SUBMITTED MAY 2017
by JAKE FAULKER
I’ve always wanted to head west even though I am not a young man physically. Cody Wyoming would be my second trip after staying in Reno Nevada for 6 months looking for something that wasn’t there.
My trip was not planned very well, I had gold fever (and still do) and I was going to Cody without reserving any accommodations. Besides, I have done this all the time when traveling to the White Mountains of the Granite State, Green Mountains of Vermont and Maine’s beautiful Appalachian’s. In worst case scenarios I would just pitch a tent somewhere or sleep in the car, but I had no tent and no car to sleep in Cody. The rental car I reserved couldn’t be acquired because my flight arrived too late to pick up. Closed!
I knew exactly what I was doing and would be fine.
Flew out of West Palm Beach at 5am on a Saturday morning and headed to Atlanta to catch a connector flight which would take me to Denver, then another connector to Yellowstone Regional Airport.
Landed in Atlanta only to find our plane was grounded, do to maintenance issues, which was fine with me considering they found the issues on the ground instead of 35,000 ft in the air.
Took an hour or so to get new flight to Denver to meet new connector, which worked out fine except…
Landed in Cody around 10pm MST, departed the plane only to find out my luggage was not there and they just told me to call them to see when it has arrived. OK, so no clothes, except for the clothes on my back and no high blood pressure meds which I foolishly put in my luggage instead of carry on.
Well, what the heck, I feel as though I need a couple of stiff ones to toss back, after all, I was on vacation so let’s not worry about the small stuff.
Called Town Taxi and Ron picked me up at the airport and asked him to take me to a bar or saloon so I can think straight. I would deal with the sleeping arrangements after I had a few. Dropped me off at Silver Dollar Bar and had a few while playing cornhole with a few locals, biker’s and vacationers. I would have to say the people here were very hospitable. I had told several people I was here looking for Forrest Fenn’s treasure and they knew nothing of it. I was surprised no one even heard of Forrest even though he was a trustee of Buffalo Bill Center of the West museum.
Had my fill & was really thinking straight if you know what I mean and called Ron to pick me up to go looking for a hotel or motel that had vacancy which he had told me it would be difficult considering it was biker week here in Cody. Thousands of bikers were passing through and staying there for Sturgis the first week of August. Just my luck, things were not going my way on this trip unlike many unplanned trips before. Ron did the research and we traveled to many different places that were packed full. Made many calls to no avail and told him to drop me off at the Ponderosa where I could meet Ben, Hoss, Adam, Little Joe & maybe have a nice meal by Hop Sing. Wrong Ponderosa, wrong state of mind & state & the TV show was not actual reality but the shots were in control. Timing & planning was wrong as well as you already know.
Ron’s a little older than myself and allot wiser than me & the look on his face was surely a sign that it was not going to happen considering he has lived in this town most of his life. But who am I to listen to someone who has been sober for several years as he told me.
Dropped me off and walked into the lobby where a tired husky man behind the counter was dozing off. I asked him if there was anything open for the night and he told me the obvious in a drowsy state. I asked him if I could sleep on the couch in the lobby until something opens up tomorrow. He suddenly awakened with a look that incinerated my soul and replied, if you don’t get out of here now, I am calling the police!
I left quickly and my heart was racing, knowing I am over 2,000 miles away from home with no place to stay. I took my pulse and was beating about 3 times a second. Holy crap, I really stretched myself thin on this one. I wandered out to find a teepee close by and was getting ready to spend the night Indian style when better judgment seemed to enter my mind and decided to call Ron again.
He was right around the corner and picked me up. I asked him if there were any more places he had in mind I could stay the night and that’s when I realized there are lots of great people here in this town and Ron is one of them. I cannot say this for the grizzly in the lobby. He took me back to his place on the north side of the Shoshone River where he had a couple of trailers in the field.
Ah, finally got to rest in a trailer with running water, electricity, bathroom wasn’t hooked up yet, but I had a roof over my head and that’s all I need for the time being. Isn’t it funny how all the things we take for granted?
I was truly thankful he took me under his wing that night when I needed a place to stay outside of the steel bars.
Didn’t get much sleep, heart rate was high. I was pretty sure my heart would explode at anytime.
Laying down, steering at the ceiling around 7am Sunday morning my blood pressure shot through the roof with several loud gun shots. I thought at this time, it was my time to go and should be brave and thankful for the time I had been here on this earth. I stepped out of the trailer to a man with a rifle pointing very near my direction out of the window of a house about 30 ft away. It was Ron, leaning on the window sill from inside his house, shooting at targets by the trailer I was resting in. I said to myself, please, I hope his aim is good and puts a bullet between my eyes, so I do not have to suffer as I walked towards the window.
“Hey, why don’t you come on inside”
Wow, talk about being out of your element, I was sure the end was ever drawing nigh.
