Maroon bells was on the cards for day 3. It is that place which is on every single Colorado postcard. Slow clad peaks on the backdrop of a scenic, crystal clear lake is supposedly a treat to everyone’s eyes. We planned to spend a day there and then drive to Colorado springs. It is a four hour drive which we had decided to do at the night.
We started early. After handing over $10 to the ranger at the entrance and coming across some Llamas and sheep on the way, we reached the point only to realize that it was a complete flop show. Fall was over, trees had shed leaves, lake was shrunken and the snow clad peaks were not impressive. We kept wondering why we wasted $10 and how were we going to spend the rest of the day. As there was nothing else to do there, we decided we would rather reach C-Springs early and spend an evening there. And thus we started that four hour journey which in retrospect turned out to be the highlight of the entire trip!
The road to C-springs goes via the independence pass crossing the White River National Forest. The Independence pass was an unexpected delight. The one lane road climbs the the mountains passing the abandoned dwellings of the Ute tribe. Ute tribes are one of the first Spanish settlers in Colorado and once had a major presence there. We happened to witness a “song in the making” in the craziest circumstances possible. Barry Sparks, a guitarist, was on a top of a snowy peak with his guitar recording for his upcoming Christmas album while his wife and kids waited at the roadside where we had pulled over. Curious about this whole thing we took a few pictures and chatted with his wife while she waited for her man.
The journey through the pass started with sunny surroundings. Then it started raining. As we reached the peak, we got to experience a snow blizzard. The snow petered out turned into rain as we started descending and finally it was again sunny at the other side of the pass in Buena Vista. It would have been a total nightmare had we done this at night as planned before. Experiencing all seasons in this one road trip was amazing. The road from Buena Vista to C-springs goes via middle of nowhere. Driving on miles and miles of straight road with acres of nothing on both sides will be checked off my bucket list.
The final day was busy. Early morning we visited garden of gods. This is a garden having groups of massive rock formations. The peaks of these rocks disappeared in the clouds as if it is a path to heaven. Next visit was at the Manitou cliff dwellings. Preserved under red sandstone overhang, these Anasazi cliff dwellings were built more than 700 years ago. It was interesting to see two bedroom houses carved in the rocks by these ancient tribes. The Grand Mesa national park has more of such original dwellings.
Our plan was to visit the Pikes peak. It was cloudy in the town and hence we were contemplating about going up. We took our chance and surprisingly at the summit it was extremely clear and sunny . Pikes peak forms a stunning backdrop for C-springs and Garden of Gods with an altitude of 14115 ft above the sea level. We drove up to the top, spent some time there and came back… we did not get “This car climbed Pikes Peak” sticker
After doing Rocky mountains, colorado national monument, maroon bells, independence pass, garden of gods, pikes peak and cliff dwellings, the last leg for the trip was the icing on the cake. A delicious Paav Bhaaji at Kaustubh’s place and lots of Marathi gappa reviving the good old college days!
The trip was worth it!