Tuesday, October 9, 2012

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A canister containing the note you see above was recently found by a hiker in Sequoia National Park in California. As you can see, it was written by a 13-year-old hiker named Tim Taylor in 1972, which means Taylor would now be in his early 50s. The hiker who found the note, Larry Wright, is hoping to find Taylor but has so far come up empty. (The house at the address listed on the note has been sold several times since 1972.) You can read more about this here. Unfortunately, there's no photo of the canister, which I'd like to see.

Leaving a message near the top of a mountain (sort of like putting a message in a bottle, except the message stays in one place) feels like one of those things that are instinctual but unexplainable. On the one hand, it seems like a perfectly logical thing to do (the marking of an achievement, creating the seeds of a story that will grow and bear fruit later on, etc.), and on the other hand it seems sort of ridiculous. That's a potent combination, one that I've found often leads to particularly rich experiences. I hope this one plays out for Taylor and Wright, and that this note eventually brings them together for what I'm sure will be a very interesting meet-up.

Update: Tim Taylor -- the 13-year-old kid who wrote the note -- has been found. He's now a San Diego County Superior Court judge. Interestingly, the article says Taylor and his family had a habit of leaving notes behind: "Whenever [my family] would go to Catalina, my dad would have us put a note in a bottle," he said. "It's kind of the same idea." Indeed.

(My thanks to Eric Neel for tipping me off to this one.)


  1. I like the "U.S. of A." and misspelling of HEIGHT.

  2. They have found each other; I read it on an internet news site last night (sorry, I can't remember which one). Taylor was a lawyer for many years and is now a judge in the San Diego area.

  3. Replies
    1. Thanks! I've updated the text accordingly.

  4. Um, Paul, the story here is can anyone i.d. the blank form the kid used for his note? Is it a simple "While you were out" or a more specialized message form? Have to say, I'm a little surprised at you.

    1. Looks like the form one would fill out to send a Western Union telegram.

    2. I think you're correct...looks like WU 1207 (R 5-68) which I would interpret as a May 1968 revision of that form. Here is a link to a WU 1207 from the 191_ era: