The Chase: Re-imagined

Ahoy from Florence Harbor Marina! Hello virtual crew members and fellow adventurers!

You may notice a different look to the post today. The skipper has decided to embark on a strange mission to conclude a three year hobby of his, Forest Fenn (ff) treasure hunting. So skipper, take it away. I will return once the skipper gets this out of his system.

Eric the Red

So, for those who might not know of Forrest Fenn and his treasure hunt; probably, your first question is “Who is Forest Fenn, and what is this nonsense about treasure hunting”? Those questions will be answered as you read on, but basically he hid a treasure chest full of gold somewhere in the Rocky Mountains back in 2010. Then wrote a book, The Thrill of the Chase, which contained a poem with directions to the chest. Well, if you could understand the directions in the poem.

The elusive prize to the successful solve of The Thrill of the Chase poem

I believe I solved the poem in November 2019. So while waiting for the snow to melt to begin my Search & Rescue mission, I began thinking about the next phase of The Chase. Stephen Covey, of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, taught me that we should begin with the end in mind. So I developed a plan, The Chase Re-Imagined, to implement once I safely had the chest in hand. My plan was simple, but thought it would help keep the Chase alive even though the chest would no longer be alone in the wild frontier.

Unfortunately, someone else found the treasure chest the week before I was going Boots On The Ground (BOTG) to recover the chest. I have been wrestling with what to do with my plan ever since because the guy who recovered the chest has announced he wishes to remain anonymous and will not release the solve of the poem. With that in mind, I finally have settled on a plan of action. Hopefully, others will catch the vision and we can work together to achieve…………

The Chase Re-Imagined.

The Thrill was definitely in my three year stalk of the chest. Taoist Proverb: The Journey Is The Reward!

Obviously, some things will have to change. But I would like to think some form of what I originally planned could be salvaged, reworked, and made to work. I would much prefer a more positive outcome to The Chase, rather than the chaos that ensued over the last few weeks with the announcement that the chest had been recovered. What follows was my original idea:

The Chase Re-Imagined

  1. Erect a tombstone at the location where the chest was found
  2. Turn the chest over to a nearby Visitor Center/Museum so searchers could view the chest and the contents
  3. Set up interactive displays at the museum:
    • Ask searchers what their ‘Word that is Key’ was, and how it helped in their solve
    • Where / what was your home of Brown
    • Showcase the diversity of thought in the solves
    • Have some of the YouTube channels, ‘best of The Chase’ showing on screens
    • Have a place to show some of the documentaries that some are working on
  4. Write up the solve, (I have actually completed my solve in 8 power point modules), release the 8 modules once a month, and allow searchers time to complete each module and solve the poem for themselves
  5. Searchers go to the tombstone on their own schedule to take selfie
  6. Turn the spot into a Puzzle Geocache
    • The Museum would be the initial gps coordinates for the Puzzle geocache
    • after solving poem, searcher could go to the spot, take selfie with tombstone
    • Searcher go to Museum
    • Exchange selfie pic for a commemorative Chase Coin
    • Museum could then post selfies in a display and online

Which finally leads me to the purpose of this post.

Since Mr Anonymous (the chest finder who says he will not divulge the hidden location) does not even want to be a fly on the wall, I have decided to go ahead and release my eight modules. The modules will shine a light on the poem and illuminate a path so that anyone who cares to try can actually figure out the poem and complete the solve. Which will, prove my point, that once you see the secrets hidden in the poem that you too can follow the trail thru the poem and discover the one and only verifiable, confirmed, surefire solve of the poem. I will show that the poem is actually a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for the blueprint hidden in the poem. And as with any SOP, the method will achieve a repeatable, consistent outcome that anyone can find. In other words, if you learn to see and hear the words of the poem, the words actually only lead to one secret where. And you will follow the trail on your own, and find the answer on your own, I’ll just provide hints and show the way.

