was convinced that Forrest or someone he trusted had somehow gone around secreting these little “aberrations.” Take the smashed pottery as an example. See the “Garden City” name here? Now look at the picture of the book cover in SB 172 – and note the publisher’s address.

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Smashed pot courtesy of the Garden City Pottery Company and found near Daniel, WY

It’s these tiny coincidences that I kept discovering that had me believing these were plants. Now, after being able to see more clearly the role imagination plays, my understanding has both shifted direction and deepened. Now I believe that if you can open those mental channels sufficiently, your subconscious will “notice” things (aberrations out on the edge) that can assist your conscious mind in its deliberations. They are not necessarily things that have any direct relevance to the Chase, but they are things that help reinforce the connections you are making. And that also means that they are likely to be different for every searcher.

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Stone “triangle” in the Big Piney area

The two quartz-filled stones forming a triangular window are another example. These were so important to my developing trajectory in terms of confirmation that without discovering them I could easily have floundered. They would probably mean little or nothing to another searcher who happened upon them while on a different trajectory. And that’s another thing that I’ve changed my view on. There are many possible routes to the chest. It was only after discovering my end point that I realised I’d taken a particularly convoluted path. If I’d understood things better earlier on, the path would have been much simpler. So why did I find these stones that could have been placed there by anyone? Because my imagination needed them as a spur. A bit like, “…seek, and ye shall find.”

The “frog” offers another small insight. This was how I found it when first searching at this spot. It gave me a heck of a boost.

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Stone “frog” discovered near Marbleton, Wy in 2017

When we returned to the place this year, it never quite looked right. I tried to get the same angle and effect, but to a certain extent it eluded me. It’s not that there’s anything particularly different about it twelve months later – maybe just the lighting – but I’m not sure I would have even noticed it if I didn’t already know it was there. In other words, it had already given up its meaning to me, and because I no longer needed it to give my imagination fresh impetus, my subconscious now ignored it.

So my conclusion from all my “finds” (of which there are many), is that whether FF placed any, all or none of these, it doesn’t matter. What matters is whether you have created the conditions necessary for your imagination to assist you. But as I discovered to my family’s deep concern, there may be a price to pay for diving so far into the deep. Beware!

Crowhurst

And this might be an appropriate point to mention another book that passed my way from our book group: The Strange Last Voyage of Donald Crowhurst by Nicholas Tomalin and Ron Hall. This is a fascinating account of Crowhurst’s attempt at sailing singlehanded and nonstop around the world as part of a competition in the late ’60s. The work involved old-fashioned investigative journalism of a kind rarely seen these days, and uncovered a tale of hubris, fraud, resilience, shame, and (inferred) suicide. What is particularly intriguing towards the end is the state of mind of Captain Crowhurst as he tries to formulate a theory of man’s forthcoming evolution while drifting in the Atlantic, but descends into incoherence and madness. And although it’s tempting to ridicule the man for his vain attempts to set himself up as some kind of new prophet, his long, lonely days at sea had given him the opportunity to use similar techniques of “imaginative penetration” to those that I believe are required in the Chase. Unfortunately, he paid the price for straying off course (both literally and metaphorically) after being pierced by something from deep within.

 

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Petroglyph near Torrey Lake, Dubois, WY

One thing that shouldn’t be forgotten when considering the importance of imagination is that Forrest has said he would never tell anyone his secret spot. If that is literally true, then the poem, on its own, does not reveal the spot. If it did, that would contradict his statement, and he would have, by inference – even if only obliquely – told the whole world his hiding place. So although the poem contains all the ingredients necessary to discover the spot, the method of cooking is missing some vital instructions. In order to measure and mix all the ingredients in the right order, we’re going to need directions from the subconscious. Without them, the task is hopeless in my opinion. And specialized knowledge, beyond a comprehensive knowledge of geography, will yield nothing useful. To bake the cake according to Forrest’s recipe, we need to be able to navigate precisely, and rely on a level of imagination that approaches divination.

