| 3 Peaks, 3 weeks
The Pikes Peak races were this past weekend and when I moved out here last year, I thought this was a good idea and challenge (I did not think this on Saturday). I've run plenty of races before and like trying different race types, so I signed up. My training schedule was pretty weak, so I thought I'd do a few other 14ers on the weekends leading up to the race. These won't be great trip reports but thought I could at least provide trail updates.
After looking at the different options, here's how my last 3 weekends played out.
(Sorry for pictures but camera broke on Ellingwood Point a month ago and I'm just using my phone for now)
August 4th, 2012
Mt Evan from Echo Lake via Chicago Creek - one way 8 miles, 5600' elevation gain
Since my only focus really was on the ascent and doing it as fast as I could, I had the GF meet me up top as to avoid the awful down hike and pain on the knees. If you haven't done one of these high mountain drives before, be prepared for a slow trip with lots of sharp turns. Echo Lake is just before the entrance (pay) shack and looks like a great place to camp. The trail is simple to follow behind the lake and the first 2 miles is very easy. Just like the route description says, there is a noticeable decent down into Chicago Creek at the beginning.
Looking North from the trees
First look at Mt Evans from the trees
Coming out of the forest
The trail going up/around the lower Chicago Lake gets very narrow at times and was a little wet 3 weeks ago. It truly feels like a creek trail at times, where you are walking in standing water or rock hopping between tight shrub bushes.
The hike is fairly easy up to this point. A look at the lower Chicago Lake
There's a short steep hike up to the upper Chicago Lake. There were a lot of people camping around the Chicago Lakes and it looked amazing. I'll absolutely be back for that. Looking back down the valley.
After you move across the front of the upper Chicago Lake, you have what I think is the most difficult part of the hike. It's a nice steep climb up to Summit Lake and to get up to that ridge. From there, I took the normal trail up over Spalding to the top.
Proverbial Evans goat shot - there were a ton of them up there on that day
Made it to Summit Lake in just over 2 hrs and to the top in 3:24
August 12th, 2012
Mt Elbert via Northeast Ridge - RT 9 miles, 4700' elevation gain
Same concept here, only focusing on ascent but since no road to top of this one, hiking back down slowly.
TH is easy to get to but road has the normal few rough spots. Parking lot is big but will fill up. My guess is that on a weekend, it's full by 8:30. Since this is the highest peak in CO and it's an easier one, this is a very popular summit. Don't expect alone time on the hike.
Easy trail to follow, pretty much all the trees are clear and it's a nice hike through the forest. You do get on the Colorado Trail for a little while until you see the clear Mt Elbert trail marker. The trail starts off with some steep switch backs, then levels out when ending the merged trail with the CT and jumping back on the Elbert trail. You pay for this nice flat walk through the woods with some very nice steep climbing getting through the remaining trees. Probably over a mile worth of steep up to make up some elevation.
Look up at summit
Twin Lakes to the south
The only part of the trail where it's a little tricky to follow is between 13,400 and 13,900, stay right like the route description says. You can see trails heading straight up but I don't think that's the way to go. Also note that once you get out of the trees and start heading up, you won't see the summit and may think that you're looking at it but are eying the top of the 13,900 peak.
It's steep from 13,900 summit to the top but not a problem because you're almost there.
Summit time of 2:18, took a while up top chatting and then the slow climb down to meet the GF who made it just above tree line on this trip. For those that don't know, traffic coming back to Denver on summer Sunday's is horrible....70 or 285, you've been warned.
August 18th, 2012
Finally Race Day - Pikes Peak Ascent - one way 13.32 miles, 7815' elevation gain
Not much to say on this one but it was a tough day. Because we covered so much elevation over such a long hike, it never really feels that steep....at least to me. Just going 13 miles was the toughest part and staying in a single file line a lot of the hike. A lot of the trail is fairly narrow, single track mostly with a few places of double track, but not a lot of wide paths. This was an incredibly well managed race considering the location, so thanks to all the volunteers and other people that put this together and worked up there.
This peak does give you the unique view of looking over both city and mountains. Only got a couple pictures on this as I was sucking wind most of the time and not wanting to stop. There was a cutoff of 6:30 which I really wasn't sure I would hit, so I was very happy to cross the line in 5:07 for my first time doing this race. Amazingly people do the ascent in under 3 hrs and then some actually do a marathon running back down. Congrats to anyone who did any of these over the weekend.
I got really lucky with weather on all 3 days. Very dry, lots of sun, and very little wind to speak off.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):