Saturday, January 23, 2010

Ragged Mountain

I met up with my old rock climbing partner from my college days yesterday, at our former college, now a university. Times have certainly changed. The campus looks nothing like I remember it. The old brick administration building built in the early 1900s still sits proudly facing Stanley Street, but the once brand new dining hall looks old and dingy, and the Student Center has been totally remodeled. In fact, the only thing I recognized at the Student Center from my former days on campus was the bigger-than-life-sized Blue Devil statue that greets people as they enter the cafeteria. Wide boulevards now ring the campus and the city street that once divided the campus in two has been replaced with grass and sidewalks.

After a quick lunch in the cafeteria, Greg and I headed over to our favorite off-campus location, Ragged Mountain. Neither of us had been back to the campus or the rock wall in 30 years. I had printed out a map from the internet showing how to get from campus to Ragged, but Greg opted to rely on his memory for directions, which it turns out is just about flawless, at least when it comes to anything related to rock climbing.

Ragged, fortunately, has not changed much. Its pretty hard to change a vertical stone cliff that is thousands if not millions of years old. The cliffs are part of a preserve, so they are theoretically protected from vandalism, although I did see evidence of grafitti in one spot. But basically the cliffs have not changed, much to my relief. It doesn't appear that they are used much for climbing these days, as evidenced by lack of gymnasts' chalk on their vertical walls, and by the many small trees and bushes growing at the foot of the cliffs.

Greg-of-the-incredible-memory remembered every climb in that uplifted and vertically cracked rust-colored stone block. And when he remembered the climbs and the cracks, I remembered them too. We spent many hours of our young adult lives together at this magical spot. As we walked around the base of the cliffs, I was stunned by their majesty and their beauty and their timelessness, as I had been the first time I laid eyes on them.

I had to touch the surface of the rock. It felt like rough, uneven, medium-weight sandpaper, and my fingers "stuck" to the surface as I ran my hands over its pimply bumps. My fingers still "remembered", even if my feet could no longer gracefully dance up the vertical rock face.

The sun was setting as we were leaving, after we had climbed down the hill to where my car was parked. The setting sun hit the face of the cliff wall, and the rust-colored rock seemed to glow from within, the rock face absorbing the sun's final warming rays. Goodbye Ragged Mountain, goodbye for now. Perhaps I will be back again, for I know the mountain will be here for many years to come.

No comments:

Post a Comment