The Newsweek Story…

As everyone except Lady Gaga probably already knows, Tony Doukoupil wrote a story about Forrest and the treasure for the August 20th edition of Newsweek, plus a different (but similar) Newsweek story just for iPads. Later  Dokoupil said on CNN that he thinks he knows where the treasure chest is located but he will only tell us in the Newsweek iPad version of the story.

Tony Dokoupil, senior reporter, Newsweek Magazine

Aha…the American way..I have to own a specific device and pay money to see the “special” story.  It’s all about paying to read Newsweek. I can get the on-line version for free on The Daily Beast. It’s the same as the printed edition. But the iPad version of Newsweek has “added” or “enhanced” content that you can’t get in the print or on-line editions. Specifically it has more photos and a VIDEO where Tony Dokoupil tells viewers where he thinks the treasure really is.

I don’t know how long this link will work but for right now you can watch the video that was originally intended only for iPad distribution here:

I have transcribed the video below so that when that link goes away you can still read the report as text.

What I want to do in this blog is examine the Dokoupil report and review his hypothesis about the location of the treasure. To start, here is a complete transcription of Dokoupil’s report from the iPad video.

TONY DOKOUPIL REPORT-FROM NEWSWEEK, iPAD VERSION VIDEO,  AUGUST 20, 2012

I’m Tony Dokoupil. I wrote this week’s feature on Forrest Fenn ah, the collector and a man who has buried a million dollars in the mountains north of Santa Fe and invited the public to find it.

Treasure hunters are looking in New Mexico and Colorado. Ah, I happen to think that the treasure is in Yellowstone Park in Wyoming. Two paragraphs ah, that I found in a long unpublished family history seem to point to the Firehole River. Forrest wrote a 24 line poem which he says contains everything you need to find the treasure. I ah, have my own interpretation based on my reporting. Ah, and I offer it to you now.

Forget paragraph one and forget the bottom of the poem (the two last paragraphs). It’s filler. The three paragraphs in the middle are what matters. The first missing clue is “where warm waters halt”. The Firehole river is ah, a river that is fed by geyser water, hot geyser water. He used to bathe where that geyser met the cold stream water. So where the warm water of the geyser halted, he used to take a bath as a boy.

“Canyon down” is ah, a description of the approach to the river. Ah, you have to take an old freight road which is also referenced in that paragraph.

The “home of Brown” is a, a clue that people think it’s the Brown Hotel in New Mexico. Some people ah, think its the Brown Mountains in New Mexico. There is a Moreno Mountain Range. I think more likely it means Brown trout. And the Firehole River is full of Brown trout.

“Just heavy loads and water high”. I think it’s a reference to the bridge, that again, Fenn references in his unpublished family history. You are waist deep in the water and there are heavy loads above on the bridge.

And then the reference to the “blaze” which has also been confusing to people. He intentionally put that BIG word in there to throw people off. I think “blaze” is a reference to the geyser that produces the hot water that marks the treasure.

A few tips or advisories. Some things I learned ah, in looking into Forrest Fenn’s life.

First of all he didn’t necessarily bury the treasure. He’s careful not to use that word.

He also expects water and fire damage. Something to keep in mind.

Number two, don’t get to creative. Forrest was about 80 years old when he put this chest in the mountains. Ah, so go only places where you can imagine an 80 year old person going.

And then a wild card. Just a thing that I heard that I think is interesting and I’ll pass on to you is that, Doug Preston, ah, the writer is a good friend of Forrest Fenn’s and he says that he swears he remembers Forrest telling him that he’s worried that people will find his car. So when Forrest puts his body next to the treasure and dies he’s afraid that people will find his car and the location of the car would be Northern Arizona University. So there could be some significance to Northern Arizona University.

So I leave it to you ah treasure hunters ah take it or leave it. Ah, and good luck on the trail.

——————————–end————————-

Next I’d like to take his hypothesis and look at it line by line. This is obviously based on my own twisted bias about this particular location as a potential location of the treasure as well as my personal concerns about Dokoupil’s reporting.

