There are quasi-malicious personal 'tagging' graffitti on the top-most surfaces of this natural wonder, from an earlier and less enlightened generation that felt the need to scratch their name into stone where they have passed, using any sharp metal pick or tool to mark with. Using that instead of a spray can they defile the monument and the result is the same. It's vandalism, pure and simple. They only urbanize and spoil it for everyone else. Seeing these and other man-made scars carved into the rocks made me sad and a little bit angry, this intentional defacing of this majestic mountain.
But the view of splendid Colorado grandeur from that mountaintop vantage point is what remains with me, it was beautiful, spiritual and quite rejuvenating.
This Web-page and these pictures are my photo-journal of that wonderful day.
|Free DHTML scripts provided by: Dynamic Drive||Garden of the Gods Park. Colorado Springs, Colo. USA|
| "Garden of the Gods" National Park (near Colorado Springs, Colo. USA), has in recent years improved and redesigned itself. Notably, it is cleaner and more foliated with local plant life. And most of the sandstone formations are now off-limits to casual rock-climbers today.
Only climbers that have registered with Park Management first, and using 'technical gear', are permitted to climb. They must also have a climbing partner. 'Solo climbing' is not permitted. Non-technical ("without climbing gear") climbing, also called 'scrambling', is not legal. Being higher than maybe 10-feet from any marked trail, is considered 'climbing'. Learn how to climb first, register at the park and bring a climbing partner and appropriate gear. Don't break the law. The rules are simple and for your protection, safety, and the preservation of the recreation facility. The use of 'environmentally friendly' climber's chalk for absorption of perspiration of the hands and fingers, is recommended and advised.
I applaud these decisions and these changes to rehabilitate the park, yet there's a bit of sadness too as it can no longer be touched, only viewed from paved walkways and fenced-off areas. There are discreet "stay off the grass" signs throughout the Park, which explain that the Park is being left to rehabilitate itself into a more beautiful, wild and natural state. Many wildflowers are present, hopefully including the graceful Columbine, the State Flower of Colorado. There are several cactus species, yucca and other indigenous plant life which now grows where there used to be bare soil, scrub brush and grasses (weeds), minor and seemingly unchecked erosion and ugly blacktop pavement.
Even Hidden Inn is notably absent. With it's excellent view the distant "Cog Railway" which begins from base of and summits upon the snowcapped mountain "Pike's Peak", this quaint little gift shoppe and rooftop restaurant was built into the western side of the North Gateway red sandstone formation and made to blend into the rock artistically.
Gone too is the massive parking lot and driveways associated with the Hidden Inn, -but this is a good thing. In my mind's eye though, I can still see the parking lots of Hidden Inn, the picnic tables, the conveniently located trash cans with foot-worn paths leading to/from them and of course, the dozen or so technical climbers every day that always seem to be present, applying their skills and their white chalk-covered handprints and slidemarks topically to the red face of the sandstone mountain's face.
I climbed it only once myself, photographing every step of my little climbing expedition of discovery, knowing that I will probably never be permitted to climb it again. Only pigeons still touch the rockface these days, nesting just out of sight within the natural cavities of the red sandstone's vertical face.
I had visited "Garden of the Gods" Park some years earlier for the first time in 1981 when my cousin Diane showed it to me, and I had even then wished that this place could be a bit more natural someday. And now that it is, I have just a small lingering infatuation of the way things were. -Oh, it is much better now, there is no doubt about that! No longer as familiar to me as my own beloved backyard, it today is far more strange and beautiful in it's pristine, natural and repaired wild state than I could have imagined!
Yet still, I can still reminisce for that which once was and is no more.