Since I have moved up to the Great North Woods, I have had a sense of wanderlust. To quench my thirst for travel, I do what any sensible adventurer would do- I go geocaching. I know some of you out there are scratching your heads and wondering, “What in the world is geocaching?” Well, I am not going to go over it in detail because you can just Google it and find out for yourself, but it’s basically one big worldwide scavenger hunt. People hide things somewhere on this planet, record their coordinates with a GPS, and then post it online for other people to go and find them. It is a lot of fun and if you haven’t done it, I suggest you fix that problem.
The last time that I had gone geocaching was when I was doing some field research to locate Metallak’s grave site for my previous blog. That was about a month ago, so by this time I was really itching to find some caches. Like a good boy scout, I packed my ten essentials, and with GPS in hand, Terry and I set out on our next adventure (Note: Terry is my ever faithful 2000 Ford Focus. And yes I like to give names to inanimate objects). My last expedition took me to the northern end of the GNW, so this time I plotted my course southward.
There was one geocache in particular that caught my attention, The Old Man of the Valley. I know what you are thinking, “Oh that silly New Yorker. He must be talking about The Old Man of the Mountain. You know, that great landmark in Franconia Notch that is, like, THE symbol of NH.” I may not be from NH, but of course I know about The Old Man of the Mountain. Unfortunately, he is no longer there because he collapsed in 2003, but that is another story. You can ask the interpretive rangers at Franconia Notch about that one.
No, I am talking about The Old Man of the Valley. In fact, if you do not believe me you can go find him yourself. It is really easy. He is located right off of Route 2 in Shellburne, NH, next to the ME/NH border. There is even a sign that marks the trail and a spot to park. Once I parked, I took out Gladis (that is the name of my GPS) expecting to go on a decent hike, but according to her, I was right on top of the old man! When I looked down the trail I saw two big glacial erratics (big rocks left behind by glaciers). And there he was, only 200 feet down the trail. As I walked closer the profile of the old man came into clear view. He is looking over to the west in a very stoic manner.
Oh, and let’s not forget about the geocache located somewhere nearby. I mean, that was the whole reason why I came out there to begin with. Once I made it to the GZ (ground zero: the location of a cache), I quickly found the cache near…just kidding! Geocachers never tell anyone where the caches are. That just spoils all the fun. Needless to say, I did find the cache. It was a regular sized old army ammo canister, typical of a traditional cache. I opened it up, logged that I had found it, traded some swag, and re-hid the cache back where I found it.
Before I left this wonderful gem of a site, I took a seat next to the old man and just hung out for a while. I wondered how many people the old man has met over the years, and how many more he will meet in the future. Then, I also pondered about New Hampshire’s fascination with forming human faces into geologic features. Anyway, that is The Old Man of the Valley for you. Maybe he isn’t as majestic as The Old Man of the Mountain was, but he is still really cool to check out, extremely easy to walk to, and not to mention he hasn’t collapsed yet.