Jack Gets Mail #2
When I was outed as the finder of the Fenn Treasure a month ago, I didn’t predict I would answer so many emails from searchers, or that I would continue to receive so much gratitude back from kind people around the world who loved this treasure hunt as much as I did. Today, I looked at my inbox, and I have received over 2,400 emails from searchers. That may be paltry by Forrest Fenn’s standards, but to me that’s quite a lot.
I haven’t been able to get to all of them, but I’ve tried my best to get back to people when I’ve had time. It’s been an unexpected pleasure to answer them. If you have a question you think I would feel comfortable answering, you can send it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’ve answered a number of questions since the last installment of “Jack Gets Mail” that I thought were particularly illuminating or would be of interest to the wider group of searchers, so I’ve put together another roundup of those emails. My responses are all in bold below.
A lot of people have commented on how clean the chest looked in the photo with you and Forrest, did you clean it up? And did you go through or inventory the chest before meeting with Forrest. I ask that second question because I know I would have gone through it piece by piece. One last thing, did you find it strange to see a rusty pair of scissors in the chest? Any idea what they were used for?
1. The treasure was filthy, and dirt got all over the interior bag I had it in. I spent a night at a hotel on my way to New Mexico and wiped dirt off everything with the hotel towels (not with any type of soap or cleaner, just occasionally wetting them a little bit). I went through all the towels in the room and left them totally brown from all the dirt. I left a nice tip.
2. Yes. As was Forrest. It was in a Ziploc with the dragon bracelet, which was covered in paper towel, so my only guess was he cut the paper towel with them, but that doesn’t seem like a very good guess.
Hi Jack, I hope you had a Merry Christmas, I have two questions concerning the final clue that you might entertain answering. We were absolutely certain of our search location but it was still like searching for a needle in a haystack.
My question is,. #1 Is there something in the poem or in the hints in the book that significantly narrows down the search area for the blaze once in the final area? #2. If the answer is yes, would you specify whether that information is in the poem, or in the hints in the book? Thanks.
Depends on your definition of “significantly.” The poem directs you to a section of forest in which to search for the blaze, but that is something you had to search for. Something like a needle in a haystack is accurate, but maybe slightly easier than that, or at least that was the design.
Q1 — Are Forrest Fenn’s ashes at or are going to be at the treasure location?
Q2 — Have you thought about saving the same location to have your ashes rest?
I seen in another email you sent, that you had been within 6’ of the treasure at one time on a previous search. That kinda blew my mind, that someone actively searching could be so close and not know.
Q3 — If everything went as FF had first planned and took his life at the spot. Do you think you would have found the treasure a lot sooner with a body at the spot?
1. I will say I was aware of that comment and did offer to make that happen. His family wants that stuff to remain private, so I will not reveal if I did or not. But if you’re asking in the hopes you could find an urn there, no you could not.
Did the solve involve the use of synonyms for words found in the poem clues?
Thx, ken from oklahoma
Do you mean substituting synonyms for the words of the poem so that they would make sense? No. He wrote what he wanted to say. The poem is straightforward.
first off i would just like to congratulate you. i bought the book a few years ago and half heartedly followed on the internet but didn’t put in the effort that you did — nor am i nearly as clever:)
also i’m a full-time trader so we have that in common. from what i have seen, this profession is well-suited to someone with your logic/makeup.
anyways i have a specific location that requires climbing underneath a fence with barbed wire on top or somehow getting around the fence. did you have a similar experience? would at least let me know if i have been mistakenly attached to this spot.
Thanks Guy. No, I didn’t encounter a fence or barbed wire. If that were involved, the poem would have to mention it, I think.
I’ve been pondering the problem of you being willing to communicate with other seekers, wanting to provide useful and interesting information, but not wanting to give away the treasure site. That’s a rather daunting list of objectives. I think that I might have found a topic that you can address.
