Home School Life Journal

Home School Life Journal
"Let us strive to make each moment beautiful."
Saint Francis DeSales
painting by Katie Bergenholtz

Letterboxing: Our First Experience (The August Break #26)

Today we experienced our first Letterboxing treasure hunt, and now we are hooked!
We loved it!

What is Letterboxing?
Letterboxing is an intriguing “treasure hunt” style outdoor activity. Letterboxers hide small, weatherproof boxes in publicly-accessible places, like parks, and post clues to finding the box online on one of several Web sites. There are about 20,000 letterboxes hidden in North America alone. Individual letterboxes usually contain a log book, an often hand-carved rubber stamp and may contain an ink pad. Finders make an imprint of the letterbox's stamp on their personal log book, and leave an imprint of their personal stamp on the letterbox's logbook. Click on this link to learn more www.letterboxing.org
Letterboxing is said to have started in England in 1854 when a Dartmoor National Park guide, James Perrott of Chagford, left a bottle by Cranmere Pool with his calling card in it an an invitation to those who found the bottle to add theirs. Eventually, visitors began leaving a self-addressed post card or note in the jar, hoping for them to be returned by mail by the next visitor (thus the origin of the term “letterboxing;” “letterbox” is a British term for a mailbox). This practice ended in time, however, and the current custom of using rubber stamps and visitor’s log books came into use. It caught on in the US in 1998 after an
article in Smithsonian magazine.Once we decided on the Letterbox we wanted to search for, in this case, called The Year of the Rat, we printed out our instructions and drove to the starting location. (The Letterboxing instructions are in bold italic and my comments are in regular type.)

Once on Turner's Creek Road, park in the big lot on the left, just before the hill that will land you in the creek. The trail head that is immediately obvious from the parking lot is not the trail you want;

you will need to follow the tree line away from the creek from the wooden kiosk until you see the red arrow indicating the trail.

As you can see, sometimes it's quite a distance between instructions.


At the angel tree,


stay straight and follow the blue trail through the woods. You are on the correct path if you see a Denver tree on the left.
(Note: We never found the "Denver" tree. Perhaps it was one of the trees that had since fallen?)
At the junction, stay blue and head down a small ravine

and up a hill with log steps.
(Notice that the log steps have washed down the hill a bit.)

When you see BR93,

take a bearing of 120 degrees.


18 steps from the log-edge of the trail in a tree
(The tree had fallen down and only the rotted stump was left.)
you will find the Year of the Rat.

(It took quite a bit of searching and a little luck...

but it was eventually found.)

There is no ink pad in this box, but red would be a good color.

Now time to go back home.
With our success with the first Letterbox, we thought we would try to locate a second one.
You will turn left at the big red sign saying "Sassafras Natural Resource Management Area" and drive down the red dirt road, hopefully not seeing another car because it really is just a one lane road; I'm not sure what you do if you see another car. From the parking lot, head north along the dirt road, through the corn fields. If you take the first left, you will see a pretty little pond with a nice new outhouse. But that won't help you find the box. Keep heading north along the dirt road. At the fork in the road, head left towards the lodge and cliffs.
As you can see, there wasn't a dirt road anywhere around the area. We checked out all the available paths and they all dead-ended. We decided that the human-made terrain had changed since these directions were posted. Once we got home and Google-mapped the area, we found out how the area had been changed and Steven now thinks he can find the intended area so that we can pick up the instructions at a later point. We will try this one again another day and will let you know our outcome then. It does go to show that the terrain changes, both by nature and by man.


Getting Started:
If you would like to get started in Letterboxing, you will need:
One small notebook for your family or for each family member, if you like
One homemade stamp (again per family or family member)
One ink pad
One pen
And the only thing left is to do a search for a letterbox. You can find one here or here. Just type in your desired location and find a letterbox that sounds interesting. Note that some are more appropriate for younger children (easier clues), some are riddles, and some are no longer active. Also be sure to read or print out these guidelines before getting started.


In addition to the thrill of finding the boxes, you will also love seeing the stamps inside the boxes. Many are handmade and specific to the location of the box. The books are filled with other letterboxers' stamps and notes. After discovering a box, carefully open it up. Use your ink pad to stamp your family's letterbox book with your newly discovered box stamp. You write a small note in your book to remember the day such as details about the location, who was with you, anything interesting that happened while searching, and such. Then use the ink pad again to leave your mark in the box's book along with the date and your name. You can use a "Letterboxing Name," a special name you use only when you letterbox. Carefully wrap everything back up and replace the box in the same spot so other letterboxers can discover it. You can make your own stamp using these guidelines or these,too. Or you can use a store bought stamp that has some significance to your family.

3 comments:

  1. That's so awesome! It was really fun to follow along on your adventure. Great pictures! I've wanted to do this but never have yet, so it was great to read about your experience.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Wow! How fun and very challenging! I felt I went out with you, too. My first to hear about letterboxing. Thanks for sharing, Phyllis. You did great with the details. I enjoyed all your photos.

    Blessings!

    ReplyDelete
  3. That looks so tempting to try. Maybe soon.

    ReplyDelete

Thank you so much for taking the time to comment. It means so much.