Mapsurfer Treasurebox Notes






When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean - neither more nor less -- Humpty Dumpty

The Mapsurfer Treasureboxes are a diverse series of challenging outdoor puzzles based loosely on the letterboxing model -- cryptic treasure hunts and riddles, geography puzzles, and spectacular hikes and drives through history and wilderness that will keep you on your toes. Each challenge is completely different; solve the whole series, if you dare!

Although a few may appeal to newbies, most of them gather interest from armchair treasure hunters or the veteran letterboxer who doesn't care about their PF count and is looking for something more than a simple hike-up or follow-the-directions experience. Most are maddeningly difficult, may have unexpected twists, and often are experimental or unique (at the time, anyway). They are NOT recommended for the easily disappointed, for those without a sense of humor, for those unwilling to do a bit of research, or for the whiner who expects an automatic find.

They are not geocaching. Most predate Dave Ulmer's invention of geocaching by a couple of years. You will not find geojunk in them -- please don't leave any, and please respect the letterboxing model and leave the stamp alone. It is about the puzzle and the place -- some of them may not even have boxes anymore, only the possibility of confirmation that you have solved the puzzle.

A a couple of notes for newbie letterboxers, interested geocachers, and anyone else for that matter ...

  • You often have to figure out where to start; that is by design. (In letterboxing jargon, this is called a mystery box, after mapsurfer #2, the original mystery box). You may also need various tools and techniques, both in the field and before setting out, in order to crack the harder ones. Examples may or may not include things like antique maps, GPS units, old books, new books, sushi, brains (yours and others), or government databases, among other things.

  • Each box has a challenge rating from 1 to 5 stars. This may be useful for when deciding which one you have the time or inclination to try and crack. I don't call them letterboxes because they are not what most letterboxers are used to (at least at the time of writing sometime in 2000 ...) -- some letterboxers are not used to or interested in maddenly devious twists. As a point of comparison only, I'd say about 85% of the letterboxes and geocaches I've found rate 1 star (for difficulty) in my system. (This is a difficulty rating, not a quality rating).

  • Please do not e-mail me asking for hints and help or if they are still there (treasure hunting is about going out and finding out for yourself). I strongly believe that treasure hunting is an interaction of the hunter, the map, the terrain, and the past; the author is long gone and out of the picture. I'm basically a "role of the reader" guy and a big fan of Umberto Eco and semiotics in general. (Despite this gentle request, I still get plenty of these request-for-help e-mails, so please don't be offended when I don't respond -- it's nothing personal, just the way the game is played).

  • The stamps are often particularly lame. If you are in it for the stamp art, I would recommend one of the many other fine letterboxes out there. Most of these are pretty old, before people cared much about the stamps.

  • I've written a book on letterboxing (available here). While all letterboxers and prospective letterboxers may find it useful and interesting, those who are a fan of my boxes may be particularly intrigued.

The map is not the territory -- Alfred Korzybski