Cloud Faces in the Garden of the Gods

Everywhere I looked on this hike, I saw faces in the sky.

Some were in groups, others just singular and very obvious.

Spooky and happy cloud faces above Garden of the GodsEvery time I looked at this cloud formation above me while waiting for my hiking partner, I saw more and different cloud faces and creatures .

Some seemed downright spooky, others were laughing and very happy.

And looking at the photo later, where I saw faces shifted many times.

At last count, I found more than a half dozen sets of eyes that were connected to different faces.

How many do you see?

Cloud Faces & Creatures above Garden of the Gods

When we began the hike, I looked back and from a different angle saw totally different creatures and faces following us on the hiking trail.

Just before we went into the canyon section of the creek bed this incredible cloud formation appeared.

Alien Cloud approaching above Garden of the Gods

White flaming hair, frowning lips, wrinkled eyes and a hand reaching for the mountain top.

If you can’t see this cloud being, better get your eyes checked or you imagination reset.

And yes, I know there are other images there also, but the main on was just awesome to behold and had my attention until looking at the photo at home.

Then, for awhile, the sky cleared and was just a beautiful solid deep blue.

Blue Sky above Redstone Cliff in Garden of the Gods

This cloudless deep blue sky made the day a bit warmer than my hiking partner usually likes.

Still she kept on climbing and being in awe at the beautiful place we exploring.

When we came back to the beginning of the trail the tree branches against the blue sky caught my attention.

Cloud version of The Scream in Garden of the GodsThe curve of the clouds fit so beautifully around its rounded top.

Then I saw the cloud version of “The Scream” just above it.

A fun image to take with me for the rest of the day.

Hiking Creek Beds and Among Ancient Cedars in Garden of the Gods

This is one of my Most Favorite Hikes in the Garden of the Gods, or anywhere.

I hadn’t been on this “secret” trail in about two years. It starts off on a mellow creek bed, then there is an uphill climb to an open area. Next you can hike up to a grove of Ancient Cedar trees. I have only gotten that far a couple of times, and was hoping to make it there on this hike.

Spring Canyon Creek Bed in Garden of the Gods

Last year (2013) the heavy rains and flooding in our area made me wary of hiking in a creek bed, especially this one. In 2012, the Waldo Canyon Fire had come very close to this trail, but did not actually burn any of it. And I had traveled many times to Oregon on trips relating to my Mother’s passing and my niece’s wedding. So I didn’t hike here that year either.

Today was a glorious sunny day and the blue sky made made us smile with wonder that it was winter in the Rockies, yet 60 degrees. No chance of flooding or fire. But snow was predicted for tomorrow.

I am ever so grateful I am to live so near this magical place. The Garden of the Gods is filled with trails that all have different views and wonderful rock formations.

My friend had not brought her hiking pole I had given her a few months ago, and I knew she would not like making this hike without one. So I said she could use mine and I would use the driftwood hiking stick with a nice handle on it that was also in my car. It resides there with my hiking pole just in case I do take the pole out and forget to put it back if I travel in someone else’s vehicle.

She wanted to refuse using pole, but when I said I would attach my pole to my pack and use the hiking stick, she relented and took the hiking stick and I used my pole. The beginning of the trail in the creek bed looks like a normal trail. A little rocky and uneven, but no big deal. But as we got farther into the creek bed, there were more and larger rocks to contend with.

We saw few black and gold butterflies, but they wouldn’t hold still for me to get a photo of, these guys are always camera shy.

But my friend then pointed out a lovely butterfly on a rock, and she talked him into posing and opening his wings for me.

Spring Canyon Butterfly in the Garden of the Gods

 I am glad my friend has a sense of adventure when it comes to hiking with me. As it didn’t take much convincing to get her to follow me up a deer trail that would lead eventually us to the Forest of Ancient Cedars I had hoped to reach on this hike.

Spring Canyon in Garden of the Gods

I have hiked many deer paths in my life. They always are an adventure, and obviously, I have always found my way home.

How does one know they are on a deer trail you may ask. They leave tell tale droppings wherever they go and are easy to spot when you follow a lightly traveled path.

