A Slippy Slidey Blazey Crazy Armchair Solve…

gardiner

October 2019
by JonPaul

I stumbled upon the poem from The Thrill of The Chase, and all-things-Forrest-Fenn, when the British press covered the story a couple of years ago.  I’ve always been fond of puzzles and riddles so naturally I found Forrest’s poem irresistible.  I have very much enjoyed my introduction to Yellowstone, to Wyoming and Montana, and to the colorful history of this unique, beautiful corner of the US.  Like many others I have studied the poem and formulated a solution.  And, like many others, it is not feasible for me to travel to Yellowstone to conduct a boots-on-the-ground exploration, so a walkthrough of my rationale will have to suffice, and hopefully it will be of use.  Should anyone use this solution and actually find the treasure, I trust they will give credit where credit is due.

I’ll be honest: I have not read TTOTC.  However, from reading the many blogs and resources online, I think the wider context of the hunt – and perhaps the most salient clue to be taken from the book – is that Forrest has a long and intimate knowledge of Yellowstone, especially the Western reaches, and the creeks and waterways therein that might be discovered by the avid and adventurous fly fisherperson.  I have also learned the following from various additional statements that Forrest has made:

I believe the 1st stanza basically sets the scene – Forrest’s secret place is somewhere he was able to visit openly, alone, in his 80’s, carrying 40lbs over 2 trips in a single afternoon (https://www.fftreasure.com/uncategorized/not-under-water-done-two-trips/).  The 2nd Stanza is where the real clues begin – let’s get to it!

‘Where warm waters halt’ is, I believe, where the Gardner River flows into the Yellowstone River at Gardiner.  There are a great many potential WWWH’s in and around Yellowstone, but Forrest does not capitalize ‘warm’ here which suggests it’s not Warm Spring Meadow, Warm Springs Creek, or similar (and we’ll come back to Forrest’s use of capitalization later).  There are too many hot springs scattered throughout Yellowstone for Forrest to be unnecessarily vague, so I believe he must be – surreptitiously – offering us something we can work with.  I believe that ‘warm’ is the key word here.  It’s a strange and specific term for Forrest to use: not cool, tepid or hot, not scalding or boiling, just ‘warm’.  We can guess from Forrest’s accounts of childhood that our WWWH could be, or could be linked to, a hot spring he used to know as a boy.  It turns out that in the 1800’s the Gardner River was known as Warm Spring Creek due to the hot springs at Boiling River (Historical Origin of Waterways Names in Yellowstone).  Forrest is, I believe, using the word ‘warm’ to specify this particular waterway, and the WWWH it points to, without being either too vague or too obvious.  Where does the Gardner River halt?  It halts where it meets and mixes with the cold water of the Yellowstone River.  The interesting thing is that if you’ve adopted Boiling River (a hot spring) as your WWWH, instead of the Gardner River, it doesn’t really matter – following the next 2 clues takes you ultimately to the same checkpoint.

‘Take it in the canyon down’ means, I believe, follow the Yellowstone River downriver (rather than following the Gardner Canyon south).  The Yellowstone River is not specifically named as a canyon at Gardiner, but I think it can apply in general terms and subsequent clues make a lot more sense with respect to the Yellowstone River.

‘The home of Brown’ is, I believe, the home of ‘Uncle’ Joe Brown – Joe Brown Creek.  This appears to be confirmed by ‘Put in’ which, at face value, is a straight reference to the boat ramp located here.  There are a great many potential HOBs (HsOB?) if we only consider brown the colour, but here we see an overt capitalization.  I don’t feel that Forrest, as a wordsmith, would want to sow unnecessary confusion by deliberately misusing standard grammar.  If it’s capitalised, I believe Forrest is signifying a person’s name, pure and simple.  Forrest did have names for all the local fish, but it appears that they were on first-name terms (https://dalneitzel.com/2018/05/04/not_in_yellowstone/).  And since WWWH is Gardiner in this solution, it’s not feasible for the correct Brown to be Ranger Brown or Grafton Tyler Brown.

‘No place for the meek’ is, I believe, Slip & Slide Creek, the mouth of which is located below (South) of the mouth of Joe Brown Creek.  Its name speaks for itself.  Now, I admit I was *sorely* tempted at this juncture to err towards Tom Miner Creek / Rock Creek, and an area that appears to satisfy the subsequent clues to a greater or lesser extent, but I think Forrest’s lack of capitalization for ‘meek’ precludes this interpretation.  Extending the logic from the previous clue, I think Forrest would have used ‘Meek’ if he wanted us to head to Tom Miner Basin per the legend of Joseph Meek.  Instead my solution continues on the north side of the river, south of Joe Brown Creek. . .‘The end is ever drawing nigh’ refers, I believe, to Sliding Mountain West, located just beyond the end (source) of Slip & Slide Creek.  I’ve read a lot of speculation about whether ‘nigh’ means left, and I believe it could, but there’s actually a bigger clue here.  We know that Forrest plays golf, and once dreamed of being a professional golfer (https://mysteriouswritings.com/six-questions-with-forrest-fenn-and-the-thrill-of-the-chase-treasure-hunt-double-charmed/).  He knows that the controlled versions of a Hook shot (which drifts left) and a Slice shot (which veers right) are called Draw and Fade.  This clue tells us, I believe, that the end of the correct creek is a location that is ever drifting left or, to use different language, sliding west.  In a wordplay triple-whammy, we also know that a ‘draw’ is the name given to a small stream flowing in a steep channel, and also means to bring forth water (eg; drawing a bath), both of which suggest that we’re following a real water-bearing creek and not a road or forest trail. . .

