Short Walks By a Pond in Colorado Springs

There was a beautiful Heron that I came upon a few months ago at a pond in Monument Valley Park behind the Colorado Springs Fine Art Center.

These photos seemed to have a very Japanese quality to it, ad did a few others I took that day.

Heron at Monument Valley Park

So I have stopped there many a time to see if I could catch him again.

I have only seen the Heron there twice, but that hasn’t stopped me from enjoying the creatures that were there each time I stopped at the pond.

Heron at Monument Valley Park

Not much of a hike, but I do get to see some interesting creatures: Geese, Ducks, Squirrels and Turtles on my last stop.

The first day, and a few other times, I saw this one legged goose. He seemed to have had a run in with some creature as his feathers were also not in the best of shape. But he not only survived that run-in, he could act very dignified when he was out of the water, standing tall. Though getting out of the water and hopping around, he did lose some of his dignity, but not the concept that he could survive any challenge he encountered.

1-Legged Goose at Monument Valley Park

He is an inspiration to me, and needed this reminder as I am having a mentally challenging time right now. I do need my sunshine! And walks in Nature to get back my positive energy and attitude.

The Ducks were beautiful to watch swim and a female took to posing for me on a rock in front of the pond as a male swam by below her. Not sure who was showing off for who, but she later joined him for a swim together.

Ducks at Monument Valley Park

There are dozens of Geese at this park swimming and walking around looking for a hand-out of bread that I have seen people feeding them. They look so regal on the water. I had fun trying to get some good images with their reflections below. It was a bit windy and the water wasn’t very still, plus they were swimming most of the time, so hard to get a perfect reflection when the water was in motion.

Geese at Monument Valley Park

Another day when I stopped by I saw some ducklings that had beautiful coloration. They were so small walking among the Geese, but seemed pretty fearless. The more I look at the photos, I wonder if they were ducklings or another type of duck? A Wood Duck perhaps?

Ducklings at Monument Valley Park

And then I noticed some very fluffy birds. There were also Goslings there that day.

Gosslings at Monument Valley Park

That was pretty special. Mama Goose kept pretty close to these little ones, but I don’t think she had much to worry about. They too seemed fearless and big enough to take care of themselves fairly well.

The last time I stopped by this pond I found the Turtles that my hiking friend had told me to look for near the island.

Turtles at Monument Valley Park

My camera battery was running low! I swear I am going to buy another one to always have in the car! I remember the camera, but don’t think to bring an extra battery when driving around town.

So I missed the swimming of the one from a rock to join the other one. Still, they looked very cute together.

My most recent hike was another in town hike that wasn’t really planned to be as long as it was.

I walked to the MAC for a meeting at 3pm that was canceled. I had another one at 6 pm, so walked home, then back again. That was 2 miles of walking and it was a lovely day, as sick as I was that day, I had a difficult time enjoying the extra “hike” in town. I could have really used that time to rest, as I was not feeling well that day, physically or mentally. Still I did stop and enjoy some of the flowering plants along the way and took different routes to see what else was blooming on my second walk there.

I do have a couple of real hikes to catch up on posting, but not tonight . . . time to get some rest and see what Monday brings for health and getting back into the saddle of working again.

Pond at Monument Valley Park

 

My How Time Flies By In The Summertime

I am very far behind on postings about hiking, and getting out and hiking.

I took a trip the end of June to Young Living Essential Oils Convention in Salt Lake City, then came back and awoke the next morning very feverish and have been working my way back to health, with a little detour caused by some Manitou Springs Council members who did not help me heal with their strange attitude about something I learned the second day I was so very ill.

And my hiking buddy is about to take a trip for a couple of weeks just as I am getting back to health.

Though not in the best of mental health currently.

So where does that leave me?

I really need some healing time out in Nature to get back into the groove of myself again.

I think I will do a couple of catch up posts tonight and go forward as best I can this upcoming week.

Hummingbirds on feeding at the porch feeder and other birds in the yard have helped with my healing and uplifting my spirits.

It is rare that they will share the feeder, but here they are.

Hummingbirds sharing a Feeder in Manitou Springs

And then there are the playful squirrels.

I have seen a couple of very young black squirrels having a great time in the trees on the property. This little cutie found something in the compost pile to interest him and hung out above it for quite some time without any other squirrels coming to investigate.

Black Squirrel in Manitou Springs

And of course the half blind buddy that is very insistent that he needs to get his sunflower seeds whenever I come out to enjoy the front porch at least once a day. He is the only one we feed on purpose and he is very demanding. Yet brings a smile to our face when every we see him.

