The Madison River…

POSTED APRIL 2018
BY CYNTHIA

 

I could no longer endure this winter’s wait… I needed adventure and I needed it now. 

On page 120 of TTOTC, there’s a picture of Forrest as a youngster standing at the end of a wooden table, displaying 11 large trout. The caption below the photo says “A good day on the river, I was twelve. What fish we couldn’t use we traded for potatoes and other goods. It’s what kept us going during the war when my father was making $4,000 a year teaching school in Texas.”  I wondered if that could be the reference to the line in the poem “and hint of riches new and old”. Those fish were a commodity the Fenn’s traded for food… could they be the “riches old”? And if so, then what? Where do we go from there? 

At the top right on the same page are the words MADISON RIVER. The Madison begins at the confluence of the Firehole and Gibbon Rivers at Madison Junction. Everyone who searches Yellowstone already knows this… it is probably the most popular WWWH in the eight years of Fenn treasure hunting.

And if you’re still not convinced, look at the sentence at the end of the opposite page where Forrest wrote, “But as I got older, I realized there were many moments to remember, like the time I sat under a tree on the Madison River and watched the osprey dive for fish as I wrote a note for my wife…”  The chapter concludes with the sentence “And when my tackle box is closed at last and the cadis hatch is gone, I will rest through all of time and space, pillowed down and scented in, with a smile that comes from remembering the special things that brought me to that final place, one of which was knowing Peggy was there, somewhere, waiting for me.”

It seems to me that last sentence in the chapter titled Flywater just described his “special place”, his final resting place… a place that is private and dear to him… and where he ultimately hid the treasure chest. He mentions Peggy… is it where he sat under a tree along the Madison and wrote her that note? Is the underlying message of his poem his final love letter to Peggy?

On that same page are words or phrases similar to the words in the poem… personal secrets, space was mine alone, I know, watching the waters deepen, and words “special”, most “dear”.

Even if this idea is on the right track, the Madison River flows 183 miles from Madison Junction to Three Forks, Montana. (You could glean even more hints for the Madison River in the chapter Looking for Lewis and Clark, where Forrest wrote about Osbourne Russell and Jim Bridger.) 

But where to start… I don’t like Madison Junction as where warm waters halt. I want to find a warm water spring nestled off the beaten path but not too far from the banks of the Madison River. There are a few to be found on a detailed map but the actual search will have to wait until late May or early June, when the weather settles down and the search becomes less COLD. Forrest did write, “You’re effort will be worth the cold”… if he means this literally, how much cold do I have to withstand to find his loot? 

I have a dismal feeling that I’m a good 7 years behind Dal, and Diggin Gypsy, and many folks who have already made various trips to search the YNP area, including the banks of the Madison River. I need a plan to catch up… so I thought I’d start now, using the process of elimination to help narrow the field.

I had been watching the extended weather forecasts for Pocatello, Idaho, Henry’s Lake, Ennis, and Three Forks, Montana for a couple weeks. I needed a 5-day window of drivable roadways to get from New Mexico to Three Forks, where the Madison ends (I also included a couple days in Gardiner/ Mammoth Hot Springs), and back home. My plan was to actually drive along as much of the Madison as I could so I could eliminate areas… I had already seen much of the river inside Yellowstone last fall so could skip it. This trip was intended to see the river from Hebgen Lake downstream all the way to the end.

I was out the door before 5am Saturday morning… it’s an easy drive from Rio Rancho up Hwy 550 to Rt64 to head west and north to Cortez, Colorado, Moab, Utah, etc.  I stopped for a moment along the road just north of Nageezi, NM, to get a shot of this sunrise. This alone was a wonderful reason to get an early start.

Then I continued north through Canyonlands where the road skirted Wilson Arch… I pulled into the parking area to take a picture but decided I had to climb up beneath the arch where I could see others milling around. It was worth the effort, on hands and knees here and there… wow, the view was incredible. Descending was worse… on hands and feet and butt… moving like a hermit crab down the precipitous side back to the parking area… well, that was exhilarating, and I was grinning… Yep, this was already an adventure!

In 12 hours after leaving home, I was pulling into my hotel parking lot in Pocatello, Idaho.  I almost wished I hadn’t made reservations so I could keep on driving… the adrenlin was pumping and I couldn’t wait to cross Raynold’s Pass and drop down to the river. But I knew Sunday was going to be a long day so tried to sleep.

At daybreak I bolted from bed, skipped the free breakfast and headed north to Idaho Falls, then northeast to Henry’s Lake where I turned northwest and crossed the Continental Divide at Raynold’s Pass. It was magnificent with the snow and the sunlight making it’s way through the cracks in the whispy clouds above. 

It wasn’t long until I reached the Madison at the Raynold’s Pass Fishing Access area. I pulled into the parking area, grabbed my gear, and walked along the river downstream a bit. It was beautiful, but not where Forrest hid the treasure chest, IMO… there were barely any trees. 

On MW Forrest said: ” Stop arm chairing that thing to death and get out there 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 its directions.” Yep, I feel like I’m not following the directions… at least not yet. I needed to drive upstream towards Hebgen…

The scenery did not disappoint… it was absolutely magnificent. I decided to use my cell phone to make a few videos. I held it in my left hand which I steadied on my side mirror as I drove. There was little traffic… I think it was 26º. My hand got cold but I didn’t care. I was on a mission… then I accidently dropped my cell phone as I was driving. Oops… thank goodness it bounced away from my truck, and landed face up. 

I stopped many times to get out and take pictures… I will spare Dal the inconvenience of posting so many in this story; instead, I will post a link to them at the end. (I included captions to describe the places.) 

