Where Warm Waters Halt…Part Four


This page is now closed to new comments You can still read the previous comments but to add to the discussion please go to the latest WWWH page.

This is for a discussion about Where Warm Waters Halt. We’ve all got ideas that didn’t work out or we are willing to share…I think we can give folks just starting out some ideas for the kinds of places that might just be the place Where Warm Waters Halt…or not!

Let the discussion begin…


I Think The Chest is Here…Part Two


This page is now closed to comments. To continue this discussion please go to the most recent “I Think The Chest is Here” page.

Many searchers have decided the chest is in a general area…maybe even a specific area of the known universe of the Rocky Mountains north of Santa Fe. So this is the place where we can talk about where we, as individuals, think the chest is at…Don’t give away too much though… 🙂


Home of Brown Part Two…


This page is now closed to further comments. To add to this discussion please go to the most recent Home of Brown discussion page.

This is for a discussion about “the home of Brown” in Forrest’s poem.

Got an HOB that didn’t work out…or maybe you need an HOB for a certain area…or perhaps you have an idea that needs some fleshing out..

This is the place to discuss all things HOB…


Where Warm Waters Halt…Part Three


This page is now closed to new comments You can still read the previous comments but to add to the discussion please go to the latest WWWH page.

This is for a discussion about Where Warm Waters Halt. We’ve all got ideas that didn’t work out or we are willing to share…I think we can give folks just starting out some ideas for the kinds of places that might just be the place Where Warm Waters Halt…or not!

Let the discussion begin…


Thermopolis, WY…

SUBMITTED August 2015
BY Fenn Hunter


I have been doing some online research and have come up with a solve, which I know has about 0.01% chance of being correct, possibly less.  However as there is absolutely no way I can go and search them myself I thought I may as well send it to you. Please feel free to do with it what you will, ignore, follow up or share either partially or in its entirety with all – I was going to put it on your forum but didn’t want to waste peoples time if it’s totally wrong.

WWH – Hot Springs Park in Thermopolis WY. Hot Springs = Warm Waters.  Park = Stop = Halt.  Seems too obvious but we know the first tow clues can’t be too obscure they have been solved before.

Thermopolis is one of the towns marked on FF’s map, a major tourist stop on route to YNP.  Most importantly of all it’s a big fly fishing area and surely there is a chance FF fished here as a boy on his way to and from YNP?.

Although Thermopolis in under 5000ft.  That is not necessarily a problem: if the poem takes you up.

Canyon Down – We know that we need to travel up. Down on a map is South.  To the south of Thermopolis is Big Horn Canyon.

The Big Horn River is home to some notably big Brown Trout, often referred to as Big Horn Browns. This is a much lauded but relatively unknown fly fishing spot where fishermen will ‘float’ down the river.

If you travel South on Highway 20 for 4 or 5 miles (too far to walk and no obvious trail to walk on), you reach  ‘the wedding of the waters’. This is a spot where the river changes name,  Big Horn to the North, Wind River to the South.   Could Big Horn River be THOB?  It is home to Big Horn Brown Trout.  Big Horn Canyon is named after Big Horn Sheep which are Brown.  Just up river from here is also the Wind River Indian Reservation- which was home to ‘Camp/Fort Brown’. A military fort since renamed.   I think too that a Wedding of the Waters would appeal to the romantic in FF.

The Wedding of the Waters is a place where you can ‘put in’ to float down river – back towards Thermopolis.   In fact it’s the southerly most (furthest upstream) before reaching reservation land.   The putting in spot in within a couple hundred feet of the road – did FF mean that searchers (by being on that road) have been that close to the third, vital clue rather than the treasure its self?

Just downstream and across the river Is Memorial Cemetery, the final resting place to traverse the river you can’t be meek, and the cemetery is a scary place not for the meek either – it’s also a place where the end (death) is nigh.

From there Red Rock Canyon – a dry river bed (so no need for a paddle),  runs under the overhead train line (which carries heavy loads).

If you were to walk a few miles west into the canyon – in the direction of the Owl (owls are of course wise) Creek mountains, then the rocky outcrops on either side tower to just over 5000ft (could it be the altitude clue was a bigger clue than thought – that helps lead to a specific location, rather than a general area?)

The rock in this area is red and there appears to be a few cliffs in the area – could one look like a blaze? Or ese there are supposedly a number of petroglyphs in this area  does one mark the spot?  Whichever we know that me must climb to the top of the hills to get over 5000 feet. The area is not heavily wooded, but there are  some trees, is there a stand of them on top of one of the hills that appears as a wood from the bottom of the canyon?

When you reach the top of the hill it will no doubt be colder than in the canyon, and you will also be looking over the Wind River Indian Reservation (home of the Brave).  The hills have a number of drainage gullies running down them – a place  where a chest might easily be hidden without being fully buried and the chest will likely to be wet (especially in spring when the snow melts – what time of year was that interview held?)

How did an old man manage this journey? There are back roads just to the North that would take you very close without having to cross  the river and traverse up the canyon etc

Main problem, is this could be private land?  I think it might be but can’t really tell.. is it a problem, or the reason not to tarry?

I would be interested to know what you think of the above, is it with promise or complete trash?

Good luck and if it leads you, or someone, to the chest,  please do share some of the loot with me…


an addendum to this story from dal-
Please do not trespass. If this solution is on private property, please seek permission before accessing. We do not advocate trespassing.

Connecting the Dots…




Disclaimer: This is my hypothesis. It is “tl;dr”, but worth the invested time if you’re a serious seeker. There may or may not be a treasure chest after following and attempting to prove this hypothesis.


So, yeah… There’s a news story out at the moment regarding a persistent seeker. The story focuses on everything he’s given up to be in the chase, and it basically impales him (and by inference all of us) in the public eye. It suggests we are all addicted to lunacy. While I too had come to the conclusion that I had solved the puzzle, I have concurrently come to the conclusion that I don’t want to continue with how the media and Yellowstone National Park officials depict us… as lunatics. I don’t believe I’m a lunatic, although this is likely to be what a lunatic thinks. For this purpose, I’m tapping out, but also publishing my lunatic solution with my recent experiences, which of course resulted in my returning empty-handed. For those who use Twitter, follow my random thoughts on @mikebibler. For those who like dalneitzel.com, I am organizing my thoughts in a way that is hopefully meaningful for this community. It is important to also know that I work in IT and have interests and experiences in the field of text mining. I use computer programs to quickly sift through information (structured and unstructured) and attempt to derive meaning and/or correlations. This is how I started my chase.

