A Small Scale Solve…

August 31st
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.

Looking across the Columbia from Pateros, WA about 7pm, August 31st, 2018. Not much smoke here.

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..

-dal


September 1st

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…

White House Restaurant in Post Falls, ID

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.

Look HERE

And HERE

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.

My HOB

My WWWH

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…


September 2nd

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

Not my cabin


September 3rd

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…

A peaceful location complete with blaze, water high and heavy loads. No place for the meek yet not a dangerous location. A child could walk here with a little help from an adult.

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”.

https://www.oldsantafetradingco.com/blog/river-bathing-is-best

The sign to Ojo Caliente from the Freight Road Trail on Fountain Flats

Ojo Caliente Spring and Geyser. The Geyser is the bubbly patch on the near side of the pond. It gets higher but I got tired of waiting.

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.

It’s a canyon. Pretend you’re an ant

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’s pretty brown

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…

South is down

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…

Fairy Creek which runs into the Firehole River a hundred feet or so from Ojo Caliente

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.

The view from  a hill down onto an open area along Fairy Creek

There are many natural rock piles in the area. They often look like this.

Could a rock pile be a blaze?

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

Visting Forrest

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.


Thursday September 20th

Heading Home

 

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 🙂

 

UPDATE
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…

by dal


 

 

 

 

 

 

Watching Phillystone……

SUBMITTED JULY 2018

BY FORREST and Kieran

 

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

Hello Forrest!

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.

Search Results Near Yellowstone……

SUBMITTED JULY 2018
by Ron Conley

 
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

The Greater Yellowstone Medicine Wheel……

SUBMITTED JUNE 2018
by John edo

 

You know I can’t leave well enough alone. After doing the “Holy Blazes” post here on the home of Dal and receiving some feed-back; I was just about ready to throw away this search area. The face at the Firehole, the mark in the tree at the bottom of Tom’s trail, and the owl of Minerva tetradrachm just seemed to be too coincidental. I went back to my first clue and it didn’t seem right. Cynthia had posted about the sign at Reynolds Pass on the border of Idaho and Montana and got response post form Forrest that he had never seen the sign in winter. It happens to fall on the continental divide splitting 2 watersheds to the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. Begin where warm waters halt. Halt means lame, limp, foolish. And there has to be some connection from this clue to the next and to the end as they are contiguous. Following from Reynolds pass to “the canyon” down. The canyon seems to imply an obvious choice as due East of Reynolds pass is the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. It happens to also pass over an arrowhead pointing that direction and reminded me of Young Forrest’s arrowhead. Take it means to grasp, and hints at riches new and old treasures.

At the bottom of tom’s trail was this mark in the tree.

Not far, but too far implies that the clues are opposites and spaced apart from one another. The opposites and balance made me think of the medicine wheel and using the Lakota star map I tried to connect the rest of the clues.

Put in below the home of brown still makes me scratch my head, as put in can mean to launch a boat or also put in means solitary confinement. There is also a “t” and a “bel” in that line that make the word belt. The star map has the milky way in the back ground or the belt of Orion is the 3 stars in the wrist of the hand constellation. The stars are also known as “Las Tres Marias” or the 3 Marys. In Yellowstone there is a Mary mountain West, East, and middle, and they happen to form a straight line.

So home could be a flat, narrow area and that makes me think of the fire escape and making his pants brown when he skipped class. He could leave and be alone. The slide was also a gateway and I believe it to be Devils’s slide. The next line of the poem seems to confirm that as from there its no place for the meek. From there sounds like from mother it’s to place for them. At the end of the line the word mother can also be found backwards and jumbled: no place fOR THE Meek. So your mother’s mother is your grandmother and devils slide happens to be at the point of castor and pullox on the star chart. Castor and Pullox happen to be twins just like Forrest’s grandmother A line from devils slide to mammoth hot springs continues to no place for them. Opposite of mother is father, and opposite of fire is water. Water has an old definition of Adam’s ale, and line continues to Yellowstone Lake fishing bridge. But no place for them is the RV park just to the East.

The end is ever drawing nigh, sounds like the hand is severed drawing in eye. So the Lakota circle coming back to the eye in the Firehole and looking up to mirror plateau gives you another line that runs right thru the Grand canyon of Yellowstone. Mirror Plateau happens to be the Pleiades star on the Lakota star map. From the face you also have mire or stuck in the mud to admire yourself in the mirror; hence all the me, mine, and I comments by Forrest.

There’ll be no paddle up your creek took me a while to figure out. “LL” when sounding out, sounds like ells. Ells are 90 degree pipe bends and no paddle refers to water. Just above the Firehole at the Madison river and Firehole river junction, the river makes a perpendicular “T”; and so there are the ells. So not going up that creek we are heading down.

Just heavy loads and water high made perfect sense after figuring out the no paddle clue. Heading straight down from eye, the grand prismatic spring and old faithful fell into place. They also aligned to stars on the Lakota map. Procyon is the blossom, and the grand spring is just that. Beautiful all year around! Old faithful is water high, or Sirius.  Some of you might know about Sirius and being known as the dog star, and I would never insult Peggy in that way, but rather as the most faithful companion in Forrest’s life. That’s why the heavy loads is a halo he’s putting on Peggy. She is his saint and the ode to Peggy speaks volumes of his love and affection for her. The reference to backwards bicycle also fits to work clues backwards from water high, and ride bike to water high and throw it in.

Just in this line is also right, which back from the point of the arrow and looking from direction of eye, is right following the N,S,W,E of the compass.

If you have been wise and found the blaze. I still struggle with this one. Is the found the blaze an established beginning or a central marker? The lines don’t exactly line up to the center. It’s almost like they still need to be made right. In the upper right of the Lakota star map is Capella or buffalo gap which is the Lamar Valley. The star Rigel is also known as the silver star and is dot island in the “hand” of Yellowstone Lake. The silver star was also an award given to Forrest for his service in Vietnam.

Betelgeuse is known as “owl eyes flicking”, or watching the ceremonies, and is the only point not on this map. I believe it’s a reference to his father the wise owl looking down upon him burning candles at both ends.

Look quickly down at the lower falls at the right time of day and you will see a rainbow or should I say moonbow. Across from Uncle Tom’s Trail it also looks like a petroglyph of a horse’s head drinking from the falls. This is also a dead end and your quest will cease here.

The points fit in a circle as well. The center seems to be Grebe Lake, but the points line up to the lower falls. The points also almost line up to tarry point if you google search it. If mirror plateau moves to amethyst mountain they are right on.

So there you have the medicine wheel in Yellowstone. The symbol and lines still seem to be halted or lame clues, and nothing has been unlocked to the location of the chest. There is still much more in the poem to listen too.  But; tells you to join the tarry scant and marvel gaze. In the medicine wheel there is a bald center spot, and when overlaid that is a short distance south of the lower falls. The MA-RV-EL gaze is the direction to head. MA is mammoth, RV is by the fishing bridge, and EL is the line, or the track of the train you would get hit by.

