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Letters to a Stranger - December 2016

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  • Letters to a Stranger - December 2016

    Sun 4 Dec 2016 10:13 PM

    Hi -------,

    Hope you're well. And I hope this is the right email address, cos I'm going to launch straight into it. Bear in mind, I'm going to try and tell the whole story, and like I've never told it before to anyone, all in one place and in order. It might take a few emails.

    I first started seriously looking at this weird treasure hunt phenomenon not long after I read in the news about Randy Bilyeu's death, in June this year. I found the poem online at the Old Sante Fe Trading Co website, and read a bit more about it, and Forrest, on Dal's website and elsewhere.

    One of the things I first intuited, rightly or wrongly and based on very little information, was that maybe the poem was cryptic in the vein of cryptic crossword puzzles [edit: my Grandfather was an expert and I wondered if Forrest was into them too]. I read up on how they work, and was soon focussing on the first and last words in each line, and anagramming like crazy. I found an anagram solver that I hold responsible for a lot of the trouble I have caused myself by becoming interested in this thing - - and not long after that I was "Begin"ing my decoding with "where warm waters halt".

    At that early stage I knew Forrest was an ex jet fighter pilot in the '50s and '60's, and he had mentioned standing nuclear alert duty with a nuke strapped under his plane. I've been very interested in aviation for a long time and that struck me as a huge deal - that method of delivery in such an intimate close up way via one man and his machine, being solely in charge of a weapon of mass destruction, that's a huge responsibility and no doubt one not delegated to just anyone. Anyway that aside, "warm waters" in my mind also immediately spoke to me about radiation and heavy water nuclear reactors. But it was the anagram solver that pointed out a partial anagram of that line in the poem "Begin it where warm waters halt", and that was "The Last War".

    Begin it where warm waters halt the last war, is how my mind translated that line. Wasn't it the Manhattan Project that invented the nuclear bomb? Was World War 2 "the last war" in Forrest's mind? Wasn't the Vietnam War termed a "police action"? Have we even had the last war? Is the last war the one where everyone is bombed or poisoned to death and there are no people left to fight wars any more? These are the thoughts I have had both initially and over the last several months of trying to solve this puzzle. The other nuclear connection I learned about at the time, was an idea of someone's, and I do need to find out who's it was, that the line "If you are brave and in the wood" sounds out all the letters but the last one, of the word Uranium. Forrest has also mentioned the word "special" quite a lot, and "special stores" is a euphemism for a nuclear device being carried by a military aircraft.

    So. Where was that Manhattan Project? I Googled it up, and Los Alamos sprang immediately into the frame. Not long after that and looking for "the canyon down", I had found the Quemazon Canyon. What does Quemazon mean? I Googled that up too, and found that it means "burning", and sometimes in a centrally personal and unfortunate way. In my mind, that connected me with the "blaze", and I was fixed on that as the start of the Chase for the duration. I had successfully decoded the first part of the poem!!! I thought, unaware of my deep naivety and committing of Sin Number 1 in the Chase - believing that you've got one single thing right, let alone all of it... I wasn't done with assuming I had the poem all figured out, not by a long shot. At that point I was ignoring the first stanza completely. I didn't see it as anything other than an introduction. The "home of Brown" was a Mr Brown living in Los Alamos, fairly close to the Quemazon Trail area. The continuation of the treasure hunt was at the trail head, not far from Mr Brown's, but why walk when you can drive?

    Still, even now I believe in my solve strongly up to this point. While I was actually in Los Alamos, there I was smacked in the face with the realisation that "not far, but too far to walk" could easily be a riddle for "Fairway Drive". Get it? It's a fair way - drive. [edit: Add to the mix, the streets named Short Drive and Long Drive…] Begin it where warm waters halt could easily be the "Agua Fria" road in Santa Fe, on the way out of town to Los Alamos. The three marbles in a triangle in Forrests book could easily be the Hanford Site in WA, Oak Ridge National Laboratory in TN, and Los Alamos National Laboratory in NM. All played parts inthe Manhattan Project.

    It's late, I better hit the hay. But what do you think? Do you want to hear the rest? Let me know if this email gets to you before I type up some more.

    Best regards

  • #2
    Mon 5/12/2016 11:29 PM
    Hi -------, never fear, I don't see "things" in Google Earth. Unless... I mean Valles Caldera, doesn't it look a bit like a giant bear paw print?! Never mind, it's not important.

    First, let me say, I want to rename my solve. It's now, The Atomic Solve. It's a more appropriate name, the reasons why will become clear in a later email.

    Ok, so that out of the way, let me tell you a bit about the buildup to my first trip. I was so sure I was onto something. I emailed Forrest, and told him I thought the chest was in a "graffitied niche in a burned canyon, curiously close to the birthplace of man's most fearful source of light". What I meant was, The Cave of the Winds, graffitied by kids, and I wondered out aloud in that email if I dare take a flight and see. But I never told him exactly where I thought was, at that point. It was a game to me, and I only hinted at where I was thinking. Actually I was so treasure-struck. I couldn't stop Googling stuff. I was telling a few close friends about the Chase, and how I thought I knew where it was. I sent that email on August 2nd, 7:35am NZST.

    Then, one day soon after that, I discovered the Mysterious Writings website. Oh boy. If there is one other website I hold responsible... I'm kidding, I'm fully responsible for my own state of mind. But I saw a post on there, and it made my heart lurch. On August 5th, the post was "Featured Question and Weekly Words from Forrest Fenn: Fly-by". I can't recall the exact date I saw it, it might have been the 6th, but on that date, I committed Sin Number 2: I believed Forrest was communicating with me through the blog. In it, he was telling me, the Cave of the Winds was too far. I should return to my last point of departure and rethink.

    But wait - I've jumped ahead. Why did I think it was in The Cave of the Winds? I first thought that the Cave was my blaze, my gash in the earth. The route there started with the next lines in the poem after the home of Brown. By that stage I was Googling and Google Earthing like mad. I found the Quemazon Trail Map, and contemplated what I thought came next from the Trail Head. From there it's no place for the meek, the end is ever drawing nigh; there'll be no paddle up your creek, just heavy loads and water high. Well the water high, was clearly the large water tanks there. The creek on Google Earth was clearly dry and full of rocks aka heavy loads. But no place for the meek, I divined a special meaning for that. Because there is a choice of trails to follow. The trail I chose was the Satch Cowan Trail, named after Helen 'Satch' Dunham Cowan, a Manhattan Project physical chemist who was a keen hiker and explorer of the outdoors. You can read about her here and there is a link to her obituary. To be perfectly honest, I now think that her part in the Chase is a bit tenuous. I thought Forrest might have known her, but now I'm not sure. The trail was finished in 2012 after her death. However [before that] it was still there to be found if a treasure hunter was keen enough. It's a wonderfully adventurous little trail, no place for the meek, and offers a great view back to the Omega Bridge.

    The Omega Bridge... In my solve, "your quest to cease" was the Omega Bridge. "Cease" is the end, the last letter in the Greek alphabet. The Omega Bridge still is, a central piece to my solve. But at the time, "If you've been wise and found the blaze" was the gully and dry waterfall immediately west of my waypoint. In my mind, the "blaze" is an outflow. Originally of bright red blood flowing from a cut. "Wise" is sage, which is there in that gully. What waypoint? The highest point, at the top of the Satch Cowan Trail, before it rejoins the main trail. "Drawing nigh" meant heading west. Head west from the point you can look "quickly" or directly down the canyon, and see "your quest to cease".

    So back to the MW post (my initials, by the way). Forrest was telling me the Cave of Winds was too far (like an idiot, I was sure the message was for me). How far west should I go then? Into the gully where the real blaze was, the waterfall. More importantly, what was I looking for? When I tell you that, you are going to laugh. It involves invoking a twist on, Jack Tar, the sailor's nickname, so called for handling tarry lines or ropes soaked in tar to make them waterproof. I turned that into "Tar Jack" or make that "car jack". And "tarry scant", I turned that into "carry stant" or make that "carry stand". I was going to need a car jack and to carry an axle stand. I was convinced, the treasure was hidden by a rock. Not just any rock, but a large one. A really large one, that could only be lifted by a car jack, held safely by the addition of an axle stand. I had decided that Forrest was going to entomb himself with his treasure. I was certain of it. And that was enough for me to book my first trip.

