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Atlas Quest

Letterboxing Glossary: P

A very controversial term that, depending on who you ask, means either one or two steps. Most letterboxers consider a pace as one, normal-sized step. When creating clues, it is best not to use this term at all. Use step instead and everyone will know what you are talking about.
Short for “Pandemic Newbie.” One of the scads of new boxers who joined AQ, in a fit of pandemic boredom, without really investigating what they were getting themselves into. Most pandewbies seem enthusiastic and a good addition to our little family, but we do get the occasional “crazy cousin” who likes nothing better than posting spoilers on Facebook and complaining about ciphers.

Short for Plant-A-Letterbox Day, an annual pseudo-holiday to encourage letterboxers to get out and plant a box or two for others to enjoy. It’s held each year on May 24th. It started in 2006 as a joke of sorts about trying to “crash Atlas Quest” with all the boxes being listed. The crash never happened, but the annual event lives on....

You can view past statistics and, below that, the rules and regulations to make sure your plants count as part of the day’s statistics. You’ll also find a PAL Day My Page widget that shows a state-by-state breakdown of plants after it starts (and a countdown before it begins).

A parasite works like a hitchhiker, except that it hitches a ride with other hitchhikers. If the parasite ends up with two hitchhikers in a letterbox, it can latch onto the other hitchhiker and let the original one go.
A pathtag is a single-sided custom metal tag about the size and weight of a U.S. Quarter or a one Euro coin. Pathtags are made from a solid iron base and are plated in a protective silver plating, and are used most often as part of the treasure hiker program. Design and create your own pathtags at
A running count of how many letterboxes a letterboxer has created and hidden. This count tends to be very controversial since there’s no agreement on how to count hitchhikers, postals, and other specialty boxes.
Peeps are small, fluffy creatures that proliferate in the spring time. Little is known about these creatures, but studies are underway. You can read more about them at Bunny Survival Tests and Peep Research.
personal stamp
Another name for a signature stamp.
personal traveler
A special stamp a letterboxer carries, in addition to their signature stamp, but requires other letterboxers to say a secret code or do something special in order to acquire. To discuss personal travelers with other letterboxers, check out our Personal Traveler board.
A record of boxes that a letterboxer has planted, found, or exchanged, indicated in this fashion: P38 F109 X22. Some letterboxers keep track of their hitchhikers with HH. Some even record other (often goofy) statistics with other letters.
pigment ink
The counterpart to dye-based ink pads, pigment ink is popular for its resiliency against water, its bright colors, and resistance against fading. However, they take longer to dry than a dye-based ink. Chalk ink is rumored to be a pigment-based ink, although the promotional materials tend to make it sound completely new and different.
pink stuff
The affectionate name letterboxers have given to Speedy-Carve, a popular carving medium whose main characteristic is it being pink. In the early days of U.S. letterboxing, Speedball called this product Speedy-Stamp, so you may also hear references to that. Don’t be fooled, though, it’s the same thing.
The “pink stuff”
pixie led
Letterboxers don’t get lost, they are pixie led.
A planter is the person who found the spot to hide a letterbox and physically planted it. A letterbox can have multiple planters if several people participated in the planting of the letterbox. The owner of a letterbox, by contrast, is the person who maintains the letterbox. If a person carved the stamp or merely wrote the clue after the fact, they are not planters.
planter’s pouch
A simple device to hide letterboxes that requires wrapping a ZipLock bag in duct tape and using that instead of a normal container as a box. You can see one example of how to create one in the help pages under How do I make a planter’s pouch?
plumber’s gasket
A red, rubber, inexpensive carving medium available in hardware stores. It’s not especially popular among letterboxers, however, since the medium is tough to carve and doesn’t pick up ink well. Speedy-Stamp or MasterCarve make better stamps, but cost significantly more.
Short for Premium Members Only, to describe features specifically for premium members. Premium members are represented by an picture of a hat with a feather in it.
Premium Member Hat
When a letterboxer plants a letterbox on or near someone else’s letterbox, or uses another person’s letterbox as the starting point for their own clue without the original box owner’s permission, it is called poaching. This is considered very rude in the letterboxing community. Not only might the original box planter not appreciate your efforts, but the added traffic to the area could cause environmental damage and risk exposing the original letterbox’s location to those that weren’t looking for it. So either get permission from the original owner, or find your own part of the world to hide a letterbox. Plenty of places exist for everyone, so spread the boxes a bit!
poison ivy / poison oak
Poison ivy and poison oak are more-or-less the same with the same chemicals that act as irritants. A great website for learning more about this evil plant may be found at
poison oak
The bane of letterboxers, few things are worse than getting a bad case of poison oak. Poison oak can range in colors—usually green in the spring and brilliant red by autumn. In the winter, there probably won’t be any leaves at all. The leaves will be smooth and shiny from the oils that cause the rash and usually grow in groups of three. Learn to identify the habitat where poison oak is most likely. In the winter, you won’t be able to identify the plant from its leaves, but you can still catch it! The oils in the plant do not die, and all parts of the plant have it. In Southern California, it’ll be in creek beds and in the shade. In the Pacific Northwest, it prefers the sunnier areas in and around meadows or near exposed rocks. Learn to identify it and know where it’s most likely to be found in your area to protect yourself. It can take several days before the symptoms for poison oak show up. If you’ve touched it, wash the affected area with soap and water as soon as possible. Don’t let poison oak ruin an otherwise great letterbox! If you find a plant with leaves of three but looks hairy or spiny (quite common), rest assured, it’s not poison oak.
Poison Oak
A stamp and a logbook that is mailed from letterboxer to letterboxer. For more details about postals, visit our Postals Help or Postals board.
postal ring
There is often a long wait to receive a single postal if you’re way down on the bottom of the list to receive one, so postal rings were created to make sure everyone had a steady supply of postals in their mailbox. A group of letterboxers get together and each one contributes a postal to the ring. Every time you receive a postal, you stamp in then forward it along to the next person in the ring. For more details about postal rings, visit our Postals Help or Postals board.
When drainage structures just don’t work, when the ground is just too wet and muddy for a turnpike, you’ll probably find some puncheon. Puncheon is an elevated wooden walkway built to cross swampy or boggy areas.
Purple Heart award
A tongue-in-cheek award that goes to letterboxers injured in the line of duty—that is, while trying to find or plant a letterbox. Some letterboxers consider this ‘award’ as insulting and demeaning to soldiers who have won the real Purple Heart award, so don’t use the term if you want to be politically correct. Others believe that if an injury doesn’t require at least a visit to a doctor, you shouldn’t be considered eligible for the award. In a nutshell, there are no hard or fast rules about the Purple Heart award, except that it can be controversial. It has long since been retired, however, and is no longer available.
PZ Kut
A popular type of carving block provided by Webfoot through Stampeaz. It comes in white and blinding orange, and is some of the cheapest carving medium you’ll come across. Unfortunately, it’s no longer manufactured, although Webfoot has been developing some using alternatives that you might want to try.
PZ Kut