Wanda and Pete's Letterboxes - Vermont


Index to Our Other Letterboxes


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XXIV.    THAT OLD OOMPAH BAND A delightful "Austrian Quartet" carved by "By His Grace" of TN, now getting back to its roots in VT!

When "By His Grace" showed me her wonderful carving of an oompah band when I saw her down at Gatlinburg,TN back in April of 2009, and asked me if I knew of someplace special to plant it, it took me but a moment to respond that, yes, I thought I might have just the place! I still had some remarkably crisp memories of hiking a long section of the Appalachian Trail in Vermont one late November afternoon some thirty years ago, climbing Stratton Mountain, the top of which is supposedly the spot where Benton McKaye first got the idea for creating the Appalachian Trail all those many years ago, and afterwards discovering that an Austrian band was playing down below at the ski lodge. Well, I recently found out on the internet that that same group - The Strat-ton Moun-tain Boys - is still around and kicking after all these years, although not, of course, in its original configuration. So, I had the idea that we'd go back up there sometime and plant this box near the band's original Vermont "homeland", back when those players in the band "by night" were ski instructors on the slopes "by day"!

At first we thought we'd put the box up on top of the mountain or somewhere along the AT nearby, but then decided that easier access would allow more people to come and see the spot where the Strat-ton Moun-tain Boys actually used to play. To find this spot, park anywhere you can across from the Chapel of the Snows on the Stratton Mt. access road. Saunter southerly, perhaps easterly through the Village Square shops, then wander westerly under the clock tower, southwesterly up some cement steps towards the lifts, then westerly again to the big ski mountain map with "grizzly's" atop. Go in any door that you might find open and head upstairs to the top to find the Founders Room and the small corner platform where the Strat-ton Moun-tain Boys once played. Next go down two flights of stairs, out the door to another mountain view, and turn right for about 20 short steps to a long flat sitting rock at the south end of a short stonewall. Sit there, look around to make sure that no one else is looking around, and then - if the coast is clear - carefully remove a chunky triangular stone and two smaller flat ones from beneath your seat to reveal this fine memory to the oompah band, hopefully well enough protected from the snows to play on for many years to come!

Apologies for our taking so long to get this box planted. We had hoped to have it in place by May, 2009, but reaching PFX 25,000 sort of claimed priority back then, and Vermont, after its initial questing and early letterboxing "budding" years ago, has lagged far behind the other New England states letterbox-wise in more recent times, so we didn't have occasion to get up that way for quite a while! However, due to a fresh flurry of activity up that way of late, and after an aborted drizzly afternoon trip in June, we were just able to get back up there again on the spur of the moment after the 4th of July to plant this box and find over 60 other new boxes - including several mysteries - in just a day and a half! So, here is just one more quick and easy find to add to that recent flurry! Thanks again for taking the time to keep the "band" nicely "under wraps" and hope this box manages to safely weather the winter snows!


665.    Wanda's Wanda-rings: Vermont Trails One piney walk and 4 drive-bys for 2 Bluebird stamps, 1 greenmountain hiker stamp and 5 little logos running the length of Vermont

Each of the five times that I backpacked the Appalachian Trail between Georgia and Maine, it turned out that I also wanted to go back to Vermont to do the Long Trail, which continued north from "Maine Junction" near Sherburne Pass on up to the Canadian border. So, in effect, I ended up backpacking 5 LT's to go along with my 5 AT's, the last time through on skis, combining the end-to-end (MA border to Canada border) Catamount Trail with winter backpack skiing along the LT! (More extensive info on my backpacking background can be found at Wanda's Wanda-rings)

Anyway, to mark these particular five adventures, Bluebird had four custom stamps made up for me and greenmountain hiker carved another for the Catamount Trail. Unfortunately, the first two of these stamps seem to have gone missing, so I just made two mini logo "traveling' lights" (small stones with stamps glued on back) to replace them, then decided to make three more "travelin' light logos" for the others as well. So, a total of 8 stamps could possibly be found by doing this whole series from southern to northern Vermont. However, those who don't care for "travelin' lights" may just want to look for the more northern stamps.