    More to follow! In the next installment.



    • #3
      Tue 6 Dec 2016 11:19 PM

      Hi -------, I'll answer your email backwards. The Omega Bridge is so named as it crosses Omega Road from Trinity Drive. The first nuclear reactor was at the Omega Site, the name for Tech Area 2 or TA-2, at the end of Omega Road. It was a research reactor, barely sustaining a chain reaction. Omega Bridge isn't on the trail map, it's a road bridge nearby to the east. It's a beautiful arched support bridge, a bit like a rainbow.

      I totally think Forrest takes fuel from emails for the Weekly Words. But at the time, I was treasure-hunt mad, and I honestly thought it was a message to me. I did say mad, as in, mildly insane... I actually thought that message was telling me a) head 5000 mils or 281 degrees (his 5000 MSL was conspicuously missing the apostrophe for feet and it was easy to switch MSL to mils) and b) travel the horizontal distance a bomb travels when dropped at 100ft above ground and at 110 knots. Or, 141 metres. So yep, mad. Madness. But that was after Day 1...

      Day zero, 12th August, was a flying nightmare. I flew into San Francisco with a connecting flight straight to Albuquerque, and I was due there by 9pm. Only, my flight ran late, and I had to redirect to LAX then ABQ, and it was nearly 1am when I collected my rental car - just in time before closing. I drove to the hostel that I had planned on staying cheap in Santa Fe, and at 2:15am the office was shut up tight. I slept in the car, if it could be called sleeping. Never mind, I was still excited.

      Day 1, 13th August, as soon as it was lightening, I stole a quick toilet stop from the communal facilities, then headed straight for the nearest auto parts store, and selected my searching companion, 12000 pound bottle Jack, and his little buddy Stan D. They were to travel with me wherever I went, stashed in my little backpack. Stopping again to get some water and a bite to eat, I headed up to Los Alamos, straight to the trail head, and started out onto the Satch Cowan Trail for my education in high altitude New Mexico hiking. I was huffing and dry mouthed in seconds, Jack and Stan at my back, but I was fit enough and pressed on. Reaching the canyon rim and heading westward, I knew I was 'ever drawing' nigh to a 'grander view' (anagram), and sure enough, there it was. But wait - a little further up, there was another one. And another! Finally, the trail left the rim and I was at the highest point, and I checked my bearings "directly down" to my "quest to cease", to the Omega Bridge. I wanted to check the local magnetic declination, to see if there were "heavy lodes" or large magnetites in the ground. Nothing too apparent, so I rested for a while sitting off the trail on a log in a tiny piece of shade. A man came into view on the trail, and looked at me curiously sitting there looking back at him, and for some reason he held his arms and walking pole out wide and said "Well I'm still here!" and smiled, and so did I. For some unknowable reason it felt a surreal moment. And then it passed by, and so did he.

      Ok, so. Sighting westward with my compass, I was looking for that trove, that fusilade of rocks I had seen on Google Earth. The landscape is that of a recovering forest fire, with black trees and fallen logs and eight foot bushes. Picking my way over and around the near obstacles, I headed down over the boulders, looking for my 'all to seek' which I divined as 'e lost lake'. There!! A little row of rocks carefully placed at the southern end of a little shallow basin marked the outflow of my lost lake. And at the top of it, a narrowing of the dry waterway marked a water feature size waterfall. Or so I imagined. Everything was fairly dry, and I was seeing only where water might flow in a rainy season. Even so, the ground was level and had a dampness. I surveyed around the area.

      And there was a large triangular rock! Somewhat stacked on top of another rock, and it had a weird little perfectly round hole in it, which had collected some rainwater. It looked worth of being jacked up. I peered underneath into a small crack, but couldn't see much. Maybe there was a cavity hidden behind the lower rock. I got to work. Carefully looking for purchase for Jack, and alternating with Stan to hold up my rock while I extended and adjusted Jack's reach. Guess what I found! Nada. Never mind, I couldn't expect to find it on the first try. I scraped away some stony sediment, and found rock. Working carefully, I put the rock back down. Just for fun, I lifted up another rock and dug out some sediment that I thought could have buried the chest. Sin Number 3! I was digging on public land!! and probably breaking some laws. Still I like to think I dug a nice little water feature. I do regret not leaving it exactly how I found it.

      I had an idea that something was wrong with my solve. But in hindsight it is much clearer what that something was. I could not find anything that could possibly be a tomb of any sort. It did not seem likely the immediate area had a cave or even crevices. The ground was rocks and dirt. Still I explored up and down the gully, looking for large flat rocks that stood out enough at a point to allow me to jack them up. At the southern most end at the top of the canyon rim, was what I imagined to be quite a large dry waterfall. Jack, Stan and I lifted the largest boulder yet. Underneath was more sediment and stones. No cavity for hiding a treasure. At this point I was severely dry - I had been working a lot harder than this email would lead you to believe. Under the hot sun, in that dry air, lifting those rocks, working the jack, carefully and fearfully placing the stand, it was hard work. I was out of water, it was about 2pm and I was brain dead so I packed up, and headed for McDonalds. Then off to Collected Works bookstore, where I bought copies of The Thrill of the Chase and Too Far To Walk. I hung around for a while - I had told Forrest I would be there at 4pm. I think I messed up timezones somehow. I might have been there at 3pm instead. Then finally back to the hostel to check in. The hostel was the pits. I checked into the Kings Rest Court Motel, a friendly place with a cheap and cheerful room. Time to rest, acclimatise, and read and rethink.

      I emailed Forrest and told him what I had been up to. I emailed him several times over the next few days, I bet he started deleting them at some point. If he ever saw them. There's no way of knowing. But I had a brainstorm in my motel room - I was suddenly certain that the treasure had been concealed under the last rock I lifted, but had become covered in sediment! I hadn't excavated that one fully at all. It had been 6 years after all, and the area was very flash flood prone since two forest fires. The underside of the rock at the top of the waterfall had rotted away due to hydraulic action of flowing water and covered the treasure in shaley sediment. The next day I should find it. Except that wasn't to be.

      Day 2, 14th August, I hiked back up and revisited that giant flat rock at the top of the waterfall. Lifted it carefully again, dug out underneath it thoroughly, and there was a definite basin shaped cavity alright, but no treasure hidden. Just flakey stoney sediment. I was nearly worn out again, but later in the day I explored more. I back tracked, then headed west 150 metres from my high point, following my compass all the way. And hard going it was too. Not as hard to find a path as in a forest, but tricky navigating around those eight foot bushes and horizontal and vertical blackened tree trunks. Then it started to rain. Big fat heavy raindrops. Then lightning! Just as I reached roughly where I thought I might find something, maybe it was 150 metre, maybe more. I found - nothing. I move forward and up so I was standing up on a large round set of flat boulders. Almost like a kind of compass rose, there seemed to be four rocks, north south east and west. Or maybe it was one giant rock with cracks and grasses. But just as I was trying to check my bearing on my compass, the needle seemed to swing crazily, and lightning blasted the sky above me. That's it - I was out of there. I thought I was standing on a giant magnetite caused by lightning striking the ground. I didn't want to test the theory that lightning couldn't strike twice in the same place - my luck wasn't proving to be that good. Getting wet and suddenly very cold, I was getting taught how fast mountain weather turns. I would come back to the same area tomorrow and search some more.

      Day 3, 15th August, was when my view of the poem shifted. That's for the next email.



      • #4
        Wed 7 Dec 2016 11:26 PM

        Hi ------- - I was so green to the Chase then, and really hadn't even read many blogs, not enough to learn who the locals were. But on my last trip I thought to try and catch you - but I couldn't find a phone number. It was literally as I was heading out of town, I didn't plan my second trip very well at all. But let me say, I may well post this to Dal, but at the moment it's an active solve. So it's still a secret, sshhhh Back to my trip, where was I...

        Ok I was up an' at 'em again the next day, after eating reading and resting. Day 3 began with my now familiar route up the Satch Cowan Trail. It wasn't the straighest route to the high point, but it sure was the prettiest. Clambering along the rocky canyon rim was fun.

