My Whereabouts Over the Long Thanksgiving Weekend

You won’t be seeing any new posts from me between Wednesday, November 27 and Sunday, December 1, 2013. And, my planned adventure is totally unrelated to the hunt for Fenn’s treasure chest.

Hoover Dam, Satellite

Hoover Dam, Satellite

I’m headed for the Black Canyon on the Colorado River. Black Canyon runs for about 12 miles directly downstream from Hoover Dam, and is one of the more accessible sections of the Colorado. There is lots to see on this stretch of the river, as indicated in this American Whitewater Listing which describes the run from North to South, from the put in below the Hoover Dam to the slack water at Mohave Reservoir.

(If you’ve made the run at any time in the past, please leave your suggestions, recommendations and warnings in a Comment Box – especially if you can refer me to some photos or video that you’ve uploaded.)

I’m planning to explore the canyon from South to North, making the round trip from Willow Beach, which provides camping, marina, and other facilities on the Arizona side of the River. I’m camping in one of the spots at the Willow Beach Campground, which provides easy access to the river. This won’t be the first time I’ve been in the canyon. But, it will be the first time I’m on the water, on my own, and making the run upstream rather than down. It’s also the first time I’ll have the opportunity to catch some of the pretty good sized trout in this section of the Colorado.

Saturn Kaboat SK396

Saturn Kaboat SK396

I’m making the run on my newly acquired Saturn Kaboat SK396. It’s a tactical quality rubber raft that’s closer in dimension to a kayak; 12 feet long and 42″ wide, and two 13″ diameter pontoons. It weighs about 50 pounds fitted and has a load capacity of around 500 pounds. It’s powered by an environmentally friendly Suzuki 2.5 hp 4-stroke which, at full throttle, pushes the watercraft at about 12 knots, and practically sips gas. (The photo is not me in mine, it’s a stock photo downloaded from the website.

There are several unique areas in the canyon (as described in the American Whitewater Listing referred to above) I plan to explore, so I expect to return with a good collection of images, and, if I’m patient enough, some video.

My good friend Hannu has made similar runs on some beautiful rivers in Swedish Lapland, rigged a little differently with a larger model of Kabot and, correspondingly, a more powerful outboard motor. It was my watching some of his videos that, first, prompted me to contact him; second, make the investment in the boat and motor; and third, run some of the beautiful rivers we have here in America.

I’m especially excited about springtime running some of the big rivers in the American Northwest which look and act similarly to the rivers in Hannu’s videos.

So, wish me luck. I’ll get back to blogging about the treasure when I return. Until then, I hope you and yours have a good, and uneventful, Thanksgiving.

Added to the above:

One of my Facebook Friends, upon reading about my upcoming travels, wrote, “One word: why?”

I responded with, “…uh…Because it’s there?” Not very good, I admit, but it was all that I had at the time. Then I remembered this.

Calvin Coolidge Signing the Boulder Canyon Project into LawThis is a photograph of President Calvin Coolidge signing The Boulder Canyon Project Act in 1929. The gentleman standing in the background, second from the right, represented Arizona in the six-state Colorado River Compact that enabled the project to proceed.

He is Toby Younis, Sr., my grandfather. (My father was Jr., and I’m the III, but I don’t use it.)

The Boulder Canyon Project was re-named the Hoover Dam by President Harry Truman in 1947, the year my grandfather died, and two years before I was born.

Turns out I have a reason for making the trip this holiday.

Dress for Success: Footwear

A couple of weeks ago I was someplace in the mountains North of Santa Fe. I was reconning one of my solutions – this one unique in my portfolio because it begins in Colorado and ends in New Mexico. I was hiking up a dry creekbed running up the side of the mountain, scouring ahead and aside of me for any sign of the infamous blaze. About an hour into the trek, and halfway up the climb, I came face-to-face with a couple of fellow trekkers. Early sixties, I’d guess. (I say that like they were older than me, but at 63, they were probably my age.) They were coming back down the wash. The gentleman, I noticed, was favoring his right leg. They were both wearing generic “athletic” shoes. Low cut, and very stylish.

