letterbox clues


For those unfamiliar with this fun and interesting pastime, letterboxing is an intriguing outdoor hobby combining elements of art, puzzle solving, orienteering and exploring and is great fun for children and adults alike.  It originated in the 1850's in England but has morphed over the centuries into a worldwide, more modern sort of game wherein seekers follow clues (found on various websites, through local clubs or discovered by word of mouth) to find small, waterproof boxes hidden in public places.  



 Each box contains a logbook and stamp and explorers likewise carry a stamp and logbook when out on a quest.  When a letterbox is discovered, finders make an imprint of the letterbox's stamp in their book and leave their personal impression, the date and perhaps a small note in the letterbox's visitor's book. The stamps are most often hand carved and can be amazingly intricate and beautiful.  (To begin your first letterboxing adventure try clicking here or here.)

We started hiding letterboxes of our own in the Summer of 2012.  Clues to our secret locations are listed below.  You can also find them under Placer: Spaceship Passengers here.

Prior to setting out, please read the below Waiver of Responsibility and Disclaimer (which I have directly lifted from Atlasquest.com)...
-Know and respect your limits. Do some research before you go: Know how long and difficult of a hike the letterbox requires. Know the weather forecast. Learn from rangers the local trail conditions. And if you ever find yourself on a dangerously rocky part of a trail that's wet and slippery, use common sense and turn around. No letterbox is worth the danger of getting injured!
-If you are lucky enough to see wildlife, do not approach or disturb it. Do not feed the animals—even if it is small, cute, and apparently harmless. Animals that lose their fear of humans can and will cause problems with future hikers and letterboxes.
-More common risks include venomous creatures such as snakes and spiders, biting insects such as mosquitoes and ticks that spread diseases such as the West Nile virus and Lyme disease, poison oak, poison ivy, poison sumac, and stinging nettle. This, of course, is not a complete list of things that can go wrong in the outdoors. There's also lightning, hypothermia, avalanches, flash floods, falling trees, and so on. And even if it were possible to list all the possible things to go wrong, the human race is very inventive in thinking up new ways to hurt themselves.
-Trailhead break-ins are a possibility, so do not leave valuables in your car—or at the very least, keep them hidden from view. You are solely responsible for your vehicle and its contents.
-I (and Atlas Quest) support a policy of not knowingly placing letterboxes in areas that will create undue risk to the letterbox hunter or environment—however, as conditions may vary, it is the responsibility of the letterbox searcher to become thoroughly familiar with the conditions in the area to be searched, to adequately prepare for those conditions, and to conduct oneself safely and responsibly with respect to those conditions and with respect to his or her personal abilities and limitations. I assume no liability for events which may occur related directly or indirectly to one's searching for a letterbox. You are responsible for the safety of yourself and your companions.
-Do not let children hunt for letterboxes unsupervised.
-By reading and utilizing the letterbox clues posted on this website, you acknowledge the above conditions, accept responsibility for your own actions, and agree to hold non-liable the clue writers, website authors, and letterboxing organizations and further, agree to provide this disclaimer to any person with whom you share these letterbox clues.
Gnome Home
planted 8/23/2012 in Tryon Creek State Park in SW Portland, Oregon
   Tryon Creek State Park was named after Socrates Hotchkiss Tryon who originally established a land claim there in 1850 (and who I must mention because of his exceedingly excellent moniker.) This 645 acre park contains a number of trails for both horses and people and also seems to be home to dozens of magical hidey holes where we are certain colonies of gnomes and possibly fairies also live.
    To locate the one gnome home we did verify (and the location of our very first letterbox) start your search at the SE end of the Visitors Center (entrance off of SW Terwilliger Blvd.) and proceed down the Center Trail. Take a right at the Maple Ridge Trail and then a left onto Middle Creek Trail where many trails converge. You'll pass a bench with a back then midway down a fairly steep hill, you'll approach another bench with no back. Have a seat. Across the path you'll notice a tilted tree. To the right of this tree you'll spy a circle of four trees with a rotting stump at their center. It's there you'll find our Gnome's Home.
    (For more elemental spirit searches seek Forest Fairie and Bridge Cellar Dweller in this same park.)

Bridge Cellar Dweller
planted 9/6/2012 in Tryon Creek State Park in SW Portland, Oregon
   To locate this box, we think it best to obtain a map (at least for back-up). The trails at Tryon Creek cross, converge and change names so a printed survey can only make searching easier, right? (Most days, these are available outside the door of the Visitor's Center but large versions are also posted publicly throughout the park.)
    From the Visitor's Center find Maple Ridge Trail and follow it to Middle Creek Trail (stopping to locate Gnome's Home if you wish). After crossing High Bridge continue on Middle Creek trail until arriving at Beaver Bridge. At the bridge's far end, at the left (north) corner, where only a troll would dwell, a small pile of stones hides the Bridge Cellar Dweller.
    (You may wish to continue forward on your path to locate Forest Fairie.)


Forest Fairie
planted 9/6/2012  in Tryon Creek State Park in SW Portland, Oregon
   This magical park seems to house quite an array of enchanted creatures. In addition to Gnome Home and Bridge Cellar Dweller, the numerous trails will also lead you to one pretty little pixie.
    Locate the Red Fox Trail where it splinters from the Old Main Trail. (Best to just obtain a map we think. The trails cross, converge and change names so many times, it might be best to have a written guide in hand. Most days, these are available just outside the door of the Visitor's Center but large versions are also posted publicly throughout the park.) Where Red Fox and Old Main meet you'll find a bench to sit and rest your wandering feet. Looking over your right shoulder, you'll notice a fallen tree whose roots reach out to you. Walk along this trunk until another blocks your way. This fallen friend didn't find a horizontal resting place but instead was caught by two smaller cousins who still stand tall. Where the three trunks meet over your head you'll find our little fairie in a snug little bed.
    (For most folk this search will require either a little climbing or some blind overhead groping. As always, please use caution and common sense.)


Native Salmon 
planted 8/26/2012 at Wildwood Recreation Area in Welches, Oregon 
   The Wildwood Recreation Site is located 40 miles east of Portland, off U.S. Highway 26, just past the 39 mile marker. Located along the Mount Hood Scenic Byway near the town of Welches, this beautiful day use area offers a chance to explore natural stream and wetland ecosystems along accessible interpretive trails and boardwalks. The site also offers family picnic units, several group shelters, outdoor picnic kitchens, playing fields, volleyball and basketball courts and fully accessible trails. The site also provides access to the Salmon River and an extensive system of trails in the Salmon Huckleberry Wilderness (managed by the Mount Hood National Forest)
    After paying the $5 fee to enter the park, skip the first junction and take the next left. Park near the covered information area and bathrooms and from there, head down the path past the silver salmon. Many wooden salmon will also line your trail. At the end of the boardwalk go left. Pass the mini mountains and take a right at the fork. Some grand old stumps will line either side of the path just before it forks again. Go left at this fork passing a hidden world of streams. Just past the forest gifts, heed the blue arrow at the 4-way crossroads. Over the bridge follow the fishes nose at the next junction. After stopping for a most unusual view of the river, continue on the path until you spy another bridge. Pause to read Coyotes Tale then cross the bridge. Where trolls might lurk, you'll find Native Salmon atop a support pillar covered in moss.

