How The Quest Was Won: Solution to the Forrest Fenn Quest


Welcome! Please view, share, and enjoy the copyrighted, complete solution to the Fenn quest. Visual independent proof (“VIP”) exists in three different forms, while the site determined by the poem is here.

The readiest proof is found here or in the image shown on this page, which is the quest solution. The image combines an overlay of the illustration by Polt found in the epilogue of The Thrill of the Chase: A Memoir by Fenn, published in January 2010, onto an outdoor photo of the site I took in August 2018. That match proves that Fenn, who commissioned the illustration, was at the site of the photo while creating the quest.

In that book, where “EPILOGUE” heads the last chapter title page, the letters “LOG” are centered above the illustration. The Greek root of “epilogue” is “ἐπί” or “epi” meaning “above.” In often referencing “under a log” or “turning over a log” while searching, Fenn refers to this image, not to the natural remains of a tree. The key image under, or labeled by, the letters “LOG,” when overlaid onto the correct photo and faded, proves the correct site, again underneath.

More independent proof is found here in the clear connections between the site and the Colorado state seal. The three VIPs often interconnect. For example, the fasces in the state seal matches the “ax in the wood” portion of the overlay image, while the Fenn directive to “turn over a log” matches the key 1794 Battle of Fallen Timbers, fought near Toledo.

Details are found in the full solution.

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Only the correct site and its surroundings were visited in the context of the quest. Identifying the area was straightforward. The difficulty lay first in narrowing down the site, which took about one year, then in perceiving that the quest is not a scavenger hunt for treasure but rather a test of grit: of character, disentitlement, productivity, and resilience in adversity, culminating in independent proof. Creating at least one form of independent proof took over two years, and creating others took almost three.

The rugged site, dominated by willows, is of limited extent, about 1 acre (0.4 ha), yet multiple, thorough searches yielded nothing. Anyone is welcome to explore and search the site. Outdoor safety precautions in all particulars must be taken as the site is at 9,000 feet (2,743 m) of altitude and is accessed only by wading a river.

The solution is publicly revealed. To be clear, the quest is solved, the answer to the puzzle is independently proved, and treasure is absent at the site.

Three forms of VIP would not be needed if treasure, proof enough, were present. The status of treasure is unknown. In my opinion, a real treasure exists, and Fenn securely retains it to award as he sees fit — which is also common sense: the poem ends, “I give you title to the gold. Many “treasure searchers might misunderstand the quest, setting the wrong success standard and guaranteeing failure by insisting on finding and retrieving a literal treasure, when the “treasure in the woods” is figurative or metaphorical. A metaphorical test of grit solved by creativity and reference to history, literature, and images is consistent with the personal profile of a combat pilot turned artist and best-selling author. Literally abandoning treasure in the woods, a foolish act inconsistent with a brilliant man, also would deprive Fenn of control over the quest.

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Many thanks to Fenn, Polt, family, friends, and public safety authorities. Fenn is a man of service, creativity, and intellect, whom I respect and admire. I am humbled to have solved his amazing quest and would be privileged to meet him in person. We have never mutually corresponded. My name and contact are found atop this page and at the bottom of the cover page of the solution document.

“If I cannot move heaven, I will raise hell.” Virgil, The Aeneid of Virgil, Book Seven, Line 312

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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>