Now for a completely different type of hike out on the Colorado Prairie.
One has to drive about an 45 minutes out from the edge of Colorado Springs to get to Calhan where the Paint Mines Interpretive Park is located.
This is one of the most spirit renewing hikes I have ever taken.
I was here once before and could still see images of its beauty in my mind’s eye, but had always wished I had taken more photographs. Well I have many photos from this hike, and even those couldn’t capture the amazing unique beauty of this place.
Both times, I had a really hard time heading back the car to drive away. I just wanted to explore one more trail, or just stand in wonder.
But I get ahead of myself here.
The parking lot gives no clue of the visual treasures that one will get to explore.
I took us first on the trail that went the farthest into the park, as I knew I wanted to end on the trail that allows one to walk among the really awesome formations. Doing it in reverse, and we might never have gotten to the more distant formations and views that are worth walking to, while at the same time adds to the mystery of why the park is called the Paint Mines.
In the distance there is a hint of white to make one curious what that could be.
One wonders how such a flat looking area could have much of interest to offer. But then, what is that white in the distance?
One feels the primeval energy here, Dinosaurs surely roamed this area a millennium ago.
And Indians roamed the prairie with herds of Buffalo that sustained them in this harsh climate.
The trail is very sandy here and was deeper than the surrounding ground in some areas.
Walking among the various types of grasses, intriguing plants with dry pods, including yuccas, you encounter an interesting, but not particularly awe inspiring rock formations.
They have a some muted colors and intriguing shapes that can I of course could see creatures and faces within the rocks.
Do you see a few here?
Then there is the very green and grey mound in the background.
Interesting, one thinks, but not exciting enough to create a park around.
We kept on walking and the formations got a bit more interesting.
Still, not sure why it is called the Paint Mines. Muted tones of green and various shades of tan and greys are beginning to intrigue my hiking partner a bit more.
The winter colors against and behind these eroded rock formations were really quite stunning.
I actually think I like these colors and the naked branches and pods on the plant a bit more than the greens that were there on my last hike.
Though the weather forecast had been for a 70 degree day, the wind and the grey sky made it a bit chilly. And the tiny patches of snow we encountered made us realize it wasn’t really Springtime on the prairie quite yet. Later the sun did come out, but the wind got very harsh in some areas on our hike, and as we left heading to my car, I could literally “lean into the wind” and feel totally supported by it.
Getting close to the formations, one could see how unusual and fragile they really were.
There is quite a variation of colors that one rarely sees in other areas of Colorado. The golden and greens made us wonder what minerals created these colors.
But they were still pretty muted, but intriguing.
When we got closer to the vibrantly green mound, we saw some of the white formations at its bottom.
But until we went past them and went around another bend in the trail, we hadn’t seen much that made this park so special or how it got its name.
Now I knew what was coming, but was enjoying the way the park teased you with hints of what was to come.
And in so many places you had no clue of what was just around the bend or over the hill, until you turned it or climbed it.
And this is the sight that greeted us as we walked around and past that colorful mound.
Now we were getting excited about what this park has to offer.
The chalk white formations intermixed with golden ones above and the moss green above that, with just a hint of lavender showing in these formations are the beginning of a spectacularly colorful journey as one hikes deeper into the Paint Mines Park.
As it is late, I will leave posting and adding many more photos over the next few days.
And it just gets better and more colorful the farther we walked into the park.