By James Collier
Trying To Read Between The Lines
Trying To Read Between The Lines
BEFORE THE SEARCH
Has anyone here played Zork? How about the much less-known sequel, Zork: Grand Inquisitor? In the game, the main character is guided by a lantern who selects the moniker AFGNCAAP – which stands for “Ageless, Faceless, Culturally Ambiguous Adventure Person.” During my last three years on the search (from my armchair and trolling HoD), I thought this name aptly appropriate to hide my true identity.
Having grown up in the Pacific Northwest, and stationed all around the country in the U.S. Coast Guard, I finally landed in Michigan, which has limited my ability to make regular BOTG trips to RM. However, I am in this more for the fun than for indulgence, so decided to marry a work trip out here with a reunion of sorts with my father. As of writing this, we will be heading to Wyoming this weekend to do some hiking and fishing, but also look in my primary search area. I have some other areas as backup in case we find nothing the first day, but I’m hoping they will not be necessary.
Here is my breakdown of how I interpreted the clues in the poem to reach my solve location.
First stanza: Since we all know that “Begin it where warm waters halt…” is the first clue of the poem, what can be said about the first stanza. I believe there is only a subtle hint; Forrest’s “secret where.” I thought to myself; if I was looking for a place to rest my bones, it wouldn’t be out in the open, but could be guarded from view by passers-by. Do you know where would be a good place to hide? Behind a waterfall. I also believe this “secret where” is actually a secret weir, which are used to regulate river flow for management purposes, and result in changes in height of a river. These occur naturally, however, and are called waterfalls. It will be discussed further below, but I believe one of the functions of Forrest’s secret weir is that it prevents many fish species from heading further upstream.
Second Stanza: This is where I believe the “word that is key” is “trout” and is used in each clue of the second stanza. With this key word, clues in the second stanza are not only unlocked for where to go; but when to go as well. There are several rivers that get too warm in the summer for trout to pass through, but at other times of the year are very rich with trout. Gardiner River north of Boiling River is one of these locations. People may have inadvertently started at Boiling River for other reasons, but the true clue is that warm waters halt in the late summer as the trout migrate up the river and must stop in two places; Osprey Falls down Gardiner Canyon or down Lava Creek Canyon towards Undine Falls.
NFBTFTW: my interpretation of this is that you could walk it from Boiling River if you wanted to, but why would you when there is a parking lot much closer to where you should “put in.” HoB again refers to trout (specifically Brown) that have a late spawning run late September through November; this is where I believe you not only put in to one of these rivers “below” where Brown trout stop spawning, but also late enough in the year where most of the snow melt is finished and low flows make it easier to traverse. Another assumption that I struggled with at first was words like “down” and “below.” For a long time, I thought of them as “downstream” and “below” HoB would also be downstream. But I was thinking like a nautical person, not someone following a map.
Third Stanza: This is another place I struggle with my interpretation of some of the clues, because as of this point following the clues has led me to two potential places; however, only one of them is a creek that breaks off “nigh” and has a relatively high climb to “heavy loads and water high.” Is this confirming I took the right path? If not, then I have inadvertently jumped around on the clues to know where (and when) to put in.
Fourth Stanza: “If you’ve been wise and found the blaze.” I’ve always believed that the blaze was a waterfall; there are just too few creeks to follow that would lead to anything but. But “Wise Falls” is not in the Rocky Mountains (its in Washington State, if you are interested). However, Undine are wise, typically female elemental creatures; and there is an Undine Falls that feeds the lower part of Lava Creek. I can’t tell you how anxious I got when Wikipedia had this definition for a very long time, and then someone edited it and removed the “wise” part from the definition. I thought to myself, “someone must be on the same path as I am and is trying to prevent others from making the same association.” Maybe I should have taken that survey on HoD to see if I was paranoid…
I’m still not sure about the rest, as I know I will likely have to be BOTG to interpret the rest of the clues. What I will be looking for is a terry scant, or a leaning flat(ish) stone that may be concealing indulgence from sight.
I don’t know why, but I always wondered why Forrest made two trips from his car to the hiding spot that afternoon. Most assume that one was for the chest, and the other was for the treasure. I actually think he brought the “terry scant” down first, and then returned with the TC and concealed it. I’ll be looking around the bottom of the falls, and even behind it.
Oh, one last thing. Did you know there is an Upper and Lower Undine Falls? From the lookout on the road, you can clearly see Upper Undine Falls. But just around the corner to the left (about 200 feet away) there is a Lower Undine falls that people can hike to and never be seen from trails or pull outs on the road. It would also be a great place to ride your bike out to and throw in the water high.
I’ll write more after my search…
AFTER THE SEARCH
So… I fully believe lower Undine falls is no place an 80 year old man could go; I went once and barely made it back to the car. Cutting down from Lava Creek trail, my dad and I went back and forth over all the cuts of the creek, often backtracking and zig-zagging more than we should have.
We finally got to the lower falls, which I thought was “the wise blaze.” There was a lot to see down there besides the beautiful view that I am sure very few people have had the opportunity to see…
This includes some orange markings on the wall behind the falls, a large group of rocks on the far side of the falls with lots of moss on them, and a large boulder directly down from the falls. I was so exhausted after the trek there I didn’t have much left in me to explore, especially knowing I had to return to my vehicle at the end of it. It might have been there, but from some of the nooks and crannies I could access without chest waders, I didn’t see indulgence in sight; I still have a difficult time thinking an 80 year old person could make it there, but I might just be too out of shape.
