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Archive for June, 2012

When Forrest Fenn is feeling really, really good—to where his playfulness outruns his restraint, he will give additional clues about the location of his hidden treasure. Over the past year or so, I have become privy to some of these extra bits of information because that’s what we “sleuthy guys” do.  I’ll give you five of them—by which I mean clues, not sleuthy guys.

1. “It’s not in Nevada.” This is a response Forrest gave to a woman when she requested that he come out to Nevada to collect the treasure for her because she couldn’t manage it alone.  It’s a reasonable answer to a somewhat sneaky request but it’s my belief that this is more than a well timed put down. It’s a real clue and, who knows, he might continue to name places where the treasure isn’t hidden and eventually things will get narrowed down to something manageable. For a long time my guess for the next area cut out of the running was “Virginia.”

2. “It’s hidden over 300 miles west of Toledo.” Not long after the “It’s not in Nevada” thing, Forrest tossed this one out. As the crow flies, this clue puts the dividing line between where his treasure is and is not almost exactly in the middle of the Mississippi River.  That’s good because not only is Virginia now not in play, it eliminates another dozen or so of those states I didn’t much want to go to anyway—not that there is anything wrong with them.  It’s just that I would rather go north and west as opposed to north and east and Ohio obviously doesn’t match up to those places that have elevation changes of say…more than a hundred and five feet . . . and rivers that don’t catch fire.

 

Cuyahoga River Fire. Nov. 3, 1952. (Cleveland Press Collection. Cleveland State University Library).

Cuyahoga River Fire. Nov. 3, 1952. (Cleveland Press Collection. Cleveland State University Library).

3. “Take a sandwich.” When I first heard this clue I said to myself, “This is really going to be easy. You get up in the morning, have breakfast, go out looking, find the treasure, eat your sandwich and you are back by dinner.” Not the case. “Sir Conan” Dal (lummifilm.wordpress.com) almost always takes a sandwich and he is still out there looking. Nevertheless, this one remains a good clue because of what it doesn’t say. For example, it doesn’t say, “Take a tent, a bedroll, a change of socks and food for eight days.”  It’s a sandwich—just a sandwich although you might want to consider taking pepper-spray along if your sandwich resembles a freshly made Egg-McMuffin™ and you are taking it into bear country. Bears love Egg-McMuffins™ as well as Southern Baptists and Young Republicans.

4. “Take a flashlight.”  I don’t have much to say about this one because, for me, any time a flashlight is involved things get scary. It’s because I had a couple of aunts not much older than me who loved to scare the crap out of little kids and they did it with flashlights in dark cellars. In any case, this “clue” could give new meaning to the very first line in Forrest Fenn’s poem: “As I have gone alone in there” Does that mean a cave? A tunnel? A haunted house? Or it could be that “…in there…” isn’t a clue at all and the treasure is hidden in a dark recess where a flashlight would be needed even if you didn’t have to “go into” anything. But then maybe he just wants us to see where we’re going after dark even if we have no idea of where it is we’re going.

5. “If you had its coordinates, you would be able to find the treasure.” This ‘extra’ clue could be a game changer except . . . well, you know . . . it’s probably not. Still, like all of you who already knew of this clue, I immediately set off on a search of Forrest’s entire Memoir for numbers (as well as to REI in search of a new GPS.)

And find them I did!  REI must carry ninety different kinds of GPS’, each one more complicated, and pricey, than the other. I immediately chose a yellow one, and then I went looking for numbers in his Memoir and found everything from the number 1 on up through 9 and then 0; and in any order and number of numbers you could imagine.  After a month or so of this, it occurred to me, sadly, that my new GPS may have been an impulse buy because this clue could have nothing at all to do with the hundreds of numbers found in Forrest Fenn’s Memoir. As of now, my interpretation of this “clue” is that it is a very polite swipe at the geocachers who wander the world hiding jellybeans, old hotel keys from Brazil and embarrassing photographs of their Ex in used plastic pill bottles for other people to find. After all, Forrest was right; anybody can find anything if they have its coordinates and a GPS. Of course, and I am only guessing here, maybe it’s his way of saying “Geocaching is for sissies, and if you want to find this treasure, you will have to do it the old-fashioned way.” Certainly I would never say such a thing myself because I really do love my new GPS.

Be well,

r/

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I am seldom asked anything anymore except by my grandson who is always asking for another cookie. He knows more than I do, of course; it’s just that he can’t reach the cookie jar so the old guy is still of some use.  Besides, it‘s one of those win-win things since I also always need another cookie.

