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.
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:
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.
“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.”
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: https://www.abqjournal.com/1020299/another-fennn-treasure-hunter-is-missing.html
One of the challenges of producing video is that it establishes our state of mind at a specific place in time. And, after watching the video, it is inevitable one will expand their thinking on the matter. It has happened in this case. I will continue to update this blog post as new thinking, either ours, or someone else’s, arises.
6.10.2017 The olive jar plays an important role in whether or not Fenn hid the treasure before 2003. Fenn has described it as containing at least two items for certain, 1. a miniaturized copy of his autobiography, and 2. some hair from his head. There may be a third, as he indicated in the 2013 “Everything is Stories” interview; an “IOU” for $100,000, giving a reason for the finder to let Fenn know the treasure’s been found. The IOU made sense. The biography, knowing Fenn, also made sense. The hair makes sense in only one case. It provides the DNA evidence that Fenn hid the treasure if there was a chance the treasure would be found before he published the book. It is the only situation in which the hair is relevant. Since the treasure will be found after the publishing of the book, and either before or after his death, it is irrelevant.
6.1.2017 Fenn confidant, Dal Neitzel (his blog is at http://www.dalneitzel.com) didn’t quite believe me when I said on video that Fenn did not hide the treasure in 2009 or 2010. He was so convinced that he decided to prove my thesis wrong by contacting a Fenn-family member who happened to be a trusted friend of his, Skippy’s son, Crayton. In his blog post, Neitzel says he wrote Crayton an email asking, “What year do you think it was that you saw it in his home?” – referring to the treasure, and apparently having been told that Crayton had seen the treasure at some time.
Crayton’s response was, “Our best guess is that it was on his dinning room table in 2009.” Neitzel accepts it as if it were an answer to the question he asked. It is not. Read both the question and the answer carefully. Effectively, Neitzel asks, “…what year did you see the treasure,” and Crayton responds, “…it may have been on his dining room table in 2009.” It may very well have been, but it does not answer the question Neitzel asked. Nor does it indicate that Crayton “saw the treasure in 2009.” In addition, I’m sure you could imagine why the “it’s a secret if the other person is dead” guy is highly unlikely to have left a treasure chest with an estimated value of millions on his dining room table.
The response, while not an outright lie, is as diversionary as “Why are you making such a big deal out of that, Ritt,” or “I tell people that I was 79 or 80 when I hid the treasure,” or “I was never good at math, but that’s the way I remember it.”
And, it worked. Neitzel accepted it enough to post a long entry on the matter. And, his readers accepted it as “proof.” It is not. If anything, it’s substantiation of what we’ve vlogged.
Fenn was a successful fighter pilot and a successful businessman. He was never good at math? Puh-leeze, ninja.
5.26.17 (Thanks Dan) Is it possible that Fenn could have made two trips to hide the treasure; one in 2001 – 2003 to hide the chest, and a second sometime later (including 2009 – 2010 to put the contents into the chest? That would resolve the “…I made two trips from my car to hide the treasure..” (My quotes, not Fenn’s.) While all the other possibilities remain in place, including the claim that some “…had seen the treasure…” after 2003.
5.27.17 Forrest once said that his father, Marvin, would know exactly where he hid the treasure. His father would have seen Fenn’s “special place.” The implication is: Marvin would have been there. Marvin would have been 80 in 1983, four years before his death. Could it be that Fenn took his father to his “special place” one last time before his father’s death? That would resolve the question of “…don’t look for the treasure in a place where a 79 or 80 year old man couldn’t go.” (My quotes, not Fenn’s.) And, certainly, it would make the location very special to Fenn, because of the love and respect he has for his Father’s memory.
“The Lure” is a feature length documentary about some of the men and women enchanted by Forrest Fenn and the treasure he’s hidden “…someplace in the mountains North of Santa Fe.”
The interview was conducted in a classroom very kindly provided by the Santa Fe Children’s Museum, which sits adjacent to the Santa Fe Center for Contemporary Arts, where the film was screened to a full house on the evening of Thursday, May 18, 2017.
Mr. Fenn, several of his family members, and at least three of the searchers in the film were present.
Shelley and I give the film a hearty “thumbs up,” as Leach navigates his way, equally adeptly, through the various wilderness areas to which he’s taken, and the strongly felt (and expressed) emotions of the searchers. He seems to have found a healthy balance between the two.
Leach’s cinematography was subtle and thoughtful, and the audio was enviable, as it was as good, if not better, as I have heard on any film of this genre (and budget). The film was well edited with only a couple of scenes that could have used a little extra cutting but moves along smoothly, and at a consistent pace. In all, it was a very engaging story, well told, in a technically astute manner. Our compliments to Mr. Leach.
In conclusion, should you get the opportunity, see the film. If you’re not searching for the treasure before, we’ll bet you’ll be after.
