Peak(s):  Pikes Peak  -  14,110 feet
Date Posted:  08/05/2012
Date Climbed:   08/05/2012
Author:  docfrance

 Night Hike Across Pikes  

We did a night hike under a full moon last year of Quandary and liked it so much that we decided to try another. So, this ear, five of us drove to the Crags Campground and Trailhead in Teller County and starting our climb of Pikes Peak under perfectly clear and starry skies at 0210, hoping to summit near sunrise.Image
Obviously, we didn't take too many pictures in the night, but I'll comment on the trip by saying that we had no trouble at all finding the trail in the dark as to of us had done it before from this direction during the daylight and other trip reports on this route are also helpful.

we made fairly good time and the trail was in very good condition for the entire route, We cleared the trees within about 9 minutes or so. At this point, we only needed he headlamps to keep track of each other since the nearly full moon was over our shoulder to the west and quite bright. Winds stayed calm until we completed the switchbacks in the trees and made our way up the grassy hillside towards the flats, meadow area, and Devil's Playground. We had occasional breezes that kept things cool during this time and when w crested the saddle and walked along the wider gravel trail/road through the granite formations we added back the layer that we'd take off earlier.

I also stopped at this point and, using rocks and sand as tripods, took a few long exposure shots of the ridgeline, stars and planets--Jupiter and Venus were putting on quite a show ahead of the rising sun, an we got a very clear view of Orion's belt rising, too.ImageImageImageImage
Two of our hikers lagged behind and we made a mutual decision that the three of us i the lead would push on to the summit and probably head down the other side towards Manitou on the Barr Trail. They would both stay together and climb as high as they felt comfortable before turning around and returning to their Jeep. We would call for rides on our descent since we ere all from the Springs.

The light continued to increase and we were treated to a nice sunrise as we passed the Cirque, walked a little along the newly paved highway and then headed towards the final ascent up the Pikes Peak boulder field on its north face.ImageImageImageImage
The trail had been easy to follow until the boulder field and from that point we saw several cairns that seemed to be conflicting--or lead to different trails. But really there's no way to go wrong here--just keep climbing up the boulders taking whatever path works best until you reach the summit. We arrived at the Summit House at 0617 and spent about 30 minutes relaxing, making a couple of phone calls, and refreshing ourselves with drinks and snacks. The wind was fairly light, but the temps were in the low 30s with little pieces of ice covering some puddles.Image
We started down at 0640 and still had not seen another person or car on our trip--it was wonderful. We finally crossed paths with other "full moon hikers" at about 0730. hey'd started from the Barr Trailhead at 0030 and were still about an hour or more from their summit. On the east side of the summit, winds were negligible and the skies still clear blue. We made good time going down--for me it as my first descent on the Barr Trail having done the Ascent Race four times in the past. Today's decent convinced me that I'd made the right decision by never doing the marathon.

Not much else to report on the way down except for the throngs and throngs of people training for Pikes Peak and getting their hikes in before school starts. We passed a coupe of friends and then ran into a group of cadets from the Air Force Track Team that were resting for a little while at Barr Camp on their way to the summit where they had a ride waiting.ImageImageImageImageImageImage
In all, we covered 18.6 miles and were totally exhausted when we made it to the Barr Trail Parking Area at 1120. Still, it was a fun hike and something I'd highly recommend if you can manage the logistics.

My GPS Tracks on Google Maps (made from a .GPX file upload):

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

Night shots
08/05/2012 23:05
Cool night photos.. Congrats on the summit

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