This last Monday (Labor Day) I hiked Pike’s Peak with a couple of my coworkers.
We met at the incline shuttle parking a little before 6:00 AM (when the shuttle is supposed to start, but it was about ten minutes late). The alternative was trying to find parking up Ruxton Avenue, but it was a holiday weekend and we expected the mountain to be crowded. It wasn’t that bad on Barr Trail, but there wasn’t any parking by the time the shuttle dropped us off. We hit the trail at about 6:20 just before the sun came up:
Also, Labor Day is when the hot air balloon festival is, so we had a distant view of the balloons as we ascended the first part of the trail:
Barr Trail is about 13 miles total distance and a bit under 8000 ft of elevation gain. The first half ascends steeply for about 3.5 miles then somewhat levels off, rising again just before Barr Camp (at ~6.5 miles, 10,000 ft elevation). Besides the sunrise and balloons we saw a deer (I didn’t get a picture), but it was otherwise an uneventful couple of hours of hiking. We paused briefly at Barr Camp (which was well populated) to eat a snack and dig out warmer clothes before continuing on up to A-Frame:
A-Frame is an open structure just below timberline. It’s about 9 miles up the trail and near 12,000 ft elevation. We reached it at 11:00 AM, about 4.5 hours into our hike, and took the opportunity for another snack break.
The top of Pike’s Peak is a somewhat unique experience among 14ers: there’s a gift shop and you can buy donuts. We pretty quickly got inside out of the cold, ate a couple donuts, used the facilities, and discussed getting back down. I was the only one inclined to hike back down: my coworkers hitchhiked thanks to the fact that there’s a road that goes up to the summit house (there’s also the cog railway, but you have to buy a ticket for that).
I was feeling pretty good when I started back down: my only concern was getting below timberline before the forecast rain (and potential lightning). I started down at about 2:30 PM, jogged a bit when the trail was open and smooth, and made timberline at about 3:30 PM. I was still doing well there, though I was getting lower on water than I wanted (I started with 3.5 liters, only had a liter left at this point). Unfortunately, jogging down large stretches of the three miles from there to Barr Camp wearing hiking boots left the bottom of my feet hurting and tired me out. I finally got back to the trailhead at about 6:45 PM, having spent about 12.5 hours on the mountain.
I had my fitbit on for the hike. I racked up a bit over 56,000 steps for the day (it registered that as 27 miles, though I never calibrated my stride length) and 811 floors worth of altitude gain. That got me all the daily floors badges (the highest one is 700 floors for the “Rainbow” badge but there are apparently daily step badges for 60,000 steps and maybe more. I at least got the “Platform Shoe” badge for 55,000 steps in a day.
I didn’t get pictures of the deer early in the hike (didn’t think of it in time) or the softball-sized hornet nest by the trail a short distance above Barr Camp (wasps came out when I stopped to look at it, I decided to jog for a bit), but I did get a few decent wildlife pictures: