Monday, May 10, 2010

More Debacles on a New Trail

I'm finding the word "debacle" to be more and more humorous, so don't be surprised if it keeps showing up in my post titles. I had another letterboxing debacle this weekend. An agrowdynamics engineering firm donated some of its cattle ranching land to the public for hiking purposes, and the trails just opened last weekend. My family and I went there for a little while on Saturday morning so that I could take some pictures for my photography class.

Before leaving the house, I grabbed my photography equipment, my class assignment, and a letterbox to plant along the way. I was kind of rushed, because I had planned to go on this hike with my son, and my husband had planned to buy a new dishwasher, and he needed to bring our son with him to help load the dishwasher up into the bed of the truck. We were both leaving at the same time and heading in the same direction, and I really didn't want to go on a strange hike alone. My husband decided we would all go on the hike together, and then all buy the dishwasher together afterward. The boys were ready to go, so I had to gather my supplies as quickly as possible.

The people who created this new trail system made the entrance to the land so narrow that if you are even slightly overweight, you won't fit between the posts and wire fence. The entrance turns like a V, and I could barely squeeze through the turn with my backpack on my back. My backpack kept getting caught on the fence. The narrow angle of the entrance is to prevent horses, motorcycles and ATVs from getting in, but I'm sure that some of us heavier folks may feel that the construction of this gate is discriminatory to size as well as hobby.

The majority of the hike was through sagebrush and cow pies, but there are four sandbars along the way created by the Carson River. Call it a country beach if you will. You can bring your beach towel and sunbathe, although I wouldn't recommend swimming in the river, because it is very deep and fast. We were amazed to actually find seashells on the sandbar. I guess it never occurred to us that there are fresh-water clams.

Anyway, I found the perfect spot to plant my letterbox, but when I pulled it out of my backpack, I realized that I had left my signature rubber stamp and my ink pad at home. I needed the ink pad to stamp the location image onto the front cover of the log followed by my signature stamp to show who planted it. Once again, all my efforts were foiled by being rushed and disorganized. I had everything I needed in a bag, but there wasn't enough room in my backpack for the entire bag, so I just grabbed one letterbox kit, not thinking that I'd need a few other items to complete the task. So, I stuffed the letterbox back into my backpack and said I'd return with it on another day.

Part of my problem is that I don't know where I'm going to plant it until I get there. I keep a bunch of different store-bought rubber stamps so that I can decide which stamp is most appropriate for the location once I find it. For instance, when I planted the letterbox at Horsethief Canyon Trail, I planted it in a cave between some rocks. I chose a rubber stamp that read, "You Rock My World". For another location, I know I want to plant one underneath a huge shade tree, so the image I chose was of a huge shade tree. In another location, I've seen squirrels in the general vicinity, so I'm going to use a stamp image of a squirrel when I plant one there. However, if I'm going to plant a letterbox in a location I've never been, I won't know what the landscape and animal life will be like until I get there, so I just have to bring the whole bag of rubber stamps.

I considered going back out alone on Sunday morning to plant the letterbox, since I now know the trail and know that there aren't many bushes for bogeymen to hide in, with the exception of those along the riverbanks. However, I got busy cleaning stalls and water troughs and by the time I was done with my chores, it started to rain.

Sadly, they don't even allow dogs on this new trail, because dog owners ruined it by not cleaning up after their dogs on some of the other trails managed by these organizations. Despite being provided a baggie dispenser and trash can at the trail head, dog owners still choose to ignore their responsibility to clean up after their pets. Because of that, the trails association opted not to allow dogs on this new trail. A lot of hikers like to bring their dogs along for exercise and protection, because you never know who you might run into out in the middle of nowhere. I guess we just have to protect ourselves by packing in pepper spray and guns.

I do get frustrated when bad weather and/or overtime at the office limits what I can do over my weekend.