‘There’ll be no paddle up your creek’ is not just a play on the well-known saying ‘Up (the) creek without a paddle’.  It reiterates, I believe, something hinted at in the previous clues – we should be definitely following an actual waterway.  There are many creeks in Yellowstone that have a similarly-named creek road running alongside, but I think Forrest knows we’ll need to be ‘in there’ by now – on foot, and getting our walking boots muddy.  I believe that ‘no paddle’ simply refers to walking, but perhaps also implies that the correct creek is dry in part.

‘Heavy loads and water high’ is yet another clue that could point to several notable locations in this part of Yellowstone.  Heavy loads could refer to rocks, electricity, or the old railroad.  ‘Water high’ could refer to elevated creeks or lakes, or be an allusion to Hell.  From point-of-view of where we are in the poem and on the map (ascending Slip & Slide Creek) I believe this clue serves to frame and underline where we are and where we’re headed – towards the source of the creek.  I believe that ‘Heavy loads’ refers to Big Pine Creek over the ridge to the north, and ‘water high’ refers to the cluster of lakes near High Mountain to the south.  I believe we’re being guided in, like a plane coming to land – the poem lays out where we’re coming from, where we’re heading, and what stands either side as way markers.  I also believe, however, that we’re not meant to go right to end of the creek. . .

‘If you’ve been wise and found the blaze’ is, to my mind, the most difficult clue in the whole poem.  As Forrest has noted, a ‘blaze’ could be just about anything  (https://www.chasechat.com/archive/index.php?thread-5596.html).  Of course, it could just be a simple mark on a tree, as is traditional, but I suspect that’s too mundane for a wordsmith like Forrest.  I believed for a long time that the blaze was a shape to be traced on a map by following the locations described by the clues, and that the final shape (maybe an ‘X’ or an arrow) would point to the actual location of the chest.  I could never get this approach to work, however, because the clues and locations are sequential, not scattergun.  Forrest has hinted that we should ‘make all the lines cross in the right spot’ (https://www.reddit.com/r/FindingFennsGold/comments/amuhe4/anyone_drawing_lines_on_a_map/), but I believe this can be taken to mean that it’s simply a case of intersecting the lines he’s describing in the right places: the line from Gardiner to the Joe Brown Put-In; the subsequent line from the mouth of Slip & Slide Creek up towards Sliding Mountain West.  In this sense, I believe he really means ‘spots’, plural.  This would suggest that the crossing lines aren’t an ‘X’ marking the spot, but simply where one section of the path joins up with the next.

So, what IS the blaze?  Forrest hinted early on that identifying the blaze is meaningless without having already solved the preceding clues (https://dalneitzel.com/cheat-sheet/).  This is an important clue.  If someone was out hiking and stumbled randomly upon an incongruous sign, they might be tempted to root around underneath and subsequently find the treasure.  But Forrest doesn’t want that – it would render the preceding clues redundant – and he’s discounted the chance of anyone finding the treasure by accident (https://dalneitzel.com/cheat-sheet/).  Consequently I believe that the blaze can’t simply be a sign out in the wilderness.  Instead, I think the blaze shows us when to look, as we move up the correct creek.  And how do we identify the blaze?  Forrest tells us, I believe.  He says we will already have been wise (past tense) and found it.  Wise, of course, means clever.  But we wouldn’t be in the correct creek already if we weren’t clever.  The word ‘-wise’ (like the similar ‘-wards’) also means to move in a direction, usually with respect to a circle: clockwise or anti-clockwise.  I believe Forrest is instructing us to turn.  But which way?  I don’t think it matters.  Forrest just wants us to turn around, which will enable us to find the blaze.  At this point I believe the blaze can only be a reference to the name of Shooting Star Mountain, which at 9665 feet would be visible in the southwest once you’ve reached the correct elevation up Slip & Slide Creek.

‘Look quickly down, your quest to cease’ tells us, I believe, that the chest is on, or set into, the ground at that spot – a point up Slip & Slide Creek where the peak of Shooting Star Mountain first comes into view behind you.  It’s not an exact science, which is why I believe Forrest has always maintained that a boots-on-the-ground search is necessary for the treasure to be found (https://www.reddit.com/r/FindingFennsGold/comments/bh9qsp/thinking_out_loud/).  The clues in the poem will put you to within a few meters of the treasure, but it’s up to you to scour the ground at your feet to find the chest itself.  The middle reaches of Slip & Slide Creek are no more than 3km from Route 89, which makes them accessible on foot from a vehicle parked near the Yankee Jim Picnic Area below.  A round trip would take about 2 hours, which would have allowed ample time for Forrest to make the journey twice in one afternoon.

