Pikes Peak, CO- Elevation 14,110- 09/2004
Pikes Peak is one of the most beautiful and famous peaks in the Americas. Its the easternmost 14er in the U.S. and rises dramatically up from the plains just west of Colorado Springs. Many settlers were inspired by this powerful peak and the song America the Beautiful was written on the summit. I wanted to make sure that I summited this peak as soon as I thought I was ready and by this time I was. All summer I have been hiking with friends but couldn't find anyone to go with me on this one so I went solo for the first time since my first 14er Bierstadt. I thought the classic route from Manitou Springs at 17 miles and 5000 elevation gain was a bit excessive so I chose the Crags Campground trail which had 11.4 roundtrip miles and 4100 feet elevation gain. For some reason 11 miles was a lot farther than I thought it was. I got a late start and didn't get on the trailhead til noon since I had to drive all the way around to the other side of the peak. I ended up hiking back through the woods in the dark which was a very uncomfortable feeling. I did have a headlamp this time and kept looking in all directions for that mountain whose prints I saw near the summit. Just as I finally made it to the parking lot I saw two large animals coming towards me and could only see their eyes with my headlamp. I nearly had a heart attack when I finally saw they were two large dogs that were with a nearby camper.
Pikes Peak as seen from Woodland Park.
This is the first part of the trail, an nice hike through the woods for a couple miles.
A cool rock formation seen from the trail.
There is a steep part before you get out of the tree line. Here I am almost above treeline and you can see the rock formation from the previous picture is now farther away.
After hiking a couple hours I came around this corner I could finally see the summit, very very far in the distance. Shortly after this point you arrive at the Pikes Peak road. I was able to find a trail that followed the road for a while then went off in its own more direct direction towards the summit.
Getting closer to the summit, probably less than 1000 feet of elevation gain at this point.
Near the summit I was surprised to find these paw prints in the snow, they were quite large so I thought they could only be from a bear or mountain lion and they don't look like bear prints nor would I expect a bear to be up that high. Apparently the big cats like the view from up top too.
A nice picture of me on the summit, by this point I was covered in a layer of dirt, hungry, cold and the weather was turning. I went inside the visitor center to warm up but they closed after a couple minutes. I wasn't worried about the hike back because its always easier going down, but I forgot its still almost 6 miles and ended up taking quite a while.
A view of Colorado Springs from the summit.
A tribute to "America the Beautiful"
Another one of my favorite pictures, I snapped this as the Cog Railway Train was heading down. The engineer kept blowing the horn thinking he was leaving me behind but I just waved at him and finally they departed.