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Juniata Goes West
There is a waterfall that is nestled between some of the lesser mountains that adorn the rugged skyline to the west of Colorado Springs. Seven Falls has been a longtime fixture in Colorado Springs’ attractions, but it has only recently (within the last few years) been bought by the Broadmoor, a swanky hotel, golf course and resort. They have made some amazing additions to the park and have done some stellar renovations. If you ever visit, hit up The 1858. It’s a little pricey but well worth it.
I found myself there twice this summer; once at the beginning, once at the end. The first time I found myself there was right before my best friend’s sister, a girl who I myself have come to see as a sister, graduated from our high school. The beginning of my summer marked the ending of an era for her. She was about to head off on a new adventure on the opposite side of the country. This was a momentous occasion for her, and there I was, back in Colorado, trying to combat altitude.
Seven Falls is an interesting place. Honestly, it is mostly just a tourist trap, offering the much sought after Colorado branded merchandise at extravagant prices. But once you climb the two hundred and eighty something steps to the trails above the falls, you get a new appreciation for life… and oxygen. The trails are shaded by tall spruce and sentinel pines and the few aspens that might be left over from a bygone flood. It is peaceful and calming; the stream that feeds the falls, can be heard trickling through the rocks and roots.
On my return trip to Colorado Springs at the end of the summer, my friend and I made our pilgrimage to the Falls. As we made our way to Inspiration Point, a cliff overlook that stands high above the falls and looks out over Colorado Springs, we passed a man and his son. The man stopped and pointed at my windbreaker (which bears a Juniata logo) and said “Juniata College? Is that the one in Pennsylvania?” I was so stunned that someone recognized the school that I was momentarily speechless. Then I enthusiastically responded that yes, it was, and we had a very exciting conversation about how his wife attended Juniata and how important her experience here was for her.
I was in awe for the rest of the day. It really wasn’t that big of a deal; you meet people who you have something distantly in common with every day. But it was the fact that he knew Juniata and not just in the “the school south of Penn State” kind of way. So many people I meet give me blank half-apologetic stares when I tell them where I go to college, but there, finally, just below Inspiration Point, I met someone whose life had been changed for the better because of Juniata.
My friend and I continued our climb to Inspiration Point and when we reached the top, I can in fact say that I was inspired. I sat there, staring down at the now miniscule city and how it, and so many things that I have come to associate with it, have gotten me to where I am today. I looked up from the city and admired the ageless rocks that surrounded me. I smiled, and we hiked back down to lunch, and the best nachos I have ever had.