It’s A Myth-Story!
But not for those who attended the Greek Myth-Story Event in June 2006, and not for those who know that a tornado struck here shortly after…and also, not for those who know that some of the first letterboxes in Massachusetts were placed here. And if that’s not enough, just look for the place where the M&M trail and Ruggles Pond join forces. This is a state park and seasonal fees do apply.
Now that you’re here, let’s go back in time to Ancient Greece. It is a time of gods and goddesses, of heroes and monsters, of kings and conquests, and of travel and adventure. And yes, of misfortune, heart-ache, revenge, jealousy, and war. What did Pandora unleash? Everything, except for one little thing…and that thing is hope! If you are hoping to find out more about the Myth-Story boxes, then read on. Be prepared for an adventure that may take 4-5 hours to complete in entirety, but optional bail-out points are presented which shorten the trip.
TRAIL NOTE, UPDATED 6/23/07: The trails are all clear thanks to volunteer efforts by members of the Appalachian Mountain Club! The tornado damage was extensive, and the M&M trail at the start of this adventure shows all the signs. Because the trails are now easily passable, this series has been downgraded from "extreme" to merely "difficult". However, caution is required in a few areas where self-injury is possible. Use your best judgment, especially when children are involved.
MINOTAUR: Theseus was the son of the king of Athens, and was a young man anxious to prove himself a hero. Each year, an unlucky group of youths and maidens were offered up for sacrifice to the Minotaur. The Minotaur was half-man, half-bull, and he was kept in an underground labyrinth in Crete. The labyrinth was so tricky that no one could escape from it! But Theseus thought he could, so he joined the sacrifices and entered the labyrinth. He had one advantage, in that the daughter of the king of Crete, Ariadne, had given him a sword and some thread to mark his way through the labyrinth.
It is your task to join the group of sacrifices and face the Minotaur! Your journey begins at the trailhead on the far side of the normal chariot parking area. Enter the woods; follow the white blazes of the M&M trail, and descend towards the realm of the Minotaur…you will soon arrive at a shelter on your right. It’s a good idea to stop and rest here. Beware; he may be closer than you think! Look in the rocks below the dwelling where the Minotaur wanders in its labyrinth.
MEDUSA: Medusa was a monster to be pitied. She was once a beautiful maiden with gorgeous hair, but she vied in beauty with Athena so the goddess changed her hair into hissing serpents. Medusa became so frightful that any creature who looked upon her was instantly petrified! A man named Perseus set out to kill her, and approached her lair while she was sleeping. He was armed with Athena’s bright shield and the winged shoes of Hermes. His plan was to use the shield to reflect Medusa’s image, and then kill her!
It is your task to find Medusa before her head is chopped off! After facing the Minotaur, head downhill until you reach the narrow ravine on your left. You will soon hear and then, a ways later, see a confluence of streams below to your left. When you have a clear view of this merge, stop and look left for a 4-sister birch tree with snake-like roots that grows on the downward slope of the ravine. Approach stealthily and look for a nearby rock, where you shall find Medusa sleeping in her cavern.
Note 2/17/14: Reportedly the stamp is disintegrated. So sorry, Medusa has been defeated.
APHRODITE: The goddess of love, Aphrodite (or Venus), was accustomed to reclining in the shade, or visiting her favorite resorts, or just lounging around in the heavens. One day, while playing with her son Cupid, she was struck with love for a mortal man named Adonis. She followed Adonis through hills and wood, and hunted small game. Adonis, however, hunted more dangerous prey and was killed by a wild boar. Aphrodite was furious with grief and sprinkled nectar on his blood, from which arose a blood-red flower. The anemone, or wind flower, was short-lived. You may find relatives of this flower in the woods that look like buttercups.
Your task is to find Aphrodite where she hides in the woods. She is reclining in the shade of a large mossy rock, heart-broken with grief. You will come upon signs of her as you head down the hill and see a very large torrent of her tears flowing on your right. Carefully cross this flow at its midsection (rock-hop here or pass at the trail crossing at the bottom of the hill, then climb up the hill on the opposite side) and spy the large moss-covered rock ledge on the opposite side of the cascading stream. There is a medium-sized grey birch tree with peeling bark and a small protruding rock at its base about 10 feet from the rock wall. Stand here facing the rock wall, look to 10 o’clock, and discover the goddess resting within the rocks.