At that point with soiled clothing, I decided I needed a beer for breakfast. Coffee was not an option for me at this point. He invited me in and showed me around. What a collection of old oil lamps, guns, arrows, hide scrappers, paintings, boots and all sorts of old west items he had in his home. I couldn’t believe it, the treasure was here & he was the center piece. This man is a collector just like Forrest. He let me shoot many of his guns, rifles, shotguns and one special cannon. I asked him if he has killed any elephants with this cannon of a rifle and he replied, just bison. I leaned against the window sill, aimed and blasted the cannon. My shoulder hurt for the rest of week after being thrown back a bit.
I told Ron why I came to Cody. He patiently put up with my obsession, not believing anything about it, although he told me a story about some treasure hunters that had to be rescued in the Absaroka mountains not too long ago. Had a great time & learning experience there in Cody and it’s history is deep. I already knew I would go back to see him again after this trip.
WWWH, Buffalo Bill Reservoir.
I know now that WWWH is not related to any dam, but I was thinking about the reservoir where a few hot springs were submerged by the dam that was built back in 1903. I believe this was the highest dam in the world at this time at 325 ft, surely the warm waters halted here.
Take it the canyon down, Shoshone Canyon.
Not far, but too far to walk. We will have to drive.
Put in below the home of Brown.
There is only one road that goes across the Shoshone (Stinking Water River) in Cody. Belfry bridge.
That highway is called Belfry Highway, named after the town to the north. There was a woman from the town of Belfry that succumbed to fumes in Colter’s Hell 1903 & her name was Wm. Brown from Belfry (Put in below the home of Brown.)
From there it’s no place for the meek,
Joseph Meek was a trapper in this area as well as allot of other areas in the Rockies & the west. He never got credit for YNP or Colter’s Hell although he described the areas in detail, they didn’t believe him.
The end is ever drawing nigh;
Well at the time I thought that “nigh” meant near, but I know now it’s all about your perspective & more importantly about Forrest’s perspective. It could actually be the word that is key seeing he is winking at you; without the nose & smile. 😉
There’ll be no paddle up your creek,
Your up sh*t’s creek without a paddle comes to mind here.
Stinking Water River was the name of this river back in the day when things were less complicated. Evidently the newer settlers didn’t like the name the local indigenous people gave to the river.
Just heavy loads and water high.
The heavy loads & water high could be the dammed waters above Colter’s Hell.
I am wise at times, but not so wise in other times.
I thought the blaze was the gravel road to Colter’s hell RD 2ABW.
This road still is one of the oldest roads to the west from years ago when it was the blazing west.
My video camera would not work, my mothers camera that she gave me for the trip would not work, my cell camera did not work until the last day I was there when I was no longer searching. I had 3 cameras with me on this trip & didn’t work for a reason. Searched thoroughly in these areas for a week but I felt as though I was in the Bermuda Triangle when it came time to take pictures or make a call.
Plan B in surrounding areas at Rattlesnake Mountain & Spirit Mountain came up empty as well even though Forrest said it is there in spirit, about the X.
Some places are better explored in person only for your memories & experiences only & cannot be shared by modern technology for a reason I do not know of But I was able to get a few pics of hell.
Sometimes the trip is about the people you meet & not the quarry.
Thanks to Ron, who now owns Town Taxi made the stay & search fun. He showed me the places in Colter’s Hell where he found all those arrow heads & hide scrapers.
We went out on 2 trips to Colter’s Hell together to find the treasure when he eventually caved into the thrill of the chase.
The craters created by Mother Nature there were active & spewing with muddy waters with a stench of sulfur that still lingers.
When we were looking into these pits from above I could see vehicles that were obviously driven off the cliffs to their resting place below.
I knew at this point again, this was not the place to rest your bones with your treasure.
There was only one way in & out of these craters & went down into them only to find the old rusted vehicles filled with hundreds of bullet holes which made me nervous.
We searched the caves & caverns around only to find trash & burnt documents from a lawyers office located in Texas which I thought were connected to Forrest. Wrong!
The ceilings of these caverns were crumbling dried white deposits ready to fall at any time & decided to get the hell out of there.
We climbed back out the same way we went in only to see a Land rover parked where we were.
We climbed through the barbed wire fence at the perimeter of the crater that was the deepest & noticed the “Private Property” signs & approached the vehicle slowly with hearts racing & a full sweat.
The driver was wearing a collared shirt with a rifle embroider on his left chest & told us we were trespassing.
He had a passenger & a rifle & probably a handgun. I told him we were looking for Forrest Fenn’s treasure. He wasn’t amused & had a look on his face that said get out of here.
Come to find out, he was one of the caretakers of the property.
Some millionaire dude from another country bought parts of Colter’s Hell & surrounding areas for reasons unknown to me.
I would have to say after my experience there, that area is sacred to the spirits & better left alone. It was sad that people dumped there vehicles & documents there & have no respect for anyone including themselves.
Sometimes you got to go through Hell to get to Heaven.