Bob’s Search

Ok, here I am flying to Salt Lake City from Orlando. (no no no! Fast forward!) Ok, here I am driving from Salt Lake City to West Yellowstone. (no no no! Fast forward!) Here I am at Yellowstone where warm waters halt. (ok, that’s better please continue!) I take my journey in the canyon down, below the home of Brown. That is former home of ranger Gary Brown, the Yellowstone institute at the base of Druid peak Lamar river valley. Forrest instructs to put in here. I have owned a 17 ft canoe for 20 years. In boating to put in is the starting point of the journey. I had researched the Lamar river before I left Florida and found that to put in here would require portage. I did not feel Forrest would not have done this with a 42lb box. He would have needed help. He said no one but him knows where it is so the journey was not by water.

If not by water then where am I to put in– buffalo trail or the highway? I need to identify the next waypoint. I feel it is the blaze…look quickly down…see rapids below. I found that by taking the highway past the Yellowstone institute, 4 miles to the west (not far, too far to walk) it follows the river where it changes from a wide slow moving current to raging rapids. These rapids continue for a mile with 6 pullouts scattered along the way (tarry scant, marvel gaze=a pullout). Surely I would find a trail marker at one of these pullouts that reads “see rapids below” sadly, I did not. All of the pullouts are on the south side of the road, same as the river. Each one has a drop off of 50 to 150 feet at a 45 degree angle all the way to the river. The river is raging here, definitely “no paddle” huge boulders, whitewater the entire mile. I believe now to be within 500ft of the bronze box, at one of these pullouts. Maybe I don’t need to find the actual sign, see rapids below. Simply near rapids. I go back to the first pullout at the beginning of the rapids to make a map so I don’t cover the same ground twice.

After mapping, I decide to start at the westernmost pullout I label as #6. The pullout is a half-moon shaped slab of asphalt with room for 3-4 cars. There is only about 10ft of flat ground to the drop to the river. It’s about 100 ft to the area just above the river where it floods. Thick green grass grows here and there are huge boulders. There are almost no trees on the slope, just rocks and sage. I divide the area into two sections, east and west, with the dividing line at the center of the pullout. I start on the west section walking parallel to the highway about 10ft down the slope. The embankment is so steep that my left leg is straight while my right knee is bent. I walk about 100ft looking under every sagebush, rock, nook and cranny. I can see the roofs of cars going by on the highway above. At the end of 100ft I feel is as far as FF could have carried the box so I turn down hill, go 20ft and then turn back towards my dividing line. Now I can’t see the cars, only hear them. I traverse the hillside in this pattern, working my way to the river, looking, looking, looking…

The wind is always in my face, which is a good thing as every hunter knows. The wind blows my scent away from my destination, the river. If there are any bears or mountain lions down there, I will see them before they see me! Another important hunting technique is to always have the sun on your back. Today, it’s early morning with sun at my side, which is OK. Before leaving home I washed all my clothes in baking soda to make them scent free. I don’t use deodorant or shampoo. The best way to search undetected by predators is to stay scent free. From home research I knew I would be searching near pullouts so the animals here are used to the smell of cars. Another way to fool them is to smell like a car so I got brake dust off the front wheel of the rental car and put it on myself. I can’t smell a thing, but the animals will.

Finally, exhausted, I reach the flat area next to the river. I’ve got bear spray but if I’m attacked here surely a mountain lion could catch me before I could scramble up the hill. Am I crazy? I say my prayers to the powers that be asking for guidance and safety….”dear earth, trees, rocks. A certain man has collected items of gold and bronze and stone and has carelessly deposited them not where they came from. I am here to find these items. Please guide my steps and keep me safe.”

I lay down in the tall soft grass, slightly dizzy from the altitude and exercise. All I can hear is the roaring river not 20ft away. I have a bottle of water. Constantly aware of my surroundings, I pause from hunting and possibly being hunted to take in the natural beauty. I let my guard down. Slowly I repeat each line of the poem… I think yes! This is it! I am here! ….now where is that box?

Chirp!
Chirp! Chirp!

I look to see him on what appears to be an old deer trail that followed the river.

Ducking his head
Leading me down the path,
Skinny little legs he hath!

“Wait!” I cry
Trying to keep up
He has a rhythmic beat to his strut

“Is this the way?” I ask
Confident, always moving forward
Sure of his task

Just as I get close
Again, he goes
Eyeing me as if I’m a ghost

He knows the treasure
Where it is
Always ahead of me, the intruder

Suddenly, he flies!
To the top of a tree
There he sits looking every which way.