Forrest Fenn said multiple times that it could take hundreds of years for a seeker to succeed. He clearly planned for this (like wax sealing the glass olive jar). And as an antiquities dealer with mountain experience, he would have seen a lot of old things and know how things survive in good shape (as well as the damages that can occur). He also said that he selected the treasure location with care: “I considered mudslides, forest fires, earthquakes, and floods….” These statements set up a few questions that I think are safe for you to answer:
1. The key was highly rusted and it looks like it wouldn’t have lasted another decade. Did Forrest Fenn simply overlook the effects of time and moisture on the key, or did some protection he have for the key fail?
2. With a bronze chest and the lock appearing in good condition, why is the key steel/iron? Is this an original key, or a cheap replica? Is the chest’s lock mechanism also steel/iron (and if so did it suffer the same rusty fate)?
3. You have stated that the blaze was damaged by nature and that you didn’t initially recognize it as the blaze — even 6 feet away. Specifically, was it the damage that threw you off, or not knowing exactly what that blaze was at that first encounter?
4. Was the natural damage that the blaze suffered something that occurred slowly (like erosion, settling, etc.) or rather suddenly (like, if not specifically, the things Forrest Fenn lists: mudslides, forest fires, earthquakes, and floods)?
5. Was the damage the blaze suffered just poor dumb luck (like a tree falling, of all places, directly on the blaze or a localized landslide on an apparently stable slope occurring right at the chest site), or did Forrest Fenn simply grossly underestimate the ravishes of time and the forces of nature?
I think that the answers to these questions would be interesting to say the least, but too general to peg the treasure’s former location. What do you think?
Thanks so much for your time,
1. He said he put it inside rather than in the lock because he knew it would rust.
2. I don’t know, actually. Maybe you can ask the DIA if they have a key for their version of the chest.
3. The damage
5. Forrest left it up to fate to decide.
I am still trying to solve the poem on my own. I’ve spent so much time working on it that I feel the need for that closure to find what I missed. I watched your video on confirmation bias and thought it was extremely helpful. I think a majority of searchers were looking for a linear solution to a non-linear equation. My only Wyoming solve was my first one and it was (very) weak. Since the announcement that it was found in Wyoming, I’ve been working on a new Wyoming solve. My best guess is at Amelia Earhart’s cabin near Meeteetse. Below are all the coincidences that lead me to Amelia’s cabin. I am curious what you think and would appreciate your feedback, is this a tremendous amount of confirmation bias or a plethora of red herrings?
[Carrie then includes a long list of all the coincidences she found]
It’s probably easy to tally up coincidences on any subject, and that’s why so many searchers felt they wound up in rabbit holes. To me, you need evidence that he intended something to be a hint in order to consider it as such, and I was happy to leave legitimate hints on the table if they didn’t meet that high burden of proof. It’s also important to note he once gave us an idea of how many hints were in TTOTC, and it wasn’t very many.
It seems like you tried to research everything about Forrest Fenn, including everything he ever wrote or said about the Chase.
So my question is:
If you only had the “Thrill of the Chase” book (and went BOTG of course) would you have been able to solve the poem and find the treasure?
In other words, were any of the “after the fact” Forrest Fenn quotes critical to your solve?
Thanks as always,
Allen, hypotheticals are always difficult to answer with any accuracy. If TTOTC was the only piece of writing he ever wrote, I would have found that very strange. The natural inclination for me would still be to research the man as much as possible. If something had happened to him and he never had the chance to answer questions about the treasure hunt, I would have had a harder time believing it was real, so I may have just decided there was too much uncertainty and never searched. And without his many comments on simplicity and the straightforwardness of the poem, I think it would have been more difficult to understand the scope of the undertaking and his perspective on the poem, which I think are crucial to figuring out what it means. The greatest value of his quotes lies in how they clarify the nature of the problem at hand and how one may go about solving it. There are some little nuggets of evidence in his quotes, but they’re not as important as that big-picture stuff.
First of all, Congratulations! You did what thousands of us could not.
Here are a few questions I’ve been wondering about:
1. It‘s been rumored that Forrest said you were the only person to correctly identify the hoB. As far as you know, is that a true statement? Were you the only person to correctly identify hoB?