Dokoupil’s report will be in red text and my own thoughts in blue. Hopefully that will help separate what Dokoupil and I each say.

Let’s start here-

Treasure hunters are looking in New Mexico and Colorado. 

Not a criticism just a reminder that these are not the only states being searched. I personally know that folks are looking in ALL the mountain states and I even know a searcher looking in Alberta. The search is not limited to just Colorado and New Mexico. Forrest has eliminated a couple of States in added clues he’s handed out. Some searchers have received additional clues that may be meaningful or may be meaningless. Others have used their own intuition to rule out certain states. But unless you have heard more from the Mysterious Mr. Fenn, it’s important to remember, Forrest said the treasure is located “in the mountains North of Santa Fe”. That includes more than just two states.

I happen to think that the treasure is in Yellowstone Park in Wyoming.

This is a reasonable guess. Based on other lines in the poem, on information gleaned from Forrest’s book, The Thrill of the Chase, and from stories on Forrest’s blog. Forrest has said that the treasure is hidden somewhere special to him. We assume that Yellowstone National Park (YNP) is special to him because he spent all of his summers as a youth in, and around the park with his family. However it’s certainly not a foregone conclusion that this is the ONLY place Forrest thinks is special. What about the place where the Fenn Cache supposedly came from or maybe a place where Forrest and Peggy spent their honeymoon or where Forrest caught his first trout or bagged his first mountain lion….you get my drift.

Two paragraphs ah, that I found in a long unpublished family history seem to point to the Firehole River.

Again, a reasonable guess. But you don’t have to have read Forrest’s UNPUBLISHED FAMILY HISTORY to find information about the bathing spot or even where it’s at. There is a story on Forrest’s blog called River Bathing is Best. It’s about his favorite bathing spot which is where a particular hot spring, called Ojo Caliente, drains into the Firehole River in Yellowstone. I visited the spot, took photos and wrote a story about it on this blog. You can read both stories yourself. Forrest’s is here and mine is here.

Dokoupil changes at this point to talking about Forrest’s poem.

Forget paragraph one and forget the bottom of the poem (the two last paragraphs). It’s filler. The three paragraphs in the middle are what matters. 

I think this is very shortsighted. There are at least two clues in the last paragraph. By the way  Tony, a paragraph in a poem is called a stanza or a verse.

The last stanza in the poem:

So hear me and listen good,

Your effort will be worth the cold.

If you are brave and in the wood

I give you title to the gold.

What about the 2nd line that mentions “cold”? Does this imply that you’ll get cold finding the treasure? Is it in cold water?  Is it on a snow covered peak? Do you have to cross cold water to get to it? If you take the line seriously it is a clue to the location of the chest. How, is the mystery!

What about, being brave and in the wood? Does this mean you will have to be brave to find the chest? If so, it tells us that the chest is not likely to be found simply or easily. Earlier in the poem Forrest tells us that “it’s no place for the meek,”. Is he simply repeating himself with the “brave” remark or is this new information?

Grant Wood, American Gothic…perhaps the treasure is in the house

And “in the wood”. What does that mean? In a copse of trees? In an old wooden building? Maybe he means in the Grant Wood painting American Gothic. Maybe it’s in the house in the background. Your interpretation of what it means is critical and it’s likely a clue.

The first line in the first stanza also gives us a hint. Forrest writes:

“As I have gone alone in there”.

We know from the word “alone” that Forrest did not have any help. No one helped him carry the 42lb chest into it’s hiding spot. He did not use a pack horse either because if he did, he would not have been alone. Given this, we know that it’s unlikely the chest is hidden a two day hike away from the nearest parking place. Forrest, at 79-80 would have been unlikely to make an arduous journey carrying the chest.

So my point is that there are clues all through that poem. Read it carefully if you are serious about finding the treasure.