TROJAN HORSE: After meeting with Aphrodite, continue on the main trail which crosses this stream then turns sharply uphill. At the top of this short but steep rise, rest. Make your way along the level ground, looking for a boulder on your right. Circle to the backside of this boulder and see a rock to the SE. Look in the SE corner of this rock to discover a surprise.
APOLLO: The Sun-God, son of Zeus, master of the lyre, god of medicine, and brother of Artemis. What a guy! He’s hanging out near the intersection of the M&M trail with a wider road, marked by a sign pointing right for the M&M. At this intersection, turn left and notice a trail marker on a tree to the left. This tree is neighboring the rock under which you’ll find Apollo. He’s practicing for the upcoming musical face-off with Pan.
PAN: The god of flocks and shepherds, Pan, was a satyr. The satyrs were deities of the woods and fields, with bristly hair, feet like goats, and short horns on their heads. Pan is known for playing his flute of reeds, today known as the pan flute. He went so far as to challenge the god Apollo (famous for playing the lyre) to a musical trial of skill. The arbiter was Tmolus, the mountain god. This trial takes place in the woods of the mountain, where you will bear witness and decide for yourself whose music reigns supreme.
After finding Apollo, you turn back towards the intersection and continue on the road. Look for a 3-4’ banking on your left, beyond which lie some granite cliffs, a little ways off-trail. At the sign of the 3 sister-trees (the left of which is a birch), make your way up the embankment. Look left towards a grouping of large moss-covered rocks. This is the site of the challenge. Find Pan playing his flute beneath a flat stone within the hollow of an old birch tree.
ATHENA: Athena is the Goddess of Wisdom. She is known for her intelligence, art of weaving and craft, good judgment, and clever strategy in war. She is Zeus’ favorite child, and gives reasoned counsel to all. Her symbols are the owl and the olive. Continue uphill and around a bend to the left; you may notice a plaque embedded in the rock to your right and ahead, there are rocks strewn in a line across your path. Stop before these rocks and look off-trail to your right. In the crux between M&M and a new path (Lynn’s Falls), there is a grouping of large rocks. Look within for a small cave where Athena presides.
HERMES: There’s a message for you! Hermes will deliver it on the overlook trail. To get there, keep following the road from Athens. Turn right at the intersection with Jerusalem Road. Soon, you should notice a narrow trail on your left, blazed in white (M&M), which climbs steeply up towards the overlooks. Now at this point in your journey you have a choice. You may return home by continuing along Jerusalem Road, bearing right at all intersections of double-wide roads, and you’ll find yourself on a paved road that leads you directly to the beach (about a 20min walk). OR, you may enjoy a pleasant climb to the top of Mount Olympus and seek some treasures as you survey the land (about a 30min side-trip).
Climb the steep overlook trail and arrive at a “T” junction; turn left. You will soon come upon some stone steps with a small granite ledge to its right. Before climbing the steps, follow the ledge on the right and look for a tree growing out of it, about 3’ above the ground. Hermes awaits you on the right side of this tree.
ZEUS: The King of the Gods is surveying his domain on high. To reach him, you will continue on the trail after meeting Hermes. At the first overlook, beware! The King of Gods resides in a place where mortals must be wary! If you have dared to seek Zeus, he will disguise himself as a mortal and hide in strange places. Take in the view, and look left where a small gap between the rocks has formed. Carefully cross over this gap, with the laurels on your left, and sneak through the hemlocks. Follow the clearest "path" for about 30 steps. Look for one hemlock in particular, that grows above a rock ledge with a small, strangely cornered stone at its base. Once spotted, look opposite this tree for another, smaller rock ledge where Zeus is hiding. Be careful of protruding broken tree limbs in this area. Respect the power of Zeus, and then continue on to the next overlook.
MOUNT OLYMPUS: Onward, ho! To the mountain of the gods, we go! From the first lookout, go back to the main trail and head north again. Mind the bees. Cross a log bridge and veer left at the Y to reach the summit of Mount Olympus! . Before taking in the view, look off-trail to your right for a shady glen. Duck inside (you may even need to crawl) and seek a small, lonely rock. Reach behind its ledge for Mt. Olympus.
