Apache Blessing From the Earth to Humans

This blessing is as all I need to say tonight.

May the Sun bring you new energy by day
May the moon, softly restore you by night,
May the rain, wash away your worries,
May the Breeze, blow new strength into your being.
May you Walk gently through the world and know its beauty all the days of your life.

Apache Blessing

Walk Softly in Cheyenne Mountain State Park

Rocky Faces Among the Scent of Oak Leaves

Scrub Oak Thickly Grew Along Some of the Trails.

There were places along in Cheyenne Mountain Park that Scrub Oak was a dominant factor of how it looked.

In some areas, the leaves were still hanging onto the branches.

And in others the ground was covered with gorgeous variations of browns.

Scrub Oak in Cheyenne Mtn State Park

As I was walking by this pile of leaves, the scent of oak was almost overpowering. It stopped me in my tracks.

I called to my hiking partner to come join me in breathing in this wonderful scent of nature on this wintery day.

Some of the big rocks along the trails had a sense of reaching or looking up at the sky.

They were content with the grey days, as they had weathered many in their time on Earth.

Yet I could feel their spirits looking towards the sky for a glimpse of blue or the sun to warm them before nightfall.

Rocky Creatures in Cheyenne Mountain State Park

One has the feeling of snail slowly moving across the landscape, the other is fat and jolly.

How I enjoy finding images in rocks.

Some days I think about how I wish I could paint using them as a template so I could highlight the eyes and other features I see to help more people see them.

This Grumpy Faced Rock below reflects my mood right now.

Though looking at the Scrub Oak leaves he is surrounded by brings back that wonderful smell into my brain, which is helping me get back into a more positive feeling.

Grumpy Rock Face in Cheyenne Mtn State Park

Today’s post is a bit short as I am challenged by a health issue. Not at the top of my writing now.

Has me once again concerned about how I will get in a hike this week, but something will work out I am sure.

 Ready to get some sleep and hope to wake feeling much better in the morning.

I Have Looked At Clouds From Both Sides Dark and Light

Every time we looked up, the Clouds looked totally different.

They were sometimes very dark and ominous, other times they were white with the blue sky behind them.

Other times there was a mix of dark and white clouds making for very interesting contrast.

Blue & Dark Clouds Cheyenne Canyon State Park

A couple had images of Cloud Creatures.

One was reaching up in joyful appreciation of the sunny day.

2014-01-29_Cloud Reach_0708Another was racing away from the Dark Cloud behind him towards sunshine filled blue sky.

2014-01-29_Cloud Run from Dark_0698When I looked at this photo, I could see another white cloud in front that was reaching its hands out to help welcome to the blue sky and sunshine.

In a darker sky, I saw one of the many Spaceship shaped clouds I often see.

Dark Spaceship cloud in Cheyenne Canyon State Park Could it be covering up an actual spaceship?

The different colors where the clouds connect in the below photo make these clouds very unusual.

Are there two cloud creatures touching heads above the road?

Cloud Above the Road in Cheyenne Canyon State ParkAre they inviting travelers to come see what is just beyond the rise down this road?

Or just connecting in a conversation that mere mortals will never understand?

Next hike, we will travel up this road that leads to the campgrounds in Cheyenne Canyon State Park.

My hiking partner wants to come camp up there, but she will be doing that on her own, as I much prefer a soft bed at night after hiking.

In the far right photo below, it looks like a monster cloud is about to eat the tree below.

Or maybe he is just contemplating how a tree stays in one place and in one form, while clouds are constantly changing and moving.

What do you think is happening there?

The many types of clouds we saw on this hike, brought to mind the Joni Mitchell song “Clouds”

01-29-13_Blue Sky Clouds_684-677-687

“Bows and flows of angel hair
And ice cream castles in the air
And feather canyons everywhere
I’ve looked at clouds that way

But now they only block the sun
They rain and snow on everyone
So many things I would have done
But clouds got in my way

I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now
From up and down, and still somehow
It’s cloud illusions I recall
I really don’t know clouds at all.”

Joni Mitchell

Made Made Items Along Cheyenne Mountain State Park Trails

Fences, Barbed Wire and a Huge Tire Created Points of Interest Along These Trails

I have rarely photographed barb wire, but last summer, I was intrigued by the colors and twisted forms I saw along a trail.

And when I saw these twisted pieces of barbed wire next to this colorful fence post, I just had to capture it.

Barbed Wire Fence Post Cheyenned Canyon State Park

I wondered how it got so twisted up.

The large circular piece was more the usual way wire was twisted in other places I have seen fences end.

Must have taken a bit of effort, as this stuff is hard to handle and bend in a tight coil.

I am sure it has been there for many years.

The color of the wire was unusual also.

The fence posts ended at this point. But could be seen going towards the mountain for quite a distance.

Questions arose as I looked at this bit of fence.

         Who worked this ranch? Guessed that it was most likely a cattle ranch.

So much history that is unwritten for our area.

Which side of the fence was the ranch?

Probably on the South side, as there was a smaller fenced area where our hike began.

Cattle Fence at the start of Cheyenne Canyon State Park

At the beginning of the trail there was small fenced area that had fallen into ruin.

It looked like and area cattle would have been gathered to brand them and/or bring them in for the winter or to take to slaughter.

A view from above of the fenced area gave a hint at its true size. And was a clue that the ranch was most likely on the South side of the fence with the barbed wire.

We started our hike with a bit of blue sky that then shifted to grey and at times back to blue again.

Colorado weather is always intriguing and often can change from comfortable to challenging at any time.

The other oddity that was also on the south side of the barbed wire fence was a huge tire.


It had a purpose at one time of collecting for cattle to drink from. I have seen tires like this in other wilderness areas. Some had many hoof prints surrounding them and others had deer tracks leading to them.

So both wild and domestic animals had found them to quench their thirst.

Just such and odd thing to see along side a trail in the wilderness.

Ever so grateful for the people with the foresight to create this park from a cattle ranch, rather than allowing it to become a development where only a few people could enjoy the wilderness it preserves.

There are campgrounds and picnic areas available for people to getaway from the city in their own “backyard” without traveling too far.

Cheyenne Mountain State Park contains a variety of interesting ecosystems that were different from ones most people associate with seeing in the Pikes Peak region. 

Cheyenne Canyon Park Inspired Tree Quotes

Trees inspire me and have inspired hundreds of people who have come before me.

Sometimes I find quotes from past scholars fit my images best.

So today we will match images with tree quotes.

Poem for a Tree in Cheyenne Canyon State Park

The best part of happiness is the pines. Terri Guillemets

Pine Trees in Front of Cheyenne Mountain

“Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth.” — Herman Hesse

“A tree is our most intimate contact with nature.”– George Nakashima, woodworker

“Between every two pines is a doorway to a new world.”– John Muir

Pine Trees in Front of Cheyenne Mountain
I like trees because they seem more resigned to the way they have to live than other things do. — Willa Cather

“Storms make trees take deeper roots.” — Dolly Parton

Dark Sky Tree silohuette Cheyenne Canyon Park

“We can learn a lot from trees: they’re always grounded, but never stop reaching heavenward.” — Everett Mámor

“Today I have grown taller from walking with the trees.” — Karle Wilson Baker

“Trees are the earth’s endless effort to speak to the listening heaven.” — Rabindranath Tagor

Wm Blake Tree Poem and Cheyenne Mountain
“I frequently tramped eight or ten miles through the deepest snow to keep an appointment with a beech-tree, or a yellow birch, or an old acquaintance among the pines.” —  Henry David Thoreau,  1817 – 1862 

For in the true nature of things, if we rightly consider, every green tree is far more glorious than if it were made of gold and silver. –Martin Luther

“Look deep, deep, deep into nature, and then you will understand everything.” — Albert Einstein

Two Joyful Trees in Cheyenne Canyon State Park

Trees, proud standing people
stretching fingertips to the sky, reaching, praying
glorious attention, breathing light.

timeless confidence
bending and firm
rooted chorus line
dancing with the moon, the wind, the clouds
framing bursts of stars

tender rugged celebration

absorbing and releasing life
each holy branch
holding the power of the Universe.


Courtesy of www.DailyCelebrations.com

And I see joyful spirits in the two trees above the dancing in the sunlight – Julia

Trail Markers and Maps at Cheyenne Mountain State Park

This has to be one of the best marked trails I have ever hiked upon.

At the Visitor Center, we had picked up a copy of the Trails Map to carry with us. We had no idea how well marked the trails would be and didn’t want to chance getting lost or too far away from the starting point if the weather turned ugly.

There are many trails in Cheyenne Mountain State Park and they cross over each other in many places, so it could get confusing.

The map in the brochure and the one’s along on the trails has all the trails color coded. Brilliant!

Cheyenne Mountain State Park Trail Map

At many junctures, this very map was placed with the very helpful “You Are Here” arrow.

It also shows how it is oriented relating to the highway 115, so one can avoid hiking along that noisy road if one so chooses.

We opted to take trails that were headed into the hilly areas and away from the traffic sound as much as possible.

What made it even easier to discern which trail you were on, there were little “lollipop” trail marker at the junctures.

Some were also placed along the trail to assure you that you were on the trail you meant to be hiking upon.

And if one is into GPS readings the maps and some trail markers also had that information.

Trail Markers in Cheyenne Mountain State Park

The above images also give an idea of the different conditions we hiked upon.