We stopped to talk, and soon discovered we were in the dry wash for the same reason. I having traveled from Albuquerque, they passing through the area in their RV from Nebraska. I had seen the RV parked at a cemetery near the trailhead, although I wasn’t on much of a trail. We talked a little about the thrill of the chase. Their convenience store water bottles were near empty so I offered them a couple of water packets, letting them know I had plenty. They graciously accepted them. I asked the gentleman if we was OK, nodding in the direction of his right leg. The lady said he had twisted his ankle, and he said he was fine. I suggested they be careful on the way down the wash, as the combination of fine sand, stream-polished stones and gravity made for treacherous walking. The three of us, interested in getting on our way, shook hands, and wished one other luck in the hunt.

Gravity puts the entire weight of your body on your ankles and feet. Between them, both right and left, there are hundreds of bones, tendons, muscles and other pieces of connective tissue that independent of one another, are fairly fragile. Multiply this by the effect of walking over rough, unstable, angular, unpredictable ground and you make recipe for, while not quite a disaster, at least the spoiling of what could be a very good day.

(As I’m preparing for each of my recons, getting my gear ready and packing my knapsack, I ask myself the same question: “How would I feel if I read someone else had found the treasure in an area in which I was searching, but I had to return to my SUV because I didn’t bring my (fill in the blank)).

Good boots, for example.

Herman Survivors

Herman Survivors: These boots are made for walking.

These are my Herman Survivors. I love them. They’re tough, comfortable, triple stitched, waterproof, and have a steel plate inside the leather protecting the front of my foot. They have a thick, grippy sole that’s stable in water, and they clean up with a jet spray from my garden hose. I go through a pair about every ninety days. Because of me, not the boots. When I’m trekking I wear them with two socks, an inner silk one to prevent blistering and enable wicking and an outer wool one for comfort, and in the cold, warmth. You can find them in your local Wal Mart for about $60, or you can order them online at

There are more expensive boots. There are more technical boots. There are lighter, more expensive and more technical boots.

But, these boots are mine. And, when I find Fenn’s treasure, I’ll be wearing these boots.

I want to be cremated in them, so I can wear them on the other side. Whatever the heck the other side is, I mean.

If you find yourself someplace in the mountains North of Santa Fe, where you will experience a lot of different, challenging terrain, some of it wet and much of it other than level, make sure you’re wearing a pair of good boots. The kind of boots you can learn to love.

Reserve the damned athletic shoes for your next speed-walk around the mall.

Johnny, We Hardly Knew Ye

1-DSC_1773November 22, 1963 was a cloudless, late-Fall Friday in Santa Fe.

Lunch at the St. Michael’s High School cafeteria would have been meatless because St. Mike’s was a Catholic school. And, back then, Catholics gave up eating meat on Fridays, a way to make sacrifice.

The large, always-angry, always-loud, Spanish-speaking ladies behind the food line served us beans, calabacitas, corn bread and cherry flavored Jell-O in which was suspended fruit cocktail. Sometimes they called us names like joto, chingon, and putito, and threatened to cut off our huevos if we didn’t wipe our metal trays clean before leaving the cafeteria. The Christian Brothers never attempted to come between the women and their vitriol.

At the time, they were the stuff of nightmares.

My good friend, Michael Sandoval and I were walking back to The Common, an area outside the L-shaped classroom building where we’d socialize with other students attending the all-boys school until the bell for afternoon classes was rung.

As we arrived, Mike noticed a group of classmates standing quietly in a circle almost at the same time I noticed yet another group. They, too standing quietly in a circle.

Curiosity getting the better of us, he joined one, and I the other.

The group I joined was listening to a cream-colored transistor radio with gold electroplate trim, about the size of a pack of cigarettes from which sprouted a long, multi-sectioned antenna above a silver dollar sized tuning knob.

It was our generation’s version of the iPhone.

Listening to the radio between morning and afternoon classes was not at all unusual. And, normally, the radios were tuned to one or the other of the two AM stations in Santa Fe, KTRC or KVSF, both of which played rock-and-roll music in the mid-afternoon timeslot.

But, there was no music, or greetings from our brothers. And, there were no smiles.

They were listing to the news of the assassination of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy earlier in the day while making his way through Dallas via motorcade.

