2013-05-23 Meredith Mullins

Can Treasure Hunting Change Your Life?

by Meredith Mullins on May 23, 2013

Forrest Fenn and The Thrill of the Chase

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.

                            —Forrest Fenn

And so begins a story of mystery, adventure, and hunting for hidden treasure—with life-changing experiences for the treasure giver and the treasure hunter.

From Bottle Caps to Gold and Jewels

Forrest Fenn is a collector extraordinaire—from bottle caps, string, and arrowheads as a child to art and artifacts for many decades after.

With this passion for exploration and discovery, he made a name for himself (and a fortune) as a charismatic and internationally-known art dealer in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Then, his life changed. He was diagnosed with cancer and a less-than-encouraging chance of survival.

Oh I see. It’s a time when you ask yourself “Have I done everything I have ever wanted to do?”

His answer focused on leaving an unusual legacy—a path to adventure— and a real-life tribute to the thrill of the chase.

Get Off the Couch

Although, his cancer miraculously (and thankfully) went into remission, he decided to continue with his plan. He had had so much fun building his collection of riches, he said, why not let others have fun searching for some of it. He wanted to get people off their couches and into the beauty of the wilderness.

Begin it where warm waters halt
And take it in the canyons down,
Not far, but too far to walk.
Put in below the home of Brown.

He stashed a beautifully carved 12th century Romanesque lock box full of gold and jewels “in the mountains north of Santa Fe.” Then, he wrote a memoir and poem that gives nine clues as to how to find the hidden treasure (with an estimated value of around 2 million dollars).

It’s not your ordinary treasure. It’s a veritable pirate’s chest of gold coins; ancient jewelry with diamonds, rubies, and sapphires; and unique artifacts like a 17th C Spanish gold ring and Chinese human faces carved out of jade.

A Little Indiana Jones in All of Us

Oh, I see. This challenge brings out the Indiana Jones in all of us. The thrill of the chase and the attraction of easy money. A life-changing challenge that “stirs the spirit,” as Fenn hoped.

Who doesn’t want a quick and easy fortune?

We enter lotteries with unadulterated hope.

We are addicted to game shows where ordinary people win big prizes.

We cheer for the audience when Oprah gives everyone a car (and wish we were there)

Why not become treasure hunters?

The Elusive Clues

The hunt began three years ago, and the treasure still has not been found—although not for lack of trying.

Thousands of treasure hunters are searching for the hidden chest of riches. Fenn says, “It’s difficult to find, but not impossible.”

He gives an extra clue, reminding people that an 80-year old man carried this 42-pound chest into the mountains (although he does admit that it took two trips, what with all those heavy gold coins).

From there it’s no place for the meek,
The end is ever drawing 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.

Gold Fever

Fenn’s book, “The Thrill of the Chase,” has sold more than 20,000 copies, with all proceeds going to cancer research and the Collected Works Bookstore, a brick-and-mortar bookstore in Santa Fe to whom he gave exclusive selling rights.

He receives thousands of emails from people hoping to pry another clue from him.

There are several treasure blogs, some from people who believe they are “very close” to finding the treasure. (Are they sharing real information, or trying to throw their competitors off the track?)

And Fenn has been featured in television and news stories all over the world.

In fact, he’s given out three additional clues, more out of necessity than part of the game. People have been prone to destroy some of the beautiful wilderness or ancient archaeological sites that he was hoping would be appreciated in a new way by the treasure hunters.

To protect some of the land and property, he has added the following:

1. The treasure is not in a graveyard.
2. There’s no need to dig up old outhouses; the treasure is not in a structure.
3. The treasure is higher than 5,000 feet above sea level.

The Real Treasure

The lasting OIC Moment is that the real treasure is best defined in the heart of the hunter. It might just be the “thrill of the chase” while hunting for treasure, a rediscovery of adventure, or the idea of families growing closer as they venture out in search of a chest full of gold and jewels.

But if you happen to be the lucky treasure hunter who puts the cryptic clues together correctly, it would be worthwhile to remember what Fenn’s life-changing experiences have taught him.

“Having enough money is much better than having a lot of money. Anyone who dies with more than $50 is a failure.”

And, if you find the treasure, maybe you should rebury part of it . . . to keep the spirit of adventure alive.

Thursday, May 23, 2013