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St. Patrick Series (Updated 1/16/2018) LbNA #7449

Owner:Doublesaj & Old Blue Contact
Plant date:Mar 13, 2004
Found by: Doublesaj & Old Blue (2)
Last found: Apr 11, 2017
Hike distance:Unknown
Last edited:Jun 29, 2018
This series originally included 5 boxes. As of 6/28/18, 2 boxes are confirmed active. None the less, the five parks where this series was planted are well worth a visit. Several other boxes have been planted in the area. Oh, there are also 2 new boxes at 10 mile bridge… 10 miles north of Highway 20.

The Northern California coast rivals any other in beauty and picturesque scenery. DO NOT forget your camera! The series takes place in Mendocino County, from three miles north of Fort Bragg to Van Damme State Park, a few miles south of the town of Mendocino, about 15 miles in all. Each box’s difficulty rating is listed before the clues of that box. But first, an explanation of this series by history buff, Old Blue:

Patricius (later St. Patrick) was born in a wealthy, Britton family in what is now England, in a period when the Roman Empire was beginning to crumble. At age 15, he was kidnapped, enslaved and suffered a brutal existence in Ireland for 6 years where he herded sheep and pigs. In a dream, which he took as a message from God, he saw himself sailing off to freedom. With this inspiration, he did, in fact make good his escape. This experience convinced him to become a Christian and further the cause of Christianity. Many years later he returned to Ireland where, after nearly 30 years of his mission, he became the Patron Saint of Ireland. During this time, it is said that he baptized nearly 100,000 people and helped start numerous monasteries. St. Patrick was the first person known to be outspokenly opposed to slavery. Considering St. Patrick lived in the fifth century, this was really something. In fact, within his lifetime or soon after, the Irish slave trade came to a halt and other forms of violence such as murder and tribal warfare decreased.

The monasteries soon became centers of knowledge and learning. The monks who occupied these dwellings collected and copied any and all books they could obtain. Greek, Latin and even Hebrew writings were preserved and distributed to other monasteries resulting in the creation of substantial libraries. In the centuries after St. Patrick, his Celtic monk followers traveled all over Europe and the North Atlantic spreading their belief (and literature). They sailed in tiny ships and established monasteries throughout.

So, as the Roman Empire fell into chaos and violence, Ireland grew more stable and peaceful. This is “How the Irish Saved Civilization” (a great book by Thomas Kahill).

One of these wandering monks, St. Brendan lived in the 6th century. Tradition said that he had made a voyage to North America but until recently this was considered a wild fairy tale. Modern day Tim Severin using St. Brendan’s journal as a guide, recreated the Saint’s improbable journey west in a boat called the Brendan. Severin’s boat was built with a leather hull and in the style of the ancient Irish crafts which, incidentally, are still popular in western Ireland. (This adventure is captured in the book “The Brendan Voyage” by Tim Severin, yet another good read.) With the completion of Tim’s trip, it appears quite likely that this and maybe other brave monks made it as far as Canada in their mission to spread the word.

This letterbox series is dedicated to St. Patrick and the uncommonly brave monks who followed him and saved civilization as it was known, while the Roman Empire collapsed.

******ALERT: Box #1,#2 and #4 are retired.

Box #3 “The Brendan” (replanted 7-23-05) Alive and well as of 4/11/2017.
Point Cabrillo Light Station 1.2 miles south of Jughandle on Hwy One. Turn on the marked road to Pt. Cabrillo light station. Proceed on this road past Caspar State Beach and another 2 miles. Turn right into the light station parking lot
and park. This lot closes at 6:00 pm. No fee.
Difficulty: Gravel then dirt path. One mile out and one mile back. Slight incline so you’re walking downhill going and slightly uphill coming back. A long-ish walk for kids.
Time: About 45 minutes. The lighthouse itself houses a gift shop Friday through Sunday so allow more time if you want to look around.
This trek may sound daunting if you’re into ‘drive-by’ letterboxes but we urge you to enjoy a beautiful walk taking you to the coastal bluffs and this historic lighthouse. Besides, the stamp is worth it!

Like the “Doghole Schooners” written about on the plaque at the North end of the parking lot, the Brendan was able to navigate small coves on rocky shorelines. Take the trail from this plaque approx. 1 mile to the lighthouse. This trail takes you to the very edge of the headlands with an amazingly beautiful ocean view. Do not even think about taking a shortcut through the wetlands here. As you approach the lighthouse itself, the main trail passes over a small foot bridge. Under the SE corner of the bridge, tucked in safely, you’ll find the Brendan. Please make sure the whole box is encased in a ziplok before rehiding well. You can return to the parking lot the same way you came, or by the other path, which will become obvious when you get to the lighthouse.

Box #5 “The Monk” FOUND June 27, 2018
Go to Van Damme State Park a few miles south of the town of Mendocino. This is a wonderful place to camp if you’re so inclined. Overnight fee is $40.00.
Difficulty: Easy. Paved to dirt trail, flat, ½ mile in and ½ mile out if you pay your $8.00 fee OR park outside the park for free and walk an extra half mile each way.

This box leads you through a Fern Grove that is magnificent. There is also a pigmy forest if you walk another mile or so past the box. You’ll be walking next to a stream where salmon spawn in the spring and fall and with towering cliffs on each side of you laden with ferns, wild flowers and immense redwoods.

