Journal of Michael Baum / Travels of an Artist

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Rim to Rim


Fog and low clouds blanket the canyon. The limestone cliffs soar into oblivion. Everything drips from the previous night's rain. Wet rock and dripping foliage perfume the air, the smell of the living earth. We hike up the old road all the way to the Cave of the Winds parking lot. Beyond it, an obscure trail leads upward to the rim and "Middle Earth" views of the canyon at our feet. As I strain my eyes into the fog I imagine a Thomas Moran painting with shafts of sunlight streaking through the clouds spotlighting just the right picturesque crags. Now, that's what I'm talking about. No such luck. The fog and clouds just hang there obscuring everything transforming the canyon into the magic kingdom. That little voice in my head—which is probably the voice of some long-ago painting mentor—says "see what's there." Good advice.

The trail continues up the ridge. The ridge narrows and drops away on both sides, disappearing into the fog. We make our way through dripping forests of scrub oak, piñon pine, and ancient juniper trees that twist out into the foggy abyss.

The footpath ends at another, larger trail that connects Williams Canyon to Waldo Canyon. We hike down into Williams Canyon. At the bottom, we turn upstream searching for the trail up to the eastern rim. The canyon floor is lush, primordial. Cushions of moss carpet the ground. Huge fir trees, hoary with lichens, reach into the mist. More than a hint of fall color lies around us. We find a trail that leads up. The trail is steep and narrow, often slippery. We are already dreading the climb back down. We rarely climb this side of the canyon because of the unsupervised shooting range just above us. The range has recently been closed. No more gunshots. Only the hollow squawk of a crow gliding below us. We find buckshot and even a slug lying in the trail, a testimony to why we haven't hiked up here in years.

We come out onto Rampart Range Road and walk down searching for a trail to the rim, looking for a cliff-top view. Finally, bush-whacking our way through the trees, we come out onto the open rim where we have a clear view of the canyon. The highest cliffs and best views lie to the south, but private property stops us from going farther. Gazing at the distant cliffs, I'm a little disappointed. "See what's there," the voice says. Oh yeah.


A hike in Williams Canyon


Williams Canyon in the mist





"See what's there."

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