Half-Blind Squirrel in Manitou Springs

So glad I live where I do and can see these beautiful creatures on a daily basis in the summer.

Siamese Twin Trail in the Garden of the Gods

When we found ourselves back at the Spring Canyon Parking lot, we still wanted to spend more time hiking.

So we headed up the Siamese Twin trail in the Garden of the Gods.

I usually hike up from the Northern part of the trail, but since we were at the Southern end, we just started hiking there. And it gives a very different view of the Siamese Twins.

Siamese Twins at the Garden of the Gods

I have seen this view before as I have hiked from another trail that leads to this area. But this is a very quick trail to take visitors on to get views of Pikes Peak and great rock formations.

Siamese Twins at Garden of the Gods

And I really saw the big bird rock formation just past the Siamese Twins from this direction and with the very grey sky, he was more obvious than usual.

The sky kept teasing us with glimpses of blue sky, but when we reached the Siamese Twins, when looking through the “keyhole” it was grey.

Keyhole View of Pikes Peak

Taking a picture of Pikes Peak through this hole between the “Sisters” is probably the most seen photo of all in the Garden of the Gods. I took one, but with just a different angle because it was there. And people love to pose in front of it. It can be a very dramatic photograph to take home and share with friends at home.

Kissing Rocks in the Garden of the Gods

Along both the trails we hiked that day we found “kissing rocks” very sweet and made us smile.

Even rocks need love. I am always grateful when I see these types of images on my hikes.

These formations always puts a smile in my heart and on my face.

On the way down, we saw a rock formation that also reminded me of Jabba the Hutt.

Another Jabba the Hutt at the Garden of the Gods

Just a little different form, but there he was staring down on us as we passed by. Very glad he was frozen in time and rock and couldn’t really impose his will upon us in any way.

There were many signs of spring on this trail. But the one that was the most dramatic was the one that reminded us of the potential for flooding that could be visiting our area.

Signs of Spring at the Garden of the Gods

Many of these machines were seen along 30th Street and all around Manitou Springs clearing out debris, widening creek beds and creating retention ponds to slow the flow of water that could come off the very hydrophobic soil created by the Waldo Canyon Fire in 2012.

Earlier in the day, I was lucky enough to catch this bird landing in a tree. He did give us a little song, but took off quickly in search of what ever birds look for when flying around the Garden of the Gods.

Bird Landing on tree in Garden of the Gods

New Favorite Hike in the Garden of the Gods

Last week I had planned on doing a hike heading to the Hot Springs with my hiking friend, but time didn’t allow this.

Plus I also am having some trouble with my left knee. And neither of us really felt like taking a long hike.

So my hiking friend and I decided to explore a trail in the Garden of the Gods neither of us had ever taken before.

The Spring Canyon Trail or Cabin Canyon Trail  forks off from the very challenging trail that is not part of the park system that we took earlier this year. And that I had hiked on many times in years past. That other trail is not on any map and I would never hike it without the sky being very blue as it goes up a creek bed that has pretty steep sides.

Another other fork goes to the Siamese Twin Trail that is a favorite to take visitors on and I have done many times. But it turned out my hiking partner had never done that hike and after doing this trail, we decided to take that one. Will share more about that in the next post.

Map of Western section of Garden of the Gods

And it looks like a very simple, flat trail at the beginning. Similar to some other trails in the area that don’t excite me much except when wild flowers are blooming. And there were a few wildflowers blooming along this trail. But they were few and far between.

Spring Flowers at Garden of the Gods

The spunky yellow flower made me smile when I came upon him in the very rocky soil.

I did get into taking more photos of the ubiquitous cactus and yuccas that were beginning to green up and were seen as we started on this hike and all along the trail as we continued. Some of these cactus had very long spines. None of them do I ever want to land upon.

Cactus in Garden of the Gods

The only picture I took of the starting part of the trail shows a field of cactus and we figured it would continue to look like that for the whole trail. But as we passed through the barren bushes, we were greeted with a much more fun trail than we had anticipated seeing.

Cactus then a more interesting trail at Garden of the Gods

We were soon very pleasantly surprised by this trail and what it had to offer. Wonderful rock formations, great views of Pikes Peak and Ancient Cedar Trees.

Ancient Cedar Trees in the Garden of the Gods

I always have to stop in wonder when seeing these Ancient Cedar Tress. How long have they survived here? What have the seen through the years? Indians and now tourists from all over the world have walked past them. I always find their twisted trunks so very beautiful and feel honored to stand next to each one.