Like everyone, but computer software, I used readily available geo-referenced feature names above 5,000 feet and below 10,200 feet, and searched for synonym cluster hits within a reasonable proximity tolerance. I followed this path for about 8 months with no solid findings and only one trip out in April 2014. I stopped in Colorado, Montana, Yellowstone, and Cokeville, WY to look at the areas of my most favorable results. Next, I focused on specific angles of F’s interests: archaeology (“aguas tibia”), then art (“Thomas Moran”) for about 6 months and 2 more trips, and then finally literature. It wasn’t until I started focusing on story-telling (inclusive of movies) that everything snapped into place for me.

By my amateur and incomplete analysis, I speculate F conceived of his plan with a specific adult audience in mind, wrote a few things in the beginning, like My War For Me, and then began to augment as he found more correlations of his own life to that of “the hypothesis”. I speculate the idea of getting kids out into the woods and off their devices came just before writing or finalizing his poem. He said the book quickly wrote itself. As such, I speculate parallel paths to the chest developed: one for adults as in the original plan, and an augmented plan for children that also seems to fit. I’ll attempt to describe my translation of these paths, right or wrong. You can think about them now because I’m not going to think about them any longer. I believe the chest is out there. I now also believe F to be a genius, far smarter than I am, and far smarter than he lets on. There are some who would say I give him too much credit. To you I say “then go get the chest where you think it is, smarty”. There are a few who challenge my premise and say one could derive meaning from any literary source, such as Robin Hood. Ok, fine. I could not derive a motivating fraction of the volume of content from Robin Hood

that I can derive from “the hypothesis”. For those who insist the poem is all one needs to find the chest, I have this to say: yes technically yes I agree Yes. If that response seems silly to you, please download the free or paid version of James Joyce’s Ulysses somewhere on the Internet, get into the wood (paper) and read it. Lege totum si vis scire totum. Having this book may not be necessary, but it sure as blue hell makes everything F is saying so much easier to relate to and understand, even if (with irony) what he’s saying relates to content that is very difficult to understand. And for the kids, please find Disney’s digital movie Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure.

Path #1: For the Kids

“Ask a child where warm waters halt.” says F. I think this may have three meanings.

Meaning 1, kids love Disney everything. The movie Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure has some very interesting coincidences that, if recognized, will actually lead the seeker to the solution I hypothesize is the winning solution. In this movie is a lyric sung by Lyria, a story-telling fairy. Other coincidental names of characters correlating with words in TTOTC include Fawn, Blaze, Clank, Rosetta, and Tinker Bell (bronze bells, For Whom the Bell Tolls). F also mentions a painting about fairies dancing around a rock in the chapter Blue Jeans and Hushpuppies Again. And F uses the words “sprinkled” for describing what he has done with clues in his chapters. “Sprinkled” is a very specific word in the context of Tinker Bell, and has sent many seekers to Fairy Falls in Yellowstone. In this movie, Tinker Bell is seeking the fabled Mirror of Incanta (F’s chest is said to contain mirrors) for a rumored single remaining wish to correct something that went wrong. Here is the lyric:

The Ancient Chant

Journey due north, past Never Land
‘Til a faraway island is close at hand
When you’re alone, but not alone
You will find help and an arch of stone There’s one way across the isle’s north ridge,
But a price must be paid at the old troll bridge
At journey’s end, you shall walk the plank
Of the ship that sunk but never sank
And in the hold, amidst gems and gold,
A wish come true awaits, we’re told
But beware and be warned; there’s a trick to this clue: Wish only good will, or no good will come you

For the treasure you seek you may yet come to rue!

Journey due north, like somewhere north of Santa Fe? A faraway island, as in there are islands somewhere in the Rockies? Alone, like alone in there? An arch of stone, maybe like Natural Bridge at Yellowstone? What’s at the north ridge? A troll bridge, like maybe the (non)Fishing Bridge? A ship that sunk but never sank, in the Rockies, like maybe the E.C. Waters? Past Never Land? Here’s a screen cap of Tink’s homemade treasure map:

Screen Shot 2015-08-17 at 7.42.59 PM

So, if the E.C. Waters is the ship that sunk but never sank and it’s on Stevenson Island, canyon down or south of there is Dot Island. But wait, Dot Island LOOKS LIKE AN ARROWHEAD! F has been alluding to finding an arrowhead when he was nine that started him on his adventures. I had to have a closer look at Neverland. I found this in reference to J.M Barrie’s Peter Pan:

“Of all the delectable islands the Neverland is the snuggest and most compact, not large and sprawl, you know, with tedious distances between one adventure and another, but nicely crammed.”

Ok, Dot Island, check. But I’m a bit of a scientist and this path seems crazy (journalism worthy). How can I actually validate that Tinker Bell has ANYTHING to do with any of this before I invest money I don’t have into a search? I sat through the other Tinker Bell movies looking for and noting any similarities I could find. There are a few, but enough to indicate significance? There’s one in the first Tinker Bell that is a bit more than coincidental to the Buffalo Cowboys chapter in TTOTC where Cody is replaced by thistles that seem to rampage the area, needing to be corralled, with Tinker Bell in tow. There’s a few more here and there that would seem to allude to similar stories or words F chose. But in Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue, released after the book but before the range clue on NBC, this popped up unexpectedly:

Screen Shot 2015-08-17 at 7.43.07 PM

So, above 5,000 feet and below the tallest peak in Yellowstone, 10,200. Ok, check. Tinker Bell is now strangely and somehow involved. E.C. Waters to Dot Island (Neverland).

“Ask a child where warm waters halt.” says F. I think this may have three meanings. (It’s worth repeating like F did.)

Meaning 2, in the Preface of TTOTC, F gives us this poem to ponder:

“Life is a game of poker, Happiness is the pot.
Fate deals you four cards and a joker, And you play whether you like it or not.”

