We woke up early to get breakfast at Mountain View Dinner. As the name states, there are views of the mountains. Yet, there are views of the rockies wherever you are in Colorado Springs. The dinner apparently has the best pancakes around, they are said to be world renowned. Since I am not the biggest fan of pancakes, I opted for the french toast instead. Along with my french toast, I got a rich cup of hot cocoa piled high with whipped cream. It was a good, filling meal that would give us energy for the long day ahead. I couldn’t resist trying a bite of the pancakes which were smothered in their homemade jelly. It actually tasted really good, a little too sweat for me but delicious nonetheless.
I realized at breakfast that although I remembered my camera, I forgot my camera battery. The battery was left charging at the apartment making my camera useless. Luckily, we were already planning to stop back to the apartment to get the dog and pack a lunch. We packed a picnic basket, I put my camera battery where it belongs and we were off four our days adventure. We were off to Garden of the Gods, a Natural National Landmark with outstanding red rock formations. As we approached the park, it looked fake. Golden speaks of rock formation were protruding out of the ground. It was magnificent.
We took the jeep through Garden of the Gods to cover the most ground. That way we were able to see all of the interesting rock formations. Everytime there was a point of interest, they would pull over for me to explore. I loved the way some rocks balanced seemingly on nothing. Balancing rock was a popular spot to pull over. Not pictured are all the other tourists also trying their best to knock over the giant rock. It may look like it is merely balancing, however that rock is not going to budge.
Other formations rested against each other making a window to see Pikes Peak in the background. This formation, known as the kissing camels was one of my favorite pull over spots. It was far less busy than all the other spots. When we pulled over, there was no one else here. I had the spot all to myself. It was so peaceful. Looking out at Pikes Peak from the Garden of the Gods was so surreal.
We kept driving further and further up the mountain, until we got to a spot where a forest fire, the Black Forest Fire of 2013 destroyed most of the woods. It was eerie up here, charred bare trees lining the dark, dead mountain top. While nature can be so beautiful, it can also be so destructive. This once lush forest was whipped out with one forest fire. Not only did it destroy the forest, it also destroyed almost 500 homes in Colorado Springs.
Doing a tight u-turn, we departed down row steep road. Once we were down most of the mountain, we stopped to eat lunch in a picnic area. We enjoyed sandwiches and some refreshing fruit with the view of the red rocks around us. After packing the picnic basket back into the car, I truly thought the day was done, until my hosts suggested we go for a hike.
I was so excited to explore Garden of the Gods on foot. We started our hike from a stair case carved into the red rock. Once we got to the top, I was huffing and puffing. For some reason, climbing stairs always exhausts me. The thin air of Colorado did’t help. After we were done climbing stairs, we started climbing rocks and I was full of energy. It’s funny how that works. I wasn’t tired climbing the rocks, just the stairs. I even got a little taste of rock climbing, climbing straight up some large rocks. It was awesome!
This area of the park we were hiking in offered a great panoramic of the Garden of the Gods around us. The views seemed endless. While I enjoy a beautiful view no matter where I am, it is so much more rewarding when you earned that view. The scenic pull overs and view points are popular for a reason, because they offer a truly amazing view. Yet, in this spot away from the rest of the tourists, I felt that I was seeing this National Landmark from a different perspective. We hiking until we found ourselves close to someone’s backyard. We didn’t intend to stray that far from the beaten path. The fact that this beautiful area is someone’s backyard is incredible.
We didn’t want to go back the same way we came up, so we made our own path. We climbed down the mountain, trying not to slide on the fallen rocks. The rock rock itself is not very compacted so it was be slippery under your feat. It felt that we were walking on powder. We were also weary of all the cactuses, not wanting to step on one. It was exhilarating yet scary going down the side of the mountain, you had to use all of your energy not to go sliding down. I would have been much less scared if I didn’t have my camera with me. The hike was so much fun, we made it to the bottom with just a few scrapes, cuts, bruises and cactus punctures. Yet, it was worth it for the adventure.