One of the Longest Days: Part 1 Manitou Spring & Colorado Springs

Leaving Durango, Colorado

My time in Cortez and Durango had come to a close and it was on to Colorado Springs.    The person I had hoped to visit with in Colorado Springs had a family situation and was unable to connect.    With this in mind, it made sense to get an early start, make a short stop and keep moving north.

Early Start and a Spectacular View

Being a morning person and western times are a crappy combination.   Typically, I am up at 5-5:30 am everyday, without an alarm clock.   It has always been this way.   Bedtime is 9:30 or 10pm and I am crashing hard at that time.     When you add in a 3 hour time difference, it means I’m ready to pass out at 6:30 pm and wide away 2-3 am.

Since this is not a surprise, I mentioned to my Dedo, who I had been staying with, that I would be up and out early.    By 3:45 am, I was rolling up the road.  The drive was pitch black , very foggy and slightly spooky.    The biggest concern was deer or elk on the roads.    Fortunately it was smooth and clear sailing.

About an hour and half into the drive, dawn just starting to add some light to the black skies.  Winding up the Mountain roads,  I could feel some unique chances to shoot landscape photography.    As I was leaving ‎⁨the San Juan National Forest⁩, ⁨South Fork⁩,  there were signs for an overlook.   This overlook was on the left side of the road and behind me.   Assuming it was worth a few minutes to stop and look, I pulled in.    Damn!  it was worth it.    The entire valley was engulfed in the dense fog that had slowed the slowed the earlier pace.    There was enough light to make out the mountains and rock formations in the foreground.    What a sight!

‎⁨San Juan National Forest⁩, ⁨South Fork⁩, ⁨Eastern Rockies Corridor⁩,

Manitou Springs: Breakfast and a Podcast

Manitou Springs and it’s Natural Mineral Water

The first thing to do when coming in to the Colorado Springs Area is to stop and fill up in Manitou Springs. The natural mineral spring water flows from the hills. It is free at several fountains in town.

Founded in 1872, the town was become a resort and spa destination. Tourism can be traced back to the early days, as people began to discover the healing waters that Ute Indians had known about for hundreds of years. The 1980’s brought the formation of the Historic District, which is now one of the largest in the US. #mineralwater #manitousprings #colorado

Manitou Springs is also at the base of Pike’s Peak.  There are a few trails that began there too.    Unfortunately, there parking was tremendously packed.   After 20 minutes of been directed back forth between the COG railroad and Lower parking area (Both were privately owned and not very helpful),  I decided to forego the morning hike.   The sun was getting higher in the sky, and I had an appointment for a podcast.

Filled up and Striking Out on Hiking

breakfast sandwich and coffee at Good Karma , Manitou Springs, ColoradoAfter filling up my 110 oz Camelback with nature’s magical mineral water, I set off to get a solid morning hike in.  As is my habit or preference, I grabbed a coffee at Good Karma Coffee Shop before setting out.   A breakfast sandwich was needed too, as I have already driven several 5 hours before eating breakfast.   (I left Durango at 5 am and got t o Manitou Springs at 10am.).    While enjoying my coffee and breakfast, one of the young women working came over with a map and a few hiking trail suggestions.   It must have been the “hiking uniform”; Convertible pants, omni shade shirt and a camelback.   This women as great!  She pointed out a few of her favorite hikes and offered some suggestions and tips.    With a full belly and good local intel, I had one appointment and then I wanted to hike.   

The Podcast From the Base of Pike’s Peak

At the beginning of this trip, I was approached by the local cable company to do an interview and podcast about the trip. I have been interviewed on this podcast before for some of the work I’ve done around Harmony, at The Center Of Harmony  and with my consulting business Great Things LLC.   The time for the podcast was approaching and I needed to get set up.   By set up, I mean finding a quiet place with reliable cell signal.  Not exactly easy in a tourism town, at the height of the season and at the foot of huge mountains.

Walking up the north western hillside into the residential neighborhood, I found it less busy and somewhat of a signal.   With the tripod set up and lapel microphone balance out, I logged on to the Zoom conference, sitting on a curb along the side of the road.   I got more than a few strange looks, but I was a prepared guest.    Good Audio,  Check!   Good Framing with Pike’s Peak in the background, Check!

Podcast Interview from Manitou SpringsSo we set the date and purposely made it a few weeks into the trip. Mostly to make sure I had some good stories to tell.  It was a blast working with Seth Prentice and Carmen again.    The time went quickly.   I got most of what I wanted to share out.    Rather than describe it, you can just listen to it on your own! Click the Podcast link below.

Armstrong In The Loop Podcast

Next A Failed Attempt at Hiking, Parking Issues

Parking was going to be a bigger issue than I expected.   I am familiar with the parking lots at the base of the COG railway, that goes to the summit of Pike’s Peak.   The Intemann Trail was the one I wanted to scope out.   Preceding up towards the COG.    At the top, the parking attendant informed me that the lots was private and only for COG ticket holders.  He was pleasant and suggested I go back down and park below the entrance.      After a multiple point turn in a tight road, with impatient tourists, the truck was pointed down the hill.   Upon arriving, that lot attendant said his lot was private and not taking more cars.   He expressed his frustration at the guys up top sending everyone down.  Personally, the guys at the top where a lot nicer than he was.   After searching for a parking spot for almost 20 minutes and not getting one anywhere close to the trail head,  I just let go of the idea that I was going to hike there.

Moving Up The Road to The Garden of The Gods

Because I wasn’t able to hike in Manitou Springs, that opened up more time to play in “The Garden of The Gods“.   The story of how the park came to be is interesting,  you can read more about it on the Park’s page.

Charles Elliott Perkins, the head of the Burlington Railroad, purchased the land and never built on it.  Instead, he conveyed four-hundred eighty acres to the City of Colorado Springs. With the stipulations “where it shall remain free to the public, where no intoxicating liquors shall be manufactured, sold, or dispensed, where no building or structure shall be erected except those necessary to properly care for, protect, and maintain the area as a public park.”

I enjoy the Garden of The Gods.  It is a great park to walk and explore,  It’s even better to photograph.    Upon arrival, the sky was ominous and darkening.     There was some rain and it sent the tourists scurrying to their vehicle.   Personally, I enjoyed the cooling rain and less crowded park.

The clouds cleared and the sun was as bright as my mood.   For the next few hours, I talked with strangers, took family photos for random people and enjoyed shooting my own photography.

Moving Further Up The Road, a very long day.

After an epic morning, a long and arduous drive laid ahead.   It would be one of the harder parts of the trip.     Read about that in the next blog post.

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