Here comes the word Just again. And it’s to take the chest and go in peace. But I see it as the chi stand or balance, or like Forrest: ME in the middle. Peace is that balance, the harmony, the health and wellspring.

So why must you go? It’s the way of life to run the race and return to where you came. Mother Earth, Gaia. And the trove is left to each of us to find our own way, and we should be actively seeking to better the lives of those around us; Smile at a homely girl!

The a(NSWE)rs he already knows? Of course; they are the points of life, the map of where one has been; and you are tired and weak as you have exhausted your life in pursuit of those answers.

HEAR comes the big kicker. Listen to the words in the poem to the gold now.

Sow ear meal and list ten good, your fort twill be worthy cold.

If few are brave and dint hew wood dig ivey out it lead to the gold.

WHAT? Did you hear that? Or did you read between the lines. Use that same logic and read thru the poem again.

Let’s also a-JUST a couple of those clues to unlock the poem. The circle with a dot in the center is used by Native Americans as the symbol for mother. It’s also the symbol for gold. So with the circle and line we can adjust them to form the symbol for woman and standing it upright she becomes the guardian of the gold: “when she sees it”.

I’m starting to trail off and leaving information out, but this essay is getting longer than I thought. I am definitely not hoping for an “A”, but rather an “F”!

-John edo

 

An Aussie Gives it a Go……

SUBMITTED JUNE 2018
by JIM

 

On June 6th this year I made my first BOTG search, and I was surprised at what I found at my final destination. Similar to another searcher who recently posted their story, I travelled to Montana from Australia, specifically the city of Newcastle in New South Wales. You have to be very committed and confident to sign up for 30 hours of travel and a few thousand dollars in costs but my research was solid, ticked many boxes and was unique so I thought it warranted a try.

I highly doubt I will be coming back so I hope that some of my ideas may help someone else out in their search… here goes…

Like many searchers before me my WWWH began as the Boiling River, or Mammoth Hot Springs and later La Duke Hot springs. Other searchers have made many connections with Rooster Cogburn, the Sherriff, Marion Morrison from scrapbooks and interviews. The line of the poem “So hear me all and listen good” could be a hint at John Wayne’s quote “Listen up and listen good”. I haven’t read any further references to link that “Duke” is a nickname for John Wayne.

La Duke Hot Springs is just up the road from Gardiner and there used to be a large hotel and baths on the site utilizing the warm waters for travellers coming to visit Yellowstone or workers at the coal mines in Aldridge. You could consider a hotel a stop or a halt. There was also a train stop here, also called a halt.

Here’s the thing though, I don’t think WWWH is any of these. I used these locations to direct me to my HOB and blaze, but my logic took me down a different path for WWWH. I had found a map of every hot spring in the USA. They do not halt at the Yellowstone caldera, they go all the way up through Canada. In my opinion WWWH is not a hot spring. Forrest has stated that several people have solved the first two clues without realising their significance. Several. However 1000’s of people use a hot spring or Madison River confluence or the New Mexico fishing regulations as their WWWH, not several. So the correct answer must be something more obscure. I was sure that my blaze was correct though and so I considered the most obvious nearby canyon and looked at what was at the start of that canyon to see if it could relate to Warm Waters.

So I typed into google Warm Waters Jardine. And this was the first result. Warm Waters by Charles Lloyd. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Warm_Waters 

I freaked out, because on the very first day I started researching the chase this information crossed my path. I had tried finding lyrics and buying the album but it didn’t seem to be significant or connected to the treasure. However why when I added Jardine to warm waters did this album pop up again? Well, Al Jardine from The Beach Boys sang on the first song and on the Wikipedia page his name is in the first paragraph. Previously Forrest has said that a detailed map and good knowledge of geography will help find the treasure and I think this fits. If you know that there is a small town called Jardine near Yellowstone you might notice that name Al Jardine. The album was recorded in Malibu and Forrest’s plane was a Piper Malibu…. this is most likely nothing but an interesting connection none the less. I am not sure how “halt” fits in. Perhaps the name Al is in the word halt? Perhaps it is “warm waters salt” referencing the Beach Boys. I couldn’t find the lyrics to the song Warm Waters, maybe it is something to do with the last word, words or line.

Here is another important concept that helps explain why WWWH is so important. When Mr Fenn started this chase he knew exactly where he wanted to die and hide the chest. It seems to me all of the clues are reverse engineered, i.e. he wrote the last clue first and worked backwards to the starting point. Since he has stated the WWWH is the first clue, it would make sense this is the last clue he wrote. This means it would also be the hardest and vaguest because he could get more specific as the clues progress in the poem.

So let’s now really give my answers for the clues and hints – 

Yes, Forrest went alone to hide his treasure. 

A weir is a name for a low dam on a river and I think his secret weir is a spot on the Yellowstone River that has two slight dams that at different river heights trap trout in pools that allow for awesome fishing.

WWWH is Jardine for reasons already detailed. Start there and go down the canyon. It is about 3 miles until you get to a small put in overlooking the canyon and Joe Browns mining claim and house. Joe Brown lived in Cooke City and Gardiner but also lived on his claim.

From there head to Bear Creek/Bear Gulch, you can’t be meek trekking in a place with bears, you must be brave. Possible reference to Joe Meek but meek isn’t capitalised in the poem, so perhaps just a subtle hint.

Look to the nigh side of the creek and nigh side of the river. This is the left side when looking down stream.

No paddle up the creek, you are going down Bear Creek, not up and you will be walking.

There was heavy lode mining done here, look at the high water mark. And this is what you will see.

When Mr Fenn was 16, Forrest and Donnie went looking for Lewis and Clark on horseback and Forrest’s horse’s name was Lightning. Here is a picture from The Thrill of the Chase, as you can see Lightning’s blaze is a perfect match to the marking on the mountainside.

Look down and to the nigh side of the Yellowstone River from where the blaze is and you will see the tarry scant. A “scant” is a masonry term for a large rock cut down vertically on both sides to the bedrock.

There have been quite a few searchers that have mentioned this general area and the blaze but none went to the other side. This makes sense of Forrest’s comments that people have been within 200 and 500 feet of the treasure, they simply haven’t crossed the river.

Most people go searching for the chest in June and July during summer vacations, but this is when the Yellowstone River is running very high from the snow melt and getting across is very hard. However if you are at this spot in September the river is low and there is an easy way across. Forrest having grown up around this area would know this.

For my journey I chose a different route. Jeff Murphy’s path took him to Turkey Pen Peake, and I saw that if I followed the same trail I could reach my destination without crossing the river. This confused me because I had always believed the chest would not be on BLM, NPS, Indian, federal or private land. It made more sense to be public land due to the legalities of finding lost/abandoned property. The trail starts in Yellowstone National Park so I found a map of the park to check the borders.  

