Blogging in E minor
Usually just a bunch of silly crap.

Playing in the Garden of the Gods

Most impressive among Colorado’s natural wonders is the Garden of the Gods, a park known primarily for its gigantic, awe-inspiring rock formations.

            I had felt shortchanged during our first visit to the attraction. We followed my sister-in-law, who sped through the park passing up some of the world’s most phenomenal sites in a hurry to get to the park’s Visitor Center to see a movie about the spectacular scenery we were passing up.

            Eventually, I said “Enough!” and pulled over at the side of a cliff that provided an incredible view of the lower lying areas of the park with the Rocky Mountains as a backdrop. My cell phone rang: “Where are you guys?” Try as we might, we could not simply ignore her; she had the kids.

            Later we were “allowed” to drive back through the park and stop at will.

            Nevertheless, I felt the need to return, to experience the scenery in my own way, without micromanaging sister-in-laws, crying toddlers, lazy teenagers or out-of-shape adults slowing me down.

            So one morning, I abandoned my car at the Visitor Center and took off sans cameras, laptops, phones or any other modern luxuries. Common sense dictated the need for a bottle of H2O.

            For the next two hours I ran, hiked and climbed, fully experiencing the park’s offerings. As I struggled with the thin atmosphere characteristic of high elevations, I jogged along the pavement among the impressive, gigantic structures. Occasionally, I’d hop off onto an unpaved path or climb skywards upon one of the friendlier rock formations.

            The views were breathtaking! At one time I stood atop a modest wall to see Pike’s Peak towering to west, the park’s largest red sandstone fixtures to the east and other spectacular, geological wonders at multiple elevations in between. A tour guide could be heard shattering the silence from a ridge about a half mile away describing the anthropomorphic features of one of the rocks that lie between us.

            The formations varied in size from that of a small car to immense towers, cutting upwards from the hilly terrain like jagged teeth. Kissing Camels, Steamboat Rock, Siamese Twins and Balanced Rock were among the names given to them.

             For the most part, they are made of layered sandstone turned upwards. On many cliffs and structures, diagonal and vertical striations could be observed, evidence of the powerful opposing geological forces that not only caused the displacement of these formations, but created the Rocky Mountains as well.

            The sights were truly spectacular!

            Following about an hour and a half of near solitude, the human element became increasingly more abundant as I made my way back to the high concentration of larger features near the park’s entrance.

            Atop a medium-sized structure, a photographer snapped pictures of a couple as her assistant illuminated her subjects with a huge, hand-held reflector. I carefully climbed up there to discover a most awesome view of the whole park. What a spectacular backdrop, I thought!

            As I passed the Cathedral Spires, I listened in on a conversation between two climbers, about 100 feet up, discussing how they would negotiate the sheer, vertical cliff that remained.

            I saw people of a plethora of ethnicities from all over the world. I heard Spanish, German, Bosnian, Japanese and French spoken as well as a host of other languages I could not identify. Visitors wore ballcaps representing the Cincinnati Reds, the Boston Red Sox, the LA Dodgers, the Colorado Rockies, the New York Yankees, the Kansas City Royals and the Chicago Cubs.

            “Cubs suck!” I shouted as I ran by. I love harassing Cubs fans in neutral territory. The hope is that it creates the perception that contempt for the lowly Northsiders is universal.

            Bikers biked, joggers jogged, children whined and birdwatchers lay in a grassy field photographing the wildlife through a giant conical lens. People walked around with those mountain climbing stick thingies.

            At the conclusion of my journey, I discovered a tunnel below the busy roadway leading from the park to the visitor center. I found myself accelerating up the hill from the tunnel in what is usually my typical fashion. Perhaps I am finally acclimated to the altitude, I thought. Three days and two runs – this would be good to know if I ever decided to run the Pike’s Peak Ascent.

            As I returned to my car, I could see the climbers standing triumphantly atop the Cathedral Spires in the distance. I reflected upon my own ethereal experience, my problems seeming miniscule in comparison to the awesome and beautiful forces around me. What a truly inspirational journey!

            I picked up my cell phone to discover the electronic world beckoning me – three calls from my wife during the last half hour. Back to reality, I thought. I started the ignition, keyed the speed-dial code and returned to the modern world.


One Response to “Playing in the Garden of the Gods”

  1. Playing in the Garden of the Gods…

    I found your entry interesting do I’ve added a Trackback to it on my weblog :)…

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