Additional: Forrest has given a few cryptic quotes about the end of the search being somehow connected to the beginning, including a reference to a poem by TS Eliot (“moved with confidence” – The Hint of Riches – Forrest Fenn’s Treasure Hunt).  I believe that this is a nod to the other link between Shooting Star Mountain and Slip & Slide Creek:  as far as I can tell, before a recent land exchange (https://billingsgazette.com/outdoors/land-exchange-opens-gardiner-basin-ranch-to-public/article_929ae536-bec4-58d3-983f-f9d9ed1f24db.html) the lower slope of Slip & Slide Creek was owned by the Shooting Star Ranch, which is located in the Cinnabar Basin between Shooting Star Mountain and the river.  In short, the right spot up Slip & Slide Creek is denoted by visibility of the mountain which lends its name to the ranch which recently owned the lower stretch of that same creek.  Full circle.  Not to mention that half of western Yellowstone would be visible from the higher portions of Slip & Slide Creek, giving searchers a fresh perspective on the road already travelled.

I can’t help but feel that the last 2 stanzas are essentially an extended outro, with ‘brave’, ‘in the wood’, and ‘cold’ underlining the need for searchers to go out in the field. ‘So hear me all and listed good’ could be a reference to the natural amphitheater formed by the curved ridge that surrounds Slip & Slide Creek (incorporating the peaks of Red Mountain, Sliding Mountain West, and High Mountain) but that feels a little too tenuous to me.  It’s more likely, I believe, that this is a nod to the famous letter written by Native American leader Chief Joseph (http://fennclues.com/hear-me-all-and-listen-good.html), along with ‘I’ve done it tired, and now I’m weak’.  Forrest planned his hunt and wrote the poem when, like the Chief, he believed his days were truly numbered.

Well, there it is.  I can’t shake the conviction that my solution gets at least a few clues correct, but then I guess most people who have worked out a solution feel the same way.  If not, then it’s been both fun and informative, for which I thank Forrest most sincerely.  Best wishes!

JonPaul, UK

 

 

 

 

My Imaginary Interview with Forrest Fenn Part Two…

blionk

Introduction: This is part 2 of my imaginary interview with Forrest Fenn. The words are all his, but I have selected and organized them in a manner that I feel best conveys the essence of his message. You can find my first imaginary interview on this page: https://dalneitzel.com/2019/06/08/imaginary_interview
– David Thalheimer
My Imaginary Interview with Forrest Fenn, Part Two

I hid the treasure in a place that is not especially difficult to reach. There isn’t a human trail in very close proximity to where I hid the treasure. I made two trips from my car to the hiding place and it was done in one afternoon. I will say that I walked less than a few miles if that will help. People will be surprised when they find out where it is. Stop arm chairing that thing to death and get out in the trees where the box is, but before you go, look at the poem as if it were a map, because it is, and like any other map, it will show you where to go if you follow it’s directions. The clues will lead you to the treasure and, whether it’s buried or not, you can find it if you find the blaze as a result of starting with the first clue. That’s what you have to do.

I don’t know that anybody has told me the clues in the right order. I think part of the problem is, they don’t focus on the first clue. If you don’t know where the first clue is, you might as well stay at home because you’re not going to find the treasure chest. You can’t go out looking for the blaze and expect to find the treasure chest. There’s 10 billion blazes out there. Although many have tried, I doubt that anyone will find the blaze before they have figured out the first clue. So you have to start with the first clue and let it take you to the blaze. Google Earth cannot help with the last clue.

Searchers have routinely revealed where they think the treasure was hidden and walked me through the process that took them on that course. That’s how I know a few have identified the first two clues. Although others were at the starting point, I think their arrival was an aberration and they were oblivious to its connection with the poem. Playing a hunch is not worth much in the search and those who start out by looking for the blaze, are wasting their time. Playing a hunch is nearly always fraught with disappointment, especially if the stakes are high. A searcher who guesses through life is destined to carry a thin wallet. And to many searchers I should also suggest that you take another look at your mistakes. The answers may not be nearly as complicated as you are making them.

I cannot tell you how many searchers have identified the first clue correctly, but certainly more than several. I cannot imagine anyone finding the treasure without first identifying the starting point, although many seem to be preoccupied with later clues. To me that’s just expensive folly. Searchers have come within about 200 feet. They figure the first two clues but they don’t get the third and the fourth and they go right past the treasure chest. I don’t know that anyone has been closer than 200 feet and I don’t think they have. No one is looking AT the right spot. You can’t have a ‘correct solve’ unless you can knowingly go to within several steps of the treasure chest. Otherwise you have a ‘general solve.’ A good solve is frequently lost in a poor execution.

What surprises me a little is that nobody to my uncertain knowledge has analyzed one important possibility related to the winning solve. A hypothetical example of a “what if” might be, what if I was looking so far ahead that I neglected to notice what was beside me. It seems logical to me that a deep thinking treasure searcher could use logic to determine an important clue to the location of the treasure. Fresh eyes and new thinking might provoke a winning idea.

