Saturday, July 11, 2009

Mount Falcon and a discovery

This morning dawned hot and bright here in Colorado. Despite the expected heat of the day, we were determined to get out for a good Saturday morning hike. Originally I had thought of hiking near the town of Deckers along the South Platte River, but I changed my mind after listening to the weather forecast last night. The forecast said for us to expect severe thunderstorms starting shortly after noon today. So I decided to do something that wasn't remote. (Because I didn't want to spend a ton of time driving there and then get out on the hike and immediately have to turn back because of the weather.)
So instead of being down in the South Platte Valley I decided that we would hike at Mount Falcon Open Space in Jefferson County. This open space is located in the foothills above Red Rocks Amphitheater and Morrison, Colorado. The drive from our home is only about 25 minutes.
We set out for our hike around 9:45AM and arrived in the Mount Falcon parking lot around 10:15AM. We had several destinations along our hike for the day. The first was the summit of Mount Falcon. The second destination was the ruins of John Brisden Walker's mansion that had been build on Mount Falcon. The last destination is one hidden in mystery and forgotten to history - the foundation of the "Western White House" that Walker had hoped to build as a gift to the President and the people of the United States. (There is a tremendous amount of history associated with this open space. If you wish to read more about it, you can find it at this web address - )
The parking lot was pretty full when we arrived and we saw a ton of people on our hike. Shortly after we started to hike we quickly noticed exactly how hot it was. Luckily I had brought about 2 times as much water as I normally do. We found that consumed a lot of it as we were sweating off so much.
Our hike took us across most of the width and length of the open space. There are many different trails in this open space and we took a lot of them. For the most part the hike consisted of a lot of rolling hills going up and down - with the exception of when we were scaling Mount Falcon itself. As we approached the top of Mount Falcon we began to notice some very unusual - very large number of lady bugs were everywhere! At the very top of the mountain we found several boulder that were covered entirely in lady bugs. It was very amazing to see!
There is a small wooden tower built on the top of Mount Falcon which of course we had to climb. After a short rest there, we continued on our way to the Walker Mansion ruins. John Brisden Walker had built this mansion for he and his bride, but they never really got to enjoy it as shortly after it was built his wife died. Then 3 years later the mansion was struck by lightning and built to the ground. Today the only things that remain are the chimney and numerous brick walls that made up the sides of the mansion. (I don't have pictures of this as I was using my film camera for part of the hike and I didn't get the pictures developed yet. All the pictures in this post were taken with my iPhone.)
After visiting the mansion ruins we continued on to the "ruins" of the "Western White House" that John Walker wanted to build. I say "ruins" in quotes because not much was ever done to really build the "Western White House" except for the laying of one side of the foundation and the placement of a corner stone. We had to take our pictures there and then as we were wilting from the mid-day heat we headed back to the open space parking lot.
As we headed back to the car we came across many wonderful vistas that provided us with a great view out onto the plains. The downside to the view was the brown cloud (pollution) that was hanging over Denver today. Ugh - it looked ugly.
We had a great hike - we covered 4.6 miles and we built up some good endurance in the heat. This was yet another step in getting us ready to tackle a 14er in the coming weeks. It is funny to think of how many great views and great things there are to see in this open space and for me to realize it has been almost 10 years since I was last here. Wow - there are just so many amazing things to see and do in Colorado.
After our hike we travelled through Lakewood and stopped at a Wendy's for some lunch. We got home around 2:30PM and did some things around the house. At 5:00PM we headed over to Tim and Celinde's house as they had invited us over for dinner. There was another family there so it was a good time for all. The kids all played like maniacs and had a lot of fun. I even brought Bailey and Lex so that they could hang out with Tim and Celinde's Ray and Lulu.
After dinner I sat down with Celinde's Mac and spent some time looking through all of her photos in iPhoto. That is when I made my discovery! I found a picture of Patty from Christmas of 2006! Because of the situation and everything I didn't take a lot of pictures of Patty once she was diagnosed. So finding this picture which was probably one of the last dozen or so pictures taken of her was a fantastic find. I can't tell you how pleased I was to find that picture. I have attached it below.
We just arrived back home a little while ago and Zack is doing a few things before I send him off to bed. He will be exhausted from all the playing he did with the other kids at Tim and Celinde's.
We hope everyone has had a great Saturday.
Thanks and peace to all. - J.

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