The thrill of the hunt (and discovery!)

On the verge of calling off the search and starting the equally difficult effort to re-find the trail, we poked through a nondescript row of scrub pines and entered another small clearing.  Boom!  The realization of discovery charged our senses like the ice bucket challenge.  Beyond the beautiful vista afforded by the clearing, we looked down upon the manmade roof of the elusive Pumpelly cave.

 

 

 

Who doesn’t love a good treasure hunt?  As a child, my skin tingled as I embarked on an Easter Egg hunt, a birthday scavenger hunt, or some intrepid adventure conceived with my friends.  Yup, I was the guy glued to the television when Geraldo Rivera brought us to Al Capone’s (empty) vault.

 

Today, I find myself fascinated by shows like The Curse of Oak Island and Expedition Unknown.  The story of the discovery and salvage of the pirate ship Whydah – love it!  Lasting, vivid memories are created by the thrill of the hunt, the anticipation of discovery and such tangible access to REAL history.  Of course, it isn’t enough for me to simply watch others pursue their passions…

 

In addition to launching Unplugged Adventures, I seek my own “treasure hunting” adventures. Several years ago, I found a good one…

 

* * * * *

 

I love to be off the beaten path either on a trail run, a hike or to bag a peak.  Mount Monadnock, in southern New Hampshire, affords beautiful views from an open summit without the long haul to the White Mountains.  And, beyond its accessibility, the mountain also stages a compelling history and secret “treasures”!

 

While I have known of Monadnock for years (and hiked it several times), I first read about its hidden “treasures” as I was searching for a fun adventure for a group of 40-something guys.  One story, the account of a secret manmade cave, caught my fancy.  I set out – online – to discover the location of the so-called Pumpelly Cave (aka Megolithia) and was met with sparse evidence of its location.  Shrouded in mystery and vague online references, my appetite grew to find this hidden cave…

 

After one half-hearted, real (not online!) attempt ended with no luck, I was determined to discover the location.  Using various online resources (photos, trip logs, forums, etc.), I generated several “target” locations and began pouring over satellite imagery.  Ultimately, my efforts generated several likely locations, but with little detail in terms of how to get there.  Armed with my estimated GPS coordinates and a smartphone, I figured it was time for another attempt.  

 

* * * * *

I gathered a “crew” (another Dad and three kids) for the adventure and we set out, a mini-van full of present day explorers armed with camelbacks, sunscreen and GPS.  The weather smiled on us as we left the parking lot and started our direct route to the summit via the White Cross trail. 

 

While the absolute distance was reasonable, hiking direct means hiking steep when you climb mountains.  Our quads were burning as we left the tree-line and scrambled up the last quarter mile of open rock.

 

While summiting a peak is always a great accomplishment, this day was destined for a greater treasure.  We allowed ourselves a short rest, the obligatory summit pictures, and a quick snack before starting our exploratory descent. 

 

Luckily, we quickly distanced ourselves from the mass of hikers at the summit as we aimed for discretion for our hunt.    We set foot off-trail and were immediately hit by the reality of a difficult bushwhack – a whippy tree branch to face!  Distances off-trail are deceiving and terrain is extremely variable.  It always takes longer than you expect.

 

* * * * * 

 

Using our GPS coordinates as a beacon, we navigated the steep slope, creating ad hoc switchbacks to ease the difficulty.  Too often one of us chimed “I think that’s it!”, only to find another anonymous, untouched small clearing of rock.  Questions.   Did I target the wrong spot?  Is the GPS working?  Are we even close?

 

On the verge of calling off the search and starting the equally difficult effort to re-find the trail, we poked through a nondescript row of scrub pines and entered another small clearing.  Boom!  The realization of discovery charged our senses like the ice bucket challenge.  Beyond the beautiful vista afforded by the clearing, we looked down upon the manmade roof of the elusive Pumpelly cave.

 

* * * * *

 

While our discovery does not share the weight of other historic, significant discoveries, the sense of personal accomplishment was overwhelming.

Problem-solving, perseverance, and teamwork.  Our hunt, and discovery, paid-out a grand experience and lasting memories.  Our intrepid crew continues to recount our adventure long after the silhouette of Mount Monadnock has faded from our rear-view mirror.

 

In early July, Unplugged Adventures will lead our first Monadnock Trek and introduce a group of young adventurers to this unique “treasure” of a mountain.

 

For more details and to sign-up for one of our Monadnock Treks, check out this page on our website.

 

For information about our other adventures, access the Our Adventures page on our website.

 

#getunplugged

 

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March 16, 2017

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