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By bob branscomb
From: Lander, WY
Dec 6, 2013
This is on Supertopo from a year or so back. The Mosquito Bridge is a sort of spiritual home for us Placerville climbers from times past. Maybe gives the feeling we have for the place.
I drive downhill around the last hairpin curve, the last steep narrow drop to the American River. The Doug Firs and Black Oaks are thick down here in the shadowed river coolness. The sunlight flashing on the windshield through the bright green canopy of oak leaves, briefly blinding me driving from dimness to dimness, hoping there isnít some late to work redneck speeding out of Swansboro on my side of the road.
Bought a place out there because they wanted to get away from it all but still have to work in town an hour or more away on this tight windy narrow road. Have to replace the brakes once a year. They drive fast and theyíre real cranky because they bought into it but they arenít rich enough to relax even one day a week. They have to stay at it all the time and theyíre all hemmed in in their wide open ten acres of brush and snakes and they flip you off if you get an inch over the center line or you arenít fast enough or youíre just distracted by the speckling sun on your windshield: they have no time for speckles.
At the last wide spot above the bridge where you have to wait to let cars go across the one lane suspension bridge, I turn around and park facing uphill next to the creek under a California Bay, so sweet and wafting its perfume like a welcome to the shadowed canyon, cool and wet green moss. It will be here long after the silly intense humans are gone.
People stare at me from cars. What are you up to? Start a fire? Steal my stuff? Rape my wife? Whatís your trip walking down a country road? I scoot under the bridge abutment and hop boulders across the river to the cliff. Yeah. The Mosquito Coast of late; the Mosquito Bridge to the original participants. Obscure, steep and difficult. We didnít think we could climb that hard in those days. Now almost everything has been pegged a grade higher. Pretty crazy. Does something good for your spirits to know you were better than you thought.
Now I come mainly to boulder along the base. Hard enough for my meager talents. Touch this water smoothed foundation of my favorite range: the most beautiful, I think, the most forgiving, like a mother who loves her wayward child just because he wanders, but hers only and forwever. The granite is so polished that it looks like glass, a mirror even. I can touch it and see, there on the other side, a young and wild haired me, an old friend always with me inside. I feel him take my hand as I remember that younger me: faster and bolder, maybe better, certainly much crazier: my old friend. Pity those who have never been crazy: they have never lived. Bukowski, I believe.
I almost bought it here free soloing, at the top of Reluctant Elevation, thirty feet or so off the hard stone deck.
Funny little guy panic running around mad as a hatter in there pulling the fire alarms while Iím there on the stage. Like they say, even if the sound cuts out on you, you have to carry on the show because you just fail if you donít but if you fail carrying on, well, at least you get applause.
You canít just stand there and cry because this is not the venue for your special little gifts, which it never is. You are always lacking in some way and you just gotta carry on. You just liked being there and now look where all that spiritual and aesthetic bullshit has put you: right up the big creek. So you better just put it in low gear and grind it out, Bobby boy. You donít want them to find you lying in your own brains and blood down on that granite patio, quietly running down to the sea.
I had to do something before I burned off so when I finally got tired of the nauseating vista of the bulges over on Octopusí Gardens to my left, it was like something Bukowski said: nature gets to be an endless bore, and more than anything I was getting bored standing there waiting for something to happen so I decided that if I demonstrated an unusual amount of technique and power I could latch what appeared to be a finger lock at the top of the corner and hoping to rely on adrenaline, haul my ass over the top. This worked to remarkable effect and I was able to wimper my way to behind the road support pillar above, where I cowered for a good fifteen minutes trying to calm myslef.
Iím glad I donít have to wear those shoes anymore.
So here I am, all these years later. Some people would say it was a waste of time. I should have thought more about making money and a career and all that. Iím looking up at the road at, what I assume, are many examples of that thinking, racing back and forth, worried and angry. Yeah, youíre a big success all right, probably Republican to boot.
Ah, thatís neither here nor there, is it, Bobby? Get back to what you know. These movements the memory of long practice, the polished smears to be pressured just so, the smooth jams and bridges. You just let it happen and before you know it youíre on your ass on your pad, sometimes actually planning it that way. More often than not, you have to try it several times before the memory kicks in as to how hard you have to crank to succeed here, how precise your technique must be on this river polished stone. It comes together after a bit and youíre just a passing shadow across the stone.
Maybe thatís all we are, really, shadows passing across this, a small stone third from the sun. Our days are but pretence, our nights the wish of Ophelia, hoping to dream.
The day is dimming. The traffic is lessening, the time between cars longer and longer, allowing the silence to ease up from down stream, the darker green and granite grays, cool between the sound of cars creaking across the old bridge. The gleam of water washing stone in the twilight. Moments of thought impressed on the breathing quiet, as if they were not your own but some air you feel passing through you. You rise and touch stone again. In the twilight the folds and edges stand alive and you move again in the silence flowing around you, moving across stone.
Why we go
Why we are
The magic of where we go
And how we go thereÖ
From: Lake Tahoe, Ca
Jan 30, 2014
|... Im curious about the wicked steep boulder down and to the right of the bridge... It looks like a dicey solo but there's def a line going up the left super-steep side. I cant imagine it remains unsent... Does anyone have any info on this line?|
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