Scouting ahead of the chase for Forrest Finn’s treasure; ten days in the Yellowstone

English: Lamar River, Yellowstone National Par...
English: Lamar River, Yellowstone National Park, 1968 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

August will find the Dogs of the chase searching the Yellowstone The biggest pack to date will travel in three groups.  Each pack will search the most promising areas provided by previous exploration and interpretation of Forrest’s poem.  Readers are invited to contribute.  Learn from each other and check out new ideas.  If you can’t be looking yourself we could look for you and report here what we find.  Comments are welcome as are any questions.

Capt Pappy’s scouting report:

Day 1     Forrest’s last clue “it’s not in Utah or Idaho” narrows down where the home of  Brown could be referring.  Lamar Valley is still in play (read earlier blogs) but the Browns in Idaho are eliminated.  This leaves the Brown on the north side of the  park.  Uncle Joe Brown a prospector who has a forest, a trail and a boat put in/take out named after him.  The Joe Brown turn out is located on Hwy 89 12.7 miles north of Gardiner Montana.  The Yellowstone River runs along Hwy 89 and  boaters are warned not to go past Joe Brown unless experienced river guides.  The area known as Yankee Jim Canyon is filled with heavy loads and water high.  A  Park Ranger told me Joe Brown’s home was in the Yankee Jim Canyon.  Joe Brown found gold in Bear Gulch in the 1890’s.  He later married and built a home  in Gardiner.    The exact location is a mystery as he moved around from Cooke to Cinnabar.

Yankee Jim Canyon, Yellowstone River, Park Cou...
Yankee Jim Canyon, Yellowstone River, Park County, Montana (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Day 2   Today we scout the west side of  the Yellowstone River between    Corwin Springs Bridge and Tom Miner Bridge.  The road on the                     westside can get muddy and impassable.  Weather is a factor                   here. I headed for the woods just upstream from the put in across           from Joe Brown Trail, 12.7 miles north of Gardiner on Hwy 89.                      Three acres of cottonwoods, grass and wildflowers surround an open field perfect for a Gypsy Wagon Train Carnival.  Lots of trees to look over. Above the woods were rock grevases from which the river and valley can be seen.  From here one could watch the fly fishing boats and spy the mountain for wildlife.  Someone enjoyed a six pack of Schlitz Beer from this site.  These cans had been around for a long time. Made me think of having a sandwich and a flashlight.  This area is public surrounded by private property.  Fishing is done by boat mostly and not many people stop in this spot.  Along the river’s edge be careful of the ants, if you tarry too long they come out and swarm up your legs.  The waterline is interesting and many places to look for the chest.  The Devils Slide is nearby and it seems like it should be included in the poem but I can’t find a fit.    Ok, time to get cleaned up and then dinner overlooking the Yellowstone River.  My favorite place to have an elk burger is just over the bridge in Gardiner on the back porch of the local tavern. The name of the place is Iron Horse Bar and Grill.

Photo taken in the Yellowstone area.
Photo taken in the Yellowstone area. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Day 3  Today we went up the Joe  Brown trail .  The idea was to check       aspens and cottonwoods (blazes) along the way as we climb to the       forest named for Uncle Joe Brown.  I should have rule this out after my desk clerk at Jim Bridges  commented on the steepness of the trail. The view was awesome and after the first half mile we are greeted by a clear cold stream.

Following the stream up were many stands of cottonwoods. I kept going up the stream tempted by the blaze and walked another mile or so.  Then reality came back and I knew Forrest didn’t get this far at his age and condition.  I decided to continue to the ridge and was rewarded with a view of the Joe Brown Forest I will never forget.  The hike down and back to the car convinced me the treasure is not on that trail.