Return the way you came in by taking the first right at the Y, re-crossing the log bridge, and staying straight on the trail. After a while when you arrive at the intersection of trails beyond the overlooks (marked by a double white blaze), continue straight. This trail section is new to you, and heads downhill through forest. You’ll see an animal shelter on your right, and shortly intersect the main road. Note: If you are also a spectator of the Labors of Hercules, then you should follow those clues from this point on until they lead you back towards Narcissus. Head left at the intersection with the road. Stay straight on the road until you encounter an intersection with Wickett Pond Road. There’s a gate right! Take it and you’ll soon arrive at an intersection where paved road begins. The paved road heads straight to the beach, passing by the comfort station. If you desire to continue your adventure, then bear left instead onto the grassy road (Pine Tree trail).
NARCISSUS: The following is a cautionary tale of what happens when a woman is scorned… One day Hera suspected that her husband Zeus was visiting with the nymphs, and went to seek him out. A beautiful nymph named Echo, who was fond of talking and always having the last word, delayed Hera in her search, and allowed the nymphs to escape. When Hera discovered this, she cursed Echo so that she may never speak first, only reply.
Echo lived in the woods and came across a beautiful youth named Narcissus, with whom she fell in love. She followed him and when Narcissus shouted “Who’s here?” Echo replied, “Here.” Narcissus did not see her and called out, “Come!” But Echo could only reply, “Come.” Again Narcissus tried to find who was following him and said “Let us join one another,” to which Echo answered the same and rushed to meet him, and throw her arms around his neck. “Hands off! I would rather die than you should have me!” exclaimed Narcissus, to which Echo replied, “Have me.” Sadly, Narcissus left her and Echo hid in caves and rocks and woods, and faded away until there was nothing left but her voice, replying to anyone calling out.
But what happened to Narcissus, who spurned all women whom he met? One maiden who also felt unreturned love for Narcissus prayed for revenge, that he may know love with no return of affection. The avenging goddess Nemesis heard this prayer and cursed Narcissus to look upon the mirrored waters in a pool in the wood, and there he saw an image so beautiful he could not resist it. Narcissus gazed upon his own reflection and fell in love, unable to tear himself away. It is said he stared into the pool until he pined away and died, leaving behind only a flower, purple within, and surrounded with white leaves.
You shall seek the mirrored pool of Narcissus, and be reminded of his folly. Descend down the Pine Tree trail and shortly you will see another cart path to your left. Take this and it will seem to stop entirely a short ways down. Look to the left for a small path towards the pools in this still part of the forest. Zeus in his fury has uprooted a large tree to your right. Make sure you get your bearings here as you will go off-path for a short ways and some overgrowth is evident. Make your way around the tree and look for the remnants of a stone wall on the right where pine trees grow. Cross over the wall and notice birch logs on the ground. Narcissus’ image (all that is left) lies within the rocks near the birch. Back-trace your steps around the fallen tree back to the double-wide path and return to the wide Pine Tree trail "T" intersection. You will be going left, continuing down the hill towards Ruggles Pond.
ARTEMIS: Artemis, also known as Diana, was goddess of the hunt, wilderness, and wild animals. Her twin brother is Apollo. Artemis was fond of hunting with her bow and arrows, and after a day of such, repaired with her nymph companions to her favorite pool to bathe. This day, a young prince named Actaeon was also out hunting with his friends and when this hunting party rested, Actaeon wandered alone into the woods. He came across Diana bathing, and surprised unawares, Diana became incensed! She turned Actaeon into a stag; he fled and didn’t know where to go, or what to do, for he still thought like a man. While he hesitated, the dogs from his own hunting party spied him and chased him! He could hear his friends calling after the dogs, too. Finally, the dogs captured Actaeon and, as he was in the form of a stag, he was killed by them.
If you dare to seek Diana, continue on the Pine Tree trail downhill. When you see a clearing to your right, bear left and soon see a single-track trail to the left, which leads down to the marsh. Descend this trail, and bear left at the T intersection. You are now on the Pond Loop trail. Follow this trail towards a nice view of the marsh, cross the stones in the water, and stand in front of a pine tree marked in blue that has grown its roots over a small rock. Look into the woods to the left for a medium-sized flat rock, about six feet wide, with another pine tree growing at its left side. Diana resides with the pine in her sacred valley.