Tears streamed down their cheeks. Even the obviously named “Tank” Blea, the son-of-a-bitch who greeted me with a bruising punch to the shoulder each time he saw me – crying – like a little girl.

JFK was our first Catholic President, and he was young, and brilliant, and courageous, and charismatic, and married to a beautiful Catholic girl and was giving us beautiful Catholic babies. His light shone brightly. He was my first political campaign. “Teens for Kennedy.” I ran the organization out of the Santa Fe Public Library with volunteers from all four Santa Fe High Schools.

I didn’t realize I was crying until I pulled my handkerchief from my back pocket to wipe the tears from my face.

They cancelled our football game that night. And, the dance in the gym with the girls from Loretto that usually followed a home game.

We mourned over the weekend, and were granted the day off from school to watch Walter Cronkite, the most trusted man in America, on our round, black-and-white television sets, cover the President’s funeral.

Jack Kennedy, having presided over Camelot for a thousand days, was killed by an angry, paraoid nobody fifty years ago today.

Ille requiescant in pace.

Another (Uninteded) Clue?

I have often said of this treasure hunt, “While the clues are in the poem, and the hints are in the book, the key is in the man.

You can quote me.

Thus, it is highly likely I spend more time reviewing videos of Fenn’s various interviews than I do reading the poem (which I have already memorized anyway), or scrounging through Fenn’s “The Thrill of the Chase” with a magnifying glass and eye loupe.

I found this gem in the video produced by HDNet and hosted by one of their digital correspondents, Jennifer London. (You can find it here.)

In the video, beginning at the 4:15 mark, Fenn is showing London around his archeological dig, the San Lazaro ancient pueblo, the ruin on property he purchased from the Pueblo Tribes, and has been excavating since the 1980s.

book-s5bk10-450x613(Note: I own a signed first edition of his book entitled “The Secrets of San Lazaro Pueblo.”  If you had told me, prior to buying this book, I would have read, cover-to-cover, any book on an excavation of a single ancient pueblo in New Mexico, I would have laughed. Not at you, but at the thought of it.

Yet, I did. I read it cover-to-cover.

Because, it is easily read. And, it is written in the same down-home style of his other books. In it you can see his love for the project, and his pride at the discoveries he’s made.)

The clip starts with London’s voiceover background on the project.

Then, we see the two of them and hear this conversation (As usual, my comments are in italics.):

Fenn: Look here what I just found. I started to pick it up, but I thought you might wanna get a shot of it.

London: Oh, this?

Fenn: Yeah.

London: Is this an arrowhead? (You can hear Fenn’s excitement in the short breaths he’s taking before his response.)

Fenn: See…the wind has uncovered that. It’s an arrowhead.

London: Wow…look at that!

London (in voiceover): Fenn bought the land in the early eighties and has been excavating the pueblo ever since. Unearthing treasures isn’t simply a pastime for Fenn…it’s a passion.

Fenn (on camera, but in voiceover): Y’know…there are millions of treasures out here. (Emphasis because he’s referring to San Lazaro.)

(Audio cut) Fenn (continuing): And..y’know…it’s…it’s part of my demeanor, I think. I mean, I live for things like this…a good fishing hole…an Indian ruin. (In B-roll, he’s picked up part of animal’s jaw bone.)

(Video cut to two-up) Fenn (continuing): When I found my first arrowhead when I was nine years old I told myself “That thing has been right in that very spot for thousands of years waiting for me to come along.” That’s a thrill to me.

London (in voiceover): Which leads us back to Fenn’s book, “The Thrill of the Chase,” and the hidden treasure. You see, everything with Fenn is an intricately laced story.

Fenn has said, on more than one occasion, that he hid the treasure in a place that was special to him.

It sits there, waiting for you to come along, and I’ll bet there’s a good fishing hole and an Indian ruin nearby.

Comments are open, but, as usual, require approval.

On Being a “Poem Purist”

I have, on more than one occasion, claimed to be a “poem purist.”

Why do I identify myself that way?

Because, I believe that the solution to finding the treasure he hid is in the poem.

The poem that, I remind you, took him 15 years to write after his near-death brush with cancer.

Beyond that, there are Fenn’s own words:

“All of the information you need to find the treasure is in the poem. The chapters in my book have very subtle hints but are not deliberately placed to aid the seeker.”

