Pike's Peak or Bust

Trip Start May 11, 2012
Trip End Jun 08, 2012

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Flag of United States  , Colorado
Thursday, May 17, 2012

5/17/12 – Ha, ha. Steve got carded last night at Buffalo Wild Wings. I told the waitress that we have kids a lot older than she and truth is, we are old enough to have grandchildren her age.  It must have put rock a in his shoe, because this morning he is sniiippeeeey.

Today was the high point of the trip for me…pun intended. Pike’s Peak or bust. We got to the gatehouse at 9 AM, when they open. There were others ahead of us and, thanks to a very talkative park ranger, our line went very slowly, but eventually we got inside and started  the ride up to the top. We began at about 6,000 ft. elevation and the peak is at 14,110 ft., and 19 miles of driving up, up, up. At first the road snaked through wooded areas with stops for hikers to pick up the trail, a picnic area and even a gift shop…just in case you don’t make it to the top, I guess. The higher we got, the more we could see, and the view was incredible. The driving was slow and it took about an hour to make it to the top.

 Early on, we stopped at the reservoir, a dam that creates a large pool of water that is the water supply for Colorado Springs and the surrounding areas. It was a beautiful sight, couched by a backdrop of the mountains. A few people were fishing and we spoke to a man with a dog who had
just caught half a dozen trout.

A winding road, sometimes cut through the mountain side, exposing rusty red rock, took us above the tree line and hairpin turn after hairpin turn landed us at the top, up with the clouds. There was still snow on  the ground in places. Beamer was not interested in getting familiar with that stuff. He wanted to be back in the car.

When we had departed at the bottom, the temperature was 66 degrees. By the time we reached the top, it was 36 degrees. We had been told that there would be a 30 degree difference. And while we were up there, it dropped to 30 degrees. With a stiff wind, the chill had to be in the teens. But the view was worth it. It was the kind of thing you only see a few times in a lifetime. 

After taking some photos, we began our decent. And if the view going up was great, the view going down was absolutely fabulous. We stopped a few times to take photos. Now I understand the name Rocky Mountains. The word for the day is ROCKY, because everywhere we looked, there were rocks, separate from the cliffs and mountain. They were huge and round and smooth and faded by the sun, in all sizes, often clustered together, sometimes at precarious angles threatening to fall and roll down the hill. What keeps them in place is a mystery to me.  

There was one required stop on the way down. The rangers check the temperature of your brakes to be sure they are not overheating. They stop you if they are 300 degrees. Ours were 210 degrees and we were allowed to continue the ride down to the bottom. We got there around noon, snow falling on the windshield for a brief period, and began our drive to Salida, CO where we
planned to stay for the night.

The drive took us through mountain passes, offering up beautiful vistas to enjoy. And we stopped often to take pictures. Eventually it led us to a huge valley nestled down low, surrounded by mountains. The road cut straight across the valley and it took about 35 miles to get to the other side. We saw a lot of pasture and few trees. Plots of land were divided up in large and small parcels by barbed wire fences and we saw an occasional house in the middle of the pasture, with no apparent access to electricity. The grass was yellow and there was little going on but a few cows here and there. Perhaps it was the wrong time of year. 

On the other side, we crossed the Arkansas River and it followed us into Salida where we stopped at about 4 PM for the night. 
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Janice Murray on

I am so enjoying reading of your adventures! In my travels out west I went around but not up to the top of Pike's Peak! Sounds like an oportunity I missed.

Pat Parzyck on

I feel as if I'm right next to you, seeing the landscape as you see it. You're a great writer! Have fun!

carole on

Peak looked wondeful, sorry we missed it when we were out west. You make everything sou n d fab.

Barbara on

We always enjoyed our cross country trips..... so much to see, we should do it again..... enjoy!

Art on

Great views! I would love to hike in that area. I camped a couple of hours west of there in 2003 with my two brothers.

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