The next move was to explore the Old Yellowstone Trail further north from the clearing I had scouted out on day two.  Driving is easy on this road which at times uses the old railroad-track-bed.  Three trails are here all going through what was the only way from the north to get to the Roosevelt Gate of the Yellowstone Park.  At a midpoint between Cinnabar and Tom Miner Creek is a day picnic area and historic site.  The Tom Miner camp is close to Tom’s pay station.  Mr. Miner charge  $2.50 to get to Cinnabar and the Yellowstone.  He in return manage the only road going through the canyon.  The old signs could be a blaze as the trail itself.  Lots of nooks and crannies to explore here.  Great views from the rocks and lots of shade from the many pines.  Few if any cottonwoods.  A large party of hikers came by made up of a few young children and ten or so young men.  All were dressed in od  green fatigues.  We greeted each other as they past and then they disappeared into the pines.  Later I was told the military had done extensive games in that area.  My guess is this group like the area so much they came back with their kids to do      some hiking.  Further south of this spot  you can find all three trails.  That being the old road Miner kept up, the railroad and the path the natives used.  If you are wise and found the blaze came to mind.  Could the wise refer to the oldest trail or highest trail?  Close by is another blaze an old sign painted on a rock marking a gift shop.  This stop is probably close to a hundred years old.  Again some good places to look just below this sign and above the trails.

Joe Brown and Miss Guatemala Universe
Joe Brown and Miss Guatemala Universe (Photo credit: R Dalton Coffee)

Wow! This Joe Brown guy really gets around.  Too Bad the Rocky Mountains we are looking for are north of Santa Fe.

Time for R and R then tomorrow to Tom Miner Creek after a look around the boat put ins on the east side of the river.  Please comment and as the saying goes I showed you mine so lets see some of yours.

Day 4   Today we headed down to Joe Brown crossed Hwy 89 and look along the bank.  I ruled this area out.  Just not private enough.  The next stop is Tom Miner camp site.  After crossing the Tom Miner bridge its about 9 miles west and up the creek.  We were back in national park land as we started up the trail at the end of the camp site.  I thought I hit the jack pot.  After just a few minutes I was surrounded by trees with blazes.  I thought any time now I’ll see a blaze Forrest may have left 60 years ago.  This is one of the few places that isn’t overrun by the tourist.  The bad news is I felt like I was late for the party as no blaze was unchecked.  When I walked to the creek, the mud slides had me hoping the chest wasn’t on the creek.  If it were there it could be washed away or buried.  I couldn’t help but think this area is too far from the home of Brown.  This is still a great place to look if just for the beauty.  The fields were full of color giving way to an easy ascent under mostly pine mixed with cottonwoods.  Lots of bears in the area the big Brown type of bears.  Heading back to camp I decided to check with the property owner where Tom Miner Creek runs into the Yellowstone River.  He was very helpful.  He says he knows it is not on his land.  He also told me the Army had been in the area in large numbers along the Old Yellowstone Trail.  Going back to Corwin Springs by way of the Old Trail brought me back to camp were the sunset will find me soaking my feet in the hot spring.  While sitting at the hot spring a blaze shines nearby.  West, down Yellowstone River,  about a half mile the golden tower of light reflects in the yellow huge.  How can the Devils Slide and The Tower of Light fit in the poem if only it would come to me my quest would cease.

Yellowstone (Photo credit: 21708aud)

Lots of info to go as I checkout Jardine, Bear Gulch, Cinnabar,  the graveyard outside of Gardiner, a visit to Cody, checking out Gardiner River  and a revisit of Lamar Valley.

Listen all and listen good 8,000 visitors and 44 comments.  Seems that the goal of this blog is losing out.  It is to share ideas on the chase.  Here nothing is suppressed unless inappropriate.  No insiders here.  Finn doesn’t have any connection and nothing owed.  I have been told to fade away but I got no quite.  However it may be time to move on.  I will chase this and other treasures to be sure but I will leave to the sites that are getting  a good number of comments for their efforts.  One such site is Dal’s he is a very good writer he has a good following.  Return soon see what day 5 has and please comment you might just have the answer.