Ah-ha!
Now I see
The treasure is all around me.

Chirp! Chirp!

Chirp! Chirp!

The lone robin had led me to finish my search of pullout number six. Working my way back to the top, back and forth.

Looking, looking, looking, occasionally raising my head ever wary of predators.  I think about the group of wolves known as the Druid Pack. Are they out today? I reach the car and safety not realizing how tired I was until I sat down. Something to eat and more water will fix me up. It’s quite a shock to the body to come from Florida at 44ft above sea level to over a mile straight up.

Other cars stop at my pullout to see what I’m looking at. I watch them get out, look around, and then shoot a glance of dismay at me as they get back in their car. I can read their minds, they are thinking, “Why are you stopped here? There’s nothing!”  I shout aloud but of course they can’t hear me, “I’m looking for Forrest Fenn’s treasure!”  Just then the robin lands on a reflector that sits atop a metal pole next to the pullout. “my friend! So we meet again!”

I raise my water to toast him, “We’ve got five more pullouts to go, care to join me?”

Chirp!

photo (4)

King of the rock

My motel is in Cooke City so I keep passing pullout 4 every day. This will be my third time by. It’s calling me, #4 I know there is something special there. But just like when fishing a river, I leave the best spot for last. So, on to pullout 1 today. 1 and 2 are sort of combined. #3 is close to the river really there is no place to look there. All that’s left is 1 and 4….and 4 is calling me. I must remind myself to search 1 slowly and be patient.

After the steep slopes of 5,6 pullout1 is a relief. Mostly flat. A huge rock formation sits right by the road, big as a large house. On the east side is the valley floor, just before the beginning of the canyon and rapids. I notice the rock is fractured vertically all over it. Sections have fallen out to leave perfect hiding places for the bronze box on its side, like a book.

photo1

I spend hours here, I have to look closely as the box would blend in perfectly, camouflaged. I find my first piece of modern trash, a plastic water bottle. I take it with me to dispose of properly. Having searched the base of the rock, I climb to the top to search there. Working my way back to the pullout. It’s just some light rock climbing, nothing strenuous. What’s this? A bronze disc. A US Geological survey marker! Hmmm..1941 it says. Probably placed here that summer just before pearl harbor– Cool.

photo2

Now exhausted, I go back to the car to sit and think. More tourists stop, get out briefly and get back in their cars. They never wander far from a pullout. I talk to them but they can’t hear me…”yeah yeah yeah, nothing here to see. Move along folks.” I suppose they want to see a bear or moose, something big!

So, I’m thinking, wait a minute! What if Fenn put the box on the back side of the hiway…away from the pullouts? It’s still below the home of brown, and near rapids! What the heck, I’ll take a look. I found a passage to the top of the hill between two big boulders. Once there, WOW! What a view! The mountain is flat on top, a Mesa I guess? I can see the hiway below, cars whizzing by. They can’t see me. Lots of buffalo activity here, tufts of hair, rolling in the dirt. I’m looking for the bronze box, rocks the size of a bean bag chair. I can imagine the box lying here for thousands of years, undetected. Nobody comes up here, it’s obvious. Moving along slowly, quietly, I hear a faint chattering up ahead. It’s a marmot perched on top of one of the rocks! Three chipmunks are at the base, hiding from the marmot, snickering. They take turns, running up the side of the rock to touch the marmots tail. He spins to meet the attacker and barks out “watch it bub”. I look to see if the marmot is protecting food or something of value to ground squirrels. I can see nothing, what are they doing? Eventually, abandoning greedy human reasoning, I figure out they are just playing a game…..King of the rock.

How lucky am I to see this unrehearsed unscripted show in nature?

Search of pullout 1 complete. (sigh)

 

 

The Holy Grail

I say so-long to Cooke City this morning. Ready for a full day of searching at pullout#4 in Lamar Canyon. I’m excited, after two days here I’m better adjusted to the altitude and I feel accepted by nature. I have purpose. I have a sister in law who won’t go on family outings to a lake because she says the smell of lake water makes her sick. Huh? I love the smell of lake water. Nature has rejected her. I don’t think she knows how to pray. Maybe nobody ever taught her.

