Abert’s Squirrel Letterbox and Parasite Box LbNA # 4983
|Placed Date||Jul 16 2003|
|Location||Buffalo Creek Recreation Area, Buffalo Creek, CO|
The walk will take about 25 to 35 minutes depending on how leisurely you walk and enjoy the scenery.
You will need a compass to discover this letterbox.
Placed by: Mighty Mite, The Outlaw Corgi, Elegurl, and The Spotted Bird
Mighty Mite (59 years old) showed us this very nice trail, where he used to move cattle when he was a kid living on a ranch nearby. Elegurl, who was driving for only the 3rd time (she’s just turned 15) was eager to go and investigate. It was lucky too, because we met this cute furry black friend along the way, just squirreling around as they tend to do. Spotted Bird, who has just turned 12, is a budding mammalogist, and correctly identified the Colorado squirrel perfectly with one glance, though never having seen one before. Taking into account that we younger letterboxers are all natives of Connecticut, where there are no Abert’s squirrels at all, this was quite an achievement.
From Bailey, take Park County Road 68 (leaves US 285 at the base of Crow Hill),southeast towards Wellington Lake and Buffalo Creek.
Follow Park County Road 68 (also called Forest Road 543, indicated on vertical markers) 8.8 miles to its junction with Forest Road, 550, where a Forest Service sign directs you to Buffalo Creek.
Turn left (east) on Forest Road 550 towards Buffalo Creek.
Go 1.9 miles on Forest Road 550 to its intersection with Forest Road 549.
Forest Road 550 continues to the right. Immediately, there is a Stop sign so you can read the forest regulations for Buffalo Creek Recreation Area.
Continue east on Forest Road 550 for 1.8 miles to the turnoff for the Gashouse Gulch Trailhead (Forest Service sign).
Follow the Gashouse Gulch Road 0.4 miles north to the trailhead, where you can park. This is a somewhat primitive dirt road, but it is short and not too bad. You could always walk it if you prefer, or if your car is not up to it.
Get on the Gashouse Gulch Trail (Forest Trail Number 726), taking the northbound section of the trail (not the section that continues to the east).
Walk about 4-5 leisurely minutes north along the trail through forest to a point where the trail enters a grassy opening. The trail curves to the right.
About 80 steps further along the trail, look for a 20-foot-tall bushy Western Red Cedar tree, four paces to the left of the trail, and on the right side of the trail, a very tall Douglas fir tree with a yellowish trunk and absolutely no branches for the first 30 feet up, but a bushy crown. The fir tree stands behind a large flat up-turned vertical boulder, which is ten feet tall. A young Ponerosa pine stands in front of the boulder.
Go to the fir tree behind the boulder, ten paces from the trail.
From the fir tree, walk 25 steps 15° East of North to a large (18” diameter) Ponderosa pine tree with a tiny red cedar by it.
From the upper side of the Ponderosa pine, climb 20 steps, 40° East of North, to the base of a towering cliff. Take a circuitous route around the boulders and bushes if you prefer.
At the base of the cliff, look for a large crevice opening. The opening lies directly below a gooseberry bush on a 12 foot high ledge and a triangular rock ledge 6 feet off of the ground. A quartz vein runs through the granite, on both sides of the opening, at knee height.
The letterbox lies inside a deep niche at the back of the opening in the rock wall, leading to the right below the quartz vein. It is concealed by a granite stone the size of a football.
A parasite box to our furry friend is located 8 feet to the right, along a horizontal crevice in the rock wall, which runs waist high. The parasite is hidden by a small stone in a cavity in the rock that runs to the left within the crevice.