I had had a few false starts of choosing where to go up. I hadn’t made my hiking partner follow me, which I am sure made her happy. Then we found the one I had been looking for to start getting out of the creek bed and get up higher.

Looking down, I saw this rock that looked like it was covered in hair made of branches.

 Looking Down Gulley Spring Canyon Garden of the Gods


Just a fun image that made me smile and think of trolls living here.

The Dark Crystal is a favorite movie and I could see some of those characters waling below.

When I came to a very familiar ridge area, I knew we were on the trail that I wanted to be on today.

White Ridge Garden of the Gods Red Ridge Garden of the Gods

This white and red formation was a place I had passed many times before.

You can’t really see in the upper picture, just couldn’t get the proper angle without endangering myself on this slippery slope, but a huge piece of the formation had broken away from the rest of the formation since I had been here about 3 years ago.

I always loved this particular rock formation. The colors in the one section contrasts so beautifully with the white sandstone in the other section. I always have to stand in wonder for a few moments when I get to this place.

Then just on the other side of this formation is a white sandstone rock chair.

I couldn’t resist climbing up to sit in it and engage in a conversation with the rock creatures on either side of me.

Julia in White Rock Chair in Garden of the Gods

Do you see them?

How long they have enjoyed the incredible view that was available from this chair I have no idea. But for centuries I am sure.

I rarely let someone take pictures of me on our hikes, but this was just too cool of a place to not have a photo to remember my being there.

And later there will be one more.

Not sure why this hike and area invites me to not only sit in unusual seats created by Nature, but have myself photographed while sitting in them . . .

A Walk with Two Ladies Becomes a Uphill Hike

On Friday, my Greek friend and Kathleen Suggested we take a Walk together on Sunday.

They had planned on parking their cars at my house to avoid the paid parking in Manitou Springs. But when I got up and started to get dressed, I saw that my cottage tenant had begun the process of moving out and the driveway was filled with trucks and vans. I let both of them know that they couldn’t park here and suggested they park near Kathleen’s new Sharing Inner Health office space where the parking was free.

When I asked where they wanted to walk, they both said town was too crazy full of people. Kathleen quickly said we should hike up the new trail next to the Manitou Incline at the top of my street. I hadn’t known of this new trail, but figured it would be pretty uphill. She said it was an alternative route relating to the very uphill section of the Ute Trail and would be much easier. Right!

The incline is seen on the left, the new trails starting path on the right.

Manitou Incline & Ute Trail alternate Trail

OK, it started out looking easier, but quickly took a turn for the uphill climb.

New Ute Pass TrailWe kept going up and up on some gentle inclines, until we got around the final switchback and had a magnificent view of many directions.

To the East we could see downtown Manitou Springs and an overview of Colorado Springs and the Garden of the Gods.

Manitou Springs Downtown & view to the East

To the South and West we could see where we came from and green hillsides.

Below us we saw the Ute Trail section we would not be climbing up on.

Ute Trail below in Manitou Springs

Just as we reached the top of the trail, I realized my camera’s battery was about dead. When I looked in my pack, I remembered I had been debating which pack to take on this proposed “walk” and had not switched it out of the smaller pack. So I only had a few more photos I could take.

As we headed down a way I had often climbed up from a street in Manitou Springs above my house, and there were some very snowy and slick sections.

I had not brought my hiking pole on this “walk”, so cautiously made my way down the trail when it got icy and slick.

On this trail we saw many tracks deep in the snow that we did not want to meet on the trail.

Mule & Wild Cat track on Ute TrailAnd then we were delighted to see two of the mules that had been in the Carnivale Parade last weekend.

We learned the owners took them to many races, but Carnivale Parade was an adventure they might not do again. A different type of crowd that had their four-legged friends a bit nervous. And then there were the horns and drums that were types of noises that had them wanting to walk the opposite direction.

They were very friendly and loved getting pets as we talked to the owners and enjoyed this fun chance encounter.

 This was when my camera’s battery totally died, end of photos. So I just drank in the beauty and concentrated on making it down the snowy and slippery slopes that some sections of the trail offered.