By the time I got to Grayling Creek, the sky above West Yellowstone looked ominous… like Forrest had a direct line to God and they were warning me to turn back. So I did… 

From there I made my way back along the Madison and continued my journey downstream on Hwy287 to Three Forks, Montana, stopping at each of the fishing access areas to peruse the liklihood of Fenn’s loot hiding in the vicinity. 

The next photo is from the Lyon Bridge… yep, I count that as a possibility to “marry the clues on a map and see where the lines cross.” There are trees.. a forest of pine trees along one bank, and easily accessible, all year long.

Eventually the terrain became a wide valley… the photo below shows a herd of elk lying in the field… the river is behind them, and I don’t see trees… 

I continued on to the Lewis and Clark Hotel in Three Forks… it was a small town, but charming… probably… on any day except Easter Sunday. Nearly every eating establishment was closed… and I was starving! But I didn’t care… I was ecstatic… I had accomplished my mission. Here is the link to my SmugMug pictures for that part of my trip.

CLICK HERE

But wait, my journey and  reconnaisance trip doesn’t stop here. I planned an extra two days to stay in Gardiner and drive into Yellowstone National Park  to visit Mammoth Hot Springs and see wildlife… the 4-legged variety. (There was also some wild life of the 2-legged variety in the Two Bit Saloon in Gardiner, but that came later.) 

I had never visited this part of the park before. There are pros and cons for visiting in the winter… it is COLD…. 16º Tuesday morning as I made my way through Mammoth Hot Springs and on towards Tower-Roosevelt and the Lamar Valley.  Even though the road is open to traffic, that doesn’t mean the road is bare… driving through the hilly, windy forested area where the sun seldom shines was gut-wrenching, at least for someone living in NM who seldom has to drive in snow or icy conditions. I went slow… there was little traffic so I had the entire road to maneuver.  

I saw billions of bison and elk… not literally that many but A LOT. I stopped stopping to take pictures of them and continued on to Slough Creek where there were supposedly wolves seen that morning. By the time I got there, they were gone… how do I know this, you might wonder? Because the career wolf-pack-watchers were gone… the SUVs and pickup trucks with the big anntennas and surly people with the gigantic lenses, so I was told. 

Part way through the Lamar Valley, I decided to turn around and head back to the Terraces in the Mammoth Hot Springs area.  It was still a pretty day, albeit a bit windy and still bitter cold, but I definitely wanted to see them.  It was one of the best decisions I’d made the entire trip… I fell in love with the upper and lower terraces. It is a photographers paradise.  (One of the pros of a winter visit, less people…)

Once again, I will spare Dal the hassle of including them in this story… here’s the link to the Yellowstone photos, with captions on most of them.

CLICK HERE

I want to make sure everyone who reads this story understands I did nothing dangerous to put myself at risk. I even used my better judgment and postponed a drive through Yellowstone Monday the day I arrived, when it was snowing, blowing, and visibilty was horrible. I hated the thought of another YNP Fenn treasure searcher having to be rescued… or worse.

I also went extremely prepared… I had snow shoes, snow boots, 2 pairs of hiking boots in case one pair got wet, a winter ski jacket, hat, gloves, enough food and water inside the truck I could have lived in there for a week, as well as a shovel, chain, and flares.  

I did not actually search for Fenn’s gold at any particular spots… because I haven’t found the place to begin.  But now I have a better understanding of the terrain.

I also drove home by way of Rt191 from Bozeman to West Yellowstone before dropping south into Idaho… holy moly! This is a must-see drive for anyone in the area who has never seen this canyon and the Gallatin River. 

Now I’m so confused… this canyon and river is as beautiful as the Madison… and Fenn was a fishing guide here so would know the area well.

I have 6 weeks to solve the poem… then I return.  

As a word of caution, I hope anyone who plans to search in any of these areas looks at my pictures to understand how much snow is still there, especially in the trees. Don’t be stupid!  Go prepared and always tell at least two parties where you will be, and check in with them every day. 

I saw these words on a plaque in the lobby at the Lewis and Clark Hotel…

“Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take,

but by the number of moments that take our breath away.”

I am fortunate… I just had many!

Cynthia

April 2018

Down… But Not Quite Out…

SUBMITTED MARCH 2016
by VOXPOPS

 

Location, location, location – and on November 23rd 2015 I had it! I wanted to get in the car and drive right then, but Thanksgiving loomed large, and it was going to be a major family gathering. And of course, family comes first.

At the end of the month and into December, the snow began to fall in earnest. But as Christmas gave way to the New Year I wondered whether a quick dash might still be possible. Then the Randy Bilyeu tragedy took us all by surprise, and the notion of searching for treasure while others searched for a missing comrade seemed inappropriate to the point of callous.

A little of the gilt and sparkle was rubbed off the Chase by Randy’s disappearance, but the puzzle still remained to be solved. Gradually, we searchers gave ourselves permission to talk about the poem again, and I had to make a decision. If I were to head out, even while the snow was thick on the ground, I stood a chance of being able to make it to my spot over frozen ground, whereas if I waited until April or May I risked getting bogged down in snowmelt mud. So why not just sit it out until the summer? It wasn’t just a burning impatience that led me to make the decision to go (although that was certainly a factor), but the inconvenient truth that my wife and I will be emigrating around the end of May, and so our window of opportunity is tiny. That was why I decided to give it a shot in mid-March. It would turn out to be an expensive and foolhardy decision.

