Fenn’s Tactical Offensive Counterintelligence Operation

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?

 

The Intelligence Process – As Applied to the Search for Fenn’s Treasure

A Beautiful Mind

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?

Where DO warm waters halt? (Continued)

GoogleEarthDam-001It’s been busy for us the last couple of weeks due to the effort we put in to documenting Fenn’s raffle of a bronze jar on behalf of Renelle Jacobs, a searcher suffering from a rare form of cancer who is fortunate to have a man like Fenn take an interest.

But, we’re done with it now. And, it’s time to get back to the winterized version of the chase.

Where did we leave off?

Aha! Where DO warm waters halt?

Warm waters halt at any boundary where they are literally, metaphorically or metaphysically transformed to any temperature other than warm.

For example, let’s say the boundary is what’s inside Yellowstone Park, where through geothermal activity, hundreds of geysers send rockets of hot (not warm) water into the sky.  They fall back to earth, where they seek the lowest level (as water is wont to do) and, having cooled some, contribute to nearby streams and rivers. The rivers then cross outside the boundaries of the park.

That’s just a bit too Rube Goldberg for me. Since “Begin it where warm waters halt…” is the starting point, I think it needs more clarity than what’s provided above.

(I believe that the boundary between Fenn’s “warm waters” and NOT warm waters is very distinct.)

All of the above assumes Fenn was referring to the waters’ physical temperature.

Fenn is also an admirer of art. An artist may have a completely different perspective of “warm” waters when defined by the color spectrum. The warm and cool of the color spectrum have no physical temperature. But, for the most part, the closest a river gets to warm is brown, like the Rio Grande South of Española. I’ve never seen rivers that were consistently orange, red or yellow in color.

I suppose you could make an argument that the “Red” River in New Mexico, by name, is on the warm end of the spectrum. And, it ends at its conjunction with the Rio Grande, which is probably more precise than Fenn would want. No mystery there.

There is the mushy boundary between the water flowing from hot springs and eventually into cool creeks or rivers. A couple of months ago when I was on the Colorado River below Hoover Dam, I relaxed in pools that were about the right temperature as they transitioned from hot springs to cool rivers. But, it was very localized.

That leaves me with just a couple more options. I’ll write them in reverse order of Holy Righteousness! (I took a little dramatic license there.)

In New Mexico, the State Game and Fish Department publishes regulations that define boundaries between warm waters and trout waters (not cool waters). My research indicates there are no comparable definitions of the difference in Colorado, Wyoming and Montana, making New Mexico unique in this respect. So, for example, trout waters on the Cimarron River begin on the East side of the first campground, where apparently, State regulations dictate warm waters halt.

Another example: The trout waters of the North Rio Grande begin at the Colorado State line, where, according to the State Game and Fish Department, warm waters halt. They continue South to the Taos Junction Bridge near Pilar. But, about a hundred yards above the bridge, the Rio Pueblo, NOT a trout water, converges with the Rio Grande. Warm water halts there, too.

But, that tactic leaves me with solutions in only one State.

So, here’s my top “warm waters halt” assumption.

As the surface water of a reservoir begins to cool due to the effects of evaporation, it sinks, and it gets denser, so it continues to sink. And, as it sinks it gets cooler. So, generally speaking, for every dam from which the water is released at the bottom, its water will be much cooler than the warm water in the reservoir behind and above it.

That particular perspective of “where warm waters halt…” has three important characteristics when it comes to the treasure hunt: it doesn’t limit me to a single State solution, the boundary is very precise, and the boundary stays in the same place making it easy to find and identify. All good things when the instructions read, “Begin it where warm waters halt…”

I’ve already been to the areas below El Vado Lake Dam, Eagle Nest Lake Dam, and a couple of nameless dams further North. If you Google “List of Dams in New Mexico,” (or any other state, for that matter) Mr. Google will actually return a list.

Of dozens. Dammit.

I have my favorites, and eventually, frustrated with the less precise, less discernible options of “where warm waters halt,” you will, too. Good luck in your search.


New Topic.

I’m not quite sure what to do with this, but I thought I’d share it anyway.

My friend, Sherri, tells me that in TTOTC:

  • The phrase “New Mexico” appears 6 times, 4 of which are references to the publishing process, e.g, “Starline Printing in Albuquerque, New Mexico.”
  • The word, “Colorado” does not appear.
  • The word, “Wyoming” appears twice.
  • And, the word “Montana” appears 3 times, although one is a reference to “The Montana Gazette” rather than the State.

Sorry, Colorado.

Where DO warm waters halt?

AGK20131226-01As you can see in the attached photo, I’m constantly reverse engineering all, or parts of Fenn’s poem.

