Another work week has come and gone, and we have spent another week in the shadow of Pikes Peak. The view of this magnificent mountain from our campsite is not just spectacular, but also a giant lure – drawing us in. We knew it was just a matter of time before we would drive to the summit, but the snowfall from the day before, made it a pressing matter.

A two dollar coupon and twenty-two bucks and we’re on our way through the gate and headed uphill on a 19 mile scenic drive that we have dreamed of for years. It is 70 degrees.

As we drive, we try to imagine that we are racing up the mountain in the annual Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, a race that we hope to attend on July 8th. Our hope is that on race day they have the same weather that we are enjoying.

As we climb the mountain, we pass through Crowe Gulch, where the Crowe family tried to homestead but found living there impossible. As we proceed, we notice a sign stating that you are now in a sub-alpine zone, then, in another 3 miles, we are in an alpine zone. All that we know, is that it’s getting a little chilly and we are getting dizzy. We decide to stop at Glen Cove, where the brake check hut is, where they check everyone’s brake temperature on the way back down. The air temperature is 46 degrees. After a brief stop, we proceed to a field called Elk Park and stop again to try to catch our breath. We are now at 11,800 feet and are wondering how you can possibly race here when you are starting to starve for oxygen. As we proceed, we get to a place called Ragged Edge and notice that even pine trees can’t live here – but the scenery is awesome.

Up through the double cut, then the awesome switchbacks to a place called Devils Playground where on a stormy day lightning jumps from boulder to boulder. We are now at 12,780 feet.  A strange 1/2 mile stretch of road and we are at Bottomless Pit, we have actually dropped 20 ft to 12,760. Ahh, now with our lungs full, another one and a half miles through Boulder Park 13,380 ft and on to the summit at 14,110 feet.

Ok, now, we’ll try to describe standing on top of the world on this beautiful mountain but we  know that our words cannot ever come close to someone else who stood here July 22, 1893. Katherine Lee Bates conceived the words to the song “America the Beautiful” after witnessing the view of the Rocky Mountains as well as the vast western plains from this amazing vantage point. All we know to say is “cool.”

Its 38 degrees. Not much wind, and only 20% humidity. A few small clouds and visibility is amazing.  We are enjoying the view when the cog railway train tops the mountain and people who have bought passes for a mountain bike ride back down, disembark and head for the bikes – this is our cue to leave and try to beat them back to the bottom.

We enjoy the descent to Glen Cove – where our brake temperature is recorded at a mild 78 degrees. Continuing on our downward trek, we enjoy the scenes from a different angle, then getting close to the bottom, we stop by the three reservoirs, Crystal, North Catamount, and South Catamount Reservoirs. Now back to camp to get ready for another grueling work week.

“O beautiful for spacious skies…”

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