We left early, stuck in traffic on our way out of town. We spent our extra moments in the car going over lists of things we may have forgotten… prescription drugs, food items, pillows and warm layers. A full day of driving landed us in a hotel room just into Colorado; the next day had us driving through a snowstorm in Denver. It seemed our first picturesque views were to be obscured in thick blankets of white dust.
Determined not to miss destinations due to weather, we persevere toward our first stop, Garden of the Gods. This land was bestowed on the city of Colorado Springs in 1909 through an incredible act of philanthropy. The children of Charles Elliot Perkins gifted it in his memory, with the agreement that it forever be free -- reminding us that freedom is land’s natural state.
The weather clears just as we arrive, and the view from the visitor center parking lot is stunning. We take a quick check-in at the nature center for Junior Ranger books for Tessa and Geevee [this parks program is a genius way to build curiosity and future stewardship of the land]. From here we find our hikes, and proceed happily into the land of the Gods. Greeting us is a happy melty snowman -- a message that even in the cold, there is beauty in playing outdoors.
I climb farther. The views are worth it. Even now, the surreal environment speaks of epic escapes and the test of human will to transcend barriers. Melting into nothing with each step, efforts dispersed in tiny grains of sand, the Dunes dare you to take in their true scale, to feel your insignificance.
Feeling thankful to have averted disaster, we are enthusiastically on our way toward Angel’s Landing through Refrigerator Canyon, a trail that takes you up 21 of Walter’s Wiggles (i.e. switchbacks) toward an exciting climb that involves scaling and rock-hopping using chains bolted to the mountain’s path. The whole crew endures quite well, and Jess and I leave the girls with Terrance at a landing where the climb becomes quite challenging. We are happy to continue on to the top, and have both chosen to wear dresses for the occasion. We make it, in style, and Jess proceeds to handstand at the top.