Christmas morning began for me at 5:30 a.m. with a long walk. An attempt at damage control, I was hoping to walk off the week’s sweet holiday indulgences. It was still dark as I left the Rancho and arrived at the fringes of Fairmount Park. Rounding the lake I could see the season’s first snow glowing on the distant mountains. It was cold out, and seeing this icy display made me shiver a little, so I picked up my pace. Rounding the lake to the east I could see the sun’s first rays painting the sky a very deep pink. Suddenly I became obsessed with capturing the sunlight as it caught the snow on the mountaintops … but from where? I had to find an elevated perch from which to shoot … and I had to think fast, since the sky was now a paler pink tinged with gold … I remembered the hill that overlooks the park on Banks Dr., and had to get up there fast … as I approached, I saw that Banks was closed for some reason. Thinking it was closed to cars only, I walked between the barricades and headed up … at the top, the reason for the street’s closure was evident: the rains had caused several large boulders to tumble down onto the street … not a problem for a walker, but disaster for drivers … I kept moving, up to Locust St., then onto the dirt path up the hill … at the top I could see that the sun was now high enough to reach the snow … moving quickly away from the sun and in the direction of the mountains — shooting all the while — I got the shot! The snow was now being warmed fully by the sun’s rays and it was quite a sight in the distance. Providing raucous accompaniment, a seemingly endless flock of crows moved across the sky. Proud of myself, I was suddenly aware of the fact that I was standing on the old rock wall that trails atop the hill … and, stepping off the wall I noticed a name scrawled into the stone I had just been standing on …
… ‘M. L. Geigerr 9-08-1901’ it read, giving a clue to when this wall was created. But, this aged and now-crumbling rock wall that skirts the path is not the only notable feature up here, there’s another hill behind me … and it makes this place an interesting — and scary — place.
The definition of craggy, the hill behind me curves like a grasping claw. Looking up, it’s easy to see how ancient geologic forces caused the rock to thrust upward, creating caves and deep cracks. Signs of squatters, taggers and other fringe-dwellers have been sprayed-painted onto the rocks … looking at them closely should give you a sense of just how monstrously huge this rocky backdrop is. I feel a cold shiver again, combined with a tinge of vulnerability. I had gotten my shot, and walked almost 12,000 steps — time to move out of the shadows at the top of this hill and back into the sun of this Christmas day.