2. Did you figure out hoB before you ever went BOTG to your search area?
3. Was Brown one of Forrest’s names for the chest and hoB the location of the chest?
Assuming that Brown was not Forrest’s name for the chest and that hoB is something that you need to be BOTG in the right area in order to identify, then it’s unlikely I’ll ever be able to get past that point in the poem.
I understand if you don’t want to answer these questions but I thought I’d try asking.
Thanks Redneck Girl
1. I didn’t ask him that, but it wouldn’t surprise me. At the same time, it wouldn’t surprise me if someone figured that out and hadn’t told him. I didn’t tell him what I knew it to be before I met him.
Hope you are doing well. I would like to ask: what gave you confidence in your search location? I mean for me my location, Brown’s Canyon Colorado, one that I visited 40 plus times in 4 years, was derived entirely from the poem, but I was obviously wrong. And most serious searchers felt the same way about their search spots, but they too were wrong. So what was it that gave you so much confidence that your location was correct that you visited it 25 times in those two years? Can you honestly say that you knew for certain that your location was the location prior to recovery?
Sean, for me, it was from connecting the dots and seeing the evidence. Evidence it was the place he wanted to die and evidence he saw the path there the way he describes seeing it in the poem.
Congratulations, again! I didn’t have any questions for you at first but I do have one now. :)
If you were free and clear of any legal worries, would you want other searchers, who developed a fondness of Forrest and his Chase over the years, to know the special spot?
Same question, but with a slight twist.
If you had arrived at the spot, only to realize you weren’t the first one there and the chest was gone. Would you answer the question the same way?
Thank you kindly,
Billy Shaw Jr.
1. If I could be assured the spot wouldn’t be destroyed, and Forrest was ok with it, and most of them wanted it to just be handed to them, then sure. I don’t get off on being withholding.
2. I knew where it was, so if someone else found it, I wouldn’t need to see a chest-sized depression to know where it was. I have thought about whether I would go on the internet and point out the evidence at that point in a fit of pique. I think and hope I would still keep it to myself, but who knows where my emotions would be at that point.
Do you know if the date that Forrest hid the treasure is of any significance? If so, was this info part of the ancillary evidence that aided you in the search?
Forrest said he stayed mum on the exact hiding date to prevent searchers from pulling car rental records to calculate miles driven, etc. Given that your name and travel dates are now public, any concerns that someone might try to trace your movements? (Not I, I assure you!)
My car rental records aren’t public records. I doubt people would be willing to lose their job and get into legal trouble just to get that information out, and I doubt they would be as revealing as people like to think.
He told me he hid it when he did because he was in Wyoming anyway for an event at the museum in Cody, so it was convenient to hide it on the same trip.
Interesting note about the WY trip! Thanks for sharing that tidbit.
Had the blaze not been damaged, do you believe you would’ve found the spot on your first trip in 2018, or did you really need to know what blaze you were looking for in order to identify it (regardless of the condition of the blaze)?
That’s tough to say because I wasn’t tracking myself with GPS and being systematic enough in 2018, but my feeling when I first went there early in the search season in 2019 was that it was an area of the forest I had never been in before. So probably not. If I had gone in that area, I probably would have needed some luck to notice it even without damage because I didn’t know what I was looking for.
Hi Jack -
Let me just add to the many congratulations you’ve already received. Well done!
I’ve been working on Forrest’s poem for about 8 years and would love to pose a few questions if you’d indulge me.
1. Are place names on a map relevant at all to the clues in the poem? I surmise that the poem itself, taken as a whole, points to one general area on a map by place name. But maybe the individual clues from there on don’t have specific place names.
2. Is any part of the solve outside of Wyoming? I know you found the chest in WY, but does the chase begin outside of that state?
Gotta say… I’m 10% jealous, but 90% thrilled for you. At this point I’m just looking for some personal satisfaction at solving it for myself. Thanks Jack!
