Sunset, Kailua-Kona, The Big Island, Hawaii, March 11, 2024

Sunset, Kailua-Kona, The Big Island, Hawaii, March 11, 2024
Sunset, Kailua-Kona, The Big Island, Hawaii, March 11, 2024

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Kissing Camels and Siamese Twins - Sat., June 17, 2017

Some discussion was held last night about what time we would meet Joan and Gary, Susan and Darren's neighbors from when they lived in Colorado Springs, to start our Volksmarch this morning. I suggested 6 a.m. because it was supposed to get pretty hot. Others said 7 a.m., so we compromised on 6:30 a.m.

At such an early hour, we had our pick of parking spaces at our start point, The Trading Post. 

We were walking by 6:45 a.m. Today's walk was 11k (6.8 miles) which covered a lot of the trails in Garden of the Gods Nature Center. The park is described on the park map as "a unique city park." I'll say. This park has features similar to those in the red rocks of Utah. In 1971, the park was named a National Natural Landmark.

The first part of our walk was along parks roads which, this early in the day, were nearly empty. Early on in the walk, we spent a lot of time hiking the Scotsman/Buckskin Charlie trails up, down and around the southeastern side of the park. 
This may be "The Scotsman"
North Gateway Rock and South Gateway Rock
Pike's Peak from Garden of the Gods
Cool formation with part of town behind
Darren, Susan and I - Garden of the Gods
Early morning shadows

Cathedral (or Gray) Rock

Headed toward an old earthen dam...
no longer serving as a dam
Beautiful meadow and rock formations
Early morning trail in shadow
Yucca and Prince's Plume Plant
Indian Paintbrush
I love that we've been getting to do our hikes when the spring flowers are blooming!
Susan M., Joan, Susan A.
We are here
Susan and Susan on the Susan Bretag Trail
This formation is "Kissing Camels"
We have reached the northern section of Garden of the Gods. Red rock formations are thick in this area of the park. We get to hike around most of them.

Pike's Peak is between the Gateway Rocks

Me, Joan, Susan M., Darren and Gary -
Viewpoint at a parking lot
We are at the North Main Parking Lot, one of the largest in the park. Free nature walks are given at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. The viewpoint here overlooks North Gateway Rock, Signature Rock, and South Gateway Rock. We are traveling on the Chambers, Bretag, and Palmer Trails around the northern part of Garden of the Gods. There's a lot of up and down along with the pretty scenery. 

Hiking boots and poles help on these trails

Overlooking the heart of the park
We take a side trip to walk the paved Perkins Central Garden Trail. This 1/2-mile loop trail is in the heart of the park at the base of the highest rock formations. The next set of photos is from the Perkins Central Garden Trail.

A lady climbing the rocks -
being belayed from below

Joan, Susan and Darren
I'm not going to pretend I know which names go with which rock formations unless I'm really sure. But I can give you the names and maybe you know. Signature Rock (has historic signatures on it), Sleeping Giant, the Three Graces, Sentinel Rock, Tower of Babel, Pulpit Rock, and Cathedral Spires.

We took our leave of Perkins Central Garden Trail and returned to the Chambers/Bretag/Palmer Trails to get to the Siamese Twins Trail. 

Joan, Susan M., Darren
We walked past so many interesting rock formations and enjoyed the shade they provided. Gary had left us at the North Parking Lot, making a bee-line back to wait for us at The Trading Post.

I call this "Monster Rock" or "Jabba the Hut."

Prickly pear cactus flower
Joan, Susan and Darren with
Siamese Twins Formation in the background 
Siamese Twins - Darren, me and Susan M.
Siamese Twins keyhole with Pike's Peak showing through

The guys from Rocky Mountain Field Institute ( were out repairing trails today. We thanked them profusely for the work they do.


Next, we spent time at Balanced Rock, one of the most visited formations in the park. We were not alone here. It is estimated Balanced Rock weighs 700 tons.

Darren reading signs 
People climbing all over the rock
Balanced Rock
Geology overload
Red sandstone erosion pattern
We finished our walk and had an awesome ice cream cone in the Old Trading Post, did some shopping, and then headed to the Garden of the Gods Visitor Center. Darren drove the parking lot to find a spot, while Susan and I went to the Visitor Center and bought tickets to the movie ($6 each). As soon as Darren came in we were seated for the 24-minute movie. 

The movie took us back in a time machine piloted by a guy who told us the eons of history that formed Garden of the Gods: oceans, forests, volcanoes, upheavals, subsidence. This area has experienced it all. My brain was worn out by the whirlwind geology lesson. 

We then explored the Visitor Center which was more up to date with current animals, the history of the Native Americans who lived here, and the discovery of a new species of dinosaur in the park!

Local wildlife
Puma, mountain lion, or panther
Native American history
Chief Sapiah ("Buckskin Charlie") led the
Southern Ute from 1880-1936
History of the Utes
Theiophytalia kerri - New species of dinosaur
Theiophytalia kerri means
"belonging to the gods garden"
View of Garden of the Gods and Pike's Peak
from the Visitor Center (Photo: Darren Medlin)

After the Visitor Center, Susan and Darren took me to their old neighborhood to see the home they used to live in. When they lived there, they had to evacuate because of a big fire. Thankfully, they did not have any damage to their house.

Next on the agenda was to find the caramel corn food truck that has awesome Kettle Corn. The guy was still in the same spot as he was when they lived there a few years ago. We each bought three bags of Kettle Corn. (It was a package deal to buy nine bags.)

We were pretty darned hungry so we dug right into that popcorn as we drove to Texas Roadhouse for lunch. We wanted to eat someplace special to celebrate Darren's birthday. I had steak kabobs that were so good. They came with rice, broccoli and I added a garden salad. Mmm, yummy!

After lunch, we drove to Trinidad, Colorado, to do a Volksmarch there this evening. We arrived at the Visitor Center about 3:00 p.m. to sign in for the walk and pick up our walk instructions. It was supposed to be open until 5:00 p.m. on Sunday, but it was locked up with no one around. That sucked. 

Susan was able to have walk instructions emailed to her phone. We opted to do the 5k walk at sunset so we wouldn't melt in the heat of the day.

In the meantime, we checked into our motel. I spent about an hour in the pool and some time in the hot tub. The pool was very refreshing, but not cold. We had cheese, crackers, wine, and sausage for dinner in Susan and Darren's room. 

Just before sunset, Susan and I went on walkabout. We had a lovely sunset as we climbed the hill in a city neighborhood.

Sunset in Trinidad, Colorado

Beautiful sunset
Lovely, long-range sunset view
Our walk had us going up and down hills. About halfway through the walk, a strong wind kicked up. Susan's baseball cap flew off, but she saved it. The wind blew so hard, we were worried tree branches might come off the trees. We also had a few raindrops, but nothing that got us wet.

Love this old house!
It was an adventure to walk in the dark in a town we didn't know. We saw some cool sculptures toward the end of the walk. Then we headed back to the motel to stay in for the rest of the night. Tomorrow, we head to Capulin Volcano National Monument for a 5k walk, then a long drive, and a 5k walk in Amarillo, Texas. That's right, tomorrow we'll be back in Texas!

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