The Blaze – Part 1

So what is a blaze? It was easy enough to look up on The most sensible definition is as follows:

“A spot or mark made on a tree, as by painting or notching or by chipping away a piece of the bark, to indicate a trail or boundary.”

If you’re out in the wilderness, this one makes perfect sense. You could take it another step and look for marks on a rock as well. I say this after noting the huge number of fallen trees in the Yellowstone area. If Forrest Fenn placed a blaze on a tree, there is a good chance it may have fallen in a storm or due to another reason.

If you’re in a national or state park with trails, you will see lots of signs marking the trail. Those signs are also known as blazes. If you’re in a forest, you might start looking at trees for some kind of engraving or paint.

As of now, something like this make the most sense to me. Of course, that may be a bad sign.

I suppose it could be something like an orange, red, or yellow object – possibly shaped like a flame. The mountains often have such colors on them. I haven’t researched, but I assume it has something to do with the minerals and metals in them.

It could have something to do with the sun, but I doubt it since the sun moves and may only create a phenomena at certain points in a day or at certain times of year

It turns out that FF has sent some photos of trees with blazes such as the letter F or a person, so maybe that is the meaning of blaze.

Again, only FF knows…

We’ll talk more about it in part 2 or part II or part two

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No place for the Meek – the Meek?

Many people are familiar with the old west explorer and fur trapper Joe Meek. Meek went into and wrote about Yellowstone Park.

So could his name actually be the “meek” in the poem? Forest Fenn didn’t capitalize meek in the poem, but we know that FF likes to bend the rules. Could it be that meek is a proper name and Brown was not?

As far as I can tell, the area of the park that Meek visited was near the Norris Geyser basin area.

From what I have read so far, Meek sort of entered the park “accidentally.” He was separated from his crew of travelers when the were attacked by native Americans. He eventually found the group and survived the ordeal.

It doesn’t seem like Meek really spent a lot of time in YS or made a big impact there.

It looks like Meek is really mostly associated with the Oregon area, and of course OR is not in the official map area.

So as of now I doubt that this theory holds up, but who the heck knows? Only FF knows…

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More on Brown

This is not the highly anticipated Part 3 of the Home of Brown series that you are eagerly awaiting. Somehow I forgot to type a couple of vital points that were supposed to go in part 2. Think of this as 2a or 2.1 or something

If “the home of Brown” does indeed refer to Joe Brown the gold miner, a couple of things come into focus:

First, since we know that Forrest Fenn takes liberties in his writing, the “heavy loads” in the poem might be a deliberate misspelling of ‘lodes.’ Lodes is a word often associated with ore and mining – such as gold mining.

Second, the “treasures new and old” could refer to the treasure of gold that Joe Brown mined back in the 19th century. Sadly, the information online about Brown and his gold haul is wildly inconsistent. It appears that he found something like 400 ounces of gold in the mouth of Bear Gulch in or near Yellowstone. At today’s gold price, that is over $500,000.

Please disregard the numbers – what really matters here is that you could easily say that Joe Brown found a fortune in the area.

Ok, that was a nice ending – for now!

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You’re in Bear Country

If you plan to search around the Yellowstone area, keep one thing in mind. You’re invading bear country and these bears aren’t Yogi and Boo-Boo. You’ll see warning signs all over the area – many advising you to carry bear spray.

Bear spray is pepper spray that shoots out about 30 feet. You can pick it up in a lot of local stores for $40-50. Try to get one with a holster that you can attach to your clothing or backpack.

This isn’t an exhaustive plan for surviving bear country, but it’s a compilation of the info I have gathered.

The best way to avoid a bear attack is to avoid bears. Simple enough if you’re not searching for hidden treasure. Apparently a big key is to avoid surprising the bears. You can do this, I’m told, by making a lot of noise so the bears hear you coming. Maybe they will hear you and flee. At the very least, you won’t surprise them and catch them off guard. People claim to talk, yell, sing or whistle. I have no idea if there are some noises that will attract bears or cause them to fly into a rage.

I’m sure we all know that the worst case scenario is to come across a mother bear with her cubs. The momma bear will aggressively attack to defend the cubs. Another case of bad luck is to find a bear with a freshly killed dinner. They will think you want to steal their food and again may attack. Keep your fingers crossed.

So once you’ve encountered a bear, you have the classic choice of fight or flight. The best advice is supposed to be to back away slowly and calmly, hoping the bear will just leave you alone. A bear can run roughly three times faster than you can, so out-running them isn’t an option. They can also out-climb you and they can reach up over 10 feet while standing on the ground, so keep that in mind if you decide to scale a tree.

So what’s left? Fight a bear? Well, this is what your bear spray is for. When the bear gets within the 30 foot range, spray for its face. Maybe you can blind it temporarily, or at least get it to stay away. It can get really windy in the higher altitudes, so try not to have the spray blow back in your own face.

If a mauling ensues, there seems to be a difference of opinion. Some say to curl up, cover your face, and play dead. Others say continue to fight – using anything you have available to go after the bear’s nose and eyes.

I guess it’s up to you.

Remember – bear spray doesn’t work like bug spray. Don’t spray it on yourself or your gear, hoping to repel bears. Some people claim that the scent can actually attract bears.

By the way, I’m told that bison kill more people on average than bears do each year. I don’t have any advice for dealing with bison.

OK have fun!

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