        Hmm, I realise my retelling of events is a little flawed at this point. I did in fact give up on liftin' and diggin' around my initial blaze (gully/waterfall) around midday of Day 3, not on Day 2. I definitely did quite a bit of liftin' and diggin', I think I have left out a couple of rocks from my retelling; I'm quite determined in that way. But anyway, eventually I gave up, and rethought myself. I was going to have to move on past my gully and blaze area. I had become target fixated and was in real danger of nose diving into the dirt.

        So I decided, at the centre of my lost lake, I was to head west-ish, 281 magnetic.

        Ah, I haven't told you why I thought 281 was soooo good a number. Honestly, I should be sticking to the poem, not random stuff from a blog. And I was. Yes, "ever drawing nigh" could point me west, and I was still nearing the end. But I'd passed that point in the poem, on my way up the Satch Cowan Trail, with my "grander view". My real reason for heading 281 or so was not Forrest's Featured Question and Weekly Words and the "5000 MSL" or 5000 mils. I had followed the poem, descended the trove of rocks, and crossed my "e lost lake". In my mind I was still quite likely on course -

        Up next was "The answers I already know, I've done it tired, and now I'm weak". My Patent Pending interpretation and solve: "The answer's known from I, I', and I' - and you'll just need to try and figure it out - it's tenuous...". With a simple rearrangement one could get III'' - or 111 inches.

        I thought, if Forrest loves to play with units and conversions, what could I do with 111 inches? Well, it is 2.81 metres (and change, but I wasn't going to let that distract me from it resembling closely 281.25 degrees or 5000 mils). If I twist it right, I get 281 degrees straight out of the poem. So that's what I decided that meant. But add to that more madness on my part. A bomb dropped from 111 feet while travelling 111 knots would travel about 150 metres. I would pace that off and see what I found..

        So off I went, 281 magnetic, nice sunny afternoon sucking the water from my body, lugging my loaded backpack, sighting from point to point and pacing 150 metres as best I could while weaving around obstacles. Crossing the trail to The Cave of Winds and looking for something worthy of little Jack and steady Stan. And lo! I found... nothing there.

        I pressed onwards out to 281 metres on my 281 radial. Passing partly alongside and partly through a shallow wash that twisted like a snake and that I had seen the other day but somehow seemed more significant, there up ahead was my domed smooth flattish rock formation that on second look may or may not resemble anything like a compass rose. I tested my magnetic declination there, to see if I was in fact standing on a magnetite, and there was nothing. I was just disoriented and mishandling the compass the previous day in the lightning storm and cold rain. Ok, well, I decided, maybe this is where I'm meant to get to. It was an interesting enough feature. Intent on sending good effort after bad, I proceeded to the next part of the poem.

        So hear me all and listen good, your effort will be worth the cold. I stopped and listened. Nothing jumped out at me. Maybe if the season or weather was right, I would hear a waterfall or stream. I checked the temperature. Not particularly cold, but I thought that "cold" was a word association type thing. It meant stone cold. My stone that I had to move. Pretty weak, but there it was, just a bit more madness for the pot. Moving on.

        If you are brave and in the wood, I give you title to the gold. Well I was standing proud on my smooth rocky dome. If it wasn't for a couple of forest fires in recent years, it would be a neat wood, I thought. But so what? Well - "If yoU aRe brAve aNd In thUh wood" - well that spelt uranium to some, myself included, but for an upside down M in Wood. Actually I had become convinced that Wood was an inverted disguise for, wait for it, Mooq. A perfectly good word that means, an upside down bowl. Bowl being an obscure synonym for wood. The directional word in my definition being "down", I decided that the poem was telling me to go, Down. So I followed my nose, down the natural fall line from my rocky dome.

        Heading down, took me southerly past a trio of very large boulders around 4 meters horizontally. I kept going and turned slightly, as the fall line took me into a depression, and then the start of a gully. Before I knew it, I was at a drop off into the canyon. And no gold in sight. No rocks worth Jack. No way to go but down into the canyon.

        I sat down on a rock at the edge, and pondered the poem. It had had me lead myself here. Was I truly mad? What did it all mean. I pondered some more. I give you title to the gold. What was the title? I guess it's The Thrill of the Chase. To Thrill, to lift, animate. Well, there's nothing here to lift, I was thinking. To Chase, to drive, fly. Well, I'm not ready to fly just yet, although if I was a bird I was in a great spot for taking off.

        What if the END of the poem, was sending me back to the TITLE of the poem, to the start? What if I had to go through the poem again? But that's a loop that could go on forever! How would I then know I was finished? If I had found the gold, obviously... duh.

        But what about that line... And take it in the canyon down. That was too good a fit for my current position to ignore. But it's the second line in the second stanza. Well, if it was to fit, the second time through the poem I was going to have to skip some stuff. I figured I would divine out some poem logic that would tell me what to skip, but in the meantime I was going to explore in the canyon below. To get into the canyon down, I was going to have to drive. Going over the canyon rim was definitely not on my agenda. What was down in the canyon? A road!

        I was going to be able to drive right to it! The synonym for Chase made perfect sense now! The treasure could in fact be right below me there, somehow, where I would have to climb up and get it, is what I started thinking at the time. This reasoning doesn't make sense to me, now, but nevertheless, at the time, I was going exploring every possibility. I took a GPS reading so I could figure out from below where I had been, above. I headed back to the car with a ludicrous sense of optimism, and went and had something to eat and drink.

        Then drove to the reservoir road end. Of course, it was gated! It was an access road. But it was not forbidden to walk up it. I would have to hike up the canyon on foot, but I was up for it. It looked like easy going.

        Next email, I will reveal committing Sin Number 4! Going where a 79 or 80 year old man would surely not have gone!



        • #5
          Thu 8 Dec 2016 11:08 PM

          Hi - I think it highly likely you are right on the distance from the car. I've thought about how Forrest said it's not in very near proximaty to any human trail. That one really messes with my mind. In my mind it's really hard to actually get far away from any man made trail in NM but then again, is a road a human trail, or is it a car trail! It could be he's saying it's hidden near a road, but not near a walking trail.

          So where was I. Nearing the end of Day 3. At the reservoir road. Hiking up to below my GPS point at the possible dry waterfall west of The Cave of Winds. Second time through the seemingly repeating poem.

          I found my spot below the indentation where I had sat high up on the canyon wall, and to be fair, it didn't look very waterfall-like from below. More like a slip with rocks surrounding. I started clambering up the slope of the canyon to see what I could see. It started to get quite steep quite quickly, and with my heavy backpack teetering me around I was having to be very careful. Before I knew it I was quite high up and had jumped up onto a rock and then up and around another. Looking for caves or crevices or rocks that might need lifting. I looked pretty carefully, but found nothing. I stopped and sat for a minute, to catch my breath.

          Seriously, did I think that Forrest would climb up this high? What was I thinking! Time to get down. That's when I realised, I needed to be Super Careful (tm) because I was actually way up high on some pretty sheer rocks above a a steep loose stone slope, and if I fell, it would be a ways to go before I stopped. Getting down from on top of the rocks, I descended and skidded down the loose dirt and stones and made it down from checking the western side of the slip. Not content to leave anything unchecked, I clambered up the eastern side. This was a set of very tall vertical rocks and crevices, and I was keen to see if a cave might be there somewhere. But nothing. Having sinned again, I worked my way down. Flummoxed, but that was nothing new.

          I headed up the road to the reservoir. When I got there I found a large concrete spillway holding back the reservoir. There was a iron bridge installed above it, but it was taped off - it clearly wasn't finished. I had no idea at the time, but it was all relatively new. All I saw was heavy loads and water high. The water was very very brown with sediment. A couple of kids were trying their luck with fishing rods. I called to them "Are you catching anything?" and they shook their heads no. I watched them go down beside the staircased spillway to a stagnant looking concrete settling pond below, and then after a short while they came back up. In the main reservoir I could see water being rippled all over the place by activity just under the surface. I spoke to the two boys - "Whats in there?" and the reply came "It's salamander". I thought for a while, and asked "Do you know what kind of Salamander they are?" and the answer came back "They're Tiger Salamander". I realised I had found a Home of Brown! A brown home to a large number Tiger Salamander. Fantastic!!! I headed back down the road to the car.

