| Unicycling Pike Peak or Bust!
Unicycling Pike Peak or Bust!
Pikes Peak via the Barr Trail.
24 August 2008
Planned start time: 5:00 a.m.
ACTUAL start time: 7:45 a.m.
Summit: 7 hours.
End Time: 7:30 p.m.
Items purposely left behind (and why):
rain pants (leg guards are warm enough.)
water filter (I would buy fluids/food at Barr Camp and the summit house.)
map and route guide (Come on, the Barr tail is all but paved.)
various tools for the unicycle. (save weight and I haven't really needed them on trail in years)
Items I forgot to bring (and why I need it):
riding shorts (for comfort)
14ers riding jersey (It makes me 50% more sexy)
fit-over sunglasses (sun protection)
wide brimmed hat (the sun)
hankershief (to keep sun off neck)
ring-spreading pliers (don't ask)
riding gloves (later found in bottom or pack, used for downhill only)
$$ (for food and drink at Barr Camp and the summit house)
emergency bivy-blanket (just in case the sh!t hits the fan)
So there I am at the Barr trail parking lot. I'm still a little tired from yesterday's eight-mile hike outside of Walsenburg. I decide that yes, 7:45 a.m. is indeed a stupid-late start for a 25 mile day. But what're ya gonna do; not hike? I decide that maybe, just maybe I can shave off some time by getting a jump on the elevation gain by heading up the incline. This may or may not have saved time, but it's sure making my quads tired! I approach the ½ way bail-out. Should I use it? I'll rest and then decide. After the rest stop I continue up the incline. 55 minutes after I left the car I find myself on top. Not a fast time, but decent considering I am carrying my mountain unicycle and a fairly heavy pack, (riding gear, bike helmet, food, water, etc…)
Break time, then I continue up the hill to the uphill connection trail toward the Barr trail.
Before I reach the Barr trail, I sight a smaller single track headed up to the right. I take it, it either comes to an end, or I just loose it, so after bush-whacking down, I find a single track that is paralleling above the Barr trail. It's ride able and leads to a really neat rock shelter.
There is even a large pile of firewood stacked below. Good to know if I'm ever in the area during a bad-bad storm. A short time later the trail meets the Barr Trail at the small clearing around mile 3.5 or so. After a ½ mile or so the trail levels out enough to get some good riding in. I am on and off the wheel (mostly on) when I roll into Barr Camp. There is a large group or mountain bikers as I roll over the bridge. Not sure what they were discussing but I heard "Oh damn! This guy just showed you up dude!"
Break time. I discover that I've used 2 of my 3 liters of water. I guess I'm thirsty today. It's five dollars to rent a filter. Then I realize I left my money in the car. Neal let me use it anyway. (Thank-you!) I plan to return sometime and make it up to the camp. The next 1-½ miles is on and off riding/hiking.
I continue until I arrive at the A-frame.
Break time. It's about 12:45 pm. The clouds are starting to build. So close. Hmmmmm. Four of us. One solo guy bails. A couple has a car ride organized at the top. 3 miles up, or 10 miles back down… The guys goes for it expecting to turn around at some point and follow her down soon as she heads back. I decide to forge upward. About 30 seconds later I come to the 11, 500 elevation sign. I note that the last ½ mile of terrain was mostly un-ride able (for me), especially knowing how tired I'll be when coming down. I decide to attempt the summit without being encumbered with the unicycle's weight slowing me down. I can at least get the "checkmark". Yep. Summit fever. About one or two hundred yards I'm out of the trees and the terrain becomes VERY downhill ride able. Oh well. If I ever come back to ride this trail again, I'll catch a ride to the summit and just do the downhill… For now I just want to get to the top and get back down. As I am hiking I know that I am one of THOSE hikers. Yeah, hikers that keep heading up the mountain when there is dark clouds and thunder in the air. But the thunder is over there, not right here, right? Seriously, the rumbles are somewhat beyond, and the wind keeping the clouds to the South. No visible lightning. I'm watching the sky constantly. At one point the peak is obscured, I am noting good bailout options along the way, but the clouds are dissipating. By the time I start crossing the big gully, the ceiling has risen some and the thunder lessened. As I start the 16 golden stairs, the thunder is mostly gone and I know I'm home free. I get to the top at about 2:45 p.m. Seven hours from trailhead to summit. Pretty good considering the extra gear and long breaks I enjoyed.
I walk to the high point mound of rocks, go inside to warm-up and sit. I talk to a few people who I met hiking up. I am the ONLY one hiking back down. Everyone else has secured car ride descents. After signing the summit log, I leave the mountain.
Nothing noteworthy on the hike down other than it goes rather quickly. I retrieve the unicycle at 11,500 feet and I'm able to ride a bit right off the bat. But it's slow going on and off the wheel, the day is getting later and I have to keep moving. Eventually I am able to spend more time on the wheel than off. About ½ way between the A-frame and Barr camp I am able to ride everything.
Change some clothing layers, and it's time to ride. Nice fast trail with lots of rocks to jump off. One of the best parts of the trail by far. Due to later hour of the day, I didn't pass a single person on the trail from the summit all the way to Barr Camp. Every single person who I has seen hiking up to the summit caught a car ride down.
After a break at Barr Camp it was time to ride. I passed four people headed to camp at Barr Camp at various points on the trail over the next mile. This section is really smooth flat/sloped trail. No real challenges. Then after the trail reached the top of the incline connector trail the good fun kicks in. I have ridden this section plenty of times and knew I was home free with plenty of daylight left. I was able to ride every inch. Okay, I did have a few UPDs, (Un-Planned Dismount), but never a bad fall. My water runs out about 2 miles from the trailhead. Time for a break. I finish every bit of food I had left and pop out the reserve fluid: 20oz. Bottle of Gatorade, drinking ¼ the bottle. I was surprised at the high number of trail runners spewing off the incline. (Someone should tell them that hiking incline is trespassing, much like the Decalibron. ;)
I finally roll down the finally few switchbacks, hop down the staircase into the parking lot and let the wheel fall to the ground at my car at 7:30 p.m; 11 hours-45 minutes after I had started; 1-½ hours after I left Barr camp.
A great day on all accounts:
A successful summit round trip.
I rode most of the trail from around 11,000 feet down to the trailhead at 7,000 feet.
I estimate that I rode about 8 miles on the descent, and 2-3 on the way up.
But…… next time I will accept a car ride to the top and just enjoy the descent. 24+ miles in one day is a butt-kicker!
***Trip report on unicycling down Mt. Elbert can be see here: http://www.14ers.com/php14ers/tripreport.php?trip=5000&start=75&cpgm=tripmain
The view of Pikes Peak from my house tonight. (It's on the left)
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):