Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Twelve Days of Cheyenne Mountain State Park

I could share with you the daily adventures of spending twelve wonderful days at Cheyenne Mountain State Park.  But soon my words would sound like a diary to envy:  day trips into Colorado Springs to shop, tourist, and visit local restaurants.  I don’t want to diary this stay, and I’ve already blogged about the day trip to visit Garden of the Gods (Grief in the Garden).  But I will confess that this park is only a ten minute drive to an I-Hop and a Red Robin. 
And so one morning’s outdoor adventures were delayed until after my favorite breakfast cravings were satisfied:  pancakes (and always request hot syrup), two poached eggs and two pieces of bacon.  Another day’s glorious seven mile hike was followed by RR’s excellent hamburger, fries and perfect coleslaw.  This was my first visit to a Red Robin and I don’t know if I’ve been missing out on a great hamburger chain or if a seven mile hike turns an ordinary hamburger into something extraordinary.  But it was perfectly delicious!
I could share that the twelve days brought two days of rainy, cold weather--which was heavenly.  Each rainy day found me making a crock-pot stew and generally lying around and listening to the musical sound of rain on the Airstream’s aluminum roof.  The chicken, vegetables and rice stew was my favorite; the sausage, three-bean and rice stew was the rick-man’s favorite.  Of course both stews were loaded with tomatoes.
This campsite photo from a rainy day:

  But a twelve day stay at Cheyenne Mountain State Park is all about hiking its twenty miles of fantastic trails.  And as a side note, the park is developing a new trail that will hopefully climb to the top of the mountain.  (That trail-head will begin four miles in on the Talon North trail.)  I would imagine that there were some interesting meetings between agency personnel for Colorado state parks, federal bureau of land management and NORAD regarding this new trail and its encroachment on “The Mountain”.  I’d like to think that Star Gate personnel were also involved.
The twenty miles of trails at Cheyenne Mountain cover what I’d over simplify as three habitat types:  shadow-of-the mountain prairies, hill-side terrain of Gambel’s Oaks, and mountain-side forests of Ponderosa Pine.
The prairie trails provided great morning and evening viewing of wildlife, including Prairie Dogs, rabbits, deer, Red-tailed Hawks and so on:


The prairie landscape transitions to brush and Gambel’s Oaks as the trail climbs in elevation toward the mountain. Spotted Towhees, Downy Woodpeckers, and Western Scrub-Jays were fun to watch in these dwarf forests:

 But the climb into the mountain-side Ponderosa Pines provided my favorite trails.  The Mountain Chickadees, White-breasted Nuthatches and Pygmy Nuthatches were especially friendly:


And the vista views, as the trails climbed in elevation, were especially rewarding:

I will miss this park, campsite and our friendly neighbors that passed through daily: the Wild Turkeys, the rabbits and most especially the young bucks with their proud antlers that tangled with the Gambel’s Oaks.  
Twelve days was just not enough.  

1 comment:

  1. OMG - this is beautiful Emily. I'm dripping with envy... How blessed you are to be in such beauty and hike through it... God Bless and keep blogging with words and pictures!! Susan ;-)


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