My Yellowstone Attempt…

by Stephen


My wife and I took a stab at a New Mexico solve a year ago, and had a great time discovering Santa Fe, Northern New Mexico, and ourselves in the process.  Needless to say, we came home with our pockets empty of gold, but we had our hearts filled with happiness.

I was determined to figure out where I went wrong with my solve, and decided that I was completely wrong about my search area, and decided to research Yellowstone National Park as much as I could.  I had looked at ideas relating to the Firehole/Gibbon/Madison theory for WWWH, and had even formulated multiple ideas.  One had me hiking to the top of Fairy Falls.  Another idea had used Fountain Freight Drive as “heavy loads and water high.”  None would give me an answer that completely satisfied my desire for accuracy.

Then I read about the Boiling River.  I had seen that it was one of only a couple of spots in which you could (legally) swim.  It’s formed by the runoff from Mammoth Hot Springs, so it could definitely fit WWWH, and it’s got canyon both north and south.  I took the southerly “down” route on the map, and followed it to the Sheepeater Canyon bridge over the Gardner River.  This was just south of the mouth of Lava Creek, and I had read where Brown Trout would swim up the Gardner and spawn in those regions of the Gardner and Lava Creek.  I had my HOB!

From there, no place for the meek was getting out on foot and drawing nigh was an unmarked trail to the left of where we disembarked from the vehicle.  Okay… I was getting a little nervous at this point.  Then I figured out that no paddle up my creek was just walking, and “creek” could be a term for simply a narrow winding path, not necessarily a water creek.  Heavy loads became the chest, and water high… hmm… I found an old jewelery term, High water, where a higher water meant higher quality.  There are jewels in the chest, so they must surely be of high quality (at least to somebody.)

All I needed was a blaze.  Using Google Maps, I went to this location with a street level view (great tool btw) and what did I see in the background?  Bunsen Peak, named after
the same Bunsen that invented the Bunsen burner used by scientists worldwide!

I presented the idea to my wife, who gave her approval, but she wanted to invite my Aunt Charlotte along for the trip.  She loves travel too, and I soon found out that she had never been to Yellowstone, but had always wanted to visit.  She was so excited about the opportunity to get to spend time with me (that we had never really been able to do in all our years) that she volunteered her vehicle for the trip!

June 2016, we left Memphis, TN early on a Saturday morning, and spent three days driving to YNP.  On the way, we stopped at Council Bluffs, Iowa and saw where Lewis & Clark had met with local Indians on their way west.  I took a beautiful picture of a sunset before we left.  Our hotel was more than comfortable, and after around 12 hours driving, our sleep came quickly.  Too bad morning comes early… but that’s the next day.

Our second day of driving brought us through the Badlands, which is an amazing site.  The formations there blew our minds away.  We pushed onward to Rapid City, South Dakota, and we visited Mount Rushmore at night, which I must say, looks better at night than day (my opinion.)  To really put the icing on the cake, I have to put a side note here…  My dad and my stepmother had taken a trip of their own to visit her oldest son in Lincoln, Nebraska.  Dad and I had hatched a little plan to meet up in South Dakota without my wife’s or my aunt’s knowledge, so when we walked into our hotel, my dad was sitting in the lobby waiting for us.  The look on my wife’s face was priceless!  We all ate supper together, and had a great evening.  He ended up spending nearly 6 days in South Dakota while we went on to Yellowstone.




Our third and final day of driving took us by the Little Bighorn battlefield.  It’s good to see the respect given to both sides of the conflict, and show that even our side is not without its own faults.


At the end of the day, we made it to our cabin in Emigrant, Montana, about 30 miles north of the North Entrance to the Park.  It was beautiful there, and we couldn’t have picked a better place to stay for our time at Yellowstone.




Finally, we made our entrance!  It was more than I had expected, the beauty of the mountains, the river flowing next to the roadway, and views beyond description.



Our first order of business was the search, which was not a far drive away, and was only a couple of miles east of Mammoth on the Mammoth-Tower road.



We spent about an hour searching the area, specifically around the small grove of trees directly in front of the mountain (look quickly down), but alas, nothing.  So we spent the remainder of that day, and the next two days, just enjoying the sights!  We had a wonderful time, and didn’t even make it through the entire park.  So, next year, we’re planning on making a return trip.  I might even have a better solve worked out by then… Or maybe I already do 😉






Meek, Major Powell, and Maybe Escalante…

by Golden Horse


A recurring issue I have with many of my solutions is that I tend to make things fit the puzzle. As a result I find that there are several interpretations of the clues in any of my broad locations. I will use an asterisks to identify the correlations I believe make the best fit. The location this solution leads to has been searched by me twice, thoroughly, so I do not believe this area to be the resting place of Fenn’s gold. I am sharing my solutions on Dal’s page because I have used many of its members as a resource. A couple of my interruptions of the clues in this solve are nearly identical to other solves I have read here. That was in some cases by coincidence and in other cases intentional because some of you are just too darn smart. If you have read the Flaming Gorge/Brown’s Park/Joe Meek solve before feel free to skip to clue #6. From there I hope it is original.