These (roughly) are also song lyrics from a song remade by Ernest Tubb, the Texas Troubadour. Ask a child where warm waters halt and they might reasonably tell you “a sink” or “a tub”. That would be useful to derive because this particular song from Ernest

Tubb is titled I’m Waiting On Ships That Never Come In. Now why in the world would F use that in his preface if not to signal where warm waters halt, back at the beginning of his book after reading his treasure poem? If he’s waiting on ships, that would indicate a lake higher than 5000 ft that can support a ship. At least one that would match this criteria in the search zone, as well as match the criteria of synonym allusion, is indeed the E.C. Waters, a steamship remnant on Stevenson Island.

“Ask a child where warm waters halt.” says F. I think this may have three meanings. (It’s worth repeating like F did.)

Meaning 3, E.C. Waters, the person, was replaced by Harry Child after the government became impatient with Waters’ obnoxious behavior, helped introduce competition and drove him out of business. Clever. This Child would definitely know where warm waters halt.

So yeah, there are several thoughts where a kid could assist (as it pertains to my hypothesis). I felt I was on the right track, but that my hypothetical solution was still incomplete.

Path #2: For the Adults

I speculate F wanted each of us to experience our own Odyssey. I speculate that F recognized the intriguing amount of correlations of his own life and experiences from Ulysses and to Odysseus. Perhaps he embellished enough to make the correlations fit, and perhaps that would be the reason he also released Too Far To Walk, to release his real story. James Joyce himself said the following which also seems to apply to F:

“If I gave it all up immediately, I’d lose my immortality. I’ve put in so many enigmas and puzzles that it will keep the professors busy for centuries arguing over what I meant, and that’s the only way of insuring one’s immortality.” – Joyce’s reply for a request for a plan of Ulysses, as quoted in James Joyce (1959) by Richard Ellmann

With that said, I’m not capable of explicating all of what F meant or alluded. I can find a reasonably convincing enough amount of content in TTOTC, Scrapbook posts on dalneitzel.com, and in F’s public appearances with James Joyce’s Ulysses or other The Odyssey allusion material. This is super clever because Ulysses is one of the most difficult books to process as well as being the most important Modernist literature of F’s time. Why didn’t he mention it in his chapter Important Literature? Well, that should now become obvious. For purposes of organizing this material just to point to the sheer volume of it, I will do so in these three categories: 1) Ulysses references about the chest and its contents, 2) Ulysses references from TTOTC and Scrapbook posts, and 3) references related to the actual hunt locations.

1) Ulysses (and The Odyssey) references about the chest and its contents
– F named the chest “Indulgence”. This word is also used prominently in the Ulysses colophon by Sylvia Beach, publisher at Shakespeare and Company, apologizing for the

misspellings in this most exceptional of cases.
– The chest depicts ladders. In Ulysses, I wonder if this alludes to Stephen and Buck leaving the tower via a ladder.
– 265 gold coins = 265,000 words in Ulysses
– 2 Ceylon sapphires = Ceylon tea distributor located at 2 Mincing Lane, London, E.C. (there’s E.C. again… so strange)
– 6 emeralds = I believe this relates to the emerald 4-leaf shamrock ring (2 extra as stem)
– 42 lbs = #42 is Ulysses in the Companion to Modernist Literature
– 20.5 Troy lbs of gold = Troy was defeated in The Odyssey, the book which Ulysses is said to allude. Twenty may allude to the number of people at Dignam’s funeral. Death’s number.
– F’s autobiography in an olive jar = Odysseus built his unmovable bed around an olive tree, proof to Penelope that he was Odysseus. In Ulysses, “Olives are packed in jars, eh? I have a few left from Andrews.”
– Gold dust and rubies = I speculate it relates to this line in Ulysses … “Dust slept on dull coils of bronze and silver, lozenges of cinnabar, on rubies, leprous and winedark stones.”
– My hypothesis suggests there is likely to be more, I’m just not ambitious enough to find and list them.

Not convinced yet? Let’s continue.

2) Ulysses (and The Odyssey) references from TTOTC and Scrapbook posts
– Ulysses uses the word “Fenian” for an Irish movement of the time (that’s kind of funny).
– Important Literature – F references the book Kismet, kismet is mentioned 4 times in Ulysses.
– Important Literature – Ulysses is missing while being the most important Modernist literature of F’s time.
– First Grade – F says John Charles would bring a jar of olives to school. In Ulysses, “Olives are packed in jars, eh? I have a few left from Andrews.”
– My Spanish Toy Factory – Ulysses references a squatted child at marbles.
– Me In The Middle – references chickens being chased, same is in opening scene of O Brother Where Art Thou (another set of allusions to The Odyssey)
– Gypsy Magic – Ulysses uses the words red Egyptians as Gypsies were was once thought to have Egyptian origins.
– My War For Me – F references Shakespeare throughout, Ulysses references Shakespeare and Hamlet throughout, and the book was published by Shakespeare and Company. There are several more, but this is getting too long.
– Teachers With Ropes – this concept is the final scene in O Brother Where Art Thou (another set of allusions to The Odyssey), the Penelope character is dragging her children holding onto twine, the last one is lassoed with the twine.
– Teachers With Ropes – Gilbert Stuart is the artist of the George Washington paintings F allows the children to touch. Stuart Gilbert was the French translator for Ulysses.
– A scrapbook about forgetting his keys – In Ulysses, Bloom has to break into his own house through the basement for the same reason.

– A scrapbook about house slippers with a hole in his sock – In Ulysses, “Stephanos, my crown. My sword. His boots are spoiling the shape of my feet. Buy a pair. Holes in my socks. Handkerchief too.”
– A scrapbook on Glenna Goodcare (of her works, he chose these) – In Ulysses, “… the tea merchant, drove past us in a gig with his daughter, Dancer Moses was her name…” This scrapbook instead could be pointing to the importance of the maternal relationship alluded to in Ulysses, and between Molly and Milly. There are very small Molly Islands in Yellowstone Lake. I suppose it’s also possible that the chest could be here, but everything else in my hypothesis points to Dot Island. And perhaps I’m anchored.

– My hypothesis suggests there is many many more, I’m just not ambitious enough to find and list them.

Still not convinced TTOTC is entangled with Ulysses? One more.

