I kind of have a love/hate relationship with the Garden of the Gods. Before I had ever set foot in the great state of Colorado, I knew the following about Colorado Springs.
I've now been in the Springs for over a decade. Quickly I uncovered my misconceptions, which was a bit disappointing. Pikes does offer some fun snow climbs, such as the Y and Railroad couliors, but compared to many other high peaks in the state, its a gentle giant. I've occasionally run into guys like Apollo Ohno and Hunter Kemper on the trails, but the ratio of elite athletes to everyday joes here is still pretty thin. And while it only takes 15 minutes to get from Monument to Castle Rock, the cultural divide between 303 and 719 is not trivial.
Perhaps the greatest disillusionment for me, however, has been accepting the Garden for what it is: a pretty cool geological phenomena that is usually overrun by gawkers and rubberneckers from Sioux City. Anyone who has moved to Colorado knows it's pretty darn easy to convince people from "back home" to come visit. Once they learn that we're many hours from most of the ski resorts, they usually become transfixed on being taken to the Garden. I oblige, but hold out hope that I can make them fall in love with one of our town's hidden gems - North Cheyenne Canyon, Red Rocks, Rampart Reservoir.
Why the disdain? It probably stems from my days as a cyclist. I'm not sure what's more dangerous - trying to do a Garden loop in the summer, or riding against traffic on I-25. No matter how much signage is put up telling them not to, drivers constantly pull into the bike lane to park. Some, I'm convinced, do so simply because they await the opportunity to "door" me. It's like a game of Donkey Kong or something for them. Even when you get off the roads, your best view is usually of people viewing people viewing people viewing the rocks.
Don't get me wrong. It's pretty. The park's trails are well maintained. The roads are immaculate. The White Lyons, Red Lyons, and Fountain Formation rock layers fascinate anyone trying to wrap their head around what that means.
In order to alleviate my frustration, I propose this. On June 8th, let's move the start time of the Garden 10 miler from 7AM to 2PM. Let's alter the course so that all 1,500 of us get to do multiple clockwise loops. Equip us all with lances - charred stumps from the nearby Waldo fire will do. Give the tourists no warning. Sweet revenge. With numbers, we can overwhelm them. Victory will be OURS!
Maybe this is a bit extreme. Maybe I should hit the Garden early in the morning instead of mid-day. Maybe I should acknowledge my good fortune, living less than a mile away from some of the more beautiful urban backdrops in the entire country.
Maybe, just maybe though, the idea of a 1,500 runner free-for-all cutting through the Garden at high tourist time might give you the satisfaction it gives me.