Day 5  We head to Jardine today but before I tell you about that,  I have been asked who is this team I refer to and who is with me presently.  Billy Bobs White Shoe is my partner’s full name.  He is my sidekick who has endured many a trip.  Never complains even when we walked in the snow.  Glad he only weighs 8 lbs when I carry him across the creeks but he’s no help with the bears. The others number as many as 8 and they join in as time allows.  Nothing official just others who have wanted to enter the chase.  One teammate is the head of G Dog Productions maybe thats why I refer to this loose group as Dogs of The Chase.  Anyone is welcome to join in by setting up a time to meet or by sharing what they think on this blog.  If you read the early entries you’ll find that I think the treasure may  already have been found.  This has upset some people so much that they ignore everything I have offered and wish I would go away.  They seem like you just told them there is no Easter Bunny.  I love the chase. I have been prospecting for at least 20 years.  Big difference between slim and none, a chance or no chance.  I don’t want to pretend there is a chest out there just to get along especially if its a hoax.  So no one said It was were I think  and no one says it was not there.  I was there and the Chest was not and Fenn after receiving a complete picture history of the trail and place of the Immaculate Impression just didn’t have the courtesy to comment.  Dal says it would give me a clue, but I already know its not there so the only clue is if it was not there.  In other words I just got blown off.  So instead of quitting I will do my best to leave no stone uncovered.

Water gate above bear gulch
Water gate above bear gulch

On the way up to Jardine I stopped here and looked at the climb to get to the Yellowstone River as you can see in the next picture it would be too much for most 78 year olds.

The Hot Springs are in the background
The Hot Springs are in the background to checkout where the creek meets the river I need to find away to drive closer.  Now that is very interesting and it is on my list.  Does anyone know if Fenn is Mormon?  I may save this trip for the Dogs.

Jardine is an old gold town.  People still live there and they have a lot of no trespassing signs around.  I enjoyed the view the outstanding area but it is not down from a warm water anything.  Joe Brown was here no doubt but he is everywhere.  Uncle Joe was at the ranch fishing when the ranch was burned by the natives he was also found gold at Bear Gulch and then again up in Jardine.  Joe hung out in Cinnabar and made trips to Cooke City.  If you really look close I believe Joe lived around Cinnabar and just may have had an ellias.  From here I went north of Tom Miner Bridge.  I checked on  the Yellowstone River below a boat put in/take out just down from the bridge.  There is an island with lots of cottonwoods not to far.  No heavy loads,  just past the rough waters of  Yankee Jim Canyon.  This will take a full day so I made my way back driving on the Old Yellowstone Trail stopping off where the a sign was painted on the rock.  I spent the next few hours checking out this area.  Great place to hide yourself or a chest.

If you are looking for the treasure the treasure is safe.  If you know where it is  there’s nothing to look for.  Those who have chased know its true, even being close won’t do.  Lets hear from those who are home from searching we all would benefit and it would be all  the more exciting.  Day 6 we go across the Yellowstone River and check out the island like the one Capt. Kidd hide his chest on.

Day 6  Today  we crossed Tom Miner Bridge then headed north for about three miles.  There is a boat take out there and a trail along the river which Bill and I took south for a half mile.   We headed across the river ( cold ) to the island.  It was about the size of a football field with lots of willows and some cottonwoods.  We searched for several hours looking around all the trees and stopping to watch the boats go by.  On the way back i rested at a bench placed there in memory of the man who donated the boat landing.  He was an avid fly fisherman.  I wondered, did Forrest fished here?  Maybe sat on this bench and thought about the place he might choose to rest.  Later I checked  the boat put in/take out below Tom Miners Bridge.  Took the rest of the day studying the web and reading a book I bought in Gardiner.  The book covers the history of the area from Gardiner to Livingston mile by mile.  I also read other websites hoping those who have been in the same area were sharing but all are quite so I took a ride to the graveyard outside Gardiner too have a look around.  To get there I drove by the school and a Yellowstone Research Center.  The words if you’ve been wise and found the blaze came to me but the blaze is still safe.   Still no comments so I grow weary and so I won’t tarry.  I will keep the rest to myself until someone gives a little of their own insight.  Happy hunting

Day  7  Today I headed back to the Yellowstone past Lamar Valley and the Ranger station then stopped in Cooke City.   Joe Brown lived up in Cooke City while he searched for gold.  One hunter commented  that Uncle Joe had a claim in the Yellowstone area.  What a great clue to share with the rest of the pack.  From Cooke City I went on to Cody by way of the Chief Joesph Highway.  I hope to paint the canyon where bright red clay meets vivid green grass.  Cody is Forrest’s gateway  to the Yellowstone.  He is connected to the Wild Bill Cody Center which was well worth visiting.  This trip kept reminding me of the first trip to Yellowstone.  Gary Brown  was easy to find but Uncle Joe is everywhere.  Maybe a live rodeo tonight.  There is one every night in Cody.  Day 8 coming tomorrow.  Stay tuned in, as I have info from Colorado, of treasures new and old.  Keep up the comments as the latest ones were refreshing and exciting.