I have, also on more than one occasion, taken criticism for my position, other searchers writing that poem purism is not possible, e.g., “There is no way a person can say that they are a ‘poem purist.’ There’s no such thing. If you want to say that you just believe the poem is all one needs and nothing else to solve the puzzle, then …..OK? Good luck with that. It doesn’t make any sense.” (1)

I don’t agree. Think of it this way.

What if Fenn had never written his memoir?

What if, as he had originally planned, he carried the the treasure to its hiding place, lain down beside it, allowed himself the luxury of determining the time and place of his own death, and left only the poem (he took 15 years to compose) behind, with instructions to his attorney to publish it on a date certain?

No hints, no clues, no “The Thrill of the Chase,” or “Too Far to Walk.” Not even a “…someplace in the mountains North of Santa Fe.”

Then what?

Here’s what: It’s in the poem. Anything else is distraction – Fenn’s intentional distraction. Distraction assuring the hidden treasure would not be found in our lifetime or a hundred years. Or a thousand years. Or, maybe, ten thousand years.

Yellowstone? Seriously?


(1) Chase Chat (, Forum » Chat about the Chase » The Therapy Room » There are no poem purists, Member: NoraKelly.

Photo Album | Pilar Recon | October, 2013

Pilar, New Mexico. South of Taos on SR 68 along the Rio Grande.

I am, for some unexplainable reason, continually drawn back to this area. It was populated by Puebloans as far back as 1000BCE. If “Brown” is a color, then the boulders in this part of the gorge make this the home of Brown. Odd to find a street sign with the words Aguas Calientes (plural), “warm waters.” Orilla Verde, “Green Corner.” Arroyo Hondo, “Deep River.”

There are petroglyps everywhere along the hiking trails.

While I was trout fishing this evening, an owl hooted loudly and continually behind me. Turning, I could see him perched in a small, dead tree about halfway up the far of the canyon.

I haven’t quite put it all together, but, there is mystery in the place.

GMap4: Free Online Mapping Software Tutorial Video


On July 12, 2018, John Elfelt, the developer of GMap4, made this announcement: “Thank you everyone who had a kind word to say about Gmap4 since I launched it in 2009. Gmap4 had a good run. However due to policy changes at Google, Gmap4 is shutting down for most users as of this evening, July 15, 2018.”

We are, of course, disappointed to read this great mapping tool is no longer available.

Once we found out, we started looking for alternatives and discovered onXmaps at

Unlike GMap4, it is not a free product. You can purchase the use of one state map for $29.95 per year, or all 50 states for $99.95 per year. We chose the former, as we are searching only in New Mexico.

We have produced an introductory video on the product. You can find it on our YouTube channel here: onXmaps: Fenn Treasure Research Alternative to GMap4

Give us a thumbs up if you found it helpful.

Shelley Carney and Toby Younis
A Gypsy’s Kiss

This is an 8 minute long introduction to GMap4, a free, online, ad-free, comprehensive mapping application.

Your Grandfather, Dying, Hands You a Copy of the Poem.

In the ChaseChat forum, one of the members (SidnCharley) proposed the following hypothetical scenario:

ThePoem“Let’s assume for a minute that you grew up in a remote corner of the globe never having heard of Forrest Fenn or his secreted treasure.  Then, just before he passes, your grandfather hands you a worn out, folded up piece of paper and says, ‘I hope you have as much fun as I did. Now go get the gold!’

After carefully unfolding the yellow paper made brittle by time, your eyes begin soaking up the 24 rhythmic lines which end with this promise “I give you title to the gold.”  Just beneath the final line, scrawled in your grandfather’s shaky script, you see the phrase “All you need is the poem.”

Of course this situation is completely hypothetical, but imagine if it were real and there was no possible way to get more information or know anything else about the chase.  This means you don’t know it’s north of Santa Fe; you don’t know it’s in the Rocky Mountains; you don’t know it’s above 5,000 ft or below  10,200; you don’t know it’s not in Idaho or Utah (or Canada) and you don’t know it’s not associated with any structure.  Also, there are no books (TTOTC, TFTW) to read, no blogs to stalk, no other way to get more information than contained in those 24 simple lines.

