Posted by: Marie | November 22, 2009

(189) Climbing to my sanctuary

Post #189
[Private journal entry written around noon on Sunday, July 19, 2009]

I went for a hike this morning. I haven’t been hiking in nearly a year. Why? Well, I just didn’t feel up to it. I love to hike, but the mental roadblocks were bigger than my desire to go hiking.

It was absolutely awesome. I went to Lory State Park, which is the park located in the foothills, immediately uphill from Horsetooth Reservoir. I invited a new friend . . . a gal from Portugal. She is a few years younger than me and is here as an intern at a local veterinary clinic for a couple of months in preparation for her doctorate’s schooling in veterinarian medicine.

Photo by Martin Chen

Photo by Martin Chen

She stayed with us for a week. However, our guest bedroom is not really set up for longer stays – it is really only good for short stays (like a weekend). So, subsequently, we moved her in with our next-door neighbor who is a school teacher and who routinely has exchange students stay with her. She has a very nice guest suite in her basement.

As it worked out, my new friend decided to not join me. (I found out later that she declined because didn’t have hiking shoes, which are really important when hiking.) I had originally planned to do a very easy hike, just enough to allow my legs and feet to remember how to climb inclines. However, since my friend didn’t join me, and I after discovered how good my muscles were feeling, I pushed myself a bit.

I hiked for ten minutes shy of two hours. The starting altitude was about 5,500 feet (1,676 meters) and my altitude gain was a comfortable 450 feet (137 meters), which is the equivalent of climbing 45 flights of stairs. And, I traveled 3.9 linear miles (6.3 km) – not bad for being out of the habit of hiking!

For those of you into Google Earth, I have a .kmz file of the hike but WordPress won’t allow me to upload it to the blog. If you are interested in it, you can request it from me via email at It is pretty cool if you run a tour of it – I recommend putting the camera range slide all the way to the left and the camera tilt slide all the way to the right. I also recommend a very slow speed to avoid vertigo, LOL.

Everything is still very green and the creeks are still running strong. This is very unusual – normally, by mid-June, the creeks dry up and the vegetation starts turning brown. (Colorado is technically a desert, although sometimes it does not appear to be.) Today, it was absolutely beautiful and lush – the wildflowers are still busy blooming, strewing vibrant colors all over the place.

I hiked in the morning so it would be cool. A few storm clouds started rolling in towards the end of my hike, but the sun was strong for most of it. It was shaping up to be a warm day – it was already 90 degrees (32 degrees Celsius) by the time I finished at 11:20am.

I followed my favorite short trail – the Wells Gulch trail. It dips and climbs through several valleys. It was on this trail two years ago that my 15-year-old nephew and I came across a den of green prairie rattlesnakes – which are poisonous. We both came within about two inches (5 cm) of stepping on a rattler coiled up on the trail – I thought she was a rock, one on which I intended to step.

Just before I set my foot directly on her, I saw the pattern on her back and lengthened my stride to land my foot right next to her. She must have been very close to death because all she did was flick her tongue at us a couple of times. (In contrast to my reaction – I whooped quite loudly – so loudly that my nephew declared I scared him worse than the snake ever did, LOL!)

Then, about ten feet (3 meters) farther down the trail a very-much-alive rattler was stretched out across the trail. He angrily buzzed and slithered around, making it quite clear that we were not welcome. So, we walked way out around him, through very thick brush, praying that we didn’t run into the rest of the clan. (We didn’t.)

Three years ago, while hiking by myself on this same trail, I came across a family of black bears. As I came around a corner, we all startled each other. They were snacking on some berries about 50 feet (15 meters) below the trail. I whirled around in place to determine if there were any other bears nearby (it is not good to find yourself in between a mama and her babies) – while the three of them quickly lumbered down the hill and across the gulch, and started up the other side.

The two roly-poly adolescents continued to the crest while the 250-pound (113 kg) mama bear stopped. She stood upright and put her front paws on the topside of a large rock. Then, she looked back over her shoulder at me and growled, as if to say, “I am not particularly in the mood to eat you, but if you insist . . . ”

I assured her that I had no intention of causing her anymore bother – which seemed to satisfy her. She got back down on all fours and ambled on her way. I stood there for several minutes, silently watching them in awe.

Ahhhhh, that truly is my sanctuary of choice. It is where I feel closest to God (and where I pray with my eyes wide open so I can keep an eye on the natives, LOL). I want to go back – soon.

Quotes 100

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