Sunday, October 28, 2012

Why I Like Letterboxing

Looking back at some of my pictures I thought maybe I should do a blog on why I like letterboxing. I like treasure hunting as much as the next person, but the thing that I really love the most about letterboxing is you find these really great places that you might pass by just following every day normal life.

I've lived in Island Park for ten years now, and have driven to Bozeman too many times to count. Someone planted two letterboxes at the end of the fall last year on the north side of the park as you head toward Big Sky. The first one was just off the highway, but the second one led you up a little used road that traveled through a dude ranch. (Public access to a trail head.) One of the clues said to look for a fish jumping just above the water on your left as you are driving up the road. Like a fish is going to be jumping every time someone goes up that road? was. Someone had carved a fish from a fallen tree and it is just above the water (and ice when I took the picture). I probably would not have noticed it if I was just driving up, intent on reaching the trail head, but because it was listed in the clues I saw it. What a nice bonus this added to this particular letterbox.

After my car wreck in February, Cathi and I drove down to Ogden for a letterboxing event. The Fifth of the Five Orders traveling letterboxes had arrived at a letterboxer's house and she was willing to share with anyone that wanted to go to the event. I had read about these boxes on Atlas Quest and really wanted to go, so I asked Cathi to go with me. We drove down that day, picked up a few letterboxes along the way, went to the event and then headed back home that night. A long day, but totally worth it!

This particular letterbox came with a cryptex that had to be solved in order to get the key to open the letterbox. The clues traveled with the box. Each person was only supposed to have an hour to solve the puzzle, but I am terrible at this type of thing, so I was glad we were working on it as a group. It took the whole group of us three hours to actually solve the puzzle. We all laughed when we finally solved it and the cryptex opened. It is hard to believe all the work that went into putting this letterbox together. Just the woodworking alone was amazing.
 To the left is the actual letterbox that had to be opened with the key from the cryptex. Inside it were two stamps. Below are some of the people at the event stamping their personal logbooks and doing exchanges with others.

Meeting others who enjoy this hobby is another benefit. But, still, my favorite part is seeing the beauty of this country in ways that I never imagined would happen.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Letterboxing With Amanda

View from the missing letterbox.
Amanda and I were supposed to go to Disneyland with Becca, Mike and the Goof last October. We both decided that we couldn't afford it, so Amanda came over to my house instead, and we spent some time together letterboxing. I've mostly found all the letterboxes in this area, so I just re-went to them with Amanda. We tried to pick up a new one near Jackson, Wyoming, but it had already disappeared.
Deer we saw at another letterbox near Jackson, Wyoming.

On our way back to Boise, we stopped to get a mystery letterbox. This was a fun one that I had tried on my own once, but didn't have a bright enough flashlight. This time I went prepared with my headlamp and a spare flashlight. I'll let you guess where this letterbox is, as I don't want to spoil the mystery for anyone else.  

The following are pictures from this fun find! 

The trail back to the car, looking like a liquid river in the twilight.

Here's a clue!

Do you think it is cold in here? Brrrr...

 I took a picture of Amanda, and she took a picture of me before we left the area where the letterbox was hidden. It is snowing outside as I write this, and I'm getting chilled just thinking about being back there.  :)
 When I looked closely at one of the pictures, I noticed that you can tell exactly where we were. At least I didn't post the name of the letterbox that we found there!



I found this old post in my drafts and decided to get it on my blog, too. This was from two years ago!

I am so ultra blessed. I had planned on going for a drive yesterday--the Ashton Flagg Ranch Road before it gets snowed in, and through Yellowstone Park and then home. I had to do a little shopping first, so I packed, went to the dump, put air in my front tires, and went down to Rexburg. I took a picture of Sawtelle, with it's little bit of snow on top right after going to the dump. Then, I stopped at the historical site at the bottom of the Ashton Hill and took a couple of pictures of the colors on the hill, hoping that they would look as good as they do in person. After stopping at three places in Rexburg, Blew and I headed back up to Ashton and out the Ashton Flagg Ranch Road. We stopped at the first view of the Tetons and Blew and I got out and walked a little bit, while I took a couple of pictures. The next place we stopped was Indian Lake. I took some pictures of aspen leaves, and the aspen among the green pines. Then we walked down to the lake and I took more pictures. We drove for a little while, and when we crossed South Boone Creek, I saw the Grand sticking up above some trees. I pulled over and walked back to the creek and took more pictures. When I walked back to the car, I saw my left front tire was very low. Needless to say, I turned around. I started to change to my donut spare tire, but couldn't find the lug wrench! Horrors. Needless to say, I prayed all the way to Ashton that I would make it home. I stopped at the Shell in Ashton and filled the tire back up with air. On the way up the hill I wondered why a sinner, like myself, could be so blessed. (Sinner because I opted to go for a drive instead of listening to conference.) The answer came so crystal clear--because I have a Heavenly Father who loves me. He may not approve or love what I do, but he loves me. I made it home (found the lug wrench in my car on the third examination of my car), and will take the tire in tomorrow to get it fixed while I am at work. I did listen to the Saturday morning session of conference (thank heavens for the internet!) last evening after listening to the afternoon session and
taking Blew for her evening walk.

I am so blessed.

Newspaper Tree Adventure

I've got a lot of catching up to do on my blog. I finally went through and downloaded pictures off my card and can't believe all the memories they bring back.
Falling down mine
This is an adventure that Carma took me on last October. She had taken her Young Women on a hike to some newspaper trees that someone in her ward had told her about. There is no trail to these trees, you have to know where you are going. I'll take that back, you can follow a road part way there, then you have to cut across country. This was a mine that we passed on our way up the road. We took Suri, Tali, and Blew with us on this hike.

Tali cooling off.
It was a beautiful fall day. The colors were lovely and it was just cool enough, but obviously warm enough for Tali to lie down in the creek to cool off. When we got to where we had to cut across the mountains, Carma pointed out where we were heading. The mountains above Idaho City are steep and dry. We tried to hold to the creek bed, but it was rough going around fallen trees and rocks, so we started following a game trail. 
The game trail wasn't very wide, and I felt like I was walking on the sides of my feet all the time. It was nice when there was a little up and down so that our feet could be in a different direction.
Blew took off not too long after we left the trail. The labs stayed close by our sides. Every once in a while we would get a glimpse of Blew. But she didn't come back to us until we were almost at the trees.

Newspaper Trees

 Our first glimpse of the trees showed a stand of aspens amidst pine trees. When we got up to them, we were able to see all the old carvings made by sheepherders who spent their summers in these mountains. The earliest year I could detect was 1935.

This was an amazing look into the past. Hopefully I will be able to do this hike again. Carma and I were discussing the possibility of planting a letterbox here, but the problem would be how to explain to people the way to get there! I think we would need a hand held GPS to get coordinates, and maybe the people following the clues would also need to have a GPS. Like I said, there isn't really a trail to get there. 

Carma's hand in one of the carvings.
Coming back we walked along more game trails, our feet slanting in the opposite direction. The walking sticks that we got in Zion National Park would have been a great help.

The following are more pictures that show some of the carvings on the trees.

Use your imagination, can you see the elk?
Traced their arm?

This looks like a grumpy person :)

On our way back, I saw the perfect frame for a picture of Carma and Suri! What a cute family portrait.