And this is what I found. The scant is this tiny piece of land just outside of the park. Only this little area is outside, and it is only noticeably outside if you zoom in closely. This fishing spot/treasure spot/ grave spot is the perfect place outside the laws reach for Forrest to be able to fish without the NPS rules and for the treasure to be left and recovered. (The green area is NPS land, the lighter area is Public land)

As for Forrest leaving the treasure, back in 2009/2010 when he hid the chest, you used to be able to walk about 3 miles from Gardiner around the cliffs on another trail. This has since been closed due to land owners complaining about trespassers (probably searchers to be honest). I believe Forrest walked this route and crossed the river late August/ early September.

Lastly I think the twin Omegas are a hint at the Roosevelt Arch at the north entrance of the park. You can look at the gate as both one enormous omega, but also the smaller doors on each side also look like omegas.

So I arrived at my parking spot around 8am on Wednesday the 6th June and started my 3 mile hike. It was a beautiful day and straight away I saw some Pronghorn a little way off the trail.

It was definitely weird being alone in totally foreign wilderness with no gun, only bear spray and plenty of wildlife around. The noticeboard at the trailhead had mentioned a bear had been sighted in the area a couple of weeks earlier and this was confirmed by these tracks I found only a few hundred feet along the trail.

I kept hiking, talking to myself to make noise and before long turned the corner around the hill to catch the first sight of the blaze.

The hike to the spot only took around 30 minutes and upon arrival the river was in full roar. 

This is exactly where I thought Forrest had hidden the treasure. You can see a large boulder that appears to have an alcove or space behind it that could hide the chest and keep it out of direct view of people and google earth.

The actual area is an awesome secluded spot, off the trail, plenty of animal bones and fresh scent around. You could easily imagine setting up camp here and fishing for days, away from the crowds, and the law. I carefully descended to the ledge and large boulder I believed the chest to be hidden behind and this is what I found.

I searched in and around this pile to no avail. Those big rocks are about the size of an office desk, not easily moved. There were a lot of spider webs around, and potentially rattlesnakes so I didn’t really want to stick my hand inside too much.

It didn’t make sense. I had checked multiple satellite imagery sites and all of them had the boulder vertical and intact. I know that google earth is only updated every now and then (over my house is about 5 years old) however the cliff face was old and weathered, and didn’t look like there was a freshly exposed area to suggest that the cliff had partially collapsed.

It almost looks like the boulder had been recently destroyed/broken/exploded by human intervention.

I searched all around the ledges, on the scant, around the water’s edge but found nothing.

Now we have all heard many times people saying the treasure has been found. In my opinion this is the correct spot that Forrest left the chest. Maybe I am simply gifting the chest to someone else who will travel here in the future because it is still there and I just couldn’t find it. I didn’t take a metal detector with me and couldn’t check the rock pile thoroughly. It could also be that someone found the chest and in the process broke the large boulder. It was heart breaking to walk away, but it was awesome fun searching. 

On the way back I nearly stepped on a young Bull Snake or Rattlesnake, had a small herd of Pronghorn sniff me up and down and saw a grizzly about 500 metres (1/4 mile) away scratching on a tree. I have video of him but not a very clear photo, I didn’t really want to hang around.

So many memories, cool people met, great local beers consumed and no regrets. Hope you enjoy reading my story as much as I did living it.

Jim

Deadwood Gulch…

SUBMITTED MAY 2018
by DAVE FROM KC

 

I thought I would share the details of my 2nd search for Forrest Fenn’s treasure.  I did not find the treasure but maybe some of my logic can help someone else find it.  Below is my failed solve #2.  My search location was Deadwood Gulch just south of Silverton CO and I will get into the details about the location a bit further below.  Everything below is just my opinion even if I forget to state it sometimes.  Thanks for understanding.

First I looked at the ‘big picture’ because I felt that was missing from my first solve which initially led me to the wrong location for WWWH.  After giving it some thought, I felt the big picture might be related to Forrest facing his mortality, looking back at his life, and making a final statement to the world about his life…or at least a final statement to his father.  Forrest mentioned on multiple occasions that his father instructed him to ‘grab all of the bananas’, specifically while riding on a ‘train’.  I figured the ‘train’ was a metaphor for life and that the ‘bananas’ were a metaphor for seizing every opportunity that life presents.  Since Forrest mentioned this train/bananas metaphor multiple times I felt like he was saying that this was very important and sage advice from his father and that he tried to adhere to it during his life.  From Fenn’s writings, I do feel as though it is important to Forrest that he impress his father.  I then went on to conclude that the treasure chest and its contents represented some of the many ‘bananas’ that Forrest had grabbed during his life.  I felt like this train/banana metaphor from his father might have been what Forrest was referring to when he stated “What surprises me a little is that nobody to my uncertain knowledge has analyzed one important possibility related to the winning solve”.  I personally have not read on any of the blogs where searchers believe a train should be involved because of the banana metaphor (I have seen searchers that like train involvement for the halts but not for the banana metaphor).  Am I the first to analyze this important metaphor from his father and is this what Forrest was referring to with his quote above?  Who knows.

 Forrest’s original idea about the poem and the location was that he would go to the location, die with the chest, and leave the poem for people to come find him and the chest.  For my solution I looked for a location that would include a steam train, a canyon, a river with ‘put ins’ for rafts/kayaks, a potential home of Brown, and other aspects of metaphorical significance for someone dying.  Forrest did say “those who solve the first clue are more than half way there, metaphorically speaking”.  I took this as a hint that metaphors were important to the solution.  I think you can still keep it simple and interpret metaphors in the solve…metaphors are not like some of the crazy complex stuff I see some searchers writing about (anagrams, codes, ciphers, etc.).

Stanza #1
As I have gone alone in there
And with my treasures bold,
I can keep my secret where,
And hint of riches new and old.

For the first stanza, I took this to mean Forrest went alone to hide the treasure and that he did not tell anyone…so it was his secret.  I interpreted “Hint of riches new and old” as a hint that the location had old riches and Silverton, CO fits this because of all of the mining that took place there (there are old mines strewn about everywhere).  For new riches, it could be a hint of the treasure itself, or possibly all of the great fun to be had in Silverton (rafting on the Animas river, riding the steam train between Silverton and Durango, hiking, fishing, ATVing, etc.)  I thought ‘Bold’ could be a hint to the treasure location, which is just a 200-foot hike up a cascading creek just north of US Highway 550 in Deadwood Gulch (we’ll discuss this further down).

Stanza #2
Begin it where warm waters halt – Clue #1
and take it in the canyon down, – Clue #2
Not far, but too far to walk.  Clue #3A
Put in below the home of Brown.  – Clue #3B

For WWWH (clue #1), I went to the ‘big picture’ mentioned above and the train metaphor.  I felt the big picture and the metaphor were the reasons this location was so important and special to Forrest…and NOT that the location was one that was special because Forrest visited it during his childhood…but instead special for the purpose Forrest was seeking for his final statement to the world (or his father).  Silverton has a steam train that still runs today between Silverton and Durango.  Train stops were sometimes referred to as ‘halts’ in the old days.  These were usually water stops where the locomotive would receive more water for steam powered fuel.  The warm waters are those heated waters stored in the locomotive.  I chose the Silverton station as my WWWH.

