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.


 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.

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