At Rosedale, I learned a good
lesson in empathizing
with the past. I was wandering around the site, taking
and swatting away some annoyingly aggressive flies. A trail led up the
mountain to the top mill ruin, but I was impatient and decided I would
jaunt up the gravel slope instead. The first ten feet went fine.
five feet from the top, I discovered there was nowhere else to get a
I was stuck.
I evaluated my situation. I had
ghost town "don'ts" - the trip was a last-minute decision and
not on the agenda I had given out. Nobody knew where I was. I had only
Cokes in the car. I had no rope or cellular phone. How
The headline would be something like "Ghost Town Homepage Author Fails
to Follow His Own Advice and Dies on Gravel Cliff - Ha Ha, What a
And these flies! Argh!
My options, as I saw them:
Option One: I could let
(face first) back down the ten feet I had come up. I would make it, but
it would really hurt. My camera probably wouldn't survive. Did I
that it would really hurt? Advantages: I would have some cool scars to
talk about. Disadvantages: again, it would really hurt.
Option Two: I could wait
in this position
until someone came to rescue me. Advantages: it wouldn't hurt as much.
Disadvantages: nobody was expecting me until Monday, and I could only
this position for maybe about an hour longer. Didn't seem practical.
The flies were eating me alive!
GET OFF ME!!
I was out of options. There was
I could do. I was stuck, and nobody could help me. For the first time
my life, I felt really, really lonely.
It occured to me then that this
how the people who lived in Rosedale, and in other mining camps, felt.
Really lonely. The work was hard and dangerous. The dirt never
washed out from under their fingernails. It's not suprising that almost
every mining camp had a saloon. The residents needed a place to go to
feel so alone, or to at least to feel alone with others who felt the
The mines at Rosedale are largely
today. But they had names like Baking Powder, Red Wave, Alabama and Amy
B. Names that implied they meant something to somebody, an association
also largely forgotten. At some point in 1928, somebody must have
it significant, at least to their own life history, that they were the
last person to mail a letter from the Rosedale post office. Who sent
letter? Who received it? One thing that makes a place like Rosedale so
lonely is knowing that history is unmerciful in forgetting insignifcant
Yet, perhaps that was history's
If we thought more about the past than we did the future, we'd be
to a life of perpetual "if only's." Melancholy can be painful,
but it doesn't have to be terminal. Maybe that's how the Rosedale
endured their loneliness. They thought less about the hardships they
endured and more about the dinner that awaited them that night, the
goodnight from their wife, the letter they were expecting from a friend
I decided to take my cue from
them. I thought
about eating a good meal that night, of telling my friends about the
I'd visited on this trip, of getting back the photos I'd taken of the
It changed my perspective. Suddenly, the little shrub above me looked
like a hand-hold. I grabbed it. It stayed in place. With Herculean
effort, I pulled myself up the next five feet, combining a
gait with an erradic fly-shooing wave of the arms. About ten seconds
I was safely up the slope, my ankles sore and my lesson learned. And my