The Greatest Liar  LbNA # 14322 (ARCHIVED)

Placed DateApr 9 2005
LocationOakland, CA
Found By fleetwood7
Last Found May 13 2009
Hike Distance?

Update for August 19, 2005 The original boxes 1, 2 and 3 are alive and well. The rest were missing, but a letterboxing family did their daughter's 10th birthday on a letterboxing theme and replaced boxes 4, 5 and 6 with temporary boxes. Box 5 is in a slightly different location than the original clue below, but if you look all along the logs you'll find it under some pieces of bark, on the side of the logs away from the path.

UPDATE September 2006
This series is alive but only half well. Three boxes remain: 1, 2 and 5. The rest are missing.

Update March 2007
Box 5 is no longer there either.

General information: ---------------------------- This series was conceived and created by Alien Explorer and First President (age 6.5). Each carved half the stamps. The hike it about 1.5 miles, about two thirds up hill, though not steep. The last segment has many stairs. Terrain is easy – mostly paved. Strollers could make it with an adaptation at the end that would make the hike closer to 2 miles with no stairs. Although mostly paved with the option for no stairs, we don't think this hike is wheelchair accessible due to cracks in the road. Bonus puzzle from First President: ----------------------------------------------- In the boxes, we left little finders’ prizes. If you find at least some of the boxes AND can figure out what the mathematical sequence of numbers is, email us and we will send you a fun math surprise. The prizes go as follows: First box – to 1st finder Second box – to 1st finder Third box – to 2nd finder Fourth box – to 3rd finder Fifth box – to 5th finder Sixth box – to 8th finder So, what is this sequence called? About the Greatest Liar ------------------------------- Joaquin Miller: The Self-Invented Man (From It is difficult to sort out the fact from the fiction in the life of Joaquin Miller, born Cincinnatus Hiner Miller in Indiana in 1837, not in a covered wagon in 1842 as he always claimed. Ambrose Bierce called him "the greatest liar this country has ever produced," and in fact his autobiography is classified as fiction in libraries. It was Oakland’s famous librarian and California’s first poet laureate Ina Coolbrith who told him if he wanted to be a successful poet he had to have a more romantic presentation. She encouraged him to change his name to Joaquin, grow his hair long, dress in buckskins, and adopt the persona of the Wild West. In this character, he traveled to Europe and was a sensation at London parties with his sombrero, polka dot bandana, and high-heeled boots, handing out calling cards that read "Joaquin Miller, Byron of the Rockies." We do know that when he returned from Europe in 1883, he acquired 70 acres at the heart of what is now Joaquin Miller Park, and made Oakland his home for the rest of his life. He planted acacia, eucalyptus, and pine to create a forest on the grassy hill. He personally built several monuments to people he admired, including Robert Browning and Moses. He built his own funeral pyre, which the city wouldn’t let him use. After his death, his family sold his property to the city of Oakland, but his daughter Juanita continued to live there for decades, carrying on her father’s tradition of flamboyant behavior. ---- Directions: --------------- Take Hwy 13 to Joaquin Miller exit. Go up hill on Joaquin Miller (not downhill on Lincoln). Make a U-turn where you see a small, boarded up house on your left. It’s just 1/4 of a mile from Hwy 13. If you see the playground, you’ve gone too far. Park by the house. Clues: --------- BOX #1: The Abbey Read "The Abbey" placque. Find the chimney. From the chimney, take 6 steps along the back of the house. Where the wall and ground meet, find a hole hidden by rocks. The first box is hidden there. Extra info: The Abbey (1889) Joaquin’s home was named after both his wife Abbie and friend Lord Byron’s similar home in England, "Newstead Abbey." A structure which encompasses symbols of many different faiths. The Abbey was recognized in 1928 for its local historical significance by the Native Sons of the Golden West. In 1963, it was designated as a Registered National Historical Landmark. (all brief information about the monuments, unless otherwise noted, comes from BOX #2: Joaquin Miller Head up the path that turns into a road. Curve to the right. You’ll see Joaquin Miller’s statue on the grassy area to your right. Walk along the long redwood logs. Come to where two logs come together. Pass that point. Find another point where two logs meet, next to the tree with 4 trunks. Look inside one of the logs. Extra info: Statue of Joaquin Miller on Horseback (1942) Commissioned by Berkeley sculptor Kisa Beeck, this bold, weather worn statue stands where Miller’s cottage once was. BOX #3: Funeral Pyre Continue up the road. You’ll pass stairs on the right, but don’t take them. Pass a fire circle on your left and a picnic area on your right. You’ll see a lookout point sign on the right. Go enjoy the view. Find the Funeral Pyre monument. Look for a 6 year old child’s thigh high hole (or a 5’10" person’s knee high hole) on the (more or less) West facing side of the monument. Extra info: Funeral Pyre (1906) Built by Miller for his future Indian-style cremation. However, City Fathers intervened, determining that the chosen style of cremation was illegal. Joaquin’s ashes were instead spread over the monument. BOX #4: Moses Monument Continue up the road. When the road forks, stay on the left side. Find the Moses Monument. Check it out. Stand with your back to the pyramid facing the trail (not the Bay) and go down to the first human-made post on your right. Look inside it. Cover it well. (If there is a fence around this grassy area, you can just look for the last post in the line of posts leading along the road up to the Moses Monument.) Extra info: Moses Monument (1892) This pyramid, also built for fieldstone, still stands as a tribute to Joaquin’s regard for Moses and the Ten Commandments. BOX #5: Browning Monument Continue on the road. Take the path leading up to the Browning Monument. Take a look at it, and come back down. Look behind the 6th log on the left of the road. Extra info: Browning Monument (1894) A miniature castle made of native fieldstone, Joaquin erected this monument as a tribute to his friends, poets Robert and Elizabeth Barret Browning. BOX #6: Fremont Monument Continue down the road. Merge to the left. Immediately past the yellow gate, make a U-turn and continue down the road, past the numbered parking lots. Stop at the post for parking lot #1. Looking ahead behind the bushes, you’ll see a monument facing the bay. If it is too hidden, take 17 paces (each pace being 2 steps) toward the Bay. Go inside, find the hole, feel for the nook inside the hole. Extra info: Fremont Monument (1904) Resembling a fortress, this fieldstone monument was built where explorer John C. Fremont was presumed to have first viewed the sunset over the Bay. Directions back and a bonus monument: -------------------------------------------------------- To make your way back to your car you have two options. For strollers, go back the way you came. If you can go down plenty of stairs, continue with the following directions. Continue down the path on the left of Woodminster Cathedral of the Woods. Go down the steps, making sure to look every once in a while behind you on the right. Go all the way down to the last pool. Take the stairs to the right and go through the playground. (Or stop there if you want to play.) At the end of the playground you’ll find another surprise monument, which for some reason didn’t make it to the monument list. It’s called Sanctuary to Memory, a depository for Joaquin Miller’s keepsakes. We ran out of steam and didn’t make a letterbox for it. We hope you enjoyed this letterboxing expedition! Please write and tell us about it.