Forrest Fenn’s treasure was absolutely, positively hidden in a mountain meadow outside Red River, but someone has already claimed it.
Nah, says someone else: “My solve fits your poem like a glove. It leads me to Woody Creek trail,” in Pitkin County, Colo., states an email to Fenn.
And a recent message to The New Mexican says those other hunters are fooling themselves because the treasure is in a hollowed-out tree in the front of Fenn’s Santa Fe home.
Claims that Fenn’s treasure has been unearthed — or that the clues he has published lead searchers to a specific location but the trove is not there — are a daily rite. He hears from hunters by phone and email, as well as on the blogs dedicated to Thrill of the Chase, his autobiography that contains the nine clues that he claims leads to a chest with at least $1 million in gold coins, precious metals, jewels and artifacts.
Fenn, 84, a former military pilot, business owner and artifacts dealer, is still a prolific writer who claims to have hidden the chest in the Rocky Mountains north of Santa Fe. He also has given other hints in blog postings and interviews.
The latest searcher who was certain about the location was a blogger named Kevin from Spokane, Wash., who wrote that he was going to retrieve the chest on May 6. The man told some 1,000 fellow bloggers that he would post a video for all to see and then set out from his home for a 10-hour drive to retrieve the treasure chest.
“Please be sure to check your mail before retiring for the night on Wednesday,” he wrote to Fenn. “Please mark my words. On Wednesday, May 6, 2015, everyone can cease their searches. It will be done.”
On May 7, Fenn said: “I haven’t heard from him yesterday or today,” and there has been no word from Kevin since.
“They are convinced they know where it is and want me to come along with them or document the finding,” he said. “In fact, quite recently, there have been a dozen or more of those in my personal email. I guess that is reflective of the upswing in hits on the blog.”
Though the blog now has tens of thousands of page views with thousands of posts, he said, there has so far been just one person who has published an entire solution for others to critique. She is Pam Shetron, a North Carolina woman who was featured in a New Mexican story in July.
She claimed the treasure was at the Christ of the Mines Shrine in Silverton, Colo. She traveled there but could not find it.
Shetron said she realized that Fenn’s poem and autobiography, written after the death of a close friend and his own recovery from cancer, is a journey that urges others to embrace a life rich with friendships, engagement and adventure, then prepare for a spiritual journey in death.
She still claims that her solution is the right one, and she urges Fenn to tell the real story of the search and what it means.
“He challenged us to go and find his treasure. He taught us we could believe in something we couldn’t see, but had faith that it existed. He did this by offering a reward of a bronze treasure chest full of gold and jewels valued at over one million dollars. And, just as he predicted, we all joined The Chase,” Shetron wrote on her blog, www.awhisperer.com.
“I also believe the lesson he is sharing is to understand material things are nice, but without a spiritual core and an open heart you may never feel at peace. I believe this is what he is telling us when he says ‘I’ve done it tired weak.’ This speaks to me of a man who has journeyed through life searching for the greatest gift of all.”
Fenn said it’s typical for those who are certain they have solved the mystery to fashion an alternative explanation when they do not find the chest. That is what happened to Shetron in Colorado.
“They know exactly where it is, but someone got there before them or the whole thing is a hoax,” Fenn said.
Searchers often want to deter others from continuing on, but pursue the search privately. He knows because he recognizes the names from emails, some fictitious, still posting on the blogs.
Many of the emails he receives are an effort to pry out a clue — like the invitation from strangers who came to town inviting him to a private lunch, which he declined.
Fenn has called 911 three times for unwelcome visitors who have tried to gain access to his home without permission or made threats. One time, a man in a car with tinted windows tried to follow Fenn when he left, forcing Fenn to circle around and return home behind his security gate.
And avid searchers detail his every word. In one recent video interview, Fenn described the treasure as being “wet” and many assumed it was hidden in a river or waterfall, and that was new information.
“How can anything be in the Rocky Mountains and not be wet,” he said. “Even if it were buried six feet deep, it would still be wet. That’s not a real clue.”
If there was any new insight into the treasure, it might be that Fenn will turn 85 in August and he hid the 42-pound chest in 2010. Some who are scaling peaks in their quest should stop, he said.
“Don’t look anywhere where a 79- or 80-year-old man can’t put something,” he said. “I’m not that fit, I can’t climb 14,000 feet.”
Contact Bruce Krasnow at email@example.com.