Hedgie the Hedgehog
planted 9/5/2012 at The Oregon Garden in Silverton, Oregon
   One of our favorite children's books is Miss Jaster's Garden by N.M. Bodecker. It tells the sweet and somewhat fanciful tale of a woman who resides in a villa by the sea and the hedgehog who lives in her garden. As the first blossoms bring joy to Miss Jaster, Hedgie the hedgehog unwittingly runs off with a patch of marigolds, baby's breath and sweet william. When we carved our little Hedgie, we thought the perfect place to hide him would be in a place as beautiful as the one in which he fictitiously resides.
    The Oregon Garden, about 40 miles SE of Portland and home to 20 specialty gardens is such a place. Once there, hop on the tram for a tour or simply walk the beautiful grounds on foot.
    In one distinctive garden Mr. and Mrs. Pot will lazily greet you. Nearby you'll find a dinosaur buried in the sand. A path will take you away from those fossils past some Weird Plants and across the backs of a number of turtles toward a nautical play place. Enjoy a bit of smooth sailing before checking under the ship's corner nearest the tub. There you'll find Hedgie tucked behind a concrete block.
   Please reseal and hide bags well. This garden is well maintained but we hoped this one little nook might get overlooked.

Beaver Under Boulder
planted 9/5/2012 at The Oregon Garden in Silverton, Oregon
   The Oregon Garden in Silverton (only miles from Silver Falls) is a spectacular 80 acre botanical garden with 20 specialty gardens and an adjoining resort. (Check out the specials for a great get away weekend!)
    Admission for adults is $11, seniors are $9, kids 12-17 are $8, children 5-11 are $5 and under 4s are free.
    Once inside take a tram ride or walk on foot to tour the beautiful grounds. Near the Oak Grove (backtrack just slightly from tram stop #4 if you're taking the tram) you'll find the official 'Welcome to Oak Grove'. The dirt path just to the left of this welcome will take you past the plaque for the Signature Oak. This glorious gal is over 400 years old and one of Oregon's cherished Heritage Trees. Continue on that path past a log fence on your right and into the shade of the forest. The path will quickly fork then and you'll veer right toward more log fences. Count 5 vertical fence posts on your right and you'll be viewing the Signature Oak once again. Behind and slightly to the left of that fifth post where two large boulders meet, a pile of smaller rocks lie in the cleave. Under these you'll find our Beaver.
    Please reseal and re-hide well. This garden is well maintained but we're hoping this little nook will get overlooked.
    (Note that Hedgie the Hedgehog also resides somewhere in these garden grounds.)

Henrietta
planted 9/19/2012 at The Audubon Society of Portland in SW Portland, Oregon
   Portland Audubon's 150-acre Nature Sanctuary is nestled against Forest Park just five minutes from downtown Portland. The free-to-the-public sanctuary has more than four miles of forested hiking trails and is a showcase for native flora and fauna. You can visit and enjoy the trails year round, from dawn to dusk every day.
   Begin your visit with a stop at the Wildlife Care Center.  Here you'll meet the Society's education birds and can even get a peek at the many animals rehabilitating there.  From the Care Center, head down the trail past the mews and over a couple of bridges.  The road will fork near a third bridge and you'll want to cross that bridge to the covered Nature Study Shelter.  In the cooler, wetter months the pond supports a variety of frogs, salamanders and newts as well as the occasional water fowl.  After searching for life under the lily pads, turn around and head toward the creek.  Twelve planks before the steps down to Balch reach under the walk on the left hand side.  Under a rock nestled next to the circular support you'll find Henrietta.
(Please re-hide well as this area is often used by large groups of curious children for education purposes.)
(Return to the earthen trail to find Julio Julia and Finnegan.)

Julio Julia - RETIREDreplaced and moved 11/20/2012 see v 2.0 below
planted 9/19/2012 at The Audubon Society of Portland in SW Portland, Oregon
   Portland Audubon's Wildlife Care Center provides a permanent home for several non-releasable native birds. Each of them was brought to the Society with an injury so severe that the birds would have been unable to survive in the wild. They now serve as ambassadors for their species and Portland Audubon in local classrooms and at events.
   Julio is Audubon's Great Horned Owl.  She was found as a nestling after the tree containing her nest was cut down. She was then raised by humans and never learned how to be an owl. By the time she was brought to the Wildlife Care Center at 5 years of age, it was too late to reverse the imprinting that had occurred. Releasing Julio back into the wild after she had imprinted on people would have put both humans and the owl at unacceptable risk.  She was originally thought to be a male because of her small size.  Thus the name Julio.  In our family, however, we like to call her Julia.

  To find Julia, follow the Woodpecker Trail up the hill (after finding Henrietta near the Nature Study Shelter).  It's a ways up there with a few smaller side paths.  Ignore these and continue up until you reach what we like to call the "pig face tree".  There the paths diverge but keep on ascending the Woodpecker Trail.  Cross the bridge and stop for a rest with Linda.  After taking in the beautiful surroundings carry on up hill once more.  Leave Woodpecker at the Wren Trail and follow it down to the bridge.  Just before the steps descending to that bridge, look to your right.  There you'll spy a giant tree with a smaller one standing before it.  Behind the smaller tree under a broken chunk of log you'll find Julio Julia.
(To locate Finnegan, continue across the bridge.)

Finnegan
planted 9/19/2012 at The Audubon Society of Portland in SW Portland, Oregon
   Finnegan arrived at Portland Audubons Society's Wildlife Care Center in May 2000. He was removed from his nest in the Columbia River Gorge after biologists discovered he had a deformed foot and would never be able to hunt effectively — he would starve in the wild. 
  To find Finnegan at Portland Audubon's Nature Sanctuary either follow clues to Henrietta and Julio Julia and continue from there OR take the Woodpecker Trail to the Wren Trail then cross the bridge and carry on down the trail.  At the T where Wren meets Jay, go left.  Walk 13 paces.  A tree on the left leans toward the trail (and, so long as it remains, a small tree also stands to bring your attention to Finnegan's hiding spot by whacking you in the forehead).  Behind the base of the large leaning tree you'll find Finnegan under a pile of sticks and twigs.
   Continue on down the trail taking a right at the Y to return to familiar territory.

John James
planted 9/25/2012 at The Hoyt Arboretum in SW Portland, Oregon
   At Hoyt Arboretum park across from the visitor center on Fairview Blvd..  Take the Fir Trail to the Redwood Trail, and follow it to the Redwood deck.  There find the tree that the deck is hugging, and hug the tree yourself.  Look down.   Do you see a rock at the base of the tree?  Find your way below the deck and locate that rock. Under it and about two inches of natural debris you will find John James.  Search with stealth.  This is a heavily traveled area.
   Good luck.


Great Wolf
planted 9/28/2012 at The Great Wolf Lodge in Grand Mound, Washington
   Our boxes are usually planted in the natural, wild outdoors, but there are times when the wild indoors suit the adventures of childhood as well. We recently discovered the watery fun to be had at Great Wolf Lodge in Grand Mound, Washington. It's a nutty, over-the-top, water park and hotel. (You have to stay at the hotel to enjoy the park.) The hotel also hosts "Magic Quest", an interactive adventure exploring the magical kingdom inside the lodge (of course, additional fees apply).
   With all the secret searching indoors, there's no way we could have kept our wolf a secret. To find it then, remain out of doors and locate the giant Great Wolf Lodge sign seen from I-5. Standing at the base of this sign, look toward the highway from whence you spotted it in the first place. Between you and it, you'll spot a light pole and, nearby, a fire hydrant. About 3 feet behind the pole under a small pile of rocks you'll discover our Great Wolf.
   We hope you enjoy whichever adventures you choose.

Michaelmas: St. George and the Dragon
planted 9/29/2012 at Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden in SE Portland, Oregon
  Ancient wisdom placed a festival at each of the four turning points of the solar year. In autumn, on September 29th, the quarterly festival is named after the Archangel Michael.  Legends abound about Michael, the most notable being of his confrontation in heaven with the rebellious angels, led by Lucifer, who sought to overthrow God. The forces of Michael cast these angels out of heaven and did not slay them but, through his will, held them in control in their earthly form as dragons.
   Michaelmas is a festival of inner strength and initiative.  The backdrop for the drama of history is the struggle between the powers that strive for the forces of Goodness against those that struggle for the power of Evil. 
  According to legend, Saint George, England's patron saint, was the Archangel Michael's earthly representative.  Stories of his great deeds as well as celebrations of the season's harvest are common at this time of year.
  
