Tree Rings Show Age

It snowed all over the country yesterday and the temperature dipped waaaayyy below freezing in many areas.

Days like this make me really glad I live in Colorado and not the Midwest any more!

We get snow, then the sun comes out and warms us up. Brilliant blue sky helps to chase the winter blues away.

01-05-14_Snow View Home_8829   And although I had to shovel my sidewalk, at least it was sunny and not to cold.

   Since my roommate had shoveled some yesterday, it was not a difficult task at all.

   This snow has me contemplating my next hike on either Tuesday or Wednesday.

   Where would I like to hike in the snow this week?

  I am sure I will have that question raised a few times this coming year, so need to think of safe winter hikes.

   And I do have to pick up some Art Work from the closing of the MSAC “Colors of Change” show this week.

  Probably will do that on a day I hike, Tuesday or Wednesday, to drive as little as possible, because I can.

   It did feel good to get out and moving, this cold has kept me unusually sedentary, but it almost completely gone!

Back on the trail at the Garden of the Gods, I saw a beautiful cut tree with glorious colors and abstract art looking effect from how it had dried.

I want to age that beautifully.

01-02-14_TreeGrowInRock_8794 01-02-14_AgeTreeRings_8791

The tiny bit of green show a spark of life surrounding it. And the effects of the cracks made me think of feathers and then saw butterfly wings as part of its beauty.

One of my favorite things to photograph is to place an essential oil bottle in a beautiful nature setting, and this one invited me to do that with an oil that comes from beautiful ancient trees in the Mid-East: Frankincense.

01-02-14Tree Ring Frankincense_8789

Essential Oils are my healing friends and I used a lot of Frankincense getting rid of my cold. I am sure that is one of the reasons it didn’t get as bad as I heard, and am hearing from others, that it could have been so much worse.

Hiking in the sunshine among so many natural wonders not only lifted my spirit this day, but helped clear out my lungs.

I pinched a few of the needles on these cedar trees and deeply breathed in their healing aromas. My, how I love that aroma! It awakens my soul every time I take a moment to appreciate what nature offers.

I laid on the ancient trunks and looked around in wonder at all I could see, knowing a storm was coming, but feeling secure that I wouldn’t keep me from hiking next week.


Rock Formations In the Garden of The Gods

Garden of the Gods is part of a long formation of red rocks that span the state of Colorado north to south.

At different points in Colorado, they emerge from below the ground to create magnificent areas of beauty.

We have another section nearby called Red Rocks Canyon that I will hike in later this year.

I always see faces and creatures in the rocks. At different times of day and year, the light plays in ways that bring out different characteristics.

When I see a face or creature, it always brings a smile to my face.

It is interesting that different people looking at the same rock formations can see something totally different, or sometimes look at me with a puzzled look, wonder if I am right in my head, as they see nothing but red rocks rising from the earth.

Garden of the Gods with Burn behind

I see a pair of dancers and other faces watching them in this image.
What do you see? Maybe a Dough Boy image? A Grouchy face? A resting bird?

More than that, in the distance, there is a view of the burned trees from the Waldo Canyon Fire that occurred the summer of 2012.

How blessed was the Garden of the Gods that the wind took a turn away from this very sacred region.

Firefighters from all over had come to fight this fire. One of their major goals was to keep the fire out of this natural wonder. Still, the wind could have made it much more difficult for them, as it did for the subdivision just on the other side of the Garden of the Gods.

Looking out at this view of the park, I am always renewed by the beauty of nature.

And as the tree in the picture below that is growing out of a rock formation, we all need to find what we need to keep on growing no matter what life hands us.


This tree is so very beautiful, it makes my heart sing whenever I visit it.

It reminds me of the perfect Christmas Tree, bringing into my heart the true spirit of Christmas all year round.

When standing in front of this tree, I remind myself that any challenge I am faced with can be overcome.

Just as this tree has roots that seek out the sustenance it needs to survive, there are always solutions to be found by digging deep inside to find a way to grow and thrive beautifully.

Horses in the Garden of the Gods

One never knows which creatures one will see on a hike.

But it is almost a certainty to see horses on many of the trails in the Garden of the Gods.

Horses in Garden of the Gods

And if you don’t actually see the horses, you always must be careful where you step, because horses have been there and leave their calling cards everywhere. No one comes and cleans up after them, and some days in the summer it can be pretty rank on the trails where the enter the Garden of the Gods.