3) references related to the actual hunt locations (in my interpretation)
– wwwh: E.C. Waters – there’s a German passage in Ulysses, “Und alle Shiffe brücken.” – canyon down, tftw: boat to Dot Island – Ulysses refers to Dottyville, a colloquialism to a lunatic asylum, and according to journalists, where all of us belong.
– home of Brown – A Phil May cartoon referencing Dottyville seems appropriate to F. Definitely google it.
– no place for the meek: Dottyville (Dot Island) was E.C. Waters’ zoo. The park officials shut it down after seeing what an idiot Waters was and how the animals were being treated.
– end drawing nigh: Dottyville (Dot Island) is in the shape of an arrowhead, pointing NW.
– no paddle: Dottyville (Dot Island)… seriously, have a big motorized boat take you, or if you’ve dragged your own there, use it. Paddling here could endanger your life.
– water high: elevation of Yellowstone Lake
– blaze: Dottyville (Dot Island) pointing at the location. Ithaca, Episode 17 in Ulysses, ends with a giant dot, an oversized period which at the time alluded to a Latin mathematical suggestion of QED, or problem solved.
– hear me now and listen good: a sound (water measurement) synonym is “fathom”… he says this twice —> 2 fathoms – he also alludes to this somewhere when describing measurement systems of links, chains, fence poles, telephone poles, and fathoms.
– efforts worth the cold: this is where I completely missed it… I think you have to wade into cold water and look under a rock off the point of Dot Island (there are 2 visible during windy waves, it’s probably the one 2 fathoms or 12 feet away from the NW point shore so that Dot Island is pointing at it). I started to wade in barefooted, without waders. My feet were in pain immediately and began to numb. I had to turn around. A fathom used be about an arm’s length. Maybe he’s suggesting to stick your arms in the ice cold water and feel around. That seems weird. Maybe use a flashlight first.
– brave and in the wood: paper is made of wood. F alludes to this as being a bit of a conservationist. So, get in the wood and read Ulysses. “in the wood” may allude to “read the story about the wooden horse at Troy.”
– give you title: an allusion to Ulysses S. Grant, the President who signed Yellowstone into a preservation… “grant U president”. See how he nicely tied that all together?
– the nine clues are the nine sentence-ending punctuation dots, alluding to the nine muses throughout his book and throughout Ulysses, plus Ulysses has nines all over the place.

Motivation into Action

Now you know the premise to my hypothesis. More random coincidences than Robin Hood? I’d say yes absolutely yes undoubtedly yes. So I went there just last week, boots on the ground. Here’s a few findings as I traipsed around, roaming with purpose but without the confidence in the “get into the lake” solution.

If Dot Island also interests you, and you don’t have your own motorized boat, Cap’n John Blair of the Otter will shuttle you from and to Bridge Bay Marina (launch at the gas station next to the docks where Virginia has manned the desk for years). They are open for shuttle service between season-open and season-end (about June 15 to Sept 15 depending on various things). Make a reservation. Cap’n John and Virginia need permission from NPS to drop-off and pick-up at Dot Island for day hikes because it’s not one of the pre-approved drop-off points. A NPS day-use hiking permit is not required according to the ranger we checked, but you’re not allowed to camp overnight. Earliest drop-off is at 8am. Latest pick-up is at 5pm. The shuttle costs a little more than $300 as an excursion special for up to 6 passengers in total, so make sure you believe it’s worth it. It comes with a canoe, which we opted out of because we weren’t yet convinced the water was related. Doing this with park permission removes all the worry, and there’s enough worry just being on the island than to also have to worry whether or not you’re legal. Once approved, you’re good to go. If you mention you are seeking Fenn’s treasure, you will undoubtedly be denied. It makes people there nervous because they don’t want to break the rules, and they all believe we’re dotty as it is. A letter (although a bit dated but still applicable) is always at the ready to be shown to the “tourons”, a colloquialism of what the park concessionaires and rangers call us, moron tourists, because we must stop traffic for 20 minutes to get pictures of a lumbering bison, or feel confident enough to try to pet one before getting gored. But this letter also expresses the seriousness and the consequences:


click on image to see it larger

Just follow the rules. Don’t destroy our park. Dot Island has a beautiful open grassy vale behind some trees on the NE side of the island, or up and over the peak dune on the west side near the northern tip. There are a couple of things that appear to be old rusty fire pits about 30 yards apart along the north tree line. Do not start fires. Just take pics. We had a picnic, took a sandwich. We packed out everything we packed in, although we did find a few old rusty cans, bottles, jars, and a broken plate fragment in a large hole area with a fallen tree on the SE side of the vale. Uncaring and littering people have been there before us. Just use common sense and you won’t ruin it for everyone else. Also, watch for a nesting duck near the NE edge of the grassy vale. It scared the wits out of me as it flew up vertically into my face when I approached. Good for a laugh and a story after when I could see the duck returned. But that’s the beauty of Dot Island. It’s secluded and difficult, but not impossible. There’s an extremely low probability of seeing bears, bison, elk, moose, no worries of attacks, although there have been sightings in the past of stranded wildlife early in the season perhaps after crossing on the ice. Rangers will attempt to relocate stranded wildlife. One other caution about Dot Island… It’s packed with stinging nettle, thistle, and lots of other thorny messiness. Hikers beware. The nettle is quite ugly and helps to discourage passage into a lot of areas.

Looking east into the vale.

Screen Shot 2015-08-17 at 7.49.48 PM

A fire pit on the NE tree line of the vale, pointing north into the tree line.

Screen Shot 2015-08-17 at 7.49.53 PM

A fire pit on the NW tree line of the vale, pointing east toward the other fire pit about 30 yards away.

Screen Shot 2015-08-17 at 7.50.12 PM

We also located a heavy wooden plank in some woods near the SE corner of the island.

It’s about 200 to 300 lbs. Upon hearing of it, Cap’n John speculated it might have floated there or was abandoned there from a former dock. It was old, very solid, and very heavy. We found a similar sturdy plank at Spruce Point the next day, wondering if “in the wood” could be Spruce Point after failing at Dot Island.

Screen Shot 2015-08-17 at 7.50.21 PM

This plank at Spruce Point had a marking scratched into it. It looked recent-ish.

Screen Shot 2015-08-17 at 7.50.34 PM

An old picnic table at Spruce Point… We checked all around the rocks at Spruce Point, but may have missed it if it’s there.

Screen Shot 2015-08-17 at 7.50.44 PM

We also hiked Sand Point to Rock Point (aka Suicide Point although I don’t know why) to a location we believed was the position on the western lake shore where Dot Island is pointing. The boating staff call it “The Great Wall” area because of the cliff erosion formations. The hike in the sand was a foot muscle killer (FitBit should have given me at least 3x steps), and fallen trees were a real impediment in several locations. But we did find this interesting human formation at Rock Point…

Screen Shot 2015-08-17 at 7.50.51 PM

Anyway, thanks to Dal and Goofy for running a great site. I said I would give up after this. And so I am… yes I said yes I will Yes.