We got back to my house in about two hours. They had a potluck to go to, and I had work to do.

I was a bit tired, and took a short nap before getting on the computer.

I was able to finish working on my taxes and had what I needed done to make an appointment with my accountant.

I headed to bed in anticipation of the fun hike planned with another hiking friend on Monday.

Becky Elder Keeps the Carnivale Parade Characters In Line

Every Parade needs someone to keep it moving, but not have the participants not on top of each other.

Becky has done this for many years.

Ready to participate in Manitou Springs Canrivale

And on this cold and snowy day, Carnivale Parade participants wanted to get moving as fast as possible once the parade began. But that means they get bunched up and make the parade not as enjoyable for those watching it go by.

Library & Puppets at Manitu Springs Carnivale

The riders of bikes, stilt walkers and dancers can slow down the parade, and those behind need to be aware and entertain the crowd by tossing beads or waving and doing some circular walking to show off their costumes.

The parade’s theme was Phoenix Rising and there was a great float that totally embraced that idea.

Phoenix Rising Theme Float for Manitou Springs Canrivale

Here Becky is checking on the progress before letting the Phoenix float with flamingo attendants join in the parade. Jack Elder, seen to the left of the float has made this event happen for many years. The Chamber has joined in, but he is the guiding force behind making the parade such a fun community event. This year,it was the largest parade to date with the second coldest weather not keeping participants away.

Alice in Wonderland at Manitou Springs Canrivale

Alice in Wonderland had some of the most fun characters and probably the most chilly! Yet they were smiling and laughing all the way along the Carnivale parade route in downtown Manitou Springs. They were definitely very colorful characters who got the crowd cheering as they walked by.

Becky with Giant Puppets at Manitou Springs Canrivale

Becky chats with the Giant puppets as they wait for the right time for them to join the parade.

Becky Flamingoed & Lettuce in the Manitou Springs CanrivaleBecky directs our new Local Grocery participant on where she wants him to walk.

Is he really barefoot? Or are those the toe shoes? Still has to have really cold feet to walk in a parade!

Talking to a flamingo, she looks as if she has a colorful side to her also.

Becky is covered in beads that she tosses as she walks at the end of the parade.

Probably one of the most inventive “floats” was the weirdur bus.

Weirdur Bus in Manitou Springs Carnivale

Although the Pedal Bar did come a close second.

They were there last year and served up a fun time when they joined the parade in mid-route.

Pedal Bar in Manitou Springs Carnivale

And then there were some 4 legged creatures that joined in the fun.

Burros in Manitou Springs Carnivale

 This was a first Carnivale Parade that Burros participate in, and the crowd loved them!

On my Sunday Hike, we met two of them on the trail just as my camera ran out of battery life . . .

We learned that they participate in many races in Colorado and this was their first parade.

Man’s Best Friend joined in the fun.

Dogs 3 Views

Though not all seemed as happy about their position in the parade or having as much fun as their owners.

I always start walking from my house down to the park where everyone gathers. On my way I see people dressed to just be watching or on their way to join in the parade. I take photos in the park as participants gather and line-up. I stand on a bridge or other higher stone perch to take photos as they go past me at the beginning of the parade. Then I run up the street, and it is an uphill hike, to take photos in the downtown area. Next I take a final run up to where the parade ends and take more images. In the Soda Springs Park Pavilion the drummers who led the paraded continue to play and folks dance who were both in the parade and just watchers come and dance to the music.

There is always a bit of the absurd and some wickedly fun characters that just make this parade all the more interesting.

Wicked & White Rabbits at Manitou Springs Carnivale

One never knows what they will see each year at Manitou Springs Carnivale Parade.

Maybe you will come join us next year.

Don’t forget your FantaFaces Mask if you do!


Everyone Wants to Join in the Carnivale Party

Walking down the Manitou Avenue costumed people are seen everywhere.

Ready to Party at Carnivale in Manitou Springs  Ready to Party Couple_1630

And my, how much fun they all are having at Manitou Springs Carnivale Day, even in this frigid weather.