   To celebrate this festival in our letterboxing world, we planted St. George in one of our favorite neighborhood gardens on the afternoon of Michaelmas.
   Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden in SE Portland is open April 1 - September 30 from 6:00am to 10:00pm and from October 1 - March 31from 6:00am-6:00pm.  Admission is free to all from the day after Labor Day through the month of February.  A $3 admission fee is charged between 10:00am-6:00pm, Thursday through Monday, March through Labor Day.  Admission is free for children under 12 and Friends of Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden.
   To find St. George, take the main path of the garden over the bridge and continue until you cross the second bridge which spans the lake with the fountain.  At that bridge's end stay right and follow the path that keeps the water on your right.  Pass seven benches and, just as you leave the water's edge, have a seat at the eighth bench.  Look slightly to your left at the remains of a fallen tree.  On the right, underneath what used to be the tree trunk's base, you'll find a stone which hides the place where St. George battles hidden under debris.  
   This is a high traffic path.  Please use discretion and re-hide with care. 
   Thanks!

WoT: The Plan for Arad Doman
planted on 10/10/2012 at Clear Creek Station in Parkdale, Oregon (on the Fruit Loop)
  We spent an afternoon on the Fruit Loop, just outside of Hood River, Oregon. Our final destination was the Kiyokawa Orchards where there's a great fortress built of wooden pallets in which children love to play. Just down Clear Creek Road from Kiyokawa is Clear Creek Station, an historic site across from the Parkdale Community Center.  In addition to visiting the location of the world's first  artificially inseminated turkey(!), you might also find our first WoT letterbox.  
  Walk around until you find an old log truck which was donated to the Hutson Museum in 1995. Take a stroll past this truck and, if you have them, you may want to stop for a game of horse shoes. Continue meandering until you locate a row of long retired farm equipment. There you will spy an old tow truck which used to belong to Rocky Butte Quarry. Search in the metal protrusion behind the driver's side running board to find the hidden camo-bag.  (photo hint included at Atlasquest.com)


Jack Rabbit
planted by Oma and Opa on 10/11/2012 at the Hells Canyon Overlook in Wallowa County, Oregon
  With an elevation of 6,000 feet, Hells Canyon Overlook provides a spectacular view of the Wallowa Mountains in Oregon and Idaho. Roads are closed in winter.
  The Overlook can be reached easily by passenger car. From La Grande at I-84, take State Highway 82 to Joseph, Oregon. Then follow State Highway 350 for eight miles and turn right onto the Hells Canyon Scenic Byway (Forest Road 39). Follow the scenic byway for approximately 30 miles to Forest Road 3965, which leads a short distance to the Hells Canyon Overlook.
  From Baker City, follow State Highway 86 to ten miles east of Halfway, Oregon then turn north onto the Hells Canyon Scenic Byway (Forest Road 39) and drive approximately 20 miles to Forest Road 3965, which leads a short distance to the overlook.

  To the Box: Park in the parking lot. From the center of the lot there is an asphalt path to the interpretive-sign, “Look over Hell's Canyon". After reading, take the right asphalt path to the overlook and interpretive-sign: “A Story Written in Stone”. Enjoy the view, read the sign... when you're ready we'll proceed.
  Turn to the right. There is a path, halfway along the railing, another path leads up towards a picnic table. Pass the table turn-off and take the next left that leads to a second picnic table.
  Sit on the bench facing the canyon, look out at the grandeur of Hell's Canyon. To your left, there is a pile of rocks with a 6 ft. Douglas-fir growing in the center. There is a crevice facing you. Around the rock, on the canyon side, there is another crevice. Within it is your goal. Check for critters with a stick before putting in your hand.

Pixie Pied-a-terre
planted by Oma and Opa on 10/11/2012 at the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center near Baker City, Oregon
  The National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center is located five miles east of Baker City, Oregon, on Highway 86, Exit 302 from Interstate 84, 125 miles northwest of Boise, 95 miles southeast of Pendleton.
  Allow plenty of time for this stop. After you have gone through the Interpretive Center, seen the displays and videos, talked to the volunteer re-enacters and visited the gift shop, ask for a map of the more than four miles of interpretive trails.
  Go to the Stamp Mill.  Inside, read about Oregon mining history. After enjoying the exhibit, take the asphalt path to the back of the Stamp Mill. From here, go up the stairs... no not yet. What you seek is along these stairs. Count the railing posts as you ascend. You want post #7 on the left (#6 coming down). Stop and sit on the step down-hill of the post. There is a flat rock, just down-hill of post #7. Lift the down-hill edge of the rock. What you seek should be easily visible.

Pilot Butte
planted on 11/12/2012 on Pilot Butte in Bend, Oregon
  There are, as far as I know, only two places in all of the continental U.S. with volcanoes (both extinct) within their city limits. One is SE Portland, OR which holds the lush Mt. Tabor and sits nearly in our own backyard. The other is the high desert city of Bend where one will find Pilot Butte. There's a big, flat scenic viewpoint at its top and, on a clear day, a great number of Cascade peaks can be seen from it. Quite a sight. One can ascend the 500 feet to the top of the butte on foot or, for a less challenging adventure, simply drive.
  From the summit of Pilot Butte view Lookout Mountain and Mt. Bachelor. Walk toward the point between those two. Cross the road to a huge volcanic red rock. On the back side, underneath you'll find the camo bag buried under rubble.


WoT: Strangers I & II
planted on 11/14/2012 on The Metolius River in Camp Sherman, Oregon
  From the Allingham Bridge head upstream on the east side of the Metolius. Cross the little foot bridge and, with the meadow on your right, note a grand, white, mostly naked snag with an arm reaching toward the ground. Just before it, the trail splits a log in half. Follow that log toward the river. Behind it and at the base of five pines under bark lies Stranger.
  To find Stranger's twin, look directly across the river at the V. (Yes, that one, on the OTHER side of the river.) At the base of the V, on the right under stones, the second can be found.

Dwarf Dwelling
planted on 11/14/2012 at The Head of the Metolius in Camp Sherman, Oregon
  Head of the Metolius
  Behind the bench
  Behind the fence
  Under rocks

Hazel
planted 11/20/2012 at The Audubon Society of Portland in NW Portland, Oregon
  From the Care Center, head down the trail past the mews and over a couple of bridges. The road will fork near a third bridge and you'll want to cross that bridge and pass the covered Nature Study Shelter and a pond on your left. In the cooler, wetter months the pond supports a variety of frogs, salamanders and newts as well as the occasional water fowl. To find Hazel though, follow the Woodpecker Trail (on your right) up the hill (after finding Henrietta #207080 near the Nature Study Shelter). It's a ways up there with a few smaller side paths. Ignore these and continue up until you reach what we like to call the "duck face tree". Just ahead, the Woodpecker Trail crosses the Jay Trail. Instead of taking that route, however, travel instead from the duck face 25 paces back down the path from whence you just came. On the left is a large tree with a birdhouse mounted up high. In the snag it embraces, at EYE LEVEL, Hazel hides behind moss.
(Feel free to carry on up Jay to meet Julio and Finnegan as well.)

Julio Julia v 2.o
replaced ver 1.0 at The Audubon Society of Portland in NW Portland, Oregon
  To find Julia, follow the Woodpecker Trail up the hill (after finding Henrietta near the Nature Study Shelter). It's a ways up there with a few smaller side paths. Ignore these and continue up until you reach what we like to call the "duck face tree". (Stop near here to find Hazel: AQ #210776 if you'd like.) When the Woodpecker Trail meets the Jay Trail, take the Jay. Ascend and cross the bridge. Stop for a rest with Linda. After taking in the beautiful surroundings carry on up hill once more. Stay on the Jay trail as it passes Wren. Ascend the wooden steps and cross the bridge. At the end of the bridge a wooden walkway begins. Some paces beyond the walk, triplet trees are on your left. In the crux of the three under duff you'll find Julio Julia. Continue forward on Jay to find Finnegan. (Note that Jay and Wren cross twice and you're heading to the junction at the BOTTOM of the hill.)