Val and I loaded up our trusty Subaru (veteran of previous searches over crazy terrain) and pointed the hood eastward. It’s a two-day drive from our home, and while the journey was uneventful, fresh snow in the passes and plummeting temperatures gave rise to a little anxiety. Val was tolerating my search obsession – just – but she worried, justifiably, about our physical condition and ability to deal with hazardous conditions.

The afternoon we arrived at our motel was sunny and crisp. So, after stocking up with provisions, I suggested we do a reconnaissance trip to locate the winding forest trail that would lead to our spot. All seemed to be going well. Where there was snow, it wasn’t too deep; and where there was mud, it was frozen near-solid for the most part. By using GPS and a carefully prepared set of waypoints, we found the turnoff that would take us to the chest. It seemed doable. Nearby, we spotted a road grader. Its significance eluded me at the time.

1-The Trail

Appearances can be deceptive

Up bright and early the following morning, we were greeted by a cloudless sky and a temperature only just above zero. I tried to chip off the previous day’s frozen mud that had collected in the Subaru’s wheel arches and was fouling the tires, but it had set like concrete. It took a half-hour of chipping and prying to clear sufficient space to apply the Autosocks that were to help us achieve grip on the final stretch. Chains were to be a last resort. We checked our supply of food and water, blankets, extra outerwear, tools, shovels, flashlights and cameras… and then we hit the trails.

2-Sun on Snow

Perfect conditions?

Having scouted the day before, we knew we could get up to the turnoff, and so we did, with just a brief moment of indecision when we weren’t sure if we’d taken a wrong turn. We hadn’t. But for some reason I wasn’t feeling my usual nervous excitement at getting close to a search location – more a sense of emptiness. Perhaps I knew, deep down, that now was not the right time to be doing this.

Keep your socks on!

Keep your socks on!

Ready to roll

Ready to roll

At the turnoff, we fitted the Autosocks (a great invention – so much easier to use than chains) and headed into the woods. The first couple of hundred yards were fine, but then the tracks from other vehicles got deeper and the central hump of snow correspondingly higher, until we began to bounce from side to side of the ruts. A drop-off appeared on the driver’s side to aid concentration!

 Heading up

Heading up

A little deeper

A little deeper

Listing to port

Listing to port

And then we were stuck. Worse, we were lodged at a steep cant.

Getting an angle on it

Getting an angle on it

It was a nail-biting moment, but after ten minutes of shoveling we were clear again. It was then that Val made a really sensible suggestion: “Why don’t we turn around now?” She spotted a small patch up ahead that was free of snow. It probably wasn’t quite wide enough to execute a turn, but I also wasn’t quite ready to quit, and to my shame and ultimate folly I ignored her, muttering some lame excuse or other, and plowed ahead – literally.

I could sense that the car was struggling now, and up ahead I noticed a split in the trail where there was sufficient room to maneuver. I could even park up and try to hike the remaining three miles on snow shoes, although I was leery of attempting that in such extreme conditions and with a slipped disc that sent shooting pains of indescribable ferocity down my right leg. And anyway, right now we had momentum and an uneasy sense that things might be okay if we could just keep moving forward.

We lurched around a hairpin, shuddered another fifty yards or so, and ground to a halt. Forward gear, reverse, forward again – none of it made the slightest difference, except I felt the back of the car sink another few inches.

Down she goes!

Down she goes!

After a few more rounds of this, we ended up with two wheels on opposing corners not even touching the surface. The car was resting on a platform of around twelve to eighteen inches of solidly packed snow, while the wheels spun uselessly in the ruts.

That sinking feeling

That sinking feeling

Outside the air was pure, the trees bore their burden of snow in perfect serenity, and everything felt pristine and as it should be – except for us. Here we were with our mud-splattered Subaru, tools, shovels and chains scattered around – noisy intruders with no place being here. A fox came to check us out. He stood, unafraid, with his orange-brown coat vibrant against the stark white backdrop.

Where the air is clear

Where the air is clear

We're the interlopers

We’re the interlopers

He'd seen enough...

He’d seen enough…

Ten o’clock turned to eleven, and eleven to twelve. Val, to her undying credit never uttered those four little words: I told you so. Uncomplaining, she worked alongside me, shoveling snow and inserting improvised chocks. We jacked up the car, added chains, rocked the vehicle back and forth, and tried brute force, sending up a fountain of snow and grit. But by now the wheels were spinning inside the Autosocks, and my heart was pounding like a jackhammer, unused to the exertion at considerable altitude.

Learning lessons!

Learning lessons!

By nearly one in the afternoon I knew it had us beat. Even if we could have got the Subaru rolling back down the hill, we would not have been able to negotiate the hairpin in reverse without skidding into a wall of snow.

No going back

No going back

We needed outside help, something every guy hates to ask for. I reached for my phone. Every now and then, it would offer a couple of bars for a few tantalizing seconds before snatching them back, only to tease us again, but this time with a different carrier. Eventually, I managed to get through to our hotel, and had the surprised receptionist give us the number of a local tow company. It was Saturday afternoon. I crossed my fingers that someone would be on call, and that the signal would hold – not to mention the battery, which was showing a cute little heart over the relevant icon.

Of course, it crossed both of our minds that our own hearts might give out on this adventure. Val, who displayed such calm dignity throughout the ordeal, said later that she had been resigned to whatever happened, and I remember thinking fleetingly that I didn’t really want to die of hypothermia – it seems so acquiescent. But if that scenario had come into play, there would only have been one person to blame… As it was, we didn’t need to worry. A couple of calls later and we had arranged to walk the mile or so back to the trail junction to meet the tow truck driver, partly because I had serious doubts that he’d be able to get up the trail with a heavy rig. As I could only walk slowly and in spurts it took a while to cover the distance. My limping became more pronounced and painful, and I told Val to go on without me if the truck couldn’t get to us, since I would need to stop and rest my back every couple of hundred yards. Fresh prints in the snow told us that the bears were beginning to stir. My bear spray was at the ready.

