Pikes Peak and I

In 2006 The Gazette of Colorado Springs held an essay and photo contest for Pikes Peak Centennial celebration (a brief history of Pikes Peak HERE).  New to the area, I had, as I do now, a profound fascination with Pikes Peak.  I decided to enter both.  

This was my Photo Entry:

Photo Submission
Photo Submission

The above photo was taken during my 2004, two days visit to Colorado Springs, when I came to scope out the place as a possible escape from the Motor City.  We had a half day to spare, and we drove up to the summit.

I was pleased to learn I had come in second, and that the photo for ten days would hang in the Pioneer Museum in Colorado Springs (I did not go see it).  The winner was published in the paper, and it was an evening view of the peak from the area known as University Park.  

Hence why judging photos is subjective, and I seldom enter contests.  The winner was similar, but not as nice, as many I had from the same area (I lived in University Park apartments for the first four months here).  I should have saved it for comparison, but since it was “on the Internet” I figure I could always link to it  (wrong!).

This is one of mine from about, but not quite, the same spot.  

The reason I did not use the above, or any from that area, is because it includes The Garden of the Gods area (the big red rock visible through the trees), and I thought Pikes Peak should not be sharing the spotlight in celebration of its centennial.  

I don’t want to seem like I’m chewing on sour grapes here, but I was a tad annoyed at the lower third of the winning picture showing an unsightly industrial park.  

Rest assured, I am posting this strictly because I thought this would make an interesting post (different from my usual posts).           . . . but come on! An industrial park!

Seriously, I also want to point out all forms of art are subject to the whims of individual likes and dislikes.  Different judges might not have ranked either the winner’s or my photos as worthy of the top ten, let alone first and second.  By the way, that’s why they encourage writers to submit all over the place; what is crap to one editor is gold to another.

The following is my submission for the essay contest (as written, no modifications):

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On October of 2004 I came out to scout Colorado Springs as a possible relocation site.  My first memory of Pikes Peak is that of the rising sun bathing its summit in a golden light.  

Later I saw many other mountains as I drove north through Wyoming, South Dakota, and Montana, but Pikes Peak had allowed me to reach its summit, and a bond was forged.  A one sided bond, for sure: my deep respect, and its majestic indifference.  

And yet, in each of the subsequent five visits, it seemed possible to believe it was minimally aware of my presence.   It parted clouds, letting the sunshine bathe green meadows dotted with impossibly delicate yellow, blue, and white flowers.  It brought hawks to silently soar above the great boulders casually defying gravity on its slopes.   And it let me watch in eerie silence the passing of a thunderstorm far below.  

I’m sure others were about, but each time it seemed as if the show was for me, and me alone.  On those brief moments I could let myself imagine I was part of the mountain; untouched by events unfolding before me, but yet an integral part of the world around me. 

I’ve now lived here a full year, and still, when out walking or driving, I strive to see the familiar outline.  Whether offering a majestic sight spanning the horizon, or appearing as a snow-covered jewel just visible between the evergreens, the Peak never fails to draw my eye, and for those brief moments I once more feel as one with the silent giant. 

 It’s more than the beauty of the snow blanketing the summit, or the interplay of light and shadow on its slopes.  It is Pikes Peak’s comforting permanence, and the promise of new secrets to be revealed on each subsequent visit. 

Perhaps years hence the feeling will wane, and I will barely take notice its presence.  If that should come to pass, it will be like losing touch with a dear friend, and my life will surely be diminished for it.

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It was not until a few years later that I Googled myself (I don’t do that anymore) and found out I had placed third in the essay contest.   

You can read the winning essay HERE.  The only minor quibble I had was that the winning essay went over the 500 word limit.  

As many people know, I am not pithy, and struggled to keep it under 500 words, cutting out what I thought was good, but non-essential stuff.  

Anyway, Pikes Peak remains a comforting sight and presence as I go about my life.  And it certainly merits a post of its own (yes, with lots of pictures).

Thanks for visiting and reading my stuff.

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