Rhino
planted 11/21/2012 at The Oregon Zoo in SW Portland, Oregon
  Entrance... Sea Lions... Amur Leopard... Tigers... Lorikeet Landing ... Where's Rufous?... Wildlife Gardenway... Africa! (behind sign, under rock)... Bats? (too far)

Where's Rufous?
planted 11/21/2012 at The Oregon Zoo in SW Portland, Oregon
  Where's Rufous? If you don't know, you might want to ask a Master Gardener. 49 wood planks down the path in the stone wall on your right... There's Rufous!

WoT: News in Tel'aran'rhiod
planted 12/11/12 at Summerlake Park in Tigard, Oregon
  One side of Summerlake Park in Tigard runs alongside SW Winterlake Drive. On that street, in the park, one will find a fenced dog park and parking lot. Park there. On the end of the parking lot opposite the dog park is a paved trail heading north. A sign at the trail head reads: "No unauthorized vehicles beyond this point..." Follow that trail over a bridge until the smaller of the park's two playgrounds is on your left. To your right is an earthen path lined with logs heading into the woods. Take the earthen path. Stay left. When the path makes a marked left turn and begins to narrow, you'll see a fenced area which is an Eagle Scout project belonging to Steven Brainerd. (You may be able to spy the marker with this information mounted high above your head.) Stay on the path until you stand even with the corner post of the fenced area. From here, walk forward (dip) 16 paces. To your right, spy the small path leading toward the lake. Walk 15 paces down that path. To your right is a many trunked tree. News in Tel'aran'rhiod lies in amongst the base of the trunks hidden under duff and debris. (From where you're standing after the 15 paces, it's toward the left side of the trunk clump.)

WoT: Just Another Man
  From WoT: News in Tel'aran'rhiod (see above)...   
  Return to the main log lined path and then to the paved path. Turn right onto the pavement then cross the large bridge. Turn right again to follow the path along the lake. Those homes on your left enjoy a nice view, eh? Up ahead is another bridge crossing the lake to the side where you began. Cross it and, if you're feeling playful, enjoy a few minutes at the larger play structure. When you're all tuckered out, continue forward on the path around the lake then take the next bridge on your right that heads back into the woods. Where the path curves to the right note a large stump on your right. (To your left, through the trees, you'll see the maintenance building.) Walk forward from the stump 16 paces. There, again on your right, lies another stump (barely there). With your back to the maintenance building, step off the log lined path, over the stump and walk 10 paces toward the 15' snag with a tree curved around it. At the base of these between where the two trunks meet (under a good amount of duff and debris) you'll find Just Another Man.


Team of Very Strong Men
planted 12/12/12 in SW Portland, Oregon
  You know you can find just about anything on the internet when you discover that not just one but many sites exist devoted entirely to the location of outdoor stairs in metropolitan areas. At Community Walk (to name just one site) you can find "An inventory of Portland outdoor public stairways with each stairway having 100 or more stairs." Who knew?
  So many, many stairs. An nearly impossible journey for a Gapper but no problem for a Team of Very Strong Men...
  On the west side of Portland, locate the Loyal B. Stearn Memorial. From there, walk up SW Osage Street until you spot The Stairs. Walk up 35 Stairs to the paved road and pass the orange hydrant on your left. Ignore the Stairs to the apartment and, instead, continue up the dirt/gravel path between the ivy. Take the 37 Stairs up to your left, the short curved dirt path and 20 more Stairs. Pause at the landing and take three more Stairs. To your left, hidden in the ivy is a sizable (but moveable) chunk of asphalt. The Team of Very Strong Men hides underneath.
  (Stamp image from The Very Persistent Gappers of Frip by George Saunders with illustrations by Lane Smith. One of my particular favorites. Which contains no references to stairs at all.) 

Urban Wildlife
planted 12/20/2012 at Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden in Portland, Oregon
   Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden is a unique seven-acre garden containing an outstanding collection of rare species and hybrid rhododendrons, azaleas, and other lesser known ericaceous plants, as well as many companion plants and unusual trees. It's a photographer's dream and an internationally recognized gem of SE Portland that's a beautiful place to visit any time of year. April through May, when the azaleas and rhododendrons are in full bloom, the garden is spectacular. A spring-fed lake surrounds much of the garden, attracting countless waterfowl which nest and feed in this natural habitat. In fall and winter, trees and shrubs add their own color and interesting structure. It's only minutes from our home and one of our favorite places to take a quick walk or spend a lazy afternoon any time of year.  Check website for hours and admission.  (Entrance is FREE Labor Day through March.)
   The garden is filled with an array of wildlife one often finds in urban settings. It also often holds a large number of other visitors. To find our little friends proceed as follows (a fair amount of stealth will be required to avoid suspicion from fellow strollers):
1) Scritch:
From the entrance, follow the path to the bridge. Instead of crossing, take the stairs to the right and stand under the bridge instead. To the left is a wall of recycled concrete and behind that stands a solid concrete wall with metal supports atop it which hold up the bridge. Carefully climb to the metal supports and locate Scritch behind the metal beams on the left side.
2) Shuffle:
The stream behind you trickles underneath the picturesque bridge and empties into Crystal Springs Lake. Follow the path to the left that runs alongside the lake, past the bridge, and, further along, the terraced stairs until you see the golf course on the far shore. Stay on that lake side path and pass a bench and marker 14 on your left. 14 paces past marker 14, a large tree stands beside the path on the right. Behind and to the left of that tree is a sizable stump. Behind, at the base of the stump under duff and sticks you'll find Shuffle.
3) Honk:
Continue along the path that parallels the lake back to the main path and cross the garden's grand wooden bridge. At its far end make an immediate left. Remain on this path until it wanders into the overgrowth and behind the building. The back side of the building holds a set of double doors. With your back to the doors, spy the largest tree in front of you. Walk to its right side and note the upper and lower small wooden retaining walls. The upper wall is held in place by vertical posts. A small bit of slate lies near the vertical post closest to the tree. Honk is buried underneath.
   Enjoy the garden!

WoT: After the Storm
planted on 1/8/2013 near the Municipal Elevator in Oregon City, Oregon
  With its nearly 100 years history, the Oregon City Municipal Elevator is the only municipal elevator in the U.S. and one of only four in the world. It links lower, riverside downtown Oregon City along the Willamette River with the nearby bluffs in the upper part of what was once the capital of the Oregon Territory and the end of the Oregon Trail. The elevator is free to the public and open with an attendant operator almost every day. (For more information on hours and history click here: http://www.orcity.org/publicworks/municipal-elevator ) There's a great view from the saucer like observation deck at the top of Willamette Falls and the sad (but oddly fascinating) remnants of the Blue Heron Paper Company. The elevator is a requisite experience and a must see for all local residents.
  To find After the Storm, take the elevator (or nearby stairs, if you're into that) to the upper bluff. After exiting the elevator, turn right and enjoy the view of the river but don't forget to note the benches on your left. Immediately after passing the seventh bench, you'll see a tree and a half with cables grown into them surrounded by boulders. Under the top, flattish boulder on the left behind a small rock, lies the Rising Sun of Carhein.
  Good luck and enjoy the view!

