Hello, wander-junkies 🙂
It’s time I got back to my American trip. It was mean of me to leave you hanging half way through Colorado, but I plan to make up for that next.
I will be starting from the top down because the view is just so magnificent from above.
Hello, Pikes Peak! It’s some view from 4300 m! Coming from 1655, which is what Boulder’s at, it is absolutely breathtaking. And I mean that literally! 🙂
I have to come clean now – we drove up; there was just not enough time to do more than 2000 m denivelation hike, not to mention we did not bring any heavy-duty hiking equipment. Plus, there isn’t really much of a thrill in walking for hours up to a place that would be full of people who just went up with the train.
As soon as we stepped out of the car, there was a lot of rushing around: first of all, it was cold, so you don’t really feel like standing in the parking lot; then there’s the view. You already had a glimpse of that above. So we go for what looks like a viewing platform – there were lots of clouds on that side, unfortunately, so no great photos – and as I’m getting past a couple of small steps I start to get winded. I slow down, breathing deep, and I wonder – have I been slacking off with the workouts? have I eaten too much today? It’s not normal to feel this heavy and get winded but a 100 m dash!
And it’s not. Unless you’re above 4000 m, that is, and we were at 4302 (or 14 115 ft)! Being this high up is a serious thing. The boyfriend and I were recently at about 3900 m (at Klein Matterhorn), and did a quick dash outside to take a photo and then dash back in, which left us panting for a good few minutes. It reminded me of being at Pikes Peak. You might not realise the difference, but your body sure does.
Once I knew why I suddenly felt like an old lady, I managed to brush that off and just take it a little slower. Which is why I stood there, reading a plaque on a piece of granite with the lyrics to “America The Beautiful”, until I got used to the thin air.
Apparently Katharine Lee Bates felt a surge of inspiration while visiting Pikes Peak in 1893 and wrote the song with the view of the western plains in mind. It is a pretty sight.
The cold, the view, the winding road down – it was all very inspirational but had neither the time nor the proper jackets to stay up there for too long. And the gift shop was not that entertaining (although I still regret not getting that bumper sticker that read “It’s illegal to be this high in some states” 😀 ).
Taking the aforementioned winding road, we were headed to an altogether different view, when we stumbled upon this:
This, unfortunately, is one of the better pictures that I have from Cave of the Winds, but that’s what I deserve for documenting a trip with a smartphone. Some day I will have the money, time, and patience to get a quality camera and learn how to use it. For now, I’ll just have to illustrate some parts of my travels with humble ole words 🙂
It was already late afternoon when we god to the cave, there were still places to go, things to see, and mostly we didn’t have much choice, so we took a Discovery Tour. One thing I’ve discovered, going into a few caves now, is that you don’t need to have a special interest in spelaeology to have a good time in a cave. You do need to check how to spell “spelaeology” and then chose one version of it if you want to write about it, though. I chose this one, deal with it.
I guess you do need to have special interest in order to work in a (touristic) cave, but our guide – I am so sorry I’m drawing a blank on your name now – showed us it doesn’t hurt to put little twists on the tours. Nikola was not impressed with the comedy provided, but I thought it was a breath of fresh air *badum-tsss* 😛 You know, because the air is so stale inside a cave… Ahh, you guys suck. Moving on. 🙂
There were some formations that I managed to take acceptable pictures of, and this here is one of them. I can’t, for the life of me, remember what these are called, but the sole fact that they’re hundreds of years old is pretty impressive.
I tried to take a photo of the tiny crystal-like formations on the ceilings but with little success. The curious and funny thing about those was that – since guides in caves usually ask and warn you not to touch hundred and thousand-years-old formations for obvious reasons – if tourists decide to defy the guide’s requests they pay for it and everyone knows that they’d been naughty. The structure of said formations is of tiny little needle-like crystals that get stuck in your skin even upon the lightest touch and then stay there and constantly prick you for days until your body expels them or you go to the doctor to burn them off with liquid nitrogen or something of the kind.
Moral of the story – if the guide tells you not to touch the prickly formations, don’t! 🙂
There were, of course, a few formations you expect to see in any cave, and some that are a special treat for the fans of the karst forms, like columns. The bottom right picture might be a sad sight for those people as it’s a broken column.
I probably won’t get hooked on sediments from wandering around a few caves, but I am convinced that some knowledge of rock, soil, and sediment types could only be of use to a person. I might be wrong.
Nailing this at a 1000 words above, I think it’s time to have a break. There wasn’t time/room left fo the final sight of the day, but that is to follow in a couple of days only, so stay tuned for some nice photos and a lovely warm light 🙂