Anyway, after we paid we followed a gravel road for a good while. Susan kept saying "Where's the Visitor Center? There should be a Visitor Center."
|What a day and what scenery for a hike!|
When we passed the old dam, she and Darren knew we were in the wrong place because they had been there in the past to do this Volksmarch and we had to be at a Visitor Center. After we passed the dam we came to a gated community and were no longer in the State Park.
Soooo, we turned around and went back to the main road and headed east to the town of Frankton. From there we headed south and found the main entrance to the park. Whew.
It's a good thing we didn't leave any earlier from our hotel because when we arrived at Castlewood Canyon State Park Visitor Center at 8:30 a.m. we found out the Visitor Center didn't open until 9:00 a.m. We hung around until they opened so we could sign in for the 11k Volksmarch and get our walk instructions.
We also reported the guy hanging around the over-flowing self-pay box. They wanted a description of him and his vehicle because it's a crime to steal from the self-pay boxes. I think they sent a ranger over that way to look for him and to empty the self-pay box.
I am going to say this up front: This was not a "walk," this was officially a "hike." Hiking boots and walking poles were de rigueur. I had two bottles of water, my sun hat, and sunscreen as well. Susan and Darren had their Camelback backpack with water, sun hats or caps, sunscreen, Atomic Fireball candy and Jolly Ranchers. We were set. LOL.
We decided to sign in and start the hike ASAP because the temperature was already in the mid-80s and there wasn't a cloud in the sky. We would watch the movie and explore the air-conditioned Visitor Center when we finished the walk.
From the Visitor Center, we drove to our start point about 3/4 mile down the park road. There was only one other car in the parking lot when we arrived. We geared up with hiking boots, sunscreen, our hats, and hiking poles.
Just about then a 38-40' 5th wheel pulled into the parking lot. It was pulled by a semi-truck cab. Adults and kids poured out of the cab. There must have been about eight people in there. Then a big dog came out. Next, they went into the 5th wheel and hauled out tomato plants and a couple of other plants and put them around their cab. What on earth? Are they moving in? This is a public parking lot in a state park!
Turns out their 5th wheel was the changing room for a bride. There was going to be a wedding in one of the pavilions by the parking lot. People started arriving to decorate the pavilion.
It was time for us to start our walk. Here's a little history for you about this area. Castlewood Canyon (formerly Wildcat Canyon) began more than 60 million years ago as a tropical rainforest. The upheaval of the Rockies, ancient rivers cutting down the landscape, the massive eruption of a prehistoric volcano, and rushing flood torrents carved the landscape into the park as it is today. The canyon is relatively young, maybe only about 100,000 years old. Geologists can read the rocks to surmise the approximate age of the canyon.
Here we go...
|Our Volksmarch starts here|
|The trail we came down|
|Beautiful forested trail, going down more|
|The canyon walls|
|Inner Canyon, flat here|
|All is well, we have shade, but it's warm|
|Full sun early on|
|Who wouldn't enjoy walking in this beauty?|
|Long, flat trail...for the moment.|
|Throw in some boulders for visual impact|
|Castle Rock Conglomerate|
|Orchid beardstongue plant (?)|
or penstemon (?)
|Ruins of the Castlewood Canyon Dam|
From the dam ruins, our route took us up to the Canyon Rim Trail...the very top of the canyon.
|A view of the dam ruins on the way up to the top|
|Darren and Susan going up|
|Lenticular clouds indicating high-level winds.|
|Opposite canyon wall|
|Prickly pear cactus in bloom|
|Spanish bayonet yucca flowers|
|Susan liked the snakeskin|
|I loved this tree!|
|Darren liked these rock cairns|
|This tree really wanted to grow here!|
|Hiking poles offer great stability|
|Anyone know what this is?|
|Bridge over Cherry Creek in canyon bottom|
|Canyon Bottom Trail hike|
|Nice to see them resting!|
|Cherry Creek Falls|
|Susan's very cold, wet T-shirt|
|Susan M. is dwarfed by the dam.|
|Darren at the base of the dam|
|The dam is very pretty; |
the design just didn't hold water.
|The top of the dam|
|Now we hike back across the treeless meadow.|
|Evening primrose family|
|Only another mile or two...uphill!|
|I love these rim rocks!|
Darren stayed with me on the trail and we plodded along. Susan made it back to the van. She came back to where we were with an ice-cold bottle of water from the cooler! What a hero. I just about cried. That was so nice of her! I think I drank half the bottle on the spot.
|My hero! Ice-cold water delivered|
with a big smile.
As we passed by, weding guests were arriving and we saw the bride in her gown. The tables in the pavilion were all beautifully decorated. But I can only imagine how hot the bride, groom, and minister must have been in their wedding garments.
Back at the van, we changed into more comfortable shoes and then went to the Visitor Center. Inside, we sat in a dark, air-conditioned room to watch the movie about Castlewood Canyon. It was very well done. We also perused the history in the Visitor Center and read the tales of the night the dam gave way.
|Historic photo of the dam and reservoir|
|Early history of the dam|
Well, that is more than enough for one blog. Again, I must break this into two parts because we really know how to fill up a day!
Come back for more, you hear?