The clue said “See two trees of similar size with several large rocks behind them. A dead tree lies across one rock…” We were supposed to see a white marker in the middle of the trail too. Looking from one set of suspiciously close trees to another, and at an alarming number of dead trees lying on rocks, I felt lost.
So went my introduction to Letterboxing. It’s a little like geocaching without the GPS. Really who needs a Global Positioning System when there are trees by which to give directions?
It was madness, I tell you, midday madness.
If you were not watching bad films in the early ‘80s you might have just missed that pop culture reference. That I would even half reference the movie Midnight Madness, forces me to seriously reflect on the expression “impressionable youth.”
Midnight Madness is the story of a genius geek who, with the help of his roller-skating scantily clad assistants, manipulates collegiate clicks into competing in an all night scavenger hunt. The only difference with Letterboxing is lack of feather-haired short-short wearing assistants. That and the scavenger hunt is organized by a decentralized army of wholesome nature loving types.
Not only is it sexy, it’s economical too. Actually, it’s free. Yes, that’s right, you too can go look for trees growing suspiciously close together and it won’t cost you a dime. If you’re really lucky (or really smart) you might even find a box. We eventually found the box "in the crotch of that rock and the one next to it" just like the directions said. (Really, there was no other way to describe it.)
In the box there was a stamp and ink pad. You collect stamps from all the boxes you find. You also carry a stamp with you to stamp the book in the box, thus leaving proof of your passing. Can’t wait to start? Check out Letterboxing.org and get outside. Fall is the perfect time for frolicking close to madness.[The top picture is of my stamp and stamp-book handmade by my friend Eric and my daughter Willow respectively. My beloved hiking buddy Tara introduced me to Letterboxing when she brought these seemingly simple clues with us on a hike from Dalton to Cheshire MA on the AT. We got lost in more than one way that day. The second picture is of the book, stamp and ink pad we found in the box.]