So, I promised my wife after a BOTG trip (which also included other trips to Lost Creek falls, Joe Brown trail head, and Bear Creek Canyon), that I would stop talking so much about TTOTC, in hopes that she can begin introducing me in social circles without explaining what I am interested in😊 I still believe that some of my interpretations of the poem are correct, and want to help whomever else is looking for future BOTG locations. My suggestions include:
REFERENCES TO QUOTES
“Look at the big picture, there are no short cuts.”
“kids may have an advantage in the search.”
Moby Dickens interview 12/2/13
“There are many places in the Rocky Mountains where warm waters halt, and nearly all of them are north of Santa Fe.”
“So many searchers are stomping on the ants while the elephants run by.”
“People tend to over-complicate. Try to simplify if you can. That’s good advice.”
“Although others were at the starting point I think their arrival was an aberration and they were oblivious to its connection with the poem.”
“The solve is difficult for many searchers because their minds think the clues are tougher to decrypt than they really are. Some say they are trying to think outside the box, as if the solution lies somewhere out there. Until now I have resisted telling them to get back in the box where their thoughts are comfortable and flow more easily.”
“It seems logical to me that a deep thinking treasure searcher could use logic to determine an important clue to the location of the treasure. Is someone doing that now and I don’t know it? It’s not what they say on the blogs that may be significant, it’s what they whisper.”
“I am almost umbilically attached to the spot…”
“The treasure is not associated with any structure”
“Yes d, it means the treasure is not hidden in or about a structure. Google “structure” for more information.”
“No Steve R, The only requirement is that you figure out what the clues mean. But a comprehensive knowledge of geography might help.”
While it’s not impossible to remove the blaze it isn’t feasible to try”
Dal’s Blog – The Nine Clues…Part Thirtyone / September 26, 2014
Seeing animals and smelling sage
“I think the gold will again become alert to the tromp and vibrations of hiking boots.”
“Perhaps the artifacts are enjoying each other’s company as they patiently listen for the clomp of a boot.”
“Physics tells me the treasure is wet.”
“I know the treasure chest is wet.”
I first heard about the Chase in the news August 2017, read a couple of articles about the treasure hunt in New Mexico and didn’t think more about it. A few weeks later it bounced back via a childhood friend that also had heard about the treasure hunt. This time I learned that it might be hidden in the Yellowstone area and now it caught my attention. I started looking in to it and all of a sudden I got struck by gold fever!
The recap below is just a very condensed version of the events, maybe I’ll write something longer later on. Many fellow searchers can probably recognize themselves in the struggle; great confidence and high hopes, disappointment and frustration, giving up and going at it again -it has been a roller coaster!
I first went to Pebble Creek in Yellowstone in September 2017. I did not have much time and didn’t find the treasure, I e-mailed Forrest my solution and put it aside. A couple of weeks later when I looked through my photos from the trip I realized that I had made a simple mistake.
I went back in mid June 2018. I found a very good hiding place that matched the last clue but found nothing. I sent an e-mail that described where I had been and that I was flying home on the 24th. Then I went to see the Black Hills, the Great Plains and other places.
Scrapbook 188 arrived on the 21st and made me go straight back to Pebble Creek. The scrapbook led me to a tall pine that was easy to climb. When I first visited I felt that this was the place but couldn’t connect it to the poem until I read the story in SB 188.
I found nothing and gave up once again.
Odd questions and answers started to appear on Featured Questions the following weeks. At the end of the summer I was convinced they were ”blinks” aimed for me (confirmation bias!). I arrived at Pebble Creek late on the 24th of August, searched everywhere for four days and went back home on the 29th.
Even though I didn’t find the treasure I still believed the treasure to be at Pebble Creek. Scrapbooks and questions kept coming and in late September I believed the treasure to be high up in the pine, covered in pitch. I had seen the football-shaped pitch all the time but didn’t climb up to it because it was a bit difficult to reach and it looked all natural.
On June 13th this year I was back, climbed the pine and the football turned out to be just a normal burl. I sent off an e-mail and then went on a ten day trip to the Bighorns, Great Plains and the Beartooths.
Before I flew home to Sweden I went back to Pebble Creek one last time to check and say goodbye.It has really been a great adventure, Pebble Creek will be with me forever and I have visited places I have dreamt of since I was a kid.
Thank you Forrest and the Thrill of the Chase!
I have been wracking my brain trying to think how I can share my search without giving away my location. So I wrote a poem…
Izzy and I aimed our car at the Wild, Wild West,
To search for treasure where we thought might fit the best .
So we drove all day and most of the night,
Got some rest , then hit the road by first light.
Finally made it to where the warm waters stop,
Then drove not too far with our canoe on the top.
We searched all over for that home of Brown,
Don’t mind us…We’re just passing through town.
We looked all over in the places not very meek,
We even found a paddle up the paddle-less creek!
No chest to be found , but there are riches galore,
So much to see, and so much to explore!
So, get in your car and aim it out West
And visit the Rockies where you’ll be put to the test.
For me and my boy , we count down the days,
Til we can search again and find that dang blaze!
Now get off the couch and go smell the sunshine, Y’all!
– Veronica & Izzy
Gadi was one of the first searchers. As a reporter for NBC News in Albuquerque, he made a documentary about the treasure that won him an Emmy, and a promotion to Correspondent for NBC News in LA.