We made it to the rendezvous point. I don’t think either of us has ever been so glad to see a guy with a truck! Differentials locked, and the two of us alongside the driver, the truck made it all of twenty yards up the trail. There was no way it’d be able to get to the Subaru. We abandoned our steed for the night, riding back to town in the truck – an hour’s journey over dirt roads that were turning to slippery mud in the afternoon sun. On the way, we chatted with the driver – a great guy and a vet who had served all over the world – and he told us that under normal circumstances we couldn’t have made it anywhere near our forest trail at this time of year. But because the snowpack was lower than normal and they’d continued to plow and grade the road, the easy conditions on the lower slopes had lulled us into a false sense of security.

Back in town, we handed over our car key to the service station owner, who arranged to send up a team with ATVs in the morning, and promised they would be able to bring our vehicle down.

Sunday morning dawned clear and noticeably warmer. We waited… and we waited. Around noon we received the call – yay! Our car was at the service station, and we were now infamous for having gotten our vehicle stuck in one of the highest places the mechanics had ever had to work! Any further and they wouldn’t have been able to get there, even with ATVs.

Apparently, to rescue the Subaru, they had to jack the car up high, attach cables slung around trees, and spin the car on its axis. Then, with an ATV fore and aft, they drove in fits and starts back down the trail, pausing every now and then to dig it out again or give it a helping tug with an ATV. It was a major job, and we were substantially poorer as a result. But, as we told them in a roundabout way, they were our guardian angels that day, and without them (and a signal on our cell) things could have ended very differently. We thanked them profusely.

The lessons are obvious, but on the plus side, we met some great people, saw some fabulous scenery, and enjoyed a real Western adventure. My wife has told me that we aren’t doing this again – and if our flight schedule out of the country has anything to do with it, we won’t be. But flights can always be rescheduled… no?

VOXPOPS

 

InTheKnow on the Rio Grande Part II…

SUBMITTED december 2014
BY INTHEKNOW

 

Let’s pretend for a minute that I got the starting point right.  I know that Glenn Woody Bridge is out.  So, How far is too far to walk?  Later in the poem, Forrest tells us to hear him and listen good.  So, I close my eyes and say the words out loud.  I hear ‘to’ and ‘too’ and think, what if that means 2+2?  Well, 4 miles could be too far to walk for an 80 year old man.  Not Forrest probably, but most 80 year old men.  So, I follow the road into the canyon down for 4 miles.  What is there?  Nothing.

Agua Caliente to Souse Hole Rapid

4.4 Miles from WWWH to the parking lot

This canyon has a road, and then a steep drop to the river on one side, and an impossible incline on the other.  Signs in the area warn of rockslides and slick curves.  Crosses dot the road where many have succumbed to the will of Mother Nature.  But, 4.4 miles down from my WWWH, there is a parking lot.  This parking lot is used by a lot of people associated with river rafting.  This could be related to ‘put in’.  There is also a hill overlooking the river.  Guess what is on the hill?  A picnic bench!  Well, this HAD to be the place.  But, wait.  What is that grassy hill across the river?  Is that a tree on the top of it, perfectly centered, and solitary in it’s stance?  Well, now I know I am in the right place.  But, I knew taking the family on this trip would not be wise, so I was going to go it alone.

I found the parking lot pretty easily and found a good spot to park, off to the right.  I knew this side of the river would be heavily trafficked, but I searched it high and low, anyway.  Then, I got all the way down to the river, and crossed onto a sandbar in the middle of the river.  Maybe this was the way across.  I looked down at the rushing water going past me, and knew I was not crossing here, on foot.

This is the view from where I parked

This is the view from where I parked

You can see the hill across the river on the left of the picture, with the green grass.  My tree is in the center of the image.  Also, on the left, you can see the old gas pipeline.  It is broken in many places, but it used to run the length of the other side of the canyon.  There is also an old access road that runs alongside it.

I hiked back up to the hill, went to my car, and called my husband for some advice.  I remembered that the Glenn Woody Bridge was only 2 miles up the road, and even thought there was a No Trespassing sign, I didn’t think the owner would mind if I just strolled across it and walked back down the other side of the river, along an old above ground gas line.  I told my husband I was thinking of doing it, and he reminded me that there were 14 wolf/German Shepard hybrids on the other side, all very hungry and eager for a fresh meal.  I decided that was out of the question.

As I am wrapping up my conversation, I see a young  girl pull up in her car.  She parked about 10 feet from me.  She got out, and strolled off in her flip flops, carrying a book and a nice-looking camera.  She walks along the side of the busy road, along where the earth just seems to fall off and disappear.  Then, she did something unimaginable:  she scaled the side of the hill down – in her flip flops!  I couldn’t imagine how she just did that.  This girl knows this area very well.  So, I got out of the car and followed her.

I got about 100 feet up the road, and suddenly a stone staircase appeared, and lead down to a tiny wooden shade structure, under which was the girl, enjoying her book.  I made it down the staircase to her, and said hello.  I asked her if she knew of a good place to cross the river.  She replied, “Why would you want to do that?”  Um….hmmmm….let me think.  I didn’t want to tell her the truth.  Maybe she will go search across the way and find it before me.  “I am trying to take some pictures.”  She looked me over, glancing at my gollashes, my shorts, and my checkered backpack.  “You are gonna have to swim.”

