This blog chronicles my letterboxing adventures. It includes posts that share my travels that are letterboxing related, the letterboxes I have found and planted as well as the people I have met along the way. There are also photos included to help give a complete picture of the fun I had.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Lake Valley and Chloride Letterboxing

Today is the last day of our trip and we are headed home. But there are things to be done first. I want to find a letterbox and plant two letterboxes. So this morning we packed up the car and headed out. This post is about the letterboxing part of the trip and you can read about the rest of the trip at Scenic Byways and Ghost Towns.

The first place I wanted to go was the Lake Valley Backcountry Scenic Byway and the ghost town of Lake Valley. So we drove from Silver City to Hillsboro and then took NM 27 south. This is part of the Lake Valley Backcountry Scenic Byway and I wanted to plant my first box in Lake Valley. this box is NM Scenic Byways: Lake Valley Backcountry. When we first arrived in Lake Valley we encountered a locked gate. There was a sign saying the town opened at 9:00am and my watch said 9:10am. So we assumed they were closed even though the sign said they were open Thursday through Monday. Just when we had decided to turn around and leave a man showed up to unlock the gate. So we drove in and went to the school house which serves as a museum and a visitor center. We spent a little time talking with the man who unlocked the gate. When we got ready to leave to do the walking tour I decided to ask the guy if I could plant a letterbox outside of the school house. But before I could even explain what I wanted to do he blurted out "NO!". Then he said "They wouldn't want that here because it would bring too many people to the town and they would damage the structures.". I again tried to explain that I just wanted to hide the box under a bush just off to the side of the school house and there weren't any buildings around that area. It quickly became obvious that he didn't want to talk about it anymore, so I just dropped and decided I would look for a place along the highway. So we went out to do the walking tour but we decided it was too hot to walk the town so we drove to a couple of the buildings and took some pictures. While we were looking around Thomas noticed something along the highway that had potential as a hiding spot. So we got in the car and headed in that direction. It turned out to be an information sign for the Lake Valley Backcountry Scenic Byway. So we parked at the sign and looked around. Thankfully, I was able to find a good spot for the box. So I got it hidden, took some pictures and made some notes for the clues. Now that this box was in place we could head out to plant the next box.

The next box - NM Scenic Byways: Geronimo Trail - had been planned to be hidden along the northern section of the Geronimo Trail National Scenic Byway. So we left Lake Valley and took NM 27 north back to NM 152. Then we took NM 152 to I 25 and then I 25 to Exit 83 for NM 52 and Cuchillo. From the exit the road is NM 181/52. But soon they split and we continued on NM 52 towards Cuchillo and Winston. As we drove I looked for a Geronimo Trail sign and hoped I could hide my box there. But we drove all the way to Winston and did not see one sign. So we decided to go to Chloride to find a box and maybe find a spot for my box. So we took Republic Rd. which turns into County Road CO06. Then we turned onto Wall St. and headed into Chloride. We passed the Hanging Tree as we entered the town and soon came upon a Geronimo Trail National Scenic Byway sign. I was overjoyed  - now my box could be near a sign on the Geronimo Trail. But first I went to find flyfishercacher's Silver Chloride box. This box is hidden in the Monte Cristo Saloon and Dance Hall Gift Shop and Gallery. I entered the shop and found the woman working there busy with a customer. So I looked around and waited. Thomas eventually came in and we talked with the woman who had no idea what we were talking about. She said her daughter probably knew and that she was next door at the museum. Thomas walked over and talked to her and they both returned to the Gift Shop. She did know about the box and pulled it out from under the counter. While I stamped we talked about letterboxing and I told her I had plans to plant one somewhere in town. Sometime during our talk she offered to host the box in the Pioneer Store Museum. I was happy about this because I knew the box would be safe and available year round since it would be inside and out of any winter weather. I went back to the car and grabbed my box. I opened the box to show her my stamp and logbook. I explained to her that I had carved the stamp by hand and she was quite impressed with my work. The stamp I found here is a custom made stamp (like they have in Dartmoor) and I explained to her that most letterboxers carve their own stamps. She loved my image and asked if I minded if she used the stamp for promoting the museum.
View as We Left Chloride
I didn't see any reason why not, so I told her she could use it for whatever she wanted. So I gave her the box and she said she would keep it safe and available in the museum. So please take some time and make the trip to Chloride to find my box (and the other one) and visit the Pioneeer Store Museum and the Monte Cristo Gift Shop and Gallery. It is well worth the trip - the drive is beautiful and the town is full of history. The two women, Mrs. Edmund and her daughter Linda Turner were quite knowledgeable about Chloride and extremely friendly. There is no charge for the museum but they would greatly appreciate any donation you feel like making.