Would you ever be able to find the treasure’s precise location?  And, just out of curiosity, does this thought exercise help you look at the poem in a different way?

You can find the entire thread (of multiple pages) here. (And, I recommend, that, if you are not already, become a contributing member in good standing of ChaseChat.)

Here are my thoughts on the matter, as posted on ChaseChat.

As suggested in the well-composed SydnCharley missive above, and, moreover by some of the things Fenn has said, I’m a Treasure Poem Purist – I believe all one needs is Fenn’s poem to locate the hidden treasure chest.

I do not deny that there may be hints in the book. But, what if I couldn’t afford the book? (On the other hand, without the book our character wouldn’t even know to begin in the mountains North of Santa Fe.)

I also do not deny that Fenn has given out “clues” on various occasions. But, Fenn, at the October 22, 2013 event at Collected Works Book Store in Santa Fe, New Mexico said, “I haven’t given a clue (that) I think was going to help anybody substantially.” Before that, he wrote on Dal Netietzel’s Blog, “I will never give a useful clue in any of my emails or other communications, TV or otherwise, nor will I hint away anyone who might be getting close to the treasure. My silence will never be a hint.

And, before that, he responded to an email from a group of San Diego searchers with, “All of the information you need to find the treasure is in the poem. The chapters in my book have very subtle hints but are not deliberately placed to aid the seeker. Good luck in the search.”

That leaves the character above with the entire Earth to wander in search of the treasure. Grampa dint give him no hints worth a damn.

He/she only has two things to rely upon to help him/her:

1. the “instructions” their grandfather’s handed them, and
2. their collected knowledge of their grandfather, and his odd behavior.

To me, that means:

1. While the clues are in the poem, and the hints are in the book, the key is in the man. Know your grandfather and you know the treasure.

2. WWWH is not only the first clue, it is, by an order of magnitude, the most important clue.

3. There is an implication that the location, on a map or by reference, of WWWH is glaringly obvious. (Your grandfather knowing that without it being glaringly obvious, you’d have to wander the Earth for the rest of your days.)

4. According to Fenn, a small number of searchers have pinpointed the first (and second) clue, and then they walked right past the treasure chest.

Thus, it was glaringly obvious to them what the man meant when he said, “Begin it where the warm waters halt, and take it in the canyon down…”

The question I’d like to ask one or more of them that located the first clue: “How much of what was in the book, other than the poem, did you use to help you determine where the warm waters halted?”

Apparently, we should be looking at the Forrest, and not the trees.

New Poll: How Does Fenn Know the Treasure Chest is Still There?

I often ask myself how Fenn can say the treasure chest has not been discovered with such confidence. I’ve come up with a number of theories, some of which seem plausable, while other do not.

Here’s your chance to weigh in on the matter. Chose one from the selection on the list.

You will be shown the poll results after you vote.

The poll will be up for one month.

Meeting Brian Porter

Brian Porter is from Indiana. Recently, when he and his wife were traveling, the airlines announced they were overbooked and offered vouchers and later flights for anyone willing to give up their seats. BBrianPorterrian volunteered and used the voucher to make a search trip to New Mexico.

Did I mention he’s from Indiana?

The next time I get lazy about driving a couple hours up North on a weekend, I’m going to remind myself of Brian.

He contacted me, first by mail to let me know he was landing in Albuquerque, and offered to buy me lunch if we could get together. He wasn’t aware that I had already headed North for the weekend. We exchanged a few texts and discovered he was West of the Rockies and I was East, but Taos was, relatively speaking, between us.

So, with a little more texting we organized a meetup at the Coffee Shop near Moby Dickens Book Shop in Taos, New Mexico on Sunday, November 10, 2013.

We spent about two hours exchanging war stories related to our respective treasure hunts. I offered to let him stay at my place in Albuquerque because his flight was Monday morning, but my mother’s passing prevented me from getting back to Albuquerque.

It was fun and informative meeting another searcher, especially one who has put as much research and thought into the effort as has Brian. We had of course, both searched the same area he had come to recon with this trip. He wasn’t quite prepared for New Mexico’s forest roads, but survived the adventure with a flair, and plans to return.

I let him know that whenever he returned to New Mexico, he had a place to stay in Albuquerque.