On the way to where I took this photo on September 13, 2008, well before the going got rough, he showed me and the others where he’d once dynamited a roadside cliff for gold. You could do that then, before the troubles—buy TNT and blasting caps at the hardware store, go out and seek your fortune. This wasn’t very long ago. What must it have felt like, crashing through the mountains in a beat-up 4WD with a box full of dynamite and a .44 revolver on your hip like he had when he showed us? (We’d be visiting a cave and he had to check for bears and mountain lions.) Damned alive, I say, and happy.
That same day we stopped beside a cliff on a steep rocky mountain, high above an abandoned gold mine where there were giant crystals. We couldn’t get there without ropes and climbing gear, but of course I heard the tale. He’d found one the size of a man and winched it out where we were standing—it took a whole two days! There were also bears. This is not a place you’d want to end up mauled or injured, but he made it out and later sold the crystal for a hefty price. There was more about the cave where the largest crystals were, important business I’ve forgotten about energy and light and pictures in his head, all this at the bottom of a cliff where no one else might ever go.
If I remember, it’s all yours.