Cheers all and good luck, E.C. Waters (aka Mike Bibler)



Tales of the Rainbow…




The day began rather early, or late depending on your perception.  We headed
out at 1:00 am to ensure we could hike to the destination for
sunrise.   Over the Beartooth and into Wyoming.  Shooting stars and planets
abounded in the pitch night sky.  There wasnt anyone at the Yellowstone gate
at 3am and the roads were empty.  Such a rare sight for Yellowstone in
August.  We wound along the mountain roads, wary of wildlife as we peered
down the misty pavement.  It had rained profusely in the days prior, giving
the pines a fresh clean smell and filling the valleys with a rich thick
fog.  We weaved in and out of the desolate canyons, up and down the passes,
past countless unseen wildlife until finally we neared our destination. Past
where the warm waters had blocked the Brown trout’s proliferation….past
the canyon….pulling into the picnic area marking the creek where the
Browns were introduced to the upper reaches of the river nearly 100 years
ago.  (Ive  learned so much through my exploration!).  Dawn was still some
time away.


Aspen and Mark

My husband Mark, 13 year old daughter Aspen and I grabbed our
flashlights and headed out alone onto the dark trail.  The stillness and
quiet was astounding.  Wolves howled at our backs and a combonation of steam
and fog swirled around us, so thick even the flashlights wouldnt pierce it.

The air was a chilly 39 degrees, but thankfully no wind.    At our feet,
some 50 yards in, a pile of very fresh bear scat in the center of the
trail.  This was certainly no place for the meek. We pushed onward, swinging
our lights around, happy to not see any pairs of glowing eyes staring back
at us.


Over the bridge we walked, attemping a view at ojo, although the
dense cloud of steam and fog wouldnt allow it.  We pointed our lights below
the bridge, peering into the dark water.  The long grasses swayed gracefully
in the clear clean waters.  I imagined the gigantic fish hiding amidst  the

We continued onward.  The sky had begun to lighten a bit, more and more so
as we continued on.  We quickened our pace so as to not miss our appointment
with dawn’s light.  We drank from the droplets of dew on the pine needles
and sucked in the sweet air…..so clean it felt as though it burned your
lungs.  We would stop periodically and just listen.  The wolves had ceased
their song and even the birds were still and silent (with the exception of
the quiet little log hoppers that bounced around in the deadfall amongst the
long grasses).  Our ears rang with the epic silence that surrounded us…no
hum of technology, no cars in the distance, no planes overhead…..just
utter silence.

To our left we sensed the lake, shrouded entirely in fog.
Geese trumpeted in the distance floating discreetly on their namesake.
Further down the trail the terrain dropped away from us to the left and the
river came into view again, draped in a warm haze.  A  herd of elk  stared
back at us before turning and splashing through the currents back into the
safety of the mist.


We trudged on, quicken our pace even further as the
sky continued to glow with the emminent arrival of the sun.  We turned down
the path into the pines,  flanking the steep mountain ridges and continued
along the tree lined path, tripping over the huge obsidian chunks protruding
from the trail.  We wound through the trees until finally we steadily
climbed to a small rise and a clearing that allowed us to see the immense
stone wall ahead of us, still cloaked in darkness in its recess.


The sound of falling water now permeated the silence.  We pushed forward, loping up
the trail with the promise of the sun looming behind us.  Finally we came
upon the majestic falls.  Beautiful.  The small wooden bridge has washed
away sometime in the past years but ample deadfall bridged the creek in
numerous places.


We filled ourselves with wild  raspberries as we  waited
anxiously in the wood for the eastern sky to break loose and cast its light
on the spectacular spray of the falls.  Forrest Fenns rainbow and our pot of
gold at the end.  Our effort was indeed worth the cold.






Lea and Mark – Ahh the joys of always being the one behind the camera. Always the artist, never the muse.








Leza Vargas

X Marks the Spot Photos…



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X Marks the Spot…




X Marks The Spot?

Our adventure takes place in Wyoming so if you don’t want to hear about Wyoming then stop reading now.  My husband and I started out on our trip July 9th and wanted to stop by and visit with Forrest on the way, but he and Peggy weren’t feeling well, so we skipped it and were going to try to stop by on the way back.  By that time we were exhausted and decided to skip it all together for now.  We spent the night in Amarillo the first night.  The next day we stopped in to see Geydelkon (who is also in the Chase) and his wife in Colorado Springs for lunch.  They are great people; if you are around that area, try to get in touch with them and talk about the Chase.


Carolyn, her husband Scott, Geydelkon, and his wife, Annette

We ate supper at a great restaurant in Steamboat Springs, but the name of it escapes me right now.  That evening we made it to Dixon, WY.  The plan was to go to Savery the next morning, which is like 10 miles away, but they don’t have any hotels.  Baggs, Dixon, and Savery Wyoming are 3 very small towns right in a row.  Apparently around this time of the year is rodeo season there and Savery was having a rodeo so we almost didn’t get a room.  We stayed at the Dixon Motel.  The reason we were headed to Savery is because they have a museum there called the Little Snake River Museum where the Brown house is located.  Thomas Brown Vernon built the house in Baggs, WY.



After all of the pictures of the old buildings we decided to go to Medicine Bow to hike and fish.  We were looking for Baby Lakes, but didn’t find it.  We were on a trail to it we thought along Bottle Creek, but after a mile or so of up and down hiking, we decided to turn around because we didn’t think that Forrest could do all of that, and we were having a struggle as well.  I would like to stress the effects of high altitude for those who are not used to it, like us Texans.  We rested often and sat down for about 15 minutes on an aspen tree that had fallen and carved our initials in it as others had done.  There were a lot of carvings all along that trail.  When we finally made it out we went back to Baggs and refueled and took a short (relatively) drive into the Red Desert where we would be searching the next day.  We went to where I thought the treasure may be hidden.  It wasn’t there, but there is one there now because I had put together my own small treasure and placed it in one of the many, many caves of the red desert.


