Two Rocklin brothers are joining the quest for a renowned collector's hidden treasure of gold and gems.
Joey Mendoza, 17, and Josh Mendoza, 14, plan to spend their spring break in New Mexico hunting for a bronze box of valuables that American Indian artifact collector Forrest Fenn says he hid north of Santa Fe.
The boys started their chase after reading an article online and watching Fenn give a clue - his treasure is hidden more than 5,000 feet above sea level - on NBC's "Today" show last month.
Joey and Josh said they dedicated their after-school time to researching Fenn's career and deciphering the nine clues to his hidden treasure.
After a career as an Air Force pilot, Fenn, 82, operated one of Santa Fe's most popular art galleries in the 1970s and 1980s. Fenn Gallery was known for inviting patrons to touch pieces of Fenn's vast collection of art and Southwestern artifacts, including pottery, shields, dolls and arrowheads, according to the Old Santa Fe Trading Co. website.
Forbes and People magazines profiled Fenn, and a story in the Daily Beast labeled him a modern-day Indiana Jones.
"He's a famous sort of character, especially in the art world," said Eric Blinman, director of the New Mexico Office of Archaeological Studies.
As the story goes, a cancer diagnosis prompted Fenn to hide some of his possessions for adventure-seekers. In 2010, he published his book "The Thrill of the Chase," which included a poem with nine clues to the location of a bronze box containing riches worth millions, according to news reports.
"You read the poem too much and you'll start to go insane," Josh said.
The poem, which hints that explorers "begin it where warm waters halt" and look "below the home of Brown," alerted treasure hunters to northern New Mexico. Explorers maintain blogs of their adventures and post questions and comments on the clues on the Thrill of the Chase Facebook page.
The Mendozas said they think they have a unique interpretation of the clues.
Joey, a senior at Del Oro High School, said he grew up idolizing skateboarders and picking on Josh, a freshman at Granite Bay High School who is active in student government. Their dad, Joe, an entrepreneur who started his first business as a teenager, encouraged their spirit of adventure.
After many hours of online research, the Mendozas mapped potential treasure sites and will fly to Albuquerque Saturday to begin nine days of exploration.
"They were looking in an area opposite where everyone else thinks it is," said Joe Mendoza. "The biggest reason I got behind it is they want to spend time together, and how many times do we get that?"
Joe said his wife got on board with the trip when she learned it was up to Joey and Josh to raise money for a flight to New Mexico, lodging and rental cars. A friend donated camera equipment to document the expedition.
Joey and Josh said they haven't worked out what they would do if they find gold and jewels worth millions. They said spending time together - and annoying each other - before Joey graduates in June will be the real treasure of nine days hunting Fenn's riches.
"He's getting families together and away from video games," Josh said.
The Mendozas said they hope to meet Fenn during their trip to New Mexico and were thrilled when they received an email from the collector wishing them well.
"Now he knows our name and he knows we're coming after his treasure," Joey said.
Videos and a link to the Mendozas' fundraising site are at www.facebook.com/TreasureChasing.
Call The Bee's Dan Hill, (916) 321-1067.