“I am not swimming across the river.  Is there a low point I can walk across?”

“Maybe a few miles down, at the county line access.”

“Ok, Thanks. Bye.”

I needed a new plan.  I climbed back up the staircase to my car, and was ready to call it a day, but then I saw a white passenger van across the way, with a raft on top.  Hmmmmm.  This could be a way across.  I walked over and found and young man lying in a hammock, underneath two trees.  His view overlooked the river, so that he could ensure he saw his group pass by in their raft, so he could know when it was time for him to go. A pungent smell of an herbal remedy wafted through the air.   I approached him and asked him if he knew a way across the river.  “You can swim across,” he replied.  “I am not swimming.  Any chance you could give me a lift across?”  I pointed at the raft on his trailer.  “I only have one life jacket, and am waiting for my group to come down the river at any minute.  But, I have an idea.  Follow me.”  He grabbed the life jacket and started off the same way the girl had gone.  I did as I was told and followed.  He walked down to the girl, and told her I was his friend, and that I needed a ride across.  We were going to flag down the next group of rafters to give me a lift across.  I couldn’t believe it.  None of these people knew me, and they were going out of their way to help me – all because I wanted to take some pictures (or so they thought).

It only took two minutes for a raft to appear.  I put the life vest on, and I got in.  They ferried me across, and I returned the life jacket, and went on my way.  I had saved the man’s name and phone number in my phone, and he told me to call him when I was ready for a ride back across.  He warned me that he would be busy feeding hungry rafters for the next hour or two, but that he would come back when he was done if I hadn’t called by then.  I didn’t worry about a silly thing like getting back across the river, with a treasure chest.  I had a search to get underway.

This is the one picture I shot while on the hill

This is the one picture I shot while on the hill

You can see a staircase on the upper right side of the image.  This leads you from the parking lot to a flat area where the bench I mentioned is located. You can also see the sandbar I stood on in the bottom left.

I climbed up the hill with such excitement.  That tree was so big, and so pretty, and had such a beautiful view of the river.  But, as I made my way up the hill, I started to smell something.  It was urine.  And, it was strong.  I ignored it the first time, but a couple of trees later, I smelled it again.  I forged ahead, determined to reach my tree.  When I got there, I looked high and low for a rock, a log, anything that was out of place.  Oh look!  Two railroad ties just lying there.  Underneath: nothing.  I start to widen my circle around the tree, and then investigate nearby trees.  Still nothing.  Nothing, except that smell.  Then I realized, it reminded me of the smell when cats leave their mark on things.  Cats?  That has got to be a pretty big cat.  Then, as I came around a corner of rocks, I see it.  A small cave, only about 3 feet high, and 4 feet wide.  Just in front of the cave, where the grasses reach 4 feet tall, there was a large size area where the grasses had been smashed, and were laying horizontally.  You could see this was a good place for a large animal to catch some sun in the morning, and that this spot was well used.  There were also a few small bones scattered about the front of the cave.

I knew I was definitely in the wrong place.  I also knew this was a very bad idea, and I needed to hightail it out of there.  But, before I ran off, I snapped a pic.  At least now I wasn’t a liar, as well as a failure.  I pulled out my phone and called the number of the man who helped me get a ride across.  No service.  No service anywhere on that hill.  Crap!

I hurried myself down the hill, and to the edge of the water.  The girl was still perched under her shade structure across the way.  She saw me and yelled across, “Are you done?  Do you need a lift back?”

“Yes Please!”

I didn’t have to wait but two or three minutes and another rafting group came by.  I saw the girl snap her photos of them, and then wave them down and started pointing my way.  The group kindly pulled up to the bank, allowed me to board, and ferried me back across.  “Did you get your pictures?,” she asked. “Yes, I did.  Thank you.”  The man who helped me was gone, and my repeated attempts to let him know I made it back across failed.  Either I got the wrong number, or his phone was turned off. I headed for home.

I searched the road side of the river two more times after that.  Then, another time, I hiked up one of the slot canyons on the opposite side of the road, and scaled 50ft of sheer waterfall (it was dry at that time).  I ended up in the most amazing crevasse, which was surrounded on all sides by mountain peaks.  It was about 40 ft. in diameter, and it was the most peaceful place I had ever been.  Sadly, I forgot to take pictures until I was halfway back down the slot canyon.

After that trip, I learned a very important lesson.  I realized that the entire canyon area was subject to Mother Nature’s attitude changes, and that no place there would be safe.  Fenn did not hide his treasure here, but I feel like I am still heading in the right direction.

Next time, I will tell you how far too far to walk actually is, and how Fenn’s ‘non-clues’ are all actually very good clues (according to my solution, of course).

 

InTheKnow on the Rio Grande…

SUBMITTED december 2014
BY INTHEKNOW

 

You all know me as InTheKnow, but my kids call me Mom, and my sister calls me Crazy.  I have almost 30 searches for Forrest’s treasure, just since I joined the search in August.  This is one of my stories, and part of my current solution.  I have never changed my solution, I only move forward in the poem.

InTheKnow - A Little Piece of Me

InTheKnow – A Little Piece of Me

I went on my first search without knowing much.  I knew Dal had a website, and so did Forrest.  I knew he said a few clues on the Today show, and that he wrote a poem.  I was inexperienced and thought I was a smart cookie.  I can figure this out easy. Any of this sound familiar?

After reading the poem a few times, I deduced my starting point.  I wondered if warm waters could be translated into Spanish, and it turned out to be a geographical place.  Agua Caliente.  If you Google Agua Caliente, you end up getting results for a Casino in California, and a few other small places, but none of them in the search area.  If you add New Mexico, you can get two different results.  I will let you decide which one I started with.

