Updated: Jul 9, 2018
**UPDATED on 7/8/2018**
Hiking through the woods in the various areas across southeastern Massachusetts, you find the unique land that us natives and chronic visitors love. The sea and treescapes, the hills, the wetlands, lakes and beloved salt marshes (my fave!). If you are a frequent hiker, you will see wildlife and notice the subtle changes brought on by storms and mother nature. You also - good or bad - will find artifacts that other humans have left behind. In a few places in the area, I have spotted rocks that people have decorated with paint and inspirational quotes. At Ellisville Harbor State Park, in South Plymouth, there are Kindness Rocks, (a global movement). You should visit Ellisville State Park in person (for so many beautiful reasons, but also because people have placed rocks with stories written on them at the entrance to the beach.
It is upsetting to find litter and waste, because those that litter and destroy, make it more costly for us all and sometimes cause the public access areas to be closed all together. Lately we have seen parks not allowing dogs to be off leash, or at all. Sometimes it’s for habitat related reasons, but many times it is because some people are careless. Anyways, let's get to the point. Let's get to the mystery at hand.
On June 30th, my friend, who lives in central Mass. was visiting me, and I wanted to find a new (to me) route to enjoy with her. She tends to hike mountains. We don’t really have that option here in S.Plymouth, so I decided to take her into Myles Standish, a park that I have cycled in for years, but have only just begun hiking with my dog. I had read about the Wishbone trail, which is a 13.6 mile hike from Ellisville Harbor State Park, that basically goes across the Plymouth end of Myles Standish, but we didn’t have that kind of time on our hands. I designed our own route on Alltrails.com which we would start at the West entrance/HQ at East Head Pond, go up part of the Wishbone trail via East Head loop and Bentley loop, stop for a dip in College Pond, and then head back. The hike was great and the weather very warm.
On our way back, at about mile 6 of the 8 mile journey, we were crossing over a very overgrown path back to Bentley Loop, and we saw a tree covered in red.
Very tired, we approached this tree with Elmo dolls of all varieties placed around it and nailed to it. Our tired minds started working, and we both scratched our heads at what this meant. I asked my friend if it was an Elm tree, since I am a tree dummy, and maybe it was a play on words. It wasn’t. It was a pine, like most every other tree in the sandy soils of Myles Standish. And I really should know the difference between a pine and an elm, duh! I was tired!
We took some pictures, and carried on back. Later, when looking at the pictures we had taken over the course of the morning, I did the logical thing and I turned to the Internet.
I needed to know the meaning of the Elmo Tree! I googled so many combinations of key words and hashtags. Nothing. I did find stories of the two victims that were killed in the park in the last 40 years. Mary Masters, a 33 year old school teacher from Hanson, MA who was murdered in 1977 while on the bike trail with her family. Tracy Gilpin was murdered in 1986, and was only 15. Both of these cases went cold before they were solved. These are very sad stories.
Honestly, the tree didn’t seem like a solemn memorial to one of those victims. The Elmo tree made us smile. Giggle even. Elmo didn’t even become a character on Sesame Street until the early 80s, and that silly laughing doll didn’t debut until the 90s. How could it be a tribute to those families who suffered such tragic losses in the 70s & 80s?
Since google provided nothing for the meaning of the tree, I decided to seek wisdom from the Facebook group that the people of my town turns to for answers, All Things Plymouth,
I originally posted the picture only a few hours after we returned from the hike. I wrote this blog post 22 hours after the sighting. Over the last week, there have been active shares comments & theories from the people of the group. Not only that, other media outlets have shared or discussed this story to their audiences. So far, Fun 107, Southcoast Live, and Coast to Coast AM, an international show out of Los Angeles, have posted about the Elmo Tree in Myles Standish!
Someone in All Things Plymouth shared a video from Old Colony Memorial page. of another hiking group who stopped by this same tree in March of this year. No one in that group knew it's origin either, only that it was a good place to stop along the hike.
One week gone; many online conversations near and far, and still, no one has come forward about the Elmo Tree.
Is it similar to the blair witch phenomenon?
Is it a tribute or memory to someone?
Is it just someone trying to make tired hikers happy?
What do you think?
Quite the discussion has happened in the last several days as to what this tree means. Many passionate comments and speculations. I began to think that these elmos are triggering something inside of us. Like most mysteries, people reason and come up with theories based on their beliefs. When I was there last Saturday, the vibe I got was one of humor and light hearted-ness.
Whoever lined this tree with little Elmos, and maintains the order of the dolls, has certainly tickled the curiosities of many!
Check out this list of my favorite comments from the different public shares
The girl I was with, long time friend @Gginger13, who also contributes to our Community Blog, just completed a new video on the adventure. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!
I hope that this Elmo curiosity brings people who normally wouldn't, out for a hike. Get inspired by nature, and go check out this part of Myles Standish. We have wonderful conservation trails all along the lower South Shore, South Coast and Cape. You never know what you may see out there, and it's too hard to put into words how it feels to be out there in nature. You just need to feel it and breathe it yourself. I highly recommend taking a hike in Myles Standish. Several route maps are available here, courtesy of Friends of Myles Standish. Heading into the depths of this vast state park alone can be daunting, and possibly dangerous, so bring a friend, or find a hiking group. Check out the meetup schedule here for Friends of Myles Standish.
Thanks for reading. Now go get some inspiration: wander outside!