Friends Met on the Trail
planted on 1/16/2013 at Marshall Park in SW Portland, Oregon
  On a recent letterboxing foray we discovered magical Marshall Park in SW Portland. The boxes we found there were lovely but the park had been much changed since their owner had placed them. We were so taken by the wonder of this lush wild area tucked into the hillsides of Portland's southwest corner though that we returned to add to the fantastic collection, in the renewed corners of the park, some boxes of our own.
  There are several ways to enter the park but, to locate our friends, your best bet is to park near the circular dead end at the end of 12th Drive off of Taylor's Ferry Court. (Maybe find these on a map before you head out. It's trickier than you'd think.) From the dead end of 12th Drive, head down the path and locate the 'Notices' board near the wide graveled areas.
1) Raccoon

  From the Notices board you'll see a magical stone bridge crossing a stream and further upstream, in the distance, a larger, railed wooden bridge. Head over and cross that wooden bridge and follow the path uphill along the beautiful cascading stream. When the protective rails end, go 'round the last rail and stand by the very large doug-fir. With your back to the water and the fir, head toward the maple triplets. At their base (right in front of you) in a small hollow under leaves you'll find Raccoon.
2) TRIP TRAP Trip Trap trip trap
 Continue up the main path (taking no side trails). (You'll see a great hiding place on the right in the form of a big rotted out stump near one of those mini detours that would have been the perfect spot for a box but, alas, Geocachers used it first.) Pass it by and follow along putting the chain link fence and then the wooden rails on your left. Downhill you'll go, turning left once you reach the main path at the bottom. What's that I hear? Must have been something on the pretty stone bridge. Cross it and once over, hop off into the stream bed on your left. Where the arch of the bridge ends in the water a very large boulder sits against the wall. Imagine, if you will, drawing a straight line from the stream bed where the arch ends to the top of the bridge you just crossed. About a foot down from the top, 3 small stones are nudged into larger stones hiding TRIP TRAP Trip Trap trip trap.
3) Fox
  Wait, this looks familiar. From the bridge can you see those Notices again? Meander past the Notices and crunch along the gravel until you spy a giant circular cement slab. Near the slab are two paths. One heads toward the stream and one (with a wooden rail) climbs uphill. Take the latter to the first switchback. On the left, a number of rocks line the sharp turn. At the last of these stand and face the cedars on the right side of the path. About 40 paces in, in a vaguely circular ring of those grand trees, 3 have grown together. In their crux, at about head level, you'll find Fox under duff.
4) Buck
  Continue along the path musing at how nice it must be to have this park as a back yard. Eventually you'll spy a bridge and, beyond it, some stairs. From the bridge's end, walk back the way you came but not on the path you've already taken. After 30 paces or so you'll see, on your left, 2 cedars grown together. Inside the stump where a third once stood you'll find Buck.
5) Skunk
  Head back to cross that bridge, climb those stairs and follow the stream. At the T head left and left again at the main trail (away from the road). Pass the Marshall Park Natural Area Sign and head downhill to where a fall tree leans over the trail. (Depending on the time of year and foliage cover, you might spy some kind of blue shed uphill on the right.) About 45 paces beyond the leaning tree, a decaying log lies to the path's left while, slightly before it, an ivy covered stump rests uphill on the right. In that stump, at chest level, just left of the main trunk under bark you'll find Skunk.
  It's a lush and moist wonderland in this park. Please re-seal bags and jars with care. Enjoy and Happy Hunting!

Civil War
planted 1/30/2013 at Tryon Creek Park in SW Portland, Oregon
(This box is a response to a nearby box and perhaps will only make sense with reference to the other.)
   I was lazily swimming down the creek in Tryon Creek Park when I came to my home, a bridge that bears my name. There I spied my natural born enemy, the duck, after whom I promptly chased. Ducks are known for their quickness and stamina (at least in the Chip Kelly era), and it quickly scurried up a hill away from me. Feeling that my home was safe and protected again, I crawled under my bridge on the same side of the stream as the sign with information about the dangers of sediment but on the opposite side of the bridge from the dreaded duck.


St. George and the Dragon (6 boxes)
planted on 2/1/2013 at Joseph Wood Hill Park in NE Portland, Oregon
(Note 4/1/2013: We have yet to verify but it's possible that The Watchman has gone missing.
Additional note: 6/3/2013: Apparently some geocachers mistook Cleodolinda for a cache and have replaced her stamp with a plastic bracelet.  So sad.  We will try to replace these two missing stamps over the summer.)
   (When first we planned this series, we thought this was a really fun and beautiful park. It is that but, in the planting, we also found that there's lots of broken glass about. Please use caution when searching for the boxes. And have fun!)

   Many legends of St. George abound in English mythology. One of the most popular, from the Aurea Legenda, a collection of tales of the saints in the High Middle Ages, is that responsible for popularizing the story of St. George and the Dragon. Where exactly this story comes from is unknown. The earliest known reference is a tomb in England dating back to the earlier half of the 12th century. It portrays the princess in the clutches of the dragon with an abbot blessing St. George as he prepares for battle. Most scholars believe the story is eastern in origin and spread across Europe during the Crusades. It was during this same time that the red cross (originally worn by the Knights Templar) began to be associated with the saint.
The truth about the life of St. George remains shrouded in mystery.