Even though many observers were wearing coats to stay warm, the had painted faces, fun hats or masks to keep them in the spirit of Carnivale.

Ready to Party at Carnivale in Manitou Springs

Some masks are handmade by the wearer, others are store bought – all are very fun to see.

There is always a contingent of ladies who carry parasols in the parade.

 Saffron is Ready to Party at Carnivale in Manitou Springs

This year there were also umbrellas carried by observers and parade participants. Not sure if they had meant for them to be a costume piece, or just trying to keep the snow off of them.

As the park began to fill up with more and more parade participants, we all realized this could be the longest parade ever. And it was!

Ready to Party at Carnivale in Manitou Springs


Ready to Party at Carnivale in Manitou Springs


The creative juices were flowing in many ways this year for how people dressed.

And there are always Drummers to lead off the parade just after the balloon arch.

A Drummer is Ready to Party at Carnivale in Manitou Springs

Many people join in and dance with them from one park to the next.

And there are always Belly Dancers in colorful costumes to entice others to join in the dancing fun.

Maybe next year you will come and join us.







Carnivale in Manituo Springs Always Has Giant Puppets

Carnivale would not be the same without its Giant Puppets.

Giant Puppets at Manitou Carnivale

The very first parade had giant puppets by Al Laurie and the tradition has been continued by others and even some of his originals showed up for many years. In fact the lion and the green creature were in the very first Carnivale parade that was on the sidewalks of Manitou Springs. I have a photo of the the lion leaning against the outside wall of a bar from that year. Just not digitized. Yes, taken before digital cameras existed.

The tall happy skeleton and the banjo playing crocodile were very fun additions this year. Though I kinda remember the croc being in last year’s parade also.

Jesters & Royalty at Carnivale in Manitou SpringsThen there were the various versions of Jesters, very happy and rather evil looking, short and tall who were there to entertain the Royalty that joined in the parade.

A scooter riding white rabbit was looking for his Alice was a little out of sync with the line-up. Soon though he found his way back into the Alice in Wonderland participants that made for a bit of magic in this parade.

Alice Queen Hearts_1839 Alice Card Queen-Best_2082

The Queen of Hearts with her card entourage was one of my most favorite entries in this year’s parade. She had them so the actually were walking with her, legs swinging back and forth. From the cute shoes, the flamingos and the masked faces, I was totally enchanted by this entry. Quite a bit of work to create this “float” for the parade. 

And remember, this was one of the coldest parade days ever! Look at the cute costumes that could not have been very warm. But everyone looked very happy at the end under the pavilion.

The crowd was about half normal size, but this may have been one of the largest and most imaginative Carnivale parades ever.

I have come to the conclusion that writing on this blog everyday is not practical. And I need to write other places.

No, I am not quitting the blog, just may not be daily.

Nor am I done sharing photos of Carnivale.

And I will still do at least 52 real trail hikes this year and blog about them.

The Day After Manitou Springs Carnivale 2014

I hiked Manitou Springs for Many Miles on Carnivale Day.

Totally different type of hiking than most people do. I hiked to Manitou Springs Memorial Park, then back up to Soda Springs Park, taking photos of the parade in three different locations. Then hiked back to go dancing at the Townhouse and the Keg. Down to Swirl for Gumbo, up to Commonwheel for a “pit stop” and get warmed up. Then finished dancing at the Townhouse and hurried back home in the early evening cold.

First though, I want to go back to Friday, when I suddenly decided I wanted to go dancing at Stargazers to Tribe. They usually play at the Townhouse on Carnivale afternoon, but I learned they wouldn’t be there this year. So glad I went to Stargazers to dance to one of my favorite bands. I had planned on leaving after the first set was over, but that didn’t happen. Was just having too much fun. Dancing with alone, in small groups, even one with the Count, and couple with another Deja Vu gentleman. Talked to some interesting women too.

But my heart was broken when I ran into the gentleman that is part of the Transition Town folks that I have been trying to flirt with this last year. He was with a date! Dang! Well, he is younger than me, so guess need to just let it go and continue as friends.

