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.

Major Players Search in Yellowstone for Forrest Fenn’s Chest

Words out that some well known members of the chase will be crossing paths in Yellowstone Park.  Most these hunters are tight lipped but some are giving small bits of info, mostly the areas where they’ve been and now have ruled out.  Don’t blame them for keeping quiet especially with a large pack of would be treasure finding dogs of the chase nearby.  Must be exciting driving to the next good guess but the traffic this time a year could slow the pack down.  Hope to hear comments from anyone who cared to check out the blaze in the wood.  If you are new to this site make sure you read where I feel the treasure was and look at the many photos showing the way.

Who’s a major player one may ask.  Those who are favored by Fenn.  Seems some get a little more attention than others.  Communication with the treasure king himself.  Who of those lucky few stopped looking in April after a visit to Yellowstone? Theres a few looking for you. Fenn thinks whoever finds the treasure will not be able to keep it secret but can Fenn keep the secret.  Fenn let the dogs out time to let them in.

Forrest Fenn and Treasure: End is Drawing Ever Near

The end is here today as this will be the last blog post from Capt Pappy on Fenn’s treasure.

Poker is a game of luck and without it your money soon becomes your opponent’s chips.  Skill  on the other hand increases the pay off when Lady Luck plays along and keeps you from going home early.  The best players balance playing the odds with playing the player. The hand you hold is as good as the hand your challenger thinks it is.  Reading others at the table makes or breaks those trying to be a winner.

Did Forrest Fenn hide a treasure with special meaning or is he on a bluff? What are the tells?  His history, suggests many. One is the trickster.  Tricksters never show their cards unless it is to mislead or taunt other players.  They use the traits we all possess,  both good and bad, to their advantage.  They make great deals even with poor cards.  They bluff, sand bag, over bet, under bet, pass, call and raise all while reading everyone at the table.  Fenn is said to be a master of promotion.  Is His treasure part of something being promoted?

If he did hide the treasure what does it promote?  The book about his life sold out with sales soaring. Fenn says he does not “profit” from the sales.  Money isn’t  everything and with death looking him in the eye money loses its appeal.  Behavioral psychology studies human behavior, yet science plays catch up to seasoned poke champs.  They have models for why we do what we do. They think man does what he does to gain a positive reward or avoid a negative one.

Historically we see a pattern; first money, then power and at the end philanthropy.  Most people won’t get to a level were they can play in such a high stakes game and for the majority just having something to leave their kids is enough.  Those with more than enough look to leaving a legacy, a mark in history– a treasure perhaps.

Fenn’s left hand knows what his right hand is doing. He is making his move public and he worked hard to get on the national news scene.   That isn’t easy and those who know how it’s done know it’s not done cheap.  The treasure is not central to Fenn’s plan what is important is his memoirs.  His history.  We all want to know we “done good.”   This is his statement to the world:  “I done good.”

Fenn’s father was a principal in Lubbock, TX.  Education was likely important to his father. In Fenn’s latest book Fenn’s lament leaks out for him not having more formal education is bothersome.  He is wrong to believe the only good schools exist behind ivy covered walls.  Fenn is educated far beyond the norm.  Just the same its there and so it maybe the motivator to the chase a chance to be part of the history he missed in one of those jail cells keeping him from being in the game called the classroom.

With this in mind, now consider  the following.   Who would go out and make an impression inside a hollow at the bottom of a cottonwood tree about 8  1/2″ by 8 1/2″ with something heavy enough to imprint the soil to about 3″  deep?  Who would go all the way to Yellowstone stop and walk into a valley of bison, wolves and bear then cross two streams in hopes to find a hollow at the bottom of a cottonwood just to leave an imprint?  What are the odds of that?  What are the chances of someone following their interpretation of  a treasure poem being led to that very tree and finding the impression “in the wood”?  What are the odds the three would be just down from Gary Brown’s home not too far from Mammoth Hot Springs and Soda Butte?  What are the chances that the river the tree is on would be famous for fly fishing and where Forrest made money as a fishing guide?  Millions to one by now but there’s more much more.

So here we are at the table. Fenn bets with a treasure and I call with my money, time and effort. He walks.  Is he afraid he will give away his hiding place?  Let’s follow out that possibility and see were it leads.  I get a message saying no it was not hidden there but good try.  So what’s the give away? Anyone?  This is why a friend says he can’t tell me. How slow does he hope we are?

Fenn, I call! Are you bluffing or is the treasure gone?  You said it was there in April it’s nearly June.  Rules of poker say put up or dealer passes the pot.  Its okay to let the public know what is the status on the treasure.  You just might need to do it again…  maybe much less bounty and a poem with more general clues.  For me I have to walk now.  Fool me once shame on you fool me twice shame on me.

There are as many realities as people and in mine the treasure is real and it has been found.  The chase ended in April and one or more of the “within 500 footers” are in the gold.

To the hunters everywhere,  and to those who have come here,  good luck may the next rainbow land in your front yard.

The end is ever drawing nigh but I am on to the next  Great Chase.

Path to Forrest Fenn’s Treasure the Easy Way

Start at the northeast gate of the Yellowstone National Park (YNP).  Any gate will do but from the gate get to US 212.  US 212 runs a long the north part of YNP in a east west direction. From the northeast gate go past Soda Butte down the canyon to the Lamar Ranger Research Station and stop at the small turn-out on the south side  of US 212 about a half mile from the station.  For others coming from a different gate get the free YNP map and find the Lamar Ranger Research Station on Us 212.  Park at the turn-out  and being careful of the animals (read the rules about maintaining distances to the different animals) walk towards the grove of cottonwoods to the south and slightly east of the turn-out.  Walking sticks come in handy as you cross water twice.  I never got my shoes wet. When you arrive at the trees look west to the tree in the middle it splits into two trunks.  Look at the bottom and find the hollow.

Fenn’s in the wood

The 5th verse says if you are “in the wood.” The three references to the wood are: the three woods in the valley below Brown, the wood being the last set of trees before the canyon, and “in the wood” as the hollowed out tree that is the furthest down stream.  The triple references to “look down quickly” come when you look down at the tree, then down inside the tree that is down from the others.  And, then you are looking in the hollow where Fenn placed the treasure!

And so you may ask why am I giving away the treasure’s location?  To paraphrase what Fenn said, “been there, done that.”

Part two of the poem’s meaning and treasure’s location

The place to “begin it” is not far from the northeast gate of YNP.  Capt. Kidd hung out on Gardener Island but if he were in Gardener he could go into YNP any day of the year.  Those who have read Fenn’s book will know about his “Captain Kidd” dream.  Silver Gate is near Warm Springs and close to Soda Butte.  The sign at Soda Butte describes how Soda Butte was once prolific but now has all but stopped– “Where warm waters halt.”  On the first page I pointed out that each clue has three references.  Here are the three for the starting point:  Mammoth Hot Springs, Warm Springs and Soda Butte.  Soda Butte is “far but too far to walk ” from the home of Brown (the Lamar Ranger Station.)  Next time I will reveal the “blaze.”