These eight PowerPoint presentations will lead searchers thru the poem and to the solve. I will start releasing them on this blog site (and a few ff fb pages) starting July 5th. METHOD TO THE MADNESS will be first. Then on July 6th, I will release A WORD THAT IS KEY. Then on the 6th of each month I will release the next module. So August 6th, Decoding the Blaze will be released. This will allow time for searchers to solve each Stanza of the poem at their own pace. When we are done, the poem will have released her secrets and all searchers can know the ‘secret where’ the chest was found, discovered by their own hard work, and some gentle nudging from me.

Here is hoping that you will join the adventure and work out the solve to the ff poem.

My Sad Sad Story in solving the poem and subsequent crash landing:

In April 2017, we were having the wheels replaced on Still Waters II, props changed, shafts straightened, stuffing box repacked, and cutlass bearings replaced. The boat was hauled ashore for the work and the crew moved ashore to a hotel.

Still Waters II being hauled out at marina

While chilling at the hotel, reading Dead Man’s Chest, a sequel to Treasure Island, to pass the time, my thoughts of pirate treasures and Long John Silver were interrupted by a ring tone on my phone. A quick glance at the phone showed somebody else was also treasure hunting. The male heir’s name and number appeared. I reluctantly reached for the phone to see what he might need now.

Well, to my surprise, he was looking for help but not the kind I was expecting. He announced that he had come across a poem while doing some unrelated internet search on the Treasure Coast of Florida. Supposedly, some guy named Forrest Fenn (ff) had hid a treasure chest with more than a million dollars worth of gold, coins, and jewels back in the 2010 timeframe. Then ff released a poem in October 2010 that contained nine clues that were thought to be a map to the treasure chest.

Treasure Museum on Treasure Coast

The male heir now clearly was speaking my love language. A hidden treasure, a puzzle to solve, and an eventual Search & Rescue Mission into the Rocky Mountains. It just doesn’t get much better than that. The male heir had been working on the poem for several months and had derived a theory that the first clue would be found in West Yellowstone. He asked if I would help him find the answer to the first clue, Begin it where warm waters halt. He believed that the warm waters were a steam engine, and the halt would be an old train station that no longer existed. He was asking my help to find the long forgotten train station.

I gladly accepted the challenge. I needed something better to do than read a Treasure Island sequel. I asked him if he could send me a copy of the poem, and within moments of hanging up, my phone gave that familiar ding of a text message. I opened the text and read the poem for the first time.

So I wrote a poem containing nine clues that if followed precisely, will lead to the end of my rainbow and the treasure:

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

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

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.

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

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

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.

My first impressions after reading thru the poem several times was that the descriptions were extremely vague and there were no obvious distances to travel along the described path. I had hiked and hunted more than a few times in the Rocky Mountains, and something sure seemed a miss with the poem.

I had promised the male heir help, so I turned my attention from the poem and towards West Yellowstone. About the time I had burned the last drop of midnight oil, I had solved the ‘halt’ question at hand. Unbeknownst to me, a halt was actually a water tower stop where steam engines would take on water for the steam engine. From Chicago to West Yellowstone (a distance of just over 1,400 miles) there was a halt about every 7-10 miles, with the last halt actually in West Yellowstone, just past the train station where passengers were exchanged. This meant there were numerous (more like hundreds maybe even thousands of warm waters halts in the Rocky Mountains) possibilities to answer the first clue, Where warm waters halt.

My brain was working overtime as I tried to fall asleep, trying to figure out what that uneasy feeling deep in my gut was trying to tell me. Then like a front end loader dropping a load of sand, it hit me. Guessing at geographical locations to solve the poem just could not be a winning strategy. This ff fellow most have done something unique in the words of the poem to provide the specificity needed to find a treasure hidden in the Rocky Mountains. There are just way too many variables to ever precisely follow the poem as written, match up the descriptions to a guessed geographical location, and connect the guesses to the end of the ff rainbow and the chest. With that resolved, I drifted off to sleep.

