I found myself in Massachusetts over the weekend, and I had some time on my hands to go exploring. What else would I rather do than go find grandfather caches in the woods?
In case you have missed the definition of the term, a “grandfather” cache is one of the active original caches hidden within the first four months of geocaching’s birth. I have a list of them up there on the top called the 100 Oldest Active Geocaches. I try to find them whenever I can, to get them off my “to-do” list before they get archived, although these are truly the ones that have stood the test of time.
When I realized I was able to spend some time caching in this beautiful state, I looked at my list to see which of these grandfather caches were nearby. There were potentially up to four of them in the vicinity of my drive, but I also was doing other things and didn’t have the whole time to cache. On Friday I found Camera Cache, and on Saturday I found Lowell, aka Second Mass. These pictures here are from the latter.
I actually would have found them both Friday, but I had trouble finding the parking spot to Great Brook Farm State Park, where this second cache is located. They posted parking coords on the cache page, but it didn’t help me because my GPS was not working, and I didn’t know how to mark or follow coordinates, and not just waypoints, on my smartphone. I drove down shady lanes trying to find the parking lot according to Google Navigation, but I could not find this elusive spot. That night at the hotel I googled the location of the parking lot, and figured it out, and made the short hike the next day.
The trail starts at the canoe launch in the first picture, then one takes the main trail up about a quarter of a mile before turning off on a side trail. The trail was very reminiscent of the piney woods of Huntsville State Park, except with large boulders. It was essentially also a pine forest that was found here, something that surprised me because I was expecting hardwoods.
The cache itself was a classic large ammo can, tucked into a rock covering near one of the infamous stone walls of New England. In this book I am reading, “The World Without Us”, by Alan Weisman, he talks about how the stone walls of New England cover some 260,000 miles. They were present in all the little nature preserves, arboretums, and parks I visited in my little tour of New England.
J was a little worried about me hiking all by myself in this big ole forest with my recent leg issues, but my leg felt great and there were lots of families out enjoying the nice weather in this park. Apparently during the right time of year, you can follow the trail to the end, where there is a working dairy and ice cream shop. I didn’t know that at the time but next time I go back, I might check it out. I did venture over to the other side of the street from the parking lot, to another trail, where I found little woodcutter’s cabins tucked back next to rolling brooks.
The other grandfather cache, the one I found the day before, Camera Cache, was a lot less exciting but still a cool little classic. For this one, I drove to the back of a sunny park in Shrewsbury, MA and parked my car next to a concrete road block. I walked about 0.13 miles down a little wooded trail that lay between two fields, currently being used for lacrosse practice. Four players ran shoulder to shoulder around the fields to my left, while on the right, the coach gave me the hairy eyeball while two of his players searched for a missing ball in the nearby thicket.
The coords were a little off, but the hint helped me find the ammo box located along, again, the stone wall along the forests edge. As I was signing the log and preparing to put the cache back, a great swarm of lacrosse players spilled out from the tennis courts behind me, and came running alongside me, nary giving me a glance, on their way to join the few already on the practice fields. I had to wait for several minutes for the horde to pass before being able to put the cache back unnoticed.
Shrewsbury on a mild spring day seemed to be a place for boys; all through town, I saw groups of boys jogging, practicing sports, riding in cars, eating ice creams. It was very interesting, and made me wonder where the girls were in this town.
These caches were the 50th and 52nd oldest active caches, according to my list. They were great little adventures, not difficult to get to, yet giving one a perspective of the area they were in. In my next trip to New England, I want to get the other grandfather caches in the area, and do some more exploring of the Great Brook Farm Park. I also want to have other New England adventures, like exploring Walden Pond, the exit for which I saw a few times and was tempted. No matter how much you explore, there is always more to see in this great big land we live in.