Reasons to Hike #3: Real-life Scavenger Hunt


You might solve the puzzle.

Forrest Fenn created an interesting scavenger hunt: hiding a treasure somewhere in the Rocky Mountains. The Santa Fe millionaire made two car trips to a spot within the mountain range and hid the following items in a wooden chest:

  • Gold frog that’s 1,200-1,500 years old.
  • Pre-Columbian jewelry, bracelets, a jaguar claw that’s absolutely wonderful.
  • Nuggets of gold that have been pounded out.
  • Coins that have numismatic value beyond the spot of gold.

The value of the find is probably over a million dollars, although Fenn refuses to speculate its exact value. He has calculated that approximately 65,000 people have searched for the treasure. Despite one fatality and old age, he doesn’t plan on divulging its secret location.

“No one knows where that treasure chest is but me,” Fenn says. “If I die tomorrow, the knowledge of that location goes in the coffin with me.”

Fenn’s only clues, besides the poem below: it’s somewhere between Santa Fe and the Canadian border above 5,000 feet but below 10,000 feet; his quotation in People online magazine: “And I can tell you an 80-year-old man is not going to make a trip into a canyon, then come up and go down again”; it’s hidden more than 300 miles west of Peoria (Illinois or Arizona, the exact location isn’t certain); it’s not in Utah or Idaho; don’t look for it at a place where an 80-year old man can’t travel.

Here’s the poem that has challenged scavenge hunters:

As I have gone alone in there
And with my treasures bold,
I can keep my secret where,
And hint of riches new and old.
Begin it where warm waters halt
And take it in the canyon down,
Not far, but too far to walk.
Put in below the home of Brown.
From there it’s no place for the meek,
The end is drawing ever nigh;
There’ll be no paddle up your creek,
Just heavy loads and water high.
If you’ve been wise and found the blaze,
Look quickly down, your quest to cease
But tarry scant with marvel gaze,
Just take the chest and go in peace.
So why is it that I must go
And leave my trove for all to seek?
The answers I already know
I’ve done it tired, and now I’m weak
So hear me all and listen good,
Your effort will be worth the cold.
If you are brave and in the wood
I give you title to the gold.

What is Fenn’s purpose for this giant hunt? “I hid the treasure in hopes of prompting our overweight society to get off the couch and out of the game rooms,” he told a newspaper.

And there’s only one way to find the treasure: hiking.

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