View Full Version : Compasses and moss



al'Thor
04-15-2008, 04:50 PM
I have been placing some caches in the Machias area this spring and I am still working on a bunch more. I have been focusing on placing quaility caches in quaility areas. Last fall I heard about an area which I thought would be great. It is called Compass Rock in Cutler, ME. It is located on Maine Public Reserve Land.

Compass Rock is a large ledge type area a few miles in the woods off a four wheeler trail. The ledge has a large compass carved into it. According to the old timers in the area, the early settlers of Cutler used this rock as a navigation tool while hunting. There are several other rocks similar to this all around Cutler, but this seems to be the only one on Public Land and easily accessable. Cool; Right! I thought so too. So I did some more research and went out to find Compass Rock.

I found the area with no problem, but there was a problem! The ledge is completely covered by thick moss. I kind of feel that peeling the moss back off the ledge would go against all that Geocaching stands for. What do you all think?

Also, do think the area would still be a good place for a cache without actually getting to see the compass? Is just the story enough? It is a nice area, but it's not really anything special; except for the rock.

Thanks guys!

Mainiac1957
04-15-2008, 04:57 PM
Yes you're right. Everything we learn from caching and being in the woods says to practice Leave no trace. peeling back the moss would definitely go against that principle. Seeing the compass would be cool, but at what cost. Of course that is if it really exists at all. JMHO

Sudonim
04-15-2008, 04:58 PM
I agree with Mainiac. The moss takes so long to establish on a surface, that it would be very destructive to remove it.

Opalsns
04-15-2008, 07:06 PM
Moss is a living Thing. Peeling may kill it and everything that lives in it.So I say
NO PEELING PLEASE !!!! If there is a compass, It hasn't been seen in YEARS!!!!!
OPalsns

Hiram357
04-15-2008, 07:17 PM
it's times like these that I just ask myself... WWWMD... What Would Wal Mart Do???


just kidding... I would leave it be. :D:D:D

brdad
04-15-2008, 07:47 PM
As a geocacher, I say leave it be.

However, IMO it would not be so bad if someone in control of the land wanted to expose the compass (assuming it is there) to keep the story of it alive, perhaps placing a marker there.

If it were my property and I was aware of the story and was sure the compass existed, I would probably expose it to preserve the history. If it was my property and someone else exposed it without consulting me, I would not be so happy.

vicbiker
04-15-2008, 08:04 PM
I would think if the compass was actually there, that the locals would never have let it become over grown with moss. If indeed the compass is buried under a layer of moss, then that's where it should stay. Great story.

al'Thor
04-15-2008, 08:43 PM
I agree! I would not peel back the moss either, just wanted some opinions.

I was thinking about placing a cache there, leaving the moss alone and just tell the story. However, I think I will not place a cache at all. I don't want other people to be temped to peel it up.

It is there. My wife's grandfather (91) lives in cutler and was a wood cutter by profession. He has seen it many times, way back in the day. My MapSend Topo 3d software has it as a POI. Those cords took to the same location the old timers told me to go to. At one point I found mention of it on the web. Surpise, I can't locate it now. I remember searching a while for it.

Mapachi
04-15-2008, 10:57 PM
My wife Shotgun and I make a trip to the Machias area at least once every summer. We have been watching you place these caches and now have begun to drool! Every time you place another cache we get more excited! We can't wait to get "down east" again! We say leave the moss alone the cool story was enough. Thanks!

attroll
04-16-2008, 12:46 AM
I am at odds on this one. If you knew exactly where the compass was under the moss and you knew for sure it was there then I would contact whom ever you needed to for the Public Land and ask them if they were aware of this and see if you could get permission to uncover it but only if you know exactly where it is. It is a piece of history that should not be lost.

darterkitfox
04-16-2008, 09:19 AM
Remember, half the statues on Easter Isle were covered at one time, the city of Pompeii was covered, some of the pyramids were covered, and many other examples. If they were not uncovered by someone, they would never be seen with awe today by many people.

tat
04-16-2008, 09:42 AM
This is certainly a spot worth noting. I think you could use some help to be sure nothing is lost or damaged in the process. The Maine Folklife Center in Orono may be a good start. Contact Pauleena.MacDougall@umit.maine.edu (Pauleena.MacDougall@umit.maine.edu) They may even be able to tell you more about it.

al'Thor
04-16-2008, 10:46 AM
This is certainly a spot worth noting. I think you could use some help to be sure nothing is lost or damaged in the process. The Maine Folklife Center in Orono may be a good start. Contact Pauleena.MacDougall@umit.maine.edu They may even be able to tell you more about it.

Thanks a lot. I'll give it a try.

Kacky
04-16-2008, 03:40 PM
I think it's a pretty safe bet that if you place the cache, some lovely tourist is going to peel back the moss. So I'm glad you're consulting them on it. What the heck, they may want it peeled, and I know lots of landscapers who would be thrilled to acquire a big hunk of moss. So you may end up placing the cache after all.

Hiram357
04-16-2008, 04:27 PM
I think it's a pretty safe bet that if you place the cache, some lovely tourist is going to peel back the moss. So I'm glad you're consulting them on it. What the heck, they may want it peeled, and I know lots of landscapers who would be thrilled to acquire a big hunk of moss. So you may end up placing the cache after all.


find the compass and the moss still lives, that'd be a happy ending :D

dí76
04-16-2008, 05:12 PM
find the compass and the moss still lives, that'd be a happy ending :D


I love happy endings :) :D

brdad
04-16-2008, 08:47 PM
And now man has been demoted to yet another level - the level right below moss?

