Pikes Peak and other fun

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Saturday morning we got an early start and headed out to Pikes Peak. While you can drive up to the peak, or even walk if you so choose, we decided to take the Cog Railway. While not inexpensive, as the designated driver, this was a much more enjoyable choice. I could just sit back and enjoy the scenery rather than paying almost all of my attention on the road. In the upper center of the picture below you can just make out the road, which is a two lane affair with quite a few hairpin turns.

Road to Pikes Peak

The railway, operational since 1890, offers the riders nice views on the way to the top.

In the picture below, you can make out a trail. This is the path taken by horse drawn carriages prior to the advent of the Cog Railway. Over one hundred years have passed, and nature has not yet reclaimed it. This is indicative both of how slowly the tundra grows and of how long lasting our impact on nature can be.

Carriage trail (middle of the field, going left to right)

Once at the peak, you can see for miles. Unfortunately though, the sky was hazy due to wildfires in Montana. But while we couldn’t see as far as we’d like, it was still a great vista.

Here are some panoramic photos of the view.

We took the first train of the day (8:00 am). This morning was the first day of the two day Pikes Peak Ascent and Marathon. So we followed the tail end of the pack on our way up to the depot. Bu the time we reached the peak, a fair number of the runners had already beat us there. From our conductor we learned that the record holder can make it to the top faster than the train, as well as make the full marathon to the top and back quicker. This is even more impressive when you consider that the train takes a shorter route. But, I think taking the tortoise route is a bit more relaxing. When we reached the peak, it was 34 degrees. Just the kind of weather that Kathryn as been missing.

Shortly after leaving the depot, the train passes this house.

Caretaker's house

It is the home of the couple in charge of monitoring the hydro-electric station and the mountain reservoirs. Their driveway is 17 miles long and winds around the several reservoirs on the mountain. Driving, it is a 60 mile one way trip to town. According to our conductor, this is a summertime retirement job for the couple, as the reservoirs are frozen over in the winter. Hmmm… sixty miles from town, the only traffic is the train going by, and your job is to look after mountain lakes…. Where do you sign up?

After we returned from the peak, we headed back into Manitou Springs for a late brunch at the Spice of Life. We also picked up more of their delicious apple-smoked blue cheese. We got a pound for both us and Rich and Eleanor. Now if it could only be shipped to us on our travels. And, interestingly enough, the sister-in-law of one of the co-owners is the head ranger at Cheyenne Mountain State Park.

Cheese... must have cheese.

Mary then dropped me off at the Garden of the Gods for another hike while she and Kathryn went back to the Airstream to whip up some homemade spaghetti for Kathryn.

I spent the next three hours hiking several of the trails in the park. If you plan on hiking these trails, do not rely on the map from the visitor center. I honestly think it was purposefully designed to get you lost. There are numerous trails not on the map and others that are not labeled in a helpful fashion. You can find a much better map here. Nevertheless, I had a great afternoon enjoying nature’s beauty.

The formations are quite amazing and your mind can make out several images if you let it. Here is the crying indian.

Crying Indian

And this, to me, looks like a white buffalo.

White Buffalo?

From the siamese twins, one can view our morning destination of Pikes Peak.

Pikes Peak in the distance

Our time in Colorado Springs is quickly coming to a close as we’ll be heading up to Denver for Alumafandango in a couple days. So it was nice to have another fun-filled day.

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