Jun 18, 2015

Treasure hunters rescued on North Fork for second time

The lure of a Sante Fe man’s hidden gold got a pair of out-of-state residents stranded in some North Fork backcountry on Sunday — making it two out of three summers that they’ve had to be rescued from the area.

Madilina L. Taylor, 41, and boyfriend Frank E. Rose Jr., 40 — both of Lynchburg, Virginia — had been hiking a couple miles inside the Shoshone National Forest and north of Road 6BU (at the western edge of the Wapiti Valley) when Taylor fell and broke her ankle, according to information from the Park County Sheriff's Office.

Rose and Taylor had been miles northeast of this area, toward the western end of the Wapiti Valley. Cody News Co. photo by CJ Baker
Taylor had to be located by members of the Park County Search and Rescue team and then taken by helicopter to St. Vincent Healthcare in Billings, Montana, the sheriff’s office said in a Tuesday news release.

The couple later told authorities they’d been out seeking the treasure of Forrest Fenn, a Sante Fe art and antiques dealer who says he’s hidden a box filled with jewels and gold worth over $1 million somewhere in Montana, Wyoming, Colorado or New Mexico. (Many treasurer seekers suspect its located in or near Yellowstone National Park.)

Taylor fell around 6 a.m. while northeast of the East Fork drainage of Big Creek, the sheriff’s office said. Rose then hiked a couple miles south, summoning help from people at the Grizzly Ranch off of Road 6BU.

“He (Rose) was calling across the creek to residents of the ranch that his girlfriend was injured, they were in need of assistance and he couldn’t cross the creek due to it being so high,” sheriff’s office spokesman Lance Mathess said in the release. Rose, whose feet had become badly blistered from footwear not intended for hiking, said he’d fallen into the water and lost his wallet and cell phone trying to get across.

Authorities were called at 11:20 a.m. Sunday.

“Deputies strongly recommended that Rose and Taylor not return to this area without proper training in environmental survival skills,” sheriff's office spokesman Lance Mathess said in a news release.

Responding Search and Rescue members helped Rose across the creek. He explained that he’d left Taylor in an open meadow, wrapped up in a silver reflective safety blanket.

“Rose attempted to explain where she was by using a few fixed landmarks, and with the assistance of some local residents and the (Search and Rescue) team, Taylor was finally located,” Mathess said.

Rose and Taylor put themselves in a similar predicament back in June 2013. In that instance, they reportedly set out on a day hike from the Jim Mountain Trailhead but became lost and reportedly spent four days wandering the backcountry. The couple ultimately made their way to the bank of Big Creek near the Star Hill Ranch (just north of the Grizzly Ranch at the end of Road 6BU) and summoned help. Rose and Taylor were uninjured in that instance, but because of their exhaustion, they had to be helped across the creek's swift waters by Search and Rescue personnel.

After Sunday’s incident, “deputies strongly recommended that Rose and Taylor not return to this area without proper training in environmental survival skills and he was warned that they would be arrested for trespassing if caught on private property in the future,” Mathess said. “Rose advised that he and Taylor would not return.”

They’re not the first to run into trouble while searching for Fenn’s treasure.

In March 2013, a 34-year-old hiker got lost in the New Mexican wilderness, ran out of water and spent a night outdoors while she looked for the treasure. The following month, a man ran afoul of authorities for digging up a memorial in search of the loot.

~By CJ Baker

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