Whatever I don't get done in one weekend will just have to wait until the next. So, I was disappointed that planting the letterbox in one trip didn't work out, but I guess I've got to make all these mistakes in order to learn, so that someday I can be a master letterbox planter. As it turned out, we couldn't bring home a dishwasher anyway. The store was having a sale and only had one left in stock. We had to order ours and will have it delivered next weekend. It sounds like a lot of mothers got dishwashers for Mother's Day. This must mean that the economy is improving. Yea!


fernvalley01 said...

Beautiful area , It looks like it would be worthwhile to make a return trip. The other reason the entrance is so small might be due to the cattle . Calves can fit through a very small space even with the V shape

lytha said...

that is such a strange looking landscape to me - thank you for the pictures. i love getting to see new parts of the country that i never imagined before.

so, every letterbox has a unique stamp, and every letterboxer has one too - i guess? that means you need your own, and one for any hide you create. hm!

i seem to remember my first letterbox had a stamp that was a theme for the trail. but i didn't have my own stamp so i just drew a horse in the book.

oh gee, i have so many caches to log (100?) and i have absolutely no motivation to get on that.


Laughing Orca Ranch said...

I so need a new dishwasher, too. It's not even funny! I keep piling my dishes in and they come out dirty each time. I've taken it apart and cleaned what I can reach, but nothing's working. I didn't get anything but an e-card for Mothers Day this year, though, 'cause John is in Philly. Our 20 yr Anniversary in on Wednesday, but of course, it will be just another day because John won't be here.
Maybe I can request a new dishwasher for my birthday in September? hehe!

Looks like a beautiful place to go hiking. Too bad about the dogs, though. Some people just ruin it for everyone else. I carry my own plastic ziplock bags just for that purpose, because not everyplace we go has those baggies.

Too bad the letterboxing trip didn't pan out that time. I hope you can get back out there again and place it.
Do you think you will one day try your hand at handcarving stamps, too?
My first two stamps I placed were storebought, but now I just do handcarved as most letterboxers appreciate them more and it's fun to do.
In fact, we're heading south today to take the twins to their homeschool camp and we plan to place two near Willard, NM, I've named "Wind Power" and the other named "Valley of Fires" for the state park near Carrizozo, NM.
Which reminds me...I need to skeedaddle.
I've been delaying our trip because it's so windy today with gusts up to 65 mph! It's not fun to drive a top heavy big van in winds that strong. beh!


Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Lisa - That is exactly what is wrong with our old dishwasher. My husband keeps cleaning out the filters, but it just won't get everything clean. Sorry about being apart for your anniversary. Negative on the stamp carving. My To Do List is a mile long, and stamp carving is just one of those things that takes a lot of time and patience. I can't spend more than 5 minutes doing just one thing before I get interrupted and dragged off onto something else. I have so many unfinished quilt, needlepoint, cross-stitch, and embroidery projects that I don't want to add even more stress on myself by learning yet another craft. It takes me all week just to read through my photography assignments when I get one minute here and two minutes there to sneak a peak at my text.

Breathe said...

I'm so glad you are a letter box planter - I can't find time to make that work.

Would you consider posting a picture of your letter box kit?

The photos are lovely and it sounds like a great place. Glad you did get out.

I <3 my new dishwasher.

Paint Girl said...

What a beautiful area! Too bad they don't allow dogs and horses. Unfortunately so many people don't follow the rules and it ruins it all for law abiding citizens! I know picking up dog poo is not fun, I had to do it when I volunteered for an animal shelter, but is something that has to be done!
Sorry that you didn't get to plant your letterbox. I love your idea about using a stamp that goes with the area. That is a really neat idea!

Maery Rose said...

Great photos! Such beautiful trails!

Stephanie said...

What a beautiful new trail! I miss the mountains so much :(

You have me intrigued... I have never heard of 'letterboxing'! Please explain... when you have a spare moment or two :)

Hope your Mother's Day was great.

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