On Page 130 in the Too Far to Walk book, there is a faint map that you can see.  In the word “New Mexico” the “X” is over the location where I thought it may be located.  It is down one of the branches of the Red Creek.  I would also like to stress how horrible the roads are in the red desert, if you want to call them roads.  Some that are labeled as a 4×4 road or more like an overgrown dirt trail and if it rains, you definitely will get stuck.  We were in our faithful Jeep, so no problem until the next day.

So we hunted all around the area and in all the caves and on all the rocky outcrops with about a million rabbits.  Those rabbits could climb the rocks and scatter into caves faster than anything.  There were also pronghorn everywhere; kind of like buffalo (bison) in Yellowstone.  After our search and our planting of our treasure we drove back to Baggs and spent the night at the Cowboy Inn.  It rained that night.  By the way, this whole area is BLM area and you definitely will be alone in this area of the Red Desert.  Make sure you have a full tank of gas going in and plenty of water.  I would also have a GPS and several paper maps.  We used our Garmin that we have for the car, the Wyoming Gazetteer, and a handheld Garmin Rhino 650.  These 3 things were invaluable to us and we only became lost a couple of times.



They are short on signs in this area too.  This area is so much larger than you think by looking at the map and the fact that you have to drive slow compounds it.  It took us at one point to drive 40 miles in 7 hours, which was on the Shell Creek Trail Road.  It starts off as Sandcreek road and turns into Shell Creek Trail Road.  Of course, we stopped at several locations.  On this road we saw a coyote momma and her two pups, a band of wild horses and a couple of wild horses that were in a bachelor’s group, prairie dogs, ground squirrels, rabbits, pronghorn, elk, grouse, magpie, and 2 rattlesnakes.  We were trying to reach Adobe Town, but were unable to due to the fact that the road was getting continually worse until it dead ended into the dry creek.  Had the dry creek not been so far down, we would have tried to cross it, but there was no way and we were forced to go South down a different road.  We took this road over to another road called Cherokee Trail Road, which was another 4×4 road, but not as bad.  We took it about 30 minutes and decided to stop and camp for the night so we would have time to set up before dark.  We got everything set up and built a small fire, ate supper, and sat in our chairs to observe the wildlife on the ridge and in the valleys around us.  We could watch the elk and horses graze.  It was nice.

We decided that in the morning we would go back out to the main paved road (789) and go north to I-80 and go into Adobe Town from the North instead.  In the morning after we got everything packed up and ready to get back on the road, Scott opened up the hood of the Jeep to check fluids, etc and a packrat ran out.  He apparently thought the warm engine would make a nice place for his new home.  He had drug up small branches and things in there during the night and was all set up.  We cleaned out everything and set out.  As we were coming down Bitter Creek Rd (19) from I-80 heading south toward Adobe Town, there were more people and the road was a little better.  We saw a badger, unfortunately he ran too quickly for us to get a picture of him.  By the time we finally reached Adobe Town Rim, the Check Engine light came on and we decided not to turn the car off and to just look around for a bit.  After looking around briefly, we left disappointedly and headed to Rock Springs to find a parts store.  That was the closest big enough town to get things like parts.  It turned out to be the alternator so Scott changed it and we decided to forget about Adobe Town.  It seemed like we weren’t supposed to be there; like something was trying to keep us from going.

It was getting to be evening time so we found a hotel, fortunately.  As I mentioned before, it must be rodeo season there because Rock Springs was having a national rodeo there.  We ate supper and went to the rodeo to check it out where there were rabbits and prairie dogs there as well.  We didn’t stay the whole time and went back to hotel for the night.  The next morning we headed out for Killpecker Sand Dunes, which was north.  We hiked a little bit around and headed further North to the Wind River area.  Scott wanted to fish in some glacier lakes.  We went to the Wind River Casino that is run by the Northern Arapaho who are very, very nice people.  I love that place.  We were fortunate enough to be there on a Tuesday when they have their dances.  It’s like a small Pow Wow.  It was truly awesome!  I met a guy there who makes the headdresses for the group and is going to make one for my grandson.  We left the casino the next morning and headed to Lander and then took Louis Lake Rd (131) to Sinks Canyon State Park.  Went and saw the rise and fall and then to Fiddler’s Lake.  Caught some fish, saw a baby bird sitting on a log while hiking, and tried to hike to Christina Lake to catch Golden trout, but it was a 5 mile hike and we didn’t have it in us due to the elevation.

We hiked back to the car and went to Louis Lake and fished and caught more trout.  By the time the day was over with the fishing, we decided to head for home.  We went down through Colorado briefly and over to Kansas and spent the night in Salina and then down through Oklahoma and stopped at an animal safari place and then across the Red River to Texas; home sweet home.  Another 4 hours and we were at home with the weekend to recuperate.

No gold, but with treasures none the less and ideas about the future searches.  I’m still not convinced that it’s not around the Red Desert area somewhere.  It’s a cold desert and in the bottom half, you would be going in alone.  There are several canyons and the Little Snake River runs through it as well as several creeks.  Still so much more to learn.





Warm Springs Part Two…



I guess I picked a bad time to go.  The rain was coming down in buckets as we drove up the road from Lander to Dubois and the future forecast did not hold out much hope for improvement.  Glad I brought extra boots.

Since we are searching under the cover story of being a pair of out-of-state fisherman, the first stop was Bob’s fly shop (name changed to protect the innocent).  I don’t want to out-and-out call ‘ol Bob a liar exactly but I have to say that almost none of the advice I got in there produced a fish.  It did strike me as coincidental, though, when Bob  suggested we head to the upper reaches of Warm Springs Creek, above DuNoir if we “wanted to avoid other fishermen”, and “didn’t mind catching smaller fish”.  So armed with a validation of our cover story and some sketchy directions on how to get there, we dodged more rain drops on the way back to the car and headed off looking for a camp spot.

Mud was building up fast on the side of the pickup when we finally rolled in to a nice campsite alongside the Creek.  We passed some of the old remains of the DuNoir logging camp on the way in but there’s not much left.  Only a few collapsing log cabins exist that now act mainly as historical lawn ornaments adjacent to someone’s $300k summer home.   It’s flat and open here and the creek isn’t all the big but very pretty country.  Bob was right about the fish here though.  If you caught anything over 4 inches in this section it was going in the record book.  Dark was coming on so time for a quick dinner, a last scan of the maps, and finalizing the next morning’s search plan.

