A Family Day

head.JPGThis is the last Saturday that the three of us ‘at home’ will all be here before Kristina leaves for California next week. We decided that was reason enough for an adventure so off we went to Einstein’s Bagel shop for breakfast to get a good start on the day. It was a somewhat cool morning so we skipped eating out on the terrace. We chatted over breakfast about Daniel, the military, school, and of course, California. It was great to hear Kristina share some of what is taking place in Daniel’s life, how God is working and how that affects her future.

Taking Abby a little snack from our breakfast, we headed off to Glen Eyrie, a part of Colorado history, owned by the Navigators. It is an awesome facility down in Queen’s Canyon, named after Col. Palmer’s wife, Queen. He built a castle for her in the Canyon before Colorado Springs was founded. It is now utilized as a seminar facility for Christian seminars of all types. A truly beautiful place, the grounds are often frequented by part of the Big Horn sheep herd that makes its home in the canyon and on the adjoining Greg Francis Big Horn Sheep Refuge. The canyon is no longer open to the public on the weekends but one of Kristina’s perks as an employee of the Navigators is to have access whenever she wants it. Flash her employee ID badge at the gate and we are on our way.

fam.jpgThe canyon was arrayed with reds, golds, and still a fair amount of green foliage as we drove through to the far end parking lot. We are hoping to see some of the Big Horn sheep in the canyon so we were constantly looking up the canyon walls for any signs. The cloud cover provided great lighting for my two photographers. Josh recently gave Kristina his old 35mm and so she is shooting today as well as her Dad. We have written previously about the trail and posted pictures so I will not go into too much detail as you can read the old post for a more in depth description of the trail. The trail doesn’t go very far in to the canyon before it crosses over into the National Forest and begins a continual, gradual increase to a tall waterfall. The trail was a magic place today – the leaves were falling and the stream that supplies water to Glen Eyrie was babbling as we followed along.

The relaxing, soothing sound of the water, the smell of the leaves that we all enjoy, and the quiet fellowship of the three of us created an ethereal, reflective mood. Finding nature events happening along the trail from bird feathers in bright hues, old bones by the stream, chickadees playing in the trees above our heads are elements that just increase the enjoyment of a hike in God’s beautiful creation. It always thrills my heart to hear the birds call through the canyon or turn a corner on the stream and see the trout dash away into a deeper spot in the stream as we catch them off guard. If they didn’t move, we would miss them altogether as they are so camouflaged against the rocks.

After the waterfall, the trail rises steeply and most people miss that part of the trail thinking that the waterfall is the ‘end’ but some of the best part of the canyon is still to come. The trail continues to take us across the stream numerous times, hopping on rocks and balancing fallen trees. Abby has been enjoying this immensely. If she could laugh, that would be part of the music in the canyon today. She bounds through the stream and over rocks and back to check on us time and time again. We are only hiking to the rock pools today not all the way to the Punch Bowls as they are called. There is a very narrow part of the stream with high rock walls on both sides that we must ford. Abby is a bit reluctant but hops along with encouragement. Reaching the pools, Kristina finds a fallen tree over the deepest one and took the challenge to walk it over the pool to the next set of pools. She stripped most of her outer layers, just in case she fell in the pool. No sense in getting all her clothes wet! 🙂 She cautiously and carefully stepped across, halfway across her jeans caught on a log knot and almost caused her to fall. Her legs were shaking so badly by the time she was across that it was surprising she didn’t roll the log! She crossed to victory and climbed the rock walls around two other pools (barefoot) to find the trail on the other side. Fortunately, she was able to climb the rocks on one side of the canyon to get back and miss the pool crossing altogether on the way back.

Abby had a little bit of a challenge with the return on the stream through the vertical walls. She made the first part but eventually you have to scamble up the rock face and the granite is pretty slick. The water has worn the texture of the granite away so it is necessary to find small foot holds. Thats a little hard to explain to a dog. She is our rock dog and few rock faces get the best of her, no matter how high or tough. If we go up, so does Abby but this one got the best of her and Kristina had to drop down and give her a boost.

This hike had the greatest ending! After all the real estate we had covered in the forest, we were returning to the parking lot to find the sheep grazing in front of the Jeep! I don’t think any of us counted them but there were at least a dozen and 3 were full grown bucks. They are beautiful and fairly friendly. The three bucks posed on a rock for Matt for sometime. It was a great photo op and as we drove out, there were over 25 more sheep of all ages next to the canyon road. A wild turkey was taking a drink from a mud puddle on the lawn of the castle right next to the road. It was lovely to see and made a great ending to our adventure. Kristina has a few more Colorado memories to add to her collection.