A View to Remember
September 1st, 2016
The day started off quite early – 5am to be exact – heading over to catch the sunrise at the Garden of the gods viewing vista. We had plenty of time to spare,so definitely coffee first and a short early morning chat with the gas station employee. Not everyone acts the same at 5am in the morning so it’s quite fun to interact with people at that time. Upon arriving at the vista we sat in the truck enjoying the early morning view,drinking coffee and eating a bagel we had packed from home. As dawn approached we realized that we had a thick layer of low clouds hanging over us. We really wouldn’t be able to see the sun rising. Staying anyway – I mean what else are you going to do at 5am in the morning 🙂 – we were rewarded with a clearing in the clouds behind Garden of the gods that allowed us to see Pikes Peak in the distance creating a nice depth to the photos. It wasn’t a perfect sunrise but it was still beautiful!
Having captured enough of the sunrise and wanting to start early on our next adventure, we skedaddled out of Gardens and were soon parking at the base of Blodgett Peak Trail. I had read some reviews on this trail and looked at the map of it so I had a pretty good idea of what we were in for. It was going to be hiking up hill for 3.5 miles from a 7,081 ft elevation to a 9,427 ft elevation at the peak. A 2,346 ft elevation gain if you wanted to know… 🙂 I had also read that the trail wasn’t the easiest to follow since there weren’t any markers or trail symbols, but I figured since I had my phone with me displaying the map of the trail we’d be fine. Which we were, glad we had it!
Heading out with our rain coats, camera gear and snacks we started making our way up the trail. It started as an easy up hill ascent and then progressively got harder and harder. It was a bird sanctuary with scrub jays, ravens, chickadees and hummingbirds trying to give us mohawks. Around 7,500 ft the terrain started changing having to climb steeper hills and navigate around large boulders and roots. Around 8,200 ft the trail consisted of large rocks, small loose pebbles and an even steeper incline. Talk about hard climbing! Mom was struggling to keep her traction on the steep incline and was loosing a lot of energy as well as courage not being too keen on the whole steepness of the trail and how high in elevation we were. So around 8,400 ft we found her a nice place to stop – still on an incline but behind a tree so she didn’t have to be reminded of the elevation- where she could wait for me to get to the peak and head back. I gave her the supply of snacks and her drawing pad which we had packed along as well. Saying our goodbyes, I kept going up the incline, slipping on the small stones every once-in-while and finally further on up the terrain changed again and I was climbing over roots and bigger rocks. I was still at a steep incline but I’ll take large rocks over small pebbles any day! No slipping and sliding.
As I made my way up the mountain I realized I was truly in for a treat. All the clouds that had been covering us since the early morning were at a very low altitude surrounding the mountain, but once I got up above 9,200 ft I stepped into a whole new world. So amazing. It’s not every day that you get to see the tops of the clouds and look down on them! After catching my breath and taking a couple photos, I was ready to finish the 227 additional ft to the top. About 100 ft down from the peak the trail became unrecognizable because the ground was covered with large boulders and rocks. It wasn’t any problem since I could see the peak and really they were a ton of fun to climb. Upon reaching the top, I was awestruck! 360 degrees of beautiful view! Climbing a mountain this high was a first for me and I had no idea what to expect, but once I got to the peak it was worth all the effort. Talk about feeling on top of the world! I could of spent hours up there just watching the clouds and the atmosphere around me, but I knew that mom would be worried if I was gone for too long. So after taking a bunch of photos and trying to capture the moment, I started making my way down the mountain. What took me 30 to 4o minutes to climb only took me about 15 minutes to descend because it was basically all jumping/running the whole way down because of the steepness of the mountain. I soon rounded a bend in the trail and spotted mom waiting for me. Eating a small lunch and conversing about the emotions we both experienced, we started making our way down the mountain. After a lot of sliding and jumping down the mountain, we were finally at a point in the trail where we could hike normally and soon made it to the truck. (It truly was an amazing trail, hard and definitely challenging, but I would do something like that again in a heart beat!)
After a little relaxing time in the truck we decided to hike another trail but this trail would be very simple and short. We found one called Horsethief Falls located about an hour away from us. It looked like a nice trail and from the reviews I knew it would be easy. On our ascent hail began plummeting us. Pulling over, we watch the hail accumulate all around us. When it let up we continued our ascent, driving through wash outs along the way. We decided to go into Cripple Creek and let the trail dry out. Basically the town was a mining town converted into a giant casino, but the buildings were cool, very western. Returning to the Falls we headed up. The forest floor was like hush puppies. The lower falls were flowing rapidly due to the passing storm. As we kept hiking the thick forest opened up into a rolling aspen splotched meadow. Quite the contrast. We could hear the falls rumbling saying, ‘keep coming’, truly a masterpiece waiting to be discovered.
We grabbed a pizza, heading back to Balancing Rock in Garden of the gods and Cheyenne Canyon to catch a few night shots. The sound of the rapids cutting through the canyon and the gentle breeze reminded us it was time for sleep. A long day, long hike and another lasting adventure.