When the Silverton train departs, it heads south and down the canyon and follows the Animas river downstream (clue #2 – take it in the canyon down).

For the HOB (clue #3) there are several possibilities (Brown Mountain is 10 Miles due north which is TFTW and Brown’s Gulch is 5-6 miles NW of Silverton which is also TFTW).  There was a previous Silverton solution from another searcher that was using Cement Creek (which feeds the Animas river in Silverton) as the HOB because the locals call the water at the confluence ‘Brown Gravy’ (I doubted this one).  Regardless of which HOB you choose, there is only a single feasible marked ‘put in’ in this area and it is ‘below’ all of these (south and lower elevation).  Just south of Silverton (and north/upstream of Deadwood Gulch), there is a ‘put in’ on the Animas River that is used by the rafting companies and kayakers.  This is an ‘official’ put in with its own sign (see photo).  This ‘put in’ is south / downstream from the Silverton Rail Road station so this also has you moving down the river / canyon.

Below are some additional thoughts on this location and why it might be special for a reason important to Forrest.  I believe Forrest does not want his life or his name to be lost to history like the graves of the French soldiers he stumbled on in the high grass field near the waterfall he found in Vietnam.  I’m thinking he has a strong desire to be remembered long after his death (thus the books, memoirs, etc.).  He was also a very smart promoter and marketer in his life after the military.  Choosing a tourist location like Silverton would be brilliant in terms of ‘marketing’ for his immortality.  If his treasure was found in that tourist town it would be discussed on every train ride and every rafting trip…there would be businesses setup in town around the Forrest Fenn name, and they would probably create a Forrest Fenn museum in the town for the tourists to visit after they get off the train (they have a couple of hours to spend in Silverton before the return trip to Durango).  It would be brilliant!  And Forrest IS brilliant when it comes to promotions and marketing.  I understand that this thought will offend some searcher’s idealization of Forrest and also that Forrest himself might not agree and might be slightly offended by this…so this is just my opinion…but I personally would not put something like this past Forrest and would not blame him for such a brilliant plan!  I just cannot ignore the fact that this man was a self-admitted non-lover of art…yet we know he made a small fortune as a great art dealer.  Why?  Because he knew how to market and promote.  Would Forrest get the same level of immortality if he hid himself and the treasure way out in the middle of nowhere?  I do not think so.  With that said, I do think Forrest has already achieved some level of immortality with this amazing treasure hunt he created, for being a war hero, and with his other books so I do not intend to diminish that with the above opinions…I just think hiding his treasure in a tourist town would take his immortality to the next level…and I do think immortality is important to him and I might not even believe him even if he directly told me otherwise.

Many, many other train hints:
The train hints from Forrest are voluminous and at this point I do not think I could have a solve that does not involve a train.  Forrest has talked and written about trains several times and has made several comments that associate trains to death (I suggest going to the Tarry Scant website and search by ‘train’ to get the exact FULL quotes on the below bulleted items).
·       When talking about his dog Tesuque’s expression when hungry he described it as “Feed me now or there will be a train wreck with no survivors” – Death by train comment #1.
·       When answering one searchers questions Forrest gave a long response that included “Besides, I will probably get hit by a train” – Death by train comment #2.
·       In a separate video interview Forrest mentions “Yet, tomorrow I will probably get run over by a train, but I believe in karma and some of those things.” – Death by train comment #3.
·       In yet another separate interview Forrest states “I dare you to go get it.  If you find it, you can have it.  And nobody knows where it is but me. If a train runs over me this afternoon, it will go to my grave with me” – Death by train comment #4.
·       Forrest provides a very warm written response to a searcher named Diane that wrote to him about hobos and trains and referred to her as “kindred”
·       Forrest quotes his friend Eric that the far away sound of a bell “can be both forlorn and soul-stirring”.   Later in that same topic, he wrote that he acquired from Eric a cast iron bell possibly retrieved from an old steam locomotive that he keeps at his San Lazaro Pueblo.  Forrest has a thing for bells.  The old trains have bells.
·       Forrest mentions in his TTOTC book that as a child he could hear the steam train going out of Katy “The Katy Rail Road tracks were about half-mile from our house and late at night I could hear the steam engines puff and the engineers blow their air horns. It was a soothing sound and sometimes I think I can still hear when the wind is out of the east.” – The Silverton train tracks are east of the potential hiding spot in Deadwood Gulch.  If Forrest was going someplace to die, would he not want something soothing like the air horns from the train?  The Silverton train uses these steam whistles and he could definitely hear them from Deadwood Gulch.
·       The last sentence leading up to the poem in TTOTC says:  “So I wrote a poem containing nine clues that if followed precisely, will lead to the end of my rainbow and the treasure:” The Silverton Rail Road Station was at the end of the “Rainbow Route” which was a steam train dating back to 1888 that ran from Albany to Silverton, CO. (long since defunct)

Stanza #3
From there it’s no place for the meek,  – Clue #4A
The end is ever drawing nigh; clue #4B
There’ll be no paddle up your creek, Clue #5
Just heavy loads and water high.  Clue #6

For Clue #4 (From there it’s no place for the meek, The end is ever drawing nigh), I have multiple possible interpretations.

My first thought for clue #4 was that Forrest might be referencing the Animas River which is on your left (nigh) while moving south/downstream from the Silverton Station to the ‘put in’ location.  This is the river that runs along the Silverton train tracks.  It is also known as “The River of Lost Souls”.  ‘Lost souls’ are considered to be ‘damned’ souls…since the ‘meek will inherit the Earth’ the meek are not ‘damned’ souls and therefore this would be no place for the meek.  This information about being ‘damned’ or a ‘lost soul’ would be pertinent for any person who is dying (end is drawing nigh/near) and Forrest thought he was going to do this whole poem and treasure hunt to go to the place he was going to die.  Hint – Forrest calls the chest his ‘indulgence’.  If you look up indulgence you find a pertinent definition of “a grant by the Pope of remission of the temporal punishment in purgatory still due for sins after absolution. The unrestricted sale of indulgences by pardoners was a widespread abuse during the later Middle Age” (could Forrest be offering back some of his ‘bananas’ (i.e. treasure) as an indulgence to be pardoned for his sins?).  Forrest’s scrapbook #26 shows an old ‘anima sola’ which depicts a lost soul in purgatory.  Forrest pretended to not know what it was…yeah right.  Could he have been hinting at the Animas river?  I thought yes.  Anima is defined as “soul”.  Forrest has stated he is not really religious and that he is more spiritual…but I think most people have religious type thoughts when facing death and maybe the fact that Forrest was not religious during his life gave him some concerns that he might end up in some sort of purgatory if he turned out to be wrong about religion?