The sky sometimes as very blue with large fluffy clouds, at other times it was grey an pretty dingy.

Princess Rock & Pikes Peak seen at the Garden of the Gods

I really want to get back and hike this trail again the next time I see blue skies and have an hour to get away from my office. The Prince or Princess rock in the foreground would look much happier if the sky behind Pikes Peak had been bluer. As it was, you can not tell that Pikes Peak can be seen behind this rocky formation, but it is.

We had lots of fun with the rock formations on this trail.

Here we found a rock formation that made us think of  Jabba The Hutt.

Jabba the Hutt at Garden of the GodsThen there were some very suggestive rock formations . . . mushrooms, a table or what do you see?

Mushroom Rocks at Garden of the Gods

 Then there was this very sinister Skull Rock.

Skull Rock at Garden of the Gods

I played a little using some filters with this Lizard Rock leaning over the shoulder of his rocky friend. Feeling the need to get a bit creative and explore what can be done with a new plug-in that Tony Laidig turned us onto last week that works inside of PhotoShop.

Lizard Rock at Garden of the Gods

Brought out the scaly side of the Lizard and all of his rocky friends in the area.

And finally, because my friend and I love to laugh and smile when out in Nature, we found this smiling Lizard formation.

Smiling Lizard & Laughing Rocks  at Garden of the Gods

And just a bit farther there were two rocks laughing the days away.

The day before I had seen a “Mutts” comic that I had cut out to give to my hiking friend. All it said was “All Bird Songs are Love Songs”. I had actually remembered to give it to her before we began this hike. So when I turned a corner and heard a bird singing, I had to find the source.

Bird Singing a Love Song in the Garden of the Gods

Up in a tree this sweet little bird sang and sang its love song for a very long time. We decided he was singing his heart song to find a mate this Spring. He was still singing when we walked on down the trail. It was so sweet we hated to leave him, but did hike on down the trail.

Signs of Spring in Ute Valley Park

There were many signs of Spring along the trails in Ute Valley Park.

Some more noticeable than others.

Cactus & Purple Flowers in Ute Valley Park

There were many of these purple flowers and the prickly pear cactus were greening up along some sections of the trail. Ah, cactus are every where we hike. Gotta be careful when stepping off the trail to take a photograph. Always need to be looking down as I try to get myself situated for a good angle. Learned that lesson years ago . . .

At one point on the trail a series of birds posed for me in naked tree branches.

Birds in Ute Valley Park

When birds actually hang out and let me take their pictures I pay attention. And of course, many of the photos are of their backs or an empty branch as they fly off just as I push the button to photograph them. But this time I did get quite a few nice images with some great sky backgrounds.

Birds at Ute Valley Park

Luckily my hiking partner just hangs out or walks ahead when I get into a long bird or any other type of “photo” session. I often take a long shot when I spot a bird, as sometimes when trying to zoom in on these winged creatures, they take off before I can get them in my viewfinder again. But on this hike, many of them just sat on their branches patiently waiting for me to take their picture.

Clouds & Boulders at Ute Valley Park

Because I also get into taking pictures of clouds and rock formations . I can get myself off the trail a bit sometimes when trying to get just the right angle to capture the beauty I find in Nature that I am not sure everyone else sees.

As we came to the end of the hike, we found a small stream that had lots of grass greening up around it. We slowed down to enjoy the reflections in the water and the signs of Spring that were different here than on the upper parts of this trail

Creek & Willow at Ute Valley Park

There was a paw print that did not look like a dog to us.

Nests were in many trees.

And the Willows were turning red. 

Water Bug, Paw Print & Nest at Ute Valley Park

And there were water bugs dancing in the stream

A sign that Spring was beginning to be felt by all the living creatures in the area.

 As we were getting back to the parking lot, my hiking partner spotted a solar panel on the hillside across from us.

Solar Panes by Ute Valley Park

Seeing alternative energy being used is always a happy moment for both of us. So seeing this was the perfect way to end our hike.

 

Incredibly Interesting Rocks and Views at Ute Valley Park

I love interesting rocks almost as much as I love driftwood to take photographs of and find faces and creatures within them.

This trail had many more interesting rocks  and rock formations than driftwood. Not sure why, but it did.

Tree Stumps at Ute Valley ParkThere were just a few interesting tree stumps with green accents on this trail in the Ute Valley Park that were well light and didn’t have shadows detracting from their beauty. There were some other driftwood forms, but most of those were in shadows or just did not entice me to take their picture.

