Thursday, May 10, 2012

Letterboxing-finding hidden treasure

I had a great day today with my sister and 3 year old nephew. I posted a video the other day about letterboxing and had some video posted of John and I trying to find a box. Today I figured I'd try again with some different boxes and knew my 3 year old nephew would get a kick out of it! I told him that AA (that's what he calls me, short for Aunt Adriane) was friends with a pirate, and my pirate friend asked us to help him find a treasure. He gave me a secret treasure map and gave us a mission for 5-10-12. Austin was ALL excited and couldn't wait to go on "the hunt", is what he kept calling it.

I, for the most part, know Nolde like the back of my hand. There were 2 boxes we were trying to find today. I wasn't sure if we'd find the first one, it hadn't been found since 2010 shortly after it was planted. A lot of the clues were things like downed trees, which could change a lot in a 2 year time period. We had to make sure to let Austin know that we might not find the treasure, that another pirate may have found it already. We found the area that the first box was supposed to be, rooted around behind a bunch of trees and came up empty handed. Rather than waste a bunch of time looking (or getting hurt..I was up on an embankment off trail and finding that all the downed leaves and bark made for some REALLY soft ground and really bad footing) we would travel on to the next area.

Austin in front of one of our clues. "After you go over 3 wooden bridges you'll pass a giant "signature" tree on the right.

We meandered down the trail looking at lots of cool things and taking pics along the way, until we came to the second area I knew we were to be at. We had to get out the compass and find a large beech at 150 degrees.

We found the beech up a small embankment..I immediately knew it was behind this tree when I saw the SPOR. (letterboxing lingo for suspicious pile of rocks) Austin was SO excited when I showed him that the "treasure" was still here.
We took our find over to a set of benches so we could take our time stamping the log books and checking out everything inside. One of the coolest things to do is sit and page through the log book in the box to see all the people that have previously found the box, how long it has been since it was last found, and where all the people were from that found it. One of the coolest things we've seen is a box that was found a LOT in a well traveled area and someone had found it from Germany.

We opened the box to see what was inside...check out the stamp (most stamps that people leave in their boxes are hand carved. They are pretty artistic and take a lot of skill to carve) This box was titled "The Fussy Eater".
This is the part where you get out the ink markers to color your stamps. You put your stamp in the log book of the box, and then stamp your log book with the stamp from the box. We just picked up a cheap "store bought" stamp from Michael's that says family. You always need to have a trail name and sign each log book find with your name. We decided to call ourselves the JaJa's (John, Adriane, Jami, Alana), and this is what our log book "signature" looks like.

 Added G and A for Gretchen and Austin. Typically if you have "guests" along when you are letterboxing you want to include them. This box was planted in 2010 and it appeared that the last find was also in 2010 and was from a couple that took some friends along from New York, NY to find their first letter box!
I was EXTREMELY impressed with this stamp and think it is the most artistic hand-carved stamp we've found to date!
After stamping our log book and putting everything back in it's respectful baggies we closed up the box and put it back safe and sound. Good letterboxing etiquette is to replace the box as well, if not better than when you found it. I put it back under the rock and made sure to put a few extra sticks on top for good hiding! Austin had and awesome day and loved finding the "treasure" and going on "the hunt". After this we made our way to the Turtle Pond and came across some other really cool things.

I love that letterboxing gets people outdoors to enjoy nature. It's great for people who might not want to be out trudging through the woods all day just for the sake of going on a hike. Also great for kids and keeps their mind off of the amount of walking when you're actually looking for clues. If you're interested in making an adventure, come up with a trail name and go to or to find some clues to help you find your first letter box. Happy letterboxing!!

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