          Now one thing I didn't mention. At that point I had definitely seen a MW post made on August 12th, which was a question from Doug. "Mr. Fenn, you’ve undoubtedly met countless numbers of us searchers (via email), is there anyone who stands out in your mind, and if so, why? ~ Doug". And his reply: "Many stick out in my mind Doug, but especially the fictitious little girl from India who Jenny invented.f"

          I have to confess Sin Number 1 again! At the time I was convinced, because I had sent Forrest a pic of one of my under-rock diggings, that Doug wasn't real and it was a pointer to me, "dug".

          In fact I just now checked realised that the 12th of August was actually my day 1. I arrived very late on the 11th August, that was my Day 0. I was looking at email date stamps, but they are 17 hours wonky due to time zone differences - all the timestamps on emails I sent are out by practically one whole day. So it could still have been a message to me. There I go again! More Sin Number 1, right before your very eyes!!

          So anyway, I had been thinking "It sticks out like India" for a day or so now. I had been on the lookout for a rock that was reeeeally obviously sticking out. Just the thing for putting Jack under. And what did I see walking down the road? A rock sticking up like an upside down India. Walking up the road it looked different. But walking down, there it was. So I had a good look around the area.

          I knew from beforehand that Forrest mentioned this puzzle - "You leave home and walk a straight line for a mile, turn 90 degrees left and walk a curved line for a mile and shoot a bear. Then you turn 90 degrees left again and walk a straight line back to your home. What color is the bear?f" - When plotted it might describe a cheese wheel wedge shape, with an internal angle at the pointy end of 57.296 degrees. So as well, I might expect to find a wedge shaped rock, and right near my site was a giant boulder with a flat face shaped like that, with the pointy end in the ground.

          Forrest made a comment "No subtrifuge intended" - very high above my site on the south side of the canyon was a very triangular flat faced boulder. That's all fine and good. But was I not supposed to be following the poem? Ok I had that covered. "Now hear me all and listen good" - a synonym for hear is "try" and it's a short leap to "tri". "listen good" - I felt strongly I was meant to hear water and particularly a waterfall. I could just hear the stream in the trees parallel south of the road. "Take the chest and go in peace" - I believed that "chest" meant "trunk", and looking around the stream, there was a downed trunk that could be traversed to get from the vertical stream bank down to the stream bed. "go in peace" meant I was expecting a secluded, isolated spot. Down below the bank there, it was well hidden from the road.

          I was convinced at the time, here was a great place to look for a rock to lift. Now I just think, Treasure hunting madness!!

          I quit for the day.



          • #6
            Thu 8 Dec 2016 11:08 PM

            Day 4 - I came back to that spot. Set up a little base behind some bushes away from the reservoir road. Took off my shoes and socks, and clambered down the trunk, down to the stream bed. The water was delicious on my feet, which had been taking a hammering. I explored up the stream some way, and noticed some very large slips and gouging of the canyon wall. The water had obviously torn down the canyon at quite a rate. I was very disheartened to see that - if the chest was hidden somewhere under a rock along the stream bank there, then several ton of dirt and rock was on top of it. There was no conceivable way of searching under that slip. I kept going up the rocky stream bed, the way getting harder as it narrowed, with brambles obstructing easy progress. I turned around after a while, as I had left the area pointed to by my India, wedge, and tri rock signposts. Back down the stream and not far past the tree trunk, I found a little waterfall and a rock cap on top of another rock! Perfect for concealing a treasure under, or so I thought. I went back and got Jack and Stan, and hoiked up that rock. Nothing! Just dirt behind that rock. Nothing nearby seemed remotely interesting.

            I noticed the stream bed was a little muddy, squishy under my feet. What if the treasure had been placed on some mud, but then it had sunk in over time! Therefore becoming buried! It would be very heavy, and soft mud would be powerless to resist it. Like gold settling out in a gold pan. I toyed with that idea, feeling through the sediment with my feet. It wasn't really deep enough. I put the idea aside.

            So - I headed up to the reservoir. Put in below the home of Brown. For the second time, I bravely decided it was no place for the meek, and I headed up past the reservoir, up the canyon, drawing westward. No idea where I was going, just feeling my way through the poem on instinct. I took the main trunk of the trail, and went in solitude up the canyon. The trail was enjoyable and picturesque, running up the relatively wide stoney floor of the canyon, as I recall. The trail was elevated at points, offering some nice views.

            After a while coming around a bend I found a tall overhanging rock wall absolutely covered in spider webs, with a bramble bush partly obstructing a short path back around close to it. I walked around the bush, and saw a couple of openings that looked promising, but didn't go anywhere, including a very low one close to the ground. My flashlight didn't reveal any depth to the small cave. I headed up the canyon some more, and took the right fork in the trail which headed up the Quemazon Canyon. I think.

            The trail became a wide stoney creek bed, with cairns marking the way. It was starting to look more and more beautiful and feel wilder and wilder. I saw some scat on the ground that looked about dog sized, but clearly had green matter in it. It didn't look too fresh, but still I figured it might be bear poop, and started worrying a little. I made sure that I had both my survival whistle and little hatchet handy. If I met a bear, I was going to scare it off with a 120db blast and waving arms, and if that didn't work, I would not run and things might get a bit intimate.

            I was walking for some time, it felt like. My feet were telling me so. The trail cut right across the canyon, and then started zig zagging up the north or east (?) canyon wall. Then it pretty much disappeared at a scrubby brambly loose stone and dirt slope. I started seeing these little pink flags and I followed them, around over and through the brambles. I saw a little silver flag. I was hoping the next one would be gold! The pink flags were leading me somewhere - to a wash cutting straight up the canyon wall. I clambered up there, trying to forget that I was committing Sin Number 4. The way got really tough, the toughest yet. If I fell, I could really hurt myself. I was being Super Careful (tm), but really I had no idea where I was going or what I was doing at that point. The Chase had gone cold. The pink flags were gone, and no gold in sight.

            I stopped and sat on a rock and surveyed the canyon. I was about two thirds the way up, and I could probably have got to the top if I had to. To the right and on, I could see what looked like the top end of the canyon, but it was very hard to judge the scale and how far it was. There seemed to be brown rock formation that looking interesting. I was close enough see lots of little holes in the rock, that could maybe hide a treasure chest! But it still looked pretty far.

            And then I looked back across the canyon, and down to the stoney floor. There was a bear!!! A lightish brown, with darker brown feest and face. It was ambling fast, maybe a bit like a baby elephant does, and it looked smallish - maybe it was a juvenile bear. I was really glad I was up where I was at that point! And then I realised it was running down the canyon - the way that I was going to have to go. I put it out of my mind, just happy to have seen it. A wild bear.

            I backtracked Super Carefully (tm) and made it to the pink flags, and down to the trail. And then I heard thunder, and saw the sky darkening very quickly. Then it started to hail! And I realised I was done for the day. My feet were starting to hurt with blisters. The light was starting to go. I was out of water and feeling dehydrated. I started headed back to the car. But those rocks way off in the distance up the canyon, were very interesting, and I knew that I wanted to come back the next day, even though I was also thinking it might not be so smart. But anyway I stashed Jack and Stan in that bramble bush by the spiderweb rock face, and headed back to the reservoir and the sandy brown road to the car.

            Day 5 - in the next installment! It really went down the rabbit hole...



            • #7
              Sat 10 Dec 2016 12:05 AM

              Hi -------, and thank you - it's been a useful process, replaying my first trip in my mind - I'm sure there are as many things forgotten as remembered. And now, don't forget, Forrest said 79 or 80... I happen to think there is an honest to goodness clue in there... I may get to that tonight, or maybe tomorrow. But anyway, I also think the treasure hunting sins, are a natural part of the territory for those of us with the imagination and belief necessary to take up the Chase. I think we are all, most likely all, unconventional people in certain respects. If there is such a thing as a conventional person, if you get what I mean.

              So where was I. Day 4. That evening was important to events of Day 5, because I came to my senses and decided that the rock formation at the top of the Quemazon Canyon was most definitely nowhere a 79 or 80 year old man would have made two trips to in an afternoon, unless I was mistaken about how he got there. Because I didn't think there was any other way to get there than to hike up to it. And it was a good distance, and a good altitude gain. Maybe it's possible to drive near to it. I don't know, maybe you do.