The next day I called the male heir and passed on the information he had asked for. Then I broke the news to him that he was on a wild goose chase that would never end with a successful solve. I gave him this little example that he could relate to because he was familiar with the area in Colorado. We had been there numerous times on summer vacation.

Mount Princeton Hot Springs – Chalk Creek

Thought Experiment: let’s assume (or guess) for a moment that warm waters halt is somewhere along the flow of water out of the Mt Princeton Hot Springs. The poem does not define warm, so we will have to guess where hot becomes warm along the creek headed down the canyon. Then we have the vague: Not far, but too far to walk line. So let’s hop in the car and drive down the canyon road towards the Arkansas River. We will need to put in below the home of Brown though. Well, from where we are sitting there at the Arkansas River, there are at least four (guesses) homes of Brown off the top of my head: Brown Canyon which people raft thru, trout fishery where the state raises trout, a home of Brown of unsinkable Molly Brown in Leadville, and her home in Denver. We will have to guess which one of these might be correct. As you can see, none of this is very precise, and way too many variables if you expand the possibilities into the four state search zone of New Mexico, Wyoming, Colorado, and Montana.

I explained to him that I did not know how to solve the poem, but guessing at geographical locations, and travel distances just was not going to cut the mustard. I also informed him of my first strategy to attack the poem. Because I was surprised about the word ‘halt’, I had decided to look up the definition of every word in the poem. I was curious what other secrets the poem might cough up if I studied the words thru the microscopic lens of a dictionary.

This first step turned out to be a winning strategy that firmly planted my feet on the trail that eventually led to solving the poem. The dictionary uncovered several nuances in the poem, which in turn led me to discover a ‘Word that is Key’ in solving the poem. The word literally unlocked the secrets hidden in the poem. (Module 2 will give the details.) (Then you can apply the Word, solve Stanza 2 & 3 on your own, and find the blaze.)

With the Word that is Key, I was able to decipher Stanzas 2 & 3 fairly quickly. The blaze also made an appearance with two confirmations at the end of Stanza 3. This cemented my belief that I was on the right trail. ( Module 3 will give the details.)

When I started into Stanza 4, I was able to use what I had learned in Stanza 2 & 3 to again make quick hay of the words, but the directions made me sit up and take notice. I was not yet prepared to actually do what the poem said so I mulled it over in my mind for several months, and moved onto Stanza 5. (Module 4 will give the details.)

During the summer cruising season of 2017, we headed to Maine. When the geese decided to head south in the fall, we followed them south all the way to the Bahamas in February 2018. All the while, thinking about that nagging little issue in Stanza 4, and the brick wall I ran into with Stanza 5. However, in the spring of 2018 we stopped in historic St Augustine as we headed north along the Atlantic ICW. It turned out to be an historic stop. While touring town, I found the gem I had been searching for. The gem turned out to be the key that helped me unlock Stanza 5. ( Module 5 will give the details.)

Now on to the final Stanza. In 2018, we had decided to cruise America’s Great Loop for a second time. In my spare time, I continued my final assault of Stanza 6 and the poem. I thought I had a good plan of action, but once again I found a wall. After trudging so many miles I could not decipher Stanza 6. I decided to spend the summer reading The Thrill of the Chase and look for hints to unearth the good map. (Module 6 describes the initial thoughts on Stanza 6)

I managed to find the good map, which once again put me firmly on track for solving the poem. (Module 7 describes the discovery of the good map, and with the knowledge of what the good map turns out to be, you should be able to complete the solve of the poem.)

In 2019, we decided to cruise the Down East Loop, up to Quebec City, out the St Lawrence Seaway, down to New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and then Nova Scotia. Because this was unfamiliar waters, I spent most of my time focused on the immediate adventure taking place just in front of the bow of the boat. However, on our way south we stopped in Brunswick, Georgia. I spent three days dedicated in November working out the final solution, and like a good detective, eliminating all other suspects. However, I was still stumped on how the last line of the poem confirmed the solve. We needed to travel back to Texas, so we rented a car and headed west. Somewhere between Mobile and Baton Rogue I finally saw the ninth clue solved, and the poem confirm in my minds eye. (Module 8 pulls it all together and unveils the final solve of the poem.)