So with all that done we were ready to head home. Once we left Chloride we didn't make any stops until we reached our house. It was a good letterboxing trip even though I didn't get everything done. I couldn't hide my boxes at the Catwalk since it was closed for the weekend and I wasn't able to update one of my boxes because we ran out of time. But that is okay - I will take care of these on another trip.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Boxing NM 15, Trial of the Mountain Spirits and Big Tree Trail

We have a couple of things planned for today and you can read about that at Ruins and an Alligator. Along with these plans we also wanted to find a few letterboxes. Thankfully the letterboxes were around and in the areas we had planned to visit.
Our day started driving along NM 15 (part of the Trail of the Mountain Spirits).
View from Copperas Vista
The first letterbox we found was at the Senator Clinton P. Anderson Scenic Overlook (Copperas Vista). After taking in the scenery I went in search of Azroadie's Gila letterbox. This was a quick find. I took the box back to a place where I could sit and stamp in - this place also happened to be at a spot with a grest view. After stamping in I returned the box to its hiding spot.

We then continued along NM 15 and stopped at a pullout with an interpretive sign for Alum Mountain. From the sign I had to walk uphill on this two track road to a two trunked tree. It was only a short walk and I had no problem finding the box. I sat on the road to stamp in and again I had a great view. An added bonus was that the area under and around the tree was covered in morning glories. Once the box was back in place we continued to the Gila Cliff Dwellings.

I know the rule that letterboxes aren't allowed in National Parks but I didn't plant this one, I was only looking for it.
Gila Cliff Dwellings from the Trail
The clues were a little off and I had to back track a little bit to find the box. There was just one part of the clue that was backwards. Anyway I found the box and took it to a bench to sit and stamp in. Thankfully it wasn't that busy at the park and the trail was deserted when I found the box and again when I put it back. Azroadie also has webboxes at different National Parks and there was one here at Gila. For these boxes there isn't an actual box. What you do is find signs and collect words and then plug those words into a url to get an image. I was able to find both signs and get both words while walking along the trail. So that was all the letterboxes for this area.

The last box that I wanted to look for today was Big Tree by ArnoldZiffel.
Trail to the Big Alligator Juniper
This box is hidden near the second largest Alligator Juniper in the country. So to get this box we had to hike about two and a half miles to the tree. It was an incredible hike - oaks, maples and tons of wildflowers. And the fact that it was a beautiful afternoon made it all that much better. I found the box and took it to a picnic table near the tree. We sat in the shade of the tree and other trees and stamped in. I returned the box to its hiding spot and then Thomas and I sat at the picnic table and just enjoyed the peace and quiet.
Forty-five minutes later we headed back to the car.

We are now relaxing in the hotel room and talking about what we are going to do tomorrow. This trip has been incredible and we have had such an enjoyable weekend.

Friday, September 09, 2016

Stones, a Pig, a Byway and a Burro

So we are in Silver City and today our plans were to go to the Visitor Center and then head out to Reserve, Alma, Mogollon and Glenwood for some sightseeing and letterboxing. Again, this is just the letterboxing part of our day and if you want to know what else we did you can read all about it at A Town of Stone, a Scenic Byway and an Old Mine.

