The day started with an icy cold, snow and storm. All the mountains were covered in fog and the outlook for the probability of the planned trip to the peak of Pike’s Peak reduced to a minimum. We did not have much luck with mountain excursions during our voyage in America.
In the morning, our ambassador in Washington, Schmit von Tavera, introduced himself as I had requested his presence here. He confirmed me the correctness of the unedifying circumstances of the exposition in Chicago and unfortunately especially the rumours about the Austrian section, so that I arranged to limit my visit there to only a few hours. He also developed a graphic survey of the conditions in the United States in all areas of public and private life that very much reinforced and enriched the impressions I have received up to now. Especially worth a mention is the changeover of the officials after each change of the presidency which precludes the necessary continuity in administration, quite apart from the crass excesses that this system promotes.
Furthermore in the land of the free public welfare for the working class seems to be seen as completely superfluous and to be substituted by the liberty to die of hunger if necessary. Economic disruptions have lasting effects given the completely insufficient support for the workers‘ interests. And especially the silver crisis is said to have caused great misery. Despite these dismal aspects the United States still exerts a great attraction to emigrants of which also from our country many thousands try their luck in the New World every year, only to all to often end up in a miserable state as they are not rarely exploited by scrupulous agents and left in a place to fend for themselves without rights and help, reduced to a miserable condition.
After a short railway journey we reached Manitou that is only 10 km distant from Colorado Springs and delightfully situated at the foot of Pike’s Peak and an attraction for sufferers and tourists. Climbing the high peak, that had been discovered and first climbed by Captain Pike in 1806, has since then been a very tempting enterprise so that it was decided in 1890 to build a cog railroad of the Abt system in place of the tiring riding path to the top of the mountain. The starting point of the railway opened in 1891 lies at 2013 m above sea level. The altitude difference to be surpassed amounts to 2318 m and the endpoint of the railway is thus 534 m higher than the peak of the Großglockner. I would have liked to undertake the trip to the peak of Pike’s Peak, whose altitude is certified by friend Baedeker to cause nosebleed due to the thin air, but unfortunately dense snow storm and extended fog prevented our undertaking, as the day before the cold temperature had been measured at the peak of 25 cool degrees. I thus stayed in Manitou that is picturesquely located in a valley basin and makes a friendly nice impression.
Due to its carbon acidic and ferruginous water, it is a often visited health resort where much is done for the visitor’s comfort and well-being. This is exemplified by the numerous sites and plants that snugly enclose the houses and villas. Numerous hotels and guest houses await the tourists and also a casino has established itself here
The bad weather naturally did not deter us at all from having a look at the beauties of nature in the surrounding area clad in winter dress. Firstly, Williams Canyon is a quite narrow rocky gorge whose blood red rocks rising high on both sides of the road and are made up of sandstone rich in iron. We thus can observe the rocks closely and in leisure. Some of the rocks have been buttressed to prevent any danger to the passers-by.
Much more interesting is the „Garden of the Gods“, an area of about 240 ha distinguished by a number of fantastic isolated rock formations that carry names that, with a little fantasy, seemed to be not badly chosen. There is a „baggage hall“, baggage-like cubes piled on top of one another, then the „Garden of the Sponges“ where formations have been created by erosion that look very much like giant stone mushrooms; the „Balanced Rock“ is an about 200 t heavy conical rock on which rests a meter-wide pedestal. Outstanding are thin sandstone walls that are arranged one after the other like a backdrop on a stage and are displaying truly grotesque formations such as „Lot’s wife“, „elephant“, „bear“, „American eagle“, „buffalo head“ and finally the „kissing camels“.
In any case these nature spectacles leave nothing to be desired in terms of originality. They rise in their blood red color completely suddenly and are well worth a visit. In the „Garden of the Gods“ I saw an oak species again for the first time after a long period of absence, however only a small one similar to our Austrian oak, with strongly slit leaves.
While we were amply being fleeced by a merchant in his Curio Shop, the clouds lifted, the sun emerged, the mountain range deeply covered in snow and even the peak of Pike’s Peak became visible so that we infinitely regretted not to spend this moment at the top of the giant mountain and to look out over the Rocky Mountains and the endless prairie of Colorado and Texas. But the hour of departure to Chicago had arrived and I had to take the decision to go without having climbed Pike’s Peak.