Wanda and Pete's Letterboxes


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690. Animals in the Adirondacks (31) A pleasant woodland hike in the southern portion of the Adirondacks near the Tongue that juts out into Lake George

What a nice collaboration this turned out to be! A couple of years ago, we had mentioned to “Knits” of NY how much we enjoyed hiking in the Adirondacks, but that in all that vast land open for planting, there just didn’t seem to be enough boxes! She said that perhaps she could help us remedy that situation by carving a bunch of stamps for us to plant to encourage others to get up to this beautiful part of the country, fall in love with hiking there and plant some more boxes there, too! At first, we thought of planting on some of the many peaks, but since so few letterboxers seem to climb them (in fact, we have quite a few boxes planted up there years ago that have still never been found!), we decided that that might be a waste of her wonderful carving talent, which could hopefully get better exposure by more boxes on a single trail. And we really would like as many people as possible to see these animal carvings of hers, since they are among the finest we’ve ever seen - and, believe us, we’ve seen a lot!

Anyway, we considered several different trails for planting, but ended up picking the Northwest BayTrail because of its easy access, easy rating and location supposedly “along the shoreline of Lake George”, which we thought might make for some pretty lake views, but actually gives hardly any sight of water at all! It’s still a pleasant walk in the woods, though, and especially well-suited for rainy days that wouldn’t have views from mountain tops anyway, like the rainy day we had for planting, or for those who don’t feel like doing a major climb. It’s about a 3-mile in-and-out round-trip hike, so it can be shortened at any point for those who might run into bad weather, fast-approaching darkness or just general tiredness. All the stamps, except for the one with the logbook in a round lock-n-lock container, are in 2-inch black duct tape covered pouches, created for us by RIclimber, (another nice part of the collaboration!) attached “upside down” (zipper opening of the pouch is on the bottom) to trees by small nails at approximately eye level in a manner he has successfully used to keep pouches high and dry and out of the snow on various occasions. We planted the odd numbered pouches are on the left side of the trail and even numbered pouches on the right, so it should be easy to keep track of where you are in the series, which heads back after number 14, with pouches planted about every tenth of a mile or so and usually about 15 steps or so off trail. All we ask is that you “cover your tracks”: look around for other hikers in the woods before going off trail to retrieve pouches, remove them carefully off the small nails so that they can be put back without enlarging the holes, and create decoy tracks if boxing in the snow. (Most of the area is pine-needle covered so you should not create much a “boxing track” with careful use in the rest of the year!)

Now to find the starting point for this hike: take exit 24 east off the Northway I-87 about 4-5 miles to route 9N just north of the village of Bolton Landing. Turn left (north) on 9N a few more miles to go around to the top of Northwest Bay. About 1/3 mile north of the boat launch, on the east side of 9N is a row of parking for maybe 10 cars located between the highway and an old flooded rock quarry, in front of a row of rocks and cattails. There is additional parking on the east side of 9N in a grassy lot a couple hundred feet north of the quarry. The trailhead is on the east side of 9N, just a couple hundred feet south of the abandoned quarry area, by a large brown sign for Clay Meadow Entrance to the Tongue Mountain Range near the end of the guardrail.



And now for the animals themselves: (Updated 13 November 2017)

1. Red-Spotted Newt (Notophthalmus viridescens)
Walk down the trail and shortly see the trail register on your left. From the register 31 steps will bring you to a conjoined 2-tree on your left. An additional 31 steps will bring you to a mossy log perpendicular to the trail on your left. 15 steps off trail rightish of the log leads you to a large pine tree adjacent to a shallow gully. Behind the pine tree about 4-5 feet up the trunk you will find a Newt hiding in its small black pouch.

2. American Bullfrog (Lithobates catesbeiana)
Continue on the trail to a sawed off tree trunk featuring a spidery rootball at its left end. Continue 31 steps more then go about 15 steps off trail to your right and look behind a large pine tree. You will find a small beech tree next to the pine and a pouch nailed to the back of the pine.

3. Painted Turtle (Chrysemys picta)
Continue on the trail to the bottom of a downhill section. Pass a 4-foot stump on the right and then a cut log on the left to a second cut log on the left. Follow the cut log off trail left about 15 steps to a large pine. Look behind that tree.

