Rocky Mt. has been one of many peaks in the Colorado Springs area that I have had on my list to climb. My sister Carrie is a 48 year old nun from the Sisters of St. Joseph in Cleveland, Ohio and her recent trip out west was a perfect excuse to try out this peak with her. I had to work on Saturday morning, so we were not able to start until just before 3 p.m. Normally, I do not like to start a hike this late in the day, but we had a good weather forcast and plenty of daylight left. The Barr Trail lot was full, but we were lucky enough to nab a spot as two hikers were pulling out. We made good time up the Barr Trail and reached it's junction with the Old Piedmont Trail about 3 miles from the start. This is where the route finding was a bit confusing. I found that the Pikes Peak Atlas map was much more reliable than the National Geographic topo map as far as trail went. We made the mistake of going down the Piedmont Trail about 1/2 mile too far. However, we stumbled across some interesting concrete building ruins that resembled Hitlers Atlantic Wall. I'm not sure what purpose they served in the past, so if you know please feel free to add it to the page. After realizing our mistake, we went back to the Barr Trail junction. There were two faint trails going north up the south slopes of Rocky Mt. to choose from. We made the mistake of taking the trail ~ 100 ft. farther down from the junction. The beginning of the trail made it's way through some grassy areas, but quickly took us into large patches of low scrub brush that we had to bushwack through. It was a labor, but we made our way farther to the right (east) of where we started. From here it was route finding through a relatively short, but complex, area of grass, boulders and brush. It took us almost 45 minutes to bushwack no more than a 1/4 of a mile to the summit ridge. Much of the summit is covered with trees. We made our way to an outcropping of rocks in the middle of the ridge. It looked like we would not be able to find a way to the top of the rocks, but good route finding won the day. I worked my way through a narrow crack in the rocks and up a little natural stair set. Upon pulling myself to the top I realized that the true summit was farther to the northwest on a tree-covered slope. After making my way to the summit I found that I could not see "the forrest through the trees." Finally, I made my way over to the outcropping of rocks on the far southeast end of the summit ridge, while Carrie waited behind. Once again, I had to do what I would consider some Class 4 climbing. I discovered the remains of what I think was the Incline railroad that was torn down in 1990 or the hydorelectric plant that was the original reason it was built in 1907. By that time it was already 6 p.m. and we were starting to lose our light. I made my way down to Carrie and we started back down the south face. Descending was significantly better than going up. We kept to the left (east) of the route we took up and had to do very little bushwacking. We picked up a faint trail and it spit us out right at the trail junction. I quickly realized that this was the trail we should have taken to start with. (See my route pages for further details.) We decided to take the Incline down to save time. I had done this a bunch of times last spring as I trained to climb Mt. Rainier, but I underestimated how hard this would be for a low-lander like Carrie. Though it took 2 miles off our trip down, it was a labor for her. What I usually did in ~20 minutes took us over an hour in the fading light. Still, we had a great time. I kept telling her that she would thank me in the morning for the sense of accomplishment that she would have. Funny, I'm still waiting for that thank you:)
The old building ruins you saw were the service buildings for the old Fremont Experimental Forest. This is an area where it was attempted to grow exotic evergreens in the Pikes Peak area. The project was unsuccessful and was eventually abandoned.