 St. George and the Dragon:
   The King of Selene, a city in Libya, had one daughter, named CLEODOLINDA. On misty mornings she could often be found looking out into the forest from the large rock outcropping against the outside of the city wall just east of the steps leading up to the city gates. A fern grew in the rocks where her dainty feet balanced below where she had carved the initials of a dear childhood friend "TM". Cleodolinda was a sweet maid, moving gently, and thinking gentle thoughts. Her form was fair, her eyes were clear and lustrous, and her heart was pure. Wherever she went she was welcome, for she carried joy with her. 
   The King loved this Princess with a love that filled his whole heart with gladness. He knew her thoughts, felt her emotions, and shared her griefs. She was dearer to him than aught else in the world. "Of all men on earth I am most happy," the king declared. "My country is at peace, the Queen my consort is amiable, and my daughter is as fair as she is good. I have nothing left to desire." His courtier replied: "Sire, so gracious a monarch deserves only happiness." But as the words were spoken a shadow fell, none knew whence, and encircled the King. And looking upon it, he replied, though fearing nothing: "There is none so gracious that grief may not fall upon him, and I know not why I have been more blest than other men."
   That night, as the WATCHMAN (UNAVAILABLE) went to take his watch round the walls of Selene, he walked down the ramp, turned right and passed the city sign. He paused right there in a sheltered corner and felt upon the air a most poisonous vapour that came from without the walls. And even as he wondered, the fumes of the poison became too much for him, and he fell over, and in a little time expired. And in the morning another watchman, making his round, found his fellow dead beside the city wall. He buried him there under a cairn and himself sensed upon the air a faint odour that was unpleasant to the nostrils.
   Then the watchman scaled the wall and, standing over the place where he had found his companion, he glanced across the road and perceived a huge beast which crawled away from the city into a boundary stone enclosed swath of grass and shrubberies. As it crawled it flapped two great black wings, and from its nostrils belched out a black flame which contained those poisonous fumes of which the watchman felt the trace. Its body was covered with scales, so strong and smooth that they were like a knight's armour; and in shape it was half crawling beast, half loathsome bird. As the watchman observed it, the DRAGON crawled south down the road and under a rock near the seventeenth pillar and lay still. Then the watchman hurried to those in authority to report this affair; and when the matter came to the King's ears, he was greatly disturbed, for he remembered the shadow that had fallen upon him, and, despite himself, he was filled with fears. Yet the fears were not for his own safety. And he roused himself to give orders that none should go outside the city walls till the dragon had gone back whence it came. 
   So the long day through no man went outside the city walls, but many adventurous persons, having gained a perch upon the walls, observed the dragon, which had come into the sunlight, and could be seen lying there. These saw when, in the evening, the dragon roused itself, and rolling over its loathsome body, started to crawl toward the city. It crawled on four twisted feet, and pushed itself with its wings; and its eyes shone like red flames. As this vile creature approached, the people were afraid, and retreated into the city, for they knew not for what purpose the dragon came. 
   When it had reached the gates of the city, it took up a position close to them; and from its nostrils it poured terrible fumes, so that the people were like to die. Then the King called together his knights, and one, who was braver than any other, declared that he would discover from the dragon its purpose in so haunting the city. And having entreated the dragon to cease casting out its poison while he spake with it, he approached and asked for what purpose it had come to the gates of Selene. The dragon replied, by signs and hoarse noises, that it would only depart from the city gates and cease troubling the people of Selene with its poison, if it were granted a meal of two sheep a day. 
   When the King heard of this reply, he ordered that TWO SHEEP should be set aside every day for the dragon. That morning the sheep were bound high in the crux of the cedars which had grown together at the western side of the base of the ramp leading away from the city. And when the dragon had on that day received two sheep, it devoured them, and crawled back to its lair. But it remained in the woods, and not far from the city, so that none might enter the city or come out of it for fear of the dragon. And every day it roused itself, and crawled to the base of the ramp to receive its meal of two sheep. But after a time the sheep became few in number, so that there would not long be enough to feed the dragon; and the people were possessed with fear.
   Then, at the other side of the city, the people heard upon the ground the noise of a horse's hoofs, and looked there to see who it was that approached so near to the city of Selene. And, having looked, their hearts were filled with fear, for they beheld a knight of a fairer presence than any they had seen, and of a wondrous gentleness; and they perceived that he knew not of the dragon.
   This KNIGHT was a soldier of the Emperor Diocletian, one who had risen to high honour in the army, and who was passing through Libya to join his men When he perceived the people, with the Princess Cleodolinda standing pale and trembling on the walls of the city, he paused behind a pillar across from the city steps, just above two foundation blocks, to ask what was their distress. The Princess, in a great agitation, replied: "Ah, sir, do not wait to question us, but press on thy way! For know, in yon forest lurks a fearful dragon who has been the death of many livestock and city folk. Press on, I beseech thee, ere it issue from its lair." But the knight replied: "I cannot press on and leave you unprotected against the dragon." And at that moment the dragon bestirred itself, and began to crawl from its hiding-place.
   "Alas," cried Cleodolinda, "the dragon is upon us! I beseech thee, Sir Knight, leave before it be too late!" But the knight, turning himself about went out to meet the dragon. When it observed him approach, the beast was struck with amazement, and, having paused for but a moment, it ran toward the knight with a great swiftness, and beating its dark wings upon the ground as it ran. When it drew near to him, it puffed out from its nostrils a smoke so dense that the knight was enveloped in it as in a cloud; and darted hot flames from its eyes. Rearing its horrid body, it beat against the knight, dealing him fearful blows; but he, bending, thrust his spear against it, and caught the blows upon his shield.
   The fight lasted a long time, and the knight grew weary, though he fought with as great an ardour as at first. Through the deadly fumes that issued from the dragon the Princess could see his face shine out, and she saw that it was pale, yet lighted up by some radiance that shone from within. As he thrust at the dragon, this radiance grew greater, so that at last it was like the light of the sun. But the dragon looped itself about the knight, and its poison was heavy upon him, so that to breathe was almost more pain than he could bear. Then he perceived that, no matter how the dragon writhed, it sought always to protect one place in its body -- that place which lay beneath its left wing. And, nerving himself for a great blow, the knight bent himself downward, and thrust his spear with a turn into that place. So great was the strength required for the thrust that the knight left the spear in the wound for weariness; and as he raised himself he felt the dragon's clasp upon him loosen. Then the smoke ceased to belch from its nostrils, and the great beast fell to the ground.
   Thereafter, the Knight came to steps and climbed them to the point where they divided. He took the eastern stair up five steps and there stopped at the CITY GATES (down below his feet on the outside base of the wall where it meets the giant boulders). The Gates were opened to him with great joy by the people of Selene. The King said: "What shall be given to this brave knight, who hath so rid us of our enemy?" And the people cried of honours, and wealth, that should be given to the knight. But he, when all had finished, thus replied: "I desire only that ye believe in the God who strengthened my hand to gain this victory, and be baptised." And when he had baptised the city into the Christian faith, he went on his way. 

Lewis and Clark Memorial: State of Oregon (3 boxes)
planted on 2/14/2013 at Washington Park in SW Portland, Oregon
   In addition to being Valentines Day, February 14th is also the day (in 1859) when President Buchanan signed the bill making Oregon the 33rd State of the Union.
   On this day we began our "Lewis and Clark Memorial: State of Oregon" Series. Placed at the entrance to Portland's largest park, the Lewis and Clark Memorial is a 34-foot, rectangular granite shaft with each side bearing a large bronze replica of the great seals of the States of Oregon, Washington, Montana, and Idaho which comprised the Northwest Territory. This was the only portion of the United States that was acquired by discovery and therefore was never under a foreign flag. President Theodore Roosevelt laid the foundation stone for the obelisk on May 21, 1903. He was assisted by the monument's designer, Portland stonecutter Otto Schumann. The memorial was completed in 1908.  (We'll be adding to this series as each of state's anniversary rolls around so look for our "Lewis and Clark Memorial: State of Idaho" series around July 3rd followed by "State of Montana" around November 8th and "State of Washington" around November 11th.)

   To begin the State of Oregon series, locate the memorial and stand with your back to the Oregon Seal. All of the Oregon boxes will lie within the area before you.
   To locate the STATE MOTTO, travel down ALL the stairs and take a left. Past the hedge and in front of a grand cedar lies the Washington Park sign. Behind the right leg under a granite slab you'll find the camo bag.
   Return to the obelisk and travel down the brick stairs and the walkway that follows once more. After descending 6 more steps, take a left on the gravel path toward the bench. Stop before then and take a rest on the first step on your left. Reach into the hedge about a foot to find STATE BIRD well buried under debris. (Note that this was a difficult series to plant because of the extremely well-manicured location. The boxes may be somewhat challenging to locate because of the necessity of concealing them from park maintenance personnel. You'll notice trash in the shrubberies that city workers regularly reach in to remove. We're hoping our boxes will stay hidden. Please help us out by re-hiding them with the same thought to their longevity. Thanks!)
   Continue down the remainder of the steps and cross SW Lewis and Clark Circle. Take the sidewalk and cross SW Madison as well. Pretty immediately on the left you'll be standing in the shade of a giant cedar. On the backside under a few small pieces of cement and duff STATE FISH is buried.

Playing on the Ground
planted 3/7/2013 at the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site in Vancouver, Washington
(Note: June, 2013  We have one report that this box has gone missing.)
  Fort Vancouver was a 19th century fur trading outpost along the Columbia River that served as the headquarters of the Hudson's Bay Company in the company's Columbia District (which covered the northern half of the region known to Americans as the Oregon Country). Named for Captain George Vancouver, the fort was located on the northern bank of the Columbia River in present-day Vancouver, Washington, near Portland, Oregon. Today, a full-scale replica of the fort, with internal buildings, has been constructed and is open to the public as Fort Vancouver National Historic Site.
  The site offers Interpretive Programs and Guided Tours and also houses a Visitors center, a Bookstore and a Museum. In the Museum a vast collection of archaeological artifacts, historic objects, and archival documents tell the stories of the site. The museum collection represents a wide variety of periods and cultures, including pre-contact and post-contact indigenous peoples, the Hudson's Bay Company fur trade, the U.S. Army, early military and civilian aviation at Pearson Field, and the Kaiser Shipyards.
  After perusing the collection, head out for a little excavation letterboxing style... After playing on the slides, swings and various climbing apparatus, take a rest on the wood-like border in the SE corner of the playground. Buried a few inches under the wood chips in the very, very corner you'll find our jar of hidden treasure.
  Please re-hide her well (under a few inches of chips) so she'll stay hidden for those who follow in our footsteps.

