Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Pike National Forest: The Barr Trail

Monday night after work, Noelle and I drove south out of the park and down into Colorado for a four day weekend with family. It was long drive, but we arrived after one o’clock in Colorado Springs. I had made plans with my brother Kris to ascend Pike’s Peak at some point over the holiday and so last night he drove down and we made plans to awake at 3:00 to make our summit bid. It was tough waking up so early, but the excitement of the climb helped propel us out of our sleeping bags.

We made the drive over to Manitou Springs and after a wrong turn found the trailhead. From the trailhead we found a trail and started heading up the mountain. The “trail” was steep, very steep and the going was slow. After about 10 minutes we came to a sign that said “No trespassing, dangerous conditions ahead.” It looked like we were on the wrong trail and so we retraced our steps back to the trailhead. At the trailhead we quickly noticed our mistake; we had not been on the trail. The sign for the Barr Trail, our route up the mountain, was on the other side of the parking lot. We later discovered we had been hiking up the Manitou Incline.

Once we were on the actual trail the hiking was a bit easier and we were able to talk a little bit as we ascended. It was still quite dark for the first two hours of hiking. Around 5:30 the sun started to illuminate our surroundings
and it now became clear that we were hiking above a layer of clouds that blanketed Colorado Springs down below. The views were starting to become really amazing as we ventured higher. Eventually we made it the 6.5 miles to Barr Camp
where we took our first short break of the climb and watched some hummingbirds attack the feeders.

Shortly after leaving Barr Camp we climbed to tree-line
and the A-frame Timberline Shelter.
After a bathroom and snack break
Kris Eating
we were back to climbing and the views really opened up. While the views were great, we were beginning to experience a definite lack of oxygen in the air and the difficulty of climbing increased quite a bit.
Kris Treeline
Uphill Hike

Soon we were ascending the final stretch to the summit where throngs of people who had driven up or taken the Cog Railway awaited. We took pictures of ourselves at the summit sign
kris Summit
and then headed inside the gift shop/restaurant where I ate a hot dog and Kris ate some bread he had packed in true John Muir fashion. We had made it up in really good time, about 6 hours.

The hike down was pretty uneventful.
We detoured back to the Manitou Incline to see it in daylight.
Looking Up Incline
We were really tired by the time we had made it back to the trailhead.
Barr Trail
The whole trip had taken 11 hours, including a pretty long stop at Barr Camp on the way back down. We were pleased with our journey and hungry as well. We stopped at Wendy’s before heading back to Noelle’s brother’s house. We had a great time up there and are now starting to talk about an attempt on Long’s Peak in August.

1 comment:

Team Ascentionist said...

Pikes Peaks sounds fun. I've driven up there, but not done it on foot. Longs is definitely on my short list for this year or next.

We should try to get together sometime if you're in the area.