For the first stamp (LT#1), find the first southernmost paved road crossing of the Long Trail/Appalachian Trail in Vermont along Route 9 between Bennington and Woodford, where there is a large well-marked parking lot on the north side of the road. From the kiosk, follow the LT/AT north to almost immediately cross MacArthur Bridge. At the far side of the bridge, take 6 steps left (north/downstream) and look on the east/trailside of the first 2' rock for a small 1-2" dark triangular stone under a slightly larger 3" milky quartz stone (no box or logbook).

For the second stamp (LT#2), find the route 140 LT/AT crossing east of Wallingford, VT, with parking for 2-3 cars along the south side of the road or at a much larger parking lot just a bit northeast. Cross the bridge immediately to the south and take 5-6 steps forward to the left side of a large tree. Close to the tree behind a 8" mossy-tipped rock below a 3' slanted rock find a 1-2" small triangular stone under a 3-4" potato rock (no box or logbook).

For the third logo stamp (LT#3) and a nice map of the Long Trail passing through VT, take route 108 from Stowe towards Smugglers Notch. About .6 mile north of the Barnes Camp Visitor Center entrance to Mansfield State Park, pull in to the picnic area on the east side of the road, where the northbound LT briefly heads in a southerly direction to the east of the rest rooms. Under the kiosk on the left side of the trail is a 3' flat boulder and tucked under its south side rests a 3-4" somewhat VT-shaped flat light gray stone with the LT map glued on its back. Directly across the trail, 3 or 4 steps off trail under the south side of a mossy quartz-lined 2-3' boulder should be another 1-2" triangular logo stone for LT#3 (no box or logbook).

For the fourth logo stamp (LT#4) and a cool image of a "Wanda-hatted" hiker wandering through the pines en route to Prospect Rock, continue north to Johnson, VT. About 1.3 miles west of town on route 15 just east of the Lamoille River bridge, turn northwest on Hog Back Road to parking for 3-4 cars along the right side of the road just past the swinging bridge on the left. Follow the white blazes of the LT north up a piney hill for about 5-10 minutes to a large 2-trunk tree on the right, then descend gently to where the trail levels and a 5x10-foot boulder juts into the trail from the left. Stop immediately past this boulder at two pines on the left. The boulder makes a small semicircular frame around the left side of the left tree. Discreetly tucked in about a quarter of the way around from the left side of the semicircle is a dark flat 3-4" stone with the "Wanda-hiker" on back. Now go around the pines to the right side of the semicircle. Directly under the right edge, tucked well under and left of a 1' rock rests a lock n' lock box with logbook and LT#4 logo stamp. (Might as well continue on up to the view point on Prospect Rock if you have the time, since this is the only box in the series that is not basically a "drive-by"!)

For the fifth logo stamp (LT#5) and Catamount Trail skier carving by greenmountain hiker, find the last northernmost paved road crossing of the LT before "Trail's End" on route 105 west of North Troy, VT, not very well-marked at time of planting, but with an obvious large parking pull off area on the north side of the road at the height of land. Take the LT north about 60 steps from the first white-blazed tree on the left to where you step up onto a small flat rock in the trail between two 3' boulders. At this point, turn left (about 275*) to carefully wind your way west off trail about 15 steps past the birches on your right to a flat-topped mossy table rock with several stones under its front-facing ledge. Remove the right hand stone to reveal the blue-topped box hopefully kept well-protected up here from the elements. For the logo stamp, return to the trail and continue another 60 steps up and across the power line, almost back into the trees, to another large flat chair/table rock just left of the trail. Sit facing the trail with a sign for LT North on a birch just up the trail. Reach down with your left hand and look behind a speckled stone for a dark 2" pyramidal tent-shaped stone with LT#5. Hope you enjoyed a few brief vignettes of life along the Long Trail!


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