I think kids may have an advantage. Don’t expect me to explain that, but sure. Their eyes are better. They’re more agile, they have more energy. Children have the greatest imagination because their thoughts run free. Why should a kid take a back seat in the treasure hunt? Bloggers have quoted me as saying that a child could walk up to the treasure. I don’t think that’s an accurate quote because a three year old girl would have a problem without some help. Remember, I was about 80 when I hid the chest, and had to make two trips.

Many are giving serious thought to the clues in my poem, but only a few are in tight focus with a word that is key. That poem was really written by an architect. Every word is placed in there strategically, and you can’t ignore any of the nouns in that poem. In each one of my books, I’ve made up words and I corrupt words. If everybody knows exactly what you’re saying, or what you mean, then who cares what the word is? And so that thought permeates, manifests itself in the poem. Well what does that word really mean? Does he mean what it says it means and so that adds, that puts a little dessert on top of the cake. But the poem is straightforward. There’s no tomfoolery in that poem. Try to simplify it if you can. That’s good advice. There is no substitute for thinking and planning and observing and looking at maps, unless it’s the desire to keep it simple.

All of the information you need to find the treasure is in the poem. If a person reads the poem over and over and are able to decipher the first few clues in the poem, they can find the treasure chest. It may not be easy, but it certainly isn’t impossible. I could go right straight to it. All that will be needed are the clues, some resolve, a little imagination. You just have to think the right things. Imagination isn’t a technique, it’s a key. Emblazoned upon some of the bronze bells I’ve buried are the words, “Imagination is more important than knowlege.” If I had spelled that last word correctly it would not have had the profundity of meaning I wanted. To misspell the word emphasized my point that having knowledge is, in fact, not as important as being resourceful.

I said in my book that the solution will be difficult but not impossible. If it was easy anyone could do it. I feel fortunate that my poem said exactly what I wanted it to say. Hiding that treasure chest full of gold and jewels was fundamental to how I feel about living life to its stretched best, and it emphasizes my aversion to seeing anyone be a spectator to today’s opportunities. It was a special time of fulfillment for me and I can still sense now, the elation I felt then. It’s the only time I recall laughing out loud at myself. I have done only a few things in my life that were truly planned. Hiding the treasure chest is one of them. Whoever finds the treasure will mostly earn it with their imagination. And at the end, the one who finds the gold will not feel lucky, but instead, will ask himself, “what took me so long?”

 

 

 

VOA Unedited Interview…

 

VoiceOfAmerica

SUBMITTED OCTOBER 2, 2019
by DAL

 

In September I visited with Forrest while a Voice of America film crew recorded an interview about the treasure hunt with him. I asked the crew and Forrest if I could audio record the interview and post it on the blog. The crew and Forrest agreed.

My interest was in recording the entire interview because we rarely…if ever… get a chance to hear parts of these interviews that are not used in the final stories. Reporters often have different priorities when they edit the story than those of us searching for the chest might have.

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Forrest with Penelope the reporter

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Mike the cameraman

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Forrest by his army ammunition wagon on the Santa Fe Trail which goes through his yard

So here is a complete interview…beginning with the first question by Penelope, the VOA reporter and ending some 28 minutes later with Forrest reading his poem. I did cut out a minute or so of silence near the very end…just before the poem is read because it took us awhile to locate a copy of the poem for Forrest to read…other than that minor edit…this is a continuous recording and includes many things said by Forrest that did not make it into the short finished stories that appeared on the VOA website.

The voices you hear on this recording include:
Forrest
Penelope, VOA Reporter
Mike, VOA Cameraman
Me

Just a technical note…
I broke the interview into 4 parts to make the file sizes 2mb or less so that my WordPress server would accommodate them. There is no missing information at the breaks. Where one stops is exactly where the next begins. Each segment is aprox 7 mins in length depending on a nearby convenient breaking point.

Part One

 

Part Two

 

Part Three

 

Part Four

 

 

 

 

Tarry Scant…

 

SUBMITTED OCTOBER 1st, 2019
by DAL

 

In September of 2019 I visited Forrest and was at his home when Penelope and Mike arrived for their meeting. They are from Voice of America and were there to record an interview with Forrest for a story about the treasure.

Penelope is the reporter and Mike is the cameraman. I asked, and received permission to audio record their interview with Forrest for the blog while they were taping.

That entire audio interview will be posted later.

This particular snippet occurred after the formal interview was over. Mike had stopped his video recording, Penelope and Forrest fell into a casual conversation and I stopped my recording. I got up to stretch my legs and had taken only a few steps away from my recorder when I heard Penelope ask Forrest, “What does tarry scant mean?”.

I did not think much of the question because Forrest always seems to answer those direct questions about the poem with one of two typical responses.

Either, “I don’t want to give out any more hints.”

or

“I’m not going to answer that right now.”

But to my amazement he started in with an actual answer. I swiveled around and leaped for my recorder and microphone, turning it on and pointing the mic at him as he was repeating what he had just said. I barely caught his response…

This is only a 20 second clip so you can play it over again until you are satisfied you heard it correctly. The noise is from me trying to get the mic pointed at Forrest.

