One thing I did differently than most people you will notice, is I took my time, taking three days from base, to summit, back to base. I climbed pikes very gradually, using a multi day process.
No the snow is not bad once you get to mid july. In june there's lots though. The whole saddle will be covered with up to 2-3 inches of snow at parts. If you want to climb in 1 day (Which is what most people do) start at 3:30 a.m. Im serious. You're bound to spend an hour at the top and spend 6-7 1/2 hours hiking. I did not do this though. Instead I reached the crags trailhead at 8:30 a.m.
From there I broke off the crags trail at the first alternative trail, and went up. It was not very steep terrain, and it was well marked. It was in a beautiful forest, in a magnificent place. This was the easy part of my trek to devils playground. Soon after came a 1/4 mile that was really steep, and just above treeline. The trail was still obvious, just almost straight up. I soon got to the top of this ridge, and walked on flat ground for a bit, and took a break. I looked down at the valley I would be camping in. It was beautiful. I soon began to walk down the hill into the valley.
I reached devils playground at around 1:30 p.m. I went down to a creek below, and set up my tent in that area. The creek provided good water, and I had to use some iodine tablets. I hate them because I really notice the taste. Not everyone does though. Some people wouldn't even know its there. (In case your wondering it tastes like a pill when you don‘t swallow it fast enough. I did take a 1 hour lunch stop, about 2 1/2 miles into the second trail. There were lots of excellent lunch stops I found. You couldn't go wrong on that trail with any place to sit down and eat. I camped in a valley below devils playground (yes above treeline) near the creek I mentioned creek called beaver creek. I camped there for the night.
I woke up at 4 am the next morning. I hiked back up to the trail. I reached one point where I suddenly realized why hiking is better than driving on pikes. There was a magnificent view of co springs, as it woke up at 5:00 am, with lights turning on and above that I saw a purple light, and white light shooting out of the clouds. In a car you would be likely to miss this. If your a hiker, you couldn't possibly miss it. It was incredible. I am so sorry I don't have a picture. If I did I would definetely upload it. Next year I hope to add pictures on my reports, but this year I had no camera.
About 45 minutes after that I summited. The summit actually looks like a false peak, but it isn't. When I got to the beggining of the summit push I thought NO I have to climb THAT false peak? But it's not false, and it wasn't as bad as I thought. This part is only about a 15 minute portion, but is difficult rocky terrain, and it would be nearly impossible to stay on the trail without those rockpile things. It was fun, though, kind of like rock scrambling, and I really enjoyed it.
The summit didn't really feel like a summit, with all the stuff (gift shop, train tracks etc.) but I knew it was and I was so happy. No one else up there had hiked. I almost felt superior to everyone. (Not saying I think i‘m better than everyone.) There were incredible views. I spent 3 hours up there, and had one of the donuts. (I'm not a fan of the gift shop, don't worry, but i was hungry.) I walked around, and took in the views. It was amazing. It was no thanks to the man made things, but I forgot those. There's no higher peaks for miles. I felt great.
Soon I went down, returned to my campsite and slept. The next I went back to the crags, the same way i came, and then back to camp.