Some trail areas were very snowy, others melting snow and icy.

And the worst was very muddy soil that our boots picked up and carried along, making them very heavy.

(Yes, I wish I had taken a picture of our boots at their heaviest, but didn’t think of it at the time.)

The snowy ground made for interesting hiking in some spots.

And also gave us a chance to look for tracks of wildlife that had walked there before us.

In many places we saw deer tracks.

And in one place we saw what we believed to be Wild Turkey tracks.

Wild Turkey & Deer Tracks at Cheyenne Canyon State Park

That got my hiking partner very excited.

But we only saw small birds in the bushes along the trail, no Wild Turkeys.

Some of the trees and the way the trail passed through a rocky that looked out on to a long distance view reminded us of the Aiken Canyon Trail a bit farther south on Hwy 115.

There was another feature that this Park had the reminded us of the Aiken Canyon Trail.

It and this trail have many signs that described the types of trees we were among and information about the wildlife that one might encounter in the Park.

01-29-14_Juniper Signs_0714-710

We both enjoy reading about the wildlife and flora and trees that we are walking among.

So these signs were carefully read and made the hike even more enjoyable.

Mountain Mahogany in Cheyenne Mountain State Park

And yes, I will get better at capturing signs in the future. Still have a learning curve with this new camera when the sun is shining . . .

Went Hiking in an Area New to Me and My Hiking Companion

I had Stressed a Bit About Where to Take A Winter Hike Today.

Looking at the snow on the ground, it seemed a bit challenging, but the sun was coming out, and knowing that there was a cold front on the way, I thought about some options to stay on track with this web site.

Option 1: I could just use the hike I took on the Intermann Trail on Sunday with a couple of friends as my weekly hike. But that had been a very short, and didn’t take very many photos. So I considered taking myself back up there alone and taking more photos.

Option 2: I had errands to do in town that could be done on foot. I needed to go to the Post Office to mail a FantaFaces mask and then continue on to City Hall to pay for some Festival permits. There is a creek walks that starts at City Hall and goes past the Chamber of Commerce, an urban trail that I have never been on other than a short piece of it by Memorial Park.

Option 3: I could drive to a nearby Park or trail and hike in the sunshine by myself. But I am sure I will be doing some of these close hikes in the future when the area is prettier, or if the weather is really bad for a full week or I am just feeling like doing a shorter hike for some reason, like the Art Festival is happening soon.

Option 4: Call my friend I hike with the most and check to see if she was up for taking a hike somewhere today. No answer. So I left a message about why I had called and set a time deadline for her to call me back. Moments later my phone rang. She was really excited about the prospect of going for a hike today. In her mediation she had asked for Spirit to just show up and take her somewhere beautiful today. (She told me that later when we were driving to the State Park.)

After considering some options, including some I had considered for my alone hike, I suggested we go to Cheyenne Mountain State Park and check it out. As neither of us had ever been there, partially because we hate paying a fee to hike, we decided to go there today. I quickly Googled it, and saw that there were many trails. She was excited by the adventure and I felt pretty sure it would have some sunny trails from the little bit I learned on its web site.

So we agreed to meet at a Safeway parking lot at noon and went to gather our hiking gear and some trail food.

I decided I needed to mail the FantaFaces Mask before I went, so dashed to the Post Office and did that. That was a really smart decision, as we finished our hike too late for me to have gotten to a Post Office in time to mail it afterwards.

We met up and took just one car and headed south on Nevada Ave. and found the park. A beautiful Visitor Center with a very helpful person working there was a good beginning. They had a free map that showed many trails and she explained there were markers and maps all along the trails to guide us.

Cheyenne Mountain State Park

Many of you know of Cheyenne Mountain because that is where NORAD is housed and recently they tracked Santa Claus on his Christmas journey.

Although the sun hid most of the day, it was still quite warm. In fact we each decided to remove one layer of the jackets we were wearing even before starting out on the trails.

For most of the hike, we could hear the gunfire from soldiers training at Fort Carson most of the time. And some of the trail faced highway 115, we could hear traffic noise on those sections. Not our favorite things to hear while hiking.

Still we found places to stand or sit and just BE in Nature.

We discovered this bench to sit on for lunch that gave us 360 degree view off to the East of the Prairie, South some hills, Cheyenne Mountain behind us and a beautiful meadow to the north. Perfect!

Cheyenne Mountain State Park View to the East Cheyenne Mountain State Park Mountain View

Some places were icy and snowy and others were very muddy and our hiking boots gained about 5 pounds, or so it felt, as we slogged through those areas.
But never too slippery or steep to feel as if we needed to turn back.

We both have a hard time ending a hike and always want to see what is just around the bend. Which is how we found this bench for our lunch break.