My second thought on this clue #4 ties back to the bananas/train metaphor.  The meek would not be the ones ‘grabbing all of the bananas’ in life’s short (end ever drawing nigh) ‘train’ ride.  Thus, unlike Forrest (and the searcher trying to find his bananas), this would be no place for the meek.  I felt this is less likely to be correct than my first thought on this above but I would not put it past Forrest to have multiple meanings to the clues and I believe the message of the bananas/train metaphor from his father is that “life is short and do not be meek…seize all of the opportunities”.  So, I do somewhat like this second interpretation…just not as much as the first one above.

My third thought on this clue #4 is that this was the land of the Ute Native American tribe.  There was an “Indian Agent” named Nathan Meeker who was slaughtered (along with 10 others) by the Utes in the White River settlement on the western side of the Continental Divide.  The Utes near Silverton were led by the peaceful Chief Ouray and there was no Nathan Meeker around trying to force the Utes into an agricultural lifestyle.  Even still, the end was drawing nigh for the Utes as they were driven from the land near Silverton despite Chief Ouray’s peaceful and diplomatic approach.  I felt this interpretation was less likely than the first or second interpretations above.

For clue #5 (there will be no paddle up your creek), I note the semi colon after clue 4.  Semi colon’s can be used for a change in direction, and I thought that Forrest might be referring to a change in direction because as you continue south/downstream from the Silverton Station and then past the ‘put in’ along the Animas River, after approx. ¾ mile (from the put in) you will come to a creek called ‘Deadwood Gulch’ that feeds into the Animas river.  This Deadwood Gulch creek runs perpendicular (change of direction) to the Animas and it has a pretty steep climb up the mountain from its mouth at the Animas.  I believe Forrest indicates in the poem that it is ‘your’ creek because ‘his’ river is the Animas (river of lost souls) but the creek you want (your creek – the one with the treasure) is Deadwood Gulch.  Hint – ‘Deadwood’ is a term used in the card game Canasta!  If you do not have the first clue you might as well stay home and play Canasta!  You need to head ‘up’ this Deadwood Gulch creek (in elevation – not North).  There is no way you would ever put any sort of kayak or raft into this steep creek and thus there is no need for a paddle.

Clue #6 (just heavy loads and water high).  The creek in Deadwood Gulch flows down from high on the mountain (water high) and features a very nice waterfall (also water high) just below highway 550 (yes, THAT highway 550 – the one also known as the ‘Million Dollar Highway’ between Silverton and Ouray).  Between highway 550 and the mouth at the Animas, the creek also contains lots of old timbers, wood, and cast iron parts from an old mining operation that, I believe, ran some sort of rail cars / trolley down alongside the gulch to carry loads down from the mines further up the mountainside (heavy loads).  When I inspected this part of the creek I did see some sort of iron wheel and some old pieces of metal that looked like they might have been used as tracks.  You have to be careful walking around this area due to all of the mining debris that included wood pieces with old rusted nails sticking out of them.  I walked around this part of the gulch below highway 550 looking for a blaze (besides the obvious waterfall).  I did not find a blaze on that section of the Deadwood Gulch below highway 550 and ultimately decided that I did not like that part of the creek for Forrest’s hiding spot because it did not have a blaze (other than the waterfall), and I could not identify any location down there that would have a spot 200 feet away where some searchers would have been that also coincided with a separate 500-foot spot where lots of people would have been.  In addition, I also did not like the fact that all of that mining debris cluttered the area…if Forrest hid the treasure in this area I could see it being accidentally discovered at some point in the future if they ever decide to clean up all of that mining debris.  If you are down in that lower part of Deadwood’s Gulch searching, I think you need to be wise and think about the part of the Gulch above highway 550 (see explanation below for clue #7).

Other misc.  hints pointing to Deadwood Gulch near Silverton:
·       In OUAW, Doug Preston writes that Forrest originally intended to leave the final clue by leaving his car in the parking lot of the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.  This museum is located just outside of the ‘Golden Triangle’ of museums in Denver.  The San Juan Triangle is created by connecting the towns of Silverton, Telluride, and Ouray.  Deadwood Gulch is just outside of the San Juan Triangle since it lies just south of Silverton.
·       In TTOTC, there is an illustration of “My Spanish Toy Factory” which shows three children looking down at a triangle formation (marbles) and two of the children is pointing down at the triangle (or maybe just outside the triangle).  Deadwood Gulch is in the San Juan Mountains (San Juan is obviously a Spanish name and could be linked to “My Spanish Toy Factory” for that reason…and isn’t this whole treasure hunt like a big toy for Forrest?)

Stanza #4
If you’ve been wise and found the blaze, Clue #7A
Look quickly down, your quest to cease, Clue #7B
But tarry scant with marvel gaze, Clue #7C
Just take the chest and go in peace. Clue #7D

I am counting the whole 4th stanza as clue #7.  After searching the area of Deadwood Gulch below highway 550 I think you need to be ‘wise’ that it is not the hiding spot and also ‘wise’ to the fact that the Gulch extends above highway 550 and that area above highway 550 should be considered for a search.  You also need to be ‘wise’ to get in your car and drive up to the top part of the Gulch above Highway 550 because hiking it is impossible unless you are some sort of mountain climber (it is a little over a 2-mile drive from Silverton to where the Gulch meets highway 550).  Thankfully, as you drive up on highway 550 at Deadwood Gulch you come to a ‘turnout’ in the road that is gravel and a place to park your car (see photo).

As you look up the Deadwood Gulch from the mountainside turnout you are treated to a beautiful cascading creek that runs relatively flat and shallow between the steep stone gulch walls up to a small and beautiful waterfall.  The stone gulch walls are covered with all sorts of ‘desert varnish’ in various colors but much of it is a tarry black color.  There is no mining debris in the Gulch above highway 550.  As you look at the small waterfall (which happens to be right at 10,200 feet of elevation and 200 feet from the gravel parking area) you see something that stands out…a blaze.  I had seen this blaze before in a picture of this Deadwood Gulch cascade on Pinterest…and I went there looking for this blaze.  Directly to the right of the waterfall (as you face it) you see this large square shaped red rock facing you with three fat dark black streaks of desert varnish.  The black desert varnish streaks on the otherwise red stone really stands out and is quite beautiful (see blaze photos).

Fire is a blaze and red in color…why not a red blaze?  Tarry scant could refer to the red aspects of the stone that were not covered by the tarry colored black lichen.