Now the rocks, well they also were difficult to get pictures of because of shadows, but some were just exciting in form.

These very wrinkled rocks with stony faces were very interest. I wonder what they were looking at and talking about?

But my favorite was this frog or toad like image. He looks a bit grumpy, and maybe about to leap towards us.

Frog Rock at Ute Valley Park

Then, on the right, there was the big “piggy” rock formation looking over the park.

Piggy white rocks in Ute Valley Park

Or the snake-like serpent emerging from its hole on the left. Or the rock crying rusty tears. All very different in how they were formed and the images that they evoked as we walked past them.

And I am always trying to find the quintessential picture of Pikes Peak to enter in an upcoming exhibit, and someday my 365 Views of Pikes Peak book that is on the back burner, but always in my mind.

So as I came up a path and saw this table rock with Pikes Peak behind it, I knew I had to capture different views to try and make it look like Pikes Peak was being “served up” on the table.

Serving up Pikes Peak at Ute Valley ParkI am getting close with the “surreal” composite on the right. But may have to drive back and hike up there the next sunny day while the Peak is covered with snow. (That is if my knee gets better soon.) Looking at the photos now, there were some fun cloud creatures floating above the path as we walked up to the overview.

There were also some fun single tree images. One actually in the middle of the trail.

Individual Trees at Ute Valley Park

We were curious who had built the rock “fort” around the tree in the middle of the trail. I guess if it grew that large in this harsh environment, it deserves to keep on growing. Then there was the tree that seemed to be waving us on to come up and visit it. Perhaps inviting us to rest under it on the wonderful boulders that were around it. And there was a great view of the eastern and norther sides of Colorado Springs when we got up to it.

Views to the North & East at Ute Valley Park

The bluish-black line in the far distance is the Black Forest area a bit east and north of Colorado Springs. That was where a fire in 2013 raged through this thickly forested and very populated area. It was bad, but it could have been so much worse. Some lessons that were learned in Waldo Canyon Fire helped get it contained quicker than if our wonderful fire fighters hadn’t learned some lessons in 2012.

Looking back at Pikes Peak from various vantage points, some also had a view of the burned mountainside caused by the Waldo Canyon Fire in 2013.

Views of Pikes Peak from Ute Valley Park

How lucky we are that so many areas were not burned and the fire was contained before it took out more homes.

The green lichen on the rock in the foreground of the picture on the right look like green petroglyphs celebrating life in the forest.

 

Ute Valley Park is an Urban Trail in Colorado Springs

Although Ute Valley Park is surrounded by homes, most of the trail seems as if you are deep in the wilderness.

The most spectacular landmark is a hogback ridge, but it also has many sandstone cliffs and mesas and plus some flat and wooded areas.

Map of Ute Valley Park in Colorado Springs

So hiking in this park has many rich experiences of interesting landscapes and formations that can be discovered of many interesting intertwining trails.

And then there are some spectacular views of Pikes Peak one discovers as one reaches the high points of the trail.

Below are a couple of views from above looking down to just one section.

Overview of Ute Valley Park in Colorado Springs

My hiking partner was a bit tired, so we took this hike at a very leisurely pace and didn’t go on all the loops. Which means there are some to be discovered on another visit to this park in the future. We set off on a lovely green path that took us deep into the park.

Grassy Trail in Ute Valley Park

As we walked down the path, we had a glimpse of a snow covered Pikes Peak. Just a hint of what we would view later on the trail.

There are also views of the mountains that were burned in 2012 by the Waldo Canyon Fire. That is a sad sight indeed.

View of Waldo Canyon Fire Burn from Ute Valley Park

To the far right one can see a large bird flying in the sky above the park. There are eagles and hawks that build nests all around this park.

Nests in Ute Valley Park

These were a couple that caught our attention. I am sure we missed seeing many others. We didn’t hike all of the trails and missed some of the most heavily wooded areas on the more southern trails.

What we had to constantly be on the watch for were Mountain Bikers. They were everywhere and fast moving in many sections of the trails. It seemed there were more than normal on a weekday. This is a favorite trail for Mountain Bikers and with some other trails closed because of flood damage on them in 2013 I am sure many more have come to use this trail than in past year. In fact the parking lot was totally full when we arrived, we had to wait for a couple of cars, including a mountain biker, to pull out before we could park. So it has probably experiencing more use this year since those paths were destroyed last year.

