Running with Lightning

Tuesday we hiked up to St. Mary’s waterfall. After a 3 mile hike including 1,000 feet of vertical rise, we drank cold water pouring down the face of the granite.

Sheila: I should have had some protein this morning.

That was right after Lauren and Karen startled two young men and a young woman who had built a sort of cold water mountain pool at the foot of the falls. When I bested the final boulder, this young man was pulling on his boxers. There is something about nature at 9,500 feet than makes young men lose their senses and their clothing in a sort of back-to-nature euphoria.

I looked up at the mountain to the west. My son taught me to look at the sky. Brandon is an atmospheric scientist…a meteorologist. He specializes in wind profiling and works for the National Weather Service in Norman, OK. Once when Brandon was about 10 years old, we sat on a peak in Arkansas watching a thunderstorm wrap around the mountain.

I thought of that as we made our way back down the mountain, listening to the sounds of atmospheric indigestion at 9,500 feet elevation. Lightning crackled in the pines chasing us all the way down to the parking lot just as rain hit our windshield. Karen hasn’t run that much since Sadie Hawkins date night at church camp.

Yesterday was one of those days that I kept looking up at the sky even in the midst of fear as we walked across a steel suspension bridge with lightning crackling all around.

After sharing some pictures, my son commented, “Mountain weather is the best.”

We walked out of the Royal Gorge Theater after watching a history of the Royal Gorge and were welcomed by a rolling thunder and brilliant lightning.
Royal Gorge National Park was ravaged by fire in 2013. Most of the park buildings were destroyed by the fire but the bridge, other than a small section of walk boards, remained intact.
We crossed the Royal Gorge Bridge motivated by bolts of lighting. We alternated between fear and awe, running and stopping to take pictures as sheer energy swept down the mountain.
Original cables foundations have been replaced and improved.
Rain has descended from the heights every afternoon for the past five days in Colorado.
The Arkansas River is about 1,000 feet below my feet on it’s way past my house in Oklahoma. Even with a couple of days head start, the water flowing below my feet will not arrive in Oklahoma before we do.
One of two main suspension cables that weigh around 300 tons each.  John F. Kennedy Mountain is a prominent peak to the southwest.
State flags line the bridge deck. Guess which one this is? The answer underneath the next picture.
(The state flag in the previous picture? Rhode Island)
A view from underneath…the cable struts below the deck keep the bridge stable in high winds.

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