This past week, I headed out for my seventh botg. Just hours before heading out on the trail, I found out the treasure had been found. While it was tough news to hear, I determined that my real treasure was finding this place all in itself. In fact, this provides the foundation for the documentary ‘Finding Forrest Fenn’.
I spent two days hiking in the Porvenir (Spanish for ‘Future’) Canyon. The final day before heading to Santa Fe and then on to Chama was the best. The weather was near perfect.
My ‘Solve’ starts in Montezuma, NM, the home of the old Montezuma Castle (hotel) that was purchased in 1981. The castle and surrounding 100 acres were purchased by industrialist and philanthropist Armand Hammer for use as a United World College. It is on these acres where Montezuma Hot Springs is located and is my ‘Where Warm Waters Halts’ (WWWH). This is the first clue in Forrest Fenn’s Poem and the most important.
From there, the highway goes northwest up and then down into Gallinas Canyon. Hwy 65 snakes in and out of the mountains before descending into a beautiful valley. At the crossroads, you go to the right toward El Porvenir Campground. Many searchers continued straight on Hwy 65 to explore the Gallinas Creek where ‘Western Life Camp’ and the ‘Oak Flats Picnic Area’ is located. Turning to the right takes you toward Hermit’s Peak and the El Porvenir Christian Camp.
Just a few miles further and you deadend at the El Porvenir Campground. There are two trails to decide between. Most popular is the Hermit’s Peak Summit Trail. However, my ‘Home of Brown’ (put in below the home of brown) has me take the Porvenir Trail. This trail takes you into the Porvenir Canyon below ‘Hermit’s Cave‘, where the monk Giovanni Maria de Agostini lived for several years. He would come down periodically to the town to heal the sick and infirm using native remedies.
From there it’s no place for the meek. The first 1.5 miles of the trail is owned by the El Porvenir Christian Camp and allows access to hikers. It can be a busy area at time so requires a searcher to remain inconspicuous. At one time I thought this might mean that you needed to off the trail through private property in order to locate the chest. Careful study of my topographic map showed that there were public lands just 200-500 feet off the trail. Most recently, I felt that it was necessary to hike in 1.5 miles to where the public land started.
The trails crosses over Beaver Creek on many occasions. Two of the crossing involve bridges that are maintained by the Christian Camp. There will be no paddle up your creek (Beaver Creek is not navigable) just heavy loads and water high.
In my last expedition, my ‘heavy loads’ was a streambed that was spilling out large boulders onto the trail. There was no other geographic feature like this anywhere on the trail. Last year, I walked up the streambed 500 ft and laid out GPS markers all along the streambed to analyze back at the Hotel where I had a good wifi connection. However, the steep ascent made it unrealistic for 80 year old Forrest Fenn to take on with a 22 lb + load.
Just another 500-750 feet and I crossed the 7th water crossing. It was a beautiful area I discovered last year in late September. I spent much time soaking and wading in the swimming hole below the waterfall last year but opted to enjoy the shaded areas on top of the waterfall this time. It was magical, peaceful, and restful. I set my video camera up on a tripod under the tree to film the meditative ‘water high’.
This time, I determined that ‘Indulgence’ (the Treasure Chest) might be located 500 ft. beyond the waterfall to the left of the trail. I had located an area up against the canyon wall that helf some promise. I continued walking to the GPS marker I had pre-marked on my Google Maps (I learned a great deal about navigating using GPS markers in the field).
I discovered an area that was inaccessible and filled with debris. It seemed like it would be impossible to find anything in such a dense mass of shrubbery. Not only that, it didn’t seem ‘Fenny’. That is, it was not the beautiful final resting location I envisioned for Forrest. Over the past four years, most (if not all) of the places I discovered didn’t meet my imaginary criteria.
Just prior to this hike on the trail, I had learned the treasure chest had been found. Without any information concerning the exact location, I still was out to investigate the new possibilities. More than that, I was out to document my experience engaging with this Porvenir (Future) Canyon. I enjoyed my times as always and came away with the feeling that THIS, was my real treasure.
The next day, I want back out on the trail before meeting up with Cynthia in Santa Fe for Lunch. The weather was even more perfect and I ended up taking many glorious pictures and capturing memorable video footage.
In October, I will submit my documentary to the Santa Fe Film Festival. At this point, I have all of the footage, images, and interviews needed to tell my story.
Stay Tuned for More Clips!