For me the poem is closer to literal than metaphorical, and closer to metaphorical than metaphysical. Although, I have sense it contains all three.  When Fenn writes, “Begin it where warm waters halt…” my instinct, and my brain configuration draws me to the literal before even attempting the more difficult (for me) metaphorical or almost impossible (for me) metaphysical.

So, where, exactly, do warm waters halt?

Upon asking the question, I realized I wasn’t quite sure what was the temperature of warm water. A little research indicates there are several ways to define “warm,” ergo there are as many ways to define “warm waters.”

As usual in life, “warm water” means different things to different people. To the chemist for example, “warm” water is 112° F, which is measurably specific. To a game and fish manager it’s temperature that ranges from “about” 55° F (the temperature under which cool water species, like trout, thrive) to “about” 75° F (the temperature above which warm water species, like bass, don’t). When I tested warm water from my kitchen faucet against the inside of my wrist, then measured it, it ws 99° F. Interesting considering normal body temperature is 98.6° F.

The dictionary lists several, but defines the adjective warm as, “Somewhat hotter than temperate; having or producing a comfortable and agreeable degree of heat; moderately hot.” Not very exact.

The National Spa and Pool Institute considers 104° F to be the maximum safe water temperature for adults.  Therefore, spa controls have a limit that prevents heating past 104° F.

But, wait…there’s more. Again, it’s about Fenn.

On one hand, he spent 20 years in the Air Force, most of it as a fighter pilot. My experience with fighter pilots is that they all have a Dr. Jeykyll and Mr. Hyde personality component.

Outside the cockpit, he mimics Mr, Hyde’s flamboyance of inexactitude, a very relaxed look at the physics of life. Close counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. Very much like the current public iteration of Forrest Fenn, and his responses to treasure hunt related questions.

Inside the cockpit, though, there’s a Dr. Jeykyll concentration on perfection. Turbine pressures, speeds, g-forces, coordinates, directions, distances, radio frequencies, fuel load, weapons count, etc. Want a good example? Count the number of numbers in the TTOTC Chapter entitled “My War for Me.”

Imagine how “…someplace in the mountains North of Santa Fe…,” “…not on top of a mountain…,” or “…it’s 300 miles West of Toledo…” would work for a fighter pilot.

So, another questions results.

Which of Fenn’s personalities wrote the poem, Dr. Jeykyll or Mr. Hyde?

I think Mr. Hyde. When Fenn walked away from his aircraft cockpit the last time, he walked away from it in the truest sense of the phrase. He left “exactitude” behind.

Why?

Because exactness is an impediment to freedom and independence.

And, if Fenn is anything, he is a high priest of freedom and independence.

So, where do warm waters halt?

Warm waters halt at any boundary where they are literally, metaphorically or metaphysically transformed to any temperature other than warm.

Lukewarm, cool, cold, frozen, hot, or steamed all qualify – and temperature may not be measured in degrees.

(TO BE CONTINUED)

Connections, Synchronicity & Segues

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.

olivejarkeyIt 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.

To buy Fenn’s books or not? That is the question.

I recently received a comment from one of my regular contributors, a searcher who puts much thought into his effort. There was a question at the end of his comment. He wrote, “Lately I have kept researching my general area and feel strongly about my approach. I am considering purchasing both [of Fenn’s books,] “The Thrill of the Chase” and “Too Far to Walk” to see what hints jump out to confirm or ruin my area. What say you?”

In a Socratic way, the question stimulated the response I share below:

My Copies of Fenn’s Books

I have purchased both of the books referred to above. I’ve read them both, TTOTC more than once. I also have a copy of Fenn’s book on his San Lazaro pueblo excavation, which I’ve read sporadically, especially when I need something to relax me at bedtime before going to sleep. Not that it’s sleep-inducing, it’s just a comforting read.

The challenge of identifying additional clues or hints in any of his books is made immensely more difficult due to Fenn’s writing style.

He is a natural storyteller. Storytellers naturally embellish. He, by his own admission, takes license with his research, spelling, grammar, punctuation and definition. He makes mistakes, sometimes intentional, sometimes not. He is adorably cunning. He’s intentionally inexact. And, he’s a senior citizen, therefore  his memories aren’t quite as perfect as he would want us to believe.

He wrote his memoir like I would write my memoir, neither of us like Thomas Jefferson wrote his.

As a result, almost everything he writes can be interpreted by someone as a hint or clue that reinforces something they may already want to believe, including their search algorithm. Once a searcher makes a decision that something they have read in one of Fenn’s books supports their particular search algorithm, it naturally becomes part of the algorithm, not only the current one, but future ones as well.

