TTOTC Treasure Hunt Solution

Background

In 2010, Forrest Fenn published a poem in his memoir The Thrill of the Chase, which included clues to the location of a million-dollar treasure. The hunt ended approximately 10 years later, on June 5, 2020, when Jack Stuef alerted Forrest of the find.

Jack and Forrest did not publicly provide a solution to the hunt, though evidence that the treasure was found at 9 Mile Hole in Yellowstone has come out through court and government document requests. 

The location is only part of the story. Forrest described his poem as having "9 clues." Knowing these clues allows searchers to understand how readers were intended to arrive at that location and what was going on in Forrest's mind when he wrote the poem.

The Solution

Nearly all rivers begin in distant headwaters, but not The Madison River. It begins mid-course as an already large river. The warm water of the Firehole, coming from geysers along its banks, halts as it mixes with the cool water of the Gibbon and forms the Madison.

Madison Junction

2. Take it in the Canyon Down

Drive downstream through Madison Canyon

Madison Canyon

3. Too far to Walk

The four-mile journey was too far to walk for an 80-year-old Forrest.

4. Below the Home of Brown

Stop at Nine Mile Hole, a famous home of brown trout. Forrest's family would joke about the elusive fish they could hook but never reel in, Mr. Brown.

Nearby sign explaining how the Madison River is a paradise for trout.

Begin to cross the river, put into the water just below the fishing hole.

Wade right below the rock pictured in The Thrill of the Chase.

5. No Place for the Meek

Crossing the river is not for the meek.

6. End is Drawing Nigh

You are nearing the end of your journey, where the treasure lies.

7. Up Your Creek

One feature of Nine Mile Hole that attracts trout and makes it a world-class fishing hole is the creek that enters the river just upstream.

The Madison River at Nine Mile Hole

8. Heavy Loads and Water High

The treasure is certainly a heavy load that Forrest carried across wading with the water high up to his knees.

9. The Blaze

Now, look for the blaze, a notch carved on a tree.

From Jack's account, the blaze was damaged and barely recognizable.

Illustration of what the treasure site at Nine Mile Hole may have looked like when Forrest deposited the chest.

Learn more about how the location was confirmed here.

Sources of Information

Information from Jack

The finder frequently posted their thoughts on Reddit¹ during the years they were searching for the treasure. He posted several of his direct thoughts about the poem's lines to Reddit. He also sent Forrest emails describing some details of his solution. After the find, Jack confirmed with Forrest that he had all the clues figured out.

Here are some of the details from those posts and emails:

Madison Junction, where two endings meet one another ("ΩΩ", or the Firehole and Gibbon) and become a beginning ("turning Alpha", the start of the Madison).

Drive through it

A relative distance

My home of brown was the actual hole at nine mile hole

“Obviously a river crossing is no place for the meek.“

“You won’t be going up river, but rather directly across.”

“If anyone’s ever tried crossing a river in waders, this is an excellent way to describe the heavy loads of water pushing you as the water climbs higher up your body the deeper you get.”

The search you have to do for the blaze

Convergent Solves

Several treasure hunters had searched the same area where the treasure was eventually found. Some publicly provided their solutions, which align in large part. Although ending in the correct location does not prove their solutions correct, it provides a strong contender for the solution, as at least several searchers could agree on the interpretation before finding it.

Additional Sources

Cynthia Meachum, a close friend of Forrest and his family, has confirmed important details of this solution.

Nine Mile Hole

This site is not affiliated with or endorsed by Forrest Fenn, the Fenn Estate, the Fenn Family, or Jack Stuef.