| Pikes from Crags, no car for me!
I had wanted to wait to complete this peak as my finisher, but with my peak list dwindling and not much motivation for driving this weekend, I decided that I would get Pikes. I was a little disappointed as I had envisioned myself hiking up this mountain with my wife and with six more peaks under my belt. But with a lack of funds my plan of completing my goal this year won't happen. Whew! With that stress off of my back I can enjoy the rest of my summer hiking season!
I had left my house in Broomfield at midnight with a planned early summit bid as to avoid the crowds on the summit. I hit the TH at 2am, and thought that the signage was a little lacking, but as Bill described on the route pages they are still building fences and putting up signs. There were some warning flags that were going off in my head, but I wanted to hurry, so I went. I did notice a sign on the trail which directed me to the Ring The Peak trail, which is what I would be doing right? It had been 45 minutes, and still no fork in the trail, and no ground pipes to be seen. I was on the wrong trail! So I went back, looked at the signs more closely and realized I was hiking up Raspberry hill (I guess that's what happens when you don't sleep). Oops, so I went back to the car and continued driving about another 1/4 of a mile up the road and saw the actual TH. It was so obvious I started laughing. So much for a quick start!
An hour and a half later I was standing on the saddle at 12,750 feet. I was surprised at how far away the summit was, but at least the trail moderates dramatically after gaining the saddle.
Little Pikes as viewed from near the saddle entrance
The three miles from the saddle were very pleasant, but my attempted speedy summit bid has taken quite a bit more energy than I had planned. So to help I thought I would slow down and attempt to mess around with my new camera.
I need a tripod!
I welcomed the sun, it was warm and inviting. It also helped wake me up. It was a strange feeling to be so tired that I actually started to doze while hiking; good thing this is not a technical climb!
It felt quite peculiar hiking right next to a road, but at least there were no cars on it yet. This mountain is quite spectacular, and contradictory at the same time. With all it's beauty and unique rock formations, the reminder of our ever increasing encroachment on nature is constant.
Pikes Peak massif
Taken after crossing the road at Devils Playground
Looking back towards Devils Playground, Little Pikes in alpenglow
Shortly after the above picture was taken, I gradually descended to the road. I didn't see any other options to avoid the road, other than to hike on the shoulder, drop down below the road and climb back up. Nope, I took the lazy way and used the road to my advantage.
After using the shoulder to put you back on the obvious trail there is an easy little hill to ascend.
Pikes peaking above a small obstacle
Looking back down from the top of my short ascent
Once you surmount this little obstacle, Pikes Peak presents herself in all her glory. I also realized that the final summit push wouldn't be as difficult as once thought.
I'm so close!
I can't remember a peak where I was above tree line for such an extended period of time, I was having a blast!
Looking back from before the final road crossing
I banked around a large hill and again dropped slightly toward the road. I didn't realize I would parallel the road for so long. I saw the cairns below the road, but the road proved to be the easiest way again. I stayed on the shoulder for about a hundred yards or so until it banked up to it's final summit run.
Taken before the final summit pitch
I had read in previous TR's that to finish this final push you pretty much just pick your own line, but I arrived at another option. There is a beautiful trail that switches back all the way up the massif. It is easy to follow with large cairns and well built steps, and it is extremely gradual. On the way down I ran into the "Friends of Pikes" who were in the final cleanup stage of the trail construction
On the final pitch, below a small ridge
The trail weaves it's way around the final stretch of the summit road, and eventually drops you off behind the large weather station or whatever it is. I saw the building was owned by the military.
Although I had been up here many times by car, I was still struck by the size of this summit, it reminded me of Longs Peak. I sat down behind a rock and ate for the first time, and watched the droves of people start to arrive. There was a vanload of people, accompanied by an equal amount of bikes that arrived just before I did, I did something like that a few years back, it was a blast!
Looking back from the summit I knew I had a long way down, and the flow of people had just increased exponentially so I knew it was time to go.
Looking back towards the saddle entry three miles away (lower point on the saddle)
My 1st attempt at a flowing river shot
I was supposed to hike this mountain last, and to be honest I am glad I didn't. This mountain is full of contradictions, but they don't detract from its beauty to be sure. However, it was a little anti-climatic as I have been here many times before. This hike started out rough, and was definitely not a "gimmie" but ended quite nicely. I was a zombie on the drive home, made worse by the I-25 closure at Tomah Rd which added an hour to my short drive. I don't have much more time this summer to hike so I will definitely relish my last few 14ers of this summer, and Pikes was no exception.
Thank you for reading!
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):