Go in peace’ (i.e. Rest in Peace) could be a reference to Forrest dying and resting in peace now that he has paid his indulgence to the searcher.  When I viewed the potential blaze from near the road it appears small and a bit hard to see and almost looks like it could be some sort of native American rock art…but up close you can see that it is quite large and is just lichen created desert varnish with an unusually bright contrast between the black and the red. The only way to get up to the blaze from the parking area is to go into the cascades and walk 200 feet up the creek…there are no side trails and the sides are steep and treacherous and thick with pine trees.  It could be the earlier searchers within 200 feet simply provided Forrest with some nice pictures of their time in Silverton and that the Gulch was not a part of their solutions.  Or, it could be that the searchers were there at a time when the Gulch was full of snow.  This year, the snow was melted by 12May, but normally this time of year that gulch would be full of deep snow making it inaccessible for a search until June.   I had been to this location earlier this year with my snow shoes and snow shovel and learned just how deep that snow was in April.  When I saw the heat wave from 5May to 12 May I guessed that it might be melted and I was right….it was running strong from the snow pack melt but I was able to easily walk up it with some hiking poles and rubber boots (and waterproof gortex pants) …. Fenn being a fly fisherman would not even blink at walking/wading up this cascade.  To get to the potential hiding spot you have to walk through the ‘pinch point’ where the walls of the Gulch are closest together.
Beyond the ‘pinch point’ it slightly opens up on the other side of the pinch point and has an area that has ground with bushes and accessible cavities at the base of the stone gulch for potential hiding spots (see photo).  One of these cavities was about 10-15 feet downstream from the blaze – quickly down.  This was at the base of the gulch and was an absolutely perfect hiding spot for the chest.  The cavity was outside of the creek, so not underwater but still wet…it was about 2-3 feet deep into the side of the Gulch, about 10 inches high top to bottom, and about 3 feet across / wide….and the cavity is in a spot that is hidden behind the pinch point of the gulch so anyone on the road would not be able to see what that crazy old man was doing up there in the Gulch when he was hiding it (see photo – it is the triangular shaped hole towards the right center of the photo with a small log in the water pointing towards it).

I got out my flashlight and shone it into the cavity…I was sure I was going to see some rocks covering the indulgence when I looked inside the cavity.  My heart was broken when all I saw was a bottle, a plastic cup, and underwear!  Yes, there was men’s underwear in the cavity…they looked relatively new and when I looked up the brand name I saw they were sold at Walmart.  I knew I really was up shit’s creek at this point when I found the underwear and I was able to have a small laugh despite my disappointment.  I assume this bottle, underwear, and cup had washed down from the top of the mountain.  There is no reason for people to go into that part of the Gulch beyond the pinch point because there is no fishing to be done in that creek and there are no hiking trails anywhere in the area.  It would be really hard to get beyond that small waterfall and it gets really steep beyond that waterfall so I do not see people hiking up that Gulch just for the fun of it.  It would not really appeal to mountain climbers either because they would get soaked and it would be an insanely cold hike.  There were some other cavities in the base of the gulch that were also empty…but none were as perfect as the one cavity described above…I REALLY thought I was going to find the treasure in that one and my heart was pounding when I saw it.

Other hints related to clue #7
·       Why did Forrest make the upper elevation limit an odd number like 10,200 feet instead of 10,000 feet?  It is not the tree line…the tree line is between 11,500 and 12,000 feet.  The lower limit is a nice even 5,000 feet so I have always wondered if it might be right at 10,200 feet and this solution gave me that 10,200-foot number, which I liked.
·       Within 500 feet of the blaze is a second parking ‘turnout’ on the opposite cliff side of highway 550 that would be more popular because that one would provide the view of the larger Deadwood Gulch creek waterfall that exists below highway 550.  These two turnouts would explain why lots of people have been within 500 feet and why Forrest might have known some searchers were within 200 feet if they took a photo of the cascades / small waterfall above highway 550.
·       People bike on highway 550 all the time and I saw several people on bikes…Forrest hinted that he might just ride his bike there and throw his bike in the ‘water high’ which he could do…just toss his bike into the Gulch below highway 550 and then hike up the cascading creek above highway 550.  At his age now, I think he would need to start somewhere high on the mountain and coast down on his bike and not try to start at a lower elevation and pedal up the mountain.
·       The creek and pinch point could explain why Forrest is confident no one would ‘stumble’ upon the treasure.  It is a great ‘gatekeeper’ for the treasure.  As noted above, there is no reason to go into that part of the Gulch above the pinch point unless you are searching for Fenn’s treasure.
·       Once you are up the cascade beyond the pinch point if you look back you see a wonderful view.  You are looking North and, in the distance, you have a great view of Brown Mountain (see snow covered mountain in photo below).  You also see Silverton and if you stayed there long enough you would eventually hear the train blowing its whistle and ringing its bell from the East.  It is a neat spot.

·       I found a picture of the blaze on the internet after I had my solution for Deadwood Gulch by searching for Deadwood Gulch Silverton Colorado.  Fenn was once asked if the blaze could be pre-determined from the poem before being physically at the search location and he called the searcher a rascal for asking that question and decided after a long deliberation that he would not answer that question.  To me, that leaves open the possibility for finding the blaze prior to being BOTG.  You can find the exact quote if you wish…it is out there.
·       Fenn wrote about lichen in scrapbook 171:  “Because these strong colored rocks are a favorite of mine, once a friend told me that if I took one home, kept it in a sunny place, and sprayed it with beer once a week, it would continue to grown and keep its colors.  It didn’t work.”

Stanza #5
So why is it that I must go
And leave my trove for all to seek? 
The answers I already know, 
I’ve done it tired, and now I’m weak. 

I believe the 5th stanza is simply Forrest explaining that Forrest is ‘going’ (dying) and that he has his reasons for taking some of his ‘bananas’ to this spot for people to try to find using his brilliant poem.  He has grabbed as many bananas in life that he could and maybe this whole treasure hunt thing was his ‘last banana’.  When you think about it, this poem and this treasure hunt really has been a major ‘banana’ for Forrest.  He has sold many books, achieved fame, and cemented his legacy and immortality.  This was a banana that he could still grab late in life even though he was old, weak, and tired.  Right up to the end, Forrest is grabbing every banana in life and I am sure his father is very, very, proud of him.  I am sure his friends and other family members are proud as well.  He has also enriched many lives with adventure and outdoor fun…and that enrichment of others’ lives has been his ‘stated’ answer…but I think that was only one of the answers (plural).  The other ‘answers’ are more personal IMO and I may, or may not, have guessed them correctly above.

Stanza #6
So hear me all and listen good,
Your effort will be worth the cold. – Clue #8
If you are brave and in the wood – Clue #9
I give you title to the gold. 

For clue #8 (effort worth the cold), I think my solve was solid.  You have to walk/wade into a very cold creek.  Enough said.

For clue #9 (brave and in the wood), I think that the average person searching for the treasure might look at the Deadwood Gulch cascade with some trepidation…while it is shallow, it flows quite fast and it has a rock bottom.  Average people might think the cascade could knock them off their feet or that the rocks would be slippery…there is some bravery involved walking up that creek towards that waterfall and through the ‘passage’ at the pinch point (hint – Forrest recently said to have ‘safe passage’ and that pinch point in the gulch definitely qualifies as a passage).  The wood clue is obvious….it is DeadWOOD Gulch, and the cavities I found were literally inside the walls of the Gulch thus ‘In the wood’.

