Local Authors Extend Their Boulder Hunt From Massachusetts To New England
"We are all living in New England and we all go to Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine," Butler said. "They are close and are destinations for people who like the outdoors…and there are some big rocks out there."
Butler, a Cheshire resident and visual artist, published two waterfall guidebooks with co-author Russell Dunn, a licensed hiking guide.
In 2016, the two came together to publish their first boulder book "Rockachusetts" that purely focused on mammoth and curious rocks and boulders in Massachusetts with an entire chapter on Berkshire County.
"We were doing the waterfall posters at the time," he said. "We had water on the brain and now we have rocks in the head. That’s what started this a long time ago."
This time Butler set out with his wife, Jan, and cataloged, photographed and recorded GPS coordinates for over 120 boulders, rocks and structures.
"As we went along I recognized there were a lot of places where people are going," Butler said. "There are footpaths, but they are not all well-known and they are kind of outside the radar ... and nobody seems to be doing a book like ours."
The boulders in the book come in all shapes and sizes including the enormous Elephant Head Rock in Carroll, N.H., and the massive 3,400-ton Green Mountain Giant in Whittingham, Vt., to smaller stranger formations like the painted Indian Head Rock in Windham, Vt., or The Mummies formation in North Woodstock, N.H., that because of river erosion creepily looks like mummies lying side by side.
Butler said some of the boulders are all-enveloping and pointed to one of his favorites, the Big Rock Cave on Mount Mexico in Albany, N.H.
"I never heard of it and it is on the underbelly of the eastern side and it is incredible," he said. "It has an upper cave and is huge. It is not really a cave by definition but it feels like a cave."
Butler said it took nearly two years to research the boulders, travel to them and catalog them. He said he used prior research from "Rockachusetts" as well as seeking out old postcards with pictures of landmark boulders.
Butler said each boulder has a photo (Jan is in most of them to provide some perspective), a brief description, maps and coordinates to parking areas and then to the final destination. Hikes are rated by difficulty and boulders are rated by wow factor.
Butler noted that he added in some impressive structures that may not be naturally occurring, but structures made of rocks nonetheless -- like the carved granite grave markers in Hope Cemetery in Barre, Vt., and various stone bridges.
"I rationalized that because they are all made from stone ... little bitty glacial erratics, so I included them," he said. "I could have done more but it is not a book about bridges."
Butler said he chose some rocks just for the story behind them such as Pockwockamus Rock in Baxter State Park in Maine, which Abbot and Nancy Meader have been painting and maintaining since the 1970s.
"He stopped this year. He said this the last time because he is getting older," he said. "But he told me what Pockwockamus means and gave me his definition. He said it stood for all of the mosquitos in the world. I like a guy with a good sense of humor."
Butler admitted that he is no expert or historian and much like "Rockachusetts" he aimed to write digestible entries for the boulders that won’t send the reader into a geologic burnout but hopefully spark a sense of adventure and curiosity.
"I try not to take it too seriously and I am not academically qualified to really go through this stuff," he said. "I have a hard time wrapping my head around it honestly like a rock 60,000 years ago that had a mile-thick ice sheet. I can’t put my head around that, so I just say it was a bazillion years ago. We all know that was a long time ago."
Butler said his main goal is not necessarily to educate but to get people out of their homes and into the wild and provide them with the tools and direction to explore amazing behemoth structures right in their own corner of the country.
Butler said he has thought about finishing his New England suite and writing about rocks in Connecticut and Rhode Island however with travel being a limitation he may focus his attention back on Berkshire County.
"I want to do something strictly with the Berkshires and incorporate the waterfalls, the rocks and some of the prominent places," he said. "The thing is I don’t take it too seriously because I don’t want a job I am retired. I want to enjoy it. It keeps us social, we make a little money back and we just like to do it."
The Butlers’ book can be purchased on Amazon in both black and white and color.
Tags: hiking, local author,
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