4. Common Garter Snake (Thamnophis sirtalis)
Continue on the trail and cross a boardwalk with a beaver dam paralleling it on your left. Follow the trail gently up a rooty section to near where it levels out by a spiky root ball on the right. Then go 15 steps along the left side of trunk to a pine in front of a tall snag. Look behind the pine.

5. Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)
Continue on the trail over a slightly muddy area that can be crossed on logs to a junction with the red blaze trail. Now for the birds and other flying things, stay right with the blue blazes, dip down, cross a wooden bridge, then curve right and left around a blowdown. Go up a small rise, through cut logs, past a huge pine on left and then see a trailside birch on the left. From it, go a scant 31 steps on trail, just passing some mossy logs on both sides of the trail, and look behind a knobby oak located 15 steps off trail to your left with a mossy ledge behind.

6. Bat (Myotis lucifugus)
Continue on the trail passing a larger ledge on your left and crossing 11 stepstones with a marsh/swamp off to the right, to find a small stump in the middle of the trail. Then pass by a larger broken stump on the right to reach a 2-trunk birch on right with a blue blaze on it. Proceed 31 steps on trail to a large maple, and then go off trail 15 steps right to a hemlock tree near the edge of the swamp.

7. Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis)
Continue on the trail to cross a row of 5 stepstones, then another row of 7 stepstones and then a pebbly drainage gully. Next a row of very low mossy stones begins bordering the trail along its right side . Take 31 steps more up the trail and then 15 steps diagonally left to look behind a large pine. (This is less than 10 steps from a large, 12-foot, rotten snag on left side of trail, which is less than 10 steps from an even taller rotten snag trailside right, just in case you don’t see the low row of stones.)

8. American Robin (Turdus migratorius)
Continue on the trail to hop across a very small stream. Just before a big old maple immediately trailside left (just before a cut-through log), go diagonally 15 steps off trail right to look behind another large maple with a smaller partner.

9. Common Loon (Gavia immer)
Continue on the trail and take your time on the next uphill stretch to reach a nice rectangular sitting rock on the right just before trail tops out. Sit facing the trail and look 15 steps diagonally left downhill for a white pine. Look on the back of the pine - not the nearby hemlock!

10. Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)
Continue on the trail over the top of the rise and then go gently downhill to cross a bridge. Proceed slightly uphill to top another rise, but before descending through another set of mossy cut logs, go to the large pine right, 15 steps off trail. This is just after a long mossy diagonal log on the right.)

11. Wood Duck (Aix sponsa)
Continue along the pine-needled path through more cut logs. From the logs with a spooky-looking diseased beech on the right and a healthy blue-blazed oak on the left, go 31 steps forward on the trail and 15 steps left off trail to check behind a tree leaning slightly right.

12. Black-Backed Woodpecker (Picoides arcticus)
Continue on the trail to find another mossy cut log set. Go a scant 15 steps off trail right to the back of a pine, just before the next set of cut logs with a mossy stump on the right.

13. Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias)
Continue on the trail to a large standing split-open pine on the right showing its "heartwood", then 31 steps more on trail plus 15 steps left off trail to look behind a pine.

14. Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus)
Continue on the trail down to a flatter area with a bit of water visible through the trees. From a white birch snag with a large mossy foot on the right, go 31 steps to a 2-trunk hemlock on the right. Then proceed 15 steps off trail right to look on the back of another mossy birch.

15. Black-Legged Tick (Ixodes scapularis)
Now, unless you're doing the hike out to the Tongue or the big loop up and around the Tongue Mountains, it's time to turn back for the bugs and start your return trip back to the trailhead. Go back up the short slickrock section to the rock step, then continue 15 steps diagonally off trail left to a formerly 2-trunk hemlock with one piece now broken off. Look just behind and left.

16. Great Blue Skimmer Dragonfly (Libellula vibrans)
Continue on the trail, passing the split-open pine now on your left and a double fallen tree with a large rootball on your right. Proceed on trail from where you are nearly parallel to the top that rootball lying on rocks to a large hemlock with a small partner on the right, and then go 15 steps off trail right to behind a gray-bark tree that is also about 15 steps directly up from the top of the rootball itself, if you had happened to take that slightly more difficult route to get to it.

17. Field Cricket (Gryllus pennsylvanicus)
Continue on the trail back through 2 sets of mossy cut logs to an artistically-curved stilt-legged birch on the left with a small hemlock growing atop. Go 31 steps further and then 15 steps left off trail to look behind a hemlock with an adjacent tombstone-shaped rock.

