Please note: use these images while watching our YouTube video: “Forrest Fenn’s Poem: When and Where Warm Waters Halt”
Radio New Zealand, Jesse Mulligan, 03 Apr 2013, Interview with Forrest Fenn, entitled “Treasure hunt.” Listen to the whole thing, but note Fenn’s comment on the first clue at 9:30. Whatever debate there was, should now end.
It’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.
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:
Cimarron, translated from Spanish to English, means “Wild Place.”
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.
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)
7 Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared.
8 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.
9 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 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.
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.
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:
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?
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.