I know this is pretty late, like three weeks late, but whatever. I’m back in Michigan now and since I finally went to an Actual Doctor who Actually Told Me that I Actually Shouldn’t Run if I ever want my Actual Stress Injury to Actually Go Away, I have some time on my hands. I’m starting biking and climbing again, and once I have access to a pool (aka once classes start again), I’ll be Actually Swimming and maybe pool running. (How does pool running work? I need to look that up.)
So! Pikes Peak happened. It was a great hike. I went out not for speed because I didn’t think I had a chance of beating my time up from last year, since I was in kickass shape last August and I hadn’t been able to really run for six months this time. So I went up to just enjoy the mountain, take it all in. Funny thing is, I ended up beating my time. Last year was 4:42, but I didn’t count time spent resting/breaks. This time was 4:47 counting breaks, and I know I rested for more than 5 minutes last time. So that was satisfying.
As always, the mountain was glorious. I started off early to be at the top before noon. The trail goes something like this: first three miles, uphill beginning switchbacky sections, not too much fun (but still fun). The next three miles are really runnable – nice flat dirt, even some downhill sections, smooth nontechnical trail. You could fly through here. The next three are more rocky, technical, mountainous-feeling miles, very fun. The pines and aspens are close to the trail here and towards the end you start to see a lot of lightning-struck trees. It feels very… mountainous and rocky. Is good. Then come the last three miles, which are above the treeline. Now, the last time I went up, I remember thinking that they lasted forever, but this time they went by pretty quickly, relatively speaking. Especially the last mile with the dreaded 16 Golden Stairs.
It started out a clear blue sky with a ground temp of between 60 and 70, meaning that it would be pretty chilly at the top – but absolutely perfect for hiking. Maybe 8 miles up, I noticed that clouds were really starting to gather and wondered if I should worry, but they seemed to be mainly fog-type clouds, nonthreatening. Sure enough, the only harm they did was block off some views by providing cool clouds-rolling-up-mountains views anyway. I talked to some lovely people on the trail, got passed by a 10-year-old-ish kid running up (actually running, camelback and inov8s and salomon socks and all!)(I was too stunned to be able to say anything to him), got passed by two glorious Krupickza types, saw some cool birds, didn’t encounter any dangerous wildlife, ran a couple middle miles, and had a great finish at the top. There’s nothing quite like the feeling of reaching the top of a mountain.
One of the nice path sections along the ridge at about mile 3-4, I think.
Favorite sign. It means I’m at the treeline! And being above the treeline is one of my absolute favorite things ever.
Oh hello entire world. (I didn’t bother taking too many picture below the treeline because 1. it’s less spectacular, and 2. I was busy hiking and just enjoying everything.)
The Barr Trail is so perfect.
Getting closer… with clouds all around…
These went by so much faster this time.
Da daaa! It’s cool. If you hike or run up, people are in awe of you. I had one guy tell me I looked like “a hardcore hiker,” and the woman who took this picture gave me a big hug and her congratulations, others too. And this might sound terrible, but it kind of bothers me that they have a train going up. I think you need to earn the view from the top (unless you’re handicapped or elderly, then it’s great).
So there you have it. Happy hiking, everyone! Climb a mountain at least once in your life.
peace love and colorado,
PS. Sorry the pics are just from my phone, but whatever.