| Pikes Peak, the Short, Short Version
So if Barr Trail is the long version and the Crags route is a shorter version, I figured that starting out at Devil's Playground must be the short, short version. Nonetheless, this was my wife's first time hiking above 10,700' so we wanted to see how things went with high-altitude hiking. Incidentally, this was also only my second time hiking above the aforementioned altitude, as I did Pikes Peak from the Crags TH last summer.
Our day began as we made it to the beginning of the Pikes Peak Highway at 7:05 AM, 5 minutes after they opened the road, and waiting in line to get in. We arrived at Devil's Playground around 7:50 AM after I missed it the first time. Our hike began near 8:00 AM under almost cloudless skies, a light to moderately brisk wind blowing at us and temps in the 40's.
Here is a look back at the first ridge you cross after crossing the road at Devil's Playground and hiking South towards Pikes. On the Devil's Playground side of the ridge is an icy snow field that requires some care with crossing. On this side it is patchy snow with mud and trickling water.
Here is a look at Little Pikes Peak (Point 13,363'). The route around the East side of this is where we encountered the deepest snow on the trip. We post-holed several times here, up to our waist at times.
We made it across the snow field; can you find our tracks?
After rounding Little Pikes Peak, Pikes Peak comes into view and reminds you of the daunting task still ahead. Approximately 1 mile and 700' vertical remain. Without snow, route finding is fairly easy here. Today, we chose to follow other footprints and occasionally make our own route, still closely following the cairns.
The goal is in sight; can you see the people and the house?
We found a marmot sunning on the rocks.
My wife said the marmot was this big.
11:15 and we are on top of Pikes Peak, only to find more vehicles than I have ever seen. Apparently, there was an antique diesel rig meeting on top of Pikes Peak, and it sure smelled like it! After 30 somewhat refreshing minutes in the restaurant, we headed down.
A look back up at the top and where we had just left.
Amber navigating the talus below Pikes Peak.
Amber still navigating the talus.
Amber patiently waiting between two cairns.
I said there were a lot of vehicles on top; here are a few of the trucks from the meeting.
We made it past Little Pikes Peak again! Whew! Again, our tracks are seen here.
Pikes Peak Highway, Little Pikes Peak, and Devil's Playground in the distant with the ridge coming over from the Crags TH. Still see plenty of snow on the Western side of the mountain.
Back to the car around 1:30 PM, off the road around 2:30 PM, opened a cold, refreshing homebrew at 3:15 PM.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):