Monday, August 26, 2013

Pikes Peak II

You might remember that I hiked Pikes Peak with some friends about five years ago. Evidently, I didn't remember how hard it was because I planned a return trip to the summit of Pikes Peak with some friends again for this summer. We set out for the summit on Saturday and it was a fun, yet grueling experience! We took Barr Trail to the summit--a 13 mile hike with a 7000+ vertical gain. Here is my photo documentation of my second trip up 'America's mountain'.

We left at 4am to drive to the trailhead and started hiking by 4:45AM. In pitch blackness. The day before our hike, a friend told us that her friend had encountered a mountain lion on the trail right before dawn. I was determined to be brave--it's so rare to see mountain lions--but I wore my bear bell just in case!
 Headlamps make such a fashion statement, don't ya think?
 Colorado Springs from Barr Trail at sunrise. Gorgeous.
This was our first glimpse of Pikes Peak. I was super thankful to see NO snow up there. When we hiked Pikes Peak five years ago, there was a lot of snow which we didn't see until this point.
 Looks so far away still!

Barr Camp is the halfway point up Barr Trail. Most folks stop and take a break or use the bathrooms (only ones on the trail!) but you can pay to camp overnight.

It took us a couple of hours after leaving Barr Camp to get to treeline (about 12,000ft). From treeline it's about three miles to the summit.

That sign says the summit is two miles away...but after hiking 11 miles to get to that point, it still feels like a million more to go in that thin air.

Below is a cool picture of the cog train leaving the summit.
And in the picture below if you look really closely at the skyline you can see some bighorn sheep. I was putting on my hoodie and looked up to see them RUNNING across the moutain. Not up, not down, but across it. There were probably twenty of them racing across and it was the coolest thing I'd ever seen!!! We also came across a lone sheep but he's so camouflaged in my pics you can barely see him. We saw some marmots too...and definitely heard them whistling! Cool.

The sign above says '16 Golden Stairs'. So misleading. There are no stairs and there are certainly many more than 16 steps. The picture below is the altitude at that point in our hike. There is less than 400 feet  to the top but it's a grueling climb! I was so tired at that point. The altimeter app was a great tool for guaging distance to the summit. 
It was at this point in our hike that I looked up and saw John at the top of those rocks. He'd driven up to meet us and drive us all down. I lost it when I saw him. I was so tired and so emotional and I just couldn't keep it together. He's super tiny in the photo below (he's at the far end of the break between clouds right along the skyline) but he's there, cheering us on and I will forever love him for that.
Oh here, I zoomed in! 

That's me below in the purple...just a few steps away from the top!
 We made it!!!!
 I finished with my very good friend, Heather. Our friend Carrie wasn't too far behind us.
 View from the top. That's a neat view of Colorado Springs below.
 Carrie struggled with altitude and an inner ear issue. She is a champ for pressing on to the summit!

Got to see some more bighorn sheep on the way down Pikes Peak highway.

Things I want to remember about this hike:
1. This hike is HARD. It's probably the most physically challenging thing I've ever done in my life...and I've done it twice. Which makes me very proud. And makes me never want to do it again! LOL.
2. We left at 4:45AM and summited at 1:30PM with many, many stops along the way.
3. Most 14er trailheads are around 11,000ft. By the time we got to that point, we had already been hiking for nine miles. I think that's what makes Pike Peak so challenging. By the time you get to treeline you're exhausted and have the hardest three miles to go.
4. This is really random but the dates of my Pikes Peak summits are 9/13/08 and 8/24/13--both of those dates are one day after each of my siblings' birthdays. I realized that while hiking up this last time and it's pretty strange it worked out that way.

I bought this magnet in Telluride this summer and it makes me so happy when I see it on my fridge! I have one more 14er to tackle this fall before I decide which ones to add to my list for next summer. 14ers are my new addiction!


Sarah said...

woo! That's a big deal!

Elizabeth said...

absolutely amazing!

Deidre said...

Wow, Meredith, that's awesome!! I'm so proud of you.