He remembered in my book, TTOTC, that Donnie and I took 2 Babe Ruth candy bars on our horseback quest up Red Canyon while Looking for Lewis and Clark. So Gadi decided to search the canyon himself, and for luck, he ate 2 Babe Ruth candy bars and nailed the wrappers to the Red Canyon sign that had been placed by the National Forest Service to mark the trailhead.
Well, not much later, Dal, while searching Red Canyon, saw the 2 wrappers on the ground under the sign, and placed them in the trash can. Dal should have given me the paper souvenirs so I could picture them in this Scrapbook. Maybe they could bring other searchers good luck. it is indeed a small world.
Gadi came to see me his week, on his way to Yellowstone on assignment about grizzly bears tearing up garbage cans. He told me the story about how he proposed to his girlfriend. It was on a deserted island and includes a treasure chest with a secret inside, It is right out of Treasure Island, You can’t make this stuff up. Maybe Gadi will write a Scrapbook and tell that story. Here is an email I received from him this morning. f
From: Gadi Schwartz (Google him)
Sent: Friday, June 14, 2019 11:13 AM
To: Forrest Fenn
Subject: Almost found your treasure again…
You’ll be happy to know that there are legions of pterodactyl sized mosquitoes out guarding your treasure!
I finished my assignment a little early at the Grizzly Discovery center, so I headed up to the Firehole and spent the afternoon exploring as many little slots as I could. I thought I hit the jackpot about a quarter mile down from the falls when I found this little crack. I crawled in, did some interior decorating and checked the crevasses and cubbies until my work clothes were indistinguishable from a miner’s. After a bit I sat back in the dust and cleared my mind and tried to imagine you sitting in Mummy Joe’s cave.
When I came out, I spotted a couple armed with binoculars who seemed a little out of place. No fishing gear, not particularly interested in taking photos and stopping at every pull off to scan the cliffsides. All told, I saw about 20-30 people that matched the description of treasure hunters around Yellowstone. (I didn’t stop and talk to any of them though, because I wouldn’t have been able to resist bragging about our lunch which would have wasted precious time)
After a graceful and wet mini tumble into an eddy, I headed upriver and put some eyes on that old grizzly cave. There are still bones from some sort of elk or deer bleaching away at it’s opening. My log bridge I crossed last time has washed a little downstream and I decided not to press my luck again.
I headed just past the falls pull out and checked on a couple more spots, one place I really love is this little ledge right above where the falls goes over the edge. It’s hidden from view but also nearly impossible to get to. One of those rocks gave me a gnarly little cut on my city hand that I can’t wait to get home and fuss over.
On my way back I spotted a big nest that had been destroyed by some kinda marmot. I finally decided to call it a day and head back to my car. As I got in, I heard a noise in some brush beside me. I turned to see a 3-400-pound grizzly lumbering toward me. I let out some sort girlish yelp that evidently conveyed I would taste very sour, so he went around and headed down toward the river where I had just been looking.
Hope he has better luck in the search than I did. I finished the day pretty proud that I survived and decided to celebrate by buying a steak and frying pan from the grocery store next to The Dude.
I found a nice spot overlooking Hebgen Lake to cook a romantic dinner for me and 7 million thirsty insects. I forgot seasoning, a knife and a can opener for my side of chili so my meal was small and over cooked. The mosquitoes ate me medium rare.
Sending you picture and videos.
Also, I love your new book, Once Upon a While.
“Took a long pull of Worcestershire Sauce to clear my head”
“While trying to avoid those who distract me from my self-esteem, I am always reminded of the heroic performances I committed on the football fields of my youth. “
“Fear they’d turn their vocabulary loose on me”
“… the candles died of old age”
“I mostly listened, not wanting to interrupt him with the weakness of my thoughts.”
My favorite chapter the bridge jump. My least favorite was the forward by Douglas. I was terrified he gave too much away! But that was before I headed back out to explore and was once again reassured by Yellowstone himself at how insanely large the woods are and how enigmatic the blaze remains. Here’s to hoping the treasure is never found!
The Thrill of the Chase has hints and subtle hints that will help you get the general area down and I think these are places considering we have to marry the clues in the poem to places on a map and the poem also has directions, places and things at places.
In Love With Yellowstone
Looking For Lewis And Clark
Yellowstone National Park
Google Maps and/or a good map
1 – Begin it where warm waters halt
After reading his books and poem multiple times, I have come to the conclusion that chapter 5 “too far to walk” River Bathing Is Best, is where to begin. He tells a story of his bathing spot near Ojo Caliente spring on the Firehole River in Yellowstone National Park. Note: He never mentions Ojo Caliente, but we now know that was his bathing spot in the Firehole near Ojo.
This spot should not be in a canyon and isn’t seeing we need to take it (The quest) in the canyon down next.
“when I decided it was time to leave I’d back a couple of feet downstream where the water was cold. That gave me instant incentive to climb out and sun dry…”
*Omega shape on this part of the Firehole River
*5th line in the poem and the 5th chapter in – too far to walk
*He went alone in there
**My secret bathing spot
**Always worth the effort
2 – And take it in the canyon down,
The only canyon down (In elevation) is the Firehole Canyon.
Maybe this explains why many have figured the 1st 2 clues correctly and fizzled out.
Not far, but too far to walk.
Not a clue here, just letting you know what you shouldn’t do and maybe just drive.
3 – Put in below the home of Brown.