This hike that I started my year of 52 hikes starts where all the horses enter the park. It is not a very well known entrance to the Garden of the Gods, unless you ride or live in that area.

I like it because I an immediately climb up on some boulders and get a totally different feel for the park that most of the trails.

It gives a great view of Pikes Peak and has many old cedar trees that I love to lay on or rest my head among their branches. Breathing in the scent of their needles crushed under my fingers always uplifts my spirit.

But back to the horses.

As I was leaving I encountered a couple of young girls just beginning their ride into the Garden of the Gods. They were laughing and enjoying the day.

Horses in the Garden of the Gods

I think I may have to ride a horse sometime this year into the Garden of the Gods to experience that energy again. I used to ride when I was a young girl in Illinois and at camps in Wisconsin. I loved being on a horse. What magnificent beasts they are.

And it certainly must be a different perspective riding the trails rather than walking them. I may just have to find out this year what that would feel like . . .

And as I drove away down Columbia, a group of about 15 riders were being led into the Garden of the Gods for just such an adventure.



First Hike of 2014 in the Garden of the Gods

What is a Hike? Can it be a leisurely walk in Nature? Yes.

And that was today’s Spirit Renewing Hike today.

Still not to my healthy self, this cold just won’t let completely go!

Still I took my first Hike of the year in the Garden of the Gods. It is sort of a tradition to do that.

I have a favorite entrance that isn’t used by many hikers, but is a trail for horse riders. And they were out in force the whole time I was there.

It was a beautiful day, and I climbed up on my favorite boulders to the very ancient cedar trees that I love to lay upon or rest my head in their branches.

The sky was a bit thick, so this photo isn’t as sharp an image of Pikes Peak, but the Heart shaped branches expresses my love of this mountain.

If one continues to walk up the street I live on, 13 miles later, you will be on the top of Pikes Peak. No, I have never done that. But thousands of hikers and runners do it every year.

01-02-14_LovePikePeak HeartBranch_8783

Pikes Peak is a powerful image that has many sides. I had the notion I should take a picture of it every week, even if not on my specific weekly hike, but from some point of view. And I do have some past photos that show off its magnificence that might slip in to that concept. So look for a Peak photo among each week’s Spirit Renewing Hike.

And just for the fun of it, to start this blog off properly, I must include the most typical shot people take in the Garden of the Gods. It is of the formation called “Kissing Camels”, only many years ago, one of the camels lost its hump.


I also see a Walrus and a few other images in the rocks.

What do you see?


Hiking Plans for 2014

2014 began with me standing on a street high in our mountain town watching fireworks that were set off by the AdAMan club who hike up there every New Year’s Eve.

Walking down the hillside, I reflected upon how many places I had hiked over the years.

Even as a child, growing up in Wildwood, Illinois,  I loved to walk distant places in this rural area. And when we moved to a bigger town, Libertyville, there was still the walk behind the houses to the Des Moines River that drew me to its banks on a regular basis.

I love the movement of walking among nature more than riding a bike or being in a car. It is easier to stop and really let the beauty sink in to one’s soul when on foot.

Colorado has been a joy to my hiking soul since I came to College. I not only found groups of people who liked to hike, but cross-country skied in the winter and camped in the summer.

Now I try to hike at least once a week.

And it is my goal to do that in 2014 and share these adventures and why they mean so much to me.

Some of these hikes may be considered walks, but what really is the difference? If one is aware of their surroundings and enjoys the bits of nature they see on these “walks”, then it doesn’t matter what it is called.

I had planned to have a hike on this first day of the year with a friend, but life got in the way. I had to have two professionals come by and do some work for me.

My internet was down since yesterday, and I really needed it back up! So a tech came mid-afternoon to find loose connections that were causing the problem.

And my plumber friend could come by and install a Structured Water Filter today also.

By the time they were both gone, the sun was setting, and a bit too cold.

So, not to despair, I will get my first hike of 2014 in tomorrow when the sun is shining.

It will be in the Garden of the Gods, in my favorite boulder area, with a great view of Pikes Peak.

And although I didn’t take pictures of the fireworks, this is a photo from above Manitou Springs that shows the historic and natural beauty of our little mountain town and why I adore being able to walk its streets every day.

And getting to this place, even though it is all on streets, I consider it a Hike, not a walk!

View from above Manitou Springs

Then there are many choices for hiking beyond this point that I will share in the weeks to come.