As we continue our descent down the White Cross Trail from the Mount Monadnock peak, Molly, Tip, Owen, Hannah, and I come upon this branch, bent at childbirth as a sapling.
A young woman on the trail mentions that this branch was purposefully bent by Native Americans. Intrigued, I did a little research. By that I mean, I googled “bent trees as trail guides.” I learned the following.
It seems Native American bent trees in the direction of a frequently visited destination such as a water source, campsite, or a safe river crossing. These were called Marker Trees.
Hardwoods, oaks, maples and elms were their trees of choice. With the sapling staked down, the undamaged tree would continue to grow and new branches, not near the ground, would shoot upwards.
They go by other names: Trail Trees, Crooked Trees, Prayer Trees, Thong Trees.
To be a trail tree, first of all, it must be old enough to have been alive when Native American tribes still lived in the area. The bend is about four or five feet off the ground. The bend is a sharp right angle. The tree then runs parallel the earth for a measure, and turns sharply up again, towards the sky.
After the picture taking, we head to the trailhead after four miles of hiking/climbing over the past three and a half hours.
And then we see masses of young’uns, late teens/early twenties, pass us by in gaggles of fifteen or twenty.
Part 3 concludes the Mount Monadnock blog with what we learned about these young folks and the impression a prospective future member of the Class of 2031 made.