Friday, August 11, 2017

Colorado Springs --- North Cheyenne Canon Park

Waterfall along the Lower Columbine Trail

Roger here...  The days here near Colorado Springs seem to run into each other.  Without the concerns of moving from one campground to the next, the pace of life slows.  We often get up in the morning and ask each other, "Well, what do you want to do today?"  Recently, those choices have centered around the North Cheyenne Canon City Park adjacent to the Springs.  However, before we take you there we have a few more campground pictures.

Dianne has placed a motion sensitive wildlife camera behind our campsite.  It is located directly beneath one of our bedroom windows.  It is motion sensitive and does take fuzzy photos at night.  Bandido alerted us to visitors (soft growl) several times late last night...

... Mama Bear....

... followed by her two cubs.

Mr. Fox checks things out almost every night.

This mule deer was a sunrise visitor.

The pace at our RV site is pretty slow.  We really enjoy our multiple daily dog walks around the resort.  The landscaping here is amazing.

Dianne enjoys doing sudokus on our shaded hammock.
Charlie the cat enjoys helping Dianne work on her genealogy research. The quiet, relaxed time quickly ends if he taps one of the computer keys.

Dianne here:  Not sure I'd know how to use a computer keyboard without a cat laying across both arms....

A few days ago, we enjoyed lunch with our Retama Village friends, Mike and Marian, and several of their Mountaindale friends.  The Mexican restaurant near Manitou Springs, Amanda Fonda, was really nice --- good margaritas, good food, good service, good company.

We do most of our hiking in the morning.  It frequently rains (sometimes storms) in the afternoons.  Our last two hikes were both located in a Colorado Springs City Park.  It is difficult for me to consider the North Cheyenne Canon Park as a city park since it is in a wilderness area, huge and definitely in the mountains.  

Lower Columbine Trail.

We did this easy trail on a Sunday.  We had intended to hike the Mount Cutler Trail, but after two pass-bys we were not able to secure a parking place at the trail head.  We did find a space a couple of miles down the road next to a different trail.  We got out of the car to decompress, following the frustration of missing our hike.  

The stop evolved into a nice, long walk in the forest. The ever-present babbling brook and the spectacular views melted the irritation away. 

Bandido dragged me down to the creek so that he could wade for a bit.

The trail was ideal for slow walking and frequent stops.  Since we did not have a destination, we meandered down the trail, reversing our direction when we were ready to go back.  We did not even know the name of the trail until we found a trail map two days later.

This waterfall (which is also featured in the opening photo) was a focal point along the trail.  

I was taking a picture of Dianne and the dogs as we returned to our car when a nice young lady offered to take a picture of all four of us.  

Bandido and Tequila said, "We'll look into the camera as long as mom and dad aren't taking the picture."

Seven Bridges Hike.

When I woke up yesterday morning, I found Dianne happily tapping away at her computer.  She cheerfully told me that her half-brother had had his DNA tested.  Evidently, genealogy-wise, this was a big deal.  Who knew? :-)  I offered to go on one of the more difficult hikes so she could continue her fun without disruptions.  She readily agreed.

View from the Helen Hunt Falls Parking Lot
I intended to do the moderately difficult Seven Bridges hike, which I did.  Well, to be honest, I will have to call it the Four Bridges hike.

The 30 minute drive to the trailhead turned out to be an hour and 30 minutes. I have an All Trails app on my phone that directs me to the trailheads --- very convenient.  Unfortunately, the app is only helpful on days when ten different roads are not closed in Colorado Springs.  We had just made this drive two days ago and everything was fine.  On this day the main route to the city park (Cheyenne Blvd) was being repaved and was closed.  That would not have been a problem if several other roads in the same vicinity had not also closed.  It seemed that every route I was directed to take was closed.  I spent a lot of time on and off Cresta Avenue, wherever that is.  After a 45 minute tour of several residential neighborhoods, the app finally found a route that took me to North Cheyenne Canon Park.

I eventually arrived at Helen Hunt Falls and a visitor center where I discovered that the last mile of roadway to my trailhead was also closed.

Since I was alone, the nasty thoughts that were in my already frazzled head were not verbalized.  

I found a park ranger in the visitor center who told me I could still get to the trailhead (which was actually in the Pike National Forest).  He directed me another half mile up the closed road to a large dirt parking area.  He said to follow the dirt road that left the parking area for 2/3 mile and look for a sign with the number 622, which would be the trailhead.  

All righty then.  I found the parking area.  I found the road closed sign.  (I later learned that the closed road was Gold Camp Road). 

I found a dirt road that departed the dirt parking lot. It had hikers on it.  I was in business, NOT!

Something about the all uphill road did not seem right.  

The scenery was beautiful.  

The challenge of the 
uphill trek was actually exhilarating in the cool clear mountain air, but it just did not seem right.  

I walked for about a half an hour and encountered a man with his dog.  I asked if I was going the right way.  The friendly guy smiled and said, "No, you needed to take the dirt road on the other side of the dirt parking lot."  

(The park ranger did not tell me there were dirt roads on both ends of the parking lot).  I smiled, and thanked the fellow hiker and turned around.  At least the return hike was downhill.  

The scenery on the actual 2/3 mile jaunt to the trailhead kept my head turning.  The waterfall sliding across the rock face in the photo below deserves further exploration at another time.

The correct walk to the trail head seemed to go quickly.  I easily discovered the "622" sign and knew that I was finally going the right way.  1 1/2 hours late, but on the correct trail.

My only concern was getting back to the car before the daily afternoon thunderstorm.  

I met a very friendly lady with her daughter who had the same concern.  She said that the park ranger told her that if she walked in for an hour and then back, she should be back at the car before the storm.  Looking at the clouds (a few of which were dark), it seemed like a good plan.  

I looked at my watch so that I would know when to turn back.  

The Seven Bridges trail follows North Cheyenne Creek.  The first half of this portion of the hike was mostly uphill, but it was very doable.

Lots of interesting sights along the way.

The bridges seemed to come into view on a regular basis.  Bridge #1 was pretty basic.

I hiked up a few of the 200+ steps, then walked for about 15 minutes when bridge #2 came into view.

The climb to bridge #3 was a little longer, but very worthwhile.

This longer bridge in a rocky setting had awesome views, both up and down stream.

I checked my watch when I reached bridge #4.  It was time to turn back.  I did not want to.  I was tempted to go on.  I was energized and wanted to see what was up ahead.  However, having been caught in thunderstorms on the trail before, I knew that it was not worth the risk.

It looks as if I returned to the car just in time to stay dry and safe from any dangerous lightning.

After a very short drive down the mountain back to the Helen Hunt falls parking lot, I decided to stop and eat an energy bar by the falls.  The weather seemed to have cleared somewhat so I did a quick run up the steps to the bridge.

The bridge view looking upstream.

The bridge view looking straight down.

The weather completely cleared during my drive home.  It stayed clear until well past bedtime, when two separate severe thunderstorms woke all of us up --- an especially terrifying night for Bandido.

We have three pet pictures of the day this time.

Tequila checking out the waterfall

Bandido is so proud of himself when he hops on a rock.

Charlie lounging outside.

1 comment:

Bill and Nancy said...

WOW, that was a busy day!!! Love the bridges hike...might need to go back and get the last three;o)) Nice that Bandido got dad's genes for rock climbing...the two of you would love the hiking here in Acadia NP:o)) Hiking and thunderstorms are a BAD mix...better safe than sorry!!!