Although not the first line of Forrest Fenn’s treasure hunt poem, ‘Begin it where warm waters halt’ seems to be the place most people are starting. And for good reason. In the Feb. 27th, 2013, Today Show interview, it is where Mr. Fenn himself began to read, and where puzzlers have stated he has said to start.
This is not to say the previous 4 lines don’t hold value towards the finding of the treasure, but, the actual outdoor search seems to begin with understanding exactly ‘where’ warm waters halt.
Where can ‘warm waters halt,’ though?’ The poem is like a riddle and so thinking about the different meanings of the phrase, and how it provides direction, is important. There are actually many interpretations, and therefore possibilities. Until a person finds Forrest Fenn’s hidden bronze treasure chest, all thoughts have at least some validity.
The following are possible interpretations/thoughts for WWWH:
- Warm, referring to temperatures of the waters. Some feel this suggests beginning where there is a ‘hot spring’ or where the water is considered warmer than normal, and ‘halts’. For example, it could even imply where the ‘warmer waters’ of mountain springs halt, and enter rivers.
- Warm, referring to color. Since Forrest is an art dealer, it is not a stretch at all to think ‘warm’ suggests a ‘warm color’. For example, red is a warm color, so ‘Red’ river … could be ‘warm’ waters. Where it stops, churn backwards, or rests, could be where a searcher begins. Any other ‘river, lake, stream’ with a ‘warm’ color in its name would fit, as well.
- Warm Waters, referring to a specific ‘warm waters’ name of a place, like Firehole. Taken further, any name of anything, which could be considered ‘warm waters’, like a road named ‘Red Creek (red creek road) or a town’s name which is interpreted to imply ‘warm waters’, like ‘Warm River’. Wherever these places ‘halt’ then, like the town’s borders, or end of the road, could be where a person begins.
- Warm Waters, referring to ‘unfrozen’ or ‘melting’. In the spring/summer, many mountainsides begin to shed their white. Lakes form at the bottom from the snowmelt; from these warm waters could be a place to begin.
- Warm Waters halt, similar to the above, but referring to a dam, reservoir, or something of the sort.
Addition/Update: On Dal’s site, scrapbook 68, is the following quote. It informs us that WWWH (where warm waters halt) of the poem does NOT relate to any dam.
“Many searchers have thought that warm waters halt at a dam because water being released through flues near the bottom of the dam is much colder than water on the surface of the lake. I have discussed around that subject with several people in the last few days and am concerned that not all searchers are aware of what has been said. So to level the playing field to give everyone an equal chance I will say now that WWWH is not related to any dam.” ff
- Warm as in ‘heartfelt, peaceful, cozy’. In the book, Forrest talks about places he has fished with his family and alone. He mentions how they are ‘great places’, how others are now fishing there, and he writes; “I hope they feel the reverence that I once did and now still do.” These ‘fishing holes’ hold a ‘warm’ spot for Forrest. Could they be the ‘warm waters?’ Could it begin at a fishing hole which ‘halts’ a person. (Forrest stopped to fish). Or something like what is mentioned in the ‘Too Far to Walk’ post.
- Many people have played the game of ‘hide and seek’. A player says ‘you’re warm’ if you are ‘close’ and cold, if far away. Could this meaning of ‘warm’ (close waters) halting in some way lead to a place to begin?
Update/Addition: On 8/12/2014 Forrest answered a question about ‘where warm waters halt in ‘Featured Questions: Warm Waters and Geography’. He said, “There are a few words in the poem that are not useful in finding the treasure Phil, but it is risky to discount any of them. You over simplify the clues. There are many places in the Rocky Mountains where warm waters halt, and nearly all of them are north of Santa Fe. Look at the big picture, there are no short cuts. f”
- Relates to an old Indian Proverb as explained in my post, The Truth in Forrest Fenn’s Treasure Poem.
Please know the above are only ideas. I am sure there are many more ways to look at ‘where warm waters halt’ and the above examples should get your mind ‘warmed’ up. I will continue to add to them. Feel free to add your own ideas, if wanted, in the comments below. The poem is vague and so can lead to many different places, all over the Rocky Mountains. Forrest has said it is difficult to find, but not impossible, so….
Best of luck to you all!
(photo credit: wikimedia: Brocken Inaglory)