On New Year’s Day, my family and I went on our annual outing of going out to a local park and go letterboxing. What’s a Letterbox? Letterboxing is an activity that you do where you go to a website select a letterbox to find and go out and find it in the real world.
How does it work?
The process goes like this, you go onto a letterboxing website (we like letterboxing.org) and you find a location that you want to go to. That location can have a bunch of different letterboxes that are hidden throughout the place, these are typically areas like parks, outdoor areas, event venues and hiking trails. Once you have printed out your clues you can now go out and search for the letterbox using the clues the letterbox planter provided. Letterboxes are either hidden by themselves or in a series the clues will indicate that. While at the location you read the clues and follow their instructions to find the letterbox, some of these are very intricate and hard to find, other ones are fairly easy and they’re right off the edge of the trail where you can find the container. (I wrote about letterboxing a few years ago if you want to learn more you can check out that post too)
What do I need?
You’ll need a stamp, a stamp pad, and a notepad or something to collect your stamps with, bring a pen or pencil so you can write your name and the date. Typically people carve their own stamps, sometimes people will buy stamps at a craft supply store or something like that if they want to be generic.
Once you found the letterbox you can take the stamp and stamp pad press the stamp onto the stamp pad to get some ink on it (that’s the stuff brought with you) and then you open up the container of the letterbox and you locate the stamp that the person placed in the letterbox left in it along with the notepad or journal that’s in there for you to put your stamp in there. This is much like geocaching in the sense that your trading items but instead of trading the item you’re stamping their stamp in your notepad and stamping your stamp in the notepad in the container. As someone who has been involved in letterboxing for a while I will say that you’re probably better off finding a letterbox that’s close to where you live and if it requires a bit of walking maybe find a letterbox that is in a series so in case you can’t find one of them all hope is not lost in your lease get something out of the trip. There have been times where my family has gone out the letterboxing and we didn’t find a thing or we only found a few of the boxes in the series. The reason for this is that letterboxing is very much so part of the environment and if the environment erodes then the litter box may get washed away or found by someone who wasn’t intending on finding the letterbox. There are times where maintenance workers for the park or the trail will find it and throw it away not really realizing that the sandwich holder that they found is actually a hidden thing within a game and they should’ve put it back where they found it.
Let’s go letterboxing!
Now that I’ve explained to you what letterboxes are I’ll tell you a little bit about our trip on the 1st. We drove out to LA to a park that we’ve never been to before and kind of a sketchy area of town but this park had a huge trail with many many hills some of which were really fun to climb but if you are like some of my family members with bum ankles or knees it’s a little bit difficult to climb those hills. While on this journey to look for letterboxes that this one was a pretty good size series. So we parked at the park and locked up our car and started walking, the first letterbox wasn’t very far from where we parked.
After that we continue down the trail and found, even more, letterboxes this particular series had 12 letterboxes in total. While letterboxing you want to be discrete, you don’t want someone seeing where you found the box and then ruining it for the next person that is out looking for it. Once you find the box take it to a nice place away from where you found it and take some time to admire the artwork of the stamp, read through the journal of all the previous letterbox finders and take not the last time someone was there, people tend to leave the date they found the box next to their name and their stamp left on the page.
The view was incredible (but a bit smoggy but the weather added to the photos anyhow!) so I was glad I took some time to take some pictures while we were out there.
Once we found all the letterboxes we walked back to our car and proceeded to drive home. When we got home we take all the letterboxes that were found input all the information on to the website letterboxing.org and claim that you found those little boxes. There’s a good reason for doing this and that is your helping the rest of the community know but the litter boxes that were left or still there and that the next time someone wants to go look for it they can find out that they recently were found and it’s much easier for people to go back out and find them. Nobody wants to drive out to a location expecting something I never actually got to find it.
Go explore, take some pictures while you are out there and enjoy the outdoors, we do (one a year on New Years Day!)
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I’m Jason Tucker, WordPress web developer, IT manager at a non profit, creator of audio and video podcasts, tech writer, husband to Jen Tucker and father to our 3 awesome kids. I build the internet so you don’t have to.