I think the rest of stanza 6 was for legal purposes…he wanted to make it clear that whoever finds the treasure gets to keep the treasure.

If you have gotten to the end of this, thanks for reading.  My hope is that maybe some aspects of this solution are correct and maybe can help someone with their solve.  Best of luck to all searchers and stay safe out there.

-Dave from KC

 

Not in Yellowstone…


SUBMITTED May, 2018
by dal

 

Journalist and traveler Issac Cole kept a podcast titled “On The Road With Charlie

Charlie is Issacs dog who travels with him and rides shotgun in his truck. His podcast is about traveling the roads and meeting Americans while tracing John Steinbeck’s route in “Travels With Charlie”. Issac’s podcast is an interesting journal and tantalizing journey, well worth the effort of listening.

In 2017 Issac interviewed Forrest. When that interview was published in May of 2017 it chased many folks away from looking for the chest in the Yellowstone area because although Forrest claims to have spent about 19 of his first 20 summers hanging out in that park and nearby, Forrest mentions in the interview that he has not been back to Yellowstone since 1950.

If this is true, Forrest could not have hidden the chest around Yellowstone, since it was hidden well after 1950. So why bother going there to look for it?

The question seems reasonable. The logic impeccable.

But there’s a problem…

Forrest visited West Yellowstone and Yellowstone National Park many times between 1950 and 2010.

This is not something I made up…It is fact. And it begs the question; why did Forrest say he hasn’t been there since 1950, when he certainly has?

I think I know what happened…but lets start at the top..

Below is a transcription of the relevant podcast section of Issac Cole’s interview with Forrest:

————————————–

FENN: I was a professional fishing guide when I was 13 years old. 

COLE: In Texas? 

FENN: No, in Yellowstone. West Yellowstone, Montana and I could… I ran a tackle shop all by myself. The guy that owned it was drunk all the time, so one summer I ran the tackle shop. I could make a gross of flies in a day and wait on customers at the same time. But you know, I tied catgut leaders, tapered leaders, I made split bamboo fly rods. I had a name for every fish in that country up there: Mary and Phyllis and Johnny and I knew where all the holes were. 

I’m an outdoors person. It wasn’t so much fishing, it was being there. I remember when I could hardly wait to get on the river, and catch a big old brown trout. I’d get out there, get out of my car and look  around and walk over and sit under a tree for an hour and watch the Osprey catch fish, and watch the Eagles try to take it away from the Osprey. God has a summer place up there you know?

COLE: I haven’t fished up in West Yellowstone but I grew up going to uh, a cousin of mine owns Campflre Lodge.

FENN: What’s the name of it? 

COLE: Campflre Lodge. It has a little restaurant there and log cabins and it’s right on the Madison. 

FENN: That’s after my time. 

COLE: Yeah, probably.

FENN: Because I spent 19 of my first 20 summers, three months, in Yellowstone or West Yellowstone but the last time I was up there was 1950.


Issac missed asking the follow-up question that he should have asked. Certainly understandable since Issac was not particularly fixated on the hunt for Forrest’s treasure nor was he knowledgeable of Forrest’s background. Issac really didn’t have the framework to understand that what Forrest just said was going to be a big issue for many searchers for many years…

The question we wish Issac had asked Forrest at that point was:
“Excuse me Forrest but did you just say you have never been back to Yellowstone or West Yellowstone since the summer of 1950?”

Unfortunately no such follow-up was asked and no clarification about that statement has been made by Forrest.

So then, why do I say that Forrest has, in fact been back to West Yellowstone and Yellowstone after 1950? Where is my evidence?

I will share a few pieces of evidence that I have with you.

First is the construction of the Dude Motel in West Yellowstone.

Forrest, his brother Skippy and friend and brother-in-law Donnie Joe built the Dude Motel which is still on Boundary Street in West Yellowstone. They also built a tavern behind the motel, but the tavern is no longer there. Forrest wrote a story in his book,  Too Far To Walk, about building the motel. I don’t believe he mentions the year it was built in his story which appears in Chapter 19 of the book. But Forrest answered an email from a searcher in 2011 and we published the relevant part of that email here on the blog. In that email Forrest states that they built the motel in about 1962.

Second is Crayton’s recollection from somewhat later.
Crayton is Forrest’s nephew. Remember that Forrest’s mom and dad ran a motor-court called Fennhaven Cabins in West Yellowstone in the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s. When they sold the motor-court they bought an airstream and still spent their summers up there. Crayton has vivid memories of Forrest and family spending time in West Yellowstone in the summers to visit his mom and dad and do a little fishing and relaxing. Crayton’s best memories of those visits are from around the end of the 60’s to the early 70’s.

Third is a photo Forrest showed me in August of 2011.
I can’t show it too you because I don’t have it. I was visiting Forrest in Santa Fe and we were sitting on his back porch sipping cold drinks and looking at some photos from his collection. One he showed me and talked about was taken just a couple years earlier. It was of Forrest and Peggy and another couple standing at Forrest’s favorite bathing hole, Ojo Caliente, on the Firehole River. The photo was taken from the bridge that crosses the river and looking down at the folks as they posed for the pic. Forrest and Peggy in the photo looked exactly as they did in real life on that day. Because of their age in the photo it could not have been more than a few years old.

So, why did Forrest say that he had not been back to Yellowstone since 1950?

I don’t think that’s what he said. I think that’s what we heard him say…which is often the case. It’s my opinion that listeners sometimes have different interpretations of what Forrest meant than what he intended. I think this is one of those cases…

I think the words Forrest spoke are clear-

“…I spent 19 of my first 20 summers, three months, in Yellowstone or West Yellowstone but the last time I was up there was 1950.”

But Forrest is not referring to the actual last time he was up there…He is referring to the last time he was up there for an entire summer (three months).

And that is probably an honest fact…

From 1950 to 1970 he was in the Air Force and never had three months off in a summer. After 1970 his life just continued to be busy and he never took three months off again to spend in Yellowstone…

Most people can say the same thing. Few of us…after high school…except teachers, retirees and some college students…ever had three months off in the summer to go play…

So, in my opinion and based on the info stated above (and more)…Forrest just meant to say something that he didn’t. He had one phrase in mind and he spoke another. The interviewer didn’t know enough about the situation to follow-up on it.

But, if you don’t want to waste your time searching around Yellowstone…no problem. There are plenty of great places to waste time looking at the splendid beauty of the countryside…eagles, osprey, buffalo, bear, trout, ants, beaver, otter….

-dal

 

 

 

 

 

The Madison River…

POSTED APRIL 2018
BY CYNTHIA

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

On MW Forrest said: ” Stop arm chairing that thing to death and get out there in the trees where the box is, but before you go, look at the poem as if it were a map, because it is, and like any other map, it will show you where to go if you follow its directions.” Yep, I feel like I’m not following the directions… at least not yet. I needed to drive upstream towards Hebgen…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CLICK HERE

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

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

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

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

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

CLICK HERE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I am fortunate… I just had many!

