Whenever I’m hiking alone, I have 2 main concerns or fears: snakes (which I’ve already encountered!) and getting stuck in a storm. I’m proud to say, I am now 2 for 2! I have now come face to face with both my fears while hiking, and only in a month timeframe! Go figure.
A little geography: This thunderous and electric event occurred at Garden of the Gods on an off-the-beaten path near High Point Overlook. High Point Overlook is one of the many pull offs or parking lots you can use in the park and is off of the Juniper Loop near Ridge Road. The parking lot gives you a great view and every time I’ve been here, there’s some sort of photoshoot for a graduation or an engagement happening because of the great views there. It’s a great for pics and for hiking!.
When I first got to the lot, the skies were mostly blue with some clouds but nothing to be worried about. Temperature was around 80 degrees. I saw no indication of any bad weather coming and according to my weather app, there was only a 30% chance of storms later in the day. Everything seemed to be copacetic for this hike, I had my water, my hiking boots, sunglasses- we were ready for a 2-3 hour hike in this area of Garden of the Gods. Not a worry in my mind, just excitement. I started off sitting on one of the rock formations, just looking out at the stunning view, looking at the gorgeous sky- still nothing disconcerting that the weather would change. I then went off into the brush on my journey. I saw a rock formation in the distance (I couldn’t identify it) and thought, I’ll head in that direction. Along the way, I ran into several other friendly hikers, just a typical day of hiking. Cacti and cute little flowers along the way, birds flying around. Just a perfect hiking day. Every time I came to a place where the path would give me options to go right or left, I just followed my intuition on which was the better option. Of course, all the while keeping track of my turns and moves and make a mental note of formations and trees around me to remember how to get back.
A little digression here. There’s a saying I’ve heard from several people here, if you don’t like the weather then wait 10 minutes. The weather here in Colorado has a funny way of changing quickly sometimes, but the weather is awesome here. Bad weather doesn’t seem to last too long in most cases. A quick thunderstorm will roll through and is suddenly over 7 minutes later. We had a hail storm recently that lasted 4 minutes and was followed by bright blue skies and sunshine shortly after! The rain and the storms usually pass through quickly I notice. I gotta take a moment to show some love for the weather here! Colorado is very sunny! Colorado Springs is way sunnier than any place I ever lived before in the Northeast so it is fantastic when the grey skies break up super quickly and the sun comes out fully again. Overall, the weather here is fantastic. Dry heat! Ugh, LOVE it! I DO NOT miss East coast humidity, miserable! All the sweating and clothes sticking to your body, you can’t breathe, it’s uncomfortable- yeah, no thanks! I also love how, in the winter, it’ll snow in the morning and be fully melted by noon. I’ve had instances where I went into work with snow and 35 degrees in the AM and 3 hours later it was in the upper 60s and zero snow! I’m not joking! And also, the temperatures feel different here because of the drier climate. 35 degrees feels much warmer and bearable here whereas in PA or NJ, where I’ve lived before, it’s in your bones all cold and frigid. It always seems to feel a little warmer here, especially with the sun. I enjoy the weather, winter and summer are both more bearable and enjoyable.
Moving along to my point, I finally made it to the rock formation I was aiming for. It took longer than I expected and took me way further from the parking lot than I thought. I looked up and saw- wow- the sky was grey! But I didn’t think anything of it until I was sitting on a rock drinking water, taking pictures and suddenly I heard that thunder roll. And there was Garth Brooks singing to me, reminding me that the thunder rolls and the lightening strikes. O crap! I knew it was time to head back. As I was headed back, the thunder started becoming more frequent. O boy, here we go! Then it started raining a little. My only thought was, “O jeez, here I am at a higher elevation on a desolate path, still far from my car, thunder rolling around me- the lightening will inevitably be coming soon!” I started getting nervous and panicky, afraid of getting caught in a storm. I got myself all frazzled (yes, I have anxiety!) to the point I lost track of where I was, where I had gone. I thought I was backtracking, but I started not recognizing anything around me. I was obviously going the wrong way. Nothing looked familiar. Where the *bleep* am I? The thunder starts getting louder as if to taunt me. I know, I know! You’re here, Thunder, I hear ya! I’m trying to get to my car, calm down! The rain starts picking up. I still don’t see lightening, but it’s a matter of time! At one point, I stood there circling around, where do I go? As a spiritual person, I started asking my spirit guides to help me. Then suddenly, I looked up and I saw a rock formation that I recognized! Hey, I know you! I took a picture while sitting on you earlier! Using my excellent directional skills, I followed the rock. As I came up over a hill, I saw the parking lot! There’s my car! O thank goodness! I get into my car and the rain starts unloading, full on rainstorm. Perfect timing there. As I drove away, I could see lightning flashes in my rear view mirror. Phew! That was close! I had made it. I had survived. Not today, Lightening! Between surviving the snake and the storm on my hikes- pretty sure I’m a total bad ass now!