              So if it wasn't there, then where was it? Ah HA - "If you are brave and in the wood" - maybe it was in the mud in the Los Alamos Reservoir! was my grand idea. And, to find it, I would have to get myself a teepee pole and stick in the wood, into the mud. You can see I had been reading his books too much. So that was my grand plan for Day 5. I would go back to the reservoir, strip off to my underwear, get in there with an eight foot pole and find the treasure that had been placed at the bottom, and had buried itself in the soft silty mud. It would be somewhere that a 79 or 80 year old could place it.

              The next day, Day 5, my last full day there, I headed back to the reservoir. Actually past the reservoir, and went and collected Jack and Stan. I was not leaving them out there in the wilderness alone. I found them exactly where I left them, in good spirits in their silver and blue livery, and I picked them up and took them back with me. Next I was to find an eight foot pole. I headed down the road a way and cut a nice sturdy dead branch to length with my folding saw and knocked bits off with my hatchet till I was satisfied I wouldn't tear my hands on it. Took it back to the reservoir and huddled in a corner by the concrete-work and stripped off till I was fairly indecent. First I would start in the main reservoir. I carefully picked my way down the large angular rocks that were piled at the end of the main reservoir, in my bare feet with the large pole trying to pull me off balance. Felt my way into the brown water. It was cold! but tolerable. Where did the mud start - ah, there it is! I started systematically pushing the pole into the mud. I figured it would be in about a foot of mud, for no good reason. I poled and tiptoed and swam a little, back and forth across the reservoir in straight lines. It got to where it was about eight feet from surface to the rock under the mud, and I figured that was about the limit I was supposed to go to. This was a lot harder than I imagined.

              After some time, losing my footing occasionally and treading water, and generally being completely unsuccessful in finding the treasure chest, I started to think. There was nothing precise about this. If I wasn't comfortable in the water, this would be impossible. The mud wasn't deep enough to cover anything where the water was shallow enough to safely make a careful search. After having made a fairly thorough search, I got out. Thought. Looked down at the stagnant looking sediment catchment below the reservoir, before the stream proper began. Jumped the low concrete wall and headed down. Eased myself into it amongst some green matter on the surface and began searching there. While I was doing that, some people walked up the road and saw me poling the bottom. Looked twice as they walked past. I must have looked about as foolish as I felt. But I kept going. The concrete bottom there made going easier, but it was still fruitless. This was getting ridiculous. I could have missed it. A search by scuba diving and careful sectioning of the bottom, would be the only way to be sure. The chest was very heavy. Lifting it safely from where the mud was deep enough to hide it would be extremely difficult. This was not where the treasure chest was hidden.

              I climbed out and up and lay on the concrete in the sun, getting dry and warm. The water had sucked quite a lot of body heat from me. What was I going to do - I started thinking about the poem again.

              Put in below the home of Brown. Ok, below the reservoir, bla bla next. Heavy loads and water high. I was there, the reservoir, rocks and water and concrete and ironwork. I knew the treasure wasn't here, so it was just a way point. All good in my book. If you've been wise and found the blaze. Ok, the blaze was the outflow of the reservoir. Look quickly down, your quest to cease. Look directly down the canyon to the Omega Bridge. Ok it was there, I couldn't see it but it was a good fit. Tarry scant - take a line. Take the chest and go in peace - take the trunk, the main trail, the road. So why is it what I must go, and leave my trove for all to seek. Not sure about that one. The answers I already know, I've done it tired, and now I'm weak. 111", 2.81 metres, 281 metres, something.

              I headed down the road for 281 metres from the outflow of the reservoir. Searched north and south and east and west of there. It was ugly ground, nowhere that looked like a place to hide a treasure. Just grass, a creek, canyon walls, a few bushes. Nowhere that someone couldn't stumble on the treasure chest by accident. I was, again, flummoxed. I sat down in the grass. Reread the poem.

              So why is it that I must go, and leave my trove for all to seek.
              'Bombardment' was a synonym for 'trove' [edit: I have absolutely no idea why I thought that! I have never found the connection since], which I had taken as a fusilade of rocks the first time throught the poem.
              A synonym for 'all' is 'utter'. Utter bombardment. Los Alamos, the place of bombardment for all. Nuclear annihilation.
              I was suddenly gobsmacked, and realised what the poem was telling me.
              I must go, and leave my bombardment for all, to seek. I was to leave Los Alamos, Forrest's place of destruction for all. Is that what he meant? I was suddenly absolutely sure of the hidden message. I had been rereading Forrest's story, My War for Me, the night before. With his thumb, he had blotted out Philadelphia. He would later train to release nuclear weapons and likely deliver death to people he would never see, potentially a massive number of people. Pilots don't just hope to take off and hit their targets - it takes skill and planning. An F-100 delivered the heavy nuclear payload from a low level approach, in a 4G pullup manouever that lobbed the weapon to the target in a high trajectory, while the aircraft completed the loop and left at full afterburner. Just the other day, I was reading a pilot describing how it felt like the bomb released the plane, not the other way around - suddenly nearly 4 tons lighter [edit: not at all sure where I read that - but wrong - the Mark 7 "Thor" was 1600lbs/730kg, less than one tonne], the aircraft instantly turned tighter, like it knew what it had done and wanted to flee from the detonation. With his thumb the actions of one man could blot out hundreds of thousands of souls.
              The meaning I took from that line in the poem, struck me like a ton of bricks. And I wanted to leave Los Alamos. Suddenly the whole reason for the town being there, made me want to leave it.



              • #8
                Sat 10 Dec 2016 12:05 AM

                I just had no idea where I was going! I was really stuck. I headed back to Sante Fe, where I could rest and think in front of my computer. As soon as I got there I fired up Google Earth. I immediately zeroed in on the centre of the Omega Bridge as my origin point. I was going to rule a line, I just didn't know where it would lead yet. I couldn't visualise it without the computer. But as I pointed the line along the heading 111 degrees, back north of Sante Fe, I suddenly felt a little optimism. I had no idea where to end the line though - I had a radial bearing but no range. I looked along the line, trying to see anything that stood out.

                What is the large building there? It's shaped a bit like a cheese wheel wedge! A bit more research and I learned it was the Santa Fe Opera. I had nothing to do but to go check it out.

                As I drove down Opera Drive, through the gate and into the car park, I was struck by a sign right there that said "Water for landscaping is collected from roofs". Something triggered. At one point I had been anagramming lines from the poem using, and I was sure that I had seen a partial anagram that said "We don't need no water". I was at first amused, and then stunned. Was I actually in the right place? If I hadn't read Forrests bear puzzle describing a wedge shape, would I have come here based only on the poem? I might have - I might have explored anything and everything significant along that 111 degree radial line if I wasn't so pressed for time. I got out and looked around, and got back in the car and looked at Google Earth. If I headed west, out into the scrub, I might find something. But GE didn't look promising, and I didn't do that - instead I drove over towards the Opera. I noticed an area with tables and chairs like an outdoor cafe, with a plaque that said The Dapples Porte-Cochere. There was a marquee tent set up in the carpark - the people looked they had recently been catering for someone or something and were packing down. I didn't get what they were doing because there were no numbers of cars or people around, but I did think that I had seen a partial anagram from the poem that said "There will be food". I got out of the car. The Dapples Porte-Cochere and many other features of the Opera entrance area had plaques that labelled them, and attributed sponsorship to named donors.

                There was one little plaque different from the rest. It named the table and chairs at the Porte-Cochere, the Terrace Tables, and it listed a number of names with some blank space for more donors left below. I took photos and retired to the car. In an anagramming frenzy, I tried all the text from each plaque, one by one. But the partial anagram results from the Terrace Tables plaque caught my attention. Many results popped up that included the words "National Register Historic Places". I was delighted! I had been trying to think of a way that I could locate monuments, because it had occurred to me I might be looking for some kind of "monument to the unknown soldier". I brought up the National Register of Historic Places on my tablet.

                There was one location on my 111 degree radial line! Only one! And it was quite precisely on the line too. It was labelled Schmidt, Albert, House and Studio, and it was located at 1505 A and B Bishop's Lodge Rd, in Tesuque. I had to go check it out and I plugged it into my Garmin. There were two entries and I chose the first one. That took me to the wrong address, further up Bishops Lodge Rd, in a different post code. I chose the second entry. As I approached, I drove past a small wooden sign that said "Sante Fe Institute". I thought I had heard of them, and I had. Helen "Satch" Dunham Cowan was associated with them. I went to 1505 and drove straight in the driveway. Drove to the end where cars were parked. Got out. Very very uncertain and very nervous.

