A Bear Trap Canyon Solve…

By Idle Dreamer

Bear Trap Canyon isn’t a new solve area and will continue to get Fenn Searchers drawn to it until the chest is found.  I became interested in the area after making two BOTG trips into the Cody area (the area around Mummy Cave including the UXU Ranch).  The proximity to a lake, a canyon road that you can only gain access from one direction, and the possibility I was on to a new take on that area got me excited.

Begin It Where Warm Waters Halt
The Madison’s 50 mile riffle ends at Ennis Lake and the lake itself is always warm until it freezes over completely in the winter.  This made the lake a literal WWWH’s in my eyes (and no doubt many others).  At the North East end of the lake is the entrance to Bear Trap Canyon where you cross a bridge that always seemed to have at least a couple people fishing who gave a warm wave as you crossed.

Take It In The Canyon Down, Not Far, But Too Far To Walk.
This is where I felt I was on to something new.  The previous solves to this area all went down by the dam and didn’t seem to stop by the first parking area (Solved the first two and went right passed the other seven).  The distance to this parking area is only ½ mile, but is also the same distance that Forrest ran to the Katy railroad tracks.  Plus, I have always read that line with the extension “…far to walk if carrying a heavy chest”.  Thus, keeping the poem in context with the goal, “Put in below the home of Brown” became put in below the hiding spot of the brown chest.  Which would make it hard for people to solve because, I assumed, most attempted to put a location to the Home of Brown instead of just the “put in” and even if you noted the right “put in” if you labeled the Home of Brown as a location you would be technically incorrect.  Plus, Forrest has stated that if he told you where the HOB was you could just go get the treasure.  At least this logic worked for me at the time.

Put In Below The Home Of Brown
The Put In for me was the parking lot for Trail Creek Trail.  I immediately liked it because of the two omegas and the redundancy of “trail” in the name.  The Trail Creek itself follows a large draw up which I felt could reflect on “Drawing Nigh” but the trail itself doesn’t immediately follow the draw.

From There It’s No Place For The Meek
The trail starts with a series of switch backs where you gain a large amount of vertical elevation.  A website on Cowboy Heaven describes this as “Not for Couch Potatoes” which really resonated with that line in the poem as couch potatoes could be considered meek and this hike wasn’t for them.

The End Is Ever Drawing Nigh;
When you reach the top of the switch backs you start to go into the draw and get drawn to the left.  There are a few interesting things as you go including large quartz deposits that shine brightly in the afternoon sun.  They are also large enough, and bright enough, that you can see them on Google Earth.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t at the right line in the poem (though I did check that area without luck) so this solve doesn’t cover that in any more detail.

This is where I really started to get excited about the solve.  As you get drawn to the left you reach a point where you must cross Trail creek.  If you read the signs where you park, it warns about private property ahead and to stay on the trail.  Before going I made to sure to note the boundaries (Forrest has noted that private property rights are important – MIJ) and the spot you cross the creek is private property.  Thus, going up the creek would get you in trouble and reflects the concept of “up a creek without a paddle”.  The trail itself switches back and goes up the other side of the draw.  This reminded me of TTOTC (p.62) and “If we don’t change course soon we’ll end up where we’re going” stated by Donnie.  Which made me feel like if I didn’t change course I would end up where I started (Circular logic).  Which also reminded me of Forrest mentioning T.S. Eliot and arriving where you started and to know the place for the first time.  I felt that this was a sign that when you got to the top of the other side you weren’t supposed to follow the trail (which headed back towards the private property and on to Cowboy Heaven).

Just Heavy Loads and Water High
This is where I started to run into trouble with my logic.  As I was headed back I reached several large rock areas (heavy loads) where, if standing on them, I could see Ennis Lake (water high that Forrest could toss a bike into).  I was okay with those but the blaze wasn’t forthcoming.  The area itself was filled with sage brush and pine trees and giant boulders that Skippy would consider as rocks.  There was even an old campfire ring, thousands of great hiding places, and plenty of bones to find (I had my bear spray on belt).  No blaze could be found and I reached a large outcropping that overlooked the parking area where I started.

Wise and Blaze

This got me thinking about the rocks across the Madison by the parking area.  The one rock feature that stood out looked like a Sphinx to me (which I felt I was on a Sphinx’s riddle with this solve).  What if that was the blaze and the rock outcropping was where you were supposed to be wise and realize you had seen the blaze when you arrived but had to see it from the correct location.  This rock outcropping was directly across the river (and road) from the Sphinx.

