Images: Cimarron Canyon Recon

Cimarron, translated from Spanish to English, means “Wild Place.”

Images: Rio Chama Recon

If you’ve been wise, and found the blaze…


Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared.
And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also.
When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.
10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.

Matthew, Ch 2, Vs 7-10,
The New Testament
King James Version of the Bible

I had a dream.

I dreamed I was standing at the edge of a canyon, hydraulically routed down the geology of someplace in the mountains North of Santa Fe. I was on the Western side of the canyon, facing East, the river below flowing North to South. The sun was low, but not near setting in the sky, casting my shadow across the canyon so that it fell upon the far wall. As the sun set and my shadow rose my ephemeral head eventually I had a dream.pointed to a large star shape in the rock on the East wall of the canyon. It was large enough to be seen without aid, and difficult to discern whether it was natural or not.

Anchoring myself with a rope, and a pair of carabiner clipped to a safety belt, I walked to the edge of the canyon and leaned over. I looked quickly down, and could see the faint, cool outline of a trail switching back and forth from the canyon floor to the canyon rim North of my position. About three quarters up the side of the canyon wall one of the ledges on its side stood out from the others. In a depression on the ledge  laid a brown box. The ledge was high enough above the trail that the box could not be seen by anyone walking upon the trail as it continued North from that point.

By that time the sun had set, and dusk had fallen upon the location. I wondered, for just a moment, whether or not the treasure would tolerate one more night alone, cold, undiscovered and uncared for.

I stood back from the canyon edge, untangled myself from the safety belt and anchor rope, hoisted my pack upon my back, and headed for my campsite. I found a grassy spot near my tent, and using my backpack for a pillow, I laid down to admire the stars in the unpolluted sky overhead. The moon not having risen, the Constellations shown almost in neon. I called their names out to them. They did not call out my name to me.

Protected by Orion’s sword, I fell asleep outside my tent and sleeping bag.

And, I had a dream.

Photos: Pilar Recon #4

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.

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.

Treasure is Where You Find It

Sometimes, on a treasure hunt, because you’re on a treasure hunt, you tend to ignore all the other treasure that surrounds you.

On my last recon, I was planning to camp for two nights. Between the first and second nights, the State of New Mexico closed the campgrounds in the Cimarron. I didn’t find out until after dark, returning from a side trip to Taos to deliver a gift to Carolyn and Jay Moore, owners of Moby Dickens Book Shop, for letting me stay in their parents’ summer home the previous weekend. I gave them a retablo painted by my daughter Sean, and framed in tin by my son, Jason. The house I slept in, although a contemporary adobe, was decorated in Spanish Colonial art. So, I thought it was appropriate.

But, I digress.

On Saturday night, I had a choice between the Econo Lodge in Eagle Nest (a few miles from my search mission) and the Angel Fire Resort about 14 miles further from my search mission. The Econo Lodge is consistently $69/night. Having stayed at the Resort during the high season, I knew it could run over $300 for the night. But, what the heck, I was tired, and in need of a hot shower and some cool sheets on a big bed…and you only live once. (As my dear dad used to say before he died.)

And, besides, I rationalized to myself, it wasn’t quite the high season.

(Note: In Greek mythology, Cassandra was the daughter of King Priam and Queen Hecuba and the fraternal twin sister of Helenus (Helen of Troy fame). According to legend, Cassandra was a beautiful girl with red hair kept in curls, blue eyes, and fair skin. She is portrayed as intelligent, charming, desirable, elegant, friendly, and gentle.)

Cassandra Lynn, The Treasure at Angel Fire Resort

Cassandra Lynn, The Treasure at Angel Fire Resort

The Cassandra of our story, whose image you see here, was much like the mythical one, and behind the front desk at the Resort. It was a relatively normal check-in process, highlighted by small talk, until she asked, off-handedly, why I was in the area.

“I’m on a treasure hunt,” I said.

“Like a real treasure hunt?” she asked.

“Yes,” and I gave all the details including the name of the mine I was going to be looking for the following morning. Her eyes twinkled. Literally…they twinkled, and she asked more questions and before I knew it she was Googling “Forrest Fenn.”

In between, she found me a room.

I took the key, and the requisite packet of information, and put it in my SUV, parked out front. I came back into the hotel, and climbed the stairs from the lobby, planning to have a Margarita and dinner for one at Legends Bar and Grill.

A few minutes into the meal, Cassandra pops…literally…pops into the restaurant and hands me a new key card.

“I got you a nicer room, and the ‘Fall Serenity’ rate!”

I’m thinking $200 rather than $300 for the night.

Roughing it on the treasure hunt.

Roughing it on the treasure hunt.

“$87!” she says, happily. Literally. Happily.

She made me happy, too.

Cassandra…I missed finding Fenn’s treasure this weekend. On the other hand…I found you. And, you’re a treasure.

Thank you.

Angel Fire Resort. Highly recommended.

No Place for the Meek?

Every once in a while, on this Forrest Fenn inspired chase, I find my self in a place that causes me, for just a second, to ask myself, “Self…what the hell was your senior citizen’s ass thinking?”

This is an abandoned mine in the Cimarron River State Park. Cimarron, loosely translated, means “…wild place.” Had where warm waters halted. Wasn’t too far, but had to drive. Put in below the home of Brown and concluded the mine was no place for the meek and all I had to do was walk/crawl to the end of it. At the entrance to the mine, I could see it was filled with water, so I went back to my SUV and put on my waders. Brought two flashlights and my camera with me.

Fenn has, on more than one occasion, said the treasure chest would not be discovered accidentally. After seeing the graffitti painted on one (right) of the two sides of the mine, I concluded this mine had seen more than casual activity and traffic through it, it had signs of recent mining, and…well…beer parties. Although I’m not sure why anyone would have a beer party in a cold, dark, wet, bug-ridden, abandoned mine up in the mountains.

But, the left side of the mine, I thought, had seen less activity, so I backtracked into that side of the mine. About 10 yards in, my flashlight caught a small cloud of mosquito-like bugs in its cone. I pointed my light up, and awakened the entire nest of eighty kabillion of the little monsters. Thankfully, I had covered myself in deet, so I wasn’t getting bitten. Nonetheless, it was a really interesting trip to the end of the tunnel as I fought the urge to run out waving my arms like a crazy man.

It didn’t strike me as the kind of place Fenn would “…throw his body on the treasure chest with his last dying breath.” Primarily because his last breath would have sucked in a bunch of bugs.

I can scratch this one off my list, and try to put the clues together again further down the canyon. I’ve got another 30 miles to work with.

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