Friday, May 31, 2013

Pikes Peak

Of all of Colorado's mountains - and there are a lot of them - Pikes Peak might be the most famous. Why is that?

Is it because it's the highest point in Colorado? Nope. It's actually only the 20th highest mountain in Colorado. And, it isn't even the highest mountain you can drive to the top of. So, that's not it.

Is it marketing? Perhaps...there are a couple of things working in its favor. You can drive up it, which is unusual for a 14,000-foot mountain. They have an annual time trial car race up the mountain. And, the mountain has a fantastically alliterative name. "Pikes Peak" just rolls off the tongue, doesn't it?

I honestly think the name has a lot to do with the mountain's fame, but as I learned on our way down there (an hour-plus south of Denver, and just west of Colorado Springs), the mountain is very distinctive. Pretty much as soon as we left Denver, still over an hour from even the start of the Pikes Peak Highway, we could see it, and we already knew what we were looking at.

So while other Colorado mountains have to share the spotlight with That Other Big Mountain Located Right Next To It, Pikes Peak stands alone, for the most part. Let's go drive up it!

We've driven up a mountain or two in our day, so, we know the drill. Stop at a booth and pay some money, start driving, get to the top, take a picture or two of your young daughter next to the altitude marker, drive back down. It hasn't gotten old yet!

Actually, the road was in pretty good shape. The entire thing was paved, and plenty wide. The drive wasn't as hairy as the Mount Washington drive was, even if the dropoffs are a little more dramatic here.

And, the road is plowed! There is still plenty of snow near the top, so, that's important. It may seem silly to keep this road plowed, but I bet it makes financial sense to keep the road open as frequently as possible - maybe not so much in Winter, but definitely in Spring. (The temperature at the top was probably in the 30s when we were there; not all that crazy, really.)

The biggest challenge with this drive was dealing with the altitude. This was (I think) my first time above 14,000 feet, and yeah, I could feel it. I definitely felt a little dizzy and light-headed at the top. I can't remember ever feeling that way strictly because of altitude. I would say how well Marla handled the altitude, but I honestly don't remember. ... Hey, maybe I actually have been above 14,000 feet before, and I just don't remember! The altitude has a way of messing with you.

But, yeah, I don't remember that much from the top, except that it was crowded due to a train having just arrived. But that's okay, because I think the best views are not from the tippy top of the mountain, but along the road. I really like the ones that show the road twisting off in the distance. (Most of these pictures were Amber's, because I handled the driving, and she has a better camera than I do anyway.)

So, yeah. That was fun!

1 comment:

bubba0077 said...

I think the popularity is the combination of it being somewhat detached from the front range, and because of that detachment, being the first mountain seen when crossing the plains.