In my previous post, I alluded to a weekend hike being planned by some coworkers. I was tentative at first, because accepting the invitation would create a weekend schedule conflict. Writing the first post, however, gave me time to reflect. Procrastination and the prospect of a more solitary weekend were tempting, but eventually my inner wayfarer prevailed. I rearranged my weekend itinerary – on Friday afternoon no less – and was able to make the rendezvous at Red Rocks Canyon Open Space. (Just to clarify: the canyon we explored was Red Rocks Canyon in Colorado – between Colorado Springs and Manitou Springs – not to be confused with Red Rock Canyon in Canada.)
Fortunately for our hiking posse, that morning’s weather was in our favor. Partial cloud cover provided shade without threat of storms. Recent rainfall had left the ground just damp enough to be soft. The park’s eponymous red rock formations were blanketed in a healthy layer of foliage. We were able to experience the best of both spring and summer.
From the main parking lot, our group meandered up to Red Rock Canyon Trail. The first leg of our excursion took us through the multi-purpose section of the park. Picnic benches and a pavilion had been set up for events. A tranquil lake sat behind it. Across the path, rock climbers scaled the smooth faces of slanted formations. Bands of other hikers and their respective canine companions greeted us as we ascended into the quarry.
Our course then diverted into my favorite section: Quarry Pass Trail. Perhaps the quarry was my favorite feature because it splits the difference between nature and civilization. Someone, at some point, had shaved the formations, causing them to more closely resemble terraced apartment complexes. A set of stone steps had even been carved into a relatively sheer slope. The quarry exhibited nature in a half-tamed state, and was a welcome change of pace.
It was also brief. Quarry Pass Trail wrapped around a small peak. As we followed it, we plunged into a tunnel of greenery. We soon emerged from the other side, and were afforded a birds-eye view by the combined altitude of the small peak and the quarry itself. It was all downhill from there, but in a pleasant way.
We caught the Mesa Trail on the way down. Several minor offshoot trails wove in and out of our path. A few from our group opted relish the journey by selectively deviating from the main way. The plant life gradually thinned out along our descent. An invigorating combination of fresh air, adrenaline, and relief drifted through us as the parking lot became visible. We had completed our circuit through the canyon’s heart. Hopefully my Red Rocks Canyon experience will set a precedent for this summer of trekking.
These musings are brought to you by Phil Long Hyundai Chapel Hills: unofficial sponsors of Coloradan wanderlust.