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  Volcano Boarding

The Way Spench Remembers It:

volcano boarding

A cool night, best in a long time, and there we were soaking in the soothing hot springs, thinking 'it just doesn't get much better than this', when the moon appeared above the canyon wall. The cosmic rays penetrated our cranial cases and implanted crazy thoughts into our heads - volcano-boarding by moonlight! Before we knew it, we were racing through the desert in a pair of SUVs, kicking up clouds of dust as we power-turned through the twisting maze of trails. Soon, the ghostly image of an enormous slope appeared before us. At first it could have been mistaken as a wide open ski slope, but the temperature was a dead giveaway - there hadn't been any snow in these parts for many a moon. We approach the slope with some trepidation, as this could be a dangerous place in the middle of the night.

"Pumice has a strange texture so it is kinda tough... snowboarding is easier to handle but the skis give off great sparks when metal hits rock..."

We begin the climb, an indirect, treacherous route through razor sharp outcroppings of jagged rock in our quest to reach the summit. Why do we always do this at night? Ascending through the results of volcanic furor, we pass a rise allowing us to view the lunar landscape of the interior of the crater. The only sound is the steady crunch of the gravel under our boots. About an hour later, we are on the summit, the highest mound on a ridge-line a quarter mile long. It is noticeably warmer up high, and perfectly calm. The fire our cohorts built at the base is flickering to conclusion - they did not expect us to take so long.

The hill looks smaller from the bottom but is in fact most of a thousand feet high. The moon has swung around to the side, and the contrast is even greater than in broad daylight. This is our second run, the first taken months before in a light rain. The consistency is markedly different, the rain that had kept the amalgamation of sand, pebbles, and larger rocks firm on that run is long gone, and a dry, choking dust rises from the gravel slides that are initiated by our every move.

Dan the Super Psycho Skier Guy goes first, traversing the slope at great speed while hundreds of sparks fly off of his metal edges. I start down a more direct route, carving my board into the very gravel of the hill, producing few if any sparks. The quiet is broken by hoots and hollers as we work out our methods of carving turns on this rather alien medium. At the bottom, all is quiet once again, the fire is dead, our friends asleep.

After spending a half hour forcing my rear binding to release, I flop down in the sand myself - asleep in minutes. 12 hours later, the sun now shining brightly, we march right back up and ride the volcano again. This time, photos and a video record the necessary proof. Nowadays, whenever I drive by a construction zone, I find myself looking longingly at the piles of gravel. The very essence of my being permanently altered by the experience of volcano-boarding.

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