Monday, October 06, 2008

Journey to the Peak, Part I

Most of you know that I hiked Pikes Peak three weeks ago. Here's the first installment of my journey to the top.

Last fall, I started walking/hiking with some of my friends from our kids' school. We're just a group of moms who wanted to incorporate a bit more physical exercise into our daily routine and as far as friendship goes, we all just sorta "clicked". After hiking together for a couple of months, I sorta jokingly threw the "hey let's hike Pikes Peak" idea out there. We laughed about it at first, but then got a bit more serious. I decided that was going to be my goal for 2008, got my friends to commit to it also, and shortly after New Year's, we met for dinner at 3Margaritas and worked out the details of our training plan.

That plan included LOTS of hiking. If you've read this blog for any length of time, you know I love to hike. It's great exercise and it is so enjoyable for me!

Two months ago, we set the date for our Pikes Peak ascent--September 13. It turned out to be a beautiful day!

I woke up that morning at 3:10AM. Ugh. That's the earliest I've gotten up (on purpose) in a long, long time. My friend came by to pick me up about 3:45AM. Actually, her husband was driving (thank you, Chris!) so that he could drop us off at the trailhead and we wouldn't have to find a parking place or come back for her van. We arrived at the trailhead just before 5:00AM, and Chris snapped this picture of the four of us. Notice our lovely headlamps. It was pitch black when we started, and we certainly needed them for the first hour or so of our hike.

But soon the sun started to appear. Isn't this a beautiful picture of Colorado Springs "waking up"?

The distance from the trailhead at the base to the summit of Pikes Peak is about 13 miles. It's technically something like 12.7, but I like to round up. :) The elevation gain is 7300 feet. There is one (short) flat section of the trail, but the majority of those 13 miles is uphill.

Now is a good time to mention that the day before we hiked it was rainy and
c-o-l-d in Colorado Springs. When the sun came out on the day of our hike and we caught our first glimpse of the peak, I was shocked to see SNOW. I shouldn't have been surprised given the weather conditions the day before, but honestly, I just kept thinking of our hiking day forecast--sunny and 70 degrees. Snow just wasn't in my plan for the day.

The pic below shows a natural rock arch that you pass under. Very cool!

That just looks like a dusting of snow, right??? I thought so too, but it was quite a bit more than a dusting.
The leaves on some of the aspen and other trees were starting to turn colors. I just thought this was a pretty picture...I have no idea what kind of leaves those are.

I love this photo...our elevation at this point was 9170 feet...and we borrowed some guy named John to help us spell it out with our digits.

Barr Camp is situated at the halfway point on the trail. We got to Barr Camp after several hours of hiking and stopped and ate our lunch. Technically, it was probably breakfast since it wasn't even 9AM at that point. Doesn't matter what you call was food and we were all starving!
When I opened my pack to pull out my food, I found this note from John. Sweet, huh? I love him so much!

Barr Camp is an actual camp that is run by a couple who live there year round. Barr Camp offers many different amenities for hikers--overnight accomodations (primitive), food, water, snacks, souvenirs, and most importantly--bathrooms!

Here are some fun pics of some of our gear. I need to interject here that yes, I wore my tennis shoes. I intended all summer to buy a pair of hiking shoes, and just never got myself to REI. I looked online, but knew that I needed to actually try them on...and I never did it. Laziness, I guess. About two weeks before our hike I decided to just forget it and wear my tennis shoes. I'd hiked in them all summer and was fine, and I knew I didn't have time to try to break in a new pair of shoes. And my shoes were fine...until the last two miles when we were trudging through snow and slush. I won't make that mistake again.

We all wore our hydration systems on our backs. Such a great invention!

John let me wear his watch because it has an altimeter on it. It was off a little bit because it's affected by barometric pressure, but it was a good guage and I was especially glad I had it at the very end of the was encouraging to see how close we were to our destination.

Getting closer!

Stay tuned for Part II.


Susan said...

Such a great hike. I actually overnighted at Barr Camp with a team of friends on our trek up the mountain. It was so much fun sitting around the campfire and the food was great! Cannot wait to hear how the last mileage went. Whew wee!

Susan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Moriah @ Please Pass the Salt said...

Hey, at least your shoes matched.


I love John's lunchbox note. I'm sure it made you smile.

Amber said...

Wow! SO impressed with you and it looks like so much fun! I probably would have dropped dead a few miles back!!

Looking forward to hearing about the end of the adventure!

Marc and Charity said...

This is really cool, I can't wait to hear the rest of the story!

What a sweet note in your lunchbox. :)

Gretchen said...

Lurve the "one of these things is not like the other" picture of the shoes.

So proud of you. Didn't you feel just a tiny bit invincible when you finished? I mean, mostly exhausted and exhilarated, but a tiny bit inspired for doing something else?

Great pics, as always.

Holly said...

I am SO proud of you, friend! Really...that is a very wonderful feat! and I love how John encouraged you--he's a good fellow.

Puva said...

Wow this is truly exciting! Looking forward to Part II (:

Tiffani said...

I'm so glad to finally read more about your hike! First of all, that pic of the summit from the beginning looks SO FAR AWAY!! I was like "it only takes ONE day to hike there???" Wow!! Sweet note. sweet hubby. beautiful pics.

looking forward to more!!

JJ Kimmel said...

Awesome! Thanks for posting this and letting us celebrate with you - so cool!

Plus I think it's pretty frickin sweet that you hike 14ers AND bake pies from scratch.

Jennifer said...

Wow, the pics are beautiful and you all are awesome to have done this feat! I'm looking forward to reading more of your adventure! :)

leigh said...

Oh I'm so impressed! What a beautiful area in which you live.

Megan L Hutchings said...

I am so incredibly proud of you Meredith! I especially love the picture of the sun rising...God is everywhere!

Becca~CapturingSimpleJoys said...

How amazing! The views are gorgeous and you rock for completing this!

Jacquie said...

Wow! Beautiful pictures and what an accomplishment! I would've never been able to go for the mere fact I CANNOT wake up at 3:00, unless I have insomnia.

Michele said...

Wow Meredith! I am so proud of you! What an A-M-A-Z-I-N-G accomplishment!!! How sweet of your hubby to include a note! You should have a medal or sweatshirt made up saying you hiked Pikes Peak. Congrats again!

lisa@littlesliceoflife said...

I am so proud of you! What great pics. I can't believe you left me hangin'...don't wait too long to post Part II.! I love the note John left for you. Priceless.

Jenn said...

I enjoyed this post very much. 3:10 in the morning -impressive. I am so proud of you - what an amazing feat.

I love picture of the leaves with the water droplets. What a sweet guy you have in John.

Looking forward to reading more of your adventure.

Dee Dee said...

I am so impressed! 13 miles sounds pretty far even when it's flat...I'm sure it's much farther up hill. Can't wait to read more.

Angie @ Flibbertigibberish said...

What a FUN adventure!!! I suddenly have this urge to hike. If nothing else than for the fun gear. ;)

I love the pic of CS "waking up". So great.