I’d spent the last year collecting as much information as I could on this area and narrowed it down to two possible search areas around Warm Springs Creek:  DuNoir proper, and the Natural Bridge.   If you accept DuNoir as HOB, then “put in below the home of Brown” phrase meant everything downstream of DuNoir had to be considered.  My gut said that the Natural Bridge was the most likely suspect but I didn’t want to miss anything in my zeal to get there.  It’s 3 miles from DuNoir down to the Bridge and all indication were that is was going to be a rough 3.  We didn’t know what to expect.  The maps don’t show any trails…would there be some kind of path?  Do people actually hike in this canyon?  As I said before, this place isn’t promoted on the town website under things to see and do in Dubois so we were flying blind.  I wasn’t sure why people wouldn’t go….it looked like there were plenty of Forest Service access roads relatively near the creek.  I suppose I could have called around to different places in town and asked but gold fever comes with a certain burden of paranoia…why start asking questions that might raise suspicions …..better to coast under the radar.  I was hoping to see parts of the flume still standing in the canyon but didn’t really expect there was much left.

Stepping out next morning the air was damp, still, and ground fog hangs over the creek like tendrils of smoke.  Since we were camped right there in DuNoir  it made sense to start with a top down search.  Because of F’s admission that he hid the chest “in two trips in an afternoon”, I’d concluded that each one-way trip probably couldn’t be more the 2 miles at the outside.  Depending on terrain, this made it highly unlikely that he would get from DuNoir to the Natural Bridge but who’s to say there isn’t something else special in the canyon in between.

001Figure 1- Warm Springs Creek near DuNoir

We donned our waders (I mean disguises) and headed down the creek and into the canyon.  I was pretty surprised that quite a bit of evidence of the tie flume activity still remains.  Right at the mouth of the canyon is the remnant of the cable dam.  Cables were strung low in the water between rock bulwarks to hold back the floating ties until it was time to release them down the flume.  There are large portions of flume too.  It’s all pretty much worse for wear given the 70 years it’s been exposed to the elements but it exceeded my expectations.  Close your eyes and you can still see the stacks of wooden R&R ties being readied for a quick ride on this water slide.

Right from the start it’s clear that the canyon narrows quickly and the creek occupies what little room that is on the valley floor….no trail here….this was going to be a bush-whack.  We explored, poking under the rotting flume, and traveled downstream about a half mile before it became apparent that Forrest probably didn’t go this way.  It’s just too much of a struggle to get through what with all the river crossings, and dense vegetation.  Traveling the required 3 miles from this approach is going to take way more than an afternoon.  No apparent blaze here.

002Figure 2- Remains of the cable dam

003Figure 3 -The Flume below DuNoir

After catching a few fish, it was time to fold the tent on this end and head for the Natural Bridge.  I came well stocked with maps.  Topo, forest service, the Wyoming Gazetteer…you name it and I had it.  Seems that getting to the other end wasn’t going to present much challenge with all the forest roads we were seeing…or  was it?  The closest road was shown taking off directly below DuNoir after cutting through a development of summer cabins.  The maze of roads was awesome and poorly documented, but by using our trusty GPS we quickly found ourselves up against a …..locked gate?  Surprisingly, the FS road was locked from the private property side.  We were definitely in the right place within 10 meters, there’s no government signage, so what’s the deal?  You just can’t gate off public access like that….at least not where I’m from.  Well no problem.  It looks like there are plenty of other FS roads heading back into the target area just off of US 26 between Dubois and DuNoir.

The locked gate episode is still eating at me as we hit the turnoff for the next potential access point.  We take a bridge across the Wind River, then a left, a right, and now we’re parked in farmer Bobs front yard looking at nothing but uninterrupted barbed wire fence.  OK screw-it.  The next turnoff looks like a much more direct approach anyway, so it’s back out on the highway down a couple more miles, across the River again……dead end at a big berm of rock and dirt, planted fields, and more barbwire.  I’m beginning to sense a pattern.  Slow learners that we are, we went down a couple more blind alleys before we had enough.  Time to visit our ”friends” at the Forest Service office in Dubois.

The man at the Dubois FS office, Joe, pads around quietly behind his counter in stocking feet….all 250 pounds of him.  Hmmm, must be casual Monday.  Joe is pleasant and soft spoken.  “Yeah, that road is gated off by the private land owners up there ‘cause they don’t like people coming into their development from that forest side.”  “Seriously”, I said, “you let private individuals lock a public access road.”  Of course this makes no sense because, as we proved, anyone and their dog can get into the housing area from the other side.  No gates, signs, or even a disapproving look was cast in our direction on the drive in over there.  “So what about all these other access points shown on your map off Hwy 26.  They seem to be completely blocked by private land too,” I said.  “In Colorado most landowners have to provide easement at historical public land access points.”  “No,” Joe drawls lazily, “not here.  If they want to block it off they can.”  Well that cleared things up.  Apparently in Wyoming the inmates are firmly in charge of the asylum.  “Ever been up to the Natural Bridge?”, I asked, knowing the answer full well .  “Nope.”

But we aren’t skunked yet.  There’s one more road to try that comes in form the southeast.  It’s a round-a-bout way to get in but seems to be the last option.  Skirting south, looping up by the airport, and passing through another development of summer homes (this didn’t look good) we finally found our way onto a rough two-rut dirt track heading in the right direction.  The afternoon showers were just setting in.  Due to the camper on the back of the truck we crabbed slowly sideways up the “road” occasionally slewing side to side on water slicked rocks and clay.  Definitely not a maintained forest road but we’ve got 4WD so we’re getting by.  After a number of miles the ruts turn into a narrow downhill shelf road that’s so thin we’re brushing back tree branches on both sides.  I crossed fingers that we didn’t meet anyone coming the other way. …..backing up this was not an option.  In fact, we didn’t meet anyone but the next worse thing did happen.  At the bottom of this ravine the road made a sharp hairpin turn to the right while simultaneously dropping off sharply two feet down into a tiny creek then sharply up two feet on the opposite bank.  After a beer and a half an hour analysis about how stuck we were likely to end up, it was decided that the truck needed to get turned around.  Long story short, after some precision driving, a 12 point turn, another beer (for medicinal purposes only), some new whiskey dents in the Chevy, and the sacrificing of two small trees, we made it back up the shelf road and found a very spectacular camp site overlooking the Wind River valley.  The adventure had finally begun.