At the Visitor Center we talked with the woman working there (who was extremely nice and knowledgeable) about things in the area and we picked up a map and some brochures. When we were getting ready to leave we mentioned we were heading up to the Catwalk and the woman said "No, you aren't!". When we asked why, she told us that they had some bad rains last night and there was too much debris on and around the Catwalk that they closed it for the weekend. This is the second time we made plans to visit the Catwalk and the second time we were deterred. The first time happened years ago and I will forego that long and embarrassing story for now. So with this news we made changes for the day. We decided to start our day at City of Rocks State Park. This is a place we have been wanting to visit but never made the time. Now was the time. There was also a letterbox there which just added to the trip. When we arrived at the park we were going to look for the letterbox first but there was a man weed eating the exact area we needed to be. Since we couldn't get to the box we decided to head into the park and spend some time exploring the area. We spent about two hours walking around and then on our way out we stopped to find the letterbox and thankfully the coast was clear. The box is hidden near the entrance to the park and could potentially be a very busy spot. But I didn't have any problem finding the box or with anyone near us. I ended up taking the box back to the car to stamp in. After stamping in and replacing the box we headed out to continue our day.

City of Rocks is off of NM 61 on City of Rocks Road. We had come from the west to get to the park and when we left we headed east on NM 61 to the junction with NM 152.
Trail of the Mountain Spirits - View from the Car
We turned left on NM 152 and only drove a short distance before turning right onto NM 35. At this time we were on the Trail of the Mountain Spirits National Scenic Byway. I had decided that I wanted to plant my box for this byway on NM 35 so I asked Thomas to keep an eye out for a good spot. First we stopped for a bite to eat and once we had our fill we continued our drive on NM 35. We had two goals - plant a letterbox and find a letterbox. We were enjoying the drive and when we got to mile marker 16 we encountered a nice Trail of the Mountain Spirits Welcome Sign. So we stopped and inspected the area. I was able to find a good place to hide my box. I took some pictures and made notes so I could write up the clues. Then we returned to the car and drove on. So if you are driving along NM 35 and reach mile marker 16 and the Welcome Sign stop and look for NM Scenic Byways: Trail of the Mountain Spirits.

We continued our drive looking for the landmark for the letterbox we wanted to find. We found the sign we needed and turned into a picnic area to find the box. We followed a road and ended up at Lake Roberts where we took a short walk along the lake. There were no other landmarks for the box so we figured we were in the wrong spot. Unfortunately, we were on the wrong side of NM 35 - the clues were written coming from NM 15 and we were traveling in the opposite direction. We soon realized our mistake and crossed the road into a parking area where there was a small trail. We took the trail and followed the rest of the clues and found Pig in Purgatory by wandaandpete.
Flower along the Purgatory Chasm Loop Trail
We actually looked under a couple of rocks because we didn't find the box under the rock that was mentioned in the clues. But we ended up looking under the first rock again and Thomas actually found the box, which is a tiny, one inch by two inch camo bag. Now that we had the box I found a nice flat rock that I could sit on to stamp in. The trail we were on was the Purgatory Chasm Loop Trail. Once I stamped in and we replaced the box we headed back to our car. We didn't actually hike the entire loop, we just found the box and then returned the way we came.  Once back at the car we finished the drive on NM 35 to NM 15 and on to Silver City.

