Day 4 of a long search.
After a great nights sleep, (I did not set the alarm) and an exciting night of Poker (I actually won), I woke up with a nagging feeling that I forgot to check something. I quickly calculated in my head, if I had enough time to make a mad dash back to Jemez. The campsite that I saw on FR 144 greatly intrigued me, because I remembered that Forrest’s family had stashed their camping gear in the woods near Yellowstone. I determined that I had enough time
before my flight to try a frantic trip back to the Jemez mountains that would be more fruitful than hanging around Santa Fe or searching one other location. I hastily packed but thoroughly verified my luggage, tossed it in the car, and fed my empty belly.
The drive through Bandelier was still exciting because mountain roads always command your attention. Back to FR 144 and the slippery slope. I drove right to the camp site and initiated the search. The first place to look? Yes, there was a home made porta-potty, I’m not proud of myself, but I had to search it. I was prepared, perhaps too much, but I had rubber gloves and it was the shape and size of the chest. It was only 12 X 12 and 6 inches high, so I tipped it over. Don’t worry, it was solidly built and was not damaged. I did leave gifts at the campsite as an apology for disturbing the solitude. I searched under the tarp of the Blaze (a campfire). I searched very thoroughly almost too thoroughly to admit. I had to through away the rubber gloves and my hiking stick, it was bent and unusable anyway. I had searched the wood near the camp site, but I had
not searched the hill side. There were crags, crevasses, and cracks. The hill was littered with tree stumps. I am not quite sure why I did not scan this hill in the first place. I am only wearing my tennis shoes and twigs and debris is gathering in my sneakers, but I search on. I could spend a few hours here, I only have 1 hour before I must leave. There are etches on the aspens and they have dates. From what I can surmise, the black pitch that forms when carving off the bark of the Aspen, takes several years to accumulate. So that being said, I believe that if Forrest carved his initials in a tree, It would not have turned black yet, but still have a beige wooden color. This is a very cool place, I would like to come back here sometime, but I did not find any golden treasure. I found personal treasured memories and inner-strength. I hastened back to Albuquerque, because I wanted to wash the road/snow grime off the rental car so that they would not know I had been off-road. The drive through Jemez mountains is peaceful and easygoing. Part of this trip was to play poker and since I did so well last night, I feel that I can take on the world. Maybe I need to take up a new hobby. I clean the SUV that served me so well, I played poker but lost this time, and I boarded the plane with a great story and adventure to tell. I just hope that the gold nuggets I find in the airport store are
not the only gold nuggets I find in the future.
When I got home, I retraced my steps on Mapquest and I discovered that the rock formation that I saw was not the blaze which I had originally sought. Therefore, even if the coyote had not crossed my path, I could neither confirm nor deny that the treasure is hidden in Vales Caldera National Preserve up the San Antonio Creek.
There are some important lessons learned that I should share from this trip:
- Make sure you are prepared to hike (with or without 42 extra pounds of treasure)
- Don’t step on slimy rocks and if you do, make sure that your important electronic equipment is watertight.
- Have a detailed map with expected mile markers or turnouts.
- Rent or take an SUV or vehicle that can handle rocky gravel roads or snow.
If you are going on the hunt, good luck, and enjoy the thrill of the chase. I know I sure did. I can’t wait to get out there and go on new Pachyderm Junkets.
Good Luck, PJ