                A woman and a man came out and looking a bit concerned at a stranger on their property. The man was in his 60's, fit, and wearing no shirt. He looked like he might be kind of familiar, like an actor or something. I very nervously said in my Kiwi accent, "Hi - ummmm - ahhh - Is this the end of The Thrill of the Chase?". They looked each other then at me perplexed and the man said "The end of what?". I said "Ummm, it's a treasure hunt. There's a guy, Forrest Fenn. He wrote a book with a treasure hunt in it.". They looked at each other again, and said "Sorry, we don't know what you're talking about.". I said "You never heard of Forrest Fenn?" "No. Sorry.". I said Ok, sorry to disturb you, thank you, and beat it out of there.

                More madness tomorrow! Much more!



                • #9
                  Sat 10 Dec 2016 10:30 PM

                  Hi! Don't worry, I'm laughing at my situations the whole way through! By the way, I know how messed up this whole trip was [edit: and I'm talking about my second trip here too, sorry, getting ahead of myself again], in terms of things that don't fit with "the knowledge" surrounding the Chase. I was convinced that post from Forrest about 66,000 links was a deliberate mathematical error in relation to my (failed) solve relating to my second trip... I absolutely agree now, I believe you are 100% right and the treasure chest is in a quiet spot where no-one goes, more than 8.25 miles north of the northern city limit. I still struggle to imagine how he could guarantee no-one could stumble across it by accident. I thought like many others, that being on private land would be the answer to that. And I had a solution to the problem of trespassing. But I'm getting ahead of myself...

                  So, my last full day there. I had just embarrassed myself to some strangers, and my last question to them was, had anyone else ever come asking about it, and the answer was no. So I left, but having embarrased myself once, I was feeling bolder and up for trying to do it again. Because for some reason I was convinced Forrest had something to do with the Santa Fe Institute. I thought he was a supporter or something, but I couldn't recall where I read that or if it was in fact true. I drove back down the road to the brown wooden sign that said Sante Fe Institute. It was on a white wooden fence that bordered a property stretching along the road front. It's a beautiful property, with stables and horses and green grass being watered that day by a sprinkler. I was at the end of the line, nothing to lose, so I drove in there, and found a door to knock on. The place seemed occupied and an SUV was out front with the rear door up and open. But I couldn't raise anyone. I tried a few more times, and then drove out the driveway and slowly back along the road out front.

                  As I looked at the property, a man was walking across the grass towards me. He waved like he wanted me to stop, so I did and got out and went to talk to him. He was an older man, shorts, boots, wide brimmed hat and I think he had a beard. He asked "What were you doing on my property?" and I said sorry, I knocked several times but there was no answer. He said "You shouldn't go onto someone elses property uninvited. You're lucky my dogs weren't there, you could have had some trouble". I apologised, and told him I was from New Zealand, and I was looking for Forrest Fenns treasure. He said "Well there's no treasure on my land, I would know if there was. It couldn't have been put there without me knowing. And anyway, you've found it, this place is the treasure." and I said Yes, it was a really beautiful place. I apologised again for going onto his property, and he said "Oh, well, we're getting along fine now". I asked if he had heard of the treasure, and Forrest Fenn. He said yes. I said, do you know Forrest Fenn? He said yes, from years back. He said something like, He's a different kind of man, and I said something like, how so? He said he's kind of... and his voice trailed off, but he gestured with his arms like he was grabbing things to himself. I said oh... and then after a bit I asked, do you know where he lives? He said, somewhere over Galisteo, and I could find him in the phone book. I asked him about the sign for the Santa Fe Institute, and he said, they put that there, nothing to do with me. I said thank you, and asked him his name - he said, ------- -------. I said thank you again, and he walked back from the fence toward the house as I got into the car. I drove down the road, and made a right turn into the next road, just past the sign, ---- Rd. I didn't get far before a gate and a no trespassing sign stopped me. It was a private road, as it turned out. There was an intercom key pad box there, with a blank panel where names and numbers might have been. I got out and looked over the gate. There was a shallow stream running across a concrete ford and it was in good flow. I could imagine it hard to cross at times of the year.

                  I didn't know what to do next, so I went back to the Kings Rest. It was getting late in the afternoon. I had to prepare to travel in the morning, my flight out of ABQ was 11am. My mind was windmilling madly. I swore that I was at the end of the poem. The last lines. For the second time through the poem. So hear me all and listen good, your effort will be worth the cold. If you are brave and in the wood, I give you title to the gold. For no good logical poem-abiding reason, I felt sure I was in the right place. It was because I thought I knew that Forrest and the Santa Fe Institute were related. What if the treasure was on land, that Forrest didn't own, but had some control over? That was it! That solved the ownership of the treasure. It would be bound by some terms relating to the use of the Institutes land. Maybe Forrest used to own it. But what to do? I couldn't trespass. I could get arrested, and I might not be able to visit the USA again.

                  Your effort will be worth the cold. I Googled the words. "Effort" was synonymous with "Attempt". "Worth" was "Use". And - "Cold" - was a soundalike for "Code". Attempt to use the code. I had cracked it! It was the last piece in the puzzle. If I used a code from Forrest's poem to enter the property, it was like I was invited! And so it wouldn't be trespassing. But what code!!! I had gotten the number 111 from the poem, and twisted it to get 281. But I thought I would need a 4 digit code for the box.

                  I came up with some 4 digit codes. They came mainly from ideas from the book. Page numbers. 7 colours in a rainbow. Anything I could think of. I went back there that night, and tried them all. They didn't work. I drove to where cell data was better. Googled. Read the book. Drove back. Tried some more codes. No dice.

                  It was late and dark, after 11pm. That's when Sin Number 5 happened. The worst sin of all. There was no fence to stop me. I put on my red headlamp, backpack, got out of the car, and walked around the gate in the dead of night. Crossed over the stream. Started quietly up the road. Got to the first driveway and saw a house. No lights on. Another driveway and another building. That's when I got cold feet and thought the better of it. I went back to the car and got in. Went back to the motel. Packed up and made ready to depart. I was done.

                  Except for going back there in the morning after checking out, on my way to the airport. I tried a few more codes. THEN I was done. Haha. I drove to the airport and dropped the rental car off. As I was emptying it out I realised - I was going to have to DUMP JACK AND STAN. My faithful companions and supportive friends. AC Delco's finest, cheapest 12000 pound vehicle lifting combo, $42 on sale. I wish that I didn't have to. But I couldn't take them with me. They went back into their boxes, and into the bin. So long, Jack.

                  I had an uneventful pair of flights home. But my mind had a terrific head of steam up, and was still windmilling. It didn't stop for weeks. Because after I got home, I convinced myself, I was in the right spot. I worked on the poem, fitting my solve around it. I came up with new information that confirmed it for me. 100%. I had to go back.

                  (to be continued)


                  • #10
                    YOU definitely get a GOLD STAR for effort.
                    Amazing story.
                    So how does it end?


                    • #11
                      Sat 10 Dec 2016 10:30 PM

                      The first word in the poem - As. I knew it was Arsenic, Chemical element number 33. But also, I realised, a sound-alike if not an actual name for bronze Roman currency. Also known as Aes. Bronze. The 111 Omega Bridge radial went straight through Shidoni where the bronze foundry is. From the precise centre of the bridge, precisely 111.00 degrees, it hits squarely on a line between two weathervanes just out back of the Shidoni Art Gallery. Forrest collected weathervanes. I was sure he must have bought them and left them there -they're for sale but the price! I can't imagine anyone paying so much. The line of the two weathervanes points to a garden and a pond, at number 16 ---- Rd. The "Sante Fe Institute Tesuque" web page has an interview with a man named Eugene Thaw. He's a rich art collector. He had bought up all the properties on ---- Rd, and gifted them to the Sante Fe Institute. I figured Forrest must be teamed up with him. Two people can keep a secret if one of them is dead. "Dead" is synonymous with "out of play". They had conspired to make Forrest's idea of hiding the treasure come true. The 66,000 links. What if it was SQUARE links. The sum area of all the properties on ---- Rd, PLUS a small amount of land purchased from the Beazelys - except for a mathematical error if the units conversion was done wrong - and Forrest joked about it being hard to do the maths - it added up, close enough. The garden at 16 ---- Rd. The koi pond in the garden, visible on the web site in stills in videos. The poem. Third time through the poem was the last time. The home of Brown was a barn at the bottom of the property and in it I would find, a David Brown tractor! A perfect anagram for "I've done it tired and now I'm weak" is "I've done waded in mint koi water" - the dark mint green water of the pond! He'd hidden the treasure chest in the pond!