The first missing clue is “where warm waters halt”. The Firehole river is ah, a river that is fed by geyser water, hot geyser water. He used to bathe where that geyser met the cold stream water. So where the warm water of the geyser halted, he used to take a bath as a boy.

The Firehole River with Ojo Caliente Hot Springs pouring in on the opposite bank

I am pretty familiar with the Firehole. It is a fascinating river, quite different from the rivers I grew up with in Michigan. It’s name tells a lot about it’s peculiar make-up. Dokoupil is wrong in his assessment of the river and his layout of the surrounding geological features. To begin, there are certainly geysers that drain into the Firehole. But most of the features around the river are hot springs, pools and mud pots, not geysers. The river begins at Madison Lake with a temperature that could well be described as cold at about 54 degrees. But then the river runs north and passes through three geyser basins in the park. By the time the river reaches Fountain Flats, where Forrest’s bathing spot is located its about 22 degrees warmer. When I was there in May I measured 76 degrees at a place just upstream from Forrest’s bathing spot.

So, it’s water is quite warm. Often times it’s much too warm for Brown trout and they head up into the Firehole’s tributaries to cool off.  My point is that it’s hard to imagine Forrest’s line “Where warm waters halt” being this place on the Firehole or any other place downstream from Old Faithful because the river here is already warm, heated by the hundreds of hot geological features along it’s banks that drain into it. Now, if Forrest had said “where hot water halts” the starting place could be here or hundreds of other spots along the Firehole where HOT water from springs is cooled by the warm water of the Firehole. 

“Canyon down” is ah, a description of the approach to the river. Ah, you have to take an old freight road which is also referenced in that paragraph.

This is the Freight Road. It’s pretty flat. The bridge ahead crosses the Firehole River. Forrest’s favorite bathing spot at Ojo Caliente Hot Springs is just outside the photo on the right.

Where is a “freight road” referenced in the stanza? This is really weird. The freight road that Dokoupil refers to is about as flat as a road can be. There is no canyon that it travels through. But even if it did, Dokoupil’s further description makes it geographically impossible for this to be correct. I’ll come back to this later.

The “home of Brown” is a, a clue that people think it’s the Brown Hotel in New Mexico. Some people ah, think its the Brown Mountains in New Mexico. There is a Moreno Mountain Range. I think more likely it means Brown trout. And the Firehole River is full of Brown trout.

The Firehole River is, in fact, a good place for trout, but only some of the year. When the water gets to be too warm the trout move up into the tributaries of the Firehole where the water is much cooler. Late spring is a time when you’ll see trout fishers on the Firehole. Truth is, other than that short time of year most fishers are elsewhere. And things seem to be getting worse for the Firehole trout. The temperature of it’s water is increasing and the Park has even taken the precaution of cutting back considerably on that river’s fishing availability to relieve pressure on the trout. Adult Brown trout prefer water in the 54-66 degree range. The Firehole around Fountain Flats was 76 degrees, in May this year. That’s 10 degrees warmer than Brown trout prefer. When Forrest was a kid the Firehole wasn’t quite as warm. Geologic activity since then has made the water warmer. There are many other, much higher quality fishing streams in and around YNP than the Firehole. If Forrest wanted to describe a place where Brown trout live, he would have placed the chest in a different stream than the Firehole.

“Just heavy loads and water high”. I think it’s a reference to the bridge, that again, Fenn references in his unpublished family history. You are waist deep in the water and there are heavy loads above on the bridge.

Well here is another “weird” idea that can’t geographically be possible. And why is Dokoupil ignoring so many other clues..like “Not far but too far to walk”?..It’s obvious…they don’t fit. If he uses the other clues he cannot possibly still be at the bridge which is about 50 feet from where he started…but more on that in a moment.

And then the reference to the “blaze” which has also been confusing to people. He intentionally put that BIG word in there to throw people off. I think “blaze” is a reference to the geyser that produces the hot water that marks the treasure.

Ojo Caliente Hot Springs is a magnificent blue-green pool of treacherously hot water on the bank of the Firehole River.