There was one more letterbox we wanted to find before calling it a day. This box was a little south of Silver City near the town of Tyrone. We drove down NM 90 and turned right onto Tyrone Thompson Road (aka Tyrone Road, Burro Mountain Road or FR 136). There is sign at the corner of NM 90 and Tyrone Thompson Road for Burro Mountain RV Park and this area is rich in mining history. The road is dirt and pretty well maintained (there were parts of the road that had washboard ruts but not too bad). We followed the road for the noted mileage but we didn't see a marker that we were looking for and continued driving thinking that the mileage was off. But after six miles we turned around and headed back. Still we didn't see the marker but we noticed a side road.
Cave Along the Trail Near Burro Mountain
So we turned on to that road and then found the next marker we needed so we figured we were in the right place. We parked and started our walk to the box. For the first part of the walk we were okay but then we couldn't find a sign we needed for the next part. We continued walking and the trail ended up crossing a stream and we figured we had gone too far because the stream was suppose to be on our right and now it was on our left. So we turned around and headed back. We had noticed a sign earlier in the walk but it was before the next landmark, not after it, so we continued on. When we returned to that sign we looked at the next part of the clue which was a gate and then a sign on a pine tree. So we went through the gate and stopped at the first pine tree and then followed the rest of the clues and we found the box - Azroadie's Burro Mountain. I grabbed the box, found a nice spot to sit and then stamped in. After replacing the box we headed back to the car and then back to Silver City. We had a great day letterboxing and visiting places we had never seen and we still have tomorrow for more fun.

Thursday, September 08, 2016

A Letterboxing and Visiting Weekend

This afternoon Thomas and I left Santa Fe to make our way to Silver City. This trip was planned so I could plant some new boxes and update some old boxes and visit some areas of the state that we have been wanting to see. This post is just about the letterboxing part of the trip and you can read about the rest of the trip by going to A Gila Wilderness Weekend.

We didn't have a lot of letterboxing planned for today especially since we left Santa Fe after 2:30pm and we didn't want to get to Silver City too late. We took I 25 south and then we took Exit 63 and headed west on NM 152. This highway from I 25 to Kingston is part of two New Mexico Scenic Byways - Lake Valley Backcountry and Geronimo Trial. I have one box hidden on this road that needed to be updated - Alphabetical New Mexico: L (Aldo Leopold). I have been trying to update all my Alphabetical New Mexico boxes so that they all coordinate (same size box and logbooks that match - this way when someone finds a box they know that it is part of a series). This particular box is hidden at Emory Pass Vista which is about 32 miles from I 25. The road is two lane and winding so it is slow going, but extremely scenic. When we arrived at Emory Pass and pulled into the parking area there was an RV parked toward the back. I was hoping they were busy and not paying any attention to us because where my box is hidden was in plain view of the RV. I took some pictures around the area where the box is hidden and Thomas looked to see if they were looking out their window at us. When the coast was clear I grabbed the old box and put the new box in its place. I was glad to get this changed out and once that was done we were free to look around and then complete our journey to Silver City. So letterboxing for the weekend has begun.

During our drive I kept making Thomas stop so I could take pictures. The views were amazing and there were bunches of wildflowers everywhere. Here are a few pictures of the views and wildflowers.
View from Emory Pass Vista
Scarlett Gilia
View from Near Little Bear Canyon
Morning Glory
View Looking Towards Aspen Mountain

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Carving - For New Boxes and Maintenance

For the last week or so I have been doing a lot of carving. Thomas and I have planned for a long weekend in the Silver City area. So I decided that I would carve some stamps to update a couple of my letterboxes and hopefully plant some new ones.
Remnants of My Week of Carving
By the time I finished carving I had seven stamps, two to update boxes and five for new boxes. So once I had the stamps carved I started working on logbooks and putting the letterboxes together. As you can see in this picture I had a lot of remnants of rubber from my carving. I really do enjoy carving. It is relaxing and makes me feel creative. Carving is a pleasure but I always have a hard time getting started. One reason is I am very picky about the images I use and another reason is just getting all the tools and stuff out and ready. But once I sit down and make my first cut it is pure joy. Maybe now that I have carved a few stamps I might be motivated to continue carving for boxes I have been wanting to plant. Just as a note, you can see an exacto knife and two gouges in the picture. I use the knife for the majority of the carving and the gouges just to remove large areas of excess rubber. I find I get sharper corners and make less mistakes with the knife than with the gouges. Maybe I just need more practice with the gouges but I feel comfortable with the knife and my carving has improved over the ten years I have been letterboxing. So stay tuned for new letterboxes from me.
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