Monday, September 27, 2010

Pikes Peak 9/18/2010

Total Mileage: 12.5 miles
Elevation Gained: 7800 feet
Starting Point: Barr Trail Trailhead

My Dad flew down from Spokane, WA to hike Pikes Peak with me! I had been looking forward to this trip since he called and arranged it. We had initially planned to only hike up and take the Cog Railway back down. The day before our hike a helicopter crashed on the mountain and I found out that the Cog may not be running the day of our hike. The Toll Road would also be closed down meaning our only descent option would be hiking the 12.5 miles down. We went ahead and planned to hike ourselves up and down the mountain and prepared for a 25 mile hike.

The picture quality is pretty bad here. My Dad and I both forgot to bring our cameras so I had to make due with just my phone. The picture above was taken about 4 miles into our 12.5 mile hike up Pikes Peak. We started up the trail at about 5:45am. It was dark for the first 45 minutes. We weren't using headlamps so we just had to adjust to it. By 6:20am it was getting lighter and visability wasn't an issue. The Barr Trail provides more elevation gain from trailhead to summit than any of the other 57 14ers. We started at about 6500 feet and ended at 14,110 feet.

At the halfway point there is a little cabin/campground called Barr Camp. It's essentially a campground with a bed and breakfast twist to it. You can purchase a campsite or indoor accomadations and at night a spaghetti dinner is served followed by a pancake breakfast in the morning. It also serves as a place to resupply. They sell Gatorade and other snacks. It was here we discovered that the Cog was running and we may not have to hike out if we didn't want to. This also meant that the summit house would be open.  A lot of people use this camp as a way to break up the hike into two days or more. So we took about a 20 minute break and kept on hiking up the trail.

This hike served as a source of redemption for me. About three months ago I decided I wanted to hike this trail with a friend of mine. I made it as far as Barr Camp and had to turn back. I'm embarrased looking back on that hike and realizing how underprepared I was. The guy who runs the camp with his wife told me I could hike 1.5 miles to a Cog stop and catch the train up and then back down. I had already purchased the tickets so I called ahead and told them I would be there to be picked up. So I still was able to enjoy the summit but I took no pictures because I felt unworthy. My friend hiking with me was in much better shape and drove much further than me to be there. I thought for sure he'd never hike with me again. This experience is what motivated me to get in shape and begin hiking 14,000 foot mountains. I started running after this and hiking the Manitou Incline twice a week. I lost about 15 lbs and I now consider myself an elite alpinist. So, this hike was fun to complete and it reminded me how I never want to be that out if shape again. Nobody likes a fat dentist.

This is my Dad just above treeline with the final 3 miles ahead of us. The altitude was definitely affecting him and we slowed our pace for the final few miles. We took frequent breaks and stayed well fed and hydrated. We arrived at the top at 2:00 pm on the dot.

We were very fortunate to find room on the Cog train going down the mountain. We had to wait in a line and ride in separate seats but we were sure relieved to not have to hike down the way we came. I was pleasantly surprised at how well my Dad did overall. You never know how someone is going to react to that kind of physical exertion at altitude. I hope to have him down for another soon!

Notes to Self:
-buy a headlamp
-don't forget my camera
-old man strength should not be underestimated