Today is Mike's birthday. He wanted to spend some time outside with everyone, so we headed off to a park that I drove past on Friday. Russ County Forest is a beautiful wooded area with hiking trails, a picnic area, and a small playground.
We packed a picnic lunch and then began walking the trails. There is one letterbox in this park and we planned to pick it up as we wandered around. The leaves have changed a lot since Friday. Over 1/2 of the leaves have turned to vibrant yellows, oranges and reds.
The clues to the box stated that we should start at a particular trail at the big tree. We found the beginning of the trails, with a large tree near the trail-head. As we walked along, enjoying the creek and other sights, I realized that we were on trail 1. We were supposed to be on trail 3. Obviously, we had not found the big tree. There was a bulletin board in the main park, but it did not contain a map. A short time later, we discovered a map where three trails meet. One the map, we found a Big Tree.
While looking at the map, two women approached us and began speaking to us. It took me a few moments to realize that they attended our new church. The younger girls were given permission to pet the women's horses. The girls were surprised at the softness of the horse's coats.
We spent some time trying to figure out the letter box's clues from the where we picked up the trail. A few minor mistakes were made, but we were able to locate the bridge needed as a marker for the final few clues. I counted the required paces and headed off the trail, counting my steps as I went along. I was scanning the trees for some words included in the directions and came within 6 inches of stepping on a Blue Racer snake. The snake was 4 feet long and moved slowly. (Perhaps it had just eaten.) As I raced to return to the trail, I kept my eyes on the snake. My family members were waiting for me at the bridge.
After hearing my shouts, Mike asked if I had run into some bees. He should realize by now that I do NOT scream about bees. My screaming and running is reserved for SNAAAAKES@!
After my family had joined me, I reread the clues and located the box's hiding place. Past where the snake was still residing. The snake eventually crawled away and climbed into a hole in the ground. As we watched the snake leave, Steve noticed another Blue Racer coiled around the low branches of a short tree.
Mike offered to get the box for me, if I would tell him where it was located. I got the stamp and Mike replaced the box without any further incidents. My letterboxing hobby began about 3 months ago and I have already seen snakes at three boxes. So far, we've located 112 boxes. My friend has been letterboxing for years and has well over 300 stamps. She has never seen a snake while letterboxing. Am I lucky or what?