In support of that, and to suggest that logic, while important, can really only take you so far, I want to touch on a couple of things that have occurred to me since returning to the UK from my last search. Because I had left Wyoming with the job unfinished, I continued to ponder my finishing moves. This was around the time of the Dizzy Dean SB. A major breakthrough was forthcoming relatively quickly, and with the aid of Google I was able to home in on a spot which contained a symbol that echoed what I’d found at my start point. A helpful arrow was also visible nearby. I had been checking my progress against the website wherewarmwaters-halt.com that someone had referenced around that time. After congratulating myself for finding what I assumed was “the spot,” I was irritated to find the website continued to make insistent “noises.” At the same time I had the nagging suspicion that, despite what looked to me like a perfectly acceptable hiding place, I hadn’t quite finished. There were loose ends. During this time I was sending my “moves” to Forrest in somewhat coded form, and what seemed to be coming back via the website dovetailed neatly with my situation. (I have no idea who is actually behind that site.)

Suddenly, as I went over and over the data I had amassed, the penny dropped. I used a technique that I’d honed on previous excursions to pinpoint a spot – in a totally unexpected area – and noticed something in a Fenn drawing that seemed to offer support. But still the WWW-H website shouted its orders. I wasn’t done yet! This time, rather than use the website for confirmation, I allowed it to lead me to a spot about a mile distant that I should have noticed before but didn’t. The place had meaning for me via its distinctive rock formation. The website went quiet, and I breathed a sigh of relief, tinged with slight annoyance that I’d succumbed to being led rather than working it all out for myself. But my relative peace of mind didn’t last long. The combination of what I’d discovered at the spot, what I picked up from a few rather odd blog posters, and my own still rather fragile psyche’s promptings sent me into a downward spiral. Once more I endured terrifying thoughts and deep paranoid suspicions that lasted for days. It was very difficult trying to keep this from spilling over into my daily life and rekindling my wife’s angst.

But as I wrestled with these demons, a thought occurred to me. What would happen if I spun these thoughts 180 degrees? What if reinterpreting them as positive rather than negative symbols might be the way to go – and avoid a real crisis? So then began a slow but steady period of recuperation. Even though I’ve never been a very successful meditator, I tried to recall some of the techniques I had encountered briefly in the past. Things improved, and I continued with trying to use imagination in a wholly positive way. And that was when I began to discover its real power.

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Rainbow on the horizon near Fontenelle, WY

When you open up your imagination as a direct consequence of delving deep into the subconscious – in this case attempting to get on the same wavelength as Forrest Fenn – I believe that your subconscious will attempt to help you. This concept was brought into sharp relief for me during late summer as I tried my best to practise a form of mindfulness.

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The beautiful countryside of Montgomeryshire

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River Vyrnwy near Dolanog North Wales – a spot for tranquil contemplation

Here I was, back in Wales, not really thinking about the Chase anymore, when out of the blue I discovered that the coordinates of my home in Montgomeryshire, which we’d moved to from Oregon two years prior, added up to 166 – a really odd coincidence. I was jolted back into search mode, and tried to see if my subconscious was attempting to tell me something. For some reason I felt I had to visit the Rainbow horse riding trails in Dyfnant Forest, just a short distance away from where we live. Specifically, I felt directed towards the spot where a lookout tower used to be sited at the top of a hill to help protect the surrounding forest. There, my trusty GPS refused to function, and so I had to rely on intuition and what I remembered from the map to guide me to the exact location.

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One of four metal posts from the old Lookout Tower in Dyfnant Forest North Wales

I found the metal posts indicating where the tower had once stood in the middle of brambles and undergrowth. The trees had been felled in the immediate vicinity and on one stump just below the summit I spotted something rather bizarre. Three identical small pegs had been inserted into carefully drilled holes surrounding the center point of the tree rings.

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An odd, knotty find in the middle of nowhere

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The leaping hare

A beer bottle cap with the image of a leaping hare lay to one side. Why anyone would take the trouble to make this with such care and in such an awkward-to-access spot was beyond me. I spent hours pondering it, and then came across this whimsical piece of craftwork adorning a tree in our village a couple of days later.

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3 and a knot

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I did as I was asked

There appeared to be distinct correlations to many of the things that had featured in my Chase (the three-sided fire pit, the three-cornered stone, the three-coordinate rectangle, even the chalk graffiti at the Museum of the Mountain Man where “Fenn” looks like “Fe3 – with the “3″ twisted 90 degrees CCW.”)

