I'm finally getting around to writing my first TR...So I got this itch, a need to get back outside and do something cool, like climb a mountain. I decided to go for Pike’s Peak since I could visit family in the Springs and take a few days to hike in the mountains. This would be my first 14er and I knew not to underestimate the hike, especially since I’m a flatlander from Illinois and I hadn’t been training much for it. Not to mention the exceptional vertical gain and long distance from TH to summit. After some concerned looks from my wife, I had my flight booked and was set to fly to Denver in mid October. So now I’ll skip to the hike, which began at the top of Ruxton Avenue, where, at my family’s suggestion, I started – to avoid the steep switchbacks at the start of the official TH. My plan was to make it to Barr camp where I could rest and contemplate how out of shape I was, summit the next day and return to camp, rest some more and hike out the 3rd day. It was October 13th 2011. There had been a snow or two in the preceding weeks, so I didn't know what to expect. I wasn't packing any traction.
Just getting started...looking back down at Manitou Springs
An early view of the mountain - you can see the summit house!
Another view below Barr camp
By the time I reached Barr camp, my legs were jelly and I was happy to plop down on the couch. The winter caretakers, Meri and Laura, were really cool and provided a lot of much-needed encouragement and pancakes.
I started out from camp at about 7:30 and made pretty good time to the A-frame, where I stopped to inspect the structure and have a snack. It was overcast, but I could see to the west that clear blue was slowly filling the sky overhead.
More snow remained on the trail nearing the A frame
The clouds made for a kinda gloomy view to the east
Looking up from the A frame; there's that sweet blue sky
Postholing...some drifts were 3 or 4 feet deep.
Slow going up there
Switchbacks above the cirque
That Pikes peak pepsi was great after running out of water near the top
Not long after leaving treeline, my legs started yelping but I pushed on, taking it slow and resting as much as I needed to. Pathfinding became a challenge above treeline as well, since the snow covered the trail in many places, and as I began to follow footprints I occasionally noticed I had left the trail and followed someone who had cut a switchback. I made the summit around 1PM. Pretty slow, but I guess not bad for a 38 year old outta shape flatlander. I’m not too ashamed to add that I caught the cog railway back to Mountain view, cutting about 5 miles off the return trip to Barr camp. . I was beat and just wanted to get back there and rest. Back at camp I basked in the praise that Meri and Laura heaped upon me, and the smile of satisfaction on my face as I sank into the couch was enough to inspire Laura to summit the very next day. So I chilled again with the girls, and chatted with a few other hikers passing through until it was time to crash.
The hike back down from Barr camp was pretty uneventful, but one thing I noticed more than on my way up was the absolutely brilliant yellow of the Aspen trees. So I paused many times to soak in the warm sun and take a lot of pictures of trees. When I finally reached the TH, I could barely walk, but it was so worth every bit of pain that I would do it again today of I lived in Colorado
Blam! trees on the way back down
More trees on the hike back down