I Spy  LbNA # 5942

Placed DateOct 4 2003
CountyVan Buren
LocationSouth Haven, MI
Found By (hidden)
Hike Distance?

I Spy
(This is a October 2003 replacement for the original "I Spy" letterbox which was placed in June 2003. The clues are slightly changed.)

Last verified August 31, 2008
Clues modified 9/4/07

Van Buren State Park, just south of South Haven, Michigan. Entry permit required; daily and annual passes are available.

The background:
(The storm and shipwreck depicted are true events of 1880)
It was a beautiful autumn evening. Mid-October in Michigan can be very changeable but this Friday night was Indian Summer-like. He climbed the dunes after a short walk on the beach. The workweek wasn’t over; he’d have a full Saturday at the mill but for tonight he had time for a break to watch the ships move past his vantage on to their ports up and down the Lake Michigan shore.

He settled in against a tree, telescope balanced against his knee, and peered into the night sky to the west. The freshening wind foretold a storm. But he found himself drifting off to sleep as the clouds gathered.

Stories told of that great storm months and even years later included lists of lost ships and souls. The paddle wheeler, Alpena passed his closed eyes that night but never reached her Chicago destination. Her remains and cargo eventually washed ashore near Holland. Damage to homes and farms for miles inland is also reported from that storm of 1880. Gale force winds raked the dunes, and the landscape changed that night.

He never returned home. His spirit still looks out from the dunes above the beach just south of South Haven.
Of course the sand has shifted, trees have grown and died, and what was before may no longer be recognizable. Where once there were clear vistas, new forests have grown and his vantage is no more.
To find his lookout follow this route.

Begin at the Van Buren State Park beach. Once at the water, walk north, perhaps three-eighths to half a mile, to a young maple cluster – the closest-to-the-water, still-living tree along that beach.

Look high on the bluff to the NE and see silvered sentinels with many points in the air. An obvious trail presents itself. Take a deep breath and go.
When you’ve reached the crest, walk 125 steps away from the lake.
Then go north on the path 62 steps up a grade and along a level. The path may be overgrown and not obvious. Several downed trees cross the path. Before the trail begins a drop, look to the east to a triple trunk oak. It’s just 11 steps off the trail. Look in the belly.
A crafty searcher might figure a way to the letterbox "Whose Shoes - Hiking" from this location.

The principal character is fictitious, however the facts surrounding the Alpena, its fate and the storm are historically accurate.