18. Nine-Spotted Ladybug (Coccinella novemnotata)
Continue on the trail to pass back through another couple of sets of longer cut logs to a shorter 3-4' cut log on the right with a white fungus splotch on its end, followed by a similar log chunk on the left. Continue 31 steps further on trail, then 15 steps off trail right to look behind the larger of a hemlock pair located behind a short flat-tilted rock.

19. Mosquito (Culiseta longiareolata)
Continue on the trail to a tree on the left with a large low “belly burl” and several smaller bumps. Go 31 paces down the trail towards the next bridge to another bumpy mossy tree on the left. Now backtrack off trail on this somewhat lower level (almost parallel to the upper trail) just over 15 steps to the back/"streamside" of a tree that is leaning slightly.

20. Monarch Butterfly (Danaus plexippus)
Now get back on the trail to cross the bridge, go up to the top of the rise and then 31 steps further. Take a scant 15 steps diagonally right to look low on the back of a spiney pine.

21. Honey Bee (Apis mellifera)
Continue on the trail to pass that sitting rock from your earlier loon hunt, go downhill through the steepest part of the descent, pass a few rock steps, skirt left around the blowdown and through a cut log to that same old maple mentioned in the robin hunt, with slanted incision now visible from this side. Take 31 trail steps further, then go 15 steps diagonally left to look behind a large pine.

22. Moose (Alces alces)
And now for the final set of mammals -continue on the trail to rock hop the tiny stream and go 31 steps downhill, with stream left and ledge right. Then go 15 steps off trail right along the bottom of the mossy green ledge and look a few feet up under the rightmost bundle of "root fingers" for the only box with logbook for this series, discreetly tucked under a flat rock and hopefully well-blended into its surroundings.

23. Black Bear (Ursa americana)
Continue on the trail to cross the stoney drainage, take 31 steps further to a 2-foot rotten stump on the left, then 15 steps left to the back of a tree with a large 2-hole tree-cave at its base.

24. Racoon (Procyon lotor)
Continue on the trail to cross over 7 stepstones, then 5 stepstones and finally 3 stepstones. Pass a large ledge right and then 31 paces more, passing a large splintered stump left and a 1-foot small stump in the middle of the trail. Find the cut stump with extension on the right. Then go 15 steps diagonally right to behind the birch with splayed toes in front of the mossy end of the ledge.

25. Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes)
Continue on the trail to cross 11 stepstones and get back to the huge pine on the right. Go through the cut logs downhill to the leveling off of the trail and then left off trail about 15 huge steps to the back of the birch of the birch/hemlock duo.

26. Eastern Coyote (Canis latrans)
Continue on the trail, curve left and right around the blowdown, cross the bridge, and head uphill back to the red-blazed junction. After making sure that things are quiet at the junction, and that no one is sneaking up on you from any direction, take 15 steps right to look behind the very large white pine that is left of the large curvy snag.

27. Eastern Cottontail Rabbit (Sylvilagus floridanus)
Now turn left on the blue-blazed trail trail to head back toward your car and cross the muddy area until you see the bridge ahead. From the birch growing out of the fallen double cut log on the right, go to the next blue blazed tree on the right. Then take 15 steps left, passing a thin 2-foot stump, to check the back of a pine.

28. Striped Skunk (Mephitis mephitis)
Continue on the trail to cross the hand-railed bridge/boardwalk and reach a cut log right and a stump left. Take 31 paces from there and look behind a large spikey pine on the right.

29. White-Tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus)
Continue on the trail to the top of the rise, passing under a tree balanced across the trail above. Go to a blue-blazed 3-trunk tree on the left and then 15 steps off trail left to the back of another tree.

30. American Beaver (Castor canadensis)
Continue on the trail to where it levels off. Proceed another 31 steps along the trail, then veer right 15 steps up the piney bank to the back of a pine that is reached just before the conjoined tree now on the right that was first mentioned with the newt.

31. Grey Squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis)
Finally, continue just a bit on the trail until you are directly across from the trail register. When "the coast is clear", go 15 steps left toward the stony gully angling down from the highway. We left the last pouch on the front left side of the nearby oak, hopefully well hidden behind the currently fairly abundant young pines.

Hope you enjoyed the hike and the animals!


BEFORE YOU SET OUT, PLEASE READ THE WAIVER OF RESPONSIBILITY AND DISCLAIMER..

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