Saturday, August 18, 2012

Garden of the Gods, Helen Hunt Falls and Pikes Peak

And we thought women's lib didn't start until the 1960s.  Well, we were wrong.  This woman, Julia Holmes, not only was the first pioneer woman to climb Pikes Peak, she did it in bloomers.  She started the movement of the "American costume", no corset and pants or pantaloons underneath a calf length skirt.

Garden of the Gods is a formation of red sandstone outcroppings, located on the west side of Colorado Springs.  The name originated in 1859, when two surveyors were exploring the area.  One made the comment "This would be a fine place for a beer garden".  The other replied, "Beer garden.  This place is fit for the Gods, it should be called Garden of the Gods".  And the name stuck.  It is now a free, public park, given to the city of Colorado Springs by the children of Charles Elliott with the stipulation it always be made available to the people at no cost.

We didn't see any Bighorn Sheep or Elk, but we did see deer.

Brad, Sue, Max, myself and Fancy explored the area.

They have nice paths meandering throughout the sandstone outcroppings.

You can stop and watch the climbers.

We did spot this falcon sitting on top of one of the outcroppings.

About eight miles away in North Cheyenne Canyon is Helen Hunt Falls.   Named after author Helen Hunt Jackson, an activist back in the 1880s, writing about the plight of the Native American.  She met her second husband while visiting Colorado Springs, an area which we not only loved, but wished to be buried.  

Climbing up the hill behind the falls, you can look down on Colorado Springs.

Further up the hill from the falls, is the old Gold Camp Road.  Originally the route of the "Short Line" railroad from Colorado Springs to Cripple Creek, it was converted to a car road in the 1920s.  In 1988, one of the tunnels collapsed and the road was closed permanently.  It is now a popular hiking and biking trail. 

There are three ways to ascend to the top of Pikes Peak:  you can take the cog railway from Manitou Springs (some of the group did this); you can hike the 13 mile Barr Trail from Manitou Springs (none of us did this); or you can drive the Pikes Peak Highway out of Cascade (which is what we did).

Although it is not the highest peak in Colorado, it is probably the most famous. It was up here that "America the Beautiful" was penned by Katherine Lee Bates in 1893.

From out here it is a long way down.

We watched the cog railway which had our friends aboard.

From one side you can look down on Colorado Springs, but if you turn around you see the mining which is going on in Cripple Creek.

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