Pike's Peak from below
AWESOME, AWESOME, and AWESOME!! As soon as we checked out of our hotel we entered Pike National Forest and began the nearly three hour drive up Pike’s Peak. Pike’s peak is one of the tallest peaks in the lower 48 states, standing at 14,110 ft above sea level. It was named after Lieutenant Zebulon Pike, an army officer who was sent by President Thomas Jefferson to map the mountains after the famous
a little windy
Ok…history aside….although the temperature at the base (about 7000 feet above sea level) was around 60 degrees, things would change the higher we went. The drive should be more like 2 hours to the top…..but when every turn you make you have to stop to take a picture…things slow down. The forests are beautiful a mixture of tall pine and Aspen. Around 9000 ft up you start seeing some snow on the ground, by 10,000 ft a lot of snow. The mountain has granite exposures all over the place. From a geology point of view, it’s great.
The granite has big “chunks” of feldspars and quartz in it, the crystals very visible. This means that when this part of the mountain was an intrusive magma…it cooled very slowly allowing crystals to grow large. In retrospect….it’s probably a good thing that Betsy Carlson (one of Burpee’s intrepid Educators) was not with, otherwise we would be leaving with about half the mountain in our vehicle.
We saw wildlife signs all over the place. Notices for bears, coyotes, Elk, deer, bobcat, Mountain Lions and yes….even the elusive
Bigfoot. We see some wildlife here and there……but we made a friend early. A red fox came up to our vehicle to say hello. The little guy was adorable. He obviously knew how to play to the crowd, because he was constantly mugging for pictures. I probably took about 40 pictures of him alone. He was fairly tame and allowed me to get close enough for a smile and a wink. After this bit of good luck, we continued up…and up…and up. We passed 11,000 FT then 12,000 FT. The air grew cooler and cooler. Soon it was dropping below 40 degrees. We saw people skiing thousands of feet down on 70 degree slopes (they must be
See that crazy skier?
crazy!)……this picture I took shows a tiny little dot in the middle of the steep slope. We drove until we reached the furthest we could…..about 13,500 ft. The last 600 feet was blocked because of snow. The air temperature was 30 degrees (wind chill was more like 15)….30-40 mile an hour winds…snowing, top of the world….AWESOME. Josh and I walked around and got some great pictures (in between getting dizzy). It really is something to walk a bit and get vertigo due to lack of oxygen. It was a great day….we spent about 40 minutes nearly at the top before we made the painstakingly slow descent. Low gears and stops to rest the vehicle were the orders for the rest of the day…..loosing brakes at 13000+ is a bad day. All in all it was great…..I am already trying to figure out how to get back.