#1. Begin it where warm waters halt

Forrest said that WWWH was not associated with a dam. I believe he did this in an effort to keep people as safe as possible. At the time of the release of this clue several searchers were putting themselves in danger around the base of large dams. I believe WWWH represents where a lake/reservoir meets a river. I have two/three reasons for this.



The first image (above) is located somewhere on the New Mexico parks webpage and the second is a photo from my Colorado Benchmark map opposite the map page of this solutions general search area. The third reason is that it fitsthis particular solution.




My grandfather and I started investigating this area because of its proximity to Butch Cassidy’s hideout.


#2. and take it in the canyon down,

Flaming Gorge flows into the Green River by way of the Red Canyon. In his book Forrest dedicates a chapter to a childhood adventure he took up Red Canyon near Hebgen Lake in Montana. (I have been there too. It is beautiful.)


#3. Not far, but too far to walk.

My interpretation of this clue is that the canyon is long and you shouldn’t get out of your car yet. Having driven red canyon myself I can assure you that walking it wouldn’t be fun. This could actually be part of clue #2 depending on how you interpret the 9 nine clues. The distance from the edge of the lake to our next destination, also the distance of the canyon, is 20.4 miles as the crow flies.



#4. Put in below the home of Brown.

Forrest said that all you need to solve his puzzle is the poem and a good map. When he published “Too Far To Walk” he partnered with Benchmark Maps which might mean that Forrest believes Benchmark Maps are good maps. There happens to be a “Put-in below” Browns Park National Wildlife Refuge just after Red Canyon.

These are notes I found attempting to identify where Browns Park got its name: “Janet Lecompte of Colorado Springs argues convincingly that Brown was a fictional character invented by Colonel Henry Inman in his book The Old Santa Fe Trail originally published in 1897. Still others feel that Baptiste Brown was actually an alias for Jean-Baptiste Chalifoux. Chalifoux was a French Canadian trapper who operated out of Taos. He led a horse stealing party to California in 1837, operated a trading post in Embudo, New Mexico, in the 1840s, and built the first house in Trinidad, Colorado, in 1869. He visited the Brown’s Hole area in 1835 and left his name carved on a cliffside in the Willow Creek drainage…”




#5. From there it’s no place for the meek, The end is ever drawing nigh;

There are two trains of thought here and I subscribe to both of them. One train will tell you that the rapids after the put-in are no place for the meek. In fact two historic shipwrecks occurred about six miles south of the put-in at Disaster Falls. The first was General Ashley’s expedition and the second was Major Powell’s expedition. The natives warned Powell of the dangers inside the canyons of Ladore. The second train of thought refers to Joe Meek a fur trader and mountain man that was living at Fort Davy Crockett. Some of you have seen the journal passage mentioned on this blog, I attached an image of it below. In the passage Robert Newell tells Meek that the green river is not place for them now because the fur trade is dead. So where is no place for the Meek? The green river and Ladore canyon is no place for the Meek so that is where we should be looking. I am also including a couple extra images that indicate the location of Fort Davy Crockett. (J. Meek Pictured on the bottom right)















#6. There’ll be no paddle up your creek,

To this point several of you must be saying I have read this solution before. Hopefully what follows is something most of you haven’t seen. I mentioned Major Powell earlier but his story really picks up over the next several clues. “The Exploration of the Colorado River and Its Canyons” by J.W. Powell and Dover Publications documents several of Major Powell’s adventures. The cover of this book has an illustration of one of Powell’s boats at disaster falls. If you recall I said that disaster falls could be considered no place for the meek. (Powell pictured to the right)









Powell begins his journey through the Gates of Ladore and down the Canyon of Ladore in chapter seven of his book. (Left: Powell’s Illustration of gates. Right a photo I took at the gates)











In the same chapter on the next page Major Powell chronicles the loss of their first ship the “No-Name.” Before the vessel is destroyed the No-Name loses their oars. Another word for paddle is oar. I have highlighted the passage below. (Bottom photo of Upper Disaster Falls)




#7. Just heavy loads and water high.

