Hiker Finds 40-Year-Old Note Left On California Mountain Top

This past September, 69-year-old Larry Wright spent 11 days backpacking through Sequoia National Park with his son and grandson. While trekking up a remote backcountry peak, the trio discovered a small metal canister that had been carefully stashed against a rock near the summit. Curiosity got the better of Wright and he decided to open the rusted canister to see what was inside. What he found was a handwritten note that had been waiting four decades to be discovered.

The note, which was surprisingly well preserved, simply said: “Tim Taylor climbed to this peak, Thursday, August 17, 1972. Age 13 yrs. Anyone finding this note please write.” At the bottom of the page, Taylor included his home address, which was located in Flintridge, California.

Wright told the Los Angles Times that he isn’t surprised that no one had found the note until now. The hike to the mountain takes several days and few people have probably even been to the summit. He also said that the metal can was so rusted that it was hard to even notice it all. But inside, the note was nearly perfectly preserved, still waiting for someone – anyone – to find it.Once he got back to civilization, Wright attempted to contact Tim Taylor but found few clues as to his current whereabouts. A visit to Taylor’s address from the note found new residents who had never heard of the teenager that had left the note 40 years earlier. Furthermore, a search of the city voter registration records showed no one by the name of Tim Taylor still living there.

The story could have ended there, leaving us with an interesting little mystery and very few answers. But the Adventure Journal reports that not long after the Times ran the article, Tim Taylor showed up with his side of the story. Taylor, who is now a Superior Court Judge in San Diego, was a boy scout back in 1972. In August of that year, he and his troop were on a 50-mile hike through the same region as Larry Wright and his family. On one of their rest days, Taylor decided to hike to the top of a nearby peak, which may have been unclimbed at that time. While at the top, he left his note, not knowing if or when anyone would ever find it.

Taylor’s note was sort of a message in a bottle, although instead of being carried by the tides to some far off place, it sat in one location as the years rolled by. I think it is simply amazing that it was discovered at all and even more surprising that it could be still be read. It must have been quite a surprise for the now 53-year-old judge to learn that someone had found his hidden canister at last.

Message In A Bottle Found 98 Years After Being Released

Andrew Leaper, the captain of a fishing boat in Scotland, recently found a message in a bottle that was released into the ocean 98 years ago. The unusual discovery took place off the coast of Shetland and sets a new Guinness World Record for the oldest such message ever recovered.

The bottle was originally released in 1914 as part of a scientific research project to study the ocean currents around Scotland. Throughout the course of the study, 1890 bottles were released into the ocean, each of which was designed to sink and move with tides. To date, just 315 of them have been recovered.

And what was inside the bottle? According to the BBC it contained a postcard that offered the person who found it a reward of six pence. The message was also dated from June of 1914 and was released by Captain CH Brown of the Glasgow School of Navigation.

The discovery of the bottle breaks the previous record for the oldest ever found by more than five years. In a strange twist of coincidence, that bottle was discovered by the same fishing boat – the “Copious” – back in 2006 when she was under the command of Captain Mark Anderson, a friend of Leaper.

This is no word on whether or not Leaper collected on his six pence.

[Photo credit: Scottish Government/AP Photo

Making your own message in a bottle

You’ve probably already heard the story of Olivier Vandewalle, a Belgian who in 1977 at the age of 14 threw a message in a bottle into the sea while sailing off the south coast of England. Lorraine Yates found it 33 years later on a beach at Swanage, England. Figuring the address Olivier included was out of date, she tracked him down on Facebook.

While 33 years is an impressive time, it’s nowhere near the Guinness World Record for a bottle being at sea. The record holder was cast adrift in 1914 and recovered 92 years later in 2006.

A message in a bottle is a romantic way to call out to the world (just ask Sting) and a fun way to kill some time on the beach, but if you want your message to last, it’s best to follow some simple rules. Olivier used a wine bottle with a cork and his father insisted he seal it with “candle grease”, by which he probably means melted wax. This is important because a cork will decay much more quickly in salt water if it isn’t protected by a wax seal. One writer suggests using a bottle with a screw cap but it’s doubtful it would stay waterproof for long as it expands and contracts with temperature changes. A cork will absorb a tiny amount of moisture and expand in the neck of the bottle to make a snug fit, which is why they’re used in the first place.

Opinions differ on how to put the message inside. When I chucked my own bottle into the sea off the coast of South Carolina back in the early 80s, I wrote the message on the outside of the rolled-up paper. I included my address (now long out of date) and a request to write me and throw the bottle back into the sea. I hoped to get a whole series of responses. That hasn’t happened and I don’t think I’ll last long enough to break the world record. On further reflection I’m thinking that if my bottle is still floating out there, the sun shining through the glass has probably made my message fade away, so it’s best to put the message on the inside of the roll of paper. Sealing the message in a plastic bag is also a good idea.

One writer suggests using a clear bottle because the message be more noticeable. Wine bottles are best because they float well and have that classic look. Gadling blogger Jamie Rhein used a wine bottle for her message and got a response.

If you want to keep your message in a bottle, here are some tips on making it look old and weathered, just like it had been in the sea for years. Or if you want a bigger craft project, make a boat out of plastic bottles.

Message in a bottle takes a 21-year journey: Mine took less than that

Twenty-one years ago, a 4th grader named Emily Hwaung put a message in a plastic bottle and sent it sailing on the ocean near Seattle via a guy with a boat. The bottle was released along with several others as part of a class project. Emily’s bottle was recently picked up in Alaska by Merle Brandell while he was walking his dog in his fishing village town, Nelson Lagoon. Due to his diligent pursuits, Brandell was able to locate Emily, who is now Emily Shih, and well past 4th grade. At age 30, Emily doesn’t remember the bottle project all that much but is tickled her message has come full circle and is not still part of the ocean’s pollution.

The article chronicling this latest bottle-sent /bottle-found story mentions how rare it is for bottles dropped into the ocean to ever be found. This makes me feel even more gleeful about my own experience. The summer after I graduated from undergraduate school I was taking a night ferry from France to Ireland as part of a two-months plus backpacking trip.

After sharing a bottle of wine with fellow travelers, we decided to write a message, seal it in a bottle and send it on a journey. I can’t remember what we wrote–or if we felt guilty throwing a bottle overboard, but I do know that some time later I received a letter from France. A couple had been walking along the beach and found it. I can’t remember which beach or how long it took for the bottle to be found. I’m not even sure where the note is. I did keep it, but with moves and travels, the note is buried in a box somewhere. You’ll just have to trust me that it’s there. I wonder if Emily knows where her 4th grade teacher is. I’m sure the teacher would be thrilled to know that this project did end up with a successful ending despite the other bottles still out there. [via AP]