| Pikes Peak; Manitou to Divide
About 27 miles (depending on which source).
Actual Hiking Time:
Barr TH to Summit: 6 hrs, 55 minutes (13 miles, 7,500 feet)
Summit to Craggs TH: 2 hr 50 min. (6.5 miles, 4,300 feet)
Craggs TH to Divide, McGinty’s: 2 hrs, 10 min. (7 miles, 1,000 feet)
Pikes Peak from my yard the morning I left.
Preface: I figured after living by this mountain for 9 years it was time to climb it. I was planning this trip earlier this year while sitting at the office. But as time went by and other plans came and went, I put this trip on hold. It was supposed to be three days. Day 1: Manitou to the A-Frame. Day 2: A-Frame, Summit, the Craggs. Day 3: The Craggs to Divide and home. I missed my chance earlier this summer/fall so I cut it down to two days and watched the weather for a chance to go. The new goal: Manitou to Divide via Pikes Peak.
Tuesday, Oct. 4
Dropped off my car at the Craggs TH, in case I was in bad shape or had bad weather and didn’t want to walk to Divide. Stashed some fresh clothes, snacks and Gatorade in a cooler.
Wednesday, Oct. 5, (9 miles) Beautiful weather.
Pikes from Woodland Park
8:15 a.m. I grabbed a ride with my neighbor into Woodland Park. Then took the Ute Pass Express (9 a.m.ish) down to Manitou Springs, this is the last month for the express to run. The driver was like a real creepy Matt Frewer.
The Ute Pass Express Bus, my ride down the pass.
Then I rode a Metro bus to downtown Manitou, just shy of Ruxton Ave. Walked from the round-about to the Barr Trail trailhead, maybe half to one mile. Gave $10 to some dude living in his van with a couple dogs.
Watched a bunch of school kids get ready to load a Cog train. Checked out the bathroom at the TH and wished that I didn't. It was three-day fraternity kegger bad.
Left the trailhead about 10:10 a.m., which is now a pay-to-park, credit cards only.
Barr Trail sign
Once I passed the top of the Incline I only saw five people, three coming down and two going up to Barr Camp.
Pikes from Barr Trail
Barr Trail Sign at 9,800 feet
1:25 p.m. Reached Barr Camp in just over three hours and met Meredith and Laura, the part-time caretakers. Neil was discussing a painting job with them before he headed down. I know it's old, but it looks to be in rough shape, most of the Summit Huts I've been to are in better shape. But I would stay there. Ate lunch, bought a Gatorade and headed out about 2:50 p.m.
4:25 p.m. Reached the A-Frame.
Just three more switchbacks after this tree to the A-Frame
What a great set up! I’d go back just to camp there. There is a small creek that runs just a few steps from the structure for water. The A-Frame faces directly East, so the winds coming off the mountain don’t get inside. But the sunrise sure does. There were two thin mattresses (better than a camping pad), four sleeping bags, a towel, a sheet, some tools and boy scout cook set. Fire wood is scarce in the surrounding area. But in the warmer months, the twinkling lights in the Springs make up for it.
At the A-Frame, doing my best Les Stroud tripod shot.
Cooked dinner about 6:30 and watched Colorado Springs lighten up as the sun set.
Great view of Colorado Springs from the A-Frame
Thursday, Oct. 6 (17 miles)
7 a.m. sunrise. (Beautiful pink sky before that.) Finally got out of my bag, it was a little chilly before the sun started to heat things up. Got up, cooked breakfast, packed up. I didn’t get much sleep because of all the winds and gusts coming off the mountain.
8:30 a.m. left for the summit.
9:10 a.m., 12,700 foot sign (The A-Frame is just about 11,500) The winds kept up during the hike to the summit. I fell over once, but that prepared me for the harder gusts as I made my way up. Some one said the gust were up to 50 mph.
At 12,700, notice how clear it looks that direction.
Trail heads into the clouds and snow
9:50 a.m., Cirque sign. Was just below the clouds at this point.
Even with the clouds.
10:15 a.m. 16 Golden Step sign… there are a lot more than 16 steps before you reach the top. Shortly after I passed the sign, I could smell the greasy cooking coming from the Summit House. Then I heard the Cog train.
Almost to the top, notice the ice on the sign.
10:35 a.m. Summit House and two Cog trains full of school kids.
Train full of kids. Photo is not blurry, just poor visibilityMass chaos inside. They pretty much wiped out the food. I did get a nasty cheeseburger and a Gatorade.
Visibility was only 50 to 100 feet and the winds kept blowing. Once the kids, teachers and parents got back on the train, no one was left inside. I was the only customer.
11:25 a.m. Left the Summit House and grabbed a self portrait at the sign.
Another Les Stroud shot, no one was left on the peak but staff.
I saw two other hikers leave a few minutes before. I thought I would try to catch them because I was unsure of the trail down until it reached Little Pikes. But I couldn’t see them or the trail. I followed the road, there were no cars in the parking lot, so I wasn’t scared of getting hit by a tourist. I was a bit concerned about frostbite because of the temperature and the high winds, so I bundled up a bit.
The road down
Frozen Tourist signs, no wonder no one was on the mountain
Same spot facing Northeast, and lower elevations
Same spot facing northwest, big difference
Cool ice on a rock, the wind blow the ice in straight line.
I saw a glimpse of the two hikers and increased my pace. I caught up with them just before the Devil’s Playground, which we reached at 12:35 p.m. We stopped next to the rocks to get out of the wind and talked for a bit.
Looking down the valley towards the Craggs Trail/TH
1:15 p.m. I reached treeline. It started snowing a bit, not much and nothing was sticking.
About 2.5 miles to go to Divide
2:13 p.m. I reached the trailhead. I went through the campground just to see how much time it took, it is about 5 minutes faster than taking the new trail.
When I got to the car, it started to sleet. I wasn’t sure if wanted to walk the next leg of the journey to Divide in sleet. It only lasted a few minutes. I washed my pits, changed shirts and regrouped. Left my backpack in the car and grabbed my daypack.
2:40 p.m. Left my car at the trailhead and started walking.
3:32 p.m. Reached the highway, 4 miles to go. It went fine until the last mile, wind and sideways sleet. Two people stopped to offer me a ride, said thanks, but no, I just couldn’t do it, I was so close.
Divide and McGinty's in the shopping center.
4:47 p.m. Reached Divide and McGinty’s. Had a Guiness and the Bubble & Spuds.
Guiness and Bubble & Spuds, kind of an Irish take on nachos
My wife came and picked me up and drove me back to the Craggs to get my car, which had about 2 inches of snow/sleet on it.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):