New Mexico State Police Chief Call’s Fenn’s Treasure Hunt “Stupid.”

We do not agree.

We do not believe a “treasure hunt” is capable of being stupid.

Each year, millions of Americans enjoy the outdoors. Some of them die in the process, and the majority of those that die, do so as a result of a set of bad decisions they made. It was not the fault of the kayak or the river, the 4WD vehicle or the rocky slope, the cliff or the rope, or the rattlesnake, the cougar or the brown bear.

We ended up having to stay the night, and spending most of it watching the rain flood our exit route.

The news that Wallace left a receipt in his car for the purchase of a rope later found at the scene indicates to us he was already in the middle of the chain of bad decisions that led to his death. The Orilla Verde, a place we’ve been to more than once, hosts thousands of individuals and families who camp, raft, kayak, fish, hike, take pictures, make paintings, and search for petroglyphs and other artifacts. They’re chasing their brand of the thrill. Evolutionarily-speaking, it is in our nature to do so. They come home safe, and sometimes tired and sunburned. Occasionally, one is lost to nature, and sometimes their own bravado. It is not nature’s fault. It is not the fault of their sport or avocation. Nature is, and all the activities above, are, incapable of being stupid.

If you have Fenn’s email address, we strongly recommend you to write and urge him not to call off the chase. Also, ask him not to change the conditions or terms of the chase. New clues be damned. 

In the meantime, when you go out to search, take Fenn’s advice: “Don’t go where an 80-year-old man couldn’t carry a 42 pound box.”

Our advice? From our experience in the outdoors for a variety of reasons and a variety of interests: Be prepared, don’t go alone, don’t be stupid.

Here’s the article from today’s Albuquerque Journal:

Albquerque Journal
By Edmundo Carrillo/Journal North
Published: Monday, June 19th, 2017 at 7:49pm
Updated: Monday, June 19th, 2017 at 11:01pm

SANTA FE — It appears that a second Colorado man has lost his life looking for Forrest Fenn’s treasure in New Mexico near the Rio Grande, spurring New Mexico’s State Police Chief Pete Kassetas to call the treasure hunt “stupid” and implore Fenn to finally call it off.

New Mexico State Police Chief Pete Kassetas

“I think it’s stupid,” Kassetas told the Journal on Monday. “If there is indeed a treasure out there, he should pull it. He has the moral obligation at this point to stop this insanity. He’s putting lives at risk.”

Fenn, a Santa Fe author and antiquities collector/dealer, published a poem in an autobiographical book in 2010 said to include clues on where to find the treasure. Interest in the treasure exploded when Fenn appeared on NBC’s “The Today Show” in 2013. The poem includes reference to “warm waters,” a creek and “water high.”

State Police Lt. Elizabeth Armijo said 52-year-old Paris Wallace of Grand Junction, Colo., last had contact with his family June 13 and was reported missing the next day. Wallace’s wife told officers that he went to New Mexico to look for Fenn’s treasure — a chest with over $1 million worth of gold coins, jewels and artifacts that Fenn says he hid somewhere in the Rocky Mountains north of Santa Fe.

Wallace’s car was found Thursday around 2:30 p.m. near the Taos Junction Bridge on N.M. 570 near Pilar, Armijo said. Sunday, State Police recovered a body in the Rio Grande about seven miles downstream. Authorities were still trying to positively identify the body Monday. But Armijo said “all evidence thus far indicates the deceased is Paris Wallace.”

Randy Bilyeu

In January 2016, another Colorado man, 54-year-old Randy Bilyeu of Broomfield, disappeared while searching for the treasure along the Rio Grande west of Santa Fe. His raft was found soon after, but the body wasn’t recovered until about six months later, in the river just north of Cochiti Lake.

State search and rescue crews, made up of about 1,000 volunteers, were involved in the searches in both cases. Kassetas voiced frustration Monday with having to take volunteers away from their day jobs to look for people who’ve gone on a treasure hunt that he said Fenn should put an end to. “Every time this happens, we send people out into the wilderness, taking valuable time and effort to find these individuals,” the chief said. “Those resources are better used elsewhere.” Kassetas said he plans on contacting Fenn personally to ask him to call off the hunt.

