Lizards and Rocky Sentinels in Williams Canyon Above Manitou Springs

There is white rock outcropping that I have taken pictures of many times when approaching the Williams Canyon Trail head.

And above it is a few rocky creatures that have a keyhole to the sky between them that I have also taken pictures of from both directions.

My hiking partner pointed to the opening in this rocky outcropping and told me it was called St. Peter’s Gate.

Saint Peter's Gate in Williams Canyon

I hadn’t know that that keyhole in the rocks had an actual name. I had always been more interested in the rocky creature on the right that I saw holding onto the baby rocky creature between him and his rocky friend with the pine tree hat. Or maybe it is St. Peter on the right guarding his gate.

Or the ancient face on the far right side below them who watched as people through the ages climbed on the trail below. What he has seen from that vantage point can not even be imagined. The floods of 1999 and 2013 probably were not the only ones he has witnessed through the ages.

Through out Williams Canyon I have take pictures of many rocky sentinels.

Rocky Sentinels in Williams Canyon

The ones on the left also had a keyhole vision of the sky. But my hiking friend did not have a name for this formation or the hole in the one. I know I have photos of these from hikes in the past. They are far enough above the trail that I doubt they were much changed by the heavy rains in 2013. But the ones on the left did have some of the lower rocks that supported them washed away and changed their aspects a bit.The one looks like he is a very rocky horse that is just waiting to gallop away with or with out the rider mounting him.

Rocky Godzilla Sentinels in Williams Canyon

In the center photograph, I could see Godzilla on the right about to stomp down the hillside with a monkey-faced rock creature not far behind.

The golden colors of some of the formations had us curious what minerals were in these that were not in the white formations on either side of them. The Golden “Buddha” looks so peaceful and accepting of his place in this canyon, just watching the seasons change and the creatures fly around him or walk below.

Trees grow in some of the harshest conditions and I am always amazed to see them singly sprouting out of what looks like a totally rocky area. How they find nourishment here is a mystery to me.

There was one that was hanging on for dear life.

Hanging on for dear life in Williams Canyon

Toppled by the flood waters in 2013 it had survived the winter. Although he was still green, we doubted he would make it through the next summer.

There was one area where we saw sandbags and wondered aloud about the value of sandbags when the amount of raging water could move them and crush or disconnect and move the very large drainage pipes in the canyon.

Sandbags & Crushed Drainage Pipes in Williams Canyon

It made one very respectful of the power of water and all of Mother Nature’s little tricks she could play on Humans.

My hiking partner was very good at spotting Lizards on the trail. I had a more difficult time photographing them, as they moved very quickly once spotted. I have often seen them up here and was very glad to see they were still living in the canyon after their habitat had been so very changed by the flooding last year.

Lizard in Williams Canyon

This little Lizard posed, then moved just a little bit and posed again. He even let us both get pretty close to him before he finally darted away into the rocks on the hillside. I think he is a Prairie/Plateau Lizard, but not totally sure.

And of course it wouldn’t be a Julia gallery of hiking photos with out some rusty items showing off their beautiful sides.

Rusty Items in Williams Canyon

The rock caught in the rusty teeth was particularly interesting to me. The sun just was wrong for not having a dark shadow on the bottom section and if I remember right, it was a bit challenging to get close to for any type of photograph being taken. And who knows if it will be there the next time I hike or maybe be easier to get a picture of in the future.

Cairns in Williams Canyon

Cairns were built in Williams Canyon to lead the way on trails, though we really couldn’t see there was any way to get lost here. And Nature built a few of her own-balanced rocks.

Man-made changes are coming to Williams Canyon very soon. Part of the plan to protect Manitou Springs involves removing as much debris as possible on the lower end of the canyon. What that will entail is still to be seen. First they will be building the retention walls to catch the debris if they don’t get it removed before the next big rainstorm that sends water down into this watershed from the hydrophobic land above.

This is where I am guessing the largest retention wall will be built if I read the plans I saw at many meetings and PowerPoint presentations. I can’t exactly remember how they are working with the owners of the Cave of the Winds who own this land that was once a road.

There is also the entrance point to the actual entrance to the canyon area that may have a retention wall built there. That is probably on County, or perhaps state land. I just know that so many government and private land owners and agencies are working together to get this multimillion dollar series of retention walls to hold the debris back and out of Manitou Springs, it is very impressive indeed.

I am very grateful to have been able to take this hike with my adventurous and knowledgeable hiking partner before the construction was begun.

Exit from Williams Canyon

So on this note, we leave Williams Canyon until it is safe to hike there at some future date.

Blue skies will be a must!


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