Friday had been sunny and 50 degree warm weather. We were all hoping for Saturday’s weather to be nice for Carnivale. But, alas, when I awoke it was very grey and snow was lightly falling.

And it was COLD! No, it was freezing!

I dressed as warm as I could and still be in a glittery “costume” and wore a mask on the back of my head. I couldn’t figure out gloves that would keep my fingers warm and let me take pictures easily. My fingers got very cold, but did get about 500 photos taken. Some much better than others.

Carnivale's King & Queen 2014

As I walked to the park where the parade is staged, I ran into Royalty. These were the lucky souls to be King and Queen for the 2014 Carnivale Parade. I asked them if they had ordered this weather? The laughed and said something about the Wizard not being in control of the weather as they had requested sunshine, not snow.

 The Balloon arch that was being created at the park was a sharp contrast against the grey sky and tells the story of colorful energy being exhibited despite the snow.

Carnivale Balloon Arch Manitou Springs

At first when I arrived at the park, which is a half mile from my home, there was no one there except a couple blowing up the balloons, Jack who coordinates this event and a few other people.

So I went over to the MAC to stay warm until people began to show up.

Soon, I noticed some folks were showing up. So I went out and started taking pictures.

Here the balloon arch is completed and marks the place for people to gather behind it in wild and crazy colorful costumes to get in line to march in the parade.

Lining up for Carnivale Parade in Snowy Manitou Springs

This is truly a fun town event. Mayor Mark Snyder is to the left of the Carnivale letter “C” wearing one of my FantaFaces masks.

It takes eight people to carry the Carnivale Letters and a couple more to take charge of the balloon arch. They are often recruited at the last minute.

Somehow folks do show up and the starting pieces of the parade come together.




Very Short Hike at Memorial Park in Manitou Springs

I was planning on refilling my bottles at 7-Minute Spring, so parked across the street from Manitou Springs Memorial Park.

I had seen lots of heavy equipment working at that park when I headed off to my meeting, and wondered what they were doing.


7-Minute Spring in Manitou SpringsWhile I filled my bottles, I watched the equipment, which made me very curious about what they were doing and what condition the park was actually in. So I hiked over there to check it out.

Debris removed from Fountain Creek at Memorial ParkThe piles of branches and debris were huge.

And the park was really dry and had deep ruts in areas that there should not have been vehicles.

Ss it was still sunny and warm, I decided to walk around the park and check out the creek to see how much debris was there.

Fountain Creek realigned at Memorial Park

Fountain Creek had a whole different look to it. Curves and different shore line.

The pair of mating ducks I had often seen here were enjoying a ride on the current. They stopped for a moment to inspect a branch that resembled a very skinny duck. Since it wasn’t another duck, they continued on and floated out of my view.

The creek was really much more shallow than I remembered it. So much gravel had raised the creek bed much higher than it had been for all the years in my memory. This makes it easier for it to flood in the future.

I walked over to the other stone bridge and saw how badly Manitou Springs City Hall had been undermined by the flood waters.

 Fountain Creek at Undermined Manitou Springs City Hall

For many months any events scheduled in the large hall at the back of City Hall had to be relocated. But with the scaffolding and the work done to support it, events can once again take place there. Still, there is much work to be done to make it totally safe and prepared to handle another flood, if one should happen in the near future.

I saw that the FEMA meeting was breaking up and thought about trying to catch the people I was to have met with at The Fields Park, but decided against that. They were all still talking and looking at the Emergency Signal or into the creek.

So I headed back to the car and home.


Concrete Couches Along the Fountain Creek Walk

Concrete couches added to the sights seen on this creek walk.

These are different than some of their other couch projects, as they incorporated large rocks that were found along the Fountain Creek trail near The Fields Park in Manitou Springs into the couches.

Concrete Couch on Fountain Creek Walk in Manitou Springs

Concrete Couch is a non-profit that does many things.

It did start by doing concrete couch projects with at risk kids, hence its name.  

Concrete Couches Along Fountain Creek in Manitou Springs

The kids get to create tiles that are fired and inset into concrete couches.

They learn skills that they could use in their own life, or perhaps for getting a job.