In the preface of his book “too far too walk”, he states “put a small rubber dingy in the Madison River a few miles from West Yellowstone and fished downstream to Baker’s Hole. The river distance was about 10 miles”
“The river experience cemented my connection to that special country and I promised myself that someday I would make the trip again. THAT DAY NEVER CAME FOR ME,…. For me now, it’s just too far to walk.”
Some have decided to figure out what the home of Brown is instead of knowing where it is before trying to figure out where warm waters halt. Big mistake!
I think Forrest is the only one who knows WHAT the home of Brown is and you will only find out after you find the treasure. I do not think this place is labeled on any map, new or old.
One way to figure out where this clue is, is to skip it and figure out the next few clues if you can do this. I was able to do this and the next few clues seem to work with what the poem says.
What’s more important? The “put in” spot? or where you are going to draw, take or get out of the waterway. Try that out on a river or lake and you will see what I mean. It’s more important where you get out.
4 – From there it’s no place for the meek,
From there? The place you put in, then let the river flow take you down stream passing through Fenn’s favorite, special fishing spots to the border of Yellowstone National Park.
Joseph Meek was a trapper, trader & hunter back in the 1800’s when there was no park label and designation back then.
There is no hunting or trapping allowed in Yellowstone National Park now and the park is no place for him.
If you don’t like Joe Meek in the mix, then you could say it’s no place for Fenn now. Seeing that day never came for him, I would have to say he is meek in the park now with all the crowds and fisherman all over his special fishing spots.
This clue brings you just outside the park at the border in West Yellowstone.
5 – The end is ever drawing nigh;
You’re at the border of the park and there’s a bridge close by.
You have to draw out of the Madison River there and head North on Gallatin Road.
NIGH = North Intrastate Gallatin Highway, is Intrastate Highway (191). It is also known as the “Gallatin Gateway” and reminds me of “The word that is key”. Gallatin County appears to be in the shape of a key.
You will need a key to unlock the “Gateway”.
The end is ever drawing North Intrastate Gallatin Highway;
Hop on the bridge and head north to your creek.
Gallatin County below.
There are over 30 creeks up the Gallatin Gateway and it’s been tough to pick out a few that fit the poem. All the areas in this solve are places that Fenn loved which makes sense to me where he hid the treasure.
The Gallatin River where you can paddle.
Ode to Joe fishing spot from too far to walk on the Gallatin.
I think this is a basic simple straightforward solve by my design and guidance from Fenn’s comments.
All these clues do not have to be physically traveled. Just use your imagination to get from one place to another and don’t overcook or over think what is right in front of you.
Good luck to all of you and please simplify if you can.
I am on my way to YNP. Actually, I am on my way to Missouri via Yellowstone. I wanted to try my hand at a small scale solve…where the theory is that all the clues are actually quite near each other. Working off the idea that others identified the first two clues and then went right past the other seven. I am thinking, of course, that perhaps they went right by the other seven because they assumed the third clue was farther away and while they were headed NFBTFTW they went right by the other seven.
I only have a few hours in the YNP area this leg of the trip so I can’t spend much time there. But I am excited about trying this out. Not that I have a complete solution…I am stuck right now at the same place I am always stuck in my solutions…the blaze…
I left Lummi Island late today…about 2pm and am in Pateros, WA at 7pm on the wide Columbia…River of the West. As I crossed the Cascades I could see smoke in the Methow Valley and when I settled down into the small town of Winthrop on the east side of the range the local fairgrounds were home to what appeared to be hundreds of tents at what has become the Interagency Fire Command Post. A lot of firefighters in the area. I also passed the Heavy Equipment Staging Area for the fire fighters. I did not see any flames but plenty of smoke and I understand the apple and pear orchards that usually prosper from here to Yakima are in frightful condition because all the smoke for such an extended period has shaded the crop. Reports predict that this will be a very bad year for orchardists in the area and could spell the bitter end for some who cannot recover financially from such a loss.
I passed through dozens of little towns with flags waving smartly at half mast saluting Senator John McCain.
Here in Pateros the air is relatively clear and the river looks stately.
I stopped by at a local bar for a burger this evening…
I generally like bar food and now that folks can’t smoke in bars they aren’t too bad…and this establishment had a patio surrounded by a tin fence and overgrown Wisteria…a cozy corner to indulge in bar food.
Typically, this weekend hosts a lot of rodeos but the smoke…or threat of smoke, has all but wiped out tourism in this area of the state. Few people from Seattle or Vancouver want to drive 300 miles through a smoky, baking landscape to attend… Maybe next year!
My intent is to post some pics and thoughts every night on my trip as I get closer and let you know how this small scale solution turns out…
Tomorrow I will post my half solution so you can chew on it for awhile and let me know where I went wrong..
Stopped in Post Falls for lunch today. If you find yourself there and you like garlic…and you like Greek food…try out the White House Restaurant. When I say garlic…I mean GARLIC…these folks use it unsparingly…So much so that in the rest rooms they have a jug of mouthwash and small paper cups to use after dinner so your breath doesn’t kill your date. I had the lamb burger…and I have to admit that no vampires attacked me the rest of the day…
Here’s my “so far” Small Scale Solution
WWWH – This is the spring at Ojo Caliente, which was Forrest’s favorite river bathing area when he was a kid old enough to ride his bike there.
Why – Because the first stanza describes this place to me.
AS I HAVE GONE ALONE IN THERE – somewhere Forrest went alone
AND WITH MY TREASURES BOLD – he was naked when he bathed so his family jewels were not covered. And he was alone.