At the pullout, just off the asphalt there is a slight slope. I find a dirt path leading west along the river. I see footprints. Tourists have wandered away from the safety of their cars here to take pictures of themselves sitting on rocks with the raging river below. I follow the path for about 50 feet and the footprints stop. A little farther, and the path stops too, I see why. I find bones from a mule deer or elk kill by a predator.

photo3

I can’t find the skull though. There is danger here, but I got bear spray and Fenn did write that it was no place for the meek and I’m here. My plan is to go as far into this area as I think Fenn would have gone and then search my way back. So, another 100 feet past where the path ends should do it. Deeper in, I begin searching. Looking, looking, looking.

At home, if I lose my car keys, I get frustrated after 20 minutes of looking. Funny how after 4 days of looking for Fenns treasure, I still enjoy it. Must be the surroundings. Hey! There’s an old jar! It’s about 8″ tall with a screw-on lid. Looks like an old pickle jar. I’ll keep it, along with other treasures (trash) I’ve found. I’m not going home empty handed.

I come to two huge boulders, 15 feet high. Smaller boulders have tumbled down behind them so I can climb to the top to look around. I find a safe place to lay my treasures (trash) and begin climbing. Up top is flat, moving to the edge there is a gap between the boulder I’m standing on and the one next to it, two feet wide. On the ground 15 feet below is the missing skull with a full rack of antlers. I have found the den of whatever predator killed that mule deer. I’m in trouble. A quick check of the wind tells me it’s not in my favor. I’m hoping whatever lives here is asleep. I remove the bear spray from its holster and the trigger guard. It’s possible I could die today. I’m not going to play king of the rock with a mountain lion. I climb back down to the ground same way I went up, the side opposite the entrance to the den. Thankful I did not walk around that boulder before I climbed it. Gather up my treasures (trash) and almost run back to the pullout. Always turning around to see if I’m being chased as the roar of the river is deafening. I would not hear the pitter- patter of huge, clawed feet.

At the safety of the car, catching my breath, gathering my wits I take a closer look an the jar I found. On the bottom, emblazoned in the glass is the name of a Fenn family member! I can’t believe it! I have to go back to where I found it! The bronze box must be buried there! I just know it. I’m resting, and thinking….resting, thinking.. Is it worth it? I have found the holy grail, the very cup which Fenn drank from to refresh himself when he turned the last shovel of dirt. What should I do?

22 thoughts on “Bob’s Search

  1. hey Bob,

    My name is Travis and i only recently heard about this treasure and read Forrest Fenns bio.
    Your story is awesome I hope to go to Yellowstone one day simply for the scenery and wild life. In the event I ever get to go there though mind giving me a heads up on the location of pullout #4 ? Also, did you ever go back to Yellowstone after this trip?

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    • hello Travis, just saw your question today. yes i can tell you exactly where pullout #4 is. from yellowstone institute at the base of Druid peak on the beartooth hiway, go west about 4 miles to where the Lamar river turns violent. right here the river changes from a wide slow moving lazy river along sagebrush flats to raging rapids among huge boulders. there is a pullout on the left side of the road. i call this one pullout #1. count succesive pullouts as you drive the highway until you get to the fourth. pull over and park here. all the pullouts are on the left side of the road as you travel west. facing the river, turn to your right and follow the trail along the boulders where folks take their picture with the river in the background. its beautiful. follow the trail until it ends, not far only about 100 yards. then, keep going, walk parallel to the highway another 2-300 yards close to the highway and you will come to a small open meadow.here you will find the two huge boulders where i found the elk antlers still attached to the skull. i bet its still there today. take bear spray because the river is deafening and no one will hear your screams.

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    • hello travis again, yes i did go back to yellowstone, took my search partner Zelda with me and showed her everything i did. well, except that stretch of the Lamar as she has weak knees and cant run very fast.

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  2. With my search of pullout #6 complete I’m satisfied the bronze box is not there. I am in the northeast section of YNP because it is so remote. After all, the poem says “no place for the meek”. I have read all about West Yellowstone, Old Faithful, and the firehole river and I know many are searching there, but those areas never appealed to me due to the volume of tourists. This Lamar canyon reeks of hidden treasure. I can feel it. The area fits the poem so well, few tourists come here. I did not bring a shovel as I believe this area is so remote that Forrest could have laid the box on top of the ground, next to a rock and nobody would stumble on to it for a thousand years. He has said “I could go to it right now”. This highway is the only road in Yellowstone open all year and plowed. It is not seasonal.

