It’s a snowy and miserable day to be outside today, so I thought that I would share some pictures taken last year, on Dec 30th. My friends asked me if I wanted to take a stroll through our most famous city park and I immediately said “Yes!”. As it was sunny and warmish I didn’t even need to wear a jacket and it was ever so pleasant a day to be walking about.
There are beautiful views of the mountain from the park; what I am not showing is that we were hardly alone in enjoying this gorgeous day.
The park has these lovely vertical cliffs that were caused by the mountain pushing it’s way to the surface. Again what I am not showing is the crowds of tourists swarming over the rocks, quite near the signs saying that this is dangerous.
The cliffs have lots of handholds and toe holds so that they are possible to climb up without any special equipment, but, it is quite a different matter to get down. So the fire department has to come and rescue people from time to time.
They are lovely and mysterious, looming overhead. And one could spend endless time photographing them (I personally have jillions of photos). One photographer was fined for cutting down a tree so that no one else could take the same photo as he. But I am a casual observer, so after a few shots (okay, the batteries ran out in my camera), it was off to lunch.
After a cool Spring and an almost cooler Summer, Fall is finally here.
This was the view from my front door this morning, with the gorgeous colors of Fall. Although it has snowed up on the peak, it hasn’t stuck.
Down by the creek, there is some yellow, but there is still plenty of green.
It is gloriously golden in places.
And flaming red in others.
It’s a great time to go out and enjoy the fall colors (black goes with everything).
Today Miss P and I were on a mission, to find and photograph some hoodoos. What is a hoodoo? One use of the word is a synonym for voodoo, but what I’m talking about is a column of rock, where the softer rock has eroded leaving a little (or big) hat of harder rock on the top. It sort of looks like a person.
Why? Well they are the sort of thing one runs into when one is out walking. But when you are looking for them, they suddenly disappear. It was tremendously windy today, so we just couldn’t get to one spot, but we did come across a few.
These ones are near the house and we spotted them on a walk on Sunday. (Note to self: Do not wear Birkenstocks when out hiking).
This puny one barely qualifies, but it is technically a hoodoo.
These ones are pretty puny too.
These ones are more respectable examples, located over by Pulpit Rock. There are even some in a neighbor’s back yard, but none in mine.
This is sort of a hoodoo, but it doesn’t have a hat.
A related thing is a balanced rock, which is not formed in the same way. We have a premier example right in a city park, which is formed by erosion after the uplift of the mountain.
This is extremely popular with tourists who drive up, snap a photo, and then go on to next tourist thing.
Because the mountain sits to the west of town, the sun goes down pretty early in the winter. But we sometimes get fabulous skies because the sun is still shining on the clouds. The sky lights up in golden splendor until the sun sinks a little lower into darkness.
I grew up in St. Louis, which is essentially a flat prairie town where two rivers meet, the Mississippi and the Missouri. It’s the higher ground, the bit on the other side in Illinois floods frequently. As far as we know, the Illinois side was the site of a great native city, Cahokia that was abandoned long before European contact. St. Louis was established as a fur trading outpost and grew into a large city of brick houses and prosperity.
Of course that is the distant past, in my past it has a different story. I remember it as a place that is hot in the summer and cold, cold, cold in the winter. The winters are full of grey skies, the clouds hang so low that it looks like you could reach up and touch them, or bump your head on them if you are not careful. In contrast, the beautiful skies and wide open spaces are part of why I love Colorado and New Mexico.
In the far distance is Spanish Peaks, which is about 120 miles away. the bluer mountains are the Wet Mountains, about 50 miles away.
Cheyenne Mountain is in the foreground, it is the site of NORAD, a (not-so-secret) military installation that extends for a mile inside the mountain.
A different view of the Peak.
The bump on the horizon to the north is Castle Rock. It doesn’t look very impressive in this view as there is a pass (high point) between here and there. It’s about 45 miles away. All of these pictures were taken on one of the many trails that run throughout the city. Anyone can enjoy these spectacular vistas.
There is fresh snow on the mountain today, we got rain yesterday and the day before. It’s unusual for this time of year, we usually get snow in town before this.
This is Albert, Junior enjoying a snack yesterday. He was accompanied by his friend, a younger buck. I think I know all the deer in the neighborhood. There is this doe and her two fawns.
Not pictured is the big buck and his harem of 4 does, they were also here, but I did not get a decent photo of them. He stood guard while the ladies nibbled at the deer block. My nearby feed store has closed; now I have to drive across town (which takes about 15 minutes 😉 to get their snacks. So I stocked up on enough deer treats to last for a while.
I went and saw my dentist on Thursday, he is getting out of rehab on the 31st but he still has more surgery ahead.
One hummingbird had stayed behind when the others left but he too has finally decided it’s time to migrate south. Meanwhile the pinon jays are keeping busy burying peanuts and corn for the winter. It’s the last weekend for beautiful viewing of the yellow aspens in the mountains, soon enough it will be winter.
I live in an area that is a mix of rural and urban. I live in a house with natural landscaping (I only have a tiny lawn, the rest just grows naturally). There is an open space (area with no houses) nearby, and it connects along the creek to the mountains so the deer can wander through the neighborhood. The most prominent feature of this open space is called Pulpit Rock.
I took this picture one day when I was out walking Miss Dog.
It’s a rather large rock outcropping, you can see it from the freeway when you’re driving from the north, and it is clearly visible from the south part of town as well.
(Hint: It’s that white blob in the middle of the picture).
It’s also quite near the local university, and it it popular for students to climb up, which they do often as an alternative to studying. It’s part of my landscape and I navigate by it.
The neighbors swear that a mountain lion has a den back in this valley, but I have never seen it. (And I hope I don’t.)
This weekend we said goodbye to the woman, hoarder, whose house we cleared. It was amazing to see it cleared, we had all worked so hard to make this happen.
She lived high above the city, safe in her aerie.
She had a tree house, just in case she wanted to be higher.
This was the last forgotten bit, somehow overlooked in the general cleanup.
Her mother had come here to finalize everything, so we had a memorial to celebrate her short life. Her beloved dog was there too, he seemed happy to be back in his house. Our group was at this to express our sympathy. Although I never met her in life, I know many things about her from going through her belongings. It was melancholy, but still life affirming, her mother mentioned all of the charities that benefited and S gave the dog charity a check for $1000 dollars. Her mother had printed up beautiful little wallet-sized cards, on one side is her daughter and the other was this.
Today I would like to share my favorite mountain with you. This picture was taken from my front porch this morning. In a person that you love, the best quality is that they are unchanging, the essential thing that you love about them stays the same. Ah, but when you love a mountain, the best quality is that it constantly changes. One time it is dark and mysterious, sometimes it is snow covered, it can be ablaze with golden aspens, sometimes it disappears. It always offers up something new.
I have heard rumors that it is also quite beautiful as the sunrise breaks over the face of the mountain, with light gradually moving from the peak down to the base, but I am unable to vouch for this as I have never seen it 😉
Fun facts: It was called Long Mountain by the Arapahoe, El Capitan by the Spanish and it’s current name was give by an American explorer in 1806. The elevation at the summit is 14,115 feet above sea level. Gold was discovered on the back of the mountain in 1893, the same year “America the Beautiful” was written after a trip to the summit. There is a cog railroad ($36/person) or a road ($12/person) to the top and you can see Kansas. There is an annual foot race and car race to the top (they do not run at the same time), and fireworks on New Years’ Eve (set off by crazy men who hike to the top).