English: Map of the Yellowstone River watershe...
English: Map of the Yellowstone River watershed in Wyoming, Montana and North Dakota in the north-central USA, that drains to the Missouri River (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Day 8  Drove back to The Park.  Stopped in Mammoth  Hot Springs.  I hiked  a few trails.   Here man feels small to the power of Mother Nature.   These hikes are rewards  in themselves.  I will leave most of YNP from Mammoth Hot Springs to Bear Gulch for others.

Headed back to Gardiner where I talked to leatherman.  He was in front of one of the cafes.  The elderly man had a lot of cowboy in him.  He was older but strong.  He wore all leather apparel, hat, vest, pants, belt shoes and coat.  I sat down and we talk  for awhile.  This wonderful gentleman and his wife  road the Yellowstone National Park for years as they help with reach of the animals.  A great cowboy artist who played college football and rode the range,   He didn’t know about the treasure but he knows the Yellowstone.  He told of the Old Yellowstone Trail and how the railroad used it to build a track to the Roosevelt Gate.

We left Gardiner on the Old Yellowstone Trail and took it in the canyon down not too far to Cinnabar.  We put in at a trailhead just north of the old town.  we walked down a stream found a National Forest Blaze looked quickly down.  Worked down to the river and I could look across to an area that is on the only website in the area.  Now that is a place on the list.

Day 9  Woke up in Corwin Springs got washed up and had coffee with the neighboring campers.  This is a nice place to camp and the showers are very clean.   $20 a night is not too much when the hot spring is thrown in plus God’s awesome beauty in valley.  I decided to check out the boat put in over the Corwin Springs Bridge.  To my surprise a bus filled with people pulled up.  It seems one of the tour boat companies  uses this point to launch from.  I drifted back about the trees.  I never saw a blaze but the waterline had many areas that looked good.

Note to readers: Various difficulties have forced me to write days after the fact.  I got to places where I had no connection to the internet.  I traveled 1,100 miles to Minnesota and then 1,200 to  Pagosa Springs Colorado.  I am writing from Boise, Id.  The 10 days has been over nearly a month but I have more info coming and an expert on trappers and miners in the Yellowstone area.  Day 10 will review best spots  and last looks.  Then Treasure Falls becomes suspect.

Day 10  Last look.  Went to Tom Miner Creek had a look but I couldn’t  walk in the mudslide area.  This area is a good possibility but the chest could very well be buried if it were here.  Checked out the trail to the bridge over Bear Gulch and took last look on the Old Yellowstone Trail just north of Cinnabar.  Cinnabar is no more than an open area now days but at its outer boundary a stream is a good place to look.  The last drive in the Yellowstone  had me thinking it is not private enough for Fenn’s plans.

Today Show Ever Near Could be the End

May 3rd Fenn gave his monthly clue to his treasure and April 18th or so he said to the best of his knowledge the treasure is still there.  June 5th and what will Forrest have to say? Don’t hold me to the aforementioned dates as I may be off a day or two.  My first question  is it out there given the chance to ask and how do you know, is question number two.  The new clue is useless if the  treasures found.

I responded to two  different treasure hunters in the Yellowstone Park.  My reply to their blog or comments give exact directions to what I think is the treasures hiding place.  When I was searching the  YNP I checked my computer daily for new clues.  Had anyone offered a place to look  I would have check it out.  This area is a short easy hike not more than 30 miles from where they reported looking.  It is the best place to see the animals, excellent fly fishing, beautiful scenery the Lamar Valley is a must see if your in the YNP.   No comments from these hunters,  They have a lot of good info and are active on but nothing coming out of YNP as of today.  I hope the troll didn’t get them.