Nevertheless, because of this blog, I am sometimes queried by individuals who believe themselves treasure hunters. Two of their questions stand out: “You’ve found it already, haven’t you?” or more often, “Just where are you looking?”

There is another question regarding Forrest Fenn’s treasure that I overheard so it doesn’t really count as someone seeking my advice even though I do know the answer—sort of. I have delayed giving it out because to do so could say far too much. I only do it now because…well, once again, I know you will share the treasure with me if you find it.  The question is “What’s a ‘blaze?’”

Graffiti blaze: The highlighted passage reads in Spanish: Paso por aq[u]i el adelantado Don Ju[an] de Oñate del descubrimyento de la mar del sur a 16 de Abril de 1605. The translation into English reads: Governor Don Juan de Oñate passed through here from the discovery of the Sea of the South on the 16th of April, 1605. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

First, before we get into saying what a blaze is, we should mention what it isn’t. That is, a blaze is not graffiti though some graffiti may be significant and go a long way toward proving that you are standing near a spot where someone else once stood. If that person is of interest to you then it seems that that bit of graffiti can count as a “blaze.” The “graffiti” at El Morro National Monument in New Mexico, for example, consist of a large number of “blazes” if you are interested in things like Juan de Oñate’s excursions about the Southwest; and it would have been especially so if you were a part of his party but for some reason found yourself trailing behind on the return to San Juan from his “discovery” of the “Sea of the South.”

Second, there are all kinds of blazes—the white mark on a horse’s nose and forehead; the metaphoric successful first pass or attempt towards anything; the emblem near the breast pocket of the sport coat called, incidentally, a “blazer;” Usain Bolt’s lightening fast speed in the 100 and 200 meter races; the final scenes of Butch Cassidy and the Sun Dance Kid in which they go down in a ‘blaze of glory’; a fire, a lightning strike, a meteor arcing across the sky; trail markers made with any color of paint, surveyor’s tape, metal or plastic disks; spots cut out of a tree’s bark; rocks, sticks, or tufts of grass arranged in certain ways; natural or manmade marks of almost any size and kind occurring almost anywhere that indicate a trail; and, to the detriment of the entire concept, the name of Glenn Beck and friends’ misinformation blog.

Modern Blaze. This blase is a four inch by four inch piece of painted metal located about eight feet high and marks a trail in Yellowstone National Park. (Photo: Saunier)

Third, our world is full of things that look like blazes even though they are not. Rock and tree falls can knock out a chunk of tree bark identical to those made by humans. Animals (elk, porcupine) often eat the bark off of trees at just the right size and height and these marks can very much resemble a blaze.  To make things even more interesting, any of these can still be used as a blaze if the trail maker and trail follower so choose. I have even been told by a Costa Rican when I asked for directions that I needed to turn right “where the giant poplar tree used to be.” Everyone else knew where he meant so why shouldn’t I?


Which brings us to the fourth thing we need to know about blazes; they are temporary and depending on what they are made of, can last from a few hours to hundreds of years—but in the end, they all will disappear. Forest fires or logging can destroy blazes placed on trees; weather will deteriorate paint, plastic and paper; visitors can and do destroy cairns, and natural erosion can take down even the most prominent of geologic formations.

Classic blaze. This blaze appears to have been cut from three to ten years ago on a ten inch diameter spruce tree in the Big Horn National Forest in Wyoming.  (Photo: Saunier)

Classic blaze. This blaze appears to have been cut from three to ten years ago on a ten inch diameter spruce tree in the Big Horn National Forest in Wyoming. (Photo: Saunier)

And fifth, the definition of “blaze” that we are looking for can be found in just about any dictionary. What is important about all “blazes” meant to indicate a path toward something is that they do just that; they mark the beginning and/or middle and/or the end points of a path or trail—they signal that you are more or less where you are supposed to more or less be. Recreation managers on public lands use eye-catching blazes and there are a lot of them. On the other hand, marijuana growers on public lands make their blazes hard to see and they are scarce.

Forrest Fenn, because of his interest in history and the out of doors, would be attracted to the method used by the early trappers, explorers and settlers which is a hand-sized piece of bark cut out of a tree about eye level, and/or a conspicuous natural landmark that would remain prominent for a long, long time. But, as far as I know, Forrest Fenn is not in the habit of tagging anything or, for that matter, of knocking chunks out of trees with his axe; he probably used one that was already there—by which I mean the blaze, not the axe.

And last, about that title, “Forrest Fenn to Star in Remake of Blazing Saddles.”  I was kidding.

Stay safe,

r/

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