Visit to Rocky Moun­tains awak­ens sense of awe

Siloam Springs Herald Leader - - NEWS - Gene Linzey

Have you ever seen the Rocky Moun­tains? No, I don’t mean in a pic­ture, on tele­vi­sion, in the theater, or on IMAX. Have you ever driven through the great Rocky Moun­tains? Most likely, many of you have driven through a por­tion of them. But did you ob­serve the grandeur of th­ese mag­nif­i­cent gran­ite for­ma­tions?

Carol and I vis­ited Rocky Moun­tain Na­tional Park, just af­ter view­ing the to­tal so­lar eclipse in Glendo, Wyo., as we cel­e­brated our 51st wed­ding an­niver­sary. It was a spec­tac­u­lar trip. The word “spec­tac­u­lar” is the key­note for this trip.

The Rocky Moun­tains, com­monly called the Rock­ies, start in north­ern Bri­tish Columbia, Canada, and ex­tend about 3,000 miles south to New Mex­ico. Sev­eral spec­tac­u­lar Rocky Moun­tain fea­tures are: 1) the San­gre de Christo Moun­tains run from New Mex­ico through Colorado; 2) the Rio Grande has its head­wa­ters near Wolf Creek in south­ern Colorado; 3) Pikes Peak is near Colorado Springs and Man­i­tou Springs; 4) the Grand Te­tons and Big Horn Moun­tains are lo­cated in Wy­oming; 5) Branff Na­tional Park is in Al­berta, Canada; and there are many more! This moun­tain range should not be con­fused with the Pa­cific Coast Ranges, the Cas­cade Range or the Sierra Ne­vadas.

Some ge­ol­o­gists say the Rock­ies are well over 55 mil­lion years old (with the earth 4.54 bil­lion years old); some say they were cre­ated about 6,000 years ago along with the earth; and oth­ers say the Rock­ies were cre­ated just af­ter the great flood about 4,500 years ago. But what­ever age you as­cribe to them (only God knows their true age), my Pre­cious and I had a great trip.

The original Na­tive Amer­i­can Cree name was prob­a­bly “as-sin-wati”; loosely trans­lated as “seen across plains, look like rocky mass.” But their present name was given by French­man Jacque Le­gardeur de Saint-Pierre in 1752 when he called them “les Mon­tagnes de Roches” (pro­nounced: lay Mon­tanye de Rosh) — or, the moun­tains of rocks. And that evolved into the Rocky Moun­tains. Seventy-four peaks in the Rocky Moun­tain Na­tional Park (RMNP) are over 12,000 feet; 23 more top out over 13,000 feet; and two peaks are over 14,000 feet (called 14ers). That’s a to­tal of 99 spec­tac­u­lar peaks in only 415 square miles.

This con­ti­nen­tal ridge is 70 miles wide at its nar­row­est, and 300 at its great­est span. I read that the low­est el­e­va­tion of the Rock­ies is 3,400 feet above sea level where the Arkansas River flows from Colorado into Kansas; but I didn’t know the base of the Rock­ies reached that far. And the high­est point is mag­nif­i­cent Mount El­bert in Colorado at 14,400 feet.

Driv­ing through Boul­der, Colo., we started our tour through the RMNP in the town of Estes Park, Colo., sit­u­ated at 7,522 feet; and the east en­trance to the park is on high­way 36, only 3.5 miles from town. If you are driv­ing from the south or west, you can take exit 232 on I-70, west of Den­ver, and drive north on high­way 40. Fol­low the signs.

Hik­ing is a com­mon ac­tiv­ity. Start­ing at Bear Lake at 9,475 feet, seven lakes are within 4.7 miles walk­ing dis­tance. That is: 4.7 miles — ONE WAY. Save your en­ergy be­cause you prob­a­bly want to come back. We walked around Bear Lake — only 256 feet away.

We drove down Devil’s Gulch, but couldn’t fig­ure why the name be­cause it’s a spec­tac­u­lar drive. The next day, we left Estes Park, drove to I-70, took exit 232, and en­tered the Park from the other side. Did I say the scenery was spec­tac­u­lar? Well, it WAS!

Go­ing through Idaho Springs, Granby, and Grand Lake, the west en­trance was 145 miles from Estes Park and the views were breath-tak­ing. We vis­ited the Alpine Vis­i­tor Cen­ter and the Trail Ridge Store above the tree-line at 11,796 feet, and took pic­tures of a coy­ote pounc­ing on an un­seen ro­dent — prob­a­bly a mon­tane vole, yel­low-bel­lied mar­mot, or some other high-al­ti­tude ro­dent. Words and pic­tures can­not ad­e­quately de­scribe our emo­tions and ex­pe­ri­ences as we saw God’s hand­i­work in the high Rock­ies.

This trip caused me to focus more in­tently on my re­la­tion­ship with Almighty God: the Cre­ator of ev­ery nat­u­ral thing we saw. The song by Stuart Ham­blen sums it up: “How big is God, how big and wide his vast do­main, to try to tell th­ese lips can only start. He’s big enough to rule the mighty uni­verse, yet small enough to live within my heart.”

— Gene Linzey is a speaker, au­thor, men­tor and pres­i­dent of the Siloam Springs Writ­ers Guild. Send com­ments and ques­tions to masters.ser­vant@cox.net. The opin­ions ex­pressed are those of the au­thor.

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