Next morning we’re up and out of the camper to more gently falling rain.  It’s going to be an extra 2 mile approach to the canyon….more than we anticipated.  Had we been able to get where we intended, the canyon to Natural Bridge distance would have been about ½ mile.  That seemed to match easily with the “two trips in an afternoon” statement but now we’re looking at traversing in and out of three drainages just to get to Warm Spring Creek.  Raincoats, food, and fishing gear are hastily stuffed into packs then we’re off.  About ½ mile down the road I reach for the camera to shoot a picture of what appears to be some very large cat tracks in the mud when I suddenly realize I left it in the camper.  My minimalist buddy, with a camera that’s so worn you can’t read the words around the buttons, says he’s got his so no worries …..why am I still worried?

004Figure 4-North over the Wind River Valley, Ramshorn Peak in the background

Soon enough I’m standing on the rim of the canyon peering 100’s of feet down sheer cliffs to the river bottom.  It’s nothing short of spectacular.  “Pull out that camera and get a few shots”, I said.  “What’s that, it’s not working?”  Oh….that’s why I felt uneasy…..mister minimalist forgot batteries.  I didn’t come all this way to go home without pic’s so we’re scrabbling through packs looking for spares.  No spares but at this point the Garmin has serviced its purpose and is deemed expendable so I dump out the double A’s and we’re back in business.  Yeah,  AA’s….luckily it’s an old camera.

Next order of business is to find a way down to the stream.  Try as we might, it’s impossible to see exactly where the Natural Bridge is located down there.  I study the topo and by matching up landmarks on the opposite side of the canyon (yeah there’s that road over there that we couldn’t get to due to the gate) we guess that we are probably in about the right spot.  Maybe we can see more from creek level?  There are cliffs here but by working downstream a bit we find a useable game trail heading diagonally down a more gradual slope into the canyon.  Arriving at the water doesn’t bring much clarity.  Are we upstream or downstream of the NB?  I consult the map again and make the executive decision that we need to head upstream.  We are now faced with the reality that there is no trail and, to top it off, the sides are literally too steep, overgrown, and loose to side-hill next to the stream.  To save on weight we didn’t bring waders so it boils down to go home or get wet.  The first step is chilly but Warm Springs lives up to its name….not freezing.

005Figure 5- Fishing below the Natural Bridge

We could just make out bits of flume from the canyon rim but as we slosh around the first bend in the creek we are suddenly confronted with huge sections of flume still clinging to the canyon wall 50 feet in the air.  I don’t impress easily but this is incredible.  How the hell did guys in the early 1900’s build this with no access roads, no trails, and no machinery?  I can’t even image clinging to a cliff trying to hammer support beams into place with probably little more than a cheap rope preventing a long fall onto jagged rocks.  I would have loved to see this contraption in action with the loads of wooden ties floating down the flume on their way to the Wind River.  It’s wild here.  This is no place for the meek.

As you may have guessed, slogging through knee deep running water and feeling for every foot-hold on slim covered rocks is not a preferred hiking strategy.  It’s hard work and that ½ mile seems more like 2 miles.  It’s also not a straight path since there are pools too deep to wad and short water falls that can’t be climbed directly.  We are forced to zig-zag back and forth across the stream and sometimes scrabble up the steep loose banks to portage the worse of the obstacles.  Log jams are everywhere composed of 2 parts limbs and trees, and 1 part old flume lumber.  But the effort is worth the cold when we round the bend to see the entrance of the Natural Bridge gaping open like a huge mouth.

006Figure 6- Natural Bridge

With growing anticipation, we close the final 100 yards to the cavern and enter it on a small beach area.  What a place!  It’s a tunnel really, but there are stalactites, stalagmites, and glistening terraces of travertine just like a real cave.  Water drips from the roof everywhere and I’m especially amazed by a feature I’ve never seen before…..several of the ceiling stalactites have running jets of water issuing from their tips like small inverted geysers.  It suddenly dawns on me that we aren’t here to gawk, there’s got to be some treasure around here somewhere.  My working theory came from the literature that claimed abandoned sections of flume still remained inside the tunnel and had been slowly encased in calcium carbonate by the dripping water from the roof.  What if F had cleverly stashed the box under some boards knowing the mineral deposits would slowly seal it in place becoming ever more encapsulated with each passing year?  Well the tunnel isn’t a very big place and it quickly became apparent there aren’t many, if any, nooks, rocks, crannies, or loose boards suitable for a treasure stash.  Most of the real estate in the tunnel is given over to stream and it’s pretty obvious what wasn’t currently covered in running water gets a thorough scrubbing during the spring run-off.  There did look to be some “petrified” flume near the exit (hard to say) but short of having a jackhammer on hand there was no way to tackle it.  I’m sorry to say we walked away empty handed but I’m sure most of you expected that when you started reading.  We did fish our way back down the creek and between the two of us we caught almost every species of trout you could reasonably expect in the Rockies (browns, rainbows, brookies, cutthroat, cut-bows, and mountain white fish).  That in itself was a bit of an unusual and unexpected trove.


I won’t bore you with the walk-of-shame back to the car other than to say it was a 12 hour round trip.  I’ve been a lot of places in the Rocky Mountains and weathered some amazing adventures but this one quickly slid into a top 10 position.  While this seemed like an ideal hiding spot on paper, once again, the reality of the on-the-ground conditions probably rules it out for further consideration.  Could Forrest have managed to get it in there?  Perhaps…. but common sense says no.  If you are able to take full advantage of the roads via jeep or ATV you can get within ½ mile and a 200 feet elevation gain/loss but that last ½ miles a tough one.  Slip on a slimy river rock and you could be a goner.  This is not a place anyone should attempt alone.  It also clearly a late summer trip….this has death trap written all over it with higher water conditions.   In the day and a half we were there we only saw one ATV pass by on the road.  It’s a remote, seldom used area that’s probably not on the Dubois C of C’s things-to-do list for a good reason.

This trip is going on a year old now but, at the time, with just a little imagination, I did believe there was a reasonably good match-up between possible clues and the features of the land/history here.  My thinking has moved on since then.  I’m no longer convinced that historical events or a theme based solution is the proper direction.  Hopefully you will agree that this was one of the more “straight forward” solutions that’s been published on this blog to date.  If not, I’d like to hear why.  I know you will have comments.