1. I think I can answer that either way and people would quibble if they knew all the answers.
2. Nope, everything is in Wyoming.
Sooooo, is there an album or artist that you listened to that sticks out when you reminisce back on your WY adventures ? I think it would be cool to listen to that and close my eyes and envision your journey!
Thanks again Jack and completely understand if I don’t hear back from my question.
Steven, this song gave me chills when I first heard its opening lines: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=itpa_IOuz3Y
Great responses on 6 questions. Thank you for that. You are a great writer just like Forrest.
A question: If someone made a fake blaze and you publicly mentioned it was 1000 feet from the real blaze didn’t you essentially tell that person where the chest was, or do you believe the maker of the fake blaze was most likely not a Fenn searcher?
Dave from Reading
Thanks Dave. I left it vague enough so that everyone who left a fake blaze out there now feels bad about it and realizes they may have wasted time making a fake blaze instead of looking harder for the treasure. And I’ve had some of those people email me. Haha.
[Nick had a lot of long questions and I asked him to narrow them down]
1. “Begin it…take it…” Is “it” and actual thing and not simply “your quest”?
2. “Waters”…as in a designated body of water(s) rather than simply a plural form of water?
3. Does the Semicolon mean anything? Does it tie the 2 lines together?
4. “Been wise”…is using the past tense “been” important?
1. I think it’s possible to read that multiple ways and be correct.
2. It fits a dictionary definition of the word and is used correctly in context.
3. I would say he uses the semicolon correctly there as a connection of ideas in the stanza.
4. To me, that past tense was jarring. I always wondered if there had been an extra stanza before that he cut out to make it harder, but I forgot to ask him. I think the past tense does help you realize that there is a gap there, the search you have to do for the blaze. And then it’s past tense because you’ve then done everything you need to do to find the treasure at that point.
Wow, so congrats on doing what so many of us crazy searches tried and failed. Although, I can speak for myself that I had a lot of fun and many times felt like Alice in Wonderland :)
So, I could not help but notice that you resemble Forrest in many ways. (Hair, skin, facial structure, stature) Do you think some of these similarities in turn may have helped you find the chest? I.e. perhaps you have a similar genetic makeup and therefore you were able to think the same as Forrest. I hope this doesn’t sound crazy it’s an honest question.
Or do you think you were just able to tap into some good info through the internet (scrapbooks, videos, interview) That helped you compute out the solution?
Thanks Spallies. I think we did think alike in some important ways, because I always found it rather easy to understand where he was coming from where I sometimes saw others struggling. I don’t know exactly how genetics or appearance plays into that, but I’m sure there are some similarities to growing up a white boy in America with an August birthday and an older brother whether it’s the 1930s or 1990s. But mostly what informed me was studying his words.
Hi. Hopefully you can answer these questions, but I understand if not!
I had a pet theory that Forest endangered the solution by the amount of interviews he gave, and came to the conclusion that if he were to make an unguarded comment, it would have been early on in the chase and/or when asked an unusual question. Is that what you found?
Also, and perhaps you can answer this question, did Forest know at the time that he made an error? Did realize and try to backtrack? Did Forest know when you spoke to him that he’d made an error in the past?
Congratulations once again and thanks for your time,
Thanks Dean. I think he got into his groove with handling interviews quickly, and I certainly looked at and watched and listened to everything.
I did ask him about those two little slip-ups. He remembered one but not the other. But that second one was very subtle. He seemed satisfied overall with his performance keeping the secret, and I agree it was impressive.
I think maybe Forrest knew the blaze was damaged when he left the chest, and that’s why you would have been wise to find it. Would you say the blaze could have already been damaged when Forrest originally left the chest? Or do you think that Forrest had a different view of the chests spot with the blaze still intact? Last question is would you say the remaining clues were still traceable or were others damaged as well? I understand if you don’t have the time to answer, I appreciate you taking the time to answer my first email. I spent the last 7 summers working out in Wyoming, looking for the treasure in my spare time. I think I was very close.
Christopher J. Kubash
No, and he was somewhat surprised when I told him it had happened. Yes, all the other clues are recognizable out there at this point the same as when he hid it, but none of them were as susceptible to damage as the blaze was.
