Category Archives: Adventures

Chasing poetry…

It’s time to have another adventure!

“There’s no sense in going further—it’s the edge of cultivation,”
  So they said, and I believed it—broke my land and sowed my crop—
Built my barns and strung my fences in the little border station
  Tucked away below the foothills where the trails run out and stop.

Till a voice, as bad as Conscience, rang interminable changes
  On one everlasting Whisper day and night repeated—so:
“Something hidden. Go and find it. Go and look behind the Ranges—
  “Something lost behind the Ranges. Lost and waiting for you. Go!”

So I went, worn out of patience; never told my nearest neighbours—
  Stole away with pack and ponies—left ’em drinking in the town;
And the faith that moveth mountains didn’t seem to help my labours
  As I faced the sheer main-ranges, whipping up and leading down.

March by march I puzzled through ’em, turning flanks and dodging shoulders,
  Hurried on in hope of water, headed back for lack of grass;
Till I camped above the tree-line—drifted snow and naked boulders—
  Felt free air astir to windward—knew I’d stumbled on the Pass.

’Thought to name it for the finder: but that night the Norther found me—	
  Froze and killed the plains-bred ponies; so I called the camp Despair
(It’s the Railway Gap to-day, though). Then my Whisper waked to hound me:—
  “Something lost behind the Ranges. Over yonder! Go you there!”

Then I knew, the while I doubted—knew His Hand was certain o’er me.
  Still—it might be self-delusion—scores of better men had died—
I could reach the township living, but … He knows what terror tore me …	
  But I didn’t … but I didn’t. I went down the other side,

Till the snow ran out in flowers, and the flowers turned to aloes,
  And the aloes sprung to thickets and a brimming stream ran by;
But the thickets dwined to thorn-scrub, and the water drained to shallows,
  And I dropped again on desert—blasted earth, and blasting sky….

I remember lighting fires; I remember sitting by ’em;
  I remember seeing faces, hearing voices, through the smoke;
I remember they were fancy—for I threw a stone to try ’em.
  “Something lost behind the Ranges” was the only word they spoke.

I remember going crazy. I remember that I knew it
  When I heard myself hallooing to the funny folk I saw.
’Very full of dreams that desert, but my two legs took me through it …
  And I used to watch ’em moving with the toes all black and raw.

But at last the country altered—White Man’s country past disputing—
  Rolling grass and open timber, with a hint of hills behind—
There I found me food and water, and I lay a week recruiting.
  Got my strength and lost my nightmares. Then I entered on my find.

’Thence I ran my first rough survey—chose my trees and blazed and ringed ’em—
  Week by week I pried and sampled—week by week my findings grew.
Saul he went to look for donkeys, and by God he found a kingdom!
  But by God, who sent His Whisper, I had struck the worth of two!

Up along the hostile mountains, where the hair-poised snowslide shivers—
  Down and through the big fat marshes that the virgin ore-bed stains,
Till I heard the mile-wide mutterings of unimagined rivers,
  And beyond the nameless timber saw illimitable plains!

’Plotted sites of future cities, traced the easy grades between ’em;
  Watched unharnessed rapids wasting fifty thousand head an hour;
Counted leagues of water-frontage through the axe-ripe woods that screen ’em—
  Saw the plant to feed a people—up and waiting for the power!

Well I know who’ll take the credit—all the clever chaps that followed—
  Came, a dozen men together—never knew my desert-fears;
Tracked me by the camps I’d quitted, used the water-holes I’d hollowed.
  They’ll go back and do the talking. They’ll be called the Pioneers!

They will find my sites of townships—not the cities that I set there.
  They will rediscover rivers—not my rivers heard at night.
By my own old marks and bearings they will show me how to get there,
  By the lonely cairns I builded they will guide my feet aright.

Have I named one single river? Have I claimed one single acre?
  Have I kept one single nugget—(barring samples)? No, not I!
Because my price was paid me ten times over by my Maker.
  But you wouldn’t understand it. You go up and occupy.

Ores you’ll find there; wood and cattle; water-transit sure and steady
  (That should keep the railway rates down), coal and iron at your doors.
God took care to hide that country till He judged His people ready,
  Then He chose me for His Whisper, and I’ve found it, and it’s yours!

Yes, your “Never-never country”—yes, your “edge of cultivation”
  And “no sense in going further”—till I crossed the range to see.
God forgive me! No, I didn’t. It’s God’s present to our nation.
  Anybody might have found it but—His Whisper came to Me!

— Rudyard Kipling, “The Explorer”

New Mexico expedition to find Forrest Fenn’s gold

My dad, two brothers, and I head cross country in search of treasure.

We didn’t find it, but that’s OK. No one finds treasure their first time out. Does it exist? You bet.

Something hidden. Go and find it. Go and look behind the Ranges – Something lost behind the Ranges. Lost and waiting for you. Go!

— Kipling

Everything Forrest Fenn said was true. If you throw a couple of bedrolls in the back and leave out of Kentucky, heading west with nothing more than a book, a poem, and a poetic solve to guide your way, past Louisville and through Indiana, through Illinois, past the Great Arch in St. Louis, through Missouri and Kansas and windmills and buffalo, the plains of Colorado, and you see specks of white way off in the distance, just above the horizon, and you are unsure of whether they are clouds, and as you get closer you realize they are actually snow capped peaks and that the darker blue beneath isn’t rain, it’s a massive mound of earth formed over millenia, and you suddenly feel very small, and you realize the futility of finding a small ten inch box in all of THAT. When you see that, and you decide to press on a little further, and you make it to the base of your mountain, and you start to climb, and you look out at the blue and green valley you suddenly realize you’ve made it to your spot. Your spot! It’s not a pixel on a screen, it’s dirt and earth, and you are standing there. When that happens! When that happens you kind of feel you know a little about what Forrest felt when he came out of his hiding place and said to himself, “Forrest Fenn. Did you really do that?”

When you’re standing there and you look out over the canyon you’ve made it, and you realize the other guy is still back in his cubicle wondering how he’s going to get his family to Wally World this summer.

It’s fleeting. It doesn’t last long, but you can take a small part of it with you.

So you come down out of the mountain, and you’re talking to your brothers and you say, “I felt like I could have been within five feet of the treasure at any given moment and still have missed it. It could have been us. I mean, someone has to win American Idol.”

And one of them looks you right in the face and says in all seriousness, “You know they’re cancelling that show, right?”

That! That, right there. That is the Forrest Fenn Experience, my friends. That’s America. Someday someone might find that treasure, but until then Fenn’s promise of a worthwhile experience sits there waiting for anyone. Anyone at all. You just have to go. Your adventure awaits, and the game is afoot.

I only wish he had hidden it in the Appalachians so that I could go this weekend.

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The Thrill of the Chase

Photos cc by Jeremy Parnell.