Pikes Peak

Just as the defining characteristic of Miami is its beach, the presence of Pikes Peak will loom over your stay here.  The locals don't really think much about the mountain and certainly don't go up it except when entertaining visitors (it costs something in the area of $20 a car passenger to visit), but it is impossible even for them to ignore.  Some years ago, they decided to build a gift shop on top of the mountain with a little light on it at night.  Oh, the complaints flooded in that this would disturb peoples' sleep and so and so forth.  Well, the shop was built and there haven't been any reports of sleepless zombies roaming the city, but that gives you some insight into how territorial folks here are about their mountain.  They love it, but more symbolically than in reality.

But, if you are visiting Colorado Springs, you really must make the pilgrimage up the mountain.  It is accessed off the main road heading west out of town - yes, unless you want to make a huge detour north or south, there is only one - and involves a very long, twisty and dangerous drive once you pay your fee.  Plan to make it a whole-day adventure.  The journey up really is the most interesting part of the whole affair, because actually standing at the top is a major let-down.  Yes, Colorado Springs is laid out below you, but from that height and distance, it is just one endless blob of houses and office buildings to the untrained eye.  Fifteen minutes at the top and you'll be more than ready to head back down.  Be prepared for the coolness at the top even in summertime, along with the presence of snow.

Car commercials like to make a big deal about the annual race up the mountain, how challenging the climb up is, and so on and so forth, but aside from being twisty, the road up isn't all that challenging.  Stay in low gear on both the drive up and the drive down (saves your brakes) and you will have no unusual problems.

If you are the athletic type and have enough time, you may hear about "The Incline."  This is a climb part-way up the mountain along an abandoned railway line.  It can be done in under an hour if you are in good shape, have adjusted to the altitude and water and are dressed appropriately (lightly).  It also happens to be illegal, and the police have been known to stand at the bottom of the trail and give out tickets to the climbers trespassing on the railway's property.  It also is dangerous.  A few years ago, they had to evacuate a hiker who fell and impaled himself on an exposed rebar.  Just because the locals do something does not mean it is something you will necessarily want to try, but if you do, just realize the potential consequences.

If you are like me, you will probably be best served by treating Pike's Peak as a good subject for photographs from town and the highway and leave it at that.  But it is worth going up once, just to say you did it and cross that one off the list forever.

No comments:

Post a Comment