Here is a question we will have to answer to find Forrest Fenn’s treasure: How “far” is “Not far, but too far to walk?” Is it five miles? Ten? Twenty? A hundred? Doesn’t it depend on how fast and how long one walks?
I mean, Meriwether Lewis of Lewis and Clark fame essentially walked from St. Louis up the Missouri River, over the Continental Divide, and down the Columbia River to the Pacific Coast—a distance of a bit over 3,500 miles. Lewis wanted to do that so he could make scientific collections of the plants and smaller animals that he would encounter.
Likewise, many of the early Spanish colonists and friars in New Mexico walked from Mexico City to about thirty miles north of Santa Fe but they did so only as fast as the slowest animal they had with them—the speed and endurance of a pig that had to eat as it walked along.
After Osbourne Russell and a couple of his trapper friends lost a fight (and their possessions) with the Blackfoot Indians they made their escape by walking over the Teton Mountains at a pace of about 25 miles a day. Russell himself had an arrow through his thigh, none of them had eaten or slept much since the battle, it snowed during the walk and they made the trip without blankets and without much, if any, clothing. They kept this pace because they wanted to keep their hair.
On the other end of things, I am good for maybe two or three miles a day if the pace is slow and I get a nap after breakfast and lunch. But my pace is not the pace that Forrest Fenn is talking about.
We need upper and lower limits placed on the “distance” part of the Poet’s clues and to do this, we need to know how much time we have been allotted and at what speed to walk to solve Forrest Fenn’s clue on how far “canyon down” we need to go once we have figured out just where the “warm waters halt.” Are there any clues to help us out on this one?
I can think of only one: Forrest Fenn was a military man and he learned a military cadence.
You all know what a military cadence is—every military movie ever made opens with one. What is interesting about “cadence” though, is that, as far as I know, there is no “official” military cadence even though it is one of the more important parts of military training. Obviously, a cadence is meant to keep a tight formation and the lazy from lagging, but it also improves morale, promotes esprit de corps, and it reduces and postpones fatigue.
During formal reviews and during the Revolutionary War, cadence is/was kept by a drum. During everyday marching now-a-days, it is kept by a “call/response” rhythm adapted from the songs slaves sang while working in the fields and from the early churches.
There are probably hundreds of cadence “songs” but most of them can’t be given here because they tend to be a bit raunchy. The title of this post is the “call” part of a cadence that may no longer be used because of how tame it is: “You had a good home, but you left” as your left foot hits the ground. And then the “response” is “Your right” as your right foot hits the ground. And so it goes. (A military cadence is generally, but not always, about 125 steps of 30 inches each per minute for “quick time” and 175 steps of 36 inches for “double time.” Double time amounts to a mile every 10-11 minutes).
Even without unions in the military you get a ten-minute break every fifty minutes. So, one possibility for solving the distance problem is this: If we say that the time frame is one day then we can say the following.
a. An eight-hour day with seven ten-minute breaks equals six hours and fifty minutes (410 minutes) of walking.
b. At a pace of one mile each ten minutes, the distance would be 41 miles. This would be a jogging (double time) pace kept up for six hours and 50 minutes with 10-minute breaks allotted every now and then just so you can stiffen up.
c. At a pace of one mile each fifteen minutes, the distance would be 27 miles.
d. At a pace of one mile each twenty minutes, the distance would be a bit over 20 miles. This is the distance “normal” people can generally walk in an eight-hour day given good conditions and good conditioning.
e. At a pace of one mile each twenty-five minutes, the distance would be almost 16.5 miles.
So, for a one eight-hour day of walking minus a ten-minute break each hour, rounding things off a bit, and throwing in an unknown fudge-factor, the treasure chest could be hidden between 15 and 40 miles downstream from “where warm waters halt.” That narrows things down a good deal and it is another “cookie” for those in need of a cookie.
Of course, Forrest Fenn has never said any of this. Maybe the allotted time is two days; maybe three. Forrest Fenn is a crafty gentleman.