The book is broken up by chapters and by (almost) daily journal entries. Some days something significant happens and there is a lot to read and other days there are only a few lines. The crew spends a couple days carrying the remaining boats around disaster falls. On the third day (June 12th) the men discover supplies and wreckage from the lost boat. They carry them above the HIGH WATER mark and leave them, because their cargo is already too HEAVY.



#8. If you’ve been wise and found the blaze,

Over the next few days Powell’s crew encounters several more rapids but nothing exciting happens. They name the stretch of the canyon they just encountered, Hells Half Mile. On June 16th something unexpected happens… There is a fire in the camp. Read the passage I have highlighted below if you want the details.


When I read it the first time I believed I had solved the poem. I assumed I had found the blaze. Many people believe this blaze occurred at rippling brook. In fact I have heard river guides tell the story that way. However after careful reading you will find the historic blaze actually occurred at alcove brook. Alcove brook has been searched thoroughly by my group with a metal detector.


I found the blaze but, was I wise? If I was wise and searching for a fire where would I go or what would I do? I pondered this question as I scoured the map and the book. Then I realized if I was wise and looking for a fire I would go to a fire lookout tower and low and behold one of the oldest towers still in operation overlooks the entire search area from Dinosaur National Monuments highest point, Zenobia Peak.


My thought was that I needed to look in the direction of the historic blaze from the lookout tower. So we drove to the peak!




Above is the view from the tower in the general direction of the blaze. (Technically this photo is a little off center, but I chose it because it is more appealing to the eye.)


#9. Look quickly down, your quest to cease, (marvel gaze? Trust me… it is a marvel)
Look down…




I searched for hours and didn’t find the chest here. I figured I was still on the right track but had messed up somewhere along the way. So I developed a couple alternatives. I consider myself a math hobbyist but I attempted to calculate the odds of Powell’s book fitting so well after finding the first set of clues, it seem unlikely to be a coincidence. Later I consulted a mathematician who reassured me that it was unlikely that a book written over 200 years ago could so closely and sequentially match three clues from the poem. And so I flipped a few more pages in the book. It had occurred to me that some of the clues I outline above could be considered one clue instead of two. Thus leaving room for additional clues. For example WWWH and “take it in the canyon down” or the latter of the two and “not far, but too far to walk.” After the fire Powell finds himself in Pat’s Hole, now Echo Park. Echo Park is home to a monstrous rock appropriately named Steamboat Rock.


In his journal; Powell, who only has one arm, claims he climbed this behemoth. Of course he almost falls to his death in the process. It is said that he holds on with the only arm he has. I imagine hanging there and taking a QUICK peak at the canyon floor below. If Powell fell his quest would have undoubtedly CEASED. This calamity happens just two days after the blaze.


I have several interruptions of the clues from this point. For example Powell climbs Mt. Dawes (now Zenobia) a few days after his near miss with death. When on top of Zenobia he describes looking in all directions from the highest peak. He marvels at the beauty of his surroundings.

“So hear me all and listen good,” could be a way of describing Echo Park or Jenny Lind rock. The park is named after the great echoes that can be heard there. Jenny Lind Rock rest at the upper edge of the canyon near the confluence. Jenny was an opera singer, perhaps if you holler from there you can be heard by everyone in the canyon if they are listening good.

The illustration opposite page 169 is of Echo Park looking from a large rock across the Yampa/Green Confluence.

… What if… “the end is ever drawing nigh;” actually means the END is NIGH (near) an EVER DRAWING (or a drawing that lasts forever aka a petroglyph)? Inside Echo Park you will find the Pool Creek Petroglyphs.

I know this canyon well. I have searched it top to bottom. I have swam in all its waters, crossed all its creeks and ventured into the depths of all its caves (Pat’s included). I have even stepped over recently devoured deer or elk carcasses near Pool creek in search of the chest. Echo Park is MASSIVE and beautiful but the chest isn’t there. Feel free to message me if you are planning on taking the trip I would be happy to answer almost any questions. I have a couple other obscure solves for this area that I didn’t mention because the chest wasn’t there either and this post is already over 2000 words and nearly 18 pages.

I almost forgot to mention the possible Escalante Solution. While Powell was coming back down from the peak of Mt. Dawes he discovered a man-made monument which he believed might have been built by the Spanish Priest Escalante. I couldn’t find it. This isn’t at Escalante Overlook either. I think it is on limestone ridge. This is the last passage before Powell enters what is now Utah, which we know is outside the search area. Good Luck.


-Golden Horse