Agua Caliente translates to ‘warm waters’, and we know that Forrest knows at least a rudimentary amount of Spanish.  Also, if you live in the Southwest for any length of time, you pick up a moderate vocabulary of Spanish words.  Now, what about the halting, you ask?  Well, Agua Caliente is a warm water spring, which runs down a canyon, as a stream, and HALTS at a swimming hole.  It is actually a popular swimming hole, because the water is so warm.  So, we have warm water halting, both by name and by action.  I figured it couldn’t be a coincidence.

Now, lets go in the canyon down and see what we can find.  First, we pass the town of Pilar and the Rio Grande Visitors Center.  Pilar is a very popular river rafting area.  There are dozens of rafters going from Pilar, to the bottom of the canyon, every day.  So, we have our ‘Put In’ and ‘Canyon Down’.  As for the home of Brown…well….I skipped that one, for now.  I will figure it out when I get there.

If you follow the canyon down from the swimming hole and Pilar, you will find very little in the way of landmarks.  However, there is one bridge, called the Glenn Woody Bridge.  Glenn Woody was a business man who made a lot of money mining in the area about 100 or so years ago.  He built a bridge to cross the Rio Grande on the ruins of an old government-built bridge that had been burned down by the Apaches – twice.  All that remained were the concrete pylons, which still remain today.  Glenn Woody left the area to join the California gold rush, and eventually went bust.  After Glenn Woody went under, the local sherriff purchased his property and bridge, and used it as a fishing retreat.  Now, it is owned by an eccentric man, who leads a very interesting life – but I will tell you more about him in a moment.

Glenn Woody Bridge – that could be ‘in the wood’!  Oh boy, this is it!  The very next day, I packed my husband, my 11 month old, and myself into the car, and drove two hours from my house to the bridge.

Father and Son on the Rio Grande - We enjoy the river close to home, too.

Father and Son on the Rio Grande – We enjoy the river close to home, too.

When we arrived, I was so excited, I jumped out of the car and ran straight down to the edge of the water.  I didn’t worry about silly little things, like the fact that the water was very low because the monsoons hadn’t arrived yet, so where I was standing would be underwater for part of the year.  Also, nevermind about the fact that 100 people stop here every week to enjoy the water, walk their dogs, or to enjoy an adult beverage in the serenity of the tall grasses.  This had to be it, right?

I trudged through the muddy banks, the tall grasses, and the thick bushes.  The whole time, I swore a snake was going to jump up and bite me any minute.  My husband looked on in confusion as he and the baby ate snacks by the car.  We were only at the site for 20 minutes, and the last ten were me sulking because I knew I was wrong. There was no way Forrest was going to hide a treasure in a place with so many people.

Rio Grande River

Rio Grande River – I took this picture on a later search, after hitchhiking to the other side of it.

While I was sulking, my husband was being social.  As he sat in the back of the SUV, staying out of the rain with the baby, a truck pulled up, and a man got out with two large bags of dog food, weighing 40 lbs. each.  The truck then drove off and the man started walking towards the bridge.  My husband struck up a conversation with him.  It turns out he is the current owner of the bridge, and the property across the way.  He also has two pets: a German Shepard and a Wolf.  It also happens that these two have mated – twice – and both times had produced 7 offspring.  So, he now had 1 dog, 1 wolf, and 14 hybrid offspring to feed.  Also, I should mention that these animals have no cages, leashes, chains, or any other kind of restraints or restrictions on their movements.  He told my husband that he walked all the way into town to get them dog food.  His vehicle is not working, and he is down on his luck at the moment, so he sometimes finds himself accepting generosity from his neighbors (I use that term loosely, because I am not sure where the next neighbor is, but it is a couple of miles in either direction).  Members of the community often donate dog food to him, and give him a ride to and from town, whenever they can.  For today’s ride, he hitchhiked from a stranger.  The man also admitted to my husband that he regularly drives across this bridge.  Anyone with a shred of common sense would question walking across the bridge, and would laugh at the idea of driving across this ancient structure.  The two men exchanged pleasantries, and the man lifted each of the two bags of food onto his shoulders, and started off for home.

Glenn Woody Bridge

Glenn Woody Bridge – It doesn’t look like anyone should cross this.

I didn’t know that the wolf/dog animals would play a minor roll in one of my future searches.  I will share that story soon, if you like.  It involves a mountain lion den, and hitchhiking a ride across the Rio Grande River from a river rafting group – twice.

The 4Runner - I bought her this summer, in excellent condition.  She now has multiple deep scratches going from headlight to taillight on both sides, from offroading through thick brush, in later searches.   She also has a fair amount of cactus needles in each tire, I have replaced two of the four valve caps, and she needs a new windshield.

The 4Runner – I bought her this summer, in excellent condition. She now has multiple deep scratches going from headlight to taillight on both sides, from offroading through thick brush, in later searches. She also has a fair amount of cactus needles in each tire, I have replaced two of the four valve caps, and she needs a new windshield.

Lynn D Sails For New Mexico…

SUBMITTED december 2014
BY LYNN D

 

Ahoy there Stephan the Pantless (and anyone else who cares to read)

Lynn D, the Departed or Deephearted of the Fancipants side here. It works either way you fix your gaze upon it. I have indeed departed from the Southwest for this season and I most whole heartedly agree with you Stephan about the movie Braveheart. Being of the Deephearted side of the “Pants” pirate family I must say that I fall in love with Mel Gibson every time I cast my attention upon that man and movie. The ending nearly sends me directly to Davey Jones Locker” each time I watch it. Arrrrr, where are me tissues?

