• Feature-Southwest1

    Ecology of the Southwest

Roaming the Garden of the Gods

It's a beautiful thing when you go from wind chills of -50 degrees to a lovely, sunny, 49 degrees within 24 hours. It's a shedding of puffy coats in exchange for friendlier sweaters. It's throwing a frisbee around while trotting along a red sandstone trail in Colorado Springs' "Garden of the Gods" park. It's exhilerating.

We headed out this morning and drove about 4 hours to Colorado Springs, CO. On the way, we drove through areas affected by the Black Forest Fire of 2013 - the most destructive fire in Colorado history. The charred black fire scars on the bases and sometimes extending up the majority of the trunk of Ponderosa Pine stands were clear evidence of the fire's destruction. Nearly 400 homes were destroyed by the fire.

Our next stop was Garden of the Gods, a public natural park in Colorado Springs. We were all quite surprised when we climbed out of the vans, looked up, and saw gigantic red rock formations jutting up just across the highway against a backdrop of snowy mountains. These red giants are remnants of sedimentation from an ancient sea which nearly split what is now central North America cerca 120 million years ago.

We had lunch in the park, and explored the rock formations a bit. With these shapely red sculptures on one side and a mountain range that included the famous Pike's Peak on the other, it was hard to know where to point our cameras.

Then we headed to Pagosa Springs, where we're staying tonight. On the way, we stopped at the continental divide - the "line" on one side of which rivers flow toward the Pacific Ocean, and on the other side of which they flow to the Atlantic Ocean or the Gulf of Mexico. It was well after dark, and we got a wonderful look at the stars blanketing our mountainy surroundings.

Tomorrow we're to Mesa Verde - stay tuned!

Hannah enjoys her hike - and the sunshine!
The view from behind the red rock formations into the mountains - Pike's Peak in background
Rob buddies up with the a mountain lion in the Garden of the Gods visitor center. Who's fiercer?
Post-lunch hike