O' at Bisbee Hill, 10.6 kms, mildish temps, effectively cool because of strong, steady wind out of the the E-SE. First effort this season at race pace, or what passes for race pace at this early juncture.
I did the course in 2 pieces. The first piece ended about halfway through at a particular feature I had picked out in advance as I was planning the course. The reason for that was about a week or so ago I had been working at my desk and took a break, surfing the internet for a bit. Somehow I ended up on a letterbox page on a web site that belongs to Randy Hall. I have no idea what steps I took to get there, and letter boxing doesn't really even interest me. A while back Kris was somewhat interested in letter boxing, enough that we went out looking for a few letter boxes together, but it's been years since she's mentioned letter boxing, and it's hardly something that springs to my mind.
Nevertheless, here I was on this page of letter box locations, and one of them jumped out to my eye--a letter box in Albany County, ostensibly the first letter box placed in Wyoming, put there by none other than Randy himself. So I read the description, and my nearly instant reaction was that the clue/description looked almost impossible to make sense of. I started to close the page down and get back to work, and as I was doing that, a thought flashed up, I looked at the description again, got out some topos, and after a couple of minutes I was satisfied with a high degree of certainty that I knew where the box was--or where it had been. Who could know if it was still there after 17+ years.
So the control I stopped at was where I thought the box would be. There were two similar features very close to each other, both appearing on the Bisbee Hill map, but only one on the USGS quad, and it seemed to me the box should be at the feature that was only on the O' map.
There wasn't much area to search and I wasn't exactly sure what I should be looking for, but just vaguely something that didn't look quite right or was out of place, since the boxes themselves are hidden. After a few minutes of a decent search, I moved over to the feature shown on the USGS quad and searched there, too, and also drew a blank--and besides I was still thinking it should have been on the first feature anyway. So I returned to it and looked again. It bothered me that the was a fire ring at one side of the feature--the fire ring was of some indeterminate age, looking neither fresh nor really old. It well could have been made after the letter box was placed, and perhaps one or more of the stones of the fire ring had been hiding the letter box, and therefore the letterbox had been revealed and removed.
I found one flat rock under a tree that was hard to get to and which, when I looked at it harder, looked like it could be moved. Because of some stubby branches low to the ground, it was hard to get to, and I scratched up one finger and opened up a small cut getting to the stone, but I did get to the stone, and it was loose. I moved it aside and scraped away at the dirt underneath where it had been and found...nothing. No letterbox and yet I was encourage--I had drawn blood! True, it was my own blood, but still, you take what you can get.
Now it seemed like I had exhausted the possibilities, and I for sure wasn't going to just start trying to dig up the whole area with my hands. I took one more really quick look, and as I was about to abandon the hunt and return to O', I noticed one other rock that looked ever so slightly out of place, but really mostly just like all the other stones in what was relatively stony ground. I decided to give the rock a try--at least there was nothing to scratch myself on--and then start running again.
The rock was easy to move aside, but there was just fine granite gravel and sand underneath and no sign of any disturbance, but when I brushed some of it away, I immediately caught sight of part of a piece of blue plastic, which proved to be the letterbox. Success!
I opened it up, and there was a stamp that Randy had made, and a little paper pad that people could use to note they had been there, and nothing else. The only marking left on the paper pad was from one group from Colorado (I think it was), who had found the box, and had returned 8 years later to stamp it, claiming they had been the first to find the box. All the other (few) letter boxes I've been to had something to write with, but this one didn't, and I didn't have a pen or pencil with me, so when I closed the box up and returned it to its hiding place, there was nothing to indicate I had ever been there. Maybe others had also been there and not signed or stamped the notepad, but the way things looked, it really looked like it had not been disturbed in any way for a long while. Maybe there are very, very few people that go looking for letter boxes in Wyoming. There certainly weren't many out looking where I was on this very windy day in April in SE Wyoming.
Then I finished up the course, and warmed down by jogging around for a short bit while picking up some beer cans.