I have fallen prey to it as much as anyone, having convinced myself there is something special about the word “horseshoe” based on one of Fenn’s segues in the book. (Of which I will write more about later.)

I also believe Fenn’s writing style is the primary reason there is so little agreement in the search community about where we imagine he hid his treasure. ChaseChat and Dal Neitzel’s blog, while very useful and informative, have published thousands of posts in which searchers disagree with other searchers solutions, and when they do, cite Fenn’s written or spoken words to support their differing position.

Finally, whenever Fenn is asked whether there are additional hints or clues in the books (independent of the poem), he responds with obfuscation. At the event at Moby Dickens Book Shop in Taos, he said, “There are nine clues in the poem, but if you read the book (TTOTC), there are a couple…there are a couple of good hints and there are a couple of aberrations that live out on the edge.” A couple? Aberrations that live on the edge? What? Either he’s blowing smoke, or we’re all reading way too much into his writing.

So, back to the original question. Would I recommend you buy the books?

Absolutely.

I would buy them even if I wasn’t searching for the treasure. I would buy them because they are pretty well written books soulfully composed by a talented storyteller with a great story to tell. I would buy them because they gave me the opportunity to meet him and to have them autographed by him.  I would buy them because they are a pleasant reminder of this period late in my life where I can tell people that “I’m a treasure hunter,” (rather than “retired”) when they asked me what I do for a living.

But mostly, I would buy them because they provide me additional insight to Fenn, the man. And, as I have written in the past, “The key to finding the treasure is in the man. Know the man, and you know the treasure.”

If, in addition, I could give myself a morale boost by identifying some of what he’s written as hints that solidify one or more of my search solutions, then that would be an added benefit.

Buy the books? Yes! You’ll be glad you did.


If you haven’t already, and decide to buy the books, do yourself a favor and call either  Moby Dickens Book Shop in Taos or Collected Works Bookstore in Santa Fe, and order the books from them. They’re small businesses that have been very supportive of Fenn and the search community, and they sell the books at list price. Tell them Toby sent you.

Fenn’s Clues and Hints: Intentional, Accidental or Incidental?

I copied the following lines from the “Cheat Sheet” page on Dal Neitzel’s Blog:

Q: Are there clues in “The Thrill of the Chase?”

Fenn: “Yes, because the poem is in the book.”

Q: Are there clues in “Too Far to Walk?”

Fenn: “Yes, because the map is in the book.”

Q: Are there subtle hints in “TTOTC?”

Fenn: “Yes, if you can recognize them.”

PIC_0080Fenn has also said, “The chapters in my book have very subtle hints but are not deliberately placed to aid the seeker. ”

And, on more than one occasion, Fenn has said that there are hints (he’s careful not to use the word “clues”) sprinkled throughout the book.

He’s also written (in emails), “All of the information you need to find the treasure is in the poem.

Therefore, I have come to following conclusions:

  1. When Fenn intentionally gives us a clue, it’s…well…bull puckey.
  2. Any other clue or hint to finding the treasure, outside the poem, are accidental or incidental to the written word or the conversation.

Here’s what I mean.

If I go over any of the clues of which Fenn has preceded with any variation of the phrase “I’m going to give you a clue (or hint),” they have no real value. At least to me. I could go on searching, following the clues in the poem, and knowing none of the following would have made a difference to me:

  • It’s not on top of a mountain.
  • It’s below 20,000 feet.
  • It’s above 5,000 feet.
  • It’s not in Idaho, Nevada, Utah or Canada.
  • It’s 300 miles west of Toledo.
  • It’s at least 8.5 miles North of Santa Fe.
  • It’s not in a graveyard
  • It’s not associated with any structure.

…yada, yada, yada.

I believe:

  • There are at least hints, and maybe clues, in everything that Fenn has written or recorded.
  • Those hints and clues were purely accidental or incidental to what he was writing or the conversation he was having at the time.
  • He was surprised to have noticed them or to have them pointed out to him, post hoc.

For, a classic, example, associating the phrase “too far to walk” with the phrase “about 10 miles” in the preface of “Two Far to Walk” was purely accidental. It also, in the grand scheme of things, may be totally meaningless. But, it wasn’t intentional.

I also believe that there are incidental hints or clues in may of the recorded interviews, with value, as long as they are not preceded by the phrase cited above.

I find nothing written or spoken by Fenn in which he has said the equivalent of “I intentionally placed hints (or clues) (in anything) other than the poem.”

So, where does all that leave me?

Here: Fenn hid a treasure someplace in the mountains North of Santa Fe and wrote a poem containing nine clues that, when correctly interpreted, will lead me directly to the treasure.