Scrapbook One Hundred Eighteen…



Montana Golden Fish


Avalanche Lake was a fairy-tale spot for me in the 1940s when I was young and could do anything. It was few miles north and west of where, in 1959, a mountain fell and dammed the Madison River that formed Quake Lake.

To reach Avalanche Lake I had to climb about 3,000 feet, over a six mile stretch. In one spot the path was only 4 feet wide and had a 700-foot tumbledown drop on the left. It was a scary place and if my hat blew off I’d never see that thing again. The Forest Service said no one ever went up there because the hike was too tough.

My father warned that grizzlies ranged in the area where I was going so I planned to carry a dead fish. If I met a bear I’d throw the fish at him and run downhill. A grizzly’s front legs are shorter than its hind legs so I would have the advantage if it came to a race. Besides, my incentive would be greater than his.

After seven hours I reached the lake and started fishing. The water was deep and cold. Several dozen huge golden trout slowly swished through the glassy water. To my disappointment, none of them wanted any fly in my vast repertoire of lures, not even a wooly worm.


One of my most humbling dreads, and one that’s most idiosyncratic of my personality, is to be ignored by a beautiful fish. I didn’t catch any … not even one to throw at a griz if I met him on the down trail.


The next day, while preparing to leave, I placed my Dr. Pepper under a rock in the lake to save for next time. No need to haul it out. ZOWEE!!! That’s when I noticed the fresh water shrimp. It looked like a hundred of them scurrying about. They were small, maybe 1/4th inch long, and their yellowish-translucent color made them almost invisible. That had to be the answer. That’s what the fish were feeding on. I could hardly wait get home and make some flies that imitated the shrimp.

Several weeks later I took Donnie with me to the lake. I wanted to apply my fishing genius and show those rude trout who was their better.



Last Lament

Oh, somewhere near a placid mountain meadow
A mariposa lily blooms its yellow best.
And on the hills and in the valleys mellow,
The chirpy plover gathers grasses for her nest.

But on a lake that tries the sportsman’s skill,
He went to cast his line and catch a trout,
Alone he stood to test the wily fishes will.
And again the mighty fisherman struck out.


Scrapbook One Hundred Seventeen…



Ancient Leftovers


IMG_1195Mammoths roamed all over the Americas, and if you get way out into the countryside you might find one. That’s what we did, and we were many miles from a road on a friend’s ranch in northeastern New Mexico. We first found a large mammoth tooth. The enamel plates had broken apart and the wear patterns said it belonged to a very old animal.



A mile or so farther, as we walked along a softly flowing stream of water, I discovered a tusk. It had been exposed to the elements for a long time because the ivory had dried and layers were popping off in fragments. I guessed it was a mammoth because mastodons are not commonly found in the Southwest.


IMG_1193I started excavating in the cement-like clay that engulfed the tusk. It was a hot summer day, and the bursitis-inducing work with a small handpick progressed slowly.


Meanwhile my ranch friend scavenged the surrounding area, searching for artifacts. Suddenly he discovered a knife eroding from the bank. It was of useful size and made of Edwards Plateau flint. Heavy damage on both blade edges indicated that it may have been used to cut meat from bone. We knew that tool could not be associated with the mammoth because the flake patterns were not Clovis technology, and Clovis man was the only human known to kill the great beasts.

I continued working as the sun burned low in the sky. Finally the tusk was completely uncovered and I took this photo.


My efforts to learn when the mammoth died proved futile because there wasn’t enough collagen in the ivory to obtain a carbon-14 date. That meant the animal died many years ago – perhaps 50,000 or more.


The mammoth tusk weighed 70 pounds when we lifted it into the bed of the pickup. Over the years it has dried and crumbled into a sad semblance of what it used to be.

For those who read Dal’s blog and want a rare ivory fragment of American history, please send a padded, self-addressed stamped envelope, postmarked on January 5, 2015, or earlier, to:

Forrest Fenn
P.O. Box 8174
Santa Fe, NM  87504.

If one should grasp a chunk of an ancient mammoth in one’s hand and close one’s eyes, who knows what thoughts might flow into one’s fertile mind?


I always intended to go back to my friend’s ranch and dig out the mammoth skull. But it’s been thirty years since I walked along that softly flowing stream of water, and now, at age 84 …  it’s just too much for me.










Scrapbook One Hundred Sixteen…



Peek-a-Boo Art


I said in my book, The Thrill of the Chase, that I shower at night so I can’t see how old I am. But there’s also another reason. I’m just really nervous with so many girls and other critters watching while I lather up.

When Mother Nature made the tiles in my shower she probably giggled, knowing I’d be embarrassed.

Everywhere I look I see another face staring at me so I don’t dare shower without my jeans on. I never have any privacy anymore. f


Here’s a Cowgirl riding a bucking bronco


See that girls face in the middle? She watches everything I do


There is a dog here that follows me all around the shower


This woman is always there when I shower. I think she likes me.


I hate this critter. He just stands there and laughs at me. I’m thinking of putting duct tape over his eyes.


There, that’s better!










These two zombies are really scary. They’re just outside my shower but they watch me shave. And the fox in the bottom right of the photo just appeared. I didn’t know he was there. I’ll never shave in the nude again.