The photos are from the rock outcropping which is wonderfully flat and easy to access (I didn’t feel unsafe being there).  I then looked quickly down and about 10 feet below was another flat area of rock.  This reminded me of the Dizzy Dean story and I could see people at the parking area, but they didn’t notice me at all.  There was only one way to get to that area and it was through a small channel that I barely squeezed through.  The spot was everything I could imagine as it was full of hiding spots and I was surrounded by wood.  The views were amazing but regrettably there was no treasure that I could find.

I’ve Done It Tired, And Now I’m Weak
After that I was finally ready to eliminate the solve (30 hours of BOTG in total) and take a break from the chase.  I can honestly say that area was amazing and when you go off trail it feels like the minute hand on my watch sped up as hours would pass without my knowledge.  There are a lot of interesting spots in that area including a 10-foot waterfall that isn’t easy to find, a spot filled with old tin cans and old glass, and sadly a dead horse skeleton in an area of moss and wet quartz that made the area sparkle brightly from the sun.  My son named the horse Jimmy, so if you find Jimmy, make sure to pay your respects.

by Idle Dreamer

The Poem Married to a Map…Part Two

BY CharlieM

From my previous solution (Part One), I did not explain well enough, where warm waters halt, how I arrived at the Headwaters of the Rio Grande River, to be the first clue in the poem. The Rio Grande River has been classified as warm water by the New Mexico Fish & Wildlife. In fishing brochures that I have seen they refer to The Warm Waters of the Rio Grande, also it has been referred the same in conversations I’ve had and tourist video clips and rafting clips that I’m sure are out there and around before the advent of computers. The Rio Grande River is made up of other rivers and waters combined, hence “waters”.

How does the Rio Grande River halt? When all of the snow melts off the water flow does halt or stops where the river is first formed, there is no more water. I think of it this way, when you turn on a faucet the water flows (melting snow) and when you turn off the faucet the water halts, (snow finished melting). This is the best analogy that I could present.

My second analogy of “where warm waters halt”, snow is frozen water, when it melts it is warmer water than its parent. Again when there is no more snow the water stops flowing. I believe there are many warm waters throughout the Rocky Mountains that this applies to. Even though I like both ideas, the first analogy is more defined as one place among the many places where warm waters halt.

On August 16, 2018 I went on another search and scratched off the road as a blaze in my first solution. Yes I did say that I was done searching with my first solution, but couldn’t help it with what I recently discovered. I restudied the same area and found what I believe is the blaze. In the Google Map image I noticed a white streak in the landscape, which there are several waterfalls of Clear Creek that creates a white streak when viewed from above. When one looks up the word, blaze, it mentions the white marking on a horse’s forehead and a streak of white hair on a man’s head is called a blaze.

If I “look quickly down” using Google Maps and physically being there where the last waterfall is there is logjam just below the pool of water created by the waterfall. Logs and branches, it is wood and not of a live standing tree. In the creek there are many flat stones in which to rest the treasure among the wood, hence “in the wood”. Wood that is submerged in water can last many years without rotting as the wood is not exposed directly in the air. Generally wood that is in water over time becomes harder and less prone to decay. The logs will more than likely, will not move because they are wedged so tightly against and in large rocks. It is very apparent that the wood has been there for many years because the wood is smooth with no bark that has eroded away by the water and very intacked.

“If you are brave” enough to try to cross the creek by using the wet and dry rocks as stepping stones to reach the wood and search in the wood. Water is “worth the cold.” For me and my friend it was a challenge to reach the wood in maintaining balance and trying to stay mostly dry, but was not dangerous even if one slipped or lost their balance the water was shallow. The rock walls on both sides of the creek were steep preventing us to go up higher and it is where an 80 year old would not go, but could go just below the last waterfall and do it twice and a child would need assistance. Never the less, we did not find the chest after searching the wood and even a little further downstream, including small knee high woody shrubs along the base along the rock walls and under exposed roots of trees along the banks of the creek.

Notes: I strongly believe my solution with the poem is more than likely in the correct hiding area and too coincidental to pass up. That’s just me.

