Monday, June 17, 2013

Garden of the Gods

I recently returned from a trip to Manitou Springs, Colorado, where I visited Garden of the Gods, Pike's Peak, and the Manitou Cliff Dwellings.  Luckily, I left before the Black Forest fire broke out.
     I had wanted to see Garden of the Gods since 1992, when I saw it while driving up I-25. It is a beautiful  area containing huge, jagged red sandstone spires.  The Utes revered it as a sacred place, and it is easy to understand why.

Although Garden of the Gods  has been a public park since 1909, some traces of Native use remain.  Here, near the Ute trail, rests a large stone with a smooth  top surface, suggesting use as a grinding slick.

The park also contains an impressive balanced rock, which looks like it was created mainly by erosion of  the softer stone supporting the rock.
The squarish shape of the "feet" suggests some human alteration.

However, the most interesting site is at the Siamese Twins.  Here a hole was eroded between two hoodoos.

The hole frames a view of Pike's Peak, which the Utes believed to be the home of the Sun. This view is to the west. The bearing from here to Pike's Peak is about 253 degrees, suggesting winter solstice sunset is visible over the summit of the Peak.

As I was walking around the site, I noticed this large propped boulder. From this angle, it looks a little like an animal head.
The "petroglyphs" on the upper left are English letters left by some hard-working graffiti artist.

It is clear that these stones were placed under the boulder. 
This is the other side.  The large cavity on the top center may have resulted from erosion, as these are common in other sandstone boulders in the park.
The shape is similar to that of  propped boulders in Rhode Island (11/7/2012).  I have seen propped boulders at other locations in the Southwestern US.  They were probably created by chipping away stone from the bottom of the boulder, and denote a sacred site.

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