On September 24th, 2003, at approximately 6:00 am my hiking partner, Joe, and myself dawned our late fall clothing on that chilly morning and started our ascent towards the summit of Pikes Peak. As we started up the winding Barr Trail, I could not help but notice how dry the ground was. I was even more astonished to find small cactuses growing on the mountainside of the trail. After stopping several times for pictures and to take in the beautiful scenery, we stopped and ate a quick snack. Shortly thereafter we arrived at the Barr Camp.
After arriving we were met by a caretaker and his trusty dog. Both greeted us at the main entrance to the lodge. After explaining the fee/donation for staying at the camp, we chose to bivy there for the night. This allowed us to get used to the elevation at the camp (10,200 feet) before making our final push to the summit. Hearing that the Barr Camp will fix an all you can eat meal for you at night, I asked the caretaker. After confirming my suspicions and stating they do fix spaghetti and bread for a small price however, they typically don’t fix the meal on Wednesdays. After some persuasion and others entering the camp that day, they made an exception and fixed the meal around 6:00 pm. It was by far the best spaghetti and bread that I have ever eaten. After the meal, we all sat around and told hiking stories. We were also blessed to have three people present that had reached the summit more than once. Their information was invaluable in gaining information how to conquer the beast. After helping clean up, we made our way back to camp and settled in for the night.
In the early morning we awoke and packed our gear and headed off towards the summit. After passing the bolder field before the tree line disappears I noticed the A Frame shelter. This looked to be a great place to rest and drink some fluids and eat some simple carbohydrates. Joe and I then lightened our packs and hid the heavy gear in the trees about 100 yards ways. We were lucky; Joe brought a camouflage bivy so we were able to hide our gear with ease. We then started our final ascent towards the top.
September 25th was a cool day above the tree line. There were no clouds in sight and the sun beat down on my face like a spotlight. Needless to say, our faces and arms got a little burnt (we forgot sunscreen). After resting many times (due to the altitude) we finally made it to the golden stairs. Wow, these were far more difficult than I expected. Joe was in much better shape than I was and bulled ahead. As I was making my final bend in the trail, I could see Joe standing on the summit with a tourist that just arrived via the Cog Rail. Tired, completely wore out, hungry, and thirsty, it was all I could do to smile for the tourist while she my picture.
After I reached the summit, Joe and I congratulated each other with a handshake, and walked to the summit house where we ate lunch (I had chili and a doughnut). We also purchased an iron-on patch indicating that we hiked Pikes Peak in the gift shop. Inside the gift shop we were accused of being actors hired by the park service to show that people do hike the mountain. After explaining that we were not actors and did hike the mountain, people still did not believe us. Realizing that we were not going to magically reappear at the A Frame, we started our descent. After an easier hike coming down, we spent the night at the A Frame. After waking up in the morning we hiked back to the Barr Camp and replenished our water supply and ate a quick snack. A couple hours later we reached the trailhead and our vehicle.
This was definitely a climb that I will never forget.
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