Mountain Bikers in Ute Valley Park

Most were polite and would call out to let us know they were coming up behind us, so we could move to one side or the other of the trail. But I did get startled a couple of times as one came around me with very little warning.

with many sandstone cliffs and mesas but also some flat, wooded areas – See more at: http://cospringstrails.com/hikes/ute.html#sthash.Z7t5L2Wg.dpuf
with many sandstone cliffs and mesas but also some flat, wooded areas. – See more at: http://cospringstrails.com/hikes/ute.html#sthash.Z7t5L2Wg.dpuf

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!

 

Vibrant Water Colors in Williams Canyon Above Manitou Springs

The water in the creek seemed to be more colorful than I remembered.

And so did the rocks.

The colors must be created by new minerals unearthed and carried down from above.

Colorful Water in Williams Canyon

I need to go back and look at some of my past photos from hiking in Williams Canyon, but that is probably something that will happen when I write my hiking book after my 52 hikes in 2014 are completed.

The greens, coppers and reds probably were there, but just seemed much more vibrant and intense on this hike. And I know the lavenders have always been there. I want to take some of the photos of water and play with filters to see what abstract images can be created from nature’s beauty distorted a bit.

The creek was back in its normal place below the wall along the roadway, but it looked totally different than I remembered it. The wall had collapsed in many areas. Still some sections were still holding on above. But many were in the creek or some had moved onto the roadway.

Colorful Water in Williams Canyon

I always had a favorite pond to sit by, but that is now past the most difficult part of the trail we hiked, so I doubt I will get them again in the near future. It was about 45 minutes from my home, but it took us longer than that to reach this spot starting at the much closer point. We had to hike much slower and climb over a rather tricky section to get here.

Colorful Water in Williams Canyon

The picture on the right is looking down into my favorite pond. It is still at the same place as I remember, but it has been transformed in many ways from how I remembered it being configured. It is a bit wider and my favorite rock to sit on above it was gone. And some of the trees that were on the other side were gone. Still a lovely place to sit in contemplation.

There were some small waterfalls at the beginning of the trail, but our goal was to sit at the bottom of the large waterfall that one section of the trail ended at.

Colorful Water in Williams Canyon

We passed by the rock that I had captured butterflies in photographs before. Quite a few were fluttering around this area on this hike, but they didn’t pose for me very well and they were fewer than there will be later in the summer.

Butterflies & Evidence of the Waldo Canyon  Burn

There was also a piece of burned wood that had a butterfly look to it. Beautiful in an eerie way. We saw many small pieces of wood that had burned and had been carried down into Williams by the rains last year.

A short distance past my butterfly rock was the waterfall. My, but it was beautiful. I had actually never been here when water was flowing down this rock wall. I have stood above it many times, but only twice hiked up into this area, and both times the creek bed was totally dry.

 04-10-14_Waterfall_4927-31-44

 It was very peaceful here. And the beauty of the water flowing over the colorful rocks made my spirit and heart sing.

I could have sat here in contemplation for a very long time.

Knowing I might never see it again made it even harder to leave. My hiking partner had to “drag” me away from this natural wonder. I was grateful for her adventurous spirit that got us to this place, so when she was ready to go, I slowly turned around and began the hike back to town.

 The canyon was transformed in many ways by the raging flood waters that flowed down it in 2013, and it will be transformed by man’s projects to keep the debris in check and the water flowing slower to protect Manitou Springs.

In 2012 the Waldo Canyon fire turned thousands of acres above the canyon into hydrophobic soil. Instead of having soil that absorbed the water so that trees and other vegetation could grow, it is now like an asphalt parking lot that water just runs off into the 106 watersheds up there. About a fourth of those watersheds end up in the Williams Canyon watershed that is directly aimed at Manitou Springs.

In 2013, rain landed in such a way that Manitou Springs experienced a flood of epic proportions. The debris that washed down the canyon and into our town caused horrific damage to many buildings along Fountain Creek. Nasty, smoky smelling mud and ashy dirt remained behind after the water quit flowing. This was just one of the two floods Manitou Springs endured within a month caused by rain landing on this hydrophobic soil.

This first flood in Manitou Springs came just 6 weeks after I had a book signing for my book entitled “Lessons of Past Floods: Destruction, Restoration and Future Preparation“.

Neither of the storms were usually heavy or intense. This was a true wake-up call for everyone. And I have to admit, even I wasn’t as prepared as I should have been for this flooding.

It caused Commonwheel to have to move the Labor Day Art Festival to a different park in Manitou Springs. But that is another story . . .