Click here for more information on Tomas Leach and his film.
First: I have, and perhaps not for the last time, come to a conclusion that the nine clues in the poem are exactly in the following order, and that each complete sentence represents a single clue, i.e., “Begin it where ware waters halt and take it in the canyon down, not far, but too far to walk.” is one clue, not three. To wit:
Second: The first clue in the poem indicates that Fenn hid the treasure in New Mexico.
Third: The poem is not a map.
Shelley and I will explain it further in our next vlog, due on April 26, 2017. I’ll add the link to the video on this page, once the vlog is published.
Follow our hunt for the Fenn Treasure:
To see Fenn at Moby Dickens, and get bonus materials, click here:
As the result of our visibility due to our investment in time and effort given to our Internet properties, including this one, we are often in receipt of emails from searchers who describe some or all of their solutions to us.
The most recent one included this sentence, “Forrest wrote 2 books, numerous scrapbooks, vignettes, etc. There are featured questions, weekly words, etc. He has given us a lot of information.”
Needless to say, that got our attention.
We respectfully disagree with the assertion, “He has given us a lot of information.” Amongst all that Fenn has provided, there is only one item of information that has provided any value to us.
This one – “I haven’t given a clue (that) I think was going to help anybody substantially.”
Those exact words were spoken by Fenn at the Collected Works Bookstore in October of 2013. I have (because I made) the video recording.
Thus, we do not believe Fenn has provided us even the most fundamental “actionable intelligence.”
If anything, he’s implemented a casual program of what we in the intelligence community would have referred to “tactical offensive counterintelligence, with intent.” That’s information promulgated intentionally to confuse an issue.
(It should be noted, though, he’s not doing it in an intentionally hurtful way – he’s doing it because he’s Forrest Fenn, he’s 86, he’s naturally mischievous, and he likes attention.)
Why does that make sense?
Because it is far easier for Fenn NOT to give us any information beyond what he’s written in The Poem.
Think about this: What, in terms of time and effort, would it take for Fenn to manage the process of providing an additional six years’ worth of “hints” or “clues,” enough to keep the effort going, but not enough to spoil his dream of being a topic of conversation a thousand years from now?
Remember what a big deal the “unintended clue” in TFTW turned out to be?
If you’ve managed to conclude (as a result of all that additional information he’s provided) that Fenn would like someone find the treasure before he dies, you’re wrong.
From Fenn’s perspective, there is no rational reason to provide any information beyond what he has in The Poem.
So, here’s a test.
Erase all your solutions from your mind.
Instead, start with this: You have The Poem, access to GMap4, and you know the treasure is hidden someplace north of Santa Fe in the Rocky Mountains. Bonus: You found the TFTW map online.
No books, no scrapbooks, no videos, no Fenn blog, no ChaseChat, no Dal Neitzel, no A Gypsy’s Kiss, no “Forrest gets emails.”
Now, answer this question: Where, exactly, do the warm waters mentioned in The Poem halt?
Here are the image I used in this week’s Vlog Segment on “Actionable Intelligence.”
I spent five years in the United States Army from 1969 to 1974. Two of those years were spent in Viet Nam assigned to a firebase near the (then) town of Ca Mau, but I traveled all over the Mekong Delta in IV Corps. I volunteered for, and was assigned, to the U. S. Army Security Agency (ASA), a branch of the National Security Agency (NSA), and I held a Top Secret Crypto clearance. My primary Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) was 98C – Traffic Analyst. I say primary, because I went through far more training in other courses and schools before going overseas. The traffic I analyzed and acted upon had nothing to do with cars or trucks. I wrote that so you know I have a good sense of what I’m about to suggest to you.
Intelligence is a process. It includes targeting, collecting, collating, analyzing, formulating, reporting, planning and action.
The most often heard phrase in that community is “actionable intelligence.” That means “intelligence in which the confidence in its accuracy is so high, that you’re willing to put American lives at risk.”
As an analyst, that concept significantly affects the way you work.
It means that you put each one of the above steps in context. But, eventually, there comes a point in the process where you have to decide whether or not you have to present your findings, conclusions and recommendations to the people who make decisions.
I have lost sleep over those matters. In times when expediency counted, I spent hours worth of self-reflection and in discussions with other analysts on whether to present my work. Being wrong, or not presenting a well-thought-out case, is not something you want to do. At best, it costs credibility. At worst, it costs lives.
But, this is just a treasure hunt, isn’t it? No lives at risk. No big price to be paid for a mistake in analysis and judgement.
So, what’s my point?
As a result of our vlog, we have received “intelligence” on where we should consider conducting searches for the treasure. Nothing really firm, mind you – mostly strings of random ideas and attempts to weave them together into coherency. Certainly, in my opinion, not actionable.
That’s my point.