    At pullout #5 I find a similar situation to #6. Except on the west side there is a large pipe under the road and the area below is washed out. No searching here, so I move to the eastern half and begin my back and forth systematic canvass of the hillside. Again, going no farther than an 80 year old would carry 22lbs twice. I can see the flat area next to the river, below. It’s bigger that the area at #6 and I can’t wait to get there to explore. Certain areas just seem to call me towards them. Near the bottom on the slope, i see a corner of a bronze colored box, wedged between two trees. I hurry towards it. There it is! The loose soil and rocks give way, I almost fall in my scramble to reach it. Although the correct dimensions and color, it is not Forrest’s box. I reach down to lift an old rusted empty two gallon oil can, probably used when the road was built for heavy equipment. Days later, at the Iron Horse Grill in Gardiner I will see one of these in like new condition. On display with other antiques as a tribute to the construction of YNP. Finally, I reach the bottom. After negotiating the slope for over an hour it’s nice to walk on flat ground. Again, the river is roaring. I repeat the poem in my head, yep I’m in the right spot. A huge boulder is here so I search the base. There, on the downstream side is a pile of old cans. Collected after many floods, washed down over many years. I’ve noticed any trash I see is very old. 100 years ago, pollution was not a concern. I guess the word pollution hadn’t been invented yet. Cone top beer cans, tin cans and even old sardine cans. The kind that used a key to roll the lid back. I imagine the workers taking a lunch break from road building. I take a couple of souvenirs and make my way back to the top, grabbing the old oil can on the way. Pullout #5 search complete.

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    • Bob – Thank you so much for posting your search in the Lamar Valley. I studied that area in my original topo map forays,…and fly-fishing research (and found the Grizzes that hang out in some remote areas there, too!). I was drawn to it because of the connection to a Mr. Brown and the Yellowstone Institute there, and found out about the wolf viewing program, too. And thanks for the mention of Druid Peak, which is where the now-Druid Wolf Pack was first introduced:

      en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Druid_Peak

      And, synchronistically, once again,…I was in Jackson Hole, WY,…for seven weeks in August-October 2012,…when a film was being made there, called “Druid Peak”. I was at a local fly-fishing store, where they were filming one of the scenes. Here is a link to that independent film:

      www.druidpeak.com/about-the-film/

      And I think I mentioned before a PBS special,…about a lone black wolf,…who uses the road to avoid the other males,…while it goes after their pack’s females. I have included that link, and another related one I found:

      www.youtube.com/watch?v=1CjW_T3h35A
      www.pbs.org/wnet/nature/episodes/in-the-valley-of-the-wolves/the-druid-wolf-pack-story/209/

      And as I was on the topo,…finding Druid Peak,…I found these other great peak names in the surrounding area (and Druid Peak was named for a Stonehenge connection, FYI):

      Fortress Mountain, Citadel Mountain, Giant Castle Mountain, Table Mountain, Castor and Pollux Peaks, Dead Indian Peak, Sleeping Giant Mountain, Tempest Mountain, and Pilot Peak (wouldn’t a pilot know all these names?). And there is a Deadman Butte near Casper and Lander in Wyoming (didn’t Forrest mention going to Lander,…in his plane?).

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    • Bob – Oh,…when you mentioned that bronze Geological Survey Bench Mark,…and road buliding,…and really old trash,…I thought of that poem, “The Cremation of Sam McGee”. Please note the road building that the REAL Sam McGee did,…about 100 years ago,…in 1909,…in what may have been that area:

      en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Cremation_of_Sam_McGee

      And how could I have forgotten to mention The Wall,…in my list of mountains? They were playing “Another Brick in the Wall”, by Pink Floyd,…here at the club,…when I realized it. And so,…I say,…”Tear down the wall!”,…from their “Trial Song”:

      en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Trial_(song)

      ? ? ? 🙂

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      • Thanks E- everything is in place for that bronze box to be laying in the Lamar valley… Just waiting for someone to pick it up. I may have missed it.
        Intesting to note here, that searcher that goes by the name captpappy went the wrong way from the Lamar Institute. He went upstream Lamar river, not down where he found the Twinkie wrapper at Soda Butte.
        I saw the tree he mentions.

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        • Bob –

          Since you mentioned the Druid Pack of wolves – I wanted to tell you that after returning from Antarctica – and wondering what life had in store for me next, I put together a website on wolves. It was called “The Wonder of Wolves” and was done on WebTV. There are several types of wolves on the endangered specie’s list at this time. One is the beautiful Mexican Wolf.