Here is a transcription of the actual words spoken by Forrest and Penelope:

F: …hang around
P: (interrupting) Don’t hang around.
F: Take the chest and get the hell out of here.
P: Okay
F: Tarry means wait around
P: Okay
F: And scant means…
P: (interrupting) Okay
F: …for a second or two.
P: uh huh, uh huh
F: I don’t have the slightest idea what I’m talking about.
P: I don’t know. I got the sense of urgency….
F: Yeah
P: …when you say that. That there’s some urgency there.
F: Yeah

Later that day after Mike and Penelope had left I mentioned to Forrest that I was surprised that he had answered her question about tarry scant. Forrest said “Why? What else could it mean?”
I responded that searchers had been talking about what those words meant from the very beginning of the search.
Forrest just shook his head and said, “It’s not complicated.”

 

There are two posts with two different versions of the edited story on the VOA website:

https://www.voanews.com/episode/fact-or-fiction-treasure-important-and-thrill-hunt-4045401

https://www.voanews.com/arts-culture/thousands-scout-rocky-mountains-hopes-finding-treasure

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Glorious Map…

 

October 2019
by dal

 

Framed Map 768x840

This is Copper Dan’s hand crafted walnut map frame. The Frame is 39″ by 42″. The collectible map is the long out of print, poster sized, Benchmark map and it’s signed by Forrest. It also has  nine copper arrowheads inlaid into the frame and three medallions inset at the base. This is a beautiful piece and there will never be another like it.

You can find out more about the piece from Copper Dan and more about how you can enter to win this one-of-a-kind art piece by going to Jenny’s website

It’s all for a very worthy cause…so please enter…

The drawing for this art piece will be held on October 7th…Have fun!

NOTE:

The drawing has occurred as scheduled and the winner announced…

Thanks everyone for participating!

 

 

 

 

 

Winter’s Warning 2019…

 

snow

SUBMITTED SEPTEMBER 26th, 2019
by Forrest

 

For those treasure hunters who are searching the northern Rockies, it’s time to hang it up for another season. Please don’t tempt those mountains. One of the things I hate most is to have my feet cold. Burrr, makes me cold just thinking about it. f

https://www.foxnews.com/us/historic-snow-storm-rockies-blizzard-montana-snow-mountains-weather

 

 

 

 

Forrest Gets Mail – 24

wi

Hello Mr Fenn,
My oldest son and I who had a rocky relationship due to his choice of wives and her inability  to let me just be a grandparent which cut off communication, began communicating with me because of your poem .

All excited with a “mom I’m obsessed by this”  we have begun communicating regularly about your poem and clues.

In a nutshell Mr Fenn, you have reunited a mother and son.  And hopefully I’ll see my grandkids soon.
I don’t anticipate a relationship with my daughter in law which is fine. Civility for the kids is my wish and we can on that.

I really need to know if the treasure has been located.
We can find other adventures now that we both know we truly love this sort of thing.  He never had any patience as a child or young man so his intentions on this I thought would be short lived. They are not.  He is really ready to go!

Being of little means and less $$, my husband and I took in three grand daughters from our middle son who was an addict. I’m not ready to burn gas from Green Bay WI,  home of the frozen tundra to follow 9 clues to anything.

Thus looking for you to be  honest and it will go no further if the chase must continue even if found for all your fans.   I’d prefer to bark up other trees is all if it has.

You already have me my treasure with getting my son back. But he still wants to find yours. I’ll follow and lead to ends of the earth for him. Just not if the end of the road on this one is a wasted trip.

Thank you for giving of yourself in a very stressful and sad point in your life. I took care of both of my parents as they took their last breaths from lung cancer. I understand the scary part and the can’t take it with you . All we leave here with is who we love and hopefully a piece of ourselves they hold onto.
God bless,
Joanie

——————————

Joanie,
As of this posting the treasure chest is still where I hid it. Good luck to you and your son. f

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Poetry Page XVII…

green

The chase certainly has inspired some great poetry…

Here is page xiv for poetry about the chase, Forrest or any other Thrill of the Chase related topic. I am hoping poets will create new poetry and place it on this page.

If you would like to peruse the  verse on the first page of poetry click HERE.

Second page is HERE

Third page is HERE

Fourth page is HERE

Fifth Page is HERE

Sixth Page is HERE

Seventh Page is HERE

Eighth Page is HERE

Ninth Page is HERE

Tenth Page is HERE

Eleventh Page is HERE

Twelfth Page is HERE

Thirteenth Page is HERE

Fourteenth Page is HERE

Fifteenth Page is HERE

Sixteenth Page is HERE

Thanks

dal…

Vagabond…

banner 1

August 2019
by dal

 

On the first of July I retired from my job running a community TV station. No more decisions to make about television programming. No more fretting over hosts, sets, time sheets, editing time, graphics, program schedules, financials, technical reports, meetings, equipment repairs, planning, purchases or returning phone calls. By the second of July I had run amuck. I was in a melt down. Nothing to do…

Just 24hrs into my retirement and I was driving Kathy mad. She told me to “get out of the house”. “Go visit Forrest and take in Fennboree. Then go search for the treasure. Enjoy yourself”, she said. “Take all the time you need. No hurry”, she added.