SCYLLA AND CHARYBDIS: The sea monster Scylla was once a beautiful nymph who was pursued by the sea-god Glaucus. Glaucus went to the Sorceress Circe to obtain a love potion to give to Scylla, such that she would fall in love with him. Circe, however, fell in love with Glaucus, who wanted none of her. In a rage, Circe created an evil potion for Scylla, which turned her into a monster with 6 heads. Scylla resided under a rock on one side of the Straight of Messia. She would reach out in her misery and, with each head, eat one of the members of each passing ship’s crew.
Now, Odysseus was on his voyages and had already encountered the Sorceress Circe. She warned him of the danger of Scylla and also of Charybdis. Charybdis was a whirlpool on the other side of the straight from Scylla; three times daily the water rushed into the gulf and was disgorged. Any vessel near the pool when the tide was rushing in must be ingulphed. Odysseus sailed through the strait, and kept a look-out for the waters of Charybdis. While thus occupied, the monster Scylla attacked the ship from the other side, and Odysseus lost 6 of his crewmen to her.
It is your task to make it through the strait intact…watch for Scylla and Charybdis both! The strait consists of 3 wooden walkways through a swampy area. To your right notice tangles of roots (does Scylla disguise herself among them?). To your left, keep an eye out for the pool of Charybdis, lined with rocks. Do NOT stray from the path! After passing through successfully, you will skirt the right edge of Charybdis (now, go off-path) and look for the nearest rock grouping. Look between 2 rocks and beneath a rotting log. It is safe to stop here, you have successfully navigated the realm of Scylla and Charybdis!
PANDORA: Art thou losing hope? Or just stamina? Alas, Pandora, she did release a myriad of worries! Plot your revenge against her...she has caused enough trouble here and has traveled to a nearby land to wreak havoc! Choi and GingerBlue know all about her sneaky ways!
POSEIDON: The ruler of the ocean, Poseidon (also known as Neptune), rests near the water. His brothers are Zeus (Jupiter) and Hades (Pluto). Upon dethronement of their father, Saturn, the brothers divided their inheritance. Zeus rules the heavens and Pluto rules the underworld (realms of the dead). The Earth and Olympus were common property. Poseidon is said to travel the ocean in his chariot drawn by horses. It is your task to seek the favor of Poseidon, for continued safe travels around the surrounding waters. As you leave Scylla and Charybdis, head through the forest of pine and notice when the path re-emerges closer to shore. As the trail winds along, look for a long fallen tree lining the left side of the path. Poseidon hides beneath in the region between two sentries.
HERA: Hera is the wife of Zeus, and queen of the gods. The peacock was her favorite bird. She had an attendant named Iris, who was the goddess of the rainbow. Hera was not the nicest queen there ever was, and was often jealous of Zeus’ affairs. She punished her rivals in devious ways. She was worshipped as the goddess of marriage and birth, and her sacred animal was the cow. Hera’s main sanctuary was at Argos, but currently she is on the move. She and Zeus are having another tiff, and Hera flew as far from Mount Olympus as she could. To find her, continue on the loop trail bearing right at any intersections. You will cross a series of bog bridges through the swamp. After one such bridge, look for the trail to become very rooty and rocky. A large pine is on the left, and a large stump is on the right. At the next white blaze, stop. In five steps you will meet Hera behind a small rock. Be respectful or beware her wrath!
CUPID’S ARROW: Cupid (Eros) is the son of Aphrodite, the Goddess of Love. It is said that a person struck by Cupid’s arrow will then fall in love. There are many legends regarding Cupid, but it is clear that Cupid is a god always associated with love in its many forms. Cupid himself is said to have fallen in love with a mortal woman named Psyche. Cupid is also said to have been a mischief-maker, and used his special bow and arrows to cause people to either fall in love or to become indifferent.
Cupid left his arrows in a secret place in the forest where you may find them if you look carefully. After you leave the realm of Hera, continue on following white blazes uphill over many rocks and roots. Keep an eye out for a sign of Cupid, in white on a tree. When you see it, stop to rest on an inviting rock nearby and ponder where Cupid may have hidden his arrows.
Now you have completed the quest, a nod to your bravery and commitment! To return to your chariot, continue following the white blazes through the woods and emerge at Athena’s Temple (which has been reclaimed by the present century). Alas, bid good-bye to Ancient Greece, but keep its lessons in your heart! As a gesture of your heroism, once you have completed this quest you should consult with Athena (SB) about obtaining your right to access the Greek Myth-Story event stamp and logbook. This can be available at many gatherings of adventurers, so contact Athena ahead of time to ensure your success! :)