Fire and Ice
I can see my breath as I open our car door, white curly tendrils between parted lips. It's early and ice crunches under spiked boots, the parking lot a sea of frozen runoff trapping a muddy pit just below its thin surface.
I've always wanted to see the Colorado ice caves ever since hearing about them on a random trip back from another adventure. Nature at her finest, dripping with frozen blue waterfalls reaching for cave floors, long spiked fingers not quite touching.
We have no idea what to expect as we climb patchy trails, ice rivers having melted in many places in the dry winter we've had so far. We had watched the landscape the night before, arid and bare, our hopes that some moisture would still cling to limestone caverns dwindling with each passing mile
Would there be any ice at the ice caves?
But this little nook, tucked away up dusty roads proved to be over run with water, flowing in ice free river beds, a jarring sight next to snow drifts against shadowed mountain sides. Something about this landscape not only collects moisture, it displays it in all forms.
I will admit I wanted to see ice caves without even really knowing what to expect, but with the hope that somehow I could go behind large drifts of frozen water and dodge icicles clinging to rocky outcroppings. We were not disappointed. Alone, our spikes playing the only soundtrack to our wonder we cautiously traversed lakes of frozen winter moisture, perfectly glistening in the crisp morning air.
It's hard to describe how enthralled we were by the whole experience. Climbing snow drifts and hiking up the sides of mountains, we found each nook that we could climb behind. The sun was high and the ice was melting as we finally made our way back to our trusty truck to head to our next location.
Just minutes down the road, and up much muddier paths, free flowing waterfalls gushed gallons of water that filled the streams of the area.
Caves and hot spring fed rivers marked a landscape so vastly different than we had just experienced it was hard to believe we were in the same part of the state.
One of the adventures I love to do is to match up natural landscapes with the time of season they truly shine. While I believe all of Colorado is beautiful, and it's hard to find a bad time of year to visit any portion of this state and not see some of it's wonder, little bursts of magic can happen if you time things just perfectly. That has been my goal this year, to match things up just right to watch the wonder.