Sassy - RETIRED (Sadly only one team ever found this mystery stamp at Trader Joe's in NE Portland in the 3 months it resided there.  (Thank you and congrats to the Oregon Headhunters!!)  Her satchel was a tad too large for Sassy though and the crew were disappointed by the lack of visitors so we've removed the box and will relocate it in the months to come.)

planted 3/8/2013 in Oregon
  There's a chain of "Neighborhood Grocery Stores" which have a unique flavor to each of their various locations. In almost all, a sort of mascot is hidden somewhere on the sales floor for the children of regular shoppers to find. Each store's mascot is different and he or she changes location daily or weekly. Upon discovery, much to-do is often made with ringing of bells and even special treats for the wee ones who chance upon the special critter hidden in its secret location.
  In one Oregon locale, your kids might be delighted to discover the ever elusive Sassy the Sasquatch. With permission from management, she has recently acquired a satchel containing her own little letterbox. Some days she may be out of sight or out of reach and therefore unattainable. On days when one can reach her (without disruption of displays, awkward shelf climbing or help from employees), her contents are there for the sharing. The Crew know she holds this treasure and will allow you to unburden her pack, covertly exchange stamps with her and then discreetly return her to the place you found her. You can ask a Crew Member for a hint as to where she hides, but please do not ask for help retrieving her.

Tree Frog - RETIRED
planted 3/18/2013 at Westmoreland Park in SE Portland, Oregon
  One of our long standing favorite Family Day activities is finding trees that are great for kids to climb. This box will take you up one of our most loved and requires really basic tree climbing abilities. Please note this fact prior to setting out and use caution and common sense in retrieving the contents of the box (as well as a good grippy pair of shoes). The tree is strong and has held up to years of climbers but it is, of course, a bit of Nature and one just never knows how ol' Mother Earth is going to behave from day to day. It's a nice stamp but certainly not worth risking the safety of anyone in your party. As always, read the disclaimers below and take a friend along. It's safer AND more fun!
  On to the locale...
One of the most amazing and largely undiscovered parks of Portland lies in the Westmoreland neighborhood, appropriately named Westmoreland Park. In addition to some great wide open spaces, amenities include a baseball field, one of those rubbery surfaced basketball courts, a football field, paths -- paved and unpaved, reservable picnic sites with tables, a playground, a soccer field, a softball field, a tennis court, a giant duck pond and several bridges which span Crystal Spring Creek as it runs the length of the park. In summer the park's unique casting pool (built in 1936 by the WPA) is filled for anglers to practice fly-fishing. (I believe there's also a fishing day for kids and we've occasionally seen boat races across the expansive watery square.)
  In the summer of 2013, work will begin to reconstruct the stream channel in the park, plant native vegetation, and improve trail and water access. The firefighters in the firehouse just across the way have seen beavers, heron and surprising numbers of freshwater mussels (!) in the creek. It's source is quite nearby originating from springs near Reed College and the Eastmoreland Golf Course. Environmental Services is working to enhance conditions in the creek for the benefit of native fish and wildlife and to improve water quality. The Creek is a mere 2.7 miles long before it feeds into Johnson Creek but offers significant habitat for salmon, birds and other wildlife. The naturally cool and steady year-round flow in the creek provides important rearing and refuge areas for juvenile salmon. The ES project includes restoring the duck pond to a more natural stream channel by adding pools, riffles, and glides to improve fish habitat. Native trees and shrubs planted on the bank will shade and cool the water and improve wildlife habitat. The park will also receive new recreational amenities, including boardwalks and overlooks, seating, paths, lighting, and picnic areas.
  In addition to all this goodness (present and future), the park is also host to a beautiful boundary of majestic sequoia trees. After taking advantage of all this public area has to offer, take one last trip down the double yellow slide. Walk straight ahead (once your feet hit the ground) and travel through the grass past a light post and fence on your left and two grand sequoias on your right. Stop at the second sequoia and venture inside. Doesn't it just call to you to scramble up those branches? Using discretion and all the aforementioned caution, ascend near the central trunk until your eyes are peering through the branches at about 18 feet off the ground. Right atop a branch in plain view you'll find a camo bag securely fastened. To obtain the stamp and logbook, open the bag and remove the interior bag (leaving the exterior camo bag secured to the tree). Descend to stamp and climb to return the inner bag when the coast is once again clear.
We realize this one may get muggled but have dreamed about a climber for so long we finally just decided to risk it.

Free to Play
planted on P.A.L. Day 5/24/2013 at Scott Park in Milwaukie, Oregon
   (Very tiny) Scott Park, just behind Ledding Library, is home to this historic Milwaukie neighborhood's lunch-time summer concert series and is also the permanent location of our Free to Play Letterbox.
(This stamp was originally planted for a kids Screen-Free Week event in SE Portland's Westmoreland Park but was moved due to its insecure location. Those boxes were intentionally quite easy to find since they were planted for 5 and 6 year olds new to our fun hobby and are now all being relocated to safer homes.)
   Take the sidewalk away from the library entrance back toward the park. Note the stone wall/planter paralleling the sidewalk on the right. When you reach the end of that wall (just before the cool sun dial), stealthily sneak behind it and count the stones at its base. Note that the fifth one from the end juts out. There, under a loose rock on the ground, you'll find Free to Play.

WoT: A Tale of Blood
planted on P.A.L. Day 5/24/2013 at Powell Butte in SE Portland, Oregon
   We've been to Powell Butte a number of times but not until the reservoir construction was underway and we were forced to use alternate entrances did we discover some of its most lush and beautiful hidden trails. Our new favorite is the Old Holgate Trail which begins where SE Holgate Blvd. ends at its easternmost point.
To take this path, one may park in the temporary lot on the 14000 block of Holgate Blvd or park closer on the side of road near the trail's entrance.
   The route's beginning is a moss-covered boulder wonderland with several side trails for fun exploring. After enjoying some time clambering around that terrain, continue up the main trail a ways until a BIG metal pipe parallels it. (If you're not sure if that's the pipe, it isn't. You'll know for sure when you've reached it. It goes on and on and on and it's BIG.) Eventually, a set of steps will aid you across the pipe and many, many more will take up the hill on your right. Ascend them ALL. Yup, it's a lot of stairs. At the last step, take the small deer trail immediately on your right. 23 steps down the trail a fallen, very decayed log is splayed on your left. Walk up the log remains. At the end on the left, a clump of small deciduous trees holds the box nestled in the center of its grouped trunks under sticks.