We look at every one of our solutions we devise from the perspective of “would it pass the actionable intelligence” test? Could I present this solution to a group of people who have my best interest at heart, and expect them to, not only agree with my assessment, but, then, to take action on it?
Next time you find yourself in the midst of a “Beautiful Mind” attempt at determining where and how to finds Fenn’s treasure, stop.
Ask yourself, “Is this good enough to present it to a group of people whose decisions based on my analysis will put lives at risk?”
I know. There are no American lives at risk. It’s just a treasure hunt.
But, here’s a fun way to look at it: let’s say the treasure is a small nuclear device, and your job is to find it, and disarm it before it blows up part of the Rocky Mountains. How good would your solution to the nine clues be then?
Fenn writes like he thinks.
And, he thinks in compact, self-contained packages (CSCPs*), the current one connected to the previous one as much as it is to the following one. Then, as he moves through his line of thought, he builds cross connections. Eventually, each CSCP is virtually connected to all the other CSCPs. As they age, some of them float out to the edge of his cranial universe, far away enough from the center of mental gravity that they escape, never to return. Some hang on near the edge and are modified by it. They become memory anomalies, or as he calls them, “aberrations.”
Sooner or later, when he needs them, he pulls some of the related CSCPs together to form a new, complete thought.
Then, he writes.
The Swiss psychologist, Carl Jung gave the process a name. He called it synchronicity.
Synchronicity is what leaves Fenn’s audiences with a sense of a mind that’s in constant motion. Eclectic, yet organized. Artistic, yet logical. Organic, yet mechanical. Cunning, yet caring. Twisted, yet aligned.
To me, the synchronous manner in which he thinks, then writes, is what leads to what I refer to as “The Fenn Segue.”
(Segue: pronounced seg-way. Definition: to make a transition without interruption from one activity, topic, scene, or part to another.)
I noticed it the first time in my reading of the chapter entitled “First Grade,” subtitled “Lanier School,” beginning on pg 16 of “The Thrill of the Chase.”
It begins, “My father was a teacher at Lanier School…” There’s a photo of his father captioned, “Mr. Fenn, Principal” on the opposite page.
One could assume that this chapter was going to be about his father. And, for the most part, it is.
It is, except for the SEGUE about John Charles whatever, who would sometimes “…bring a little jar of green olives to school and wave that thing…” in Fenn’s face. Description of the jar of olives follows. The first time I read the chapter, I was so distracted by the olive jar segue, that I had trouble concentrating while reading the rest of the chapter. Instead of following my eyes reading, my mind was asking itself the same question Fenn asked the readers, “What was that all about anyway?”
Why would you segue out of a perfectly good story, to tell a completely unrelated one?
Synchronicity. It was not unrelated. It was connected. The olive jar, a CSCP that had traversed some distance out into the universe in his mind, was snapped back into his current CSCP of thought. Lanier School? Probably.
(As I am writing this, I recalled a CSCP of A****** Garcia, the overweight, abused bully two grades ahead of me at St. Anne’s Elementary School in Santa Fe, who would seek me out on the playground and beat the crap out of me. On one of my leaves from the service, I was informed he had killed himself in a car accident on I-25 between Santa Fe and Albuquerque. He was drunk. He killed his girlfriend in the process, and left his wife and daughters with almost nothing, except unpleasant memories.)
By the way, the previous paragraph was a classic example of a segue.
I’ll bet some of you had the olive jar kid in your lives too. I’ll bet just reading this elicits the memory of your olive jar kid. Don’t have that kind of memory? Then you were probably the olive jar kid.
That, of course, is not the only Fenn segue in the book. The “horseshoe” segue in “Dancing With the Millennium” on pg 135 is a good example. There are several others. Even the “Treasure” chapter beginning on pg 127 entitled “Gold and More,” subtitled “Somewhere North of Santa Fe,” contains a couple, including the dream about Captain Kidd and Gardiner’s Island. He also, in the same chapter, writes that he placed his 20,000 word autobiography in a glass jar, sealed with wax, into the treasure chest.
I felt like there was something important about the Fenn segues. Upon completing my first reading of the book, I returned to its beginning and made notes of each of the Fenn segues. I especially noted the mention of the olive jar at the beginning of the book and his mention of the jar containing his autobiography near the end.
Focused on finding the treasure, I didn’t think much about it. In the grand scheme of value…well – his autobiography wasn’t an egg-sized gold nugget. Was it?
I didn’t think much about the jar until one day I heard him talking about his autobiography in the jar.
A jar he sealed with wax.
And, a jar he put in the treasure chest before he hid it.
An olive jar.
Yes. He said it was an olive jar.
They key, I believe, to understanding the Fenn Segue is in the olive jar.
* You won’t find Compact Self Contained Packages (CSCPs) in the literature. I made up the phrase to describe how I think Fenn thinks.