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St. Melangell’s church at Pennant Melangell, North Wales

I had a look on GE and traced a line north through the two locations. Some miles distant, a third and related tri-pole symbol appeared in a village that I’d never heard of. Looking it up on Google, I found that Pennant Melangell hosts a church and shrine dedicated to Saint Melangell, a sixth century hermit and now the patron saint of hares. The coincidence was remarkable, if a little spooky.

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The shrine to St. Melangell, where pictures and postcards of hares have been placed by pilgrims

My wife and I visited the shrine, adorned with pilgrims’ images of hares, and took in the beautiful surroundings, including a rock shelf where the virgin hermit used to sleep out of the reach of wild animals.

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The rocks where the hermit St. Melangell slept during her life around the sixth century

I was perplexed. It was quite clear that Forrest had zero to do with the placing of the “symbols” that led me to the shrine. But they definitely had resonance for me in the Chase, and came amid a cascade of odd incidents, chance meetings, book readings, and online “contacts” that I couldn’t explain. A few seemed quite otherworldly. What I suspect is that Forrest knew he was setting up a “spiritual” challenge when he launched the Chase, but he probably had no personal knowledge of how this would affect each individual searcher with their unique insight and experiences. For me, it was a major process of spiritual discovery that has profoundly affected my worldview.

By the time we visited Pennant Melangell I’d stopped communicating directly with Forrest. But it seemed that he hadn’t quite finished with all of us. As autumn arrived, it came with a series of public communications from Fenn, which sent me wearily back to GE. I really didn’t want to be doing this anymore. Each of Forrest’s posts contained pointers. I used them to tie in with what I knew of the area of the Rockies I’d “landed” in. They helped me navigate to the blaze, and then (after a couple of false starts) to the final location, strangely only some 200 ft. from where I’d “spent” the previous couple of months, never noticing what was so close by. And at last things became clear. Here was the symbol that mirrored those at the two “ends.” Here was where you’d at last find J.C. Penney. Here was the place that finally brought the poem to a close – and for once I had no doubt in my mind.

But I could no longer claim that it was “my” doing. It was a question of making the effort over five years, yes, but then it was the recognition that not only had I made use of prompts from Forrest through his public utterances, and occasional searchers’ pointers, but also that whatever was at work deep below the conscious ego was far more in tune with events than “I” ever could be.

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Looking westward wistfully from Wales (actually it’s south, but I like the W’s!)

But despite all this the chest remains out there for anyone to find and retrieve. I don’t know whether circumstances will ever be right for me to return to the Rockies, and that’s hard to live with, admittedly, but I try to be content with things as they are. I stay off the blogs as much as possible in order to concentrate on “real” life, but as you can see I’m not always successful! (It may be that Forrest has also now withdrawn from public interaction, but only time will tell.) The Chase has taken me to the darkest places, but also to radiant uplands. I have made discoveries that go far beyond anything I could have imagined – and for that I’m eternally grateful. I certainly feel more “integrated” than I ever have done in my 65 years.

To wrap up these musings on imagination, I have a sneaking suspicion that the chest will only be recovered when it is ready to be recovered. Yes, that sounds fanciful and a bit “woo-woo,” but if you believe, as I do, that this a vision quest as much as it is a treasure hunt, it may require a certain state of mind and personal readiness. I know that all of this will send some searchers into fits of giggles, and others will just sigh and shake their heads, but that’s OK; there will be a few who will be curious and willing to keep an open mind, particularly when they return to some of the Scrapbooks and other Fenn writings with this in mind. Remember that there’s a reason the Little Girl from India can get no closer than the first two clues with her map and poem. Anyway, I apologize to those looking for concrete pointers that none of the places pictured here are anywhere near my final spot (nor even the places the first two clues lead), but I sincerely believe that those willing to delve deep can find the same haunting hillside that both beckons and bars me (for now). And lastly, to return to books, if any of you are into motor racing, and particularly Formula 1 (sorry, Nascar fans!), Damon Hill’s autobiography, Watching The Wheels, makes for a fascinating read, as well as touching tangentially on the theme of this post.

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-Voxpops