So I did.

Tuesday July 2nd
At 3pm on July 2nd Ezy and I were on the ferry headed to the mainland. 1,600 miles to Forrest’s place from the island. Three days of driving.

I was still jumpity as my brain tried desperately to think of something to worry about, some reason to call a meeting …but there wasn’t anything to do except point Ezy east and south toward Santa Fe.

I had an errand to run first. So instead of heading south and east I headed north and east on the North Cascades Scenic Highway. Last winter Jenny Kile had sent me one of her Forrest Fenn Gold Medallions to hide for folks in the northwest to look for.

FF Gold Medallions image 1024x562

Jenny’s Gold Medallion

Well…actually, I would hide a stone with a code written on it somewhere in the Cascade Mountains. Whoever found that stone could claim the gold medallion that would be safely tucked away in my cabin and not exposed to the elements..

I had marked my stone and I knew where I wanted to hide it, at the entrance to the North Cascades National Park between Marblemount and Newhalem.

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The welcome sign is pretty dramatic and I thought it would be a good place to write a poem with clues to the stone’s where-abouts. I left the stone there, documented its location and pointed Ezy east.

By 11pm Ezy and I were camped on the Columbia River near Peshastin, WA.

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Ezy’s insides decked out for a good night’s rest.

Wednesday, July 3rd
Not a good night. My mind was working me over about retirement. Hard time sleeping. Restless all night.

At first light I was down the road. Heading toward Pendleton, OR and further south.
What struck me about this particular July was the satisfying lack of forest fires…so far.

For the past five summers it seems like the West has been terrifyingly ablaze by July. The forest’s I’m driving by show the scars. Miles of black leafless columns crowd the landscape in every direction. What were once lovely, leafy forests are now nothing but burned out remnants reminding me of the smoke choked air that was so difficult to breathe. But this year is different. The air is remarkably clear. There are no wildfire detours, fire trucks speeding down the highway or helitack choppers heading to smoke enveloped hills.

I pass by green orchards with a bajillion pears, apples and apricots ripening up. Further south the orchards turn to vineyards and then hop fields interspersed with ranches and grazing black cattle by the tens of thousands. Later in the day Ezy and I climb up into Oregon’s Blue Mountains and our first opportunity to stretch dal’s legs and look for wildflowers.

In the lowlands, by July, spring wildflower season is past but at about 5,000 ft elevation, this far north, it’s still spring and wildflowers are in abundance. I pull off onto a side road near the highway, park, and walk through the orange trunks of fragrant Ponderosa trees scanning for patches of open meadow.

It doesn’t take long before I find my first gold…

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This is a delicate Orange Honeysuckle. They are a forest understory vine that crawls upward on taller plants to try and reach the sun. As kids we all knew to pull the filaments out of the flower and suck the sweet nectar drop off the bottom…hence the name Honeysuckle.

Walked around for a half hour admiring the pines and the meadow then jumped back in Ezy and headed further south and east toward Wells, NV.

I’ll spend the night in the brush south of Wells, where I can’t hear the trucks exploding past at unlimited speed. I still can’t sleep. My mind is trying to understand retirement. Will I starve to death? That’s ridiculous…I’ll get a retirement check and a social security check monthly. I’m fine. So much to worry about, so little time.

Thursday, July 4th
Before first light I am down the road. There isn’t much for me to appreciate in the stretch of Nevada between Wells and Ely on the Great Basin Highway. I guess because I don’t know enough about gray rocks and lizards. The landscape is dry, monotone and tedious. If Ezy was a 4 wheeler I guess I could explore more out in that area but I’ve been stuck twice too many times so now I stay on the hard top through there. I’ll make good time because there is nothing to stop for and the speed limit is faster than I care to drive.

There is this:pes

The Pony Express memorial at the Shellbourne Rest Area. It’s part of the Pony Express National Historic Trail. I complain too much. Those guys had it a lot tougher than Ezy and me.

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double click to see this large enough to read

I always stop at the Great Basin National Park. They do a magnificent job of trying to impress me with the 300 miles of monotony I just drove through and the 150 miles of uniform tedium I am about to drive through.

gbnpsignJohn McPhee is the best science writer in my known universe of science writers. I love the guy. He makes the impossible, conceivable. He interprets science the way Cormac McCarthy interprets the west. Science is an adventure with John at your side.

mcpheeOne of McPhee’s enlightening books is titled “Basin and Range” and it examines the geologic underpinnings in this part of the universe. McPhee does such a good job of science storytelling that when I finished Basin and Range I couldn’t wait to be out here in the Nevada wasteland again.

nvboringHowever, my fervor quickly dissolved once I was again face to face with 7 hours of leaden landscape, 105 degree heat and pitiless unbending road. If I had my way I would sleep the whole way between Jackpot, NV and Delta, UT. I pity the jackrabbits and snakes that somehow survive in this butt-sore topography. Sign me up for an autonomous vehicle lease through Nevada…Maybe Uber next time…

But then Utah comes roaring into view like a John Ford movie in spectacular Vistavision. It’s dramatic, huge, colorful and entertaining. The road is twisty the towns are quaint and the drive becomes spectacular. I head with renewed energy toward Loa and Capital Reef National Park.