I CAN KEEP MY SECRET WHERE – He wrote the story “River Bathing is Best” about his visits to Ojo Caliente but it was not published in TTOTC where other hints were published. Instead he kept the story on his web site (where it is still located) and published it in TFTW. I also believe this was a story he wrote for the West Yellowstone paper where it was first published. Because it wasn’t directly mentioned in TTOTC it could be described as a “secret” hint or clue.
AND HINT OF TREASURES NEW AND OLD – Inside the chest is new gold and old gold…new treasures and old treasures. This simply describes the chest and it’s contents very broadly.
BEGIN IT WWW HALT – The Ojo Caliente spring which halts in a small lake.
TAKE IT IN THE CANYON DOWN – The water has formed a miniature canyon as it runs out of the spring toward the Firehole River.
NOT FAR, BUT TOO FAR TO WALK – How far to walk and for whom?…To an ant a mud puddle is an ocean.
So follow the canyon like you are an ant…
PUT IN BELOW THE HOME OF BROWN – My home of brown is Ojo Caliente…it exudes a brown mineral that coats the rocks where it’s water flows. You can read more about the mechanics of these thermal events HERE
Below this HOB could mean a number of things but to me, for the purposes of this solution, I am going to be looking directly across the Firehole in Fountain Flats. A place known for wandering bison and elk and the occasional griz. There are many trails in the area but there are also large areas that are trailless. It is permissible to walk around in Fountain Flats. I have done it many times. It is an enchanted place for me. The combination of thermal geography and scalded and alkali terrain contribute to the strange landscape…and when you consider that you are treading in the cone of one of the worlds most volatile super volcanos…well…it’s no place for the meek. Sprinkled amid the flats are copses of pine trees, wildflowers, a variety of animals and a unique geography that makes this a fairly unusual area…even by YNP standards.
I know what you’re thinking…Is Dal using Ojo Caliente for both WWWH and for HOB?
Not really…I am actually using the thermal event itself…the geyser where mineralized water comes up from forty miles below the surface as my HOB and for my WWWH I am using the small spring/pond/lake that forms around the geyser.
THE END IS EVER DRAWING NIGH – This is always a tough line to grasp and I have to do some experimentation out there but it could mean that the end of Fountain Flats is to the left from my position on the far bank of the Firehole and facing into the flats.
THERE WILL BE NO PADDLE UP YOUR CREEK – There are many small rivulets from far away thermal events that drain the flats and run into the Firehole. I will explore the area for one that suits me…They are generally small…creek like…
They are too small for any kind of boat to paddle..
JUST HEAVY LOADS AND WATER HIGH – These creeks are filled with minerals from the thermal events they drain and at 6,500ft in elevation, they are certainly water high…
So that’s my plan and I am sticking to it!!
I plan to spend some time on Labor Day exploring the area…around OC to see what I can see…
No matter what I will have a good time walking around out there…I love that place…
Just north of the park tonight. On the lovely Madison. Might toss a Woolley Worm or Bearded Damsel around before it gets dark. Will head into Ojo Caliente area tomorrow.
No smoke up here but I understand they have had a lot of smoke and fires in the past days. The fire crews recently moved on to drier pastures.
I will drop Kathy off in West Yellowstone where she will search for “end of season” sales while I gaze at Ojo Caliente…”Men Who Stare at Geysers”…lol
I spent the afternoon running through my solution…and adding to it as a few clues revealed themselves, while others remained hidden…In short…no, I did not find the box but as predicted, I had a great afternoon…weather could not have been better. Tomorrow I will post a more completed solution and some good photos showing why this is potentially a good location if someone can develop it more fully…based on what I found out there.
I also met up with Spallies and Diggin Gypsy and her husband John in West Yellowstone. We had dinner together and talked about Forrest and moose and laughed a lot…a good time was had by all…
Photo above is from Fountain Flats…This was along the creek I couldn’t paddle, with water high and even heavy loads….Additionally..it seemed like an excellent place for Forrest to lay in the grass under the shade of those trees, listen to the creek, watch the animals, smell the pines and relax after a hard day of bathing and fishing…By the way…no human trail in close proximity…remote but less than a 30minute walk from where he could have parked. So easy a child could get here…and surely not a dangerous location.
Tuesday, September 4th
Dal’s Revised Small Scale Solution
Based on being in the area and following the clues as they unfolded.
The first stanza did not change from my original interpretation. I believe the first stanza gives me info about WWWH so that I can identify it.
In this case it is describing Ojo Caliente in Yellowstone National Park as written about by Forrest in both TFTW and on his blog in a story titled “River Bathing is Best”.
To me there are all kinds of problems with OC as a place where warm waters halt…but I selected it because it seems to be an oft accepted WWWH location touted by many…and because it was one of the very first WWWH places identified…and because it has a history that goes back at least as far as when Forrest said that folks had identified the first two clues…and finally because I wanted to try out a small scale solution.
We know that WWWH is the first clue because Forrest said that. This means the first stanza is unlikely to be a clue…so what is it? For the purposes of this solution I have used it as a four line hint. It helps us find where the place to begin is located. The second stanza simply begins by telling us to start at the WWWH place. But it fails to give us any information that will help us identify where that place is located. In this solution the first stanza provides us with all the information we need to identify the location of WWWH…the place where we should start our journey. The first stanza is Forrest’s voice telling us about his experience while bathing at Ojo Caliente.