Anyway, as I wet me pipe with this warm grog by the fire on the shores of Boston I find meself with ship under bare poles and crewless, still a far better fate than being pantless, IMHO. It’s a dreary damp bone chillin winter mornin here. The sun has barely just risen over the vermilion horizon. I wrap my blanket tighter as I think; yes, on such a mornin sailors do take warnin and pirates do too.  I will batten down me hatches after I finish me tale here. I just barely availed meself of this fire. Luckily, being raised by the Girl Scout band (though thrice removed as I have been told) I had my trusty flint and tinder box with me. So, here I sit and ponder whilst I drain me cup o grog and warm me bones.

Just about now you must be scratching your scurvy skull and a wonderin why I have thus addressed you. Avast Ye! I fancy there is still booty to be found in those Rockies and a blaze marks the spot. I am also a wonderin iffin ye ave recovered sufficient from your landlocked doldrums since your last hunt??

Ye see now, I am a girl pirate, from me boots up to me at. Since me last hikin around the canyons and dried up river beds I’ve been thinking that I do indeed need a priate in crime, I mean a partner in crime. I must apologize for that Fennian slip thar. It does seem to be happenin more and more whilst I compose the memoirs of my search. It’s a wonder I can organize my thoughts by this fire as my beloved brown hounds Homer the Cross Eyed and Crooked Nosed Smile and Abigail the Beautiful wrestle over the ham bones I just tossed over me shoulders whilst Kipper the Black strolls across this lap top purring… I bemoan the fact that my 80 pound brown beasts are too large to place into a carry on to place beneath the seat a front of me on that grey bird that flies me in to Santa Fe. Arrrrgh, what protection they could lend as they jumped, kissed and licked every scurvy dog that happened along me trail.

Savvy?

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My last voyage to the Rockies on a beautiful, sunny warm hiking day for my now land locked pegs was in November. It found me with the turquoise sky over me head and the terra cotta land under me feet. It was a foine day to hoist me sails with the fair wind blowing at 15-20 mph on that mountain. I found meself at the bottom of that deep gulch on a dried up river bed looking for the ole “X” that marks the spot. Tis a wonder I landed upon me spot with the likes o Sir Doug Scott directing me such! Me thinks he should give up the writing of treasure maps!

new mexico 2 010

Whilst I searched according to that fated poem by f squared ( yes, the small f as I am too lazy to also raise my finger to hit the cap button ) I smelled the strong stench of cigarette smoke upon that wind. It did shiver me timbers right then and thar as I thought dead men or a woman as is my case tell no tails. There I go again with that Fennian slip thing, a thousand pardons ladies, “tales”. I truly feared that no quarter would be given in my search of treasure on that day there in that riverbed. Whilst goose bumps aplenty arouse upon my flesh I thought of Bess, my flintlock that I had left behind home in Boston. It was hunting season there in the Rockies and I had worn my bright pink frock (until just now I had wondered why I saw no birds) and thought surely a game hunter would not chance alarming his prey with that putrid whiff. I did ponder how far this odor could travel on such a blustery day. I sat there quiet amidst the rocks listening and sniffing until I lost track of all time. As I attempted to make my hourly call in early, I discovered I had no service. My eyes searched the cerulean blanketed boulders above me as I quietly sat. Finally I braved out in to the open, well as open as one can be whilst being deep in a ravine with boulders surrounding over head.

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I do believe this stench and fright skewed my search on this day. I hiked in circles through mud and a light snow covering for the remainder of the afternoon as the sun watched from above. The only boot prints I ever came across were my own, one, two then 3 times to the same spot!!  I looked both high and low but found not the booty for which I was searchin. I never came across that smoker either as far as I could tell but this woman did follow me around all day. Every time I looked behind me she was there. In some cases depending on whether I was facing East or West she was in front of me. She was so quick! I found her to be relentless in her stalk of me as she wondered what secret I beheld. Whilst this could be disturbing to some, I found a growing admiration for her determined spirit that was not unlike my own. I have included a picture of her that I did capture whilst she looked off in to the distance. Although I did not find “THE” treasure I have many small ones of my own found along the way. I have included pictures of some of them.

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One treasure is of a stone held up high sitting amidst the most unlikely arms. Another treasure is my fossilized scraper or such where my thumb fit perfect on the reverse. How I wanted to show this to ff.

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There are 2 people treasures I will keep close too. One was my pony tailed, shorts wearing waiter who was also the cook, the dishwasher, the food server, the owner and the money taker in that breakfast nook of 4 tables. When he got behind in his duties people at the tables took over the coffee serving and the dish washin for him. Everyone seemed to hold this place with pride with in their hearts. When I answered that I only needed salt and peppah with me breakfast that arrived after four cups of Joe he exclaimed you’re not from California. I stuck out like a sore thumb as the stranger amidst them. Apparently he had already scoped out me rental cars’ plates. On his log I wrote me name Lynn D, from Massachusetts and under comments I wrote it was worth the drive,” just to see that sense of community. The next person to remember is the proprietor of the establishment where I roosted in Eagles Nest. It overlooked Eagle Nest Lake. As I had arrived late on that day he invited me to a leftover turkey dinner with all the fixings. He knew there was no other place open in town. That was indeed a warm welcome shared with his wife and young boy.

Before I commenced my trek the following day, he told me a tale of a gent and his nephew who had stayed at the very same logde and searched the very same trail as I was about to embark upon just a few months back. Then, this man and his nephew apparently had a bitter disagreement and took off to another state. Hmmm is all I can say. I worry that this has piqued the proprietor’s interest enough that 2 strangers finding themselves on the same trail would send him on his own quest from nearby.