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Hwy72 gains about 9,000ft of elevation and from my perch I can look down into the washed and tortured canyon lands below. Once again, at 9,000ft, even though I am quite far south, it’s still lush and springlike up here.

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The meadows are dotted with wildflowers from Beggerticks to Sunflowers to Paintbrush to Lupine, Daisies and Larkspur.

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From here it’s all downhill to Loa and Fruita.

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The problem is that I am always fighting the clock in my head. This time I am trying to get to Santa Fe before Fennboree begins. So I drive right by the park, without stopping…again!!

I have never had enough time to get out and explore Capital Reef. I’ve driven by it a few times on the Bicentennial Highway but never stopped. This September I plan to spend a few walking days at the park on my way to Santa Fe. I’m looking forward to it. If anyone has suggestions for good day hikes in/around the park…I’m all ears.

It’s getting late in the afternoon, 4th of July and I can see town picnics and food fairs in the squares of small burgs as I drive through. Kids are waving sparklers and I pass cars with the stars and stripes flapping from their antennas. Celebrations are everywhere.

I am keenly aware of the existence of leaping deer and elk as I drive between Cortez, Durango and Pagosa Springs at dusk. My eyes are peeled for anything attempting to run out in front of me. I make it all the way to Pagosa Springs before I smack a deer at 45mph. Ezy is crunched. The deer is totaled.

I get out and drag the deer carcass to the side and clean off the broken plastic and glass from Ezy’s front. I briefly consider dressing the deer…but pass since I really don’t want to stick around. Thankfully the radiator is smooshed but not punctured. I pull the right fender away from the wheel. The grill and parking lights are a loss.The hood is a little catywonkers. My right headlight is working but pointed low and inside. I decide to push on to Tesuque.

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At Tesugue I spend the night in a cheap casino hotel room so I can shower and shave and smell presentable at Forrest’s. You’re welcome!

Friday, July 5th
The next day I head over To Forrest’s place. We gab a bit about deer tragedies and retirement possibilities. Then we meet up with Geoffrey Gray who has come to interview Forrest for a story he is writing for Alta Journal, a magazine out of California. After the interview Forrest and I hop in Ezy and drive up the hill to see if we can find Cynthia at Hyde Memorial State Park where she is holding an evening get-together the night before Fennboree. We find her campsite but she isn’t around so we raid her pantry and help ourselves to a few crackers and refreshments while we wait…In a short while she drives in and others start arriving for an afternoon gathering of friendship, marshmallows and beer.

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Forrest hangs out for awhile admiring Cynthia’s camp and gabbing with searchers that stroll in. He hands out a few clues and talks about the place he hid the chest…(just checking to see if you are reading). He did not hand out any clues…

After a couple hours or so we roll downhill back to Santa Fe where I leave Forrest and head back to the park to see if I can find a place to sleep for the night. As I’m driving around the campground loop Jason Dent signals me in to the site where he and Sacha are camped.

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They have a fire going. SeanNM and family are there, as are Illinois Gho$t and a few other souls. I discover that Iron Will has held a place for me at his campsite next door. Thanks Will!

That evening we all walk over to Cynthia’s campsite for her campfire and gathering where the camaraderie is as comforting as home made chicken noodle soup.

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I spend all of Saturday at Fennboree. I am given these great rocks by JDiggins…Everybody got a couple…probably priceless gems…We all feel rich!!!…Very Cool!!
Unfortunately now that I posted this photo Kathy will want the rocks…bye, bye rocks…

Sunday morning I get up, say goodbye and point Ezy’s broken front end north for a thousand mile drive to Gallatin County, MT and my search area.

For my pics and story about Fennboree 2019 look HERE

I love this part of the drive. From Santa Fe north on 191 along the great rivers of the west, gold country, dinosaur land, Indian territory and up into rendezvous country is always an adventure. With plenty of fascinating places to stop for history, geology, botany, archeology, paleontology, souvenirs…you name it this region has it, from extraordinary landscapes to fantastic learning opportunities…so much to see and touch and experience…it’s always fun, fun, fun!!!

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the hogan trading post pano

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I arrive at Baker’s Hole on the Madison River a couple days later.

Wednesday July 10th
I wake up pretty early and decide to canvass the area around the full campground. I run into the campground host and we start talking about the hot weather. His accent is familiar but clearly not local. I am stunned to discover he is from Temple,TX. He says that he took classes from Marvin in Junior High and he knows all about Forrest and the chest and he too figures it’s probably stashed up here somewhere. But that’s about all he’ll say about any solution he might be harboring. What a great summer gig for a searcher.

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This is the interpretive sign at Baker’s Hole. It explains the relationship between the Madison, Hebgen Lake and trout. Double click on it to read it.

Today was a good day to do some walking around and stretch some tissue that only had the gas pedal and less frequently, the brake pedal to exercise with for the past few days. So I went into the park around my favorite spot on Fountain Flats and checked the location out for wildflowers and wildlife.
To my personal satisfaction…little had changed.

