In retirement, Colorado Springs resident Rocky Shockley has busied himself with long hours in the library and long hours on the trail, in search of history hiding in plain sight across the Pikes Peak foothills.
He started a blog — "for myself more than anything else," he said.
But then his friends kept insisting: "This should be a book."
The result is "Easy Hikes to the Hidden Past," written alongside Shockley's partner, T. Duren Jones. Set to be available next month on Amazon, the guidebook ($15) includes 20 locations for exploring and pondering — for transporting back to the heydays of the cracked, crumbled and rusted relics on display along the way.
Included is Manitou Springs' Ute Trail, noted as "one of the earliest migration routes known in the United States." Nearby is the trail to Red Mountain, home to "the forgotten funicular," which ferried passengers to the modest summit, where are found concrete remnants of a dance hall, pictured in the book. Above the more famous funicular, that of the Manitou Incline, are remains of a place few venture to today: the Fremont Experimental Forest.
The book tells the story of another odd forest, defined by trees forming perfect rows at Monument Preserve. "This is evidence of a massive operation designed to restore our over-harvested and fire-ravaged mountains from a century ago," Shockley and Jones write.
Also chronicled is the former quarry of Red Rock Canyon Open Space, the site of a Cold War-era bomb shelter as well. Farther south and west are the mysterious tunnels along Gold Camp Road and pipelines off Old Stage Road.
And then there are intrigues around downtown, hiding throughout Monument Valley Park. Find the colorful stones "artfully laid to create a wall that tells the story of the geologic layers beneath our feet," the authors write — an idea traced to city founder Gen. William Jackson Palmer. Notice a stone wall marked as a Works Progress Administration project, they implore. With knowledge, "you will never look at the park the same again," they promise.
Education and inspiration is the goal of Shockley, who grew up in the Springs. In retirement, he's worked a side job as a hiking guide.
"I can't get people out there enough," he says. "There's a lot of sitting around so much anymore. And I just can't get the word out enough for people that it's out there. It's right there."