(The following article first appeared in The Colorado Springs Free Press on April 15, 1956.)
My summers on Mt Manitou were a joy! The crowds of tourists were wonderful and appreciative, everyone who worked on the Incline was pleasant and friendly, and in the evenings and early mornings we had a lot of beautiful country to run over as we pleased. It was an idyllic time.
It was then that the clean challenge of the mountain skies threw my interest to the stars, and I got astronomy book after astronomy book, and studied them with perfect delight. I learned the names of all the first and second magnitude stars, and the third that had names, and altogether there were hundreds of them that had their own personal names, taken from the Arabic and from ancient tribes that had watched the stars for thousands of years before I was born. We would beat the season by getting up in the early morning and going out to Look Out Rock, and with a map of our stars and with a flashlight, puzzle them out of our books, and with our bare eyes watch the wonder of the rising stars in the East. A glorious and a valuable time!
In the evening we would ride Fred’s burros almost any place. We rode the ornery ones that wouldn’t quite behave for tourists, but were as fresh as the sunrise for us. Over the pipe-line to the Halfway House on Pikes Peak, we’d gallop most of the way, for the trail is nearly level and the burros were fresh and eager. It was two or three miles over, high on the slopes of the mountains, and we’d love the ride.
There would be dances at the Halfway House, for the guests who stayed up there, and we’d ride over to get in on the fun. My brother, eight years older than I, enjoyed the dancing. But I’d prefer hanging around in the kitchen visiting with the cooks, and sampling whatever they were cooking. Then out to our burros we’d grope, riding them in the pitch-black night, and galloping on a trail that we could barely make out. But the beasties could see it, and we trusted them, and took a special delight in our trust.
Early morning hikes, in almost any direction (except straight down); and the wonder of the dew on the grass and the pristine wild flowers. What memories have etched themselves indelibly on my mind from excursions in the half-shadows of the dawn. Oh, how beautiful the world is, if we only have the energy to go out and be a part of it! If we only have the enthusiasm to open our eyes to its wonders!
Or pleasant evenings on the summit of Mt. Manitou, when a crowd of congenial souls would build a great fire, and we’d sit around it and sing, and then watch the flames die down, and the fire at last get to that intimate glow that invites you back and back to the millions of men who have watched its miracle! Men who have sat in its magic circle, and listened for that word to be spoken by its almost human glow. We took our places along with the thousands and thousands of fire-watchers who go back through history, and felt somehow related to them, in seeking that magic something that lies always hidden behind the dying fire, that never quite gives its precious secret to man. Waiting! Waiting!
This article comes courtesy of the Cheyenne Mountain Kiva, the journal of the Cheyenne Mountain Heritage Center. The Center’s mission is to gather and share the unique heritage and traditions of the Cheyenne Mountain/Pikes Peak region. For more information, visit CMHeritageCenter.org.