Cynthia

April 2018

About Lat/Lon…

SUBMITTED February 2018
by Diggin Gypsy

 

 

So this was another one of my searches last year the poem and numbers. They matched up to this spot . Forrest said if we have the coordinates we could walk right to it lol so y’all know me. I see things. Maybe my imagination is over-cooked. Who knows? It’s a lot of fun. The first number-

So that took me to West Yellowstone  so I had to find another number to go with it   Hmmmmm I had found several over the years but I had to have the right amount for a coordinate. I didn’t pick numbers to match my spot they just automatically matched  in a place I have searched many times. Here is the second set.

This was the perfect spot for the treasure  so we got down on the ground and raked around. Bu nothing! I have to say this was the best thrill of all my searches. if I would have hidden that treasure it would have been there in that perfect location.

What are the odds that the numbers take me to a location many of us search?    Maybe the numbers are just a hint. Who knows?  I searched that whole area without luck. Maybe it’s someone else’s turn and they will get lucky.  Happy trails y’all.

 

Diggin Gypsy-

 

 

My Solution…

 

SUBMITTED JANUARY 2018
by NEARINDIANAJONES

 

Forrest has stated everything in the poem is deliberate and placed there for a reason.  Along with the words of the poem, the commas, semi colon, and the apostrophes’ all play their part to unlock the poem.

Forrest also said all you need is the book, poem, Google Earth, and a good map, a good map is an understatement, it must be the right map.  Forrest served in the military, the military uses topographical (topo) maps, because they show greater detail and information about a given area.  However, it is not just the type, but what edition to use as well. Forrest tells us he got cancer in 1988, and during this time, he began his plans for the chase.  The right map to use for the chase is the USGS topographical map edition of 1988.  The reason for this edition is it contains information that later editions change or do not show.

What is so important about using topo maps is elevation.  Forrest has told us the treasure is between 5000ft and 10,00ft, the places on the map we are looking for to correspond with the poem’s clues are altitude markers.  My War For Me, notice how Forrest mentions his altitude frequently during the story, what makes the 1988 edition so important over the other editions, is how the altitude markers are hand written, and marked with an X, verses no X and block printed in later editions.

“Begin it where warm waters halt”, is the starting point to identify the first altitude X marker.  Forrest has made statements that have confused people to which stanza has the first clues.  This is because the first stanza contains the first two clues given by the poem, but the second stanza is the starting point for the first X on the map and the poems path that gives the answers to the two clues in the first stanza. The drawing associated with the story, Teachers with ropes, is the hint instructing what to do, connect the dots. The drawing shows the teacher with her hand up to halt the car and she and the six students connected by the rope.  Forrest said, looking for the blaze first is a waste of time, because solving the clues shows the blaze, and when you recognize the blaze, you will know how to find the chest’s location.

The little girl from India hint, Forrest said she could not get any closer than the first two clues, and if you do not know the first clue, to just stay home and play Canasta.  The first stanza contains the first two clues, and it is not until you identify the other seven clues will you know what the first two clues are.  The first two clues are the blaze, and the chest location. That is why, the little girl from India, cannot get any closer than the first two clues, because if she has solved the first two, it is because she has also solved the other seven.

“Begin it where warm waters halt and take it in the canyon down,” three locations: Gallatin National Forest, Lee Metcalf Wilderness, multiple lakes that flow down Beaver Creek, and end in Earthquake Lake.  Down from where the waters converge, is a waterfall, and near that is the first altitude X marker, or number 1, altitude X marker 6901AT.  It is important to note, the altitude markers have an X drawn on the map with them, and the only letter not used in the poem is X.  We are looking for “treasures bold”, and treasures are the X’s printed on a map.

“Not far, but too far to walk.” From the first X, look for the next X following the water down, the comma tells us it is not far, and associated with walk.  Also following the canyon down from the waterfall, is a walking trail, “too far to walk.” follow it to our next altitude marker 6907T, NFBTFTW, is seven words, and where the trail and road meet is the X.

“Put in below the home of Brown.” Near the second marker 6907T, there is an old Ranger cabin. A cabin is a home brown in color, and we are looking to put in below for the capital B.  Below the cabin, and put in below Boat Mountain, we have altitude marker 6818T.  If you look closely at the map, you will see that the hand written number 8 next to the T looks like a capital B.  Tea with Olga here our black X’s have merged with red crosses or t’s, and the red crosses are called Found Corners, they now mark the altitude.  Also from Teachers with ropes the phrase “do not touch” is in red, connect the dots with red lines.

“From there it’s no place for the meek,” the apostrophe in “it’s” means two are tied together, from there to here, follow the red line to Ghost village, “no place for the meek,”, and to next red cross altitude marker, 6404T or 640for t-he meek.

“The end is ever drawing nigh;” Going left from here, following the red line, we arrive at our next altitude marker, this marker has an arrow “drawing” or pointing to it, marker 6398T.   The semi colon means this point and the next point perform same action nigh.

“There’ll be no paddle up your creek,” From the current point, there will be a red cross, and with “no” number, but the apostrophe tells us to go two red crosses up your creek.  Continuing nigh, take a diagonal line from 6398T through one unnumbered red cross and stopping at the second red cross.  “Just heavy loads and water high” is Boat Mountain, and “Just” means to adjust to center altitude X marker, 9019AT near the red cross.

“If you’ve been wise and found the blaze, “ If you were “Wise”, then you are now X, and with Found Corners found the blaze.  X’s and found corners tied together. “Look quickly down, your quest to cease,” follow the red line down to the last of our 7 points, 6547T.  Now, connect all the points to see the blaze.

In addition, notice next to this point, is a gauging station for the Madison River, but on the map, it is misspelled gage.  The definition of gage: a valued object deposited as a guarantee of good faith. Sounds like an I.O.U.

The blaze is a cursive capital f!  But we are not finished yet, back to the first stanza, and to find the chest.

“As I have gone alone in there and with my treasures bold, I can keep my secret where, and hint of riches new and old.” “As I” is f, and you find his blaze by finding the treasures and connecting the X’s.

“I can keep my secret where and hint of riches new and old.”  I keeps his secret where and hints of where to look. The I is the eye from Forrest autograph.

“But tarry scant with marvel gaze, just take the chest and go in peace.”

 The area we are now in, is Refuge Point, here is the sign at the entrance to the trailhead, see the picture of the man parachuting in, seem familiar?

Forrest says the chest is 10” by 10”, and this, along with the eye in his signature, tells us altitude X marker 6610T is the spot.  However, we must adjust, “Just take the chest, altitude X marker 6610T, and go in peace.” Below X marker 6610T, there is a grove (leave my trove) of trees in the form of a cross (peace), which can be seen in Google earth.

Center tree of the cross, a good place to sit and think in the wood.

All of this is simply my opinion.

By NearIndianaJones-