In the event that Nic Cage retires from acting or perishes in a freak T. Rex skull accident without first gracing us with the great glowing glory of National Treasure 3, here's the next best thing: Back in 2010, Forrest Fenn, an 87-year-old Vietnam fighter pilot turned art dealer, hid a literal treasure chest packed with 40 pounds of emeralds, rubies, gold coins, and diamonds deep in Rocky Mountains and turned the search over to wanna-be Indiana Joneses across the country.
Eight years and an estimated 350,000 amateur treasure hunters later, the chest remains hidden, but don't worry, Sherlock Internet is on the case. In 2016, Fenn posted the primary clue—a six-stanza poem entitled "The Thrill of the Chase"—on Instagram. Since then, a subreddit, r/FindingFennsGold, has appeared, and Fenn has begun receiving over 100 emails (and a few death threats) a day. America, however, is no closer to discovering the chest than we were back in the halcyon days of not being a Russian puppet state.
Now, there's a very real possibility this is an all elaborate hoax by a sick old man who, it should be mentioned, was once raided by the FBI in connection with stolen artifacts, but that hasn't stopped the proverbial wildfire from burning out of control. Four people have allegedly died in search of the chest, prompting Fenn to clarify that the chest is not, for instance, at the bottom of the Rio Grande, at the top of a vertical wall of rock, or propping up a large, human-steamrolling boulder.
Despite the best efforts of real-life movie characters like Missouri steamboat operator Ricky Idlett, who claims to research the chest online around twelve hours a night, raising some very real concerns about the combination of sleep deprivation and heavy machinery in case you've already booked that dream Lewis & Clark cruise, those hints have done little to aid the discovery of the trove, and so the search rages on.
In recent years, Fenn has become increasingly vocal about his little stunt, clearly hoping to see its conclusion before his time is up, but neither he, nor you—guy who is suddenly browsing prospecting gear at REI right now—should get your hopes up. If this thing hasn't already been found but gone unclaimed (because why would you claim it and deal with the taxes and media and pyschos like Ricky Idlett?) or been swallowed and sh*t out by a bear, chances are it never existed in the first place. JIM, FOR THE LAST TIME, PUT THAT PICK AXE DOWN.