1. Where warm waters halt is the headwaters of the Rio Grande River, for both reasons stated above.

2. The canyon down is not far, but too far to walk, at approximately 10 miles.

3. The put in place below the home of Brown, is below Brown Mountain (a place) at Silverton, CO.

4. From Silverton is the Million Dollar Highway, (road 550), which is “no place for the meek”, a road that has several hairpin turns, built partially along steep cliffs with very little to no shoulders without guard rails, (no more than three along the route).

5. The road, ( road 558), that continually “draws nigh”, to the left all of the way to the end, that starts 2 miles out of Silverton towards the Million Dollar Highway, turning left.

6. Clear Creek is most definitely as, one cannot use a paddle going up and is “your” creek to search.

7. “Just up the creek is “water high”, (Clear Lake), and the only way to get to the lake is “just” the use of a four wheeled vehicle as heavy loads. I feel that, “just heavy loads and water high” is a confirmation that one is in the right area. I think that phrase is more of a hint and not a real clue even though it is after “your creek”, kind of an afterthought.

8. “If you are wise and found the blaze”, The water going over the many waterfalls would be a white streak looking from above with GM, and cannot be seen using a regular or topography map. I would be very inclined to think that water would be overlooked as a blaze. Looking “quickly down” just below the last waterfall is the logjam as “your quest to cease” is your search area.

9. “Your effort is worth the cold”, is the water of Clear Creek and as I explained above, “If you are brave and in the wood” does strongly apply to what the poem is saying.

Even though I did not find the treasures and the chest, does not mean that it is not there. During the course over a period of 8 to 10 years a lot of things do change in nature. Some of the logs may have been moved by water from a heavier thaw than usual and silt and rocks could make it much harder to find the treasure and still be in the correct location. Or it may have been retrieved by a searcher long ago and the finder simply went in peace without saying a word. In this case it is not likely, because none of the artifacts have surfaced.

None of my solution was forced and there are a lot of coincidences that are factual to the poem. Where warm waters halt may be argued, the rest does easily fit what the poem is saying as factual places. Something to strongly ponder and investigate further, I will not be doing that, but anyone else can do so and I will wish them better luck. I would find it very hard to look elsewhere as my solution will always be stuck firmly in my mind.

Do I expect any comments from Forrest? Of course not, as I did not find the treasure. I just wonder how well his “gut feeling” is now even though it was “wavering” later on, in regards to the treasure possibly being found this summer.

Cheers to all searchers in the past and present!!

by CharlieM –

The Poem Married to a Map…Part One

BY CharlieM

I started my search for the treasure in July of 2017, after a pastor was found dead along the Rio Grande River. I did do a physical search in the very first part of August 2017, which turned out to be unsuccessful. I did leave the poem at the “home of Brown” only because Forrest Fenn had set the elevation limit at 10,200 feet, Also, at the time I went I was searching through remains of structures that could be considered wood. However Forrest said the treasure was not associated to a structure, which I learned after I had returned from my first search. As it turns out that I had what I believe was the correct, “where warm waters halt,” and the correct, “home of Brown.” From that point on I was way off base with “below”, preceding the home of Brown and the rest of the poem.

I tried to visit the area where I thought that the treasure was hidden, June 11, 2018. The road in was closed because of the closure into the wilderness due to the 416 fire north of Durango. This resulted in the closure of the San Juan National Forest the same day that I would have liked to search with my wife along. We stayed at the Grand View Hotel in Silverton, Colorado that evening and toured the town. For those that have been following Dal’s blog, I said I couldn’t get into the search area because a culvert in the road had been washed out. I said that only to misdirect and not give away where I wanted to search, just call me paranoid.

One week later my close friend and I had planned a second attempt to go, but the road between Silverton and Ouray had a mud slide and damaged part of the road, which was later one lane was opened. So we planned another trip a week later, then we found out two days before we were to go that the road outside of Fairplay was closed because of a flash flood, fortunately we could make a small detour around.

It surely seemed that the cards were stacked against me and trying to prevent me from getting to the area I wanted to search. Finally I and my friend were able to go to the area where I believed the treasure was hidden on June 18, 2018 with beautiful weather for the full trip and back.

The following marriage of the poem to a map and my reasoning for finding what I considered a good location of the treasure. The tools that I used to find the treasure is; the book, The Thrill of the Chase, because it contained the Poem and for the life of me I couldn’t find subtle hints. I also used Google Maps along with Google Maps, just to check the elevation and to obtain the grid coordinates. I am a poem purist and did not look for hidden meanings, as I believe Forrest at his word when he said something to the effect; the poem is straight forward and in plain English.