Tiles set in Concrete Couchs in Manitou Springs

Some have a theme that is easily discerned. 

Many types of creatures and forms found in nature can be found in these couches.

I loved the lavender octopus dancing among the fishes.

All the tile are very fun and imaginative.

When looked at closely a theme usually does appear.

Tiles set in Concrete Couchs in Manitou Springs

Concrete Couch has branched out into many other types of community projects that involve “at risk” kids and art.

Concrete Couch hosts Fab Lab Wednesdays in their wood and metal shop at the Manitou Art Center.   Here they can fix a broken item or use donated materials to create useful and art projects. Many things get re-purposed to extend there useful life for the good of the environment. Its a FABulous experience.

Although these couches aren’t very inviting to sit upon in the winter, they did entertain my eyes.  I could easily imagine people enjoying resting on these benches in the summer surrounded by greenery and enjoying the sound of water running in the creek.

The sunshine does warm them a bit even in the winter, and I encountered one person sitting on one while watching his dog romp on the trail.

I may have a project for the Fab Lab relating to the Commonwheel Art Festival. We need to get some Plywood A-frames out of storage area and count how many we have then decide how we would like to direct them to be painted.

Reflecting on the creativity on these benches makes me believe some of these kids could paint some very creative signs relating to the Art Festival to catch people’s attention and guide them to The Fields Park.

How fun it would be to recycle some outdated signs and give some kids a creative outlet that they will see displayed on Manitou Avenue.

That would be a win-win situation for us all.

Took Two Mini-Hikes Today in Manitou Springs

Actually I took 3 Walks or mini-hikes that all related to being near Manitou Springs Fountain Creek.

One was along Fountain Creek at The Fields Park and the other took me to the other end of Fountain Creek in Manitou Springs.

I had a meeting at The Fields Park with a Manitou Springs City Official.

I had wanted to go early enough to walk the Creek Walk and see why so many people do that.

But the phone rang as I was preparing to leave and Commonwheel’s president had some things to talk with me about relating to marketing. And when I arrived at the park, two other park workers were there, but the person I needed to talk to hadn’t arrived. It turned out he was stuck in a meeting with FEMA and many other Manitou Springs government members. This made me hope he might have some more answers about mitigation and the dredging of the creek when we do meet.

I discussed the electrical needs if the Commonwheel Art Festival was to have the music and the food in one area, rather than at different ends of the park. I made it clear that after Commonwheel had spent about $2,000 ten years ago to get better electrical service in the park the Festival had been held in for all of the years past, I didn’t want to have to deal with blown circuits here. Food vendors with customers in line get very upset when they can’t cook. And no one likes it when the music stops playing . . .

The Fields Fountain Creek Walk in Manitou SpringsThis is the area where the stage would be looking away from the road and into the park. The tree area is where the food vendors set up.

I really didn’t want to discuss the concept of adding a beer garden with anyone but the head of the department, so when we learned he couldn’t be there, just discussed the water and electric needs.

I had already walked up and down the park at least two times, getting a feel for how to set up the booths and make the stage area switch work well.

But it was such a glorious afternoon that I decided to take a short Creek Walk, mini-hike up and down the easily accessible area to get a feel for that urban trail.

This was one of three mini-hikes I took today relating to Fountain Creek.

14-02-26_Creek Walk Fields_1525-17

 I quickly understood why so many people are drawn to walk here.

The sound of the water and the trees even in winter time made it a very peaceful and beautiful space.

Tree Grove along Fountain Creek Walk in Manitou SpringsSome of the trees were growing in lovely groves that, without leaves, made a lovely puzzling pattern together.

Fun to see from different angles.

And the one trunk looked as if he was holding up the ones behind him or maybe leading them on a journey.

Do you see him?

I hung out with some of huge cottonwoods, leaning on them, and actually laying on one, which gave me this incredible view.

Beauty above The Fields Fountain Creek Walk in Manitou Springs

The sun was shining on the branches in such a way they seemed to be illuminated and glowing. Listening to the water running in the creek and looking up through these glowing branches reaching for the sky uplifted my spirit.

It was hard to get myself moving again.

But I did.