Ojo Caliente is made up of three elements:
1. A Geyser of hot water that is pumped out of the magma heated earth
2. A spring or small pond formed where the hot water from the Geyser is held and cools a bit before heading downhill
3. A channel where water travels from the holding pond to the Firehole River.
From the spring we are told to take our journey in the canyon down…
Here is a pic of the channel…directly downstream from the spring at Ojo Caliente.
The water leaves the spring and has more or less carved a channel in the mineral material nearby as it rushes to the Firehole River. This channel is about 30ft long. It starts at the spring and ends at the river. Many might argue about whether I can legitimately call this channel a canyon or simply a channel or something else. I won’t quibble. I have my doubts too…But the important thing here is to think like Forrest…not like Dal…and to Forrest…The person who said “To an ant a mud puddle is an ocean”…this might very well be a canyon. Additionally, I believe we are supposed to use our imagination…I mean look at that photo…That certainly has the characteristics of a canyon to me.
Not far but too far to walk… Here lies the first conundrum. How far is to far too walk…and to whom is it to far? Well..since our canyon is on a diminutive scale, perhaps our “to far” distance is also on a diminutive scale…maybe…but here’s another idea…If you tried to walk in that canyon of overly warm water it would be too slippery and to warm to get very far. You might get one step but by the second step you’d be sliding and your feet would be scalded. And look at that steep slope in the photo above…you’d be on your keister in no time if you put feet in that canyon…it is clearly too far to walk…because the water is too warm and the canyon is to slippery to walk…you might make it a short way but not the entire length. My imagination might be working overtime…but that’s all I’ve got…and Forrest accused me, on this very blog, of not having any imagination…
So practically any distance at all in that canyon is too far to walk…40ft would be impossible..in my opinion…
Put in below the home of Brown…I actually have a home of brown…I actually even have brown..ok…not a caps brown…but ..but…but…
Look at the pic below…
That brown ooze is either bacteria or a mineral that comes out of the geyser…so the geyser is the home of that brown stuff…
Okay, okay…you don’t like that home of Brown…ok…try this one…
The Firehole River…It is definitely a home for Brown trout.
So if you put in BELOW the home of Brown…you could be putting in on the south side of the river..South is below on a map..North is at the top and South is at the bottom…
This is what the canyon down looks like from the other side of the Firehole river from Ojo Caliente…the South side…
The below side…the place to put in…
And no…you don’t have to swim across the river to get to the other side…because there is an excellent and convenient bridge across the river right next to Ojo Caliente…
Walk across on that bridge and along the river to the place below the home of Brown…
From there it’s no place for the meek…this is the caldera of a super volcano for crying out loud. If you are afraid of loud noises or being blown to smithereens this is no place for you.
The end is ever drawing neigh…to get to the treasure walk to the left along the river.
Til you get to the creek that you can’t paddle up…like this one in the pic below…
This is Fairy Creek. It enters the river just a hundred feet or so from Ojo Caliente. At over 7,000ft it’s certainly water high and as you can see it has heavy loads of log and rock debris as well as minerals from various hot springs along it’s route.
If you’ve been wise and found the blaze…lots of blazes on tree trunks from bison using them as back scratchers…but even for the sake of this solution I cannot believe that Forrest intended a mark on a live tree to be visible for a few hundred years…The blaze needs to be something more timeless like a stone carving or a rock cairn or a large white stripe of quartz in a basalt rock face…something that will stand out and be there for centuries.
I walk up the creek and keep my eyes open. Here is a marvel gaze of the area from up on a hill. The creek winds in and out of open places and various copses of trees.
There are many natural rock piles in the area. They often look like this.
And they have interesting and exciting cubby’s for hiding 10x10x5 bronze chests.
But which rock pile? There are hundreds of them.
None that I could see were any more likely than the next…no “F” anywhere…no large quartz rock standing out…no ancient petroglyphs…
So…that’s how the solution ended…same as most end for me…no blaze…stumped…
But it was fun…I had a ball…In all..the walk from where I parked to Ojo Caliente and then Fairy Creek and then the area with potential blazes…about a half hour…about a mile and a half. Very even terrain…unless you decide you must climb a hill to look at the view…
It took me longer because I was figuring things out..and taking pictures, climbing hills and having fun…
Here’s a Google satmap of the area.
I think I’m through with small scale solutions…
Tuesday September 18th
Our trip to MO went well and Kathy and I turned Ezmerelda west and headed for Santa Fe. On Monday I visited with Forrest. Willie was the first to greet me.
Forrest already had two guests when I arrived. Alex, a writer for the German edition of Playboy Magazine and Jason, a searcher who, with Sacha, will be taking Alex out on a search this week. I guess we’ll all have to read the German edition of Playboy to see if they found it.
Alex has some serious journalism under his belt. He excels at profiles. HERE is his web page. I’m looking forward to his story. I need to brush up on my German….
Jason, Alex and Forrest in Forrest’s office as Alex grabs a couple shots of Forrest for the story he is writing.
Jason is a First Sergeant in the Army. That makes him a senior non-commissioned officer with three up and three down and a diamond in the center.
Typically a First Sergeant would be in command of an entire company of infantry. I walked to the other side of the street when I saw those senior NCOs headed in my direction…Jason looks like the kind of guy who could find that chest…I don’t know where he’s looking but I hope it’s the wrong place 🙂 He worries me!!