                      But what about the code. I was not going back until I had figured out how to get the code out of the poem. And I did get a code. Several iterations. None of them opened the gate. In fact the gate and all of the above - almost all of the above - has nothing to do with my final solve and the nine clues. But the code from the poem has everything to do with my answers for the nine clues - the code is the answer to one of them. The nine clues can be used to give a co-ordinate on a good map. I think you'll like the spot that best fits. I'm not 100% sure you'll feel that it's your favorite solve! Do you wonder what Forrest means precisely by "a good map"? I believe it's a map with UTM grid references. Very close cousin of military MGRS grid references, they use the same grid projection. My spot is 8.4 miles north of the northern limit of Santa Fe. But which north is that? Magnetic north? True north? Or is it grid north - there is such a thing and I believe it's grid north. I'll tell you a bit about my last trip, and my final atomic solve, tomorrow, if I can fit it.

                      Last edited by mikew1927; 06-30-2020, 12:48 AM.


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by wwwamericana View Post
                        YOU definitely get a GOLD STAR for effort.
                        Amazing story.
                        So how does it end?
                        Thanks! It doesn't end with a chest in my hands. I've got a few more letters to post. It didn't end in 2016 though.


                        • #13
                          Mon 12 Dec 2016 11:19 PM

                          Hi -------. I think more people should trust Forrest isn't going to give the game away to anyone. I do know for sure he has managed to prod my imagination through MW - I don't know at all that it's been in the right direction!! I'm sure the same applies to everyone.

                          So. I promised to spell out my take on the nine clues. I will do that. But first the road on getting to "finding" them - if in fact they are the nine clues, there's every chance they aren't of course! The road starts with returning from my trip. I went back to work for two days, before I went on that ski trip that I mentioned, with my friend Bryan. Dear Bryan, he was incredibly skeptical about the whole thing. He had a fantastic memory and keen interest in all sorts of science, history, politics, facts. He was a Navy man since joining at age 16 back in the day - they had to become his legal guardian, he was so young. In hindsight he loved order and certainty, and I don't think he had much time at all for imagination! But I know he respected my enthusiasm! Anyway I had plenty of time on my hands to think, without having to worry about work stuff. I was still high on treasure-hunt. But stymied by not being able to figure out "the cold" (the code).

                          And MW stuff kept appearing! And of course I kept assuming it was relevant to my Chase. The first MW post after I got back was the one of 19th August. The answer from Forrest was 'I don’t know how to answer your question BW. People are so different. A writer from Manhattan came to see me. It was her first time out of the city. When I asked how she liked New Mexico she said, “There’s a sky,” and she wasn’t kidding. At home she never thought to look up. She was thrilled when I showed her a cow. f'

                          The picture was of the milky way - a star field. It reminded me of the black glittery plaques at the Opera. And, also, the sketches in The Thrill of the Chase that have a night sky punctuated by stars. There's at least a couple of them. But I didn't draw a connection until later. The next day was a Surprise Words - 20th August - and that one I was SURE was a message to me. The picture was of a crowbar. I had emailed Forrest and told him that I had wanted to give him a jade fish hook. If it was a reply, the timing probably should have informed me that none of his other Words were replies, because this one was a week after I emailed him. The key words were "Don't force the poem to fit your spot". Good advice. But I got to thinking about stars and spots.

                          Stars and spots. Stars kind of punctuate the night sky, don't they? What about the punctuation in the poem. Why is there a semi-colon - why it must be to make exactly nine sentences, surely. Althought he might have used a comma... But nine sentences, nine clues. Each sentence must be a clue, I thought?

                          What if counting the punctuation in each stanza, gave numbers, and the numbers were the code! It gave me 3-4-6-6-6-3. Ok great, I'm back in New Zealand, no way to try that on the gate keypad. I still hadn't given up on the ---- Rd gate keypad! I emailed Forrest anyway. Then I emailed him, again, thinking out aloud. I did that a lot. I never asked questions. I just thought out aloud in emails. It probably annoyed the hell out of him. I hypothesised counting the punctuation SPOTS in each sentence. A semi colon counted as two spots. Comma and full stop and apostrophe as one each. A question mark - well I thought that could be the sickle in Leo, which is made of 5 stars. So I came up with 3-3-1-6-6-5-5-2-1. That's a pretty long keypad code. But maybe I just needed to then add the numbers together or something. I emailed him the second set of numbers.

                          The next MW a few days later, the picture said <--Neither--> and the Words said "Dear Forrest Fenn, If you could only see one of these two things before you pass on what would it be, your special place where you secreted your treasure chest or the chest and it’s contents? I hope my question is not to bold. ~The Count". And the answer was "The Count, Both the treasure and its hidden location are so vivid in my mind that I don’t need to see them with my eyes again. f". Well I took that picture "<--Neither-->" as saying I was not on the right track for finding the code, but also Neither Right nor Left - which might be interpreted as saying not right, but not all wrong. I made those MW posts say whatever I liked, if I'm completely honest. But that was part of my fun. Anyway I kept thinking. Whenever I wasn't skiing with the gang or playing cards that week, I was thinking.

                          Late one night after reading The Thrill of the Chase, thinking about cows, spots, how "followed" has "dogged" as a synonym, and "precisely" has "on the spot" as a synonym-like-thing, thinking about stars... it came to me. What star constellation is there that has a cow? It's Bootes. Dogged Spot. That could be the Dog Star. What colour was the Bear? He could be talking about Ursa Major. What did it all mean. It suddenly smacked me in the face. All these constellations had stars that are actually two stars orbiting each other. Binary stars. What if I had to find binary numbers? He did say "Don't let logic distract you from the poem". This is one of those ones where putting the emphasis on a word, changes the meaning. What if we are supposed to let logic ATTRACT us to the poem - binary logic! I came up with some small binary numbers using commas as 1's and apostrophes as 0's, full stops semicolon and question mark as separators.
                          I emailed Forrest my thinking. The subject of my email was "Don't let logic distract you from the poem". And waited for the next MW.

                          The next MW was 28th August. "Forrest has been told to back away from his computer for medical reasons. That means he will not be responding to very many emails in the future." - I was a bit stunned, as I think many were. So he DID respond to emails! But I felt like it really was time to stop emailing, and I would not expect any more "replies". If they were replies.

                          But still - I smelt some funny stuff in that post as well. "Forrest has said he will continue to answer Questions or offer Words to me when he can, but not as regularly. (AND I should add, if I post Words NOT from the original list, I’ll state that within the post)"

                          Well, I was suddenly thinking about logic at that point. "AND I should add". "NOT from the original list". From my university days, a logic AND symbol is the full stop ".". Ok, if I see AND or ".", I'll substitute "+". As well, I realised that a logical NOT symbol, a negation, is the "~" symbol. What a minute. The Weekly Words have ~ in them all the time! Well not all the time. But often. Is it a secret symbol he uses for fun, to indicate some trickery? "~ The Count" could say "NOT The Count". Wait was he telling me that the code was NOT the count of the punctuation? No way of knowing. But that post got me thinking of new things to try.

                          3+3+0+1 ; 1+15 ? 9+1+0
                          7 16 10

                          That was starting to look like a code that could be punched into that gate keypad. I was starting to think whether or not to bet a trip to the US on whether or not I was right, about the code, ---- Rd, the weather vanes, the whole lot. Maybe Forrest was not going to correspond to emails any more. Because I was SMOKING HOT ON THE CASE and didn't need any more help!! What a dreamer I was!

                          More next time!



                          • #14
                            A lot of effort is represented in your postings. I appreciate the effort, but lost interest before reading all of your messages. Good luck to you.


                            • #15
                              Tue 13 Dec 2016 11:13 PM
                              Hi -------, I'm glad you like them - I'm like that, If I can bring some fun for just one person that's alright by me. And I like to [try] find the humour in everything, my number one rule is, if I've lost my sense of humour - kick myself in the butt and go back and find it. [edited out some stuff - and from here I edit a bit more for readability. Sorry ------- I bet this was a hard read.]

