letterboxing (let'ter-box'ing) n.


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Finch Hollow

Location: Johnson City, NY (Broome County)
Placed by: Silent Doug and TurtleMcQ
Date Placed: July 2, 2002
Terrain: Easy
Difficulty: Easy
Time: 45 minutes

The Finch Hollow Nature Center is located at 1394 Oakdale Road in Johnson City, New York. The Center consists of a display of 300 mounted birds and animals in a renovated two-room schoolhouse, regularly-presented educational programs, and an interpretive one-mile-long nature trail loop. (There's also a beginner's compass course if you want to bring your basic orienteering skills up to speed!) Dogs on leash are allowed on the paths, and there are picnic tables in the museum's backyard. The trail is open daily from sunrise to sunset; if the museum is open, you can walk straight through the building (and say hello to the nice folks inside) and out the back door to reach the trail; otherwise just walk around the building. Trail maps are available in the Center, which are helpful but not necessary.

In order these box clues to unravel
Down the hill to the trail you must travel.
Now, as you hike, heed all signposts you see
Beside the path, for their numbers are key.

First, follow the path's left fork at the field.
Aim for the straightest, well-mowed course you can see,
You're now in the home of mouse, fox and rabbit,
Who find cover in this wild habitat.
The path forks to the left; don't you follow!
But note the birdhouses built for swallows;
Eastern bluebirds also pass by this way.
Marking the second step of your trek today.

A dead white pine tree can be filled with life.
Did you know this third fact? How wildlife can thrive?
Bugs burrow, become a woodpecker's meal.
Raccoons snooze days away, snug and concealed,
A hawk eyes the field from his lofty perch.
Head straight now on the path, do not diverge,
Turning not to the forked trail to the left,
Walk past the tables, there's no need to rest.

Look now to the red pines not so distant
Four (or more); you'll be there in an instant.
The pines' small round cones are easy to spy,
But leave them -- they may sprout saplings in time.

Turn left now (not right), then stay straightaway.
You're now in wetlands, fifth in your journey,
Cattails and willows reveal water near;
Is the path muddy? Do feet disappear?

Don't tarry too long, turn right towards the stream,
And cross it. How? However best you deem!
In Spring, you might swim -- water six feet high!
If not, step over, or the bed might be dry.

After navigating the stream, turn right,
And pass by the shrubs with berries of white
(In summer, that is). Multiflora rose
Is this plant's name, a noxious weed that grows,
Sometimes forms thickets that cannot be passed,
A plant that's a nuisance and so very crass.

So ends your seventh lesson of the day,
Cross a bridge, into the woods you'll foray.
From field to wetlands to woodlands you've toured,
Now there's shade, shelter and trees to explore.

Pass through this eighth stage to another bridge.
Cross it -- then stop! For your prize is not far.
Look to your left to the dead, fallen tree,
In the crook of a limb you'll find what you seek.

Follow the path and this grove you'll depart,
The path curves left past a bench; rest if you ought.
Then across an earthen dam you'll traverse,
A tenth lovely site near the end of this verse.

A look ahead reveals the main building;
Which you'll reach when you're done with your climbing,
Today's quest successfully completed.
But wait -- was a number deleted?
It's true, shrewd observer, nine's been omitted.
To see its secrets, you'll have to revisit!

1 The path crosses a stream that may be completely dry, or may require that you step across on flat stones. In periods of heavy rain, such as its regular spring floods, this stream could even be several feet high! If the path is unpassable, you may need to use some ingenuity to reach the right location on this loop trail.
2 Watch out for poison ivy (it was very light in the area near the box at the time it was hidden) and crawly creatures.
3 The box location is quite obvious from the path. You should probably find the nearby bench and sit there to take care of your business.
4 Replace the box carefully in its hiding place after you've stamped in.

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Other Letterboxes I've Placed

Silent Doug: P07 F32 X04 E00

© Copyright 2002 Douglas Gerlach