Forrest was looking good. I think that was the first time I saw him wearing a shirt that wasn’t checkered. Alex interviewed him for a couple of hours while Jason and I listened intently for clues or hints…there weren’t any that I noticed…maybe Jason feels differently. You’ll have to ask…or read the story. I don’t know when it will be coming out.
Before we left Forrest posed with Kathy next to Ezmerelda wearing one of Kathy’s new acquisitions. It reminds me of the lodge hats that Fred and Barney used to wear on The Flintstones.
Forrest and Willie on the front porch saying goodbye to Jason and Alex.
It was great seeing Forrest. Nothing new to report. No bombshells. Just that a good time was had by all.
I went by Ezy in the repair shop parking lot this morning. I had not made my decision yet about what to do with her…junk her or have them replace the motor…
Kathy said I should let Ezy wear the buffalo hat and take a pic…
I don’t know…looks like she’s smiling to me…
So I walked into the shop and told them I wanted them to put a new motor in her…
I feel so much better and I believe Ezy does too…
So we moved the last of the mountain of stuff Kathy collected at Yard Sales in Kansas, Arkansas, and Missouri from Ezy to our brand new (to me), 2005 Ford Expedition…it was the only vehicle we could find that was big enough to haul all the stuff we had inside Ezy…and we left Cortez for Mesa Verde National Park…
What a place…800 years of settlement by folks who made houses and communities starting in pits about 550AD to the amazing cliff dwellers around 1200AD and beyond…then…they simply disappeared…vanished!!…Pretty cool trick…
The park protects nearly 5000 archaeological sites. It was home to thousands of folks who planted corn, raised families and built communities all over the Mesa. The educational exhibits did a phenomenal job of increasing my understanding of how those folks lived.
The Mesa Loop Drive is a lovely self guided driving tour with interpretive signage and a museum and naturalists…excellent job…
Not all the communities at Mesa Verde were cliff dwellings. Below is an archaeological dig on a pit house. One of the oldest types of housing found in the park.
They even have dioramas of several of the pueblos and cliff dwellings that are great fun to lose yourself in…
I wonder if some archaeologist a thousand years from now is going to be looking at the foundation of my house and trying to understand what life must have been like back in the early 2000s?
The views in the park from the top of that Mesa are absolutely staggering…
And let us not forget that one of the prizes for finding the chest is a turquoise and silver bracelet made from beads found by Richard Wetherill one of the original investigators of Mesa Verde…even before it became a national park in 1906. Below is a pic of Richard Wetherill and party at their camp in the park.
The “new to me” Ford is running great. It has more gizmos than I know what to do with. Even air conditioning and adjustable peddle heights for the brake and accelerator…But get this…this thing gets about 12mpg…About half of what Ezy gets. When I get back to Cortez to pick up Ezy I’ll be selling this SUV back to the dealer where I bought it…
But I’m not complaining…I’m happy as a clam that Ezy is getting a new life and I have a reliable vehicle to drive back to Lummi Island…. and holds all our collected wonders 🙂
October 21st, 2018
Headed back to Cortez, CO to pick up Ezy. Two solid days of driving each way…
Anxious to see Ezy. I hope she remembers me…
Looking forward to the drive through the aspen color in the foothills. Might stop HERE to see the Pando, the Trembling Giant…say hi…take a few selfies…ask the giant about life, Home of Brown….that kind of thing…
Kieran is about to embark on a great adventure. He’s going to be posting updates on his Instagram (@k.w.shields) as he travels and he’d love it if other treasure hunters could follow him and maybe even meet some of them along the way. Here’s an email I received from him. Good luck Kieran, and please stay safe on the road and in the mountains. f
My name is Kieran Shields and I’ve solved your riddle. I’m sure you know where you hid your own treasure so I won’t bother trying to explain your own clues to you but your poem was so beautifully crafted! I’m 19 and I’m from just outside Philadelphia Pennsylvania; I don’t have a car so my friend and I are setting out on an adventure to ride our bikes from Philly to Yellowstone to retrieve the treasure. Right now we’re trying to get some supplies together so our bikes don’t fall apart while we’re rushing to the park but we would love to meet you in Yellowstone and go to the treasure with you! If you can’t make it we’re planning on retrieving the treasure and riding our bikes to Sante Fe to meet you. Even if I’m wrong about the treasures location I want to thank you for inspiring me to go on this crazy adventure!!
Thanks for being an adventurer, Kieran.
I recently got back from a week in the Yellowstone area with my son, son-in- law and 3 grandsons. We had a great time despite the rainy weather some of the time. We did horseback riding, white water rafting, fly fishing in Yellowstone, spent two days searching for the treasure and toured Yellowstone for a full day at the end of the week. We each had our bear spray, satellite SOS device, walkie-talkies, and even a hunting knife as the weapon of last resort -yeah, like that would have really worked. We even had a doctor with us. My Son is an Emergency Room doctor that has served in Haiti after the earthquake and as Head of the Mass Trauma Unit in Kandahar, Afghanistan. We were prepared!!
This will make four days that I have searched this area including when my wife and I did an initial recon last October for two days and this past week’s search. In our Chevy Suburban (4WD) rental, we began at WWWH, drove past the “Home of Brown”, past where there’s “no place for the Meek”, parked our car just like Fenn would have done and trekked into the “wood”, up a creek without a “paddle” and with heavy loads above. Nearly 78 years young and with a 20-pound backpack on, I limited it to where Fenn could have gone twice in an afternoon. Between the six of us, we covered a lot of area. If I recall, Fenn once said that children would likely have a better chance of finding the treasure than an adult. Humm, is that a clue? Well, I can tell you that the area we searched was a kid’s playground.
