As all letterboxers know, especially the ones in the habit of planting, letterboxes vanish. Sometimes it’s muggles, sometimes it’s geocachers; but other times it’s flora, fauna or mother nature exerting their dominance over the land.
And quite frankly, sometimes I’m convinced it’s the wee folk interfering with the hobbies of humans.
Such is the nature of the hobby, but it is something I have been putting more and more thought into as I plan future boxes.
In terms of longevity, there is definitely a wide spectrum of the quality of hides. (The security of the hide is what I’m talking about here, not so much the general location or the "uniqueness" of the hide.) Obviously, you can’t protect a box from everything – weather, nature, development, muggles, geocachers – but, I think certain types of hides will be more secure against these letterbox threats than others.
Boxes hanging on wires from trees or bushes I generally think are on of the most vulnerable types, particularly if they are in or close to urban areas. The trees themselves are vulnerable: they can be chopped down or pruned, discovered by kids playing, and they are usually home to wildlife that may remove the box from the trees themselves. The boxes fall and move…
Indoor boxes are also really vulnerable. Boxes in libraries, of which I have quite a few, are perhaps even the most. The obvious problem is children finding them, but what about the movement of books or bookshelves – as libraries are prone to do. If the box is a magnet in a library, just moving some bookshelves around means that the box could be lost for good.
I suppose a little bit better are those within the root systems of trees, or inside fallen logs. However, as the trees grow – or rot – these spots either become invisible, or the homes of other beings who do not appreciate plastic invaders.
I suppose the most secure types of hides would be those hidden in rocky areas well away from nearby trails and urban areas. A well-hidden box in these areas means that it is likely cold enough that critters aren’t hibernating in there, the rocks provide a shelter from the elements, the rocks don’t grow or rot away, the rocks stay put and don’t move about… Some of the oldest finds I’ve discovered in my admittedly short letterboxing career share this as the type of hide. (But then again, some of those old ones are also in what I consider to be the least secure type of hide.)
We letterboxers ourselves are ephemeral. We come, enjoy the hobby, and go. Some perhaps lose the desire to continue with the hobby, some move away… some pass away… But the letterboxes can and do live on for
others. Some of my absolute favourite letterboxes weren’t necessarily ones with great carves, impressive locations, or cool clues, but were ones that had been left undiscovered for large periods of time. One I found hadn’t been found for three years. Three whole years. What was I even doing three years ago? The planter was no longer in the letterboxing biz, or at least had moved away, but because the box was in a secure spot, it was ready and willing to be found – quivering in anticipation of meeting a new letterboxer – that I was gifted with the
box over such a great time period. That planter doesn’t even know that their good work in securing their box sufficiently means that I, years after, have benefited from their thoughtfulness.
I’m not really sure what I’m saying here. I’m nearly rounding out 100 planted letterboxes, and I have to say that the vast majority of my boxes I would have to place in the “unsecure” category of letterbox hides. While I do intend to continue letterboxing (and maintaining boxes that have been lost due to their lack of security), I think I
will be endeavoring to ensure that my future hides are ones that will outlive my involvement with this hobby – and benefit those come after.