Then we did head back, but on a different trail with different views and terrain.

This hike reminded us both of another hike we will take later in the year in Aiken Canyon.


Stark Beauty Against a Blue Sky in the Garden of the Gods

White branches and a very blue sky make for a beautiful sight on a winter day.

Sunlight on Stark White Branches Against a Blue Sky

I especially like the way the sunlight intensifies the tiny ends of the branches to make them look like they are reaching for something.

Or just expressing joy of feeling its warmth.

In the winter and I find bare branches exceptionally beautiful when silhouetted against a very blue sky like the one on this day.

But add a touch of green and it almost feels magical.


I find myself wanting to sit still and listen to what the Tree Spirits are whispering about on this unusually warm winter day.

Do they feel the storm coming?

Are they just happy to be alive?

I know getting out in nature makes me feel more alive.

And before I leave this hike, I have to share the hidden very blue bird captured behind these naked branches.

Blue Bird hiding in the Garden of the Gods

Can you find the him?

I snapped many pictures of him and his friend, but this was the only one that I could actually find the bird among the branches.

It snowed all day yesterday and into the night.

This was the sight that greeted me out my office door this morning.

Winter out my Front door in Manitou Springs

The sky was very blue and it was almost warm when I shoveled snow of the public sidewalk in front of my house.

Then came back in to work on computers all day.

This will be a test of my commitment to taking a hike mid-week for 52 weeks.

Though I have to confess, I took a hike on Sunday, so may count that as this week’s hike.

Or a hike walk to City Hall and Commonwheel are a necessity tomorrow, so maybe I can find a detour and add some distance for an in town hike.

Depends on the temperature at midday . . .


Life Is Too Short To Be Anything But Happy

“There is always something to be happy about. Truly happy.”

And if you have the audacity to find it and the courage to make it your focus, in spite of the countless temptations to do otherwise, you will have learned well, your life will be transformed, and all things will be added unto you.”

– The Universe

Rock Kisses A Balancing Act in Garden of the Gods

(Two red rocks sharing kisses in the Garden of the Gods. Life is a Balancing Act.)

“There comes a time in your life, when you walk away from all the drama and people who create it.
You surround yourself with people who make you laugh.
Forget the bad, and focus on the good.
Love the people who treat you right, pray for the ones who don’t.
Life is too short to be anything but happy.
Falling down is a part of life, getting back up is living.” Author Unknown

Garden of the Gods Contemplation of Heart

(Contemplating the Heart of the Matter Surrounded by Beauty brings only Joy.)

Quote by Rolanda on Brave Heart Women
“Every morning you can wake up and restart your life a new and refreshed.”
“You can wake up every day and restart your life.”

Sunshine Morning in the Garden of the Gods

(Rocks in Meditation of the New Day Dawning.)

Trail Builders in the Garden of the Gods and Life

I have the utmost respect for all the people who build hiking trails.

I often wonder, how do they determine where a trail should be?

I am sure many were deer trails that became rough hiking trails that many people began to enjoy and then became established hiking trails.

Sometimes there is little choice, as it needs to be on the edge of a rising hill and the valley as seen below.

View of Trail in Garden of Gods

Yet the determination to carve out a trail from the rocks and sloping areas is very much to be admired.

(Oh Look! There is a pointy nose rock spirit rising above this trail. I bet he is grateful for those who wander by and enjoy his beautiful territory. Do you see him? Can you feel the joy he is expressing?)

And those of us that get to hike on them need to send gratitude out to those hard working souls that created the paths we are walking upon.

Red Rocky Trail in the Garden of the Gods

I often stop and stand in wonder at how blessed I am to experience such beautiful hikes because others felt it in their hearts it was important to build trails in many wilderness areas and state parks.

I am someone who does take off on deer trails sometimes, just to see where they go, and to get really deep into a wilderness area.

I have been very fortunate to have never gotten lost, or fallen on one of these off the beaten path excursions.

I am sure I will do that again in the coming year.

Whether I can get my hiking partner to join in the adventure, I am not sure.

And I saw a couple of deer paths recently that I would love to explore. Both looked very well traveled, so not really afraid of trampling any terrain that is in need of restoration.

I always have a whistle and my cell phone with me when hiking. Plus extra food and lots of water.

I rarely head off on a hiking adventure unprepared.

But I do often go off without telling anyone where I am going, as I often don’t know myself until I am hiking somewhere.

There are trails I get to by car or just walk out my door and head towards one of the many trails within walking distance of my home.

I have to admit, I will often drive to one of those trails, as it can be quite a hike just to get to the trail head from my door which then limits how much energy I have for hiking on the actual trail.

I have a hard time ending a hike. I always want to see what is just around the next bend in the trail, or over the rise.