Come on you would be millionaires let us come together demanding in ever growing numbers one ear shattering voice “What’s UP.”  Let the truth prevail.  Get the flash light and make a sandwich.  This time,  just once let the little guy get to the bottom of it all.  We all need something.  Fenn needs a hidden treasure to help him sell his next book to you dogs of the chase, and I need a green chilli cheese burger. 

Bring your truth of treasure here for all to share perhaps together we can chase more than our tails.  Really everyone anyone spill what you know or think.  I won’t let anyone bite.  I approved everything so far to be open and fair and here any idea gets respect for the effort.

Happy Hunting

What I found in the wood as I went in there alone

That morning I awoke my mind still racing with images promising a chest of gold.  My 64 year old body was striking back, legs cramping, feet burning and fatigue from the hours spent crossing the river, wading in snow, and climbing under and over fallen trees, convincing  me no 79 year old would do the same.  There in Lamar Canyon home to an invisible bear with rather large feet and what appeared to be a grass diet avoided my double barreled pepper spray gun as I tried lining up a blaze in the canyon wall with some very inviting caves, tree falls and rock formations, when it struck me Fenn   Image

wasn’t there.

Ok time to get real or go home.  Two weeks and two trips in that time I know I’m close but no cigar as they say.  Then I remembered what Fenn wrote about the person who will find his treasure.  To paraphrase he will analyze  the poem over and over then go with confidence to get the chest.  Last chance I say to myself as I was going back to the car.  After this,  just the long drive home through Montana then Wyoming, Denver Colorado and finally passing by Sante Fe.   Just, just, just oh, just water high and heavy loads, just the long drive home just not the place to be looking.  Now  like my athletic days it is game face time, confidence in my interpretation of the poem and with one mindedness, Its make or break it a last chance effort.  This in mind I head for the starting point, Soda Butte.


First stop Silver where a store has just opened.  I’m thinking coffee as I walk in and see an attractive lady at the counter. I tell her about the rangers  in Bear Canyon.  She says there are bears there and news travels fast in the Yellowstone.  Photographers come running to catch a bear on film and there must be ten or more just down the road as they snap shots of a female wolf filling up on an elk carcass just off the road.  I think to myself how lucky I am not to run into the Lamar Canyon wolf pack.  Hopefully Blaze’s offspring will stay higher up in  the canyon with the snow where elk and bear prefer to be this Easter Day.   I will walk past buffalo and chance a wolf pack but a bear, well a bear in spring time is not an animal I want to see anywhere I intend to go.   I stop one more time at Soda Butte to read the sign and resolve to find the treasure at the end of  the kind of walk Fenn could make when it was time to end his life and join his treasure chest of memories.  The next stop “the home of Brown.”


Here at Gary Brown’s old home I watch as a man about my own age makes and consumes a sandwich. I think here is a treasure hunter eyeing the valley a mirror image of myself  but he was leaving and I would soon be asking if that satisfied look on his face as he consumed lunch was in response to Fenn’s  suggestion to take a sandwich and a flash light.   I noted his Montana license plate before concentrating on the poem and following the exact directions.  Put in below, simple go down the road and put in below.  Ok, no matter what, I am putting in at the first turn out period, no guessing just trust in the poem.  Then there on the left it sat asking me what took you so long.  I parked and  looking to the valley I see a blaze of cottonwoods separated by a large number of buffaloes and a couple of small cold side runs of the river I knew my quest was soon to end.  Walking was easy and crossing the small side creeks just took a hop to get across.  The only thing that could stop me now, a bear or two.  The trees in the area have little bark from the clawing of bears and elk horns. How could a blaze in the tree last with these over size vandals dissecting man’s intended historical symbols such as UU or FF or a long legged frog.  Stay with the poem get to the blaze avoid the herd and watch for bears.  Easy, too easy I find it hard to believe its right in front of me.  The fifteen hundred feet went quickly as I kept looking for the place reported to have had groups pass by just five hundred feet from those trees.  Then I remembered a group leaving from a bigger turn out another half mile from the one where I had put in at.  They had stopped at  the river crossing at about that same distance.  Did they come back after they heard they were so close or was the man at the ranger station having a victory lunch?   Before I finished my thoughts I was at  the cottonwoods.  I tried to fight off the feeling I had been there before but I  knew what was next.  It was too easy how could it have taken so long to find.   The snow kept it covered till spring when anyone could see the blaze, the hole at the bottom of the tree.