2013 Flooding In Manitou Springs

 Starting next week, men will be working 12 hours 6 days a week to build retention walls in the lower section of Williams Canyon and in many places along the creek. They can’t build a dam, too many regulations and as someone repeated said at different meetings “Dams are built to Fail.” And if ones were built here and failed, the devastation caused by that much water being released is nothing anyone living in Manitou Springs wants to imagine seeing.

So they will be building retention walls that will have holes in them that the water can pass through but will catch the rocky and tree debris that is staged to come down this canyon when another heavy rainfall lands in just the “right” area at the “right” speed to carry it from its resting place farther down into the canyon and aim at Manitou Springs.

They will be able to clean the debris out the area behind these walls and remove it safely any time they get filled up in future years, so they don’t become dams of debris.

There is millions of dollars that will be needed to fund these projects. It is coming from FEMA, CUSP, CDOT, Manitou Springs and a few other places. I am really grateful to our City administrators who have pulled this all together and the other government agencies that have worked so well with our small city at the bottom of this canyon.

Two homes that were destroyed in the flood at the top of Cañon Avenue have been purchased and removed. There will be a couple of retention ponds built here to slow the flow of water and mud down when heavy rains fall in Williams Canyon any time in the next 7-10 years that it will take for the burned area to be healed a bit and vegetation begins to grow and the soil becomes less like a parking lot and more like a field again.

Williams Canyon Beautiful Devastation Above Manitou Springs

I went hiking up Williams Canyon with someone I had never hiked with before.

She had grown up in this area and had hiked Williams Canyon many times as a youth and into adulthood.

Earlier this Spring, she had gone up just a short ways before, but it had gotten dark, and she was alone, so had turned back before going to far past the entrance sign. 

Road & Entrance Williams Canyon

I mentioned to her I really wanted to take a hike up here before the flood mitigation work began, so we picked a perfectly sunny day and took a hike up Williams Canyon. Neither of us had any desire to hike this canyon with even the slightest chance of rain.

The road approaching the entrance to the trail that goes up Williams Canyon didn’t look too bad. But then it had been cleaned up so that residents that lived up the road to the right could get to their homes.

Entrance Culvert to Williams Canyon

But as one approached the Exit Only sign where a road used to be, the rubble and rocky path was very different from what it had looked like just a year ago.

The torn up drainage pipe was the first clue to the power of the flood waters that had come down this narrow canyon less than a year ago.

After the Entrance in Williams Canyon

As we rounded the first bend on the trail, we were greeted with a very rocky and different path than what we had hiked on many times. The creek was totally rerouted to run down the middle of where the road used to be.

We could see where many people had hiked up here and created a new trail that we followed through this very rough area.

Actually, only a few places looked anything like the road had looked before. And yet, there were places that hadn’t seen as much damage or been so completely transformed as this area had been.

We kept hiking and at every turn found ourselves saying “Wow!” over and over again. We even commented that certainly we had more words in our vocabulary to describe what we were seeing, then we would turn a corner and let out a gasp and say “Wow!” again.

The devastation was everywhere, but it was also very beautiful in a new and different way from what we were used to seeing on this hiking trail.

Looking up & Down the Trail in Williams Canyon

Here are views looking up on section of trail and then back down. This section actually wasn’t as hard to transverse as some other sections.

We hiked carefully and slowly the whole time we were out here, and I was very glad I had my hiking pole with me in many sections. We actually sat down a few times when coming back down a few sections that were a bit more difficult than we felt comfortable staying on our feet.

There is a section that is called “The Narrows” and it had a sign that greeted people who used to drive down from the Cave of the Winds before the 1999 flooding and destruction of some sections of this road. The sign read “Yes, you can, thousands before you have.” This sign always brought a smile to my face. But on this hike, the sign was gone, and this was one of the first sections that was more challenging for getting past than I usually like to hike.

The Narrows in Williams Canyon

Very slowly we made our way past “The Narrows” that were much narrower than in the past. Getting past this area involved walking on the rusty culverts and crossing the creek a couple of times to stay on the most solid areas of the trail.

When we got to the place where “The Narrows” turned sharply, there was more destruction of the wall that had guided the river’s path for years. But when we turned the corner, this was where some of the road looked almost untouched.

Past The Narrows in Williams Canyon

 Except for the huge sections of the wall that had been moved from their place along the creek bed into the roadway.

Rock Wall on the road in Williams Canyon

The power of the flood waters that caused these sections of the wall to be dislodged and moved such a distance was another view that brought about a “Wow!” from us both.