I blame my oldest son. A couple of years ago, while attending his wedding in Colorado Springs, Colorado, I was enchanted by the amazing views of Pikes Peak. The mountain was incredible to watch in the morning sunrise. To my surprise and joy I learned there were hiking trails which lead to the summit. As an avid hiker, I thought this sounded great. My three children (and their dear spouses) all were very supportive and offered to go on this adventure with me as well. Originally I wanted to make the hike in 2016. I was researching online, monitoring the weather at the peak. For motivation, I even had a large picture hanging in my office of the East side approach trail. However as life would have it, a number of now seemingly minor things intervened and I back-burner-ed the idea as the fall approached. Anyway we had been batting this trip around for a while so my New Year’s resolution was to nail it down and dedicate to making the trip and hiking the mountain.
Looking back, the delay actually worked out for the better. By watching the weather for a year, I was able to pick the best weather window for the trip. The picture with this post is from April 2015 and the entire top of the mountain to covered in ice and snow. So after much team discussion I have set a trek window set for the first week of August 2017 to hike this 14,115 foot tall iconic mountain. The delay also allowed me to figure out there was an alternative route to the peak. Originally I had looked at taking the Barr Trail to the peak and riding the Cog Railway down. This 12 mile climb from 6000 feet might have been a bit much for us lowland folks. Again after much discussion I am planning the trek to start from West side at the Crag’s, come up through the Devil’s Playground, and on to the peak. We will overnight at Mueller State Park (about 10,000 feet) and then start hiking first thing in the morning. This will help both with altitude acclimation and give us the maximum amount of time to reach the peak in time to catch the rail down.
Besides the logistics of getting six people from two coasts to the top of a mountain, one of our major challenges is we all live at sea level. My daughter and her husband are stationed on the West coast in San Diego California, and my sons and daughter in-law and I live in the Charleston South Carolina area on the East coast. The air is very thin and breathing difficult at 14,000 feet and because we are all sea-level dwellers, we will need to spend some time at the Colorado Springs 6,000-8,000 foot elevation to help acclimate before we attempted the climb to over 14,000 feet. I plan to spend a couple days training on local hikes in and around Colorado Springs to acclimate to the elevation and finish physical preparations for the attempt to summit Pikes Peak.
Sometimes the first of something always seems the hardest. I think because of all the perceived unknowns prior doing the first. Sure someone can tell you how to bake a cake or climb a mountain, but until you do the first one it’s only an idea. The more you do, the easier it gets. And there are always mountains.