Wednesday, October 4, 2023

An Old School Skater Remembers the Mini Ramp Once Hidden in the Hills of Mendocino County

Local Thomas Marston and his high-speed backside 5-0 grind. [Photograph by Eric Lee Burch]

Once upon a time there was a mini ramp, built on property deep within the hills of eastern Mendocino County, that became legend. Ask anyone who was involved with skateboarding back in the day, and chances are, they have stories to tell.

Mid-2021. It was a reunion of sorts. A farewell too. Word had it that the ramp’s days were numbered. Soon it would become a memory. So what better way to say good-bye than to get some of the Willits OGs together for a final session, right?

When I first met these guys way back when they were kids. I was on my fourth wind as a skateboarder. The Willits park in those days was fully energized! Heavy sessions went down all of the time. It was infectious! I was stoked to be a part of that scene. There were a lot of good years to be had.

Life being what it is… well, people grew up, moved on, found families, careers, new places. Some fell on hard times too. However, they all had one thing in common; they all kept skateboarding close to the chest. I wish I could say the same.

Anyway, thanks to social media, most of us still kept in touch. The ramp was talked about. A reunion session was planned.

It was kind of like old times. Except. Laughter came from the notion of how water, stretching, and maybe some ibuprofen afterward had replaced beer, weed, and youthful bravado. Old. Haha.

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We spent a couple of hours out in the fresh country air. And what began as just getting a feel for the ramp again (and for some, their skate legs too) quickly turned into a fairly hot session. I took a step back and photographed as best I could. Days like that are what skateboarding is all about. Camaraderie. I couldn’t think of a better way to close out the final chapter in this legendary ramp’s history.

From what I know, the ramp is still around; just not in the same location and stored in pieces somewhere. Who knows, one day it might see wheels on Skate-Lite again. New stories could be told, and new legends created.

We’ll see.

Eric Lee Burch is an eighth-generation Mendocino County resident who spent 15 years as a photojournalist and graphic designer for The Willits News, Lake County Record-Bee and The Ukiah Daily Journal. His work has also appeared in the Willits Nickel & Dime, The Mendocino Travelers Guide and 101 Things to do in Mendocino County. Though Burch lives a somewhat quieter life these days, he continues to write and shoot photos; capturing the essence of Mendocino County and California’s north coast. Check out his Substack if you would like to read more of his musings.

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