No, we did not find it, but it sure looked like the most likely place Fenn would hide a treasure. It was an area where I would lay my bones. As Fenn said, “the mountains are my church”. The sun came out the second day and everything was gorgeous. Alpine meadows of wild blue flowers sprinkled with yellow set against the tall green pines and grey boulders under a clear blue sky. Everything seemed so brilliant and full of life.
All six of us climbed up nearly 6 or 7 hundred feet the first day and determined that even though it was a fantastic day in the mountains with unbelievable views, it wasn’t a place where Fenn would have gone twice in the afternoon. So, after the six of us had thoroughly scoured the mountain side and with my strength beginning to wane, we ruled out that area and zeroed in on the most promising area for the second day. After a long and treacherous drive over heavily rutted and muddy roads back to our motel, we all sat down to diner and discussed what we would do the next day. Everybody slept soundly that night.
At a lower altitude on the second day we climbed over boulders and tree stumps for hours looking for the treasure. It seemed that around every turn there was a place where the chest could have been hidden. So many places begged an invitation for inspection. If I had been a teenager in the 40’s and my Father was fishing nearby, I would have explored every nook and cranny of this place with my brother. We could have easily walked right by the treasure and not known that it was within a few yards. I was a little worried that we might encounter snakes or other nasty critters when looking into dark crevices, but luckily none appeared. The boys used their flashlights and poked into small places with their walking sticks that they fashioned from fallen limbs. The most dangerous animal we encountered was a chipmunk as it ran across our path.
We did find a recent kill by a bear. By the looks of it, my son said that it was probably a few days old. It was hard to tell what kind of an animal it was since it was scattered and torn up so much. We didn’t investigate too closely or hang around that spot too long. We “tarried scant”. The area was littered with sheep and elk droppings as well as animal bones scattered in a few places. Some of the bones were pretty big but looked suspiciously placed. Almost as if someone had put them there. Anyway, the kids got a kick out of that.
We actually found a “Blaze”, but not the type that I thought it could be. We were looking for some kind of blaze coloring on a rock or some kind of Indian petroglyph that Fenn would have found. Then my Son called me over and pointed it out to me. I said, “Wow, yeah that could be it”, but there was no treasure box to be seen unless we just overlooked it. There were a hundred nearby places where the treasure could have been hidden. The blaze will still be there in a hundred or more years unless someone destroys it.
There have been two things in life that seem to have fascinated Fenn – Indians & Fish. This area seemed to satisfy both. I encouraged the boys to look for arrow heads, but none were found.
There was one spot that could have fit the “worth the cold” clue. We found a downward, opening recess in the side of a hill big enough for a person to enter. It led sharply down for just a short distance (not a cave) where we could go in and inspect with our flashlights. But the interesting aspect was that the air must have been at least 20 degrees (or more) colder. Humm. Anyway, there was nothing that we could see that looked like a chest.
I don’t think at this time that I will return, but just in case that the bug gets to me in the future, I’m keeping my solve to myself. In the meantime, I’m going to closely review all my photos and videos to see if anything shows up. I even flew a drone over the area and recorded some nice scenes; but the bottom line with a drone is that it is useless in finding the treasure. It might make an entertaining video on UTube, but that’s about all.
At the end of the second day, I discretely deposited between a couple of rocks some fake gold coins and colored glass beads that I had carried with me. I then called the boys over and declared that I found something. The boys came over, looked at me and said, “are you kidding. Did you just put them there?”. So much for my surprise.
My first attempt with the drone on day 1 was less that professional. I tried to use the DJI Goggles with my Phantom 4 Pro Plus, but the goggles locked up on me after a minute and I had to rely on the remote built in viewing screen. At one point I thought I lost it and couldn’t visually locate the drone. I then initiated an automated “Return to Home” sequence. The drone was out of sight, approaching 400 ft altitude and maybe a half mile away. Then, the drone failed to respond, and it wasn’t coming home. Well, I could feel panic beginning to set in. The drone was nowhere to be seen and it wasn’t doing what I expected or at least what the manual said would happen. I could see that this was a recipe for disaster and mucho bucks down the drain. If you have ever piloted a plane, then you know that it’s easy to get lost if you’re only VFR qualified and can’t see any recognizable landmarks. Try that while looking at a 5-inch screen on the remote controller and the only thing you can see are acres of green trees. Then superior navigational skills kicked in and I maneuvered the drone so I could see a few landmarks and managed to safely land it back to where it initially took off. The second day I was much more with it. Goggles and drone worked flawlessly. I did discover one thing. If you ever fly one of these drones with the DJI goggles, use the gimbal tracking mode that will slew the drone as you turn your head. Using the camera gimbal mode as I initially did can be confusing since the drone direction and camera are not in sync. Using the gimbal tracking mode is more like driving the drone. It goes where you point your head.
I did make a movie about my recon last October, but it’s for family only since it reveals my search location. Everyone got a kick out of it. Maybe the Grandchildren will look on it in future years and remember Papa and Nana.
I often ask people “what is your most valuable asset?”. Few know the answer. I then tell them “Time is you most precious asset. Time is like water. Some people just let it run through their fingers while others try to drink every drop.”
I’ve included a few photos of our trip.
Good hunting, Ron Conley