Bukken Bruse
planted on P.A.L. Day 5/24/2013 at Reed College in SE Portland, Oregon
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Arrr... There be Pirates (6 or 7 boxes)
planted on  6/14/2013 at Elk Rock Island in Milwaukie, Oregon
   It was a dark and stormy night when I shouldered my way into the Plank & Anchor for a pint. After a long day working the docks I was in need of a hearty meal and a pint of ale. But I was seeking more than just a pint this night, I was also seeking rumor, for all day on the docks rumors and whispers were heard, rumors and whispers of pirates. After receiving my beer I made a quick survey of the room and immediately found the men I was looking for. Never in all my nights in the pub had I seen a table more full of bearded, surly and dangerous looking men than the group I now spied. I took the closest table I could find and did my best to listen in on their conversation. I wasn't able to hear much, but two things were repeated enough to capture my attention: Elk Rock Island and Treasure.
   The next day I made my way to SE 19th and Sparrow, near downtown Milwaukie, where I spied some sort of green metallic structure and a pathway towards the island. A short way down the path I noticed four large trees running alongside the trail, and just before them, a downed tree running up the hillside. I saw something up the hill above the downed tree and climbed to investigate. That was where I truly learned what I was getting myself into. The pirates had left a stake in the ground with a warning atop telling all to turn away and leave. The marker was behind and under the second fallen tree which ran perpendicular to the first, and behind the cut stump.
   Knowing I ought really to just walk away, I summoned my courage and continued on the path as it neared the water. I walked up and over a very small but steep hill and noticed a four trunked tree with some kind of bat house attached about 20 feet up. I followed the trail to the left side of the tree, and again something caught my attention. A second warning to stay from the island was up a small trail off to the left. There was a stump on that trail's right a few steps up and a few paces past it a Douglas-Fir tree on the left. The pirates warning was buried in the roots on the backside of the tree.
   Fear mounting, I returned to the original path and continued forward. I made my way across the rocky land bridge to the island (which is under water about 7 months of the year). There I followed the well marked trail at the southern end of the island. Walking west toward the wide river I noticed a madrone tree atop the cliff to my right. The tree formed what looked like a comfortable seat, so I recklessly climbed the hillside to take a rest and, from that vantage point, caught my first glimpse of the dreaded vessel approaching the island! Pirates had come to claim the rumored treasure. The riches I sought for myself were in danger and so was I! I scrambled out of my tree bench and found my foot caught under the back side of the branch on which I had been sitting. There, concealed by sticks and dirt, was a small hole (which could easily be a hiding spot for a small treasure).
   I yanked out my boot, regained my footing and ran up the trail in a northeasterly direction. I passed a cored stump and several tree roots nearly tripped me on the path. I continued running though. I was caught up in my desire for the fortune I was sure awaited me on this island. The pirates here were proof it was here too. I slowed on the path when I came to where it split in two. To the right was a descending flight of stairs, to the left was a trail further into the woods. I chose the left path into the woods, traveling west. As the water came into view and I neared the south side of the island once more, I rounded a bend and came face to face with a group of pirates brandishing swords! They threw me to ground on the right side of the trail where there was a long fallen tree. They dragged me along the tree to its end, and there, standing on the large, low stump was the pirate captain. Knowing I was a dead man, I desperately groped along the ground and found a large rotten tree branch. Looking up I saw that the captain was ignoring me, and examining a treasure map. I took what I saw as my only chance, and swung the tree branch at the captain. Scoring a direct hit, he fell to the ground between the fallen tree and the stump and lay beneath the broken remains of the tree branch. I grabbed his sword and map and with a series of lunges and wild swings escaped the band of pirates.
   I ran back up the trail the way I had come and when I reached the split in the trail, this time went down the stairs. I could hear the pirates in pursuit and wasn't sure I could out run them. I kept on fleeing though and about 55 paces up the trail after the stairs saw a V shaped tree with one trunk fully grown and one snag broken off on the left of the trail. I snuck around behind it and hid as the pirates tramped by in chase. There, behind the tree, standing in the roots, I took my first glimpse at the pirate's map.
   I was so close to the treasure! I caught my breath a while and, when I was sure the pirates wouldn't return, I continued along the trail to the north with map in hand. The trail twisted and turned past a beach on my right then led back into the trees. At a large fallen tree I followed the map's markers where a small trail behind the log led west to a small cove. I continued on the trail past the cove and followed it to the right scampering up a rocky cliff. Looking back I saw what looked like an unlucky light tower. Then I continued into an oak grove at the top of the hill. Looking carefully around at the trees I passed 274 and 275. Between 275 and 276 I turned right and walked 25 paces into the scrub and bushes. There I found an old decaying log, which lay between 285 and 331. Two large pieces of the decaying log formed a V. BURIED in between those two pieces of log was the pirate's treasure. I had found it at last!
Congratulations to Oregon Head Hunters on being First Finders! A bit of treasure still awaits for those who come after...for as long as it lasts. Please take only a few. Also, please take care with especially the final treasure box. It's quite large and needs its bag resealed carefully to remain dry. (Note how to re-seal it as you open it.) We'd also appreciate you re-hiding it as well or better than you found it so those pirates don't inadvertently come across it. We're not sure they ever even left the island...   (Additionally, note that the island is accessible by the land bridge during most of the summer and sometimes in winter but can only be reached by boat during most of the Spring and Fall.)

Woody
planted 7/5/2013 at Double Peak Park in San Marcos, California
    As a variant of body-on-frame construction, the Woody originated from the early (pre mid-1930s) practice of manufacturing the passenger compartment portion of a vehicle in hardwood. Woodies were popular in the United States and were produced as variants of sedans and convertibles as well as station wagons, from basic to luxury. Eventually, bodies constructed entirely in steel supplanted wood construction-for reasons of strength, cost and durability. In the 50s and 60s it was common to see these vehicles with surf boards strapped on top and, in either their original form or reproduced faux-wood metal, they were an icon of the west coast surf culture.
On our recent trip from Oregon we flew over the sunny coast of California and brought this Woody with us to commemorate our time in the Golden surf State. We spent our days in San Diego and found a few fun hikes...
   "A network of popular trails winds up to and around Double Peak in San Marcos' Cerro de la Posas Hills. There are several reasons to explore these. First, they provide a great place to get some vigorous outdoor exercise. Secondly, they offer truly inspiring vistas on sparklingly clear days. Thirdly, The chaparral cloaking these hills is a remarkable assortment of flowering plants, with something blooming nearly every month of the year, particularly in wet years." (from dkofset at everytrail.com)
   From the top of Double Peak Park one will find a full 360 panorama of North County with ocean views on a clear day. There's a map on the ground there detailing the surrounding areas which is kind of cool too. It's about a 2 mile hike up to the peak or, for those lacking enthusiasm for hiking, there's parking on the summit.
   However one chooses to ascend, once there, find the Double Peak Group Shelter and the "Please Pick Up After Your Dog" sign. About 18 steps up the hill from that sign, locate the downed logs crossing the narrow trail. On the left where the two logs cross, under rocks, you'll find our traveling Woody.
   Please note that this is rattlesnake country, and search with caution. Good luck.

Elfin Forest (2 boxes)
planted 7/7/2013 at Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve in Escondido, California 
   In Oregon, our forests, rivers, mountains and meadows are full of fairy folk and their elfin friends. This midsummer we had a festive fairy celebration and some wonderful wee folk wandered into a few houses we had built for them in tiny hidey holes around a wild park. They had followed us home and spent a few weeks with us after that event, then, it turned out, when we went vacationing in So Cal, they hitched a ride!
   Figuring one plane trip was more than enough for the delicate fae, we thought they'd be happiest finding a new home in the wild chaparral of the Golden State. And what better dwelling place than Elfin Forest for our pixie pals?
   Yes indeed, 784 acre Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve is one of the few remaining rural areas in North County. It is one of San Diego County's most precious natural resources offering approximately 11 miles of hiking, mountain biking and equestrian trails as well as picnic areas and scenic mountain viewing points. In addition, the natural beauty of the Reserve includes such native plant communities as oak riparian, oak woodland, coastal sage scrub and chaparral. All the wildlife, natural resources and the elemental spirits that dwell with them at the Reserve are fully protected so that future generations may also enjoy these wonders.
   Our Oregon fairies were warmly welcomed by their desert cousins and have nestled into the community in their new homes. To locate our little adventurers take the Way Up Trail WAY UP. We'd suggest this one for the morning or early evening when the weather is cooler. We did note runners (yes, RUNNERS... kudos to anyone who can RUN up a hill in that kind of heat) ascending in 85 degree weather but it seems it would be a much more pleasant experience in the cooler parts of the day. It's a 1.25 mile uphill climb but worth it for the incredible views! At the top of the hill make a right at the Me-Xal Trail and take a rest just over there under the shelter of the Me-Xal Overlook. BSA Troop 968 has been kind enough to build two benches up there as well and the one on the right stands in front of a pile of 3 rocks that hides our petite pixie Behind the Veil.
   After meeting our first wee sprite and enjoying the incredible views, continue on to any of the various trails up there or descend the hill the way you came until you reach the Botanical Trail. Take that path to marker #15 and rest under the boughs of the Mountain Mahogany. Behind the higher bench are 2 railroad ties. Behind 3 spikes and under 3 rocks our dear Lily found her new home there in the shade after some elfin neighbors found her nearly wilting in the heat of the day. She's enjoying her new home and the cool natural shelter and would so love for you to visit.
   Enjoy the park and happy hunting!

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