Now I hear Fenn saying look quickly down.  I found the blaze,  look down,  down to the last tree, down to that blaze in that tree.  Heart beating quickly my mind telling me its gone you know that its gone.  But I can’t know that I have never been  here still inside that dreamy sense instantly insuring me it is gone.  Still drawn like a magnet pulls iron my feet knowing where to go I watch as they take me to the tree.

13yp There it is and nothing else exist even time is stop.  One day on my friend’s clam in Idaho city as I studied the few gold flakes in my pan hunched over and squatting in the creek a black nose toughed mine startled,  I looked up to see Jim and his Labrador retriever.  Jim was laughing  he barely got his message out but his point  struck home ” your lucky he isn’t a bear.”  Bears, Wolves or angry lions had better get out of the way as nothing could stop me from meeting my  fate.  This was not a few flakes of gold this was the end of the chase.

Inside the tree the hollow was about a foot and a half lower than the ground and at the bottom in the peat was a perfect mold of a box  less than 10 by 10 inches and about 3 inches deep.  It was so perfect nothing in nature could leave such a print.  I couldn’t resist moving my hand through the sawdust.  It was cool and dry and fell apart easily.  I though a picture should be taken moments too late and I tried to remake the box shape back to what I first saw but it was impossible.  This print had taken time to form and now like the treasure its gone forever.  42 pounds inside of a small chest is something like a woman’s high heel the pressure on the ground bellow would be intense making as it did quite a dent add to that a couple of years to set and you would have a unique print.

Some will say it wasn’t there to begin with, others will think it fits the poem and Fenn’s life so well it must have been there. Only two people  can be sure, Fenn and the finder.  I have presented this for your own discernment.   I can’t get Fenn to answer so it will remain my own mystery.  Captpappy’s empty tree mystery.  Second place but first to disclose.  For those nay sayers  enjoy the chase that’s what is most important, as for me let me know if you want a partner to chase the next treasure.

My friend and writer asked me to leave this blog up until KUNM’s auction has ended but it will soon go away.  Till then enjoy and thanks to everyone who visited, it is great fun to see people from around the world come to read what Capt. Pappy had to say.

Part 3 The blaze just down from the home of Brown

Stop at the first turn-out past Lamar Ranger Research Station.  The turn out  is on the left side of Highway 212 about a half mile west or down stream.  Remember only verses 2, 4 and 6 are leading the reader to the treasure.  Verses 1,3 and 5 are true but they are only meant to distract the reader.  Verse 2 tells where to start and where to put in.

The “wise” may find the blaze.  A little history, as before, leads to the three references to the treasure’s location.  The famous Blaze of 1988 started in Quartz Creek about a half mile north of Lamar Ranger Station and later the blaze that threatened Cooke City crossed the Lamar River just up from the Lamar River Canyon.  A picture of where it crossed can be found on the internet.  National Geographic refers to the 1988 fire as “The Blaze” in the headline. The matriarch wolf of the pack living in the Lamar Canyon has a name and her name is Blaze.  She was shot a few years ago and is no longer living.  Looking from the car into the valley from the turn out you can see the blaze especially in September when the treasure was hidden by lonesome Forrest Fenn.  It is then that the valley is ablaze with cottonwoods as they turn color.

Forrest is a active member of the Wild Bill Cody Museum in Cody, Wyoming  just outside the Northeast Gate of YNP.  This is the way he would come to spend his summers away from his dreaded school life in Lubbock, Texas.  The museum has a black bow tie  ball in September.  Oh, by the by, Gary Brown is the founder of the Forest Ranger’s Museum.  Lots of history for an antiques dealer’s poem.

Find the blaze and “quickly look down.”  There are three groups of cottonwoods one south of Lamar Station and two more as you look down from there.  After that “just heavy loads and water high.”  Boulders the size of cars says a brochure on places to stop and look in the YNP but that is in verse 5  to mislead the reader.  A blaze or mark on a tree won’t last long because the bears claw the trees until the bark is almost completely torn away.  Thus “no place for the meek.”

The next part  will divulge the last verse’s clue “in the wood.”

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