At that point, I began to monitor the snow conditions in my search area. With early snowfall in 2019, I decided it best to time the Search & Rescue Mission with the spring thaw. By the first of December, the chest was already insulated with more than four feet of snow.

I began to monitor snow conditions at the calculated spot, and it looked like the spring thaw would be early so a Rescue Mission was commissioned for April. Then the big surprise of 2020 hit and COVID-19 yanked the rug out from under my Rescue Mission. Montana put a 14 day self quarantine in place for out of state arrivals. I also am in the high risk group, so I decided life is better than treasure and decided to wait and see how the nation wide lockdown would play out.

By the end of May, things began to look promising for a Rescue Mission, Montana announced that the out of state self quarantine would end June 1st. Yes, things are starting to fall in place and the expectations began to rise. I arranged for a rental car on Monday, June 8th to drive precisely to the treasure chest. Our motto, reminiscent of the gold rush days of old was: Treasure Chest or Bust.

Montana Gold Rush Ghost Town – kinda like my Search & Rescue Mission

And bust is exactly what happened.

The chest, 10 years later
Forrest Fenn examining the found treasure

It took about 30 minutes of starring at the announcement that the treasure had been found before I recovered from the knock out blow. As I slowly began to regain consciousness, I decided to go for a walk. I went into the captain’s quarters to get some socks. I accidentally woke the Admiral up, and as she squinted thru her partially opened eyes, I must of looked like a pale ghost rider. She asked what was wrong. It took a minute, but I finally was able to muster the words: ‘ff has announced that the treasure has been found.’ It actually sounded worse hearing it come out of my own mouth than it did starring at the announcement. I mentioned I was going for a walk, grabbed some socks, turned and left.

(Over the next few days a series of God moments occurred that let me know that The Chase was for me to solve, not to retrieve. What follows are just a few of these encounters.)

Amazingly though, I barely got a half-mile from the boat when I heard God clearly speak to my spirit: ‘Your treasure is in heaven.’ Then a quiet warm peace fell over me and I knew everything would be alright.

Sunday night I prayed that God would answer the why question, Why was the chest not for me to retrieve? At dark thirty in the night I woke to what I thought was someone boarding our boat. While I was tuning my ear to listen for footsteps, I heard God say, ‘It’s for your safety!’ It took me a minute to figure out he was talking about my physical protection from the Chase Crazies, not an unwanted visitor onboard the boat.

There are a few more stories but I will save them for another day. However, after reflecting on what has happened over the last several weeks and months, it is obvious to me I got the better deal. I am still living the good life on my boat, carefree, and worry free. While that sly fox that beat me to the treasure now has several problems to deal with. For starters, the IRS has their handout looking for their fair share of the treasure. I am sure they will track him down, one way or the other. Looks like six lawsuits have been filed making various stupid claims against the guy. And because the guy wants to remain anonymous and never reveal his solve, he has several hundred thousand people up in arms and mad at him for ending the Chase.

Yes, that boy has more problems than a pregnant nun.

Boat Name of the Week

We first met the crew of Long Story at Heritage Harbor Marina on the Illinois River back in 2018. Thought their boat name was appropriate to announce the long story that will unfold over the next few months as we explore the ff poem and head out on the trail of the solve. Hope you take the time to join this new adventure.

Next Week

The crew will return their granddaughter to her rightful owner, so another road trip to Texas is on the books. They will return to Florence and begin planning their next move on the Tennessee River.

Be looking for the first module, Method to the Madness, to be released next Sunday, July 5th.

Loop On –

Where the road ends, the water begins. The water goes on forever, and the adventure never ends.

The skipper

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