AND I DID IT IN MY COWBOY BOOTS!
I DO own a pair of hiking shoes...I just didn't pack them with me this trip. And besides, I LIVE in these old Lucchese boots in the fall and winter - they are truly the best boots I have ever owned...great support, but they feel like bedroom slippers at the same time. Good soles, sturdy boots, and I'm a Colorado girl, so it's what we do!
The first trail I hiked that day took me down to the Spruce Tree House ruins. An easy enough walk - it is only a half-mile round trip, but it zig-zags straight down 100 feet. Remember this vista - not only did I hike down INTO the canyon, I walked the top, way over there, to the other side of the canyon and back!
This was poison ivy in a small alcove along the trail - it was posted, and there was a group of tourists in shorts and Birkenstock hiking sandals, who were agonizing about going in to see it. "HA!" I had cowboy boots AND jeans, so I blazed right past them, leaving their snivelling little selves on the paved path. Each leaf on these poison ivy bushes (and it was EVERYWHERE) was the size of my palm, seriously!
I had numerous people, on my way down (the trail was paved, and they could hear me coming), question the fact that I was doing this in cowboy boots - they in their hiking shoes/sandals. "YES!", I replied each time. "I live in these boots, and I'm a Colorado girl - it's what we do!"
Looking back at the ruin through the trees - the canyon is absolutely beautiful, and now I'm in the bottom of it...
looking UP and facing the fact that my parents are in that little covered vantage point at the top, and I now have a 100 ft. vertical climb, albeit a switchback one - a 100 ft. climb, nonetheless. It's OK, I had my reliable and COMFORTABLE cowboy boots on.
Endured a few more comments directed at my choice of hiking footwear (I HONESTLY do own a pair of hikers) on the way up. As I was rounding the last switchback at the top, I realized that there was a small, hidden trail head off to the side, that would take me around and over the top of the ruin...WAY around - I went THAT way. Those dark dots on the bottom left photo? The crows in the next photo, scavenging something next to an old storage room off of the main ruins...these were both telephoto shots.
This trail was dirt, so my boots were quieter...until I came to these rocks that I had to traverse to get around the canyon and over to the far side, which was STILL rocks. A little slippery at times, but my cowboy boots comfortable, and leaving me as sure-footed as any mountain goat - OK, I slipped around a few times, but caught myself looking around to make sure no one saw ("I meant to do that!"). I was totally by myself on that trail.
Beautiful scenery and different vantage points - sometimes it more than pays to take the road less traveled...in cowboy boots. I wish I had had my pedometer with me (I own one of those, too...those "hiking types" have nothing on me, really) - I don't know now far I walked around there, but it was a hell of a hike.
Surviving my earlier morning hike, it is now mid-morning, and we had travelled on down the road a bit, and came upon this. Skipping the actual tour down into this more strenuous ruin (it's probably one of the cooler tours, however, with ladder climbing, etc. - done it a few times before), I found that I could take a "short" hike for a different perspective.
1.2 miles round trip - I don't know who was lying to who here, but the actual map stated it was 3/4 miles one way, which adds up to 1.FIVE miles round trip on MY calculator. "Short" hike. In my cowboy boots.
Dad decides he was going to join me on this "short" hike. It was a BEAUTIFUL "short" hike...in my cowboy boots. Mostly loose, packed dirt. Then came the slick rocks. Then these beautiful clouds started moving in, so it wasn't as hot as the upper right picture looks (you would expect a vulture on the branch in that one, huh?). Unfortunately, we were too taken with the beauty of the clouds to realize that these were actually thunderheads...duh!
You can see my dad had on appropriate footwear. This is a man who is 81 years young - has 21 pins and screws in one leg, from a mishap with a ladder ten years ago. He also fell on ice (while shoveling a neighbor's walk last winter), and cracked his hip on that same side. I love walking with him, because he makes us rest every 60 steps. As you can see, he was in FRONT of me and my cowboy boots, as I was starting to huff and puff at this point, and he was fine. He stopped at one point to grab a blade of grass to make a whistle, while I was gasping for air. Notice the sky is no longer as blue, and I was wondering "Where IS the d*@#n balcony?", just like the sign above asked.
OK, 6 miles later, here we are...the Balcony House sits in an overhang on that far wall (more telephoto shots to help - see if you can pinpoint it). We oohed and ahhed for about 2 minutes and realized the skies were now pretty ominous, and we had 14 miles left to hike back.
About 19 miles into that return trip, the BIGGEST thunderclap let go, right on top of us. No lightning, very little rain, and NO warning - scared the hell out of me and my cowboy boots - no joke. Dad laughed, like Dads do in the face of danger.
We did more walking and hiking that day, and the storm caught up with us on the other mesa. We closed the park - they turned me away at the last trail I wanted to hike. My cowboy boots? Well, my old reliables didn't let me down!
My back, at about 8:00 that evening??? I thought I was paralyzed. There IS, evidently, a reason for hiking footwear instead of 1-1/2" riding heels if you're going to be out trekking trails for 8 hours in a day. The back was fine, 48 hours and lots of Advil later, and I'm no worse for the wear today.
I AM a Colorado girl, it's what we do...
and, hell if I didn't look cool doin' it!!!