We went to Seneca Rocks, WV this weekend to go rock climbing (which was awesome!), so there was no time for writing. I did read a bit, though, and finished up Kabul Beauty School (review forthcoming). At one point, the author, Deborah Rodriguez, shares directions to her house, out of which she ran her beauty school:
Go to the Internet café near the rotary in Shar-e-Now, the one near the emergency hospital with the red and white paint on the wall. Take a right, and you’ll then be on the main street in Shar-e-Now. Before you get to the bombed-out movie theater you’ll see a bright yellow building. Turn right there, then drive past the street with all the dead cows. Continue past the old warlord house, then go left at the next street. You will see a blue-and-white-striped box and a sign that says ASSA in black letters. Just ahead, there’s a gray building with a lot of Afghan men hanging out in front, a tailor shop, a compound with a blue gate, and a hand-pump well on the corner. My guesthouse is the one with the blue gate (177).
For some reason, I was reminded of the Kabul directions the next day when Adam read aloud the guide book’s directions to our climb:
About 150 feet uphill (north) of the edge of the Southeast Corner is a long, vegetated, low-angled ramp. Climb the right-leaning ramp in two easy pitches, until Lower Broadway Ledge is reached at a point below UP AND COMING (200 ft). (168)
I can tell you that in that moment, they seemed a lot more similar to me than they do now as I write them out – there are no bombed-out buildings, dead cows, or warlords in the wilderness of West Virginia. In all seriousness, though, I think what really struck me was how incomprehensible both sets of directions are. Kabul and Seneca are “wild” in completely different ways. In Kabul, it’s because the city was underdeveloped and none of the streets were named, at least at the time. Unfortunately, things aren’t likely to get a whole lot better for Afghanistan anytime soon. At Seneca, there is barely any development because it’s still wilderness. Thankfully, I have Adam to translate the guidebook and we happily found our climb. It isn’t easy, though, if you don’t know where you’re looking. I was thinking about how to fix this difficulty because I always want to fix things… and I came up with the ridiculous and impossible idea of posting a little sign at the base of each climb with its name and difficulty rating (so CONVENIENT, right?) Convenient, yes. Wild, no. Part of the draw of climbing for me is, most basically, the physical act of climbing and the puzzle of figuring out the route. But I can do that in a gym, and I don’t. One of my favorite parts of climbing, really, is being out on the rock: the feel of real rock under my hands, the wind and sun on my face, the view from up high on the rocks. We saw a turkey vulture fly by below us this weekend and talked about how rare and awesome that is to experience, particularly on the east coast. I really don’t want to make climbing more “convenient” because that would make it less “wild.” I want my rocks as wild as they can be while still being climbable.
Oh, PS – Regarding the title of this post: There are plenty of LIVE cows at Seneca. Every once in a while on the rock you hear a loud “moooooo.” Also, there are hunters in the area so sometimes there are gunshots as well. I have to say it crossed our minds: WAIT – IS SOMEONE SHOOTING COWS???