Roundtrip Elevation: 8200 feet
Starting Point: Crags Campground trailhead
|I didn't take this but it's Pike's Peak from the east.|
So what's nice about Pike's Peak is the proximity to my house. It's literally the only 14er that isn't a two hour drive or more. The insanely popular Barr Trail trailhead is only about 20 minutes from my house. I took a different route that travels up the northwest slopes to the summit. The Barr Trail is a 25 mile roundtrip hike and I just don't think I'm ready for that yet. Driving to the Crags trailhead took about 35 minutes and I started for the summit at about 5:45am. I chose to go on a Saturday, so starting as early as possible turned out to be a good idea.
As soon as my target comes into view I try to take a picture. Most summits wont be visible from the trailhead but by the time you pass the treeline, I've found they usually are. Here's Pike's Peak as soon as I saw it.
If you zoom in you can see the cafe/gift shop on the summit.
The hiking got pretty easy from here until the final pitch to the summit which was difficult. I passed through some very scenic areas on the way there.
This place is called Devil's Playground because of the lightening that jumps from rock to rock during storms.
Same area here. I was trying to take a picture of just the landscape and this guy here comes around the corner and scared the crap out of me.
I thought the next part of the hike was going to be kind of lame because I had read that it follows closely the Pike's Peak tollway that goes all the way to the summit. For the modest price of $35 you can drive your car to the top of Pike's Peak. Turns out, the hike just got better and better. Some clouds started to roll in but they were light and wispy and didn't completely obstruct the views. While to my right was a road, part dirt part asphalt, to my left were ominous cliffs that seemed to drop forever.
The final pitch was difficult but much easier than Princeton had been. I'm always amazed when I see how paths have been carved into these massive boulders. It would be fun to make trails I think. Well, maybe just fun to think about making trails. This shows the general route I took. Picture was taken from 14ers.com.
The top of Pike's Peak is unlike any other summit in Colorado. You can't summit any other peak in Colorado and find 500 people waiting for you, buying souveniers, taking pictures, eating food from the cafe, or just enjoying the views. Few of these people hiked to get there. There's the road I've already mentioned but there's also a cog train that ferries people to the top. It's actually quite neat.
There's also the "World Famous Pike's Peak Donuts." After trying one I realize they're famous because they're three dollars and not for any other reason. Alas, I had to try one to say I did it. I brought one home for my wife to try as well. They're good.... but not three dollars good.
Obligatory summit pics.
|Looking northeast from Pike's Peak summit. |
Another unique aspect of climbing this mountain. You won't find cool signs like this on other mountains.
I stayed on top for about 30 minutes and then headed down. It was actually quite cold. The rocks on the way down hadn't seen any sun yet and they were wet. So using my hands to brace my decent against the rocks left my hands very cold. Once down the initial section it was smooth sailing. There must have been a convention or something because I passed about 100 people on the way down. It was clear they were together but not clear what kind of organization they were with. I got to my car at about noon. So total time out was about 6.25 hours. Much improved from my Princeton times.
My 2nd 14er and I feel much more confident. More to come....
Notes To Self:
-cotton shirts on morning hikes cause dew to collect and I end up drenched
-still need hiking boots