So here I go through the poem to explain how my path became to be. I believe my path would be hard to dispute and because the poem fits very easily to a map, without being forced. The path I took was using a map until where parked to go on foot.

As I have gone alone in there (I is to mean Forrest Fenn and in there is the Rocky Mountains)

And with my treasures bold, (the chest and its contents being mostly of gold)

I can keep a secret where,

And hint of riches new and old. (Forrest is saying there are hints throughout the poem. The riches new and old, is the very old and newer contents of the Chest, including the chest.)

Begin it, where warm waters halt, (I believe, Begin it, to mean the Chase, the search or start. I have heard over the years the references to the warm waters of the Rio Grande River. The river truly does halt at the headwaters after the snow melts off of the mountains during the summer. Also one could consider following the river up to its end where it halts at the headwaters. The Rio Grande River was put out of bounds for searching by Forrest because of the loss of lives. The rest of the Poem is not near nor follows the river.)

And take it in the canyon down, (take it, to me means the search or your search. From the headwaters there is basically one way to go and that’s because the river is off limits and the other is because there is really no place to go. So I took the canyon down toward Howardsville. At the headwaters down to the road, there is no road or path to take, but you can use Google Maps.

Not far, but too far to walk. (In the era that we live in 5 to 20 miles is not far and for me 7 miles is too far to walk. It just so happens that from the headwaters to put in is approximately 10 miles, which is not far, but it is too far to walk.)

Put in below the home of Brown. (If I had not been to Silverton, I would have not known that the elevation continues to drop through the town to the put in spot, which is where you would meet Hwy 550. If you were to take the canyon up to Brown Mountain, the home of Brown, just outside of town you would be immediately beyond 10,200 feet, so the Silverton area is truly below Brown Mountain. You merely passed through Silverton to the put in spot. So far nothing is associated to a structure.

From there it’s no place for the meek, (This is where I struggled, if I had not gone through from Silverton to Ouray, I would have not known it was no place for the meek. From the put in spot you head north on highway 550 from Silverton is the Million Dollar Highway, which ends in Ouray. When you view the hwy from Google Maps it shows the road to be the Million Dollar Hwy. I thought what a subtle hint, at the time when Forrest hid the treasure, it was valued at a million dollars. The route between Silverton and Ouray the road has many steep hairpin turns with very little to no shoulders and follows a very steep rocky canyon. This area is definitely no place for the meek whether driving or on foot. In talking with people that have visited the area, they say they preferred not to drive the highway which has less than a handful of guard rails. To fully appreciate this area as no place for the meek, one needs to visit the area. I need to note that when viewing the road from Google Maps doesn’t help in determining the road and area as no place for the meek.

The 2 images below show part of the canyon that the Million Dollar Highway goes through. The image on the left, in the middle is the Million Dollar Highway. The image on the right shows the steep the canyon.

The end is ever drawing nigh; (Just out of Silverton, going north slightly west, approximately. 2 miles towards “no place for the meek”, there is the dirt road 558. Viewing the entire length of the road from Google Maps, the road continues slowly drawing to the left from highway 550 to the very end of the dirt road 558. Down the road about 4 miles in is the search area.  Road 558 has campgrounds along the way by the South Fork of Mineral Creek.)

There’ll be no paddle up your creek, (The no paddle creek is Clear Creek, just above the last campground, which it is very narrow and starts up high at a natural lake which is Clear Lake. There is no trail up the creek and it is steep).

Just heavy loads and water high, (The only way up the creek is “just” using a vehicle which is “heavy loads”. “Just” up the creek is Clear Lake, which is “water high”.)

If you’ve been wise and found the blaze, (There is a trailhead just above the last campground it is the Ice Lake Trail which quickly goes above the altitude limit of 10,200 feet. The blaze for the trail is not the blaze, because, looking quickly down, is the upper campground. If you look at the road up to Clear Lake from Google Maps, the zigzagging of the road makes a mark on the mountain side. I believe the road is the Blaze. One cannot see the entire blaze (Clear Lake Road), from the base or from the top, while being physically on site. To go up the four wheel road it quickly is above the elevation limit)

Look quickly down, (this is from the base of Clear Lake Road, the blaze, looking quickly down from Google Maps, is the South fork of Mineral Creek. One cannot see the creek below from the blaze while on site because of tall Booth’s Willows all along the valley. You however can see all from the “big picture”, Google Maps. Google Maps is created by snapshots from the satellite and all those are combined to make a big continuous picture.)

your quest to cease, (Now you can see the area by looking quickly down this is the area that may contain the treasure in the wood.)

