Yesterday I had the wonderful occasion to re-visit Garden of the Gods near Colorado Springs. While on the road, the weather was changeable as it always is in the Mountains. I find in fact the weather is very mercurial – you have to be prepared- And as I always say – that phrase was my girl guide motto- and I never was prepared.
A hazy fog made it difficult to determine if I was looking at clouds or mountains. Driving along I noticed that the trees and shrubs had been recently covered with hoar frost – white ice crystals, loosely deposited that came from the south. The result was that half of the trees were shimmering silver and the other half a deep green. Contrast is always visually exciting.
Arriving at Garden of the Gods I felt as if I was about to meet a few gods. The tall peaks of the red rocks were barely discernible and it was as if the heavens were kissing the mountain tops with this
magical mist. Very soon after entering Garden of the Gods we pulled over to see why all the cars were stopped. To my utter surprise and joy it was a small herd of very large male Bighorn sheep- Colorado’s wildlife symbol.
I have visited Colorado many times over the last year and had not yet been so close to this magnificent beast. One Bighorn was at peace resting on the mountain side while the other two grazed. The crowd was thrilled and the ruminates appeared unperturbed by the commotion. I had leaped out of the car without my jacket – it was very cold – as I was in a hurry to start taking photos.
The scene was surreal as the ground cover was a mix of greens, gold and silver I managed to get very close and took some photos- of course looking over in envy at the real “pros” with their tripods and gigantic telephoto lenses.
As tendrils of mist drifted through, entangling shrubs, trees and rocks the mystical garden of the gods became real. I began to imagine how Native Indians would cross these paths in this magical garden of land, rock, skies and beasts.
As the day drew closer to an end, I spotted a raptor atop a red “rock” I snapped some iconic silhouette shots never imagining that once I reviewed the photos – the bird had been staring right at me.
The sun peeked out just as it was setting and combined with the persistent mist the garden had an unearthly feel. As we wended our way out of the park we encountered the Bighorns who were now grazing on flat land. Tourists were far too close in an attempt to get a great photo op. I settled for the inside of the car where I managed to get some shots and a video. Last of all as dark fell – we happened across a herd of 5 male mule deer. Two of the males were rutting- and this was a real thrill to witness up close. I managed to shoot some great video and I can still hear the clashing of the antlers.
Next Saturday on February 15 2014 it is Garden of the Gods 9th ANNUAL BIG HORN SHEEP DAY! I encourage anyone and everyone to attend!
Some additional pictures of Garden of the Gods …