I came, I saw, and I stayed

by Alicia Howie
(Colorado Springs, CO)

It was April 22nd, 2010. Earth Day. That was my first day in Colorado and the first day I saw the Garden of the Gods. I started out on the balcony of the Visitor Center on the east side at the park’s main entrance, snapping pictures that would come to be the first of thousands to date. Seeing Pikes Peak in the frame of those giant sandstone rocks left me staring in wonder at how nature could create something so beautiful and perfect all on its own. I sometimes wish I could see it again for the very first time just to have those intense feelings again.

Once in the park, I pulled off at the first chance and hiked around the two main landmarks, North Gateway rock (the red one) and Kindergarten Rock (the whiter one). Then I returned to my car and continued my trek through the Garden. I’m not sure what prompted me to turn right at pull off 14 and the sign for the Spring Canyon Trailhead, but I did. I also decided to get out of my car and take another hike. What I found at the apex of the trail is still my favorite view. The Siamese Twins and it’s window to Pikes Peak.

It’s five years later and I still hike the Siamese Twins regularly. Sometimes I find a rock slightly off trail and sit for awhile, giving myself time to think and reflect. Very recently I set off on an early morning hike after a snowstorm had enveloped the Garden the day before. I was weary at first, I didn’t have Yaktrax for my hiking boots and there was a good six inches of powder on the trail with the air temperature a mere fifteen degrees. But the Sun was out and the view of the white peaks on the stark blue western horizon complimented the contrast of the red rocks and soil beneath winter’s blanket. I had never hiked in that element before and it brought to life those beautiful feelings of childhood wonder. I played like a kid, hopping along the trail and shaking pine tree branches so they sprinkled their snow puffs down on me, the smallest flakes glittering through the rays of sun.

Snow or no snow, the Siamese Twins trail is a must if you visit the Garden. Leave your phone and earbuds in the car and hike it fully alone. Immerse yourself in the nature. Don’t rush. Stand upon the rocks and allow yourself to feel small against the mountains and sky. Then take a deep breath and pull it all into yourself, your lungs, your flesh, your bones. Let its vastness fill your very heart and when you leave, take it with you.

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