Enter the park, pay your $8.00 fee and follow signs to the Fern Trail and park.
Take the trail, up and over the rise.
One fish, Two fish, Three fish, Four fish.
Face north.
Isn’t it obvious where the box is?
NOTE: Only "Fish One" and "Fish Four" seems to still remain, (The Monk is a little past and very near the 1/2 mile sign). There’s another box up ahead planted by past letterboxes.

Please email if you’ve enjoyed this series.

Box #4 “Faithful Donkey” – Retired but check out this park anyway!
Russian Gulch State Park. Continue on this road 1.2 miles to the entrance to Russian Gulch Park. Day use fee: $8.00. Picnic lunch you brought to eat: $15.00. View from park’s picnic tables: PRICELESS!!
Difficulty: Easy and short. Grass and dirt trail. Kid friendly but not wheelchair friendly.
Time: about 10 minutes for the box but you’ll want to picnic here or propose to someone or just gawk at what is the most beautiful view in all of Letterboxing Land. A camera is a MUST!

Pay your fee at the gate and follow the signs to the picnic area where you can park. Go to the first picnic area overlooking the bridge and cove, a remarkably beautiful spot. There are BBQs, picnic tables, water spigot and drinking fountain and a bathroom. Make your way to a path you’ll see near the fence line at the cliff to the South of this picnic area. Follow the coastal fence line around this breathtaking view. You’ll come upon an ‘open’ area where you’ll spy a few wooden steps leading to a break in the fence. From this gate, mark 83 single paces to a small path to your left where you’ll see a tree. Take 10 paces toward that tree and just before you knock your head on the 1st branch, look under the large piece of bark at your right foot. After stamping in and rehiding the box securely, please, please continue on this rim trail to the inlet overlook where waves splash and spray up the rocks. Then on to the ‘punchbowl’ identified by the wood fence encircling it. Walk a dozen steps or so counterclockwise then take one of the trails right, then right again to return to the parking lot.

Box #1: “Chieftain’s Shield” - RETIRED
MacKerricher State Park, 3 miles north of the town of Fort Bragg (4.8 miles north of
Where Hwy 20 meets Hwy 1
Difficulty: Easy: All but the last 50 feet are on a level boardwalk, kid friendly and wheel-
chair accessible. You will see beautiful surf, tide pools and with luck seals (and pups in April and May) and whales on their migration December through April.
Time: About 20 minutes and ½ mile for the box but allow time for tide pools and whale and seal watching
This is an amazing, FREE park with so much to see and do you may never get to the other boxes!

Enter the park from Hwy One and follow signs to the picnic area Laguna Point. Park in the lot. Take the Boardwalk and remember to take care of the Tide Pools.
“Do not approach the Seals”
“Dogs on leash only”
“No bikes”
Straight at “Y”
Vista Point
Vista Point--“Cleone Shipping Lumber from the Point” Sign #1
Vista Point--“Tips for Tide Pool watchers” Sign #2
Vista Point--“Harvesting the Shore” Sign #3
If you see the word “mussels” as you read this signboard, proceed to the next Vista Point. If not, go back to the Vista Point with Sign #1.
Count the vertical posts at this vista point. Got the number?

Turn around and head back. If the number of vertical posts was an even number, go right at the “Y”. If odd, go left.
Walk a ways on the boardwalk until you’re walking due east on a straightaway. When the boardwalk turns NE, stop in the “turnout”. Multiply the vertical posts you counted before by 5. Subtract 10 from this number. This is your bearing number. Head off the boardwalk at this bearing into the trees in the distance. Once you pass between an 8’ tree on the right and a 15’ tree on the left, go an additional number of paces equal to the number of vertical posts you counted before and stop. On your right there is a large, double trunk tree (now seriously dead). Behind this tree (bearing 230 degrees) and under several branches and sticks on the ground, you’ll find the “Chieftain’s Shield”.

Remember to rehide well.

A note about State Park stamps: Many State Parks have their own rubber stamp they will be glad to give you an impression of if you ask. We put ours in our letterboxing journals and even count them as finds! Mac Kerricher, and Pt. Cabrillo Light House both had stamps and if you go into the town of Mendocino on your way from Box #4 to box #5, (exit Main Street from Hwy One) and seek out the Ford House on the South side of Main Street, they have one too!

Box #2 “Four-leaf Clover” (replanted 10-10-07) RETIRED
Jughandle State Park 8.1 miles south of Mac Kerricher Park. Watch for the sign to Jughandle. This is an easy driveway to miss. If you’ve taken the diagonal exit to Caspar, you’ve gone too far.
Difficulty: Easy. Level dirt and pine bark path. Very short walk to amazing views of shoreline from the bluffs.
Time: 10 minutes, max.

Take the Ecological Staircase Nature Trail. At marker #2, turn left on a trail heading South. When you get to the edge of the cliff and after stopping to enjoy the scenic beauty of the crashing waves, amazing flora and magnificent coastal rocks, walk back the way you came 35 steps. You'll see a lone bush on your right. Under the west side of the bush, under bark and a rock the size of a hamburger bun, you'll find the “Four-leaf Clover”.