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Buried Treasure

Inspired by a cryptic poem and the riches of Croesus, thousands have searched for an ornate bronze lockbox filled with gold, diamonds and pre-Columbian artifacts ever since Forrest Fenn hid it somewhere in the Rockies in 2010. In the last decade, thousands of people have tried to decipher the nine clues buried in the poem ("Begin it where warm waters halt”) and find the treasure, combing the mountains of New Mexico. At least two people have died. Yet the hunters pressed on. Many, stymied by the clues, questioned whether there even was a treasure to find. I didn't, having gotten to know Forrest, first among characters, when I lived in Santa Fe, years ago. He gave me a “piece of eight,” an ancient Spanish coin that was startling in its age and oddness. The scheme's magnitude and mechanics were entirely in keeping with his mischievous, puzzle-loving, generous self. And, lo, in early June, Fenn announced that the $2 million treasure was found "under a canopy of stars." But we humans love a good chase: talk continues that the chest actually hasn’t been found. We’ll probably never find out, given the tax ramifications for the finder (yes, even buried treasure is taxable). But here’s to colorful characters, believing in the impossible, and the willingness to venture beyond the beaten path!

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