New Hampshire rocks are often like the clouds in its skies–if you stare at them long enough they start to look like something else. She has been known by several names: The Watcher, the Old Woman of the Notch, the Maid of the Mountain, the Old Lady of the Mountain. She was born at the same time as her formerly famous counterpart, The Old Man of the Mountain.
She is smaller, and not quite so easy to see. There is no plaza, no parking lot in her vicinity. No famous statesman has ever uttered a pithy quotation about her. And so the Old Woman of the Notch languishes along with other rare natural rock profiles in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.
The Old Woman of the Notch, aka The Watcher, is an outcropping of Eagle Cliff (sometimes called Eagle Crag), that is in itself a shoulder of Mt. Lafayette [incorrectly attributed as Mt. Webster in some old books]. A 1955 edition of the Trenton Evening Times newspaper noted “she wears tall trees as a frazzled hair-do…” This rock profile faces east, and seems to be bent and looking down upon approaching visitors. It can be viewed “from a small clearing at the south end of Profile Lake” looking to the highest part of Eagle Cliff.
The Old Woman profile is not alone. An ancient guide book of 1876 describes several other rocks as follows, though I cannot seem to find out much more about them–The Infant, the Young Man, the Sentinel, the African Face, and the Grand-mother. Have they fallen, or been knocked over by rock enthusiasts? If you know the location, or have a photograph of any of these rare profiles, I hope my readers will share them here. The GORP guide to the White Mountains does not mention any from this list except the “Old Lady of the Mountain.”
“A short distance below the Gate of the Notch, and about 1/2 m. from the hotel, guide-boards are raised by the roadside, telling where to look on the adjacent cliffs to see the profiles of the Old Maid of the Mountain, the Infant, the Young Man, the Sentinel, the African Face, and the Grand-mother. The labor of hunting out these profiles, whether successful or otherwise, is doubtless a prolonged and valuable discipline of imagination. The Old Maid and the Infant are seen from nearly the same point, the former being on a spur of Mt. Webster [Mt. Lafayette], and the latter on the side of Pulpit Rock.”[The White Mountains: a handbook for travelers, by M.F. Sweetser 1876]
Here is a Video of The Old Woman. Mile Marker 109, at Profile Lake
*Additional Reading about the Old Woman of the Notch*
1Happy Hiker: A Trek to South End of Eagle Cliff Ridge (great photos of the Old Woman from the south and the north)
RodNH with photographs
1932 photograph of the Watcher: Dartmouth College