Fenn on Monday declined to answer emailed questions from the Journal about whether he should call off the treasure hunt, how many people should die or be injured before he calls it off or whether he plans on releasing more clues on the treasure’s whereabouts. “I don’t care to answer your questions, sir,” Fenn wrote.

Last year, he told the Journal, “As with deer hunters and fishermen, there is an inherent risk that comes with hiking the canyons and mountain trails. The treasure is not hidden in a dangerous spot, and I have said that no one should search in a place where an 80-year-old man could not hide it.”

Fenn did tell Westword, a Denver weekly, on Monday that his “heart is heavy” with the news of Wallace’s death. “I pray for his family, his friends and his congregation,” he said. He added, “Yes, there is always some risk in whatever you do, but millions of people successfully hike in the mountains each year.”

Sacha Johnston, a Fenn treasure enthusiast from Albuquerque who helped coordinate a volunteer search for Bilyeu last year, said Monday that Fenn should “absolutely not” call off the hunt. “People die driving to work everyday,” she said. “Should people stop driving? I think it’s a matter of care and proper planning. You should never go anywhere hiking alone. My deepest condolences to (Wallace’s) family. I hope they’re able to find peace.”

Linda Bilyeu, Randy Bilyeu’s ex-wife, has said that she believes the treasure is a hoax and reiterated Monday that the hunt should end. “I’ll be critical until this madness ends,” Bilyeu said. “Another family is left behind to grieve. This treasure hunt will forever haunt my daughters and grandchildren.”

Complete article here:

9 thoughts on “New Mexico State Police Chief Call’s Fenn’s Treasure Hunt “Stupid.”

  1. I would like to write an email to Forrest but don’t have his address. I think he has inspired and enriched many people’s lives with his books and poem. I consider myself one and hope this unfortunate accident doesn’t cause him too much distress. I hope he realizes the overall good that has come from his plan. if you could forward his email address i would be happy to forward my sentiments to him. Thanks. >

  2. I advocated for a change.
    Once – Ok, a person can make mistakes.
    But multiple incidences – That can not be ignored.

    • Two incidents. Last year, 121 people died in hiking accidents, and over 1,000 died in cycling accidents. Today, 300 Americans died from symptoms associated with obesity. Two people, dying from their bad decisions, over 7 years, and tens of thousands of field searches hardly makes for an epidemiological crisis.

      • Also, Two people have died this spring alone in NM from Whitewater rafting accidents… Since Last year, something like 18 people have died in Whitewater rafting incidents in the search states.

        Common sense is altogether not common anymore. Whether you are in downtown Detroit or in the middle of the Teton’s, you need to be aware of your surroundings… You need to get a basic idea of what to do to remain safe in areas where you are not familiar.
        Learn “Leave No Trace” … Learn about the backcountry. Take a few basic precautions… BE PREPARED (Sorry.. I’m a Boy Scout)…

        This is no more dangerous than any other outdoor activity in the wild.

      • I completely understand where you’re coming from. I don’t want this chase to end either. For years we’ve been trying to make it out to New Mexico to go look with my family. As I work in the pharmaceutical industry the best way I can relate to this is if a drug was found to be killing people, not everyone, but a certain few. It would be unethical and irresponsible for the company that makes the drug to point the finger at other drugs and say they have been responsible for deaths too. As members of the human race we should be looking out for one another and try to minimize human deaths as much as possible. If we find something that is costing human life we should stop and reassess. Just saying people die isn’t progress.

      • Your pharmaceutical comparison is illogical. All drugs kill some people, including aspirin – 60 last year. Yet, I take two aspirin every day because my doctor tells me it’s good for my heart. The only responsibility we have to minimize human deaths is our own. People dying is the natural order. And. there’s not much either of us can do about it. To reduce the number of deaths in the chase for Fenn’s treasure as a grand, noble objective is silly considering how many, and how many other ways, humans kill themselves.

    • if you were to learn that the bronze box of gold was never hidden in the wilderness to be found, and that the “chest” spoken of in the poem is not the bronze box…would this “treasure hunt” in your opinion then become stupid? it is the chest of the poem that is out there to be found. not the bronze box.

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