"I was, in fact, homesick for wildness, and when I found it I knew how intimately - how resonantly - I belonged there. We are charged with this - all of us. For the human spirit has a primal allegiance to wildness, to really live, to snatch the fruit and suck it, to spill the juice." - Jay Griffiths, Wild: an Elemental Journey
Thursday, July 19, 2012
Notes from the Magical Quarry
I don't know what I expected, but I certainly didn't expect this. Nothing in the Catskill trail book could have adequately prepared me for what I found here today.
The whole experience even driving up here was trippy. Since Oldman decided to take a rest day and I was on my own, maybe I noticed everything more than usual. The precarious, steep road that my Civic almost couldn't navigate was lined with fallen boulders and logs. The signs said the road was closed from November 1st - April 15th, but I wondered about the wisdom of it being open even now, in mid-July.
I even drove past some sort of commune. It was called Plate Clove community. It was this huge complex that popped out in the most remote part of the drive. There were some people walking around with head coverings and denim overalls or skirts. They hinted of Amish, but obviously weren't. Hmmm. . . a subject for later investigation.
At last I arrived at the trailhead. I planned to hike to the site of Dibble's Quarry, which my trail book said has been abandoned for over 100 years and has been transformed by unknown artists. Needless to say, my interest was piqued. I was picturing a wide open quarry with water at the bottom, like the ones I've played in back home in Pennsylvania. I thought maybe the artists had made carvings or paintings on the stone walls. But this quarry is so old that the forest has grown up around it.
I stepped out of the mile long wooded path I had hiked to get here into . . . what? What appeared to be an abandoned rock civilization. An open hillside of sprawling broken up rock. To my right, a cathedral built of these rocks, complete with two thrones side by side, and a childs throne next to it. This cathedal also had two more seats, two fireplaces, & what appeared to be a lookout tower of some sort.
This whole structure alone would have been enough to boggle my mind. But it was only the begnning. I widened my gaze and saw another hand-built rock path down below that I had walked right by without noticing. These rocks all look the same. It is easy to miss the subtle art hidden all around.
I went down and followed the rock path to four more smaller structures, each with at least one stone chair. The path was lined with knee height rock walls and paved with sturdy, stone steps. The craftsmanship was stunning.
Upon further investigation into the woods behind the first, main cathedral, I found labrynthian paths that led for another half a mile, all leading to more intricate rock structures. In addition to many, many more chairs and fireplaces, I also found a dining room setup with a flat rock table, and a few structures I guessed were some kind of shrines.
It is impossible to describe this to you here. I explored for an hour - up and down hills, around corners, on the path, off the path, behind groves of trees - and am sure I still missed some parts.
Now I am sitting on one of the big thrones from the original cathedral and writing these notes. I'm starting to feel like I live here. I wish I had brought some food to cook over this rock stove in front of me. I wish I had brought my sleeping bag; I could easily roll it out on the slab at my feet and spend a beautiful, starry night.
This is one of the most magical forest places I have ever been, and I've been in many forests all over the world. I feel connected to those who have been here before. The dozens - maybe hundreds - of mysterious hands who so carefully built these structures for others, whom they will never meet, to enjoy for generations. It must have taken them years. Who were they? Why did they do it?
I meditate, sing a loud song over the mountain valley below me, give a deep bow, and head back home.