You’re awesome Jack thanks again for taking the time to answer me. It’s really baffling how you describe Forrest’s poem as not being a “puzzle” of sorts necessarily. If you’re saying that it’s just straight forward, loose and vague interpretations of waypoints for each clue then why would Forrest always tell us to “study every word”? Or that every word was intentional?
If the poem wasn’t a puzzle then how or why did it take him 15+ years to create supposedly?
Also on an unrelated note, what does it feel like watching and reading all these people online talk about you? I hope you are staying safe and anonymous for now. If I were in your shoes I might get my name changed and start a brand new life! Hahaha! :P
Hope you’re doing well and really appreciate again you taking time from your day to give a stranger some closure!
I think it’s vague to the reader coming into it cold, but those words held deep meaning for him. They say exactly what he wanted to without giving too much away and requiring work to understand him to reveal what they mean. And it works as a poem that tells a coherent story.
I think some people read too much into that “15 years” comment. It’s probably something that was in the back of his mind that he came back to occasionally to work on. I don’t think he was spending hours on it each day. It doesn’t even rhyme completely.
I’m not reading much of the online conversation because the emails keep me plenty busy. Thankfully, the ratio of kind emails like yours to weird threats and conspiracy theories has been really high.
Thanks for responding to my email!
I live in the Adelaide Hills, in South Australia.
Good to hear you’re ignoring the negativity. Don’t let any of that get to you.
One last question referring to your previous answer, if you don’t mind! Roughly how big was the location or area you had decided the treasure was at? I mean was it like a football oval size area, or something bigger or smaller?
Thanks again for replying.
I haven’t measured the area I searched. It may have been bigger than a football field, but keep in mind that’s the total limits of what I thought was possible. What I considered to be probable was certainly smaller than a football field, and it was found within those probable bounds.
In the poem “Take it in the canyon down” is this referring to an actual, physical canyon? That’s not too much to give away because there’s a million canyons. But I would just like to know 2 things.
#1. Is it a physical canyon?
#2. Do you have to go physically into the canyon?
Thanks Jack, as always =)
Yes, the clues refer to things in the physical world, so it was a physical canyon. You do have to go down it to travel the path of the poem.
I do have a question, but first I wanted to sincerely express how much I enjoyed your YouTube video on Bias Confirmation. In my opinion, everything you said was point on. It is EXACTLY what made the hunt so difficult for so many.
I for one, was in the court of the poem being “straight forward.” And not that it matters at all to you, but I just wanted to put my thoughts in a final resting place with the person who did what no one else could. In some strange way, it will make me smile knowing you are the only person who can truly smile back….either as a delighted nod or a pitiful shake of the head! LOL!
It was Yellowstone for me from day one. In my opinion, the MOST IMPORTANT CHAPTER IS FLYWATER! Hands down! But I could never get passed my confirmation bias of Madison Junction, Firehole Canyon, Nez Perce Creek: HOB, Nez Perce/Mary Mountain trail. I never could find a blaze from there that would take me “off the trail.”
And that leads me to my question:
Forrest stated (and I’m paraphrasing) that the spot was not in “very close proximity” to a human trail. Did you indeed walk a “human trail” for a portion of your solve, or not? And do feel his statement (done in classic Fenn style, LOL!) was a hindrance or of help in the ultimate solve.
Thank you Jack for all the questions you have answered and I hope that some likeness of “normal” returns quickly to you, your family and Forrest’s family. You all deserve to finally move forward and live in peace.
Best wishes for a safe and happy New Year!
Thanks Donna. I think that may narrow down things too much if I say yes or no, but I can say the whole time I was searching for the blaze and treasure in the forest, I did not step foot on a human trail. He is right that there are no man-made trails in the vicinity, but there are some game trails.
Thanks again to everyone who has sent me such kind messages and shared interesting questions and stories of your searchers and what Forrest meant to you. It’s not always easy being the finder, but it’s heartening to see how many great people are out there.