I have moss growing on my front walkway, do I have to move my door now? :rolleyes:

Hiram357
04-16-2008, 09:26 PM
And now man has been demoted to yet another level - the level right below moss?

I have moss growing on my front walkway, do I have to move my door now? :rolleyes:

Dave, first you need to seek a permit from the DEP, then you have to put your intentions in front of a commitee, technically the moss was there first, so you should ultimately move your walkway, just make sure you don't put it on the ground again. :rolleyes:;):D:p

al'Thor
04-17-2008, 01:28 AM
If only the compass and moss were on my little plot of land.
Moss...what moss......I never saw any moss.

Anyway.....hopefully this will work out. I would like to tell the story, but maybe it is not meant to told. I'll look into it further and let everyone know if I hear anything.

EMSDanel
04-17-2008, 07:13 AM
I wonder.... if you stand on top of the moss, over the compass, will you get this overwhelming urge to turn facing north?

tat
04-17-2008, 08:05 AM
... I would like to tell the story,...


Capturing local history is often an important goal of land stewardship.

firefighterjake
04-17-2008, 08:22 AM
I was going to post on this topic yesterday, but I wanted to sit back and digest some of the points being made. Now, after having thought some more on this subject I have to say that I still have mixed feelings on this thread . . . a very stimulating thread incidentally.

On one hand, one side of me says that the moss should not be disturbed. I like the idea of keeping the area as pristine as possible and believe that the moss covering the rock is just part of the cyclical nature of nature . . . i.e. wooden structures eventually rot and return to the earth, stone foundations eventually are covered in debris, etc. I also think about geocaching and their guidelines which suggests to not leave a trace and disturbing this area would certainly leave a trace . . . exposing the area to me sounds like it would fly in the face of geocaching's guidelines.

On the other hand I agree with posters who say that we do similar acts all of the time . . . anytime we put out a cache and a geo-trail is established inevitably we have disturbed nature, when we move rocks to cover up a cache better we have disturbed nature, when we pile up a bunch of sticks to hide a cache we have disturbed nature, etc. (although arguably not to the point of moving all the moss). I also think about how we humans are always disturbing nature by creating walking trails, snowmobile trails, ATV trails, etc. . . and I weigh this fact against the opportunity to more easily bring people out to a scenic area or a historical area that might be easily forgotten if not for these trails, geocaching, etc.

Like BrDad I wonder when moss became such a revered plant . . . I mean we're not talking about a rare and endangered plant here and with careful removal the moss could be reestablished nearby. Not to get into a philosophical discussion about how some flora and fauna might be "ranked" more important than others . . .

However, as much as I think it would be enjoyable to see such a historical object, I am of the same opinion as VicBiker when he questions how such a place could be allowed to be over-grown. The situation may be different in downeast Maine, but I know around here areas like this would not be allowed to be reclaimed by nature . . . areas such as plane crashes often have trails to them, old mill sites are often frequented . . . even places that are remote such as the Chamberlain Lake Railroad cars have not been forgotten and the Ice Cave (when I last visited it) still had a footpath to it. While trees and plants may grow up in these areas, you can still see these areas . . . while it is possible that such an area as this compass may have been left to become over-grown I am quite surprised as the nature of man is to visit areas such as this and keep such an area exposed . . . people will inevitably trample down small seedlings, others might inadvertently break off a branch as they pass by, still others might purposefully cut back an area to keep nature at bay in some cases. It is possible of course that such an area could have been forgotten and the compass covered up in time however and so I say that it is indeed possible that such a site could be forgotten and lost to time, memory and nature.

I guess for me the one over-whelming concern is that while the history-lover in me would love nothing better than to see one of these compasses personally, the practical side of me would hate to see the area all torn up. In time memory fades . . . and in time even marks made into stone may fade . . . I would hate to attempt to expose this compass only to find out that it is no longer there or is no longer visible or is not where one suspected it to be . . . a risk to be sure.

If this were me I think the first thing I would do is contact the owner/steward of this land and get their opinion . . . you may find out that they too know exactly where this spot is and think it would be a good idea to expose it again, to get folks to check out this scenic and historical area . . . or they might flat out tell you that they would never allow the removal of the moss.

Another possible alternative is to see if any landowners nearby with one of these other compasses might be willing to allow geocachers to see the compass on their property . . . giving others the ability to see an unique part of the downeast heritage.

Hiram357
04-17-2008, 03:06 PM
I wonder.... if you stand on top of the moss, over the compass, will you get this overwhelming urge to turn facing north?

perhaps if that was the truth, even Magellan users might know which way they're going.... :rolleyes::rolleyes::rolleyes::p:D

Nuffer
04-24-2008, 04:17 AM
I come here to praise and admire how articulate firefighterjake is.

firefighterjake
04-24-2008, 08:40 AM
I come here to praise and admire how articulate firefighterjake is.

HehHeh . . . My wife says I just have lots of time on my hands and like to "wax" on and on about things . . . as for being "articulate" I don't know about that . . . but thanks for the praise.