                              Ok where was I. I was making gate keypad code numbers out of punctuation. I was convinced the treasure could easily be where I mentioned - in a pond, 16 ---- Rd. I knew I had to try and find out for sure. But I didn't have any money for a trip. My job was looking grim as well. While I was away at the snow I missed a meeting where some not so subtle messaging came across from our manager. I was looking at a job at another company in Hamilton, and waiting for them to decide whether and when to take me on. All of a sudden, three things happened.

                              My friend Bryan died suddenly, and I was devastated, heartbroken. One morning he was alive at breakfast, I said see you later, by late lunch he was dead. On an excercycle. I felt like somehow I might even have triggered it, because I had told him just the night before I might not be staying with him much longer. It's nonsense, but still, it was there. Then a job offer came through - it was a pay cut, good enough to accept, and I would be living at home. And then our manager, booked one on one meetings with us. I could see the writing on the wall. When he asked how I was going I said, honestly, if there's going to be "a process" I'd be happy if he made me redundant. He accepted, just in time so I didn't have to resign for my new job - I would get one months extra redundancy pay.

                              I would squeeze in one more trip to Santa Fe - it would be my last for the foreseeable future.
                              I decided I would make it two weeks, and I would take a road trip from LA to New Mexico. I rented a car and drove - I like driving, it's good de-stressing time. On the way over I didn't stop much but I saw the Meteor Crater, from the old 80's movie Starman from my youth, which was cool. I checked into the Kings Rest again, $210 a week (bargain!), and ... frustrated the hell out of myself with that gate. What a dummy. But I couldn't let it go. I did see some sights to distract myself most days - hiked the little trails in Black Canyon, Tesuque Creek and Bear Wallow - getting acclimatised to the altitude. I hiked up to Deception Peak one day which was fantastic - at 12,500 feet I felt like a mountain climber on Everest, the lack of oxygen slowing me down immensely. Loved it.

                              I gave up on the punctuation and spent a massive amount of time trying another code-extraction technique. I should have prepared better at home beforehand. But such is long distance treasure madness. A new technique really tested my attention to detail - the old punctuation was tricky cos it was easy to miss some - the new technique was a living nightmare.

                              The new coded binary number method was based around the line "So hear me all and listen good"... The first iteration of the idea was as follows. As an aside, I still can't figure out if this line of thought is just dumb dumb dumb, or really quite clever. You be the judge. So hear me all. Hear the sounds of the whole poem. And listen good. Google "define listen" and it has this pronunciation - "/lɪs(ə)n/". Google "define good" and it has this pronunciation - "/gʊd/".

                              The key to my first iteration of the binary code is the ɪ (in "/lɪs(ə)n/") and the ʊ in "/gʊd/". These sounds pop up in words throughout the poem. To get it "right" I Googled every single word. Going by ear, doesn't work - there are words that had the special pronunciation that you wouldn't suspect necessarily. If you assign a 1 and 0 then you get some larger binary numbers. I had my brother help me with this, because, Attention to Detail Disorder (joke). Some words are also line-ball calls. That gives rise to different permutations. I needed some help. He's just as mad as I am - he was up for it.

                              I got many interpretations and permutations and codes (tested against the gate keypad over a few days). I kept finding mistakes in my maths and interpretation. And I am surprised no-one called the cops, but the gate is quite isolated from view. I ate a few times at the Tesuque Market, I like that place a lot. I got Andy, my brother, to check and correct me. No dice.

                              We gave up on ɪ. Andy decided, every reference to "me" becomes the 1. Hear "me" all, and listen "/gʊd/". In the poem, who is "me"? My answer was, initially, "me,"I" and "my". I later included "it". Because of a MW post! Haha! It was a short and sweet post - "If it's not you, then who?" If IT is not you, then who is IT? IT is ME. Crazy right? But, it kind of makes sense, as an answer to that little puzzle. If you Google "define it" then one of the examples is "it's me". I used it, like always, because it pleased me to do so. it seems I'll use anything I can think of! Actually, I defined it like this. I / my / me / it - Forrest/the poem/the Chase - they're all one and the same, like some kind of treasure-hunt trinity.

                              I eventually got a code which I liked the most:
                              As I have gone alone in there 10
                              And with my treasures bold, +10
                              I can keep my secret where, 11
                              And hint of riches new and old. +0

                              Begin it where warm waters halt 1
                              And take it in the canyon down, +10
                              Not far, but too far to walk. 0
                              Put in below the home of Brown. 0000

                              From there it’s no place for the meek, 10
                              The end is ever drawing nigh;
                              There’ll be no paddle up your creek, 00
                              Just heavy loads and water high. 0+

                              If you’ve been wise and found the blaze, +0
                              Look quickly down, your quest to cease, 0000
                              But tarry scant with marvel gaze,
                              Just take the chest and go in peace. +0

                              So why is it that I must go 010
                              And leave my trove for all to seek? +100
                              The answers I already know, 10
                              I’ve done it tired, and now I’m weak. 11 +01

                              So hear me all and listen good, 01 +0
                              Your effort will be worth the cold. 00
                              If you are brave and in the wood +1 (<-flipped bit)
                              I give you title to the gold. 100

                              10+1011+01+100000010000++00000+0010+1001011+0101+0 00+1100

                              Why do I like 4250 so much? Because 42+50 is 92. 92 is the element number for Uranium. Uranium, the sounded out word from "If you are brave and in the wood" with the M upside down as the W in Wood.

                              I laughed and cried. It seems funny. 4250. Added up to Uranium. 42 the answer to life the universe and everything. So I went to the gate, sure that I had found the secret code. I tried it. It didn't work. I had tried so hard. I was at the end of my rope, dangling.

                              That's when I started sinning again... Sin Number 5 again. I planned a trip onto the property. I figured, the Santa Fe Institute wouldn't mind. Why would they? I kidded myself. Despite the signs saying No Trespassing, Security Camera in Operation. I was Treasure Crazy. I planned for the next day, and I parked just up the road at the pet memorial wall place, and hiked down Bishops Lodge Road. Towards ---- Rd. Towards the gate, planning to go over the creek, up the road, to the "barn" that would have an old David Brown tractor in it. The home of Brown, the third time through the poem.

                              I saw cars parked way up on the hill at the top house. People were on site. This did not feel right. I still went down ---- Rd, around the gate, loitered by the stream. This was not me. I don't do this stuff. I went up the road and to the "barn". The "barn" was a pair of utility sheds that didn't look anywhere near as interesting as from Google Earth. Small garage sheds really, joined by a workshed. Everything was padlocked up tight, no windows on the sheds, and I was not going to break in. I saw tractor tyre tracks in the dirt but who knows what kind of tractor it was. Who cares. I left, went back to my car. Slept on it overnight.

                              The next day Sunday, no cars were there. I was still up for a quick drive up the road. If I could open the gate. I was about to commit the worst possible sin. A betrayal of trust. Or something.

                              Sin Number 6 - I "hacked" the gate keypad. I don't know how many other people have committed Sin Number 6 hunting the treasure. I shouldn't have done it. I shouldn't even be telling you this. I downloaded a couple of manuals for that range of keypads. Read up on them. Drove to the gate in the car, wound down the window. Put in the star code for progamming mode and and default administrator password. I've never done that before in my life. I only thought to try it because I Googled the model of system, a few days earlier. I wanted to know how long a code I might have to enter. A page had came up on hacking keypads, and I read it with a professional curiosity.

                              The default administrator password worked. I was into admin mode. I tried the star code for cycling the gate relays. It didn't work. The gate stayed shut. I programmed an additional new entry code into the system. Saved and tried the code. The gate didn't open. I realised the gate mechanism looked a lot newer, and the keypad box was probably just used as a voice intercom. The gate was probably opened by cellular phone call and caller ID. Much more secure. The keypad wasn't even connected to the gate actuator. I was done with the gate.

                              I was completely wrong on my solve about the Shidoni Foundry, weathervanes, fish pond, Forrest and [in my mind] his "friend" collaborator Eugene Thaw. Who knows what else I was wrong about. I was done.

                              I changed my flights and came home early.