What BIG word? Is he talking about… “blaze”?  I think Dokoupil is barely treading water right now. His report is beginning to turn into illogical nonsense. And what geyser? As mentioned earlier, there is no geyser in this spot. Not for at least two miles is there a bone-fide geyser. And “hot water” does not mark the treasure. Where does the poem say that? We begin our search where warm waters halt…that’s the start…not the end!

And all this weirdness comes to a boil here. because Dokoupil has just started out his search at Ojo Caliente hot spring and finished it at the SAME PLACE! 

All I can imagine is that Tony Dokoupil must have spent all his time as a youth hiding under his bed rather than looking for treasure, following maps or watching Indiana Jones movies.

If you are just starting out looking for the treasure please don’t trust what Tony Dokoupil says. Many of his ideas make no sense.

Tony, Tony, Tony…

dal…

Stephan Returns to the Blaze…

The following story is from Stephan The Pants-less Pirate and is a follow-up to his previous story.

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED APRIL 2012

Stephan The Blunt here again after a long hiatus.  Me and my desperate gang of pants-less pirates just finished watching the movie Braveheart, about the 13th Century Scottish patriot, William Wallace.  You can be sure there wasn’t a dry eye in the house as I hoarsely exclaimed, “They just don’t make heroes like that anymore, nor films neither!”   Me lads gave me a cheery assent, and we lapsed into a somewhat-thoughtful reverie, as somewhat-brilliant lads are prone to do.  It was then that my erstwhile and unfortunately-visaged lieutenant, Pierre LeMoche, offerred an equally raspy suggestion:  “It zeems to me, cher Stephan, zat we must now tell our tale of woe and treazure to le monde.  Certainly if Sir Wallace could geev ees life so fearlessly, we should not now fear sharing our petites morceaux of brilliance with other zeekers of ze trezure!”

(And hold on to that Scottish flavor, if you will: it will return at the end of this missive, in relation to the fabulous Treasure Poem of Mr. Forrest Fenn.)

Well, I thought long and hard about this suggestion, and decided that Pierre was correct.  And what with many of the lads enduring failed romances of late, finding ourselves perhaps not so sparkly anymore in the lovely eyes of the fairer sex, it seemed that the possibility of a wee bit of notoriety from sharing our hopefully not-too-inelegant Treasure Poem solution might be just the thing to revive our pitifully flaggin’ spirits.  Especially also as we had hit the proverbial brick wall rather too often in our vain searches, and our foreheads were bruised and bloody.  So, even though we have yet to spy that thar bronze box with all the gold in it, we have decided to divulge our secrets.  After all,  The Thrill of The Chase must really be about sharing selflessly and fearlessly, or what is the point?  And besides we told too many of our friends and family about our “clever” solution, which came to us under “remarkable” circumstances, so now it’s time to see if y’all agree!

But first, we’d also like to mention that thar Newsweek article by that Tony fella, as another point of inspiration to share our hopefully-somewhat-clever solution to the Treasure Poem.  You see,  me and the lads always chafe at dim-witted arrogance, and we thought we might show that thoughtless sue-do jurnalistico just what a real solution might look like, one that accounts for all of the poem and many other clues sprinkled in the chapters of the book.

And as regards the fallout from that article and threats of the treasure being “withdrawn” by he who secreted it, me and the lads must admit to having pause to ponder.  You see, our faith in the Almighty might not be what it could. Which means that our faith in ourselves and others might not be what it could, neither. Our fault entirely, of course.   As we see the sheer chicanery which Providence allows the leaders of this fine nation to indulge during this election season, we cannot but question why one might “withdraw” something already given, and then, if it was actually offered…

But enough.  We over-ponder often, to our detriment. Without further ado, hyar follows a list of clues from the book that fit our solution to the Poem seamlessly.  We’ll reveal our solution in stages, to give other seekers the chance to solve a puzzle which, even if it represents the wrong solution, is nonetheless arguably an uncanny coincidence. If you put all these together, and solve the poem as we did, you’ll find the Blaze of Stephan and his gang.  Only when you look down, you won’t see the treasure!  Or if you do, we promise that you don’t have to share any with us!