But tarry scant with marvel gaze, (For me, means to not dawdle and don’t be late gazing at the marvelous find.)

Just take the chest and go in peace.

So why is it I must go and leave my trove for all to seek? (I believe the reason why Forrest Fenn is primarily trying to get people off of their duffs and enjoy what nature and the mountains have to offer. Secondly there was the recession where people where struggling financially and he was hoping to share his fortune to help someone out, especially those with families.)

The answer I already know, I’ve done it tired and now I’m weak. (This sentence is just what it says, he did it tired and now he is weak from hiding the treasure.)

So hear me all and listen good, (Pay close attention to the following)

Your effort will be worth the cold. (I believe this is reference to cold water, (South Fork of Mineral Creek), the water you may be in to retrieve the chest.)

If you are brave and in the wood, (There is a pile of washed down tree trunks that is partially blocking the water flow. You would need to be brave and careful while searching through the wood. In the effort to search the wood you will be in water, hence your efforts will be worth the cold. On one end of the pile of wood is what could be considered an island covered with willows, this could also be considered wood. I thought of Gardner’s island when I saw the island.)

I give you title to the gold.

I may be wrong, but who knows I might be right. I may have missed something, but I feel this is a very good solution. Another thing came to my mind, its ten miles down the canyon to put in, its two miles towards no place for the meek and approximately miles four miles to the search area. Remember Dr Pepper, 10-2-4, what a coincident, just saying.

Below is a image of the search area which is tied to stanza six of the poem.

Below are two images of the route taken that the poem is referencing. I followed the directions given in the poem to find the treasure. However I did physically drive to the parking spot and then I walked to what I believed the immediate area of the chest. I did not drive the entire path of the Poem to the treasure, but I did follow the poem married to a map in effort to retrieve the treasure.

It was a good thing that I took my best friend along to help me search. I am a below the knee amputee and going through the willows with a walking stick was a good thing to help maintain balance. The willows were very hard to navigate through for me as well as my friend. Our feet kept getting tangled at times. My friend went down and had a hard time getting up because there really wasn’t anything sturdy to hang onto except for the walking sticks. An 80 year old could walk from his car and through the willows. Don’t let the two images above fool you, as they dated back to 2007 and the area has changed since then.

You couldn’t see the area where I believed the treasure was hidden from the road because of the tall willows. No one could see us working through the wood to find the treasure. We went through the logs from the upstream side as the water was more shallow compared to the downstream side. We removed branches and silt that were mixed in while searching, from the topside of the wood, down to the water was very damp. We searched in every nook and cranny from end to end and even used a flashlight to see under the wood in the water, just by the mere chance the treasure was dislodged. We were wet all the way up to our shoulders and at times covered with debris. A large majority of the wood is above water, keep in mind Forrest said that the treasure wasn’t underwater and that it was wet. We didn’t take pictures of the wood and the immediate surroundings as we were trying to maintain balance and not to step into deep holes in the water, along with the excitement. We worked through the wood for about three and a half hours. We also did a very thorough search of the island with all its willows and along the banks on the other side. We also search through more wood upstream and downstream from the wood we initially searched.

Where I believed the treasure was hidden one could clearly see that this location would not be stumbled upon, nor would anyone have an interest in going through the willows. If I were to die in the location I would not be found for a very long time. Who in their right mind would want to fight through the willows even to go fishing? We did see bear scat and deer tracks and absolutely no one was around even though the campgrounds and the parking areas were busy. The biggest aggravation was those tiny flies that bite; it’s like flies all over a carcass. No treasure was found, but I and my friend enjoyed every minute of the excursion.

For those that are interested, the grid coordinates are 37 degrees, 48’19.28”N Longitude, 107 degrees 45’48.95”W Latitude, at an elevation of 9800 feet.

Below is a photo taken from the tailgate of the truck looking over the willows where we parked. The entire area is absolutely gorgeous and a perfect place to hide the treasure and rest forever.

by CharlieM –