          I cried when I saw that the last wolf of the Druid Pack was shot by a rancher – as she was sick, unable to find normal game and was attacking his livestock. And so the Druid Pack is no more. Extinct you might say.

          The new pack that took over their territory is now called the Silver Pack.

          It’s interesting to note that Mollie Beattie (The first female director of the US Fish and Wildlife Service) was instrumental in reintroducing the gray wolf to the Northern Rocky Mountains. She unfortunately, died young, at the age of 49. Mollie, was known as “Woman Of the Woods” and did many great things in her life to improve wildlife.

          When you go there again Bob, I hope you get to see some wolves – they are awesome.

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  3. Nice story, Bob. I had a helpful robin guiding me along a trail in NM. No chest, but he did lead me to some deer. 🙂

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  4. Great story Bob! My story wouldnt be my own since my hubby does the mountain goat part of it since I cant. He does some crazy stuff, its probably a good thing I cant see him do it. 🙂 One day he climbed up to a cave, that obviously was a bear cave. lol When you smell bear, you never forget it.

    I do go along and spend some time out watching the wildlife. It feels like being centered. I enjoyed reading about your trip! Thanks!

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  5. Baking Soda? Scent Free? Seriously, that works? Sorry, vgboss is no mountainman.

    Oh and Bob, nice write up. I enjoyed it!

    Hey Bob are you sure it was a lone robin?

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  6. ( I originally posted this in the lounge, but decided this comment belonged here)

    zeldasings on March 2, 2014 at 6:58 am said:
    I am sitting, this morning, looking out at the inter-coastal waterway on the eastern peninsula of Florida. The sun blinds me, briefly and then my eyes adjust to watch the play of light on water.
    But, this post is not about me, it is about Bob’s Search that was recently
    Posted.
    .
    Bob, wonderful writing, my friend. You shared your search with us, giving us the clues you used, your locations, your rationale; all the components we like to read in another’s search, but you did it in a way that was creative and somewhat magical. I particularly liked the poem about the robin. A great story to start off the day. Thank You.

    I remember when you were on that search, opening day of Yellowstone last spring. When you came back to Florida you told me there was a lone robin at each of your search areas. When I left to go on my solo search in New Mexico, you told me to look for the Robin. I, ofcourse, did.

    Bob, again, great Search story….thanks for sharing.

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  7. Bob –

    I too looked at Gary Brown as a possibility because my grandparents knew him and when I was a little girl – we made a trip to meet him. I remember how handsome he was in his ranger uniform when he gave a lecture in the park.

    My hubby has said to me – I think he had help. I always remind him of how the poem starts. As I went in there alone.

    I think the place he secreted the treasure is “special” to him. Very special. Why?

    The Druid Pack of wolves I have studied for years. They are fascinating to me. There are several web sites – where people report seeing them and so they are tracked and watched by a few avid fans.

    I loved your story Bob – and hope when I am on the ground a little bird will guide me.

    Looking forward to more stories from you. Thanks.

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    • Inthechaseto- in high school I chose park ranger in my careers class. I took all the courses to prepare myself for college at either Texas A&M or Kansas State. After graduating high school with more than enough credits, I decided I had enough of school and didn’t want any more. Gary Brown lived my dream. Sadly, now at the entrance to his former home there is a sign that says “NO VISITOR SERVICES” …. Almost cried when I saw it.

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      • Bob – my dad wanted to be a forest ranger too – but circumstances did not make it possible. He talked about that quite often. He would have been a great one – and I’ll bet you would have too. It’s too bad about the house. Mr Brown was really quite famous and very loved.

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  8. Mike- yes this search is 100% true, zero embellish. I am going to write three more- pullouts #1 and #4 and Yankee Jim Canyon. All will be true nature provided me with enough excitement there is no need to embellish. I’ve decided to share here even though a reality show is in the works. This way, if and when a show comes out everyone here can say “I read the book.”

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    • Bob did you ever run into a bear on that trip? How much faith do you have in that bear spray cause mine was at 0% and now I take a sidearm as well as the bear spray.

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        • We are headed out Mem. Day. My hubby is in a wheelchair, a vet. We will have a few of his friends with us to help on the trails, although they are all humoring me, saying I’m crazy. I threatened to search by myself. Now, his friends are joking that if we meet a bear, we are all safe. Except hubby…”Hope the bear likes metal!” Says buddy #1. “Yeah, and rubber!” laughed buddy #2. I tried to stiffle my snicker, trying to be a good wife. The sneeze covered
          the sound!

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