Miss Ford

Those Old Biddies

Bessie the Calf

Skippy’s Airplane

The old Chev

Fred Harvey

Fly fishing

Billy the Kid

Fried Pineapple Pies

Yellowstone

The drawing of the lumberjack in a field of felled trees

The picture of the old map of New Mexico with pieces of gold

Waterfalls

Me and the lads came up with much of this within a week of reading Mr. Fenn’s book, while sitting on the sandy beaches of San Diego, staring out at the wild blue Pacific.  We gathered around a computer, did some Google searches, looked at Google Earth, and decided precisely where we wanted to go then and look for Mr. Fenn’s treasure.  So imagine our extreme surprise when, one week later and in the dead of winter, we headed out into a remote, snowy canyon and found that thar tree. (See “Stephan Finds a Blaze”).  I attach now the full photo of which I previously shared only “FF”.  A carefully stacked pile of stones two feet high rested against the tree on the side opposite this carving…with no other carvings anywhere in the vicinity.

Now, I know the first thing y’all will say:  “Huh!  Look at the date!  It’s after Mr. Fenn said he hid the treasure! What is Stephan thinking?  This can’t be the blaze in Mr. Fenn’s Fabulous Treasure Poem!”    Well, our answer to this objection is simple:  we  can assure you that 9-11-11 is not the date that this tree was carved. We conducted a simple and obvious experiment to determine this, as we discovered this carving only three months after the actual date of 9-11-11. We’ll leave it to you to determine how one might so easily accomplish this determination!

We did a lot of reading from Ernest Thompson Seton and Daniel Beard about trail blazes, as well as accounts about how miners once marked their caches.  Since “9.11.11” was not carved on that date, we concluded that 9.11.11 could very well have been intended as a clue rather than as an actual date….It is, after all, the ten year anniversary of 9.11, and as blazes “mark” trails, so do anniversaries “mark” events in time.  So why not use an anniversary date to indicate that this tree “marks” something?  Also, 9-11 is about jets and acts of war against civilians, which might echo Mr. Fenn’s unfortunate and difficult experience in Viet Nam.

We have yet to figure out “JB” and look forward to any ideas.  Of course we’d have to share the treasure if anyone offered any ideas which helped us go further!

So, to reiterate, we solved the Treasure Poem carefully from the remote location of San Diego, and one week later found this tree with its cache of rocks in “the canyon down”, on our first try, in a truly remote and private place…

To further entice our fellow seekers, we will now offer a solution to part of the poem, specifically “Brave and in the wood” and “no place for the meek”.   To do this, we make reference to the Scottish warrior, William Wallace.  For the Scottish Highlanders, aspen trees were considered the trees of heroes and warriors.  Aspen boughs were placed in the graves of warriors to assure their reincarnation.  And aspen trees were also considered by the Scots to be the guardians of buried treasure.  How appropriate, then, for an “old” warrior like Mr. Fenn to leave his initials and the date of an act of war on an aspen tree, in a place where he might choose to go and end his own life?

Interestingly, also,  one definition of “wood” signifies that it is a small copse or stand of a particular species of tree.  How interesting that our carved tree is located in a beautiful stand of aspen trees: one should be “brave” to be in that “wood”, because one is amongst the trees of heroes and warriors, “no place for the meek”….

Just so all you seekers know, me and the lads did not dig beneath that thar tree of ours.  A mysterious fellow named “f” once sent us a curious poem, part of which said somethin’ like: “…while fools argue about the quest, he won’t even need a tool, as he carries out the chest.”

Well, we hope you all like what you saw so far, and if you did, we can promise you that our other solutions of the Treasure Poem are equally clear!

Best to all, and more soon,

Stephan