From the Mouth of the Rocks

2014-09-30 18:38:00.000 – Richard Bates, Summit Museum Docent


Here we are. We’ve been here before you were born and we will be here long after you die.

We have witnessed and endured 500 million years of time.

Who are we? We live here. We are the reason you have a mountain to visit.

We are gneiss, schist, and granite.

You, dear Mountain friend, journey here so that you can somehow commune and imagine the world’s worst weather. You hear stories of the hurricane force winds, the rime ice, the subzero cold which can penetrate multiple layers of the best winter clothing, and the snow cat that prowls its way up the auto road in the winter.

But do you know what is worse than the worst weather on earth found on Mt. Washington?

Let us tell you. Before we came to withstand cold we lived in a place of heat so hot that the devil would plead for mercy. We’ve been through hell so that this mountain is here.

In the depths of the earth we have been melted, smeared, smashed, compressed and plasticized. We did this all for you.

Now that our time of heat is over and we’ve cooled off, we live here totally exposed for all to see. What’s it like to be totally exposed? It’s like when your soul drains the shame of the most hidden pieces of your life.You are empty.No part of you is safe.

You think all we do is just recline all day in neatly arranged mounds and piles. After all they do call this mountain rock pile.Listen to our voices in the wind. The more we howl, the greater the wind speed.

No we don’t just sit around. We are very useful to you.We are your gateway.You walk on us and poke us with those expensive pointy sticks. You rest your bottles on us and don’t even look down and say, ‘Would you like something to drink?’ You eat your snacks and don’t share. We don’t say a word.

At times, we are not as solid as a rock.As you hike over us you’ll stumble and fall. You’ll skin your knees and ankles. You’ll blame us and we won’t say a word.

Dear Mountain friend, we do ask one favor.Please take good care of your dogs when you hike. We love your dogs when they visit. After all when they roam over us, it’s the only time we get our backs scratched.We are old and our skin is green, lichen covered, and dried up. There is nothing in us but time.

So dear Mountain friend, when you leave the mountain, we will stay. We will pray for the day when the meteorologist on duty will call out to us during the hourly rounds and say, ‘All right this is it.The mother of all storms is on the way.This storm will finally break you.’ But the meteorologist knows that we will not flinch. After all, as we resist the wind the storm will only intensify.We will be ready.Let the storm rant, rave, and rage.

So dear Mountain friend, when you leave, don’t worry. The three of us will always be here so that you can come back. And when your day comes when you ask one of us to reside with you and mark the place of your eternal rest, we will be there.

We will tell your loved ones who and where you are. We will hold your flowers with a grip that will never let go. We will live for the day when the tears of your loved ones grace our face. We can and will withstand anything for you as we have always done.

So dear Mountain friend, rest well. Don’t worry; we will tell your story when your voice has ceased.


Richard Bates, Summit Museum Docent

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