Wednesday, April 22, 2020


Post by Doris McCraw
writing as Angela Raines

As we stay at home and/or practice physical distancing, I thought I'd share some thoughts and photos from my walks/hikes out on the trails. I travel alone, and all are near where I live, so no major traveling involved.

I started walking even before staying at home was encouraged, but now I found I had trails to myself most of the time. I also have spent time walking and photographing headstones in the local cemeteries for future research and story ideas.

Fountain Creek - Photo property of the Author
I live near Fountain Creek in Colorado. There is a major trail that runs from Fountain, CO along the creek to Palmer Lake, a distance of some thirty-three miles. They hope to connect the trails so that a trail runs along the whole front range.

Proposed Front Range Trail
Photo property of the Author
I found myself wondering what it must have been like for those early mountain men and then later the settlers who arrived to populate the states. Would I have had the fortitude to traverse this route? There were cattle drives that would have taken similar or nearby routes. The Goodnight-Loving Trail would have been just east of the lower part of this above proposed trail. The Smokey Hill Trail and portions of the Mountain Route of the Santa Fe trail traverse the lower and eastern part of the state.

Cheyenne Mountain State Park
Photo Property of the Author
Having a state park pass has allowed me to spend time on the trails in Cheyenne Mountain State Park. These trails, some of which can be challenging, are through an area that had originally been rangeland, first owned by two homesteaders and then the JL Ranch. There is a lot of up and down on these trails, yet the open spaces are amazing. I can just see the area with cattle, or sheep as was the norm in the area in the 1870s. As a matter of note, one of Colorado Springs's top money providers in 1879 was wool growing.

Headstone in Evergreen Cemetery
Photo property of the Author

As you can see, the cemetery is full of information waiting for me to explore. Sometimes I find a gold nugget, sometimes very little. The simple fact is, these people lived, breathed and help create the world I now live in. Their stories are the true gift they've left to this writer.

Garden of the Gods
Photo property of the Author
I leave you with a photo from a hike in the Garden of the Gods. This wild and beautiful area has always triggered my imagination. Two stories, one published, have come from this treasure. I can just imagine the native people traversing this piece of property. Butting up against the mountains, even a few outlaws could have spent some time in the region.

I hope you enjoyed a bit of the outdoors I have spent the last few weeks exploring. Below is an excerpt from the novella inspired by the Garden of the Gods Park.

 Standing in the valley's entrance two days later, Drew felt a bit of envy. "I can understand why Ham is upset that he lost this place," Drew whispered. Before him lay lush green grass with natural barriers all around the small place. Even as he admired its beauty, a part of his mind wondered at Ham owning such a place. Ham didn't strike him as someone who'd really want to work a place like this.
"That's silly," Drew said as he shook his head. If Luke said it was Ham's, then it was Ham's. Yet, even as he thought it, the doubt wouldn't leave him. Then the pain began a throb behind his eyes, easing up as he let the thought go.
He looked around to see if the others had followed him but saw no one. He'd asked for the chance to scout the area and get a look at the woman he was to kill. Ham had spoken against it; even Luke had hesitated before agreeing.
"If I'm to do this job, I want to make sure I get it done right," Drew said. "I can't if I don't know the lay of the land."
"If you say so, just remember your bargain," Luke had warned, a slight movement of his hand signaled his agreement to the plan.
"I won't. It means too much to me."

Now here he was, looking at a piece of heaven. The heaven he'd dreamed of, the place he could call home. If he'd had something like this, he wouldn't have been riding around searching, wouldn't have been in the wrong place at the wrong time, and ended up in prison. He'd do anything to have a place like this. Maybe someday, when all this is over, he thought.

Doris Gardner-McCraw -
Author, Speaker, Historian-specializing in
Colorado and Women's History
Angela Raines - author: Where Love & History Meet
Angela Raines FaceBook: Click Here


  1. You must see amazing scenery, Doris. We love Colorado but don't travel much now due to my husband's Parkinson's and my bad ankle. We love touring but it's a tremendous hassle now. We did our share when our health was better, though, so we have great memories. Thanks for your excellent posts.

    1. You are welcome. Hopefully some of my photos will help people cheer up, bring back memeories or make plans for new ones. I also admit I am very fortunate to live where I do and have so much within a short distance from where I live.

  2. Thanks for sharing your photos and hiking experiences with us, Doris. It's inspiring to think of the pioneers who rode or walked those same trails. I often think about the cowboys who drove cattle through Fort Worth, where I live, and up the trail to Kansas.

    1. Lyn, I have the feeling driving cattle was harder than most realize. I confess, as I walk the trails, I wonder if I could have done what they did. I'd like to think so.

      I am glad you enjoyed the photos. It helps me remember and documents my enjoyment and I get to share.

  3. I loved visiting Colorado. It is so beautiful, and the people so friendly. I must admit that I've also wandered around old graveyards and wondered about the lives behind such sparse information. There's something very stark about seeing a whole life distilled down to just a few words.

    1. I may not have been born in Colorado, but it's home for the very reasons you mention.

      I have been someone who has always been drawn to the 'sparse' stories in cemeteries even as a youong child. Perhaps that's why I'm drawn to writing historical fiction and researchig and telling the stories I find.


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