Forrest Fenn has said that no one will ever just “stumble upon” his treasure. To find it, one must be actively looking for it. He doesn’t know my wife.
While out tending to her life list of bird sightings (while the rest of us looked for Forrest’s treasure) she made a fascinating discovery and wanted everybody to know about it. First she found Biggy-Sleuth and Mini-Sleuth sleeping by a gurgling brook in a chair we had carted along and told them.
Then she met Beat-Man and BKE who were seated by an ancient abandoned cabin discussing the comparative influence of Camus and Seinfeld on the modern arts—music and film in particular, and repeated her story.
A bit later, she crossed paths with Mama Girl who was wondering if any of us had been eaten by a bear and told her. Mama Girl then found me as I was happily skipping stones on a long skinny lake.
When I was told what my lovely wife had found, I said, “Where?” and as we walked along gathering stray members of Team Sleuthy-Guy, I marveled at the fabulous place that Forrest’s poetry had led us to: a short and narrow, incredibly serene and intriguing hanging valley with a stream of no name full of trout and any number of fresh elk beds (by which I mean in the valley), piles of moose marbles and great heaps of bear-poo at least as tall as Poo-Bear himself. Purple and yellow flowers bloomed everywhere. And though it was mid-summer and we were just a short eight-minute walk from the road, we were entirely alone. It was mesmerizing and all of us decided that when it was time, there were a whole lot of places where “our bones could rest forever” that were worse than the place we were in.
But, I digress.
After a stroll of about a quarter mile, we came upon a shaded meadow with a half dozen super-sized boulders (one of which held the feather remains of an osprey left there by something a whole lot bigger than an osprey). We rounded a corner and there it was:
Here, a small but important clarification needs to be said. It’s no secret that my wife loves dogs, cats, birds, and horses as well as spiders, lizards and me–sometimes in that order. She calls us all “Sweetie,” so when I saw what she had discovered I said, “Wow! This must be it!” and she said, “What?” And I said, “Forrest Fenn’s blaze!” But she had only seen the pile of stones and the small sign below that misplaced chunk of limestone that says, “SHELBY” and then, “Every man should have one good dog in his life. I’ve had mine.”
How she completely missed the graffiti on the 6’x6’x6’ block of rock that reads, “Men Landed on the Moon July 20 1969” is strange since I had taught her everything I know about both rocks and the clues of Forrest Fenn—and she missed it (I suspect tears in her eyes).
But, I digress.
Unsentimental fellow that I am, while everybody else lamented Shelby and his poor owner, I began to study the graffiti. It reminded me of a couple of things—one of which was the fact that several astronauts had also been pilots in Vietnam and they may well have known Forrest Fenn. Another was that this was the perfect Forrest Fenn blaze! What more could a pilot aspire to than blazing a trail to the moon? Surely Forrest would be proud enough of the path blazed by his colleagues to note it on a rock! I took photographs and that evening I checked that writing against the handwriting found on pages 122 and 123 of his Memoir and this is what I found:
What is more, if you look “quickly down” from that BLAZE, you see . . . Shelby . . .
However, being vegans and vegetarians who wave blood-filled mosquitoes off their arms and legs rather than smack ‘em, there is no way that Team Sleuthy-Guy would ever let me dig up a dog for a mere one or two million dollars. Besides, I know who put the graffiti up there and it wasn’t Forrest Fenn.
Doesn’t mean he couldn’t have used it as a blaze though; and there is nothing better than a ghost, real or imagined, to protect a buried treasure.