Spooky Canyon Tricks and Treats in Columbus Canyon. A Halloween Special.I hope to explore all the canyons in the Colorado National Monument, and I have just a few left.
I recently visited Columbus Canyon. The access is difficult, perhaps illegal unless you go trick-or-treat style from South Camp Road through quiet neighborhoods. Not only is approaching Columbus Canyon unnerving, the human history in the canyon is eerie. I don’t recommend this hike, but because this is the season for mischievous exploration, I charged forth.
I was on a lunch hike a few days before Halloween.I entered Columbus Canyon through the official Monument access gate at the bottom of Columbus and Red Canyon. The foreboding “dark-heart” section of black-rock came into view. I assumed it would be steep and tricky.
I was wrong, but I found other things more devious and out of place in this deep canyon. Though it’s remote and hard for sane men to get into Columbus Canyon, it’s easy for trash and trouble to get in. Drivers apparently throw their treats off the road and from the top of Cold Shivers Point. Many interesting items lay in the canyon bottom; shopping carts, piles of old tires, beer cans, two-liter bottles, trash and grocery bags. The noise of Jake-braking trucks on the road above helped the rubbish feel at home. I believe this condition is due to its proximity to the road as errant-trash from dump loads escape. The beer cans, tire piles and shopping carts are likely caused by a deviant-but-bored mentality that does not appreciate the treasure the Monument offers. The desert is more a place to watch things plummet into explosive-destruction; there’s a lot of precedence for that lately. Enforcement is not the cure as the rangers heavily patrol this stretch of Rim Rock Drive.
[img::aligncenter:small:Black Rock Scarmbling on the CNM.]Climbing higher toward the canyon’s end, the floor grows narrow and less stable. Scraggly trees cower over the canyon bottom, clinging to their withering leaves. Crumpled car wreckage wrapped around boulders are buried in the sifting rubble. The rounded metal was surrendered from the road in the ’60s. The uneasy ground unnerved me as my mind wandered. I thought of the poor souls who have fallen in or driven into the head of the canyon from Glade Park’s DS Road.
I had to make my way around amphitheater walls that blocked my passage. I tried to creep across a pile of boulders toward the ledge above. My curiosity was quickly quelled. I noticed dark voids beneath me as rocks shifted and flaked under my tentative steps. The clock was ticking on my break. I had reached the rotten-bowel of Columbus Canyon and I wasn’t getting any farther today. Startled, I grabbed my rattling cell phone from my hip ... duty calls.
I’m used to it, but I don’t enjoy being distracted from my attempts to escape urban-reality. This time I had scared myself and was glad to be stopped from any more alone time in Columbus Canyon. I turned tail and skittered down canyon back to work ... where more civilized torture awaited.