An abandoned coal mine stood within riding distance of my house as a kid. It was a huge trench thirty feet deep, fifty feet wide, and about two hundred feet long. The sides were steep with trails that ran between adolescent maple and oak trees, re-growth from clear cutting done decades before. Along the trench floor rusted steel relics of the coal industry jutted from the dirt here and there in tribute to forgotten endeavors. Motorcycle riders would drop in one side of the trench, fly down the trails to the bottom, then climb the other side. With enough momentum, they would launch off the lip of the exiting side jumping ten or fifteen feet in the air.
The entire mine was like this except one end, where the trench floor opened to a wide and gentle grade into the surrounding woods. Near this opening resided Fritchie’s Run, the biggest and meanest of all the hills. It was forty feet tall – four stories of a building – with the last fifteen feet being perfectly vertical. The top was a small plateau barren of anything except a lone pine tree standing sentinel in the dead center. The tree was never of any significance until the day came when one kid’s opinion forced me to take notice.