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Blue-Eyed Grass

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Elephanthead

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Cinquefoil

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Onion

dfly

Blue Damselfly

lupine

Lupine

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Goldenweed

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I don’t know what kind of moth this is but she’s cool

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Flax

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There are a few folks buried in Yellowstone. Mattie is one. She has a headstone, usually decorated with flowers, over on Nez Perce Creek.
You can read about Mattie’s sad death, HERE.

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I met up with Mark and Brenda on the Nez Perce. Really nice folks. They were searching further north and east. We talked Forrest and solutions and headed over to the Happy Hour Bar on Hebgen lake for a crab dinner…that was DELICIOUS!

Thursday July 11th
As you know, the solution I’ve been working on for a few years has me begin at Madison Junction, about 17 miles upstream on the river from Bakers Hole.

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Madison Junction. Gibbon comes in from the right. Firehole comes in from the left. The Madison heads straight away for the canyon below

From there I take it down through the Madison Canyon which is directly below the junction. From there I’ve been going to Baker’s Hole, which is my HOB…There are numerous other elements that fit the clues in the poem but the one element I cannot identify is the Blaze. It’s probably because I am in the entirely wrong place but if nothing else, I am persistent. So I’ve been examining this area, with slight modifications for a few years trying to locate Forrest’s blaze…with no luck, I might add.

This year I decided to see what would happen if I changed my HOB upstream a couple miles to the Beaver Meadows. I think 13-14 miles is still further than I want to walk, so it still works as TFTW from Madison Junction.

Beaver is an Anglicized word from the old High German “bibar”, which means brown.

These days locating the Beaver Meadows is not difficult. Albeit I did not see any signs of beaver.

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Just head upstream from Baker’s Hole and when you get into a couple mile long willow brush area that’s hard to travel through…you’re there.

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In spite of it’s romantic name…I saw no beaver and it is hardly a meadow. Tromping through the Beaver Meadows is not a pleasant experience. The only trails are game trails. In addition to the 7ft willow brush, it’s a maze of shallow ponds and swampy pools, most of which have leeches. Mosquitos and other bothersome flying insects are a constant nuisance. Additionally the tall willow is a hiding place for elk, moose and bison…which you do not want to annoy or stumble upon. On the day I spent plumbing around in that underbrush it was also hot and muggy.

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I decided to stand still for a moment in a dry patch I bumbled into. It wasn’t long before I could feel something biting my legs. I looked at the stump next to me where I had set my camera and all I could see were ants…biting ants!!! I dislike those things and by now I could feel the buggers all through my pants so I moved away from the stump and stripped…shook out all my clothes, redressed and went on my bit and itchy way…You may have noticed that I can’t think of much to recommend Beaver Meadows as a pleasant hike. Needless to say I found very little in that maze of water traps that seemed clue-like or rewarding in any way…but please, be my guest. Just don’t trample me on your way out!

I also explored a bit upstream from The Barns on the Madison. I could see a small building a mile or so upstream and was curious about it.

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You can see the building I am talking about in the top third, center of the pic. That’s the Madison River upstream from the Barns.

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Turned out to be a river gauging station. But the walk was beautiful and the lodgepole and sage smelled great in the thin mountain air…and I saw this:

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A nice bright orange blaze up in that tree…
Didn’t strike me as a Forrest type blaze and after I saw another I figured out that I was on a winter ski trail and those blazes help the first cross-country skiers, after a fresh snowfall, find the trail.

That marked my last day of searching…I had to head home the next morning…take what was left of Ezy’s front end apart and replace everything…

I can drive the 700 miles from Yellowstone to my place on the island in a day if I push. But I didn’t feel like pushing…
I wanted to stay off the freeway. Drive the two lane.

The Clark Fork is a favorite river of mine…
I stopped along the way at a few places to tease the fish…imagine what it was like when Lewis and Clark came this way…

I was walking a gravel bench above the Clark Fork one day and when I kicked a rock I saw something shine blue beneath the rock…

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You can see what I saw in front of the toe of my boot. It’s round and blue…

Turns out it was a glass bead…and there were two more under the rocks…

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They might be old trading beads. They are a beautiful color. I have an arrow point I found awhile back. I think I’ll have the three beads and the arrowhead turned into a necklace for Kathy. She would like that.

So to review…
I am unemployed and trying to wrap my head around it…I smashed up Ezy but walked away unscathed… I missed out on some good venison…I have swollen ankles from ant bites…I scored two cool rocks at Fennboree… I didn’t find a suitable blaze or any sign of a chest…I found three nice beads that stand a pretty good chance of being old trade beads and I can use them to have a nice necklace made for Kathy…successful trip!!!

-dal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy 89th Forrest……

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Forrest Fenn will be celebrating his 89th birthday Today, Thursday, August 22…

Thanks for being here Forrest. I am in awe of your accomplishments as well as your fishing skills, and sincerely appreciate your treasure hunt…it has provided opportunities and joy for hundreds of thousands of searchers…including me!!

By the way…Wouldn’t it be a nice tradition to hand out a new clue on your birthday??…
just sayin!