I had another thought unrelated that I quite forgot to query the proprietor about. This was a lodge where it seemed that only treasure or game hunters took refuge. It was a place for big burley mountain men. I could not help but wonder why this place (and none of the other higher priced establishments) had that magnifying mirror over the sink. Becoming quite far sighted in my advanced years I was thrilled to be able to find that one hair on my chin lest it grow and I become mistaken for a mountain man. Yo ho ho!!!!

And, I will lend a dishonorable mention to that one man dressed in blue. I will only refer to him as the bilge rat from here on in as he bestowed upon me a $177 greeting card from New Mexico. The smile and the bill just did not go together in my way of thinking. I had just set me sails and was on course. How I’d like to have him walk the plank. Better yet, to keel haul him to clean the barnacles off of me ship!! I am happy to say that my ship was not searched as others have alluded to be happening on the high seas as a sting from the local law enforcement to acquire the treasure from the unsuspecting finder.

Doe ye ken my gist here Stephan the Pantless??? Unless you have another pirate lass to go a searchin with I have new ideas apart from yours and would love to share them with a fellow Matey of the same low standards. Of course we will split the bootie J

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I do pIan on finding this treasure afore ff feeds the fishes and I have need of another sword arm to prevent the skullduggary that often accompanies a treasure hunting/ finding.

So, both my tale and fire dwindle at this moment and the cold New England wind blows and yet another purring beast prances upon this key board as Pickles the Plaid demands my attention. Until next spring…. when I cast my Jolly Roger!

 

For more info about Stephan the Pantsless Pirate’s exploits you will find them near the bottom of the “Other’s Adventures” menu.

 

Homer of the Cross Eyed and Crooked Nosed Smile, a true pirate dog

Homer of the Cross Eyed and Crooked Nosed Smile, a true pirate dog

Christmas Ornament Girls’ Day Out…

SUBMITTED NOVEMBER 2014
BY CYNTHIA

 

Dear Forrest,

Just when I thought my treasure searching days were coming to an end this year, you blessed us with Scrapbook 105 “My Art for Me”…sharing some of your collection of very original pieces,  like Loonie Bird and Miss Ford, thus inspiring, I assume,  Dal’s Holiday Ornament Contest.

I was so enthused with this easier, simpler search for materials to make an ornament that I couldn’t wait to tell my friends about this new “treasure hunt” just announced on Dal’s blog…to get outside and find natural materials for an ornament…something we all can do now despite winter’s snowfall.

Now understand, I’m the only one of us four girls who is a die-hard, boots-on-the-ground, Fenn-aholic obsessed treasure hunter…even these ladies probably secretly think I’m crazy with my obsession of your poem and subsequent treasure hunting trips I make every couple weeks…so I knew my timing and approach to announcing this contest was of utmost importance.  As we four were gathered together watching the Broncos Sunday afternoon, I debated whether I should mention it at all…the moods were dark as we watched our team take a beating, but by the 4th quarter, I decided to risk their wrath …so I tentatively delivered the details of this Christmas Ornament contest, and, much to my delight, their unexpected enthusiasm was overwhelming. The game was practically forgotten as we made plans to gather together the next day…and go out into the far reaches of cold, snowy Santa Fe…or at least up the road toward the Ski Basin.

The next morning, we eagerly braved the 25 degree temperature in Santa Fe, and headed out into the woods to gather our materials…here are a few pictures from our day.

a1 dal little tesuque (800x533)

 

I wanted to drive farther to Hyde Park State Park but with the snowy road and imposed timeline, I decided this looked like a good spot…

a2 dal let's go (800x533)

a group of very happy and enthusiastic ladies… and we haven’t been drinking yet… Kathy, Michelle, & Lana

looking for tree sap…

looking for tree sap…

cutting pine sprigs…

cutting pine sprigs…

enjoying the scenery and camaraderie…

enjoying the scenery and camaraderie…

a6 dal Santa Fe sky (593x800)

One aspect of ”the glory of Santa Fe”…just look at that sky. And, yes, it was only 25 degrees here at 11 am, but with the sunshine, lack of wind, and that dry desert air, it was heavenly…

What made this day so special, you may wonder…One of the girls just accepted a job in Texas, so will be moving soon…and my partner just accepted a job where she will work on my days off, thus eliminating any day-trips together until the holiday season is over. We all are on the north side of fifty and sixty years old…so we understand that life sometimes hands out lemons and jobs are scarce…a person needs to do what they need to do for their family…even when that means leaving or working a schedule that seems inconvenient…

…and what seemed like the right thing to do before departing Santa Fe and heading  home…LUNCH! Have you ever been to Harry’s Roadhouse? It’s near your house… We all loved it and highly recommend it … the parking lot was packed…so beware. I guess that may be partly due to the fact it was featured on the Food Network’s Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives…or something like that…

Until next time,

Cynthia

…the margaritas were good !

a7 dal Harrys Roadhouse 1 (800x600)

 

Winter is Tough in the Mountains…

Sometimes short messages are the best way to make a point. This AbBerrations section contains ideas that don’t precisely fit within a present discussion.

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November 16th, 2014

We have a few inches of snow on the ground in Santa Fe thanks to a storm that came through last night. A couple of searchers got stuck out west of Taos but were pulled out by rescuers. Temps up and down the Rockies have dropped to single